Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

I'm on my way out of town, but I wanted to pause long enough to thank everyone who bought The Haunted Heart and In Plain Sight. As of this morning The Haunted Heart was #1 in most of its categories on Amazon. In Plain Sight is in the Top Ten. Both titles are moving up the chart at All Romance Ebooks.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your loyalty over these past couple of years while I worked to get over burn out and get myself back up to speed. This was a week for amazing book releases in our genre, so to have touched that #1 spot, however briefly, is a big deal.

Thank you.

And now let's enjoy the fruits of our labor with a good, long weekend!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Haunted Heart Playlist

Welllll, it looks like tomorrow just might be the day.

The revised edition of The Haunted Heart: Winter is complete and ready to be uploaded. The final version is nearly 10,000 words longer than the original. It's still pretty much the same story, only better (I hope) than the version you read for free on Wattpad.

In honor of that new release, I'm sharing the official Haunted Heart Playlist. Well, it's not official official until I can get onto iTunes and make it official with a link and everything, but these are the songs anyway. (And thank you to the Goodreads gang for helping me come up with them!)

Somewhere in Between - Lifehouse
Is It Any Wonder - Keane
Dear Friend - Laura Browne Sorenson
Home - Phillip Phillips
Shadow of the Day - Linkin Park
Creole Love Call - Duke Ellington
Believe - K's Choice
First Time - Lifehouse
Black Velvet - Alannah Myles
I Will Wait for You - Mumford & Sons
So the Wind Won't Blow it All Away - John Mills

Friday, August 23, 2013

Adrian Bisson on the DANGEROUS GROUND series

You may recall that in March of this year I ran a contest to select the narrator for the Dangerous Ground audio books. I had so many really good auditions that I honestly couldn't choose between them. Okay, I did sort of lean in a particular direction, but the narrator I liked best didn't appear to have the library of work that some of the other narrators did, so I thought I would leave it up to readers to choose. The DG books have some very dedicated readers, and it made sense to let readers have the final say.

Well, you all got out there and voted -- and lo and behold! My guy won. By a LANDSLIDE. I was genuinely thrilled both with your participation and with the fact that my instinct had been correct.

That winning narrator was Adrian Bisson, and I'm telling you now -- as we reach the halfway mark through the series -- you're going to be very happy with the job Adrian has done on these books.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to do two interviews with him -- much as we're doing with Chris Patton for the Adrien English novels -- an interview at midway point and an interview at the end of the series.

So here we go with Adrian Bisson following his completion of Old Poison.

 How did you get started in narrating/producing audio books? How many audio books have you narrated?

I'm fairly new to the audio book scene, and I'm excited and enthusiastic about doing something I love. Before getting involved in audio book production, I spent three years teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. While I was there I met a voice actor who was involved in making educational materials, and talking to him really piqued my interest. I started in Korea by recording some spots for and did some volunteer narration for as well. When I returned to Indiana last year, I was interested in trying my hand at writing fiction, which has always been another dream of mine. While I was researching the market for Kindle self-publishing, I encountered and discovered the opportunities that exist for creating audio books. Reading has always been something I'm passionate about, and I love reading aloud and bringing the stories to life with my voice. Armed and Dangerous was one of my very first auditions, and I feel so lucky that I found this project. The winning the narration contest was a huge confidence boost as a rookie and I feel a connection to the fans who voted for me and a duty to deliver the very best performance I can!

I currently have one other audio book completed and released, Monarch by Michelle Davidson Argyle. It's a romantic spy thriller, and it's a great title to listen to while you're waiting for Armed and Dangerous! Just search for Adrian Bisson on Amazon or Audible.


How much acting is involved in narrating a story?

For me, it's all about acting. My approach is to breathe as much life into the characters as I can, to try to get into their heads and portray their emotions and reactions like real people. I try to give every character a distinct voice and attitude, and understand their motivations so that I can bring that out with my voice.

Team Taylor or Team Will?

I identify more with Will, but I can see why he finds Taylor irresistible. Will's serious, sensible, stable. Taylor is exciting, brash, and unpredictable. I think they make a good couple, but I worry about their future. The drama of a wild relationship with a loose-cannon is enticing, but I wonder if Will will eventually get burnt out on the stress of rescuing Taylor from himself. And I have my doubts about whether Taylor won't get antsy once the newness of his daring conquest has worn off. If things go south, I'd be on Will's side.

So you're now half way through the Dangerous Ground series. What has been the most difficult or challenging aspect of narrating the stories up to the point of Old Poison?

The most difficult aspect was probably settling on a voice for David Bradley. I'm not sure why, but I fretted and worried and second-guessed a lot about that one. Most of the other characters were easy to find a voice for, but David Bradley is still a bit of a mystery that I'm sure will be fleshed out as I get further along.

What character was the most fun to narrate? Why?

I have to say, I love doing the villains! I can be wicked, menacing, relentless, and a more than a little crazy. Both of the lead villains from Dangerous Ground and Old Poison were very satisfying to act out.

Which character was the most difficult to narrate? Why?

Lieutenant David Bradley and Agent Denise Varga were both a little hard to get a handle on. I'm not sure exactly why.

Was there a particular scene you think you read especially well? Or that you particularly enjoyed reading?

It's really hard to pick out one particular scene. My favorite scenes are the discussions between Will and Taylor as they navigate the shifting meaning and boundaries of their relationship. They're so well-written, emotionally true, and full of pathos, and I love having such strong and developed characters to portray.

How awkward is it to read erotic scenes aloud?

When I auditioned for this project, I really didn't know exactly what I was getting into. When I reached Chapter 4 of Dangerous Ground, I found out! There I was, in the walk-in closet where I record, acting out a steamy sex scene between two guys. It was a little awkward at first, I'd never done anything quite like it before. My aunt had volunteered to be my proof-listener, so I couldn't help wondering what she would think when she got the audio later that day. Well, she said it was great and everyone has been very supportive and encouraging. I'm a professional and I know a hot scene when I read one. These scenes are well-written and red hot. I think that listeners will fully enjoy listening to me give it all I've got!


What’s the most satisfying or rewarding part of narrating/producing an audio book?

I'll be incredibly satisfied when the project is done and the fans have the chance to listen and enjoy. I love the idea of bringing your stories into a new medium to be experienced in a new way, and I find it really rewarding to be part of this project. All the fans who voted for me in the narrator contest deserve the best audio book possible, and I aim to deliver it. If I see people buying the audio book, recommending it to friends, and leaving good reviews and feedback, that'll be the the best reward.

Do you ever find yourself wishing the author hadn’t taken the story in a particular direction? Or is narrating a much more detached process?

I'm detached from the direction of the story, my job is to become the characters, and express the experience of things as they happen. This is Josh Lanyon's story, and I'm just along for the ride. I happen to really like how these first two novellas have played out and I'm eager to see what's next!

Where can readers/listeners find out more about you and your work?

I really ought to make my own webpage and blog! It's on my to-do list.

My Audible narrator page is where you can pick up my first audio book, Monarch! I am also on Facebook and Twitter. I love narrating books, and I'm really hoping to build a fan base and put out a book every month or so after Armed and Dangerous is complete, so keep an eye out! Armed and Dangerous is a labor of love and I'm taking time to get it just right, but it'll be here soon!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Author, Author! Z.A. MAXFIELD

I first met Z.A. Maxfield back in 2007. I was very new to social media and the web and I had just started to blog very tentatively over on Live Journal. I didn't fully (or at all) get how these things worked, so I was mostly babbling to myself, but somehow I began to collect a circle of LJ friends, and we had some really wonderful discussions about books and writing and life in general. One of those friends was Z.A. Maxfield who stood out from the first with her witty, literate, and thoughtful comments. That woman ought to be published, I privately thought. And Lo! It came to pass. Z.A. is now one of the first names to pop up when readers ask for suggestions for smart, funny, and poignant M/M romance.

Next Tuesday, August 20th, Z.A. has her first release with InterMix, the digital imprint of Penguin.  My Cowboy Heart is very possibly the first M/M romance title by an indie author to be  published by a mainstream publisher, and that's exciting news for our little genre. There are a lot of reasons to hope this book is successful, not least is because ZAM has worked hard and earned this moment. Anyway, I preordered the book the minute it was live on Amazon, and I'm thinking YOU should too!


So we first met on Live Journal, wasn't it? What were you doing there? Is it true you were on parole? But seriously, how did you go from lurking on LJ to published author?

You might find this amusing. I discovered Live Journal because I was looking for YOU Josh Lanyon. I only actually joined LJ because I wanted to comment on your Just Joshin' blog.

At that time I had been writing for a while, although I wasn’t yet contracted for publication. I had three novels completed, and I had just gotten to the point of submitting one to some independent publisher’s slush pile. It seemed logical to choose a publisher from the ones who published authors I had been reading.

My first submission got rejected by one publisher, but then I sent a different manuscript to Loose Id and they accepted it. After I had undergone some edits at Loose Id, I tightened up the other manuscript, and it was accepted at Aspen Mountain Press. The rest, as they say, is history.

Do you believe the sins of the father shall be visited upon the sons?

I hope not, and I hope a mothers’ sins won’t be visiting anyone – especially my kids -- either.

You have a book coming out with Penguin's InterMix imprint. Congratulations! My Cowboy Heart is InterMix's first tentative toe dipping into the turbulent, roiling waters of M/M Romance. I'm excited for you. Are you mostly excited or mostly scared? What do you think this book means for your writing career?

I can’t help but be both excited and scared. For my writing career, it’s very nice to be a Penguin Author. Yet I wonder, as quirky as I am, if I’m the best person to do a gay cowboy novel for the mainstream romance market.

I have to admit, I love, love, loved seeing my book there on their Penguin page:

But I could make a case for fifty authors that I know personally who might be a better fit for a mainstream book line.

I wasn’t going to turn them down, was I?

It was great fun, but I'm not a comfortable trailblazer. I usually leave that to others. I suppose this only means that my friends, writers who deserve to be trailblazers in their own right, have a much better chance of getting their work out there too.

Is it true you set the fire?

I did not, but I worried an awful lot someone might come to that conclusion, because I’d only two weeks before ordered escape ladders for my upstairs bedrooms. (I did that because of a news article about a family unable to escape a house that burned down on Christmas Eve.)

What was the most interesting or surprising thing you learned while researching My Cowboy Heart?

I had to research how long a dog has to be immobilized after an amputation. I wondered how hard my characters would have to work to keep a dog from a fairly active breed contained while she healed. It turns out they’re up on the remaining legs fairly quickly and they heal fast. 

Boxers or briefs? No, seriously. Why should this question be reserved for male authors? Why shouldn't everyone have to answer?

Neither, which -- not to give anyone granny panty nightmares -- should also not be a great surprise.

Are you a fulltime writer?

Yes. My full time job is writing, but it hardly counts because I went from full time stay-at-home mother to full time writer, so it wasn’t as if I had to write enough to cover my missing salary.

What's the last piece of music you listened to? Did you sing along?

Verdi’s Aida, and no. :D

Which of your children is your favorite? KIDDING!!! How did you and the Mister meet?

I met my husband at the Rocky Horror Picture show on Halloween, 1982. I was with a couple of friends, and he sat two seats to my right. After a bit of flirty conversation I invited him to fill the empty seat between us. We haven’t stopped talking since.


What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on a series called The Brothers Grime, about a crime scene clean up company owned by three men, Jack, Eddie, and Gabe. Each man gets his own story. The first was Grime and Punishment, about Jack. The second is Eddie’s story, Grime Doesn’t Pay, and the third, Partners in Grime, is about Gabe.

What do you love most about writing? What do you like least?

I love that moment when it all works, when you’re writing with the figurative wind at your back and ideas you’ve seeded into chapter two become really meaningful in chapter 22. I love when everything hits the fan and you know exactly what to do to fix things.

I don’t think I like anything least. I find it difficult emerging from the cave of my imagination to promote the work because it seems like that requires a different set of muscles entirely. I’ll bet you know what I mean by that. I thought writing was going to be all lonely and it turns out, I spend half my time writing emails. I love the people I write to, and I really need the community, but it takes my head out of the game.

Switching back and forth from writer to social animal is what I like least because it's difficult for me.

Have you ever broken a bone? Have you ever broken anyone else's bones?

Nope to both. Which… I’m an old gal, so I’m really grateful. *Goes to find some wood to knock on.*

What do you think is the most important thing to remember when creating fully realized main characters?

Great characters are flawed. They believe lies about themselves. They ache for wanting things they’ll never get. A fully realized character -- to me -- is consistent, but never consistently good, or consistently bad.

Is there any genre you'd like to tackle but you're kinda sorta afraid?

I want to write mysteries. I have always wanted to write mysteries. I fear I lack the complexity of mind. *sobs*. The almost-mystery books I’ve written are mostly only suspenseful, and not mysterious. I keep thinking I have one in the works, but then… Nope. Not yet. Maybe someday soon.

Tell us something surprising. Anything. Go on. Surprise us!

I’m pregnant with my second set of twins. That was a lie. But admit it, you were surprised for a second, weren’t you?

(My jaw did drop, yes!) ;-D