Today’s Featured Author – Natasja Rose

Please welcome Natasja Rose to my blog. Her latest release, The Temporarily Misplaced Collection, is a collection of poems but don’t miss her books of ghostly travels or twisted fairy tales either. (All of which can be found on Amazon.)

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a disability carer who writes and does historical re-enactment in my limited free time. I live and work in Sydney, Australia, and like to travel whenever I have time off and can afford it.

What or who inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved to write and tell stories, especially ones that didn’t follow a conventional storyline. I think my first one was shortly after I learned to write, about a beautiful princess who escaped into the woods and was eaten by cannibals. For some reason, my teacher was less than appreciative.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
I usually have two or three projects in the works at once, so that if I have writer’s block with one, I can work on another one. Currently, I’m working on a third (currently untitled) poetry/short-story/monologue collection, “Chillon’s Prisoner” (a supernatural adventure with romantic undertones inspired by Lord Byron’s epic poem. third in the ‘Ghostly Travels’ series) and “Red Riding Hood and the Stalker”, the last in my twisted fairytale trilogy ‘Timeless Tales, Modern Morals’. There will also be at least two spin-off novellas in the series, but those are still in draft form.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
As mentioned, I work in Disabled Care. This basically means working with people who are unable to care for themselves, for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, there are lull periods and meal breaks, where I’ll whip out a pocket-sized notebook and scribble down whatever pops into my head.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

Mostly, I feel that there are still stories that need to be told, especially when mainstream fiction seems to be all about plucky teenage love-triangles based around people’s inability to talk about their problems. Sometimes, I think that there need to be more stories around characters of colour, or women in their late twenties, or sexual minorities, or stories that don’t centre around romance and/or miscommunication. If I can’t find those stories in a bookstore, I’ll write them myself.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?
Often through random conversations or events that spark an idea. “Cinderella Grows a Spine” was born when some friends and I were complaining that it was nearly impossible to find a twisted fairytale that really changed the events of the story, rather than just fleshing it out or changing the setting. I put together “The Temporarily-Misplaced Collection” when I realized that I had a bunch of ideas that wouldn’t really stretch or develop into a book of their own, but would make an excellent short story. I decided to write “Chillon’s Prisoner” when I visited the castle itself and read Lord Byron’s poem.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I’ll do a very basic outline (beginning, end, major events) but for the most part, I’ll just write. Often I’ll get an idea for something that happens in the middle or near the end before I’ve written the second chapter, and write that down. For every book I write, there’s usually an entire word document full of nothing but random scenes that may or may not make it into the final draft.

Please tell us about your current release.
I just finished “The Temporarily-Misplaced Collection”, a collection of Short-Stories, Monologues and Poetry, and before that was “Eternity’s Invitation”, a supernatural ghost story and the sequel to my first book, “The Highwayman’s Legacy”.

How did you come up with the title?
Originally, I had only planned to write “The Lost Collection”, which was mostly poetry, and I needed a catchy title in the theme of the first one. The Ghostly Travels series is inspired by a series of 19th Century poems, and the titles reflect that. “Eternity’s Invitation” was inspired by John Clare’s “An Invite, to Eternity”.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

For “The Temporarily-Misplaced Collection” I researched mermaids, dementia, various sea-life, medieval con-artists and Dante’s Inferno. For “Eternity’s Invitation”, I had to research Regency-era asylums, mythology and folklore of the UK, as well as the history of certain places. I also spent hours researching details that weren’t really important to the storyline, but I wanted to get right. This included various ways and travel times to get from point A to point B, local Motels in a certain area, and the surprisingly long list of things that could get you sent to an asylum in 1800’s England.

That was comparatively mild. For some of my other books, I am very sure that my browsing history in the internet and local libraries could easily have put me on the suspect list of a police investigation.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?
In the house, I like to relax on either the couch or my bed while I’m writing. Outside the house, there are a few cafes that I frequent, though I nearly got kicked out of one when I started cackling while writing a comedic short story and apparently scared a few of the other patrons.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m an Asexual who reads erotica as a sleeping aide. My partner finds this hilarious, and sends me links when I’m on Facebook at 2 am, adorable enabler that they are.

Book Blurb

poems-natasja-roseMore Short Stories, interspaced here and there with the occasional monologue and poem, that didn’t quite make it into novels of their own. Some of them might at a later date, but for now, you can read them here.

Read about the Adventures of Codename Granny, the origins of mermaids, space exploration that doesn’t quite go as planned, and reincarnated soulmates that don’t always end in Happily Ever After.

A sequel, of sorts, to ‘The Lost Collection’.

About the Author

Natasja has been writing since a very young age, though those notebooks have been lost in the Old Schoolbooks Cupboard and (hopefully) will never see the light of day. Most of her stories, published or otherwise, began life as conversations with friends that sparked an idea that grew into a story or poem.

Her publishing adventures started with poems and short stories in focus newsletters like ABA and AMBA, and online sites like Readwave, before finally taking a chance with self-publishing.

Natasja Rose lives and works in Sydney, Australia, but travels whenever she can afford it and has the time. Her greatest wish is to visit all the places in the world that inspired her writing as a child, and create new stories for new inspirations.

You can connect with Natasja on Facebook or Twitter.

You can purchase The Temporarily Misplaced Collection on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author: Jenean C. Gilstrap

Today I have poet Jenean C. Gilstrap on my blog discussing her latest poetry collection, Words Unspoken.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Having lived a rather nomadic lifestyle due to the nature of my father’s work and the very frequent relocation from state to state, I soon discovered and nurtured my free-spirit. Listening to and learning from that gypsy spirit I came to see that we all are gypsies of a sort wandering traveling through this life other lives space and time here there and yon on roads less traveled.  Several years ago when I began blogging, my blogs were designed to be written and visual journals of my own travels – imagined and/or real.  They, my blogs, are simply a streamofconsciousness rambling of words and images in which I find meaning and beauty – there is no organized order of thought or format.  That is the way that I write.  My poetry and painting and writing on love and life and things thereof are from the heart and through the eyes of this Louisiana gypsy spirit travelin’ roads less traveled.

jeneanAn individualist, I choose not to follow any pre-conceived pattern for the outlay of the words I write – rather, I allow them the freedom to forge their own path as they make their way from my heart to pen to paper.  My art work involves mixed media on large canvasses as well as photography.  Presently, I am a weekly featured poet in several online magazines.  My piece The Granite God was the winning poem in Painted Bride Quarterly Sidebar #12 [2012].   Also, my work has been featured in performance poetry theatrical productions in Louisiana and my short story, Retribution, published in the Helicon Literary Magazine there.  My “gypsywomanworld” blog and I are included as character/story elements in Ghost Key, the fictional work of award-winning author Trish MacGregor.  Having retired from a career spent in the legal field, the last few years have been focused on my love of writing and painting, together with spending time with my grown children and their children.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

The place of my birth is Sedro-Woolley, Washington, a little town in northwestern Washington, just a few miles inland from Puget Sound and a few miles south of the Canadian border.  However, the place I call home is Louisiana – Shreveport, to be more specific.  Currently, I divide my time between the East Coast and Shreveport.  Right now, I’m overdue for my Shreveport stay.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

Books and the written word were mainstays in my life from earliest childhood – earliest memory.  Beause of the nature of our father’s work, our family traveled/relocated frequently – very frequently.  Regardless of where we were, though, there was always a library and we children were always taken regularly to the library and books were always a gift item regardless the holiday or whatever.  There were also writers on both sides of our family – a number of them published authors.  So, having been surrounded by books and reading and writing, it was all just a natural course of events for me.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was ten years old, I wrote my first major piece – a play on the life of George Washington.  This play was ultimately produced by my elementary school and I was cast in the role of Martha Washington.  That was my official debut – but even before then, I was scribbling poetry and little short stories.  It isn’t necessarily that I consider myself a writer, actually.  It’s just that I’ve always written.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

Oh, well now, the poetry that I write comes from the heart – and our experiences remain embedded in our hearts forever [or so I believe] – and we, ourselves/our personality, are the composition of all that.  So, for me, I would have to say that the all of me is in my words – in my writings – my books.  Sometimes readers will say to me that they wish I would tell them more about myself – that I would tell this or that – and I am always always surprised at such remarks because to me, as I said above, the all of me is in my words.  I am who I write.  To read me is to know me.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Well, currently, I have several projects underway, either very near completion or approaching completion.  One of those, my next book, is another volume of poetry and will come out within the next few months.  This time the pieces come from “gypspywomanworld”, the first blog I began [2008].    The poems in this book are of a more eclectic nature than those in “words unspoken”; they are a mix of some “from the heart” kinds of poetry, together with those perhaps metaphysical in nature, some addressing social and/or political issues and some that are just for fun.   My third poetry book [almost finished] picks up with a bit different style of poetry than my previous ones.  There is more prose in it – the pieces take on a more contemporary feel.  My other project, which is in the preliminary stages and under contract with a London-based publisher, is still another book of poetry.  It’s what I refer to as a “generational poetry” book as it is a compilation of some of the poetry of my mother and her mother, both of whom were prolific poets in their time, together with some of my own work.  Some of their pieces date back 100 years or so and interspersed with the poems will be vintage family photographs taken of the women during the period in which the poetry was written.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

At the present time, I write two weekly [Sunday] feature columns for online e-zines: Yareah Magazine and Plum Tree Books.  My column with Yareah has been ongoing for more than a year and I am very humbled to be a part of that fabulous forum of the arts.  Also, I am more than humbled to be a part of the Plum Tree family with whom I’ve been for a number of months now.  The past few months, I have begun getting back to my painting [oils and acrylics on large canvasses] which had fallen by the wayside the past few years and I occasionally do oil pastels on paper to accompany some of my poetry.  While I attempt to spend a large portion of my days writing or doing some sort of writing-related activity, I also care for my young grandson several hours a day.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

Worst advice was from an editor many years ago regarding a short story of mine.  His style was entirely different from mine and my short story ended up being chopped into bits and pieces I barely recognized from my original manuscript.  The chopped version being the version that was published, of course.  When I saw it in print, I vowed never again to allow anyone or anything re-shape what had come from my heart – from my very soul.  Best advice is from a dear friend [even though we’ve never met in person] – a prolific award-winning author herself, Trish MacGregor, who is a staunch supporter and inspiration.  Basically, she always encourages me to write from my heart – the only way I know to write or will ever write.

What is the best thing about being a poet/writer? The worst?

The best thing about being a poet/writer is just that – getting to do what I love and having others appreciate what I do.  The worst…well, I’m not sure there is a worst.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

The fuel that allows me – pushes me – to write is simple.  It is all those voices – those inner voices – just waiting to be heard – needing to be heard – wanting/needing to speak all those words unspoken.

How did you come up with the title?

My current release, “Words Unspoken”, is my first book of poetry and is a compilation of poetry that began several years ago when I began blogging.  The poems were the basis of my blog.  When I saw that there was a theme of sorts to what I was writing, I began another blog to accommodate just this poetry.  The name of that blog is “the gypsy on words unspoken” as the poems were those from the heart, those dealing with a love relationship that could not have a life of its own for whatever reason – hence, my own words dedicated to all the words left unspoken, the acts left undone – the love unlived unfulfilled.  “Words Unspoken” is available in both paperback and on kindle at Amazon.

This is the poem that began all the others that are included in the book:

words unspoken

i cannot say aloud the words

that fill my heart

yet rip my soul apart

i cannot say aloud the words

that if i said

would leave us both dissolved instead

i cannot speak

in voices heard my love for you

yet in my silent screams i do

i cannot speak

of life within our stolen time

for we both know you are not mine

love unspoken

words unheard

i cannot live

a loveless life

so i go on in secret strife

i cannot live

in time stood still

yet all i have is life unfilled

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m sometimes really very shy.

Book Description

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00062]Ms. Gilstrap’s first book of poetry, is a collection of poetry from the heart – her own words dedicated to love – to a love finally found and then, out of love, relinquished, leaving all those words left unspoken – the acts left undone – the love unlived, unfulfilled.  One writer describes Ms. Gilstrap’s poetry this way: An authentic gypsy soul lives inside the poetry of Jenean Gilstrap, who writes of the unspoken, the longings in the night, the closeness of the far-away and distance of the near. Gilstrap’s words are images of love, in all its manifestations, but one should not so easily call these ‘love poems.’  Instead, the reader is invited behind closed doors to witness the passions and the gut-wrenching spirit of what love is, of what love makes possible, of that which is indeed a personal and protected space. This is a place where lovers knock down their walls of vulnerability and dance for as long as they can. We leave these interiors like voyeurs, and yet we also remain touched by the mastery of the words and the emotions they invoke. – Geoff Schutt – Novelist

You can buy Words Unspoken on Amazon.

You can find out more about Jenean on her blogs – Gypsywomanworld and The Gypsy on Words Unspoken. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Today’s Featured Author: Aria Glazki

Today, I welcome to my blog romance author Aria Glazki. In addition to fiction, Aria recently released a collection of poetry, Life Under Examination. Today she is sharing a guest post on including sex scenes in your novel. Sounds interesting!

Guest Post:

Shifting the Spotlight on the Deed

Sex.  There, I’ve said it.  Is the awkwardness over?

As a collective, writers have broached all topics through their characters, from intimate bodily functions, to horrifying glimpses into criminal minds, to the excruciating reality of chronic illness, and more.  Yet, somehow, many of us still struggle with writing about one of the most basic human experiences: sex.  This affliction is so common among writers that we even have the “Bad Sex in Fiction” awards. 

For many, the idea of writing a sex scene leads to either literary paralysis or a sense of obligation.  Sex described euphemistically or kept behind closed doors is frequently treated as old-fashioned or prudish.  In other cases, writers fear that sex scenes between their characters will be interpreted as a literary representation of the author’s own sexual experiences, and preferences.  Perhaps worse still are the detailed yet disengaged reports of what went where and when.

So when and how should a writer include sex in a novel?  I don’t claim to be an expert, but in my mind the answer is deceptively simple: it’s all about the characters.

In a fundamental way, sex scenes are not unique; they do not differ from every other scene that we write.  The scene should offer a glimpse into the characters, advancing the main character’s (or characters’) development and furthering the plot.  Otherwise, it is useless – just like any other scene which doesn’t meet at least one of these basic requirements.

What writers need to accept is that sex in fiction isn’t about the mechanics or even the writer.  It’s about the people involved: the characters.  Like everything else we write, sex scenes should be about opening a window into the minds and experiences of our characters, transplanting the reader into that moment in a meaningful way. Depending on the characters involved, this portrayal could be explicit, euphemistic, or a veil of hints.  We should feel no more pressured to include the particulars of physical intimacy than required to avoid them.  

At the same time, we as writers do have an obligation: to write as openly and deliberately about sexuality, and every way it affects our lives, as we do about the rest of the human experience.  Each encounter should be about staying true, not to abstract questions of morality, but to the characters who have been granted life through our words.  

By thus refocusing our priorities, we ensure that our stories and characters transcend the page, sex and all. 

About the Author

Aria Glazki’s writing story starts with one of those cliché beginnings when an English teacher encouraged her to submit a class assignment for publication. That piece was printed, and let’s just say, she was hooked!  Since then, Aria has run a literary magazine, completed her Creative Writing degree, been published a few more times, and of course spent countless hours writing.  After a brief hiatus, Aria was a 2012 NaNoWriMo winner, which re-inspired her to pursue writing as a career.

A. Glazki Small CoverAria’s latest release is the award-winning poetry collection Life Under Examination, which explores the gamut of interpersonal relationships.

You can purchase Life Under Examination on Amazon and Smashwords.

You can connect with Aria on her blog, Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter.

Today’s Featured Author: Larissa Hinton

Today I am pleased to have Larissa Hinton, author of Everblossom and Angel Diaries, on my blog.

Interview

About the Author

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Here is my author bio…

The young adult fantasy and paranormal romance author, Larissa Hinton, grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia and Chesapeake, Virginia. She now lives in northern Virginia, but she always looks forward to going back to the sweet smell of the salty ocean.

Larissa has always loved writing since the age of 12 and hasn’t stopped since. After many years of writing whimsical tales of romance and fantasy, she is now proud to be a self-published author. When she’s not writing, she’s teaching English at a local middle school.

When seen out of the classroom, Larissa is shopping for the next great Wii game, searching for undiscovered treasure (a.k.a. sparkly jewelry) and plucking some fresh fruits (or vegetables, dependent on the year) out of her small garden.

Larissa Hinton is currently author of Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology and Angel Diaries: Volume One (YA paranormal romance). However, be on the lookout for Everblossom 2: A Second Anthology of Short Stories and Poems!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After writing my first book, Timestoppers, I knew that I was a writer. That feeling of joy right after finishing that book just made me feel complete.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

In short: A lot! My sarcasm is very apparent in my books and I do that on purpose. Some of the characters have some of my weird quirks and talents (like being able to pick up foreign languages quite easily).

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I use to just start writing it, but I have learned the hard way (especially with Angel Diaries) that was quite possibly the worst thing for me to do. I would add all kinds of extra dialogue that was hilarious but it would slow down the plot.

Now that I write with outlines my writing is much tighter and more focused than ever before.

Her Latest Book

Please tell us about your current release.

My most recent release is Angel Diaries: Volume One, a young adult romance novel. Here’s the blurb:

He was forbidden. Uncontrollable. Never to be seen, mentioned, or otherwise talked about. Until the nightmares began. Searing the screams, carnage and death into her skull. Forever.

Before this, Lindsey had a normal life. Somewhat. She had a boyfriend who was acting strange, an ex-boyfriend who has been too flirtatious and a best friend who turned psychic.

Once upon a time, the hardest decision Lindsey had to make was who she would take to the upcoming Winter Dance: her boyfriend, Philip, or her ex, Luke. Now, she’s not even human. She’s an Angel.

This book is recommended for 16 years or older due to adult scenes and situations.

What inspired you to write this book?

To be honest, it came out of a slight frustration of writing the same type of story. I loved writing happily ever after stories with dreamy hereos and strong female leads (and of course with a heavy dose of sarcasm in a fantasy world). The problem was I didn’t know what direction to go in. I loved the fantasy world and romance, but there wasn’t a book like that. Then I read Twilight and everything changed. I decided to write my first young adult paranormal romance and ever since, my writing hasn’t been the same.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

Funny enough, my favorite character is Jia (she’s the side kick to Lindsey, the main character in Angel Diaries). I even wrote a full length screenplay about her in her adulthood. Additionally, I wrote a few short stories about her and included one of them in Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology. What I love about her is her tough, weird, quirky, witty exterior and her soft, feminine, vulnerable shell that cracks through in the most unusual of circumstances.

I use to detest Phillip, Lindsey’s boyfriend in Angel Diaries. A lot of my readers knew I didn’t like him. Yet, in order to get the plot to work out, I had to learn to love him. Or at least, find out what Lindsey loved about him. And the more I delved into his character, the more I found out why I disliked him so much but loved him all at the same time.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

I didn’t realize how interwoven the theme of love is in the novel. I thought the main theme would be about responsibility and honesty. However, after I wrote the ending and fixed relationships in the novel, it just seemed as a natural byproduct of the novel.

Just for Fun

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

I would love to jump into Cassandra Clare’s world of Infernal Devices series with Tessa. Will and Jem. I love the steampunkery aspect of it. Really, any book with steampunk elements I would just love to be in. (As far as television series wise, I would love to join Artie, Claudia, and Myka in Warehouse 13.)

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

I use to chew on cashews while writing. I love nuts, especially chewing on them while trying to figure out plot points. Unfortunately though, they have a lot of salt and they actually cause my teeth to stain for some odd reason. Therefore, I have laid off all nuts while writing instead I chug water.

Book Description: Everbloom

everblossomAn anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary.

Everblossom is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but dig a little deeper and the world not only shifts. It changes.

From the author who brought you Iwishacana/Acanawishi, she now brings you a dash of everything from dark fantasy to the paranormal to even romance. So prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed, you’ll go through them all with a whole new perspective on what it all truly means.

Book Description: Angel Diaries

angelofficialHe was forbidden. Uncontrollable. Never to be seen, mentioned, or otherwise talked about. Until the nightmares began. Searing the screams, carnage and death into her skull. Forever.

Before this, Lindsey had a normal life. Somewhat. She had a boyfriend who was acting strange, an ex-boyfriend who has been too flirtatious and a best friend who turned psychic.

Once upon a time, the hardest decision Lindsey had to make was who she would take to the upcoming Winter Dance: her boyfriend, Philip, or her ex, Luke. Now, she’s not even human. She’s an Angel.

This book is recommended for 16 years or older due to adult scenes and situations.

 

Larissa’s author bio is listed at the beginning of the interview or you can find out more about her on her blog.

Everbloom is available on Amazon.

Angel Diaries: Volume One is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.