Monday, March 27, 2017

Why Genre-Bender Writing can be a Hit with Fans

Stephen Stromp

Genre-Bender

My novels are probably a bit of an acquired taste. And I’m totally okay with that! I’m fine being a writer with a niche audience. My readers are probably those looking for something a bit off center, a bit unique. One of my favorite reader reviews described my writing like this: “Somehow this author makes the strange and morbid seem normal.” I won’t argue with that assessment. 
I don’t like to be pinned down by a single genre, even within one story. It’s not that I plan my books to be genre-bending. For me, it’s all about the story first. What’s going on in this world? With these characters? What feeling do I have when I think about the story so I can get the tone right?  So, to serve the story best, I ignore genre lines. In fact, I don’t really think about genre at all until I am forced to attempt to classify a book for publication. But if I had to classify the genres I tap into (and as I writer, I begrudgingly do!), they would include dark fantasy, mystery, horror, young adult, fable, low fantasy, supernatural, magical realism, speculative fiction and suspense.

Cracking Grace by Stephen Stromp
Winner of Kindle Press Publishing Contract

My first book, CRACKING GRACE, is a short novel that explores relationships, loss and spirituality. It’s about a young girl who loses her mother and befriends statues in a cemetery, who, it turns out, are on their own journey of discovery.

In the Graveyard Antemortem by Stephen Stromp
My first full-length novel, IN THE GRAVEYARD ANTEMORTEM, is a mystery/horror novel set in the 1980s. It’s about a teenager who is determined to solve her father’s murder. But to do so, she must unravel the secrets of Grand Hallow, a funeral and mortuary operation the size of a small city. The book was a winner of the reader-powered Kindle Scout program and was subsequently chosen for publication by Kindle Press. It’s sort of my love letter to the 1980 horror movies I grew up with—but in book form. Although I set out to write an unabashed horror/suspense novel, the mystery element kept creeping in until it clearly became the centerpiece of the novel. Again, I was crossing lines without realizing it. My genre bending was called out when a reviewer at TheSlaughteredBird.com wrote, “I’d have thought it a mistake to have the numerous plates of horror, fantasy AND murder-mystery spinning at once, but all of these aspects dovetail so seamlessly that it produces a wonderful book of relentless pacing, intrigue and sheer oh-dear-God-ness!”

What’s Next?

I keep getting asked if there will be a sequel (or even prequel) to “Antemortem.” I honestly don’t have anything planned, but it would be interesting to explore. There is more to that story that I purposefully held back because it wasn’t the focus of that book. Maybe at some point down the road, I’ll revisit the folks at Grand Hallow. Right now, I’m finishing up editing a book I hope to have released sometime in 2017. All I’ll say about it now is that it’s a coming-of-age story set in the 90s with elements of fantasy and psychological horror. I’m proud of it. It feels perhaps more emotional and personal than my previous books.


Connect with Stephen on Facebook, join his email list to keep up on his new release and visit his Website 

Friday, March 24, 2017

How do you like your suspense?

Author Dale Mayer

by Dale Mayer

With a little romance, a lot of nail biting, a touch of the paranormal or all of the above?

I love mine with romance, edge of the seat tension and either with or without the paranormal. Why because as long as the writer makes it believable, as long as I'm sucked into the story, I don't care where the writer takes me.

Sometimes I've woken up in complete new worlds and loved it!

When I started writing Tuesdays' Child many years ago, I had no idea of the yellow brick road I'd set out on. Now with the release of a new military romance series, Heroes for Hire, I have to admit to feeling a bit like Dorothy!

I'm not in Kansas anymore.

It's a whole new world out there. I don't recognize my surroundings, and can barely remember the many stops I took to get here. Not only has the publishing landscape changed, but so has my professional landscape. But like Dorothy the journey has been incredible. And rewarding.

And suspenseful.

I write mysteries, romance and combine both all the time. I do like a happy ending. 

Currently I’ve been spending a lot of time writing Military Romance. My SEALs of Honor series has been great, but I wanted the freedom to branch off without the restrictions life in the military imposed.

Heroes for Hire was created for just that purpose. I took a unit of 4 SEALs after they were betrayed and helped them set up their own private security company Legendary Security. 

The series starts with Levi and Ice’s story in Levi’s Legend. He is a legend after all.

Stone’s book came next, followed by Merk’s. In order for everyone to dive into the new series, all three are releasing on March 21st.


Levi's Legend by Dale Mayer
Levi's Legend by Dale Mayer
Welcome to Levi's Legend, book 1 in Heroes for Hire reconnecting readers with the unforgettable men from SEALs of Honor in a new series of action packed, page turning romantic suspense that fans have come to expect from USA TODAY Bestselling author Dale Mayer.

Nothing stays the same…
Since his accident Levi has been driven to find the men who betrayed him. Everything else is secondary. Now he’s recovered, started his own company, and he’s caught the scent of the last man on his list. Only to find the same man intends to finish the job he originally started – and kill Levi once and for all.

Ice has been at Levi’s side every step of his new journey – well almost. It’s the places where she hasn’t been that are the hardest. Her relationship with Levi is at a critical point. One wrong word and her hopes and dreams will be gone. They almost are now.

But she can’t resolve her love life until the man who forced change into their world is taken care of. Only he’s on the attack, and his target is right at the heart of everything that’s important to her, and to Levi.

They’ll have to move fast to stop the man who wants them both dead or they won’t have a future at all…

Check out Dale Mayer's books on her Website, follow her on Facebook or Twitter

Monday, March 20, 2017

WHATEVER the WEATHER

Author Sue Lilley

It’s well known we Brits are obsessive about the weather. It’s usually our first topic of daily conversation. But in our defence, for a small country, we do sometimes have the weirdest weather. The other day I bought a bunch of the first spring daffodils – early flowering because it’s been so mild. The next morning I woke up to six inches of snow. We’re meant to have four seasons, but not all on the same day!

It’s impossible to plan anything. If the sun makes an appearance, blue winter legs and arms might come out of hiding – with a big coat to hand! A barbecue may be optimistically suggested – with a convenient garage and patio heater on standby.

High Hopes by Sue Lilley
Christmas will sometimes mean snow but more often a mild day for walking along the beach in a cosy knit. Kids get presents of sledges and bikes, therefore learning at a young age that it’s wise to hedge their bets. Easter used to be the traditional time for girls to get their summer dresses out. Now it can be colder than Christmas or hotter than July. I’ve celebrated my birthday in the last snow of spring but also with a picnic during a proper heatwave. May can usually be relied upon for scorching weather when all the kids are doing exams. But come July when the schools break up for the summer, it will likely be endless rainy days.

We Brits are good at rain. When I worked for an insurance company, we sold Pluvius insurance – named after the Roman god of rain. I suspect this is a peculiarly British product – the opportunity to insure your garden fete against loss of revenue due to low attendance if it rains! We must be keeping umbrella makers in business. I have to confess I own so many umbrellas I’d be embarrassed to count them. I keep one in my desk, one in the car and one for every size of handbag, including a particularly tiny one for my special “going out” clutch.

It’s fashionable to blame global-warming. I think it’s more likely to be our dodgy memories of what summers were like “in our day.” But I’m sure it was never this extreme.

Another Summer by Sue Lilley
My novel ANOTHER SUMMER was inspired by extreme weather. I was in Cornwall soon after a severe storm had caused major flooding. I saw the remains of an ancient bridge which had been destroyed by a rampant river. There was a shiny motorbike trapped in the debris and not a soul in sight. I started thinking what if….?

Check out Sue's Website and her books on Twitter

Friday, February 24, 2017

My Writing Journey

Author Kaitlyn Davis

If I had to describe my writing journey in one word, it would probably be this: whirlwind.  Because it truly has been a crazy, wild, and sometimes chaotic adventure.

Confessions of a Virgin Sex Columnist!
As a new college grad armed with a major in creative writing, I never dreamed I’d attend my five-year reunion as a bestselling author working from home full-time. My first job out of school was working as a writer for the Huffington Post, but I quickly realized that spending my days crafting nonfiction left me too burned out to pursue my passion. Which led me to my second job, an absolutely amazing position in the marketing division of one of the major New York publishing houses. I was working with books all day, discussing books all day, and using my creativity on campaigns. And by night, I was writing.

Within the first year of my post-college life, I’d finished the first manuscript I’d truly been proud of (because, let’s face it, there are a ton of things I wrote in high school and college that will, rightly so, never see the light of day!). But I had no idea what to do with it. Because, well, it was about vampires. And it was young adult. And it was a few years after the Twilight craze. With my job working inside the industry, I knew that no agent and no publisher wanted anything to do with young adult paranormal romance. The trend had died. Dystopian was the new “it” thing. My book, the one I’d slaved over, that I loved, that I was so proud of, would never see the light of day.

Ignite
And then something amazing happened. It was 2011 and I read an article about a girl named Amanda Hocking who’d self-published a, you guessed it, young adult paranormal romance. And even more incredible, her books were selling like crazy. 

So even though it wasn’t what I’d always imagined (and was, in fact, a path many industry insiders scoffed at), I knew right then and there that it was the path I was going to pursue.

My manuscript soon became my first published novel, Ignite (Midnight Fire Book 1), and within two months I’d sold a thousand copies. So I published a second book in the series, and a third, and a fourth. Two years after Ignite went on sale, I was making three times as much money self-publishing than I was working at my day job, so I quit and decided to do what I loved full-time.

And, I’ve never looked back.

Gathering Frost
But I’ll be honest, there have been ups and downs. As anyone who began self-publishing in 2011 will tell you, the industry has changed a lot in five years. Discoverability is much more difficult. Marketing is much more involved. Competition is fierce. And there’s a little less to go around. But you know what? I get to sit in my pajamas all day, drink coffee, pet my dog, and write whatever the heck I want to. So things are still looking pretty darn great to me!


What will the future bring? Who knows! I have an entire journal full of ideas I one day hope to pursue, so I’ll do what I’ve always done—I’ll let the characters in my head and the stories in my heart guide me.

Follow Kaitlyn on her Facebook, Twitter and check out her Website.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WHALES AND WRITERS

Author G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

While visiting the Big Island of Hawaii a few years ago, I went on a whale-watching excursion with Captain Bob. Soon after we left the marina, a humpback launched its 40-ton body out of the water. Someone asked why whales breach. “I think they do it to entertain us,” the captain said. I suspected it was more complicated than that.

People ask mountain climbers why they climb. Parents ask teenagers why they do all the crazy things they do. And readers ask writers why they write. One thing I’ve learned is that there’s rarely a simple answer to the question that starts with “Why?”

The Damnable Legacy
When I first sat down to write The Damnable Legacy, I thought I was writing to entertain readers. Woman has regrets. Woman goes on quest and faces adversity. Woman conquers all. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that life wasn’t that simple. And if fiction is supposed to emulate life, then the novel needs to be more complex.

So I started over. This time I delved into research, and the more I discovered, the more I wanted to learn. I researched adoption and attachment disorder. I research mixed ethnicity relationships. Climbing Denali. Teens who self-harm. The afterlife. When I re-wrote the novel, it was no longer just a book to entertain. It was a book that would surely educate.

But still, that wasn’t enough. I had crafted characters who did things and said things, and I needed to understand and embrace why they did. So I dove into the world of psychology and mined the psyches of my characters. I studied Freud and Jung and the concept of shadow selves. I read about single moms with unplanned pregnancies and superstitions and men who rape—or don’t rape. And then I wrote the novel again, this time from a place of far deeper personal understanding of my characters’ motivations—and my own curiosities and biases.

So now when people ask why I write, I tell them my goal is to entertain, educate, and enlighten. I can never be sure if I’ve met that goal until the work is out and I hear back from readers, but I can at least use myself as the primary litmus test. If I’m not delighted with the story, it’s not good enough. If I haven’t learned along the way, it’s not ready. And if I haven’t personally grown and begun to look at some aspects of our world from a new perspective, I have more work to do.

Women on the Brink
We don’t know for sure why whales breach, but we do know that breaching is in itself an act of breaking through. In that vein, breaching is like writing.

Then again, Captain Bob said that maybe “the whales just breach for fun." Yes, indeed. Writing can be fun, too.

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer is the author of  The Damnable Legacy and Women on the Brink. She’s currently working on another novel and a self-help book about writing for wellness, drawn from her experience teaching workshops to survivors of cancer, domestic violence, and brain injuries. She has an essay in the forthcoming anthology, Just a Little More Time, and her other short work has appeared in the New York Times as well as other publications. Visit her website at www.gekretchmer.com like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.



Monday, February 13, 2017

How a Motion Picture Marketing Executive Learned to Write About Hollywood

Author Aimee Pitta
I’ve spent over twenty-five years as a motion picture marketing executive, and in the process of earning millions of dollars for other people in box office grosses, and a few Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards for myself, I’ve shanghaied the unsuspecting public into watching films that portray woman as victims, whores or stereotypical put upon wives and mothers. No longer able to live with myself one day I quit my job to write full time and to create female characters that represent women as they really are… Smart, courageous, funny and obstinate.  
Realizing of course that I’d have to keep my hand in marketing to pay my bills. As we all know a girl’s gotta eat! I set out to find my way as a writer.  I struggled a lot, had difficulty finding my voice and tried to figure out what I knew, so I could write what I know. My first step toward that was to look at my skill set and determine how it could assist me on this writer’s journey.
As a theatrical creative marketing executive, (Manchester By The Sea, Lady Macbeth, Love & Friendship, Hello My Name is Doris, It’s Complicated, to name a few) I realized that I have a keen understanding about the importance of creating characters that are not only interesting, engaging, and entertaining but are highly marketable. Trust me, I’ve worked on some clunkers that taught me if you don’t have interesting and engaging characters, then you won’t have a marketing campaign that will cut through the clutter. Working as a producer of trailers and TV spots, I’ve learned the importance of telling a succinct story and that less is more. As a copywriter who has been lucky enough to be hired to come up with titles for films who don’t have any, (The Guilt Trip, Home, The Bounty Hunter, People Like Us, Black Hat, Mirror-Mirror, Playing For Keeps, No Strings Attached) I’ve honed my skills crafting concepts and titles that resonate with an audience, gives them an understanding of what to expect from a project.
Happily Ever Before by Aimee Pitta & Melissa Peterman
Once I put together my skills and felt confident I had what it took to create a compelling story, I needed to look at my life to find that hook of writing what I know. As a one of five sisters, I have learned the importance of surrounding myself with smart, funny, strong, capable and at times unlikable women, especially when we were arguing over clothes, bathroom time and who got the car we all shared. As a woman whose parents gracefully and humorously battled my father’s MS for over 43 years I have learned about courage and grace and humility and that life can be absurd, compelling, hilarious, and heartbreaking in a matter of seconds. That, I discovered, was my value as well as my voice as a storyteller. It is what I strive for in every story I tell. And this notion of being invisible is where I found hook.
The Theory of Invisibility by Aimee Pitta
The Theory of Invisibility is an idea that has looped in and out of my consciousness for years. For me invisibility comes in many forms as each of us can go through our days without truly being seen. My father, a paraplegic for much of his life because of the crippling ravages of MS from his exposure to the radiation emanating from being stationed at the US Atomic Bomb site, was invisible to our government who to this day, has never taken responsibility for his illness and he was invisible to the outside world who couldn’t see past his wheelchair. However, this notion of being invisible did not solidify for me until I helplessly watched someone I love slowly disappear while he grieved for his beloved wife. It was from living through and observing this experience that I found an emotional window into this universal story.
I love to write. It’s been my addiction since the tender age of 10. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I strive to create strong, courageous and astoundingly real female characters because they have influenced me, inspired me, laughed with me, cried with me, carried me and walked beside me my entire life.
Aimee Pitta can be found on Facebook & Twitter



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What Inspires Romance Writer Sue Lilley?

Author Sue Lilley

I’ve been thrilled to do a couple of author interviews recently. But one question about my own favourite authors caused way more soul-searching and reminiscing than I expected. I never knew I was so indecisive but I guess it’s a bit like music or movies – it depends on the mood!

I’ve loved many different authors during various phases of my life. As a child, I borrowed Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew mysteries from my local library. I then devoured all Catherine Cookson’s historical sagas, which were set in the north of England, where I live. I moved on to Judith Krantz and the big sex and shopping novels of the eighties and all the romantic dramas by Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts.

High Hopes by Sue Lilley
Undoubtedly, my biggest influence has been Rosamunde Pilcher, who inspired my lasting love of Cornwall, which features in both of my own novels. Her novel The Shell Seekers is my all-time favourite book. I adore the wonderful characters, the sense of family history, the vivid setting. I had it in hardback and read it so many times my copy fell to bits and I had to buy it again, obviously well before the days of the Kindle. I even read it to my daughter as a bedtime story when she was a bit too young to appreciate it but insists to this day that she loved it.

If I was ever to be stranded on a desert island, I’d also take Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Scruples by Judith Krantz and any of the big and fabulous dramas from Penny Vincenci .

The UK may be a smallish island on the world map but Cornwall is as far away from where I live as you can get without leaving the country. But I love everything about the picturesque wilds of Poldark-country and I feel it’s my destiny to live there one day.

High Hopes is set there, with an old family house at the centre of the drama. The characters are childhood friends who are rocked by a twenty-year secret. High Hopes is the name of a place in the book and also represents the theme of having “high hopes” for the future.

Another Summer by Sue Lilley
Another Summer was inspired when I was visiting after a severe storm had caused devastating flooding. I saw the remains of an ancient bridge which had been destroyed by a rampant river. There was a shiny motorbike trapped in the debris. There wasn’t a soul in sight and I started thinking what if...? 

Check out Sue's Website at http://suelilley.com
Follow Sue on Twitter