Saturday, 21 December 2013

Time Slicing and Algebra - a guest post by Gisela Hausmann

Today's post is by Gisela Hausmann, the author of the book Naked Determination.

Gisela writes:

As a child I had been fascinated by the fact that I could multiply a negative number with another negative number and create a positive product. I still remember when my math teacher, Mr. B., presented this concept…

Negative times negative equals positive??? How could this be?

Mr. B. called it Algebra. To me, it didn't make sense, though other algebraic operations did.

It was obvious that if I multiplied any number with zero all was gone. Zero [0] was this huge force that sucked everything in and nullified all. Kind of like a black hole in space.

The fact, that multiplying a positive number with a negative number produced a negative product made sense too. The “negative aura” tainted the product and made the whole thing negative.

The only thing that did not make sense was that multiplying two negative numbers could produce a positive number.

Eventually, I made this concept work for me - in real life.

Two negative chores might be 1) to clean my refrigerator and 2) to sort out my closet. At least to me, both of these tasks are unpleasant.

Inevitably I will find at least one item in my refrigerator which has expired.  Of course, I hate that. I still remember seeing pictures of child victims during the famine in Biafra when I was a child. I don't ever want food to go to waste.

Equally, going through my closet will most certainly reveal that I cannot even keep track of my own socks... How can it be that I traveled the globe but I cannot keep track of my own socks, in a confined space like my own house... After three decades of losing socks a certain feeling of incompetence has set in...

Cleaning my refrigerator thoroughly will take about 1 hour.
Cleaning my closet might take 2 hours.
The mathematical equation for these two processes is:
(-1 hr) + (-2 hrs) = (-3 hrs)
In other words: If I tackle these tasks one after the other I will spend 3 hrs doing things I am not particularly fond of.

What about if I mixed things up???

Let’s say, I check all items from only two shelves of my refrigerator for their expiration date and wipe the jars perfectly clean. Then I wash only these two shelves, and set them out to air-dry. Instead of continuing with the refrigerator, I now tackle the clothes on half the closet rod.

Returning to the refrigerator, the remaining task does not look as daunting as before.  My first two shelves have air-dried and I can store clean food jars on them. Stepping away from the refrigerator and admiring my work I already have a feeling of success. Equally, when I'll get back to the closet, the task won't look so bad. After all, the clothes on half the closet rod is already neatly sorted.

Finishing both tasks in intervals is much more entertaining. Also, I get to live through multiple periods of successes instead of looking at a seemingly never-ending task. I believe that this works for me a result of today's lifestyle. We are used to imagining/seeing results 1-click away. We are simply not used to laboring our way to success anymore. Things are supposed to worker faster than they did years ago.

The mathematical equation for this second option is:
(-1) x (-2) = (+2)
Two negatives create a positive feeling!

Gisela Hausmann is author of 9 books, including the award-winning adventure ebook Naked Determination, which is on sale for 99 cents until the end of Boxing Day.Get it HERE.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Interview with the author - Solease Barner

Today's interview is with Solease Barner, author of the Draglen Brothers erotic romance series.

Solease, you were already established as a writer of fantasy/science fiction, and you've recently launched a series of erotic romance novels. I'm wondering what prompted the switch in genre?

That is true, I was already established in sci-fi/fantasy, but I kept getting requests about a romance story or series. People were telling me how much they enjoyed the love story in my first series. I eventually gave in and decided to go ahead and write one. It took me a minute to decide how I wanted the story to go, but once I sat down and thought, the story became alive to me.

And will you be continuing as well with the popular Secrets of the Ghosts series?

Yes, I will finish the 3rd book in the Series, which is titled REDEMPTION. I then intend to do a couple of novellas, as I've been asked to do a little more with that story as well. People feel like they are a part of this family of sisters.

A common theme in both series is the group of siblings. Is there something about siblings that particularly appeals to you?

Yes, it does. I come from a family of all girls and we are very close. I think people can relate more to family story-lines, even if they are only children. They more than likely have some cousins or friends who were like sisters or brothers. Nothing says drama like family drama.

That's so true. Just harking back to your response to the previous question - you seem very responsive to requests from your readers, and have taken a new direction in response to reader demand, right? Anything else you'd like to say about that?

Well, yes, I do consider my readers. I mean, if they love the romance in the series and want more, I'll give them more. I usually give it a twist, like in my romance series. I decided to do paranormal and even go so far as to create another world and a language. I do like the romance/erotic genre. I will write more in this genre, but will put another twist in it. I will go back, though, to my original writing with fantasy/sci-fi with mystery. I'm always trying to do something different. I mean that's the point of fiction writing, right? It can be anything!

Indeed! But few writers that I know of are so flexible in their response to reader demand. I'm wondering if your own background of a large, close family has made you more flexible in responding to others' needs?

Well that could be true, like I said, it was four girls in my family. We always had to share and consider each other in all things, like sharing bathroom time. I do come from a large family of cousins and aunts as well. So yes, I will say I do consider some of the readers’ demands, but not all. If they are reasonable and I can see myself writing it, then I will try. Some demands will never happen though.

What are some of the unreasonable ones that are never going to happen, if you don't mind telling?

Well just to name a few, I can't see myself writing about children being killed (like small kids) or doing a scene of a person being raped in detail. I just couldn't do it. I worked in Criminal Justice before writing, and I know that this happens for real, I have seen it. It's too close to me. I just couldn't get through the scene. In my first series I had to write about how Holiday’s sister was raped, and I never went into details like I could have, but yet I cried writing that scene.

I don't blame you a bit, I'm sure that's not what most of your readers want to see.

Oh I could be listening to a song, or driving down the street and see something that makes me wonder. I almost go into a thought process of how I could make a story out of these things. The little things give me inspiration.

And how about other writers? What do you read yourself, and what writers do you most admire?

I read a little bit of everything, I like historical fiction, I love cowboy books, I read paranormal, horror, BDSM, erotic, contemporary romance, I like poetry, Shakespeare and inspirational books. If it can keep my interest then I will read it. I admire so many authors, but I love Maya Angelou, E. Lynn Harris, Stephen King, Terry McMillan, John Grisham, the list could go on and on.

What would you say are the best and the worst things about being a writer?

Well, the best thing about being a writer is writing. I love it when I'm in my fantasy world, creating characters, scenes, and people. I fall in love with them. If I hate the character, everyone else does too, but I enjoy writing. The bad part for me is taking a chance on how people will react once I publish the book. I get nervous and second guess myself before I put it out. I have books written that will more than likely never get published just because of my fear of the reactions, but that is my bad part; some authors find other things bad about writing.

What's a typical day for you when you're working on a book?

I usually work around my daughter’s and husband’s schedule. I write during the day while she is at school and my husband at work. I usually get dinner prepared before they arrive home, and spend the evening with them. Then, when the house gets quiet, I go back and write some more. I really love it if I have a full day by myself, I spend the day just writing. I play music before a scene sometimes, to help get into the frame of mind of that scene.

And what about when it gets tough, what helps you to keep going?

When the writing gets tough?

Yes, when things are going badly, perhaps a scene isn't working out the way you want it to, or maybe you cop a bad review, or you get stuck with your story development - what things help you to carry on?

When I have a bad day, I don't work on the book, but I will write poems. I will watch a movie, read a book totally different from what I'm writing. I might even decide to take a drive - anything to clear my head.

So a little distance generally clears things up. And now the biggie - writer's block. Have you ever experienced it? Do you believe in it?

I never have experienced it. Do I believe in it? I'm sure it's real for some authors, but for me.... I have never had to take a break because I had a block, its usually outside influences for me. I really get into my characters, I can hear their voices. It never goes away until the story is complete.

And finally, is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

I would like the readers to know that as I write, I'm thinking about what I would like to read and what others might find entertaining. I'm open to ideas, so never be afraid to give me a new story, I might give it a twist and add some things, but I'm always open. I hope my readers will continue to read and enjoy the books I write.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Interview with the Author - Patti Roberts on the new Paradox book, Equilibrium, to be released on Christmas Eve

Today's interview is with Patti Roberts, author of the Paradox series and the Witchwood Estate series.

So, I understand you're about to release the long-awaited conclusion of the Paradox series. Are there any big surprises in store for your readers?

Angela would answer that with "Is that a rhetorical question?"
Kate has lost her memory.... but not all of it! Grace discovers her special ability. Clair goes home to Altair to find her real father. Abaddon and Lyssa join forces - but who is the real monster? Angela makes a heartbreaking decision. Joshua kisses a girl, and it isn't Angela. Has Damon lost Juliette again? Riley realizes he has made a terrible mistake, putting Grace's future in grave danger.

Exciting times ahead! And do we have a release date for this book?

Christmas Eve.

Speaking of Angela, who I must admit is my favourite character, one of the things that really strike me about this series is the tremendously detailed descriptions of historical events - were any of your characters inspired by historical figures?

Yes. I love using actual events in the paradox series. In bk 2 Progeny of Innocence, Grace has a vision of a little girl, aged 5, called Hilda. This character was loosely based on Hildegard of Bingen, also known as Saint Hildegard, and Sibyl of the Rhine. She was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath. Elected a magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136, she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and Eibingen in 1165.

Oh yes, I remember that bit, and it was pretty clear who it was. So, this series has been a long time in the making, what are your plans once it's finished? May we ask if you have a new project in the wings?

There will be a Book 5. It is very clear that the story still has much to offer to fans of the Paradox series. And there is also the Witchwood Estate series that I'm working on. Book 4 is due out early 2014.

Ah, so the Paradox series is not going to be over after all, then! I'm sure a lot of people will be delighted to hear that. And the immensely popular Witchwood Estate series, of course, will be continuing.
Would you like to give us a little preview of what we can expect in the next episode of that?

Alexandria uncovers secrets that may reveal the truth about her parents deaths. Her heart is torn between River and Bran, the mysterious newcomer to Ferntree Falls.That is very vague, I know, because when i write the story it is very character driven and I very rarely know which outside influences can reshape and change the direction of the story at any time.

Now something I've been wondering; I notice you always have a lot of pictures of your characters in your posts, and I get the impression that your creative process has a very visual side to it; how does that work for you? Do you ever find a picture and 'recognise' a character in it that you subsequently create in your writing? Or is it more a case of writing the character and then looking for the picture to match him?

I have an idea what my character looks like in my head, which can make it very difficult to find the right person to portray that particular character. It is much easier to find an actor to portray and influence your character. For example, Jonathan Rhys Meyers was always in my mind as the Abaddon character, so when it was announced that he would be playing the part of Dracula in the new TV series, I knew he'd be perfect for the part, because I had already likened him to being a vampire.

Do you envisage a film or television adaptation of Paradox in the future?

I'll let Angela answer that - "Is that a rhetorical question?" Me, i would LOVE it. It would be a dream come true! I'm a huge fan of TV series, they have a longer shelf life if they are successful. TV series characters are in your living room week after week, and I love that - whereas movies, as great as they are at the time, come and go.

Any other casting choices you'd like to see on the screen?

Travis Fimmel (Vikings) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) have both been inspirational for the Lord Cerberus character.

Every writer has days when it's hard to continue - what inspires you to keep on when the going is tough?

There is nothing tough about writing either the Paradox or the Witchwood series. I love writing them. I think if I found it tough, I wouldn't continue writing them, but rather move on to something else. The characters inspire me, and their stories. They are talking in my head constantly. Of course great reviews inspire you, too, but for me, it is definitely the characters.

And lastly, are there any writers in particular that you feel have influenced you, either in the kind of thing you write or in the way that you write it?
Oh yes. George R R Martin, author of the Game Of Thrones series. Anne Rice, Dan Brown, to name just a few.
Well, there you go, readers! Equilibrium, the fourth book in the Paradox series, due out on Christmas Eve.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Interview with a Poet - Ben Ditmars.

I wanted to start with something about origins - what made you want to be a poet? Was it something you decided, or was it more something you sort of discovered about yourself?

I think it was something I discovered. I started out writing stories, and then poems that were a lot like stories. Eventually, I came across Frost and other poets, and decided that was something I really wanted to do.

And how long ago was that, roughly?

I was about 15 or 16 when I really got into poetry. I'd probably been writing stories since I was 8.

And Frost, that would be Robert Frost, right? Would you say he was a major influence?

Definitely. I think he was the first poet I really read besides Tolkien. His ideas seemed so true about nature, life, and where we end up. I memorized Nothing Gold Can Stay at one point.

Why that poem particularly?

I read it in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, and there was a beautiful theme around that poem. Especially the line, "Stay gold, Ponyboy."

What were other influences on your work? Writers or life events?

I've always liked poets who made a strong point, or taught me something beautiful. Life can be hard to understand, and poetry helps. I think life events in general, being turned down by a girl, struggling to find myself in the world, losing my grandma and grandpa... all these things I think about on a daily basis.

That's very true. Do you find it makes a difference also to people that you meet? For instance, were you mocked as a young boy for writing poetry? I can imagine that happening at schools I went to.

I was never mocked, actually. I think everyone has been supportive for the most part. They seem to enjoy stories more, however. I think it matters so much as sparking their interest in the art of poetry. People's conceptions of it can be that it's beyond them, or should rhyme, or should be very structured.

Is there one overall message that you would say your poetry carries?

I think there are many messages. I'd like to think more of broad themes such as love, understanding, and expressing things that cannot be easily be said in structured sentences.
I think it's the difference between telling something and showing it. You can explain something clearly and it can elude me, but if you put into words, metaphors, and emotions, it really is clear.

And have you a particular favourite among all the poems you've written?

There are some poems I've not shared yet with anyone that I feel really say something about myself. Metaphors and emotions I get when I reflect on where I am. Want me to share one?

Yes indeed! That would be super if you wouldn't mind.

Dark Hearts
I feel our dark hearts
easing desperation
with cool sweat
in the magic air
between us.

Exhale the Dawn
Exhale the dawn
Breathe crimson sky into the night
Transform the stars and melt the moon
Bleed life into a sleeping earth;
Our bed becomes the galaxy.

Those are beautiful, thank you so much for choosing to share them for the first time on my blog!

No problem. I'm really glad for the opportunity.

Now, Ben, you've been a major contributor to the Quillective Project, would you like to tell my readers a bit about that?

I would! The Quillective Project is an anthology of poetry I created with Amber Norrgard, Scott Morgan, and Rob Zimmermann, with a lot of promotional help from Kriss Morton. Each year we plan to help fund a different charity. This year, contributions went to a no-kill animal shelter in Dallas called Dog & Kitty City. It's very near to my heart, as the idea of shelters taking in animals and killing them has appalled me for a very long time. To know there is an alternative to something so senseless is an amazing thing.

Is there anything else you'd like to say before we close?

I'd like to thank you for the interview. I love the chance to get a few poems out there, talk about writing, and how it can help others; especially those with no voice to help themselves.

Well there you have it, readers! Ben Ditmars - poet, animal activist and all-around nice guy. A true man of our times. And if you'd like to support the Quillective Project, you can buy the book here.