Posts Tagged ‘Dora Machado’

Three Questions for Mayra Calvani

Monday, February 1st, 2016

LatinaAuthors_med1

Hello everyone!

Can you believe it’s already February? How time flies when you’re having fun! I’m so pleased to have Mayra Calvani visiting with us today. Her latest book, Latina Authors & Their Muses is a breakthrough exploration of the writing craft and the ways in which authors find their inspiration and channel their creativity. I’m so very excited to be a tiny part of her visionary project. I hope you’ll enjoy meeting the talented Mayra Calvani as much as I enjoyed speaking with her.

D.

Hello Mayra and thanks for visiting with us. Congratulations on your latest book, Latina Authors & Their Muses. What is it about and why did you decide to write it?

Thanks for having me on your blog, Dora! Latina Authors and Their Muses is a very dear, love project of mine which began its long journey several years ago. As you know, since you’re part of it, it is an anthology of interviews with 40 Latina authors living in the States and writing primarily in English, authors writing in various genres from literary to fantasy to paranormal to romance, and then some. It is a celebration of creativity and the artist’s soul, but it also offers savvy advice on the business of publishing and book promotion. I hope that my book will serve to inspire and inform the Latina authors of the future. One thing I should mention, though, is that while the book is especially focused on Latina writers, the topics discussed are of interest to all women writers.

 
I was inspired by another collection of interviews edited by a person I deeply admire and once had the chance to invite to my house for dinner: Carmen Dolores Hernández, book review editor of El Nuevo Día newspaper in Puerto Rico. The book is titled Puerto Rican Voices in English. Carmen sent me a copy and I loved reading about the various authors. I immediately toyed with the idea of putting together a similar tome. This was way back in 2005.

 

How many authors did you interview and what kind of questions did you ask?

 
As I mentioned, I interviewed 40 Latina authors writing in different genres and in different stages of their careers, from new writers with a debut novel to established, well-known names with a long track record. I was particularly interested in their childhoods and what events or people were influential in them becoming authors. I was also especially interested in what it means to be a “professional” or “successful” author and the part money plays in this equation. There are also questions about the creative process, craft, balancing writing with life, the psychology of writing (the “price” we have to pay for being artists, isolation, and guilt), their books, agents, publishers, and book promotion.

 
The book is also a chock-full of resources in terms of organizations, award competitions, agents, journals and publications catering to not only Hispanic authors but also authors in general.

 
What did you discover about Latina Authors and their muses? What surprised you?

 

I was surprised by how different the journey has been for each author. For some, finding an agent and getting published by one of the big NY houses was fairly quick and easy. For others, it has taken many years.

 
We all love the romantic notion of a Muse but, at the end, it’s all about commitment, determination, persistence, relentless passion, and hard work that makes most authors succeed. I was inspired, and humbly impressed by this remarkable group of women who’ve become, in fact, my Muses.

 
Thank you so much for sharing this extraordinary journey with us, Mayra. And thanks again for allowing me to be a small part of this grand, visionary project.

 
Thank you for this opportunity, Dora! I truly appreciate it!

 

About Mayra Calvani

 

 

Mayra Calvani and her cat (2)

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. In addition, she’s a regular contributor to Blogcritics.org and Examiner.com. She’s traveled extensively and lived in three continents, but now calls Belgium her home. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.

 

http://www.mayracalvani.com/
LatinaAuthors_med1Amazon Link

Tampa Comic Con 2015 and Lots of Pictures

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

 

 

 

Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015 TTB Authors

 

The rain, and the flooding that came with it, did not damper the spirits of over 55,000 folks who purchased tickets to attend Tampa Bay Comic Con. The place was packed, especially Saturday and Sunday, an exuberant celebration of the fantasy genre in all of its manifestations, comic books, video games, books, movies, TV shows, art and illustration.

 
But it is truly the people that make the con. Tampa Bay’s best and brightest showed up. I loved watching the awesome costumes that filled the exhibit hall. The convention center looked like some intergalactic hub teeming with the inhabitants of a million worlds, coming together to celebrate the human imagination. Characters were everywhere, some familiar, some truly original.

 
I honestly believe there’s a connection between creative energy, imagination and intelligence. Fantasy lovers include some of the smartest people I know. You could feel the excitement and creativity vibrating in the air, applied brainpower fueling the imagination, and the future, cloaked in the guise of pure fun.

 
The author panels are always my favorite part of the con and this year they were awesome. I sat on four panels, along with my fellow authors Scott Eder, Maria DeVivo and Tracy Akers. We had a fantastic time talking about the fundamentals of writing fantasy, what girls want in their fantasy, world settings and villains. The best part? We got to meet so many talented folks!
I love the diversity of the crowd that attended the panels. People of all ages and different backgrounds came together to share a passion for fantasy. I particularly enjoyed talking to writers and aspiring writers about their projects and dreams. Writing is a challenging craft, but when a whole lot of us get together to figure it out, we are an unstoppable force.

 
We did a panel called “So…do you want to be a writer?” It was standing room only. The energy of the crowd was incredible. I swear, from my seat on the podium, I could see the ideas zipping through the room like glowing fireflies. My only regret is that we ran out of time before we could answer everyone’s questions. But hey, we’re always around, available through email, FB, and Twitter, to share our journeys with our fellow writers.

 
And to all my new writer friends, to those of you who dream of sharing your stories with the world, don’t forget: Keep writing and may the joy of the craft always sustain you.

 

 

The official TTB Tampa Comic Con 2015 picture

 

Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015 TTB Authors having fun

The fun behind the scene picture

Panels Tampa Bay Con 2015

Authors Scott Eder, Tracy Akers, Dora Machado and Maria DeVivo participate in one of several panels

Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015 Panel 1

We had so much fun talking about writing and meeting lots of interesting and talented folks

Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015 well attended panelsThe panels were always well attended

Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015 well attended panels 2

More panels. Interesting things happen when writers and fantasy lovers get together

Display Table at Tampa Bay Con 2015

My novels on display at the Twilight Times Books table in the exhibit hall

 

Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015 Batman and the Joker

Fun at Comic Con: The Joker and Batman

Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015 Small and big monsters

Big scary monsters vs.  little cute monsters

Tampa Bay Comic Con Games of thrones

One of my favorite costumes of the weekend: Game of Thrones down to the attitude

Tampa Bay Con 2015

Another Favorite: Carmen San Diego and Waldo, found

Comic Con Three Authors

Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Hello everyone,

We had such fun last year at Tampa Bay Comic Con that we decided to go back. So yours truly, along with fellow Twilight Times Books authors Scott Eder and Maria DeVivo, will return to the Tampa Convention Center and join in this fun and exuberant celebration of fantasy in all of its forms. Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015 runs all weekend from Friday, July 31, to Sunday, August 2. Join us during our author discussion panels as scheduled below and stop by the Twilight Times Books Booth at Artist Alley E19/E20 and say hi. We’d love to see you there.

D.

Tampa Bay Comic Con – July 31-August 2, 2015

Comic Con 2015

Authors Panel Schedule

Comic Con Schedule

Comic Con Three Authors

For information and tickets click here.

The Not-So-Friendly Skies

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Laptop crammed in a plane

Has this ever happened to you?

I was flying from Colorado to Tampa when the guy sitting in front of me, 11 C to be exact, decided to settle for a nap. Crunch. With a violent shove, the back of his seat smashed down on me, my knees, and my brand new laptop, without so much as a second thought. I could’ve used the Jaws of Life to extricate my laptop from the jam, or perhaps the assistance of the flight attendant, who ignored my predicament with an indifferent shrug. For the rest of the flight, I stared at the man’s balding pate, practically laying in my lap. Score one of the gods of mischief. 11 C unhinged both my laptop and my muse.

I have a love-hate relationship with planes and airports. I love traveling, but I hate the process of getting there. The long security lines that range from the strange to the absurd rankle me. Do they really make us safe or is it all perception-based make believe? The uptight travelers and the grumpy flight attendants drive me crazy. Are we paying customers or human cargo? I hate to admit it, but every once in a while when I’m traveling, I have to suppress an impulse to shout at the top of my lungs something along the lines of “travelers of the world, unite!”

It wasn’t always like this. I have distant memories of the friendly skies and every once in a while I score a pleasant flight on a carrier that doesn’t charge extra for your suitcase–or your next breath—and still considers smiling an important requirement in their job descriptions. But still, I fly an awful lot and I long for the kinder times where we weren’t all looking at one another as potential terrorists across the aisle and my knees were not bruised after every flight.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the economics about selling more seats per airplane. I’ve also heard about the arguments that Americans are getting bigger vis-à-vis airplane seats. Okay, fine. Let’s stick to our diets, America. But sometimes, when I board a plane and look around me, I suspect that somewhere, someone is playing a joke on all of us. Only miniature elves could fit in some of those narrow, jam-packed seats, and even then, their tiny knees might end up as bruised as mine.

As a writer, I do an awful lot of work while in the air. Those hours are vital to my schedule. And while I’m willing to sacrifice my knees for the thrill of the journey, my laptop is sacred. It’s hard enough to work in the cramped quarters as it is, but when 11 C slams down his seat without warning and smacks down my laptop like a swatter on a fly, this usually chill traveler sees red.

Which is why I’ve come up with my own rules for flying. Unless the flight is very long, I don’t recline my seat. Period. It maintains an illusion of space and it really helps the person behind me if she or he is using a laptop. If I must recline my seat during those longer flights, I look back to make sure I’m not going to smash the other person’s laptop, device, or carryon dinner. If the person is awake, I inform them I’m about to recline the seat a couple of inches and do so slowly.

Did you get all of that, 11 C? It’s called common courtesy and, I promise, it won’t hurt you.

BTW–and since we’re talking about writers on planes–maybe we should address one other little tiny issue while we’re at it. If someone is using a laptop or a device near me, I typically avert my eyes from the content. Nothing is more unnerving to a working author than a nosy neighbor peering into one’s half-formed prose.

Yeah, I’m talking to you 12 D.

LOL.

Happy travels!

D.

Tampa Airport at night

My local airport, Tampa International at sunset.

On Inspiration, the Writing Process and My best Advice for New Writers

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Three Questions Answered for Sisters in Crime

Inspiration Point

Hello there!

My dear friend Eleanor Khuns, author of the fantastic historical mysteries Death of a Dyer, A Simple Death and Craddle to Grave tagged me to participate in the Sisters in Crime  blog hop by answering the questions below.

Enjoy!

D.

Which authors have inspired you?

I’m one of those people who think that the human mind is influenced by every contact and every read, no matter how casual or light. I learn from every word I read. Heck, even when I don’t enjoy a writer, I’m still learning from what him or her. As a young woman growing up in the Dominican Republic, I was exposed to many different influences. I thrived on young adult novels from Louisa May Alcott. I loved Enid Blyton and blazed through The Famous Five, The Seven Secrets and The Malory Towers series. I think I wanted to be a student at Malory Towers as much as my kids wanted to go to school at Hogwarts!

But, talk about being a hybrid of many worlds! At the same time I was reading Louisa May Alcott and Enid Blyton, I was also reading the Latin American classics. Books such as A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosas, and The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende left lasting impressions. I also tapped into my parents’ wonderful library, enjoying the Russians (I favored Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy), the French (Victor Hugo), the Germans (Eric Maria Remarque), the Spanish (Jose Maria Gironella), and the Americans (Hemingway, always Hemingway).

Later, when I came to the States, I discovered fantasy and was dazzled by J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen Donaldson, Frank Herbert, Robert Jordan, and George R.R. Martin, way before he became popular, I should add. I also fell in love with commercial fiction. Diana Gabaldon, Bernard Cornwell and Anne Rice are some of my all-time favorites.

What’s the best part of the writing process for you? What’s the most challenging?

The best part of the writing process for me is the writing itself. I love working on a first draft, laying down the ideas, characters and structure of a novel for the first time, discovering the full story in my mind. There’s something liberating about a blank screen, about the sentences turning into paragraphs and the paragraphs into chapters. I love the evolution of a story, the transformation that occurs as the story progresses, the unforeseen twists and turns that defy the outline and provoke the imagination.

The most challenging part of the writing process comes at the end for me, after the manuscript is done. I’m not one for self-promotion and yet the current publishing environment requires a great deal of it. I love talking to readers about writing and books, getting to know them, listening to their ideas and reactions to the stories and reading and writing in general. But tooting my own horn? It doesn’t come naturally to me.

If you were to mentor new writers, what would you tell them about the writing business? 

I enjoy mentoring new writers. I always tell them to educate themselves in the totality of the process upfront. It saves time if you have the basics covered, if the writer is proficient in grammar, punctuation, formatting and so forth. It also helps enormously if the writer has a good idea of how the industry works and how the market for her genre behaves.

I would also tell a new writer to submit their work to the highest possible standards of critical review prior to shopping for publishers. There’s a lot of stuff clogging the pipeline and a polished, edited manuscript can make all the difference in the world. Editors, critique groups, other writers and beta readers who know the genre can be invaluable to the new writer.

Above all, I would tell the new writer to write, to complete the manuscript from beginning to end, to edit it, to trudge through the entire creative process and learn from it. Your first manuscript may never see the light of day. Maybe your second and third won’t either, but no one can take away the treasure trove of learning that you gain each time you complete the creative process from beginning to end and the joy that comes from writing.

Thank you Eleanor for inviting me to participate in the Sisters in Crime blog hop. Hop on to the next blog and meet Barb Caffrey, the talented author of the comic, YA urban fantasy, An Elfie on the Loose.

Links:

http://www.eleanor-kuhns.com/2014/09/19/sisters-in-crime-blog-hop/

Eleanor Kuhns books 2

https://elfyverse.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/right-under-the-wire-barb-does-the-sincbloghop/

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http://www.sistersincrime.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=134

Dora Machado's Books (640x237)

 

 

The Life of a Writer

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

A Guest Post 

By

 Christine Amsden

StolenDreams_BannerSmall (1)

  I’m delighted to welcome Christine Amsden to my blog. She’s the talented author of the Cassie Scott series, a set of four fantasy novels that—as you may have noticed—I have often and gladly recommended on this blog. I’m thrilled to be a stop in her virtual book tour, as she celebrates the release of the fourth and final book of the series, Stolen Dreams. Today, she speaks to us from the heart. If you’ve ever wanted to be a writer, listen careful to what she has to say.

 Enjoy!

 D.

******** 

So …. you want to be a writer? Are you a dreamer? A story teller? Do you simply love the way words feel when they come together to create a picture? Climb on the crazy train then, and get ready for a long, bumpy ride.

Besides being a writer, I’m also a writing coach. I’m exceptionally good at it for one reason that has come as a surprise to me: I’m honest. Now, I always knew I was honest; what I didn’t realize was how rare this quality is, even in a coach. I tell the truth as I see it because only by reflecting both beauty and flaws can I inspire growth in a writer.

With that in mind, let me tell you the hard, cold truth about being a writer. It doesn’t pay. The handful of bestsellers out there cluttering up the pop culture notion of what a writer is represent less than one tenth of one percent of traditionally published authors (I’m not even talking self pub here). If anyone has said, “Don’t quit your day job,” they weren’t trying to be mean. They were trying to be honest.

I didn’t listen. :)

I quit my day job ten years ago when I got married, urged by my husband (who made enough for the both of us to live comfortably) to follow my dreams. I took the risk; one of the biggest of my life, and I have no regrets. Children came two years after marriage, filling my days with a combination of domestic and writerly activities that I found perfectly compatible. In a way, diluting my days with a wider variety of activities helped inspire me and make me more productive. I have written six complete novels in the eight-and-a-half years since my son was born (this doesn’t include a couple of dead-end projects that were, nevertheless, learning experiences).

Creative work isn’t like other types of work. It isn’t linear. It isn’t easy to quantify. Forty hours of creative work may be enough to write an entire novel draft (under extremely bizarre I-officially-hate-you circumstances), or it may only be enough to learn one important lesson before going back to the drawing board. An inspired writer can take a few stolen hours and create magic. An uninspired writer … well, that’s the problem with the ideal of the “full time writer,” aside from the paycheck thing. Sooner or later you run out of things to write *about*.

That’s why I started coaching. It’s also why I’m currently looking for creative new opportunities for part-time work. I’ve got a gig as a judge in a cooking competition coming up soon. Should be fun!

I know a lot of writers. Their stories are all different, their day jobs all unique, but one common theme rings true: We all long for the day when we can write full time, when our income from writing will support us in a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. I think knowing this story so well is one of the reasons why I’m a fan of TV talent shows like The Voice, America’s Got Talent, and (most recently) Rising Star. The acts all come on and say the same thing – that they dream of getting paid to perform. To do what they love.

You don’t want me to sing, but putting that aside, I understand. I really, really do.

And yet I understand one other thing, or at least, I am working towards understanding. (Self-actualization is more a journey than a destination.) I understand that I am a writer. Fame and fortune are not necessary for us to do what we love. We can do it just because we want to. Because, for whatever reason, these activities fulfill us.

One of the most common interview questions I get on tour is, “What advice would you give to aspiring writers?” I answer, “Only write if you love it.” The full answer is that if you’re writing for fame, or fortune, or for any external force, it’s not worth it. Writers write because the written word is our currency. It is an end in and of itself.

Between one thing and another, I lost track of that fact in the last year or two. I’ve taken the summer off from writing. I’m spending more time with my kids while they’re still young (6 and 8), working on promoting my Cassie Scot series, and still doing a little coaching. Writing will call to me again, sooner or later. It always does. I’ve already started to feel the pull of a project that would take me in a completely different direction from anything I’ve done before. It may pan out. It may not. Luckily, as an independent author I can write whatever I like. No one owns my time or my creativity.

If you want to be a writer, then write. It never even has to be something someone else sees. (Kind of like me singing in the shower where no one else can hear. :) ) If and when it grows to the point where you would like to share it, come seek us authors out on the Internet and join our circles of madness. But if you can, even then, try to keep it in perspective. There is always the dream; we are dreamers by nature, but don’t let the dream keep you from living your life now.

********

Stolen Dreams , Book 4 of The Cassie Scot Series

StolenDreams_med

http://amzn.to/1roxsAN

Edward Scot and Victor Blackwood have despised one another for nearly a quarter of a century, but now their simmering hatred is about to erupt.

When Cassie Scot returns home from her sojourn in Pennsylvania, she finds that her family has taken a hostage. Desperate to end the fighting before someone dies, Cassie seeks help from local seer Abigail Hastings, Evan Blackwood’s grandmother. But Abigail has seen her own death, and when it comes at the hand of Cassie’s father, Victor Blackwood kills Edward Scot.

But things may not be precisely as they appear.

Evan persuades Cassie to help him learn the truth, teaming them up once again in their darkest hour. New revelations about Evan and his family make it difficult for Cassie to cling to a shield of anger, but can Evan and Cassie stop a feud that has taken on a life of its own?

Don’t miss the amazing conclusion to the Cassie Scot series!

********

About The Cassie Scot Series:

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Cassie Scott 1

Secret and Lies

Mind Games

About Christine Amsden

Christine Amsdem 200 by 300

Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that affects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

Contact Christine at:

http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/Website or:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curse Giver by Dora Machado Wins the 2013 Silver IndieFab Book of the Year Award

Monday, June 30th, 2014

CurseGiver_Front Cover Final

Hello everybody!

I’m delighted to share the good news below with all of you.

Thanks for sharing this moment with me.

Best regards,

D.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 30, 2014—The Foreword Reviews’ IndieFab Book of the Year Awards, judged by a highly selective group of librarians and booksellers from around the country, were announced on June 27th, 2014 at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas. The Curse Giver, written by Dora Machado and published by Twilight Times Books, won silver in the fantasy category. Ms. Machado, who lives Florida, is the author of the award-winning Stonewiser series. Her latest novel, The Curse Giver, is also a Finalist in the Fantasy category of the 2013 USA Best Book Awards.

Midwest Book Review praised The Curse Giver as follows:

“Lovers of dark romantic fantasy will relish The Curse Giver. This was a wonderfully entertaining, absorbing read. The stakes are high, the conflict compelling, and the sympathetic hero and heroine will make you fall in love with them. Lyric at times, Machado’s prose flows beautifully throughout the pages, bringing to life her fictional world in full, vivid detail.”

Ms. Machado adds the distinguished 2013 IndieFab Book of the Year Award to her growing list of credits, which also include the 2012 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Silver Medal for SF/F, the 2010 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Gold Medal for SF/F and the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Debut Novel.

Foreword’s IndieFab Book of the Year Awards program was created to discover distinctive books from the indie publishing community across a number of genres. What sets the awards apart is that final selections are made by real judges—working librarians and booksellers—based on their experience with patrons and customers. Representing hundreds of independent and university presses of all sizes, IndieFab winners were selected after months of editorial deliberation over more than 1,500 entries in 60 categories.

The editors and staff at Foreword Reviews love indie books and the art of great storytelling. They discover, curate, critique, and share reviews and feature articles exclusively on indie-publishing trends. Foreword Reviews’ quarterly print magazine is distributed across the United States to librarians, booksellers, publishers, and avid readers, and is available at most Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, indie bookstores, and by subscription. Foreword’s website features a daily stream of reviews of indie books written by a team of professional, objective writers.

For a full list of the winners searchable by category, publisher, title, and author, visit Foreword Reviews online.

****

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for Murder By Four, an award winning blog for readers and writers and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

Author Contact Information:

E-mail:Dora@doramachado.com

Website: www.doramachado.com

Blog: http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Newsletter: http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoraMachado101

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DoraMachado

Publisher Contact Information:

Lida E. Quillen, Publisher

Email: publisher@twilighttimesbooks.com – or –

publisher@twilighttimes.com

Website: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/

ForeWord Contact Information:

Contact: Jennifer Szunko, Director of Marketing/Circulation

Foreword Reviews jennifer@forewordreviews.com 231-933-3699

The Story Behind The Curse Giver

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Dear Readers.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from you regarding how I came up with the original concept for The Curse Giver. In an effort to answer these questions, I’d like to share this essay that I wrote for The Curse Giver‘s release.

Enjoy!

D.

******

So, you’ve been wondering: How on earth did I come up with the concept for The Curse Giver?

The Curse Giver was an accident, a professional indiscretion, if you will, conceived during one of my little escapades, and born out of unchecked passion. Yep, I might as well come clean. Even the most disciplined writer can be unfaithful to her projects, and no matter how thoroughly taken one is with one’s current novel, the danger for a tangent is always there when venturing into the world of research.

So there I was, researching one book, working hard to finalize the Stonewiser series, when I came across this insidious little idea that kept disrupting my train of thought.

Now, to understand the story behind The Curse Giver, you must understand me and my writing habits. I’m not easily distracted. When I’m writing a novel, my brain goes into hyper mode. I’m disciplined, motivated and focused to the point of obsession, which is why The Curse Giver was such a surprise to me.

The subject of curses has always fascinated me, not only because curses are such a vital part of magic and fantasy, but also because they are so prevalent to the human experience. To be honest, I had always been intrigued by the subject, but didn’t delve into it, until one very late night—or was it very early morning?—when the wind rattled my window as a coastal storm blew in from the sea.

The clay tablets that popped up on my screen dated from 600 BC and were part of the library of Nineveh, also known as the library of Ashurbanipal, the oldest surviving library of cuneiform tablets. This is the same collection that gave us the famous Gilgamesh epic. Visually, the tablets weren’t much to look at, chicken scratches on clay. But the translated words had an impact on me.

May all these [gods] curse him with a curse that cannot be relieved, terrible and merciless, as long as he lives, may they let his name, his seed, be carried off from the land, may they put his flesh in a dog’s mouth.”

I know, hardly an inspiration for most. Me? I immediately thought of the man who had been thus cursed, of the pain and hardship such curse would bring upon him and his people, of the character that eventually became Bren, Lord of Laonia in The Curse Giver.

From there on, the curses flowed before my eyes, mysterious ones from ancient civilizations in Egypt, India and the Far East; thin lead tablets dating from the Greco-Roman world, judicial prayers, secret invocations, warnings and love spells that streamed into my consciousness. I knew I should get back to my original research, and yet I was smitten with the subject.

There were curses quoted from the Bible, medieval curses, real and forgeries, Viking, Celtic, Germanic, Visigoth, Mayan, Incan, Hopi, you name it. There were ancient curses but also modern curses, some associated with Santeria, voodoo and the 21 Divisions, religions that are common in the Dominican Republic where I grew up.

Who would cast these curses and why? What kind of creature could be capable of such powers? What would motivate a person to curse another one? As I explored these questions, a character profile began to emerge in my mind, someone whose understanding of good and evil was very different from my own.

Sorting through the research, I could see that some curses had practical applications to make sure people did what they were told. They served as alternate forms of law enforcement in lawless societies. Some were obviously malicious. They were meant to frighten and intimidate. Some were more like venting or wishful thinking. It turns out that mankind has been casting curses since the beginning of time and will probably continue for as long as we have the imagination and faith to do so.

A new question formed in my mind. Once cursed, what could a person do to defend himself? A third character emerged from this question, Lusielle, a common remedy mixer, a healer of hearts and bodies, someone who didn’t realize the scope of her own power until it began to transform her life.

Eventually, I wrestled myself out of the trance. I had a book to write and a series to complete. I had deadlines. But my little detour had made an impact. The concepts were at work in my subconscious, coalescing into a new novel, fashioning these powerful characters who demanded their own story. My encounter with curses had been but a slight detour from my research plan, a tiny deviation, an indiscretion to my schedule, but the seed had been planted and The Curse Giver thrived, even if I didn’t know it yet.

The Curse Giver from Amazon

The Science of Mind Magic

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

I’m delighted to welcome Christine Amsden back to my blog. Her new release, Mind Games, the next book in the beloved Cassie Scot series, recently hit the shelves. I just finished reading it and folks, it’s awesome. Check it out if you can. Today Christine talks about fantasy–my favorite subject–and the science of mind magic.

Enjoy!

D.

Fantasy and The Science of Mind Magic

A Guest Post

By

Christine Amsden

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The trouble with mind magic is: How do you know if someone’s controlling you?

You could drive yourself crazy wondering if your thoughts are your own or the product of someone else’s superior will. In the world of magic, there is something inherently sinister about the idea that one person can mess with someone else’s thoughts, feelings, and desires. This is a theme I’ve been building from the first book in this series, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, when Edward Scot says:

“Magic itself is never black, only the uses to which it is put, but mind magic is already tinted a deep, dark gray.”

Matthew Blair, a telepathic mind mage who takes center stage in Mind Games(Cassie Scot #3), disagrees. His response to this statement is:

“Any kind of power is already tinted a deep, dark gray. Haven’t you ever heard that power corrupts?”

Of course Matthew would say that. He’s a mind mage and he’s actively trying to manipulate our heroine, but as with all skilled manipulators he understands the power of truth and subtlety.

Mind control is not a uniquely magical phenomenon. People try to influence us wherever we go in subtle and overt ways. When you go to the store, the packaging of the products you browse screams at you, “Pick me! Pick me!” Retailers know how to use product placement to maximum affect (as every mother who has ever taken children through a candy-filled checkout knows). Advertisers bombard you with messages that work on your mind even when you don’t know it. Drug companies fill the airwaves these days with medicine most of us don’t need at any given moment, but they know you’ll remember when the time is right.

There are people in the real world who possess charisma – a trait I’ve lent a quasi-magical aspect to in my series. But you know what I mean. Some people just exude charm and grace and a little bit of “trust me.” Trendsetters. Natural leaders. Born politicians. Shapers of men and of the minds of men (and women). These people fill our minds with thoughts we embrace as our own, sometimes without our even realizing we have done so.

Before you ask – no, I’m not one of those people. I could wish, but in person I tend to be a little bit awkward. I’m much better at expressing myself through the written word.

One of the pointless (circular) existential questions I sometimes like to ask myself is: What do I fervently believe that is simply not true? And since I am so certain of this truth, why would I ever seek to correct that impression? I don’t consider myself to be a close-minded person (who does?) but I can only be open-minded when I am aware of a possible discrepancy. I must see that something in the world is inconsistent with my core beliefs. I have to get caught in a lie.

Getting back to the world of magical mind control, I often see authors going to extreme lengths when it comes to mind magic. Direct, obvious controls that the hero is just strong-willed enough to throw off because he or she has a superior… spirit? Intellect? Force of will? A little bit of all those things, I suppose.

In Mind Games, I wanted to show how hard it would be for even a strong-willed individual to throw off competently woven mind magic. This isn’t about strength at all, but skill. Matthew Blair tells Cassie in chapter one that he is a telepath and “hears” everything she thinks. He says this to her because he senses that Cassie will be drawn to the truth, and drawn to the genuine sense of alienation he feels because of his power. Cassie has always been drawn to help people in need. Matthew knows this about her, and he uses it against her.

To beat Matthew, Cassie will have to learn things about herself that make her stronger. She is going to have to face certain truths that she has been running from for two books.

Ultimately, she has to figure out that it’s happening. How can you change your mind if you don’t know it needs changing?

If that’s too heavy for you, feel free to enjoy this book as a fun magical mystery. Here are a couple of lighter reader questions to ponder:

1. Would you want to be a telepath? (Why?)

2. Would you want to date a telepath? (Why?)
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Personally, even with all the downsides that it would entail, I’d want to be a telepath.  As to dating a telepath? Absolutely not. A girl has to be able to keep a few secrets. Don’t you think?

If you haven’t read Cassie Scot yet, now’s your chance. The first book in the series, Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective, is on sale for $.99 for a limited time.

Have a wonderful day!

D.

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Amazon

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Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

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Mind Games (Cassie Scot Book 3)

Beware your heart and soul…

Evan broke Cassie’s heart two months ago, and she still doesn’t know why. She throws herself into family, friends and her new job at the sheriff’s department, but nothing helps. The only thing that finally allows her heal and move on is the love of a new man, mind mage Matthew Blair. Cassie finds him…irresistible.

Matthew may also be the only one who can help keep the non-magical residents of Eagle Rock from going crazy over the murder of a beloved pastor’s wife. It looks like a sorcerer is to blame, but while Cassie tries to figure out who, others take matters into their own hands. With tensions running so hot, a single spark might set Eagle Rock ablaze.

First Chapter: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/?page_id=3118

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The Writing Process

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

My dear friend, the talented Maria De Vivo, author of The Coal Elf, passed me the baton for the Writing Process Blog Tour. In turn, I passed the baton to three writers who I think you might enjoy meeting. This means all of us get to answer four questions about our work. Here are my answers:

What are you working on?

Oh, my! And I thought these would be easy questions. I have several projects going. I’m about halfway into a contemporary urban fantasy novel with a Latin twist. I’m also in the research stage of three different projects, one of them a fantasy/time travel adventure. And of course, I’m also in the process of writing the companion novel to The Curse Giver, a fantasy epic adventure with a hint of romance tentatively entitled The Soul Chaser.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

I think I bring a different perspective to the fantasy genre. I grew up in Latin America and I’ve seen and experienced the advantages and disadvantages of living in a developing nation. My stories are usually nuanced by issues of poverty, inequality, corruption and injustice. I like a complex plot with flawed, multidimensional characters engaged in passionate and meaningful relationships at many different levels. I write characters that are a product of changing environments and yet have to evolve with the circumstances.

I don’t mind a little length if it allows me the chance to ramp up the journey’s intensity and explore the richness of diverse and innovative worlds. My style is a little different too. I like to tell an epic story with lyrical flare. Finally, I bring some gritty realism to my fantasy worlds, a taste of the world we live in.

Why do you write what you write?

I straddle many worlds in real life, so fantasy is a perfect fit for me. I love the freedom of creating my own worlds. In many ways, fantasy is a reinterpretation of the human experience, as current and enduring as the world we live in. To me, fantasy is the most interactive of all the genres, the most flexible. I get to play and experiment with concepts, settings and ideas in all kinds of different frameworks. Who wouldn’t love that? I write fantasy because it’s fun.

What is your writing process?

It usually begins with an idea that gives birth to a character. Then that character takes over. I’m quite obsessive when I’m writing. I write all the time, wherever I am. The bulk of my writing takes place late at night. I write best during those uninterrupted times and I write for as long as I can. Sleep deprivation is usually a challenge. I can typically churn out a draft in three or four months. After that, I go into a compulsive editing phase, where I might be writing something new while editing the draft. It’s a grueling process and yet I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

There you have it. My writing process in a nutshell. I’m passing the baton to:

Jerry Hatchett

My friend Jerry Hatchett writes thrillers you can’t put down. He’s the author of several Amazon bestsellers, includingSeven Unholy DaysThe Pawnbroker and the upcomingUnallocated Space.

Linda Au

My friend Linda Au is a novelist, a humor writer and the funniest woman I know. She’s the author of several humor books, including Head in the Sand and the award nominated Fork in the Road.

Eleanor Khuns

My friend Eleanor Khuns is a writer of historical mysteries, winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition and author of A Simple Murder, Death of a Dyer and Craddle to Grave.

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