Thursday, May 16, 2013

My first author interview! Nola Sarina

You guys!! I'm so excited! I feel like a real blogger/writer because one of my writer crushes, the fabulous Nola Sarina, agreed to be my first author interview. I have been a fan of Nola's even before I read her book, when her agent, the equally awesome Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency, suggested we bring Nola in on a Twitter discussion. I read what Nola and her books were all about and it was love at first sight. I knew she was going to be an incredible writer and that I would love her work. Maybe I am a little psychic, like Jake in my thriller, A SCARRED MIND (tiny little plug). ;) But anyway, Nola asked me to read and review her novella, GILDED DESTINY. I was THRILLED and proved my psychicness (haha) when I looooved it! I had so many questions for her I decided to make it a formal interview.

First of all, here is the beautiful cover:

Read all about it here
Here is the beautiful Nola :) Follow her on Twitter @NolaSarina

And here is my interview! Thank you so much, Nola!! I <3 you. 
Me:   First of all, please describe in your own words the premise of your Vespers series.
I wanted to create creatures of the night who were more vicious, deadly, and passionate than what I’d seen in most paranormal fiction lately. The Vespers are serpentine demons charged with the protection of the human race: their food source, whom they paralyze with venom and swallow whole.

Me:  What inspired your Vesper series? When did you start writing it?
I imagined a dark figure dwelling upon trains in the middle of nowhere. I’ve been writing the Vespers for a few years. Three-ish. The idea was there long before I put it down in a document, and then I took a long break after the first draft to let it mingle in my head and straighten itself out like a well-behaved little manuscript. (Me: How cool is that?! I love when an entire book series comes from a single image or dream) 

Me: How many novels & novellas are planned? How many written so far?
There are four full-length Vesper novels and three novellas. All the novels are completed and I’m almost done with the second novella. After the novels, I have a spin-off series outlined following one of the other characters in the cast as the lead dude. (Me: I'm going to read them ALL!)

Me:  Are you a planner or a pantser? Which came first – the idea for the prequel or the novel?
I’m a planner who pantses halfway through. The idea grows and changes as I work through the middle of a book, and sometimes I end up somewhere I never expected, with relationships that have evolved beyond the constraints of the outline. (Me: I love when stories take on a life of their own!) 
The novels came first with Levi as the main character… and eventually, I grew to want more from the world of the Vespers. I wanted to tell more of their stories and show the diversity of disobedience these serpent slaves find the courage to engage in as they all struggle to adhere to the commands of their brutal master Levitiqas.

Me:    How much fun is it to create the world/legend of the Vespers? Can you describe your process?
It’s SO fun. The characters kind of come with me everywhere… I love the passion in the world, and I love the adversity the characters face, whether they overcome their challenges or succumb to them. Each of the characters in the story has a personal challenge to overcome, and even the characters that only show their wicked side in one story (such as Festus in Gilded Destiny) have deeper dimensions discovered in other books. Each book takes each character on a journey, and if you like one of the side characters you can expect to see them as a central figure in another book. (EEK! This makes me smile) 

Me:    Which do you enjoy writing more – the good guys or the baddies?
Bad guys are my favorites. I think it’s because I can understand how they arrived at their bad place, and who they were before they fell from goodness. None of my bad guys are ever just “bad” – they have reasons for the things they do, reasons that make sense to them even if to nobody else. Some of them find healing, redemption, and the ability to forgive. Some of them have lost too much of themselves to come back from that place. (I LOVE this! I think I should write more baddies...) 

Me:    Favorite beverage while writing?
Coffee but I occasionally go on tea-binges.

Me:    Music or silence?
Music for emotional scenes, silence for action scenes. I try to mix the two scenes together – allow the emotion and relationship development to bleed out of the pages through an action sequence experienced between more than one character. During those scenes, it depends on the emotion… if it’s a hopeless scene: music. A sexy scene: silence. A frightening scene: music if the character can’t win, silence if they can. I guess if the characters are in a good position I like it quieter, and if they’re struggling I like music to bring that emotion forth in myself. (This is funny because I think I'm the opposite! I need music for the action. Then again, music is going constantly around here...) 

Me:    Have you mentally cast the movie version of the Vespers?
I have several Pinterest boards for my dream casts for the Vespers, including one I like to have readers pin their ideal Vespers to. I’m not shy about adding other readers to the board to pin their ideal hotties for any Vesper character, so it’s an open invitation if anyone has actors/models in mind! Check it out here:
Ultimately, I haven’t found the perfect Nycholas (including the face – I’ve got LOTS of torso shots hahaha) but I have a total obsession with Joe Manganiello as the character of Levi. (Nola is responsible for the best hashtag ever: #JoesAteOurBrains We share a love of Joe's. Hers is Manganiello, mine is McIntyre) 
Nola's Joe 
My Joe

Me: Name two (or more) writers that inspire you & your work.
Jacqueline Carey, Karen Chance, and Stephen King. But I am honestly mostly inspired by the writers I know, those who speak with me about craft, character, and conflict… whether they’re published or not doesn’t matter. They are my inspiration and teachers, and I’d be nowhere without each one of them. (LOVE this answer, Nola! You're the best!) 

Again, thanks so much for letting me pepper you with questions, Nola. Anyone who wants to buy the book (and you'd better! You won't regret it!), here are the links: 
Buy here

Monday, May 6, 2013

Writing and Running

Two big things have happened in my life lately. 

1) I've embarked on another complete rewrite of my thriller, A SCARRED MIND. 

2) I'm training for a half-marathon. 

Say what?! 

Honestly, it's been hard to stay motivated to do both these things. I figure it's because they are both so huge and life-changing, I've intimidated the hell out of myself. Why have I given myself such big goals? Good question. 

As for the rewrite, I honestly didn't think I had it in me. I told myself after entering #PitchMadness, if it ended in rejection, that was it. I would shelve this story and work on something else. Well, it did end in rejection. I got a full request from the contest, which I was completely stoked about, but ultimately, she rejected. She pointed out that I had too many points of view (I had three) and it was a little too supernatural for her taste. I was gutted.

I had my full out with another agent, one I loooove, and then she said the same things the rejecting agent said BUT offered to look at it if again if I wanted to rewrite. So I was faced with a decision: Was I really ready to shelve it? Or did I want to do another complete rewrite, getting rid of two of my three points of view and fix the problems? When I listened to my heart, the answer was obvious. 

I didn't have to think about it very long. I started outlining a rewrite immediately. Oh, and I'm historically a pantser. Everything has changed! The world is topsy-turvy! I have gotten rid of 2/3 of my POV and now the book is one character in first person, rather than three in third. I can't even believe how much better it is. I hope I can keep it up. I'm 11k words in, shooting for around 75-79k. I'm blogging about it to keep myself accountable, to keep me motivated. With this goal along with the half-marathon I'm training for, I sometimes feel like I've gotten in over my head and won't be able to complete either.

Don't let me give up on myself! 
I decided to train for a half-marathon the day of the Boston Marathon. Even before the horrible bombings, I was inspired by the women I saw cross the finish line. I watched them, tears welling in my eyes, and thought, "I want to do that." I've been running off and on for over a year. Over the summer of 2012, I stopped because I was full of excuses. "It's too hot." "My kid is home from school so there's no time." blah blah blah. Like I said, excuses. I started running again in the fall, only to get sick in December and stop again. Finally, in February, my writing muse and running inspiration Joey McIntyre (I know I talk about him a lot) announced he was going to run the Boston Marathon. Something in me clicked and I thought, if he can run a marathon, I can damn sure run a half. I talked myself out of that pretty quickly when I couldn't run a full mile without hacking up a lung. I had to learn that you have to build your endurance and set smaller goals. I didn't give up. I'm up to two miles now and not giving up anytime soon.  
(Yes there is a Gus to illustrate every point)

I decided running is a lot like writing. There are a million excuses not to do it. It's too hard. I'm not strong enough. I can't run a mile. I can't rewrite this book. That's all bullshit. The truth is I can do anything, as long as I believe I can. So I AM rewriting this book and I AM going to run a half-marathon. Specifically, the Wrightsville Beach half-marathon in March 2014. That gives me plenty of time to get there. :D I plan to finish the rewrite much sooner, hopefully by my birthday, June 30. 

And then I'll be all: 

No seriously:

I'll be updating my Twitter with rewrite and running goals as I meet them so please follow me if you aren't already and help me stay motivated. :) Thanks for reading! xoxo