Sunday, January 29, 2012

A love of revisions

I've read and heard lots of writers moan about revisions, but I have to admit something: I actually like revising more than first drafting!

I'm in the middle of revisions on one project, so this has been on my mind a lot lately. I never feel like I really know the story or the characters until the first draft is written. It's going to be messy and terrible, and really, I just want to get the first draft over with so I can delve in deeper and turn that mess into something worth all my hard work. Revisions allow me to get to know the characters better and understand what they really want out of the story. Why do they do certain things? Why did this character say that? Why is this important to her, and why does this other character think it's more important to him? I get to answer all those questions during revisions. The first draft is my basic framework. Revisions make it pretty.

What about you? Do you like revisions or first drafting better? In the future, I'll share some of my favorite processes for revising, but feel free to tell me about your revision method in the comments!

Interview with Leanna Renee Hieber

Give a warm welcome to guest author 
Leanna Renee Hieber
Do you outline? If so how closely do you follow it?
Leanna: "PANTSER" FOR LIFE! While I have to write some sort of outline to turn in to my editor, I hate outlining and my books never turn out like the outline, exactly. The sense and basic trajectory of a book remains the same, but how I get there is totally different. But, if you want to be a professional writer, you still have to give your editor something to work with, so I try to make sure I am keeping her in the loop with what I'm doing and providing her with some cover copy or basic points whenever she needs.

Has being a novelist changed the way you read and appreciate novels?

Leanna: Yes. I read far less for pleasure than I used to, and that makes me sad. Just because I don't have much time, not because I don't want to.

How much do you draw from your own life when constructing your main character?

Leanna: Elements of me are in all my characters, and some more than others. It's a composite. No one is ever directly taken from myself or someone I know, but a mixture of inspiration and my own creation. Then, when they become their distinct own character, they take on a life of their own and even those external influences become owned by the character itself.

How do you get to know your characters? Do you write out a bio, they just come to you or do you have certain facts you always decide on first?

Leanna: They come to me, like visions or dreams, usually with certain traits and characteristics in hand from the start. Sometimes they come because there are ideas I want to play with, in certain settings, and the characters evolve as the messengers and torch-bearers of those ideas. It's a bit mystical, really. They're like a collage, I dream up bits of them and they just become more complex as I write, more and more layers and pieces. One writer said that it's like making mosaics, and that's very true.

Do you tend to reach the word count you want exactly, overshoot or undershoot? How does it effect your editing?

Leanna: I have a general, industry-standard target and somehow I end up around that target, give or take a few thousand. That the story line is served to the best of it's ability, with the best words, is the important part and I'll do whatever I have to do to make that possible. The more books I write, the less wildly my word count varies, I've become a bit more efficient. But my editor is the most important part of my editing, my relationship with both of my editors is very fundamental, like the relationship between an actor and a director. My years in theatre really influence how I think about the artistic process, and I find that perspective very helpful.

About Leanna Renee Hieber:
Leanna is an actress, playwright and the award winning, bestselling author of the Strangely Beautiful series of Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels. Her next novel DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul released 11/8/11 from Sourcebooks Fire. DARKER STILL is a YA Gothic tale about a haunted painting and a terrible curse that threatens an unexpected romance in the lush, atmospheric, eerie setting of New York City in 1880. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I bought a dresser today. I know, I know: big deal. But here's the thing. It kind of was a big deal. When my husband and I first married, we were both grad students and dirt poor. We made bookshelves from cinder blocks and pieces of 1x8 planks of wood because, really, bookshelves weren't optional for us. We shuddered at the expense, which could have bought us a week's worth of Mac-n-Cheese and hot dogs and Cheerios.

Before too long, we bought a "do it yourself" wooden table with a drawer which was big enough for both of us to use as a study desk if we sat kitty-corner. Then came a long stretch of no furniture until we had our first kid. Friends lent us a changing table and a crib, we were given a rocking chair, and my husband took a woodcraft class to make a futon couch for us. (I sewed the futon cushion. Yes, you can do that.) Oh, and we bought a chair at St Vinnie's for $6 so I'd have somewhere to feed the kid. I guess our family members got tired of not having anywhere to sit, because we acquired assorted hand-me-down furniture from them over the next few years.

But there was one thing we always found spare change for. Bookshelves.

We built our first (non cinder-block) pair between kid one and kid two. Rubbed it down with beeswax and used heater-vent sheeting for cool looking doors. Sweeeeeet, we thought. Then a couple more moves and we needed another bookshelf. And then another. And another couple. And then two more. The ratio of bookshelves to any other single piece of furniture in our home is really astounding. And we still don't have enough.

See? Here's proof: my writing desk as bookshelf.
So, you might expect that on a recent trip to IKEA, I would buy something useful for shelving books.

Only I soooooo didn't.

I know a dresser's not much, but I used WRITER INCOME to buy it! I've been working (writing) without a paycheck for twenty-five loooooong months.

And then, last month, my books caught some serious notice and suddenly I've been selling, selling, selling.

I wanted to celebrate, to mark the moment. I know bookshelves would seem like an ideal way to do that, and it was tempting!!! But the thought of buying myself a dresser felt so utterly frivolous, and after a bleak twenty-five months sans paycheck, I was ready to rock me some frivolity. What's your fave piece of furniture? Does it have a story? Tell me for a chance to win your choice of one of my e-books!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Character Interview: Amber Hopkins from BECOMING

Today, I'm happy to engage in some Q&A with Amber Hopkins from my book Becoming (Book One of the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy). Some of these questions were posed to me via my website, and the others I came up with because I thought readers would enjoy learning more about Amber. Although it took some doing, she transitioned back to the human plane just to participate in this interview.

Welcome, Amber, and thanks for making the effort to be here!

Amber: No prob. Not sure what all the fuss is about, though.

I can understand why you'd say that, seeing as how you spent the first eighteen years of your life trying to stay out of the spotlight. I'm sure it wasn't easy moving from foster home to foster home as you grew up. Don't suppose you'd like to discuss those mysterious surges you experienced that led to those displacements?

Amber (quirking eyebrow): No.

That's what I thought. Oookay...on to other things. What was it like growing up with Mrs. B?

Amber: It was pretty cool. Mrs. B gave me the support I needed when I thought no one would. People might think that Gabriel and I got picked on in school because of our status as foster kids and, well, because Mrs. B is black and we're not. But Gabriel's popularity kept that from being an issue. Since I had enough issues, I'll just say that's a good thing.

I'm sure it's safe to say that you don't want to discuss why you had those issues...

Amber: Safe to say. Trust me, it isn't interview material.

Got it. All right, then. Tell us what it was like growing up with Gabriel.

Amber (turning red): What is there to say? We met when we were twelve. He became my best friend. That's it, really.

What are some of the things you did together as you were growing up? What drew you together as friends?

Amber: Well, he helped me train as I learned karate. He'd run with me every morning, too, since I was on the track team and it also helped him stay in shape. He played just about every sport he could. Oh--and music. We liked to jam in the garage whenever Mrs. B let us.

Jam? Readers know that you play the guitar, but what about Gabriel?

Amber: He can play the guitar some, too, but he prefers the drums. Mrs. B got him an old set when he was ten and he picked it up by listening to his favorite CDs and imitating the rhythms. We both learned to play by ear. There wasn't any money for lessons on top of the karate.

Understandable. I have to say, Gabriel sure is amazing! He's gorgeous, funny, gentlemanly and charismatic (and let's not forget loving!). Does he have any faults?

Amber (snorting): Of course he does. He's extremely protective. When we were in school, the fact that he stood up for me so often made some kids think that I couldn't hold my own. Now that we're on the Estilorian plane, he's eased up a bit...but that irritating over-protectiveness still comes through every so often. If you didn't already guess, I can protect myself.

Of course you can! Gosh, seeing the two of you down the road with kids--

Amber: Kids? I think you're getting ahead of yourself here.

I guess you're right. We'll leave those questions for the Firstborn trilogy! Why don't we round this out with some fun, quick-answer questions?

Amber: Sure. I'll answer if I want to.

Okay. Chocolate or vanilla?

Amber: Vanilla.

Dogs or cats?

Amber: Neither. Animals and I never seem to click.

Books or movies?

Amber: That's tough. I do like to read, but probably movies. Especially action movies. None of that sappy stuff.

Favorite color?

Amber: Blue

Are you just saying that because Gabriel's eyes fluctuate between blue-gray and dark blue?

Amber: I'd never say something as cheesy as that.

At least not in public, right?

Well, I'm grateful that Amber was able to sneak away from the Estilorian plane for this short visit. I hope the readers out there have enjoyed learning more about her (and Gabriel, of course). Until next time, happy reading to everyone!

Do you have any questions about my books or characters? Let me know!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Coming to Terms with a Bad Review

In the past few weeks, there's been a lot of talk about whether or not writers should engage readers who did NOT enjoy their book. Some have on Goodreads and Twitter. One instance even involved an agent and editor. it wasn't pretty for anyone involved. I have to believe every person who participated walked away wounded somehow.

No one likes to be rejected. It sucks, right? But it's a part of the business and we, as writers, need to understand this.

I'm not saying it's easy. One of my books received a not-so-complimentary review recently. Did it hurt? Sure! Did I jump into the comments and explain where I think she went wrong in her assumptions? Absolutely not.

When I'm faced with a review like that, I put myself in the reader's shoes. I can tell you, quite honestly, that there are many, many, many books I've read that I did not enjoy. These are books my friends loved, books that hit the New York Times bestseller lists, and books that won awards. Just because I don't like them, doesn't mean they're crap. What's the old phrase? One person's junk is another person's treasure.

I think this applies very solidly to writing and reading. This is a business built on subjectivity. And don't tell me there are certain rules writers have to follow, because there aren't. I can recall a very popular book I once read that had no quotation marks - in the entire freaking book. It was so hard to read! I never had any idea whether or not someone was talking or thinking or narrating. In my mind - it was a mess. But, it was well-reviewed and people all over loved it.

That's what we, as writers, have to remember when we see a bad review. There have been times we've hated books too. Maybe we hated them for the subject matter or because the main love interest had the same name as an ex-boyfriend and for that one reason  we couldn't connect with the rest of the book. Let's all keep that in mind when a bad review crosses our Google alerts.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Guest Author Myra McEntire

Are there any other art forms that inspire you when you are writing? Do you listen to music, look at art pieces for ideas or watch dance and gymnastics? 

Definitely. I adore So You Think You Can Dance, and Em and Michael’s relationship is partially based on a dance that Cameron and Lacey did to Elisa’s “Dancing” … I also love music, all kinds, and I am a huge fan of teen tv shows.

What is your biggest and hardest to ignore distraction? How do you cope with it? 

The Twitter. And I don’t, unless I’m on a hard deadline. Then I block it on my computer!

Is there one piece of advice you wish someone would have given you before you started writing? 

Don’t rush it. It’s worth it to take the time to tell the best story you can.

Do you write in or out of sequence? What part of your novel comes first? What comes last? 

I tried writing out of sequence once. I WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN.

How do you choose your main character? What about perspective? Do you tend to write in third or choose the character telling the story based off of part of your plot? 

My characters do tend to choose me. And I’m working on a new project that I was positive was third person, but it didn’t come out that way.

When you are reading, what make a character compelling to you? Is it the same aspects that make a character you are writing compelling? 

Voice, in both cases. If I don’t feel the voice, I stop reading and writing.

Thank you so much Myra for joining us here on The Writers Voice!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Guest post with Samantha Young

What part of your first novel did you find hardest to write?

Moon Spell was really the first romance I’d written. It’s YA paranormal but it has an important romantic subplot and this was the first time I’d ever attempted to capture the tension and chemistry between two characters. There were a lot of edits between the published novel and the first draft and a lot of it had to do with Lucien and Caia. I wanted their romance to be perfect and it took me a while to get there but from the reaction of the positive reviews I think I accomplished what I set out to do.

What scares you most?

Spiders. I didn’t even have to think about that one.

Do you start writing when you have a plot mapped out or start plotting when you have started writing based off a spark of inspiration? 

I have to have my plot mapped out and chapter summaries written up before I attempt writing the actual novel. If I try to just sit down and write, the book usually falls apart within the first six chapters.

Was there ever a moment when you wouldn’t trade what you do as an author for the world? What was that moment for you? 

I’ve had emails from wonderful readers telling me how much my books have meant to them and how much they enjoyed them and I definitely had those moments then – I’m always overwhelmed by these emails and comments, it’s amazing. However, when I read a review on amazon from a volunteer in Africa saying how much she’d enjoyed all of my books and what an escape they were for her that’s when I had that moment. I was like ‘This is it. This is what it’s all about, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.’

Aspiring writers often hear, "Read what you want to write," "Hone your writing craft." and, above all else, "Be patient." What other advice would you give them?

My advice to aspiring writers who want to succeed at self-publishing: keep writing so you can keep publishing new novels. The best advice I was given was that you are your own promotion. Instead of putting out lots of money on advertising that doesn’t get you anywhere put out the next book and the next and the next. For aspiring writers who want to take the traditional publishing route: grow a thick skin (actually that’s advice to all writers), come up with something truly original and make sure you’ve done your research.

Is there rhyme and reason to how you choose character traits?

I sit down and give my character a history before I start with character traits. Once I know what’s happened to them in the past, what their family life is like, their friendships, love lost and gained etc, then I can start building in logical character traits. However, all of my heroines do have a backbone made of steel (whether they are quiet and reserved or brash and mouthy) because as a YA writer I like creating teenage girls that my teen readers can look up to.

Thank you for joining us Samantha and to everyone reading!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Free ebook today only: Born to Spy by Jayde Scott

I'm thrilled to announce that my humorous teen novel, Born to Spy, is free on Amazon today only so if you want a free copy, now's the time. Enjoy...

When thirteen-year-old Thom's father goes missing, Thom knows something's up so he breaks into the basement only to find a spy center full of spy equipment.
With the help of his friend, Danny, and Danny's fifteen-year-old sister, Hilly, the three of them set out to discover what happened to Thom's father, but their investigation brings them to the attention of a powerful group of art thieves who would do anything to protect their identities.

Soon they realize their own life's at stake and Hilly's drama queen antics and focus on spending every penny on the royal spy credit card isn't aiding the mission one bit. Thom will have to rely on his wits and friends if he's to survive and solve the mystery.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Life at a Bookstore

My crazy life in a bookstore... where-o-where is my sanity!  
Devyn Dawson

My life in a bookstore…

I work in a big bookstore, with a million books (wink)and every shift has at least one customer that knows the store better than you.  Well, they think they do.  Here is my life surrounded with books.

Customer - “Hi, I’m looking for a book.”

Me - “Great, we have plenty.”

Customer - “It has a blue cover and is by that one author, you know that eccentric one that lives in the mountains?”

Me - “Do you know what other books they have written?  Maybe the title of the book?”

Customer - “If I knew the title, I wouldn’t need you.”

Me - Silently telling myself to be nice.  “We have a lot of books with blue covers, most authors are slightly eccentric and I need something more to go by.  Genre, what the book is about, is it a recent release?”

Customer - “I don’t remember.  Oh, I think the publisher is Penguin.”

Me - Silently strangling the stranger.  Smile, Devyn…bite your tongue.  “You want a blue book that is published by Penguin and that is all we have to go by.  That makes it a bit difficult to figure out.  Why don’t you walk around and see if it comes to you, you can call us if need be.”

Customer - “Are you the only person working?  Is there a manager?  You are absolutely no help!” 

Me - “Yes, let me get you the manager on duty.”  I page…. And manager arrives, I say.. “This customer would like a blue book by penguin and an eccentric author.  Not sure if it is a recent release or what it is about.” I look at customer, and smile sweetly… “Right?”

Customer - “This person is no help, you should hire competent employees.”

Me - Oh someone is going to whack the customer….not me, not me, not me!  I think to myself.

Later - New customer (btw, no book was found for above customer)

Customer - “Hi, I’m looking for a book.” (they all start out like that) “Can you suggest something to me?”

Me - “Sure, what kind of book would you like?  Fiction?  Love story, crime, true crime, funny, teen, sci-fi, maybe paranormal?”

Customer - “Just show me something.”

Me - I walk the person around the store and get shot down at every suggestion.

Customer - “I have to go, I don’t like to read and everything sounds dumb.”

Me - Really?  Book reading is dumb.   Makes me go…. Hmmmmm

I have tons of stories about the bookstore.  Stay tuned for more of my stories

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Interview with Victoria Simcox

Q: Can you tell us about the setting in your story The Magic Warble, and why you chose it?

A: A lot of the setting takes place in a rainy forest, maybe this is because I live in the rainy evergreen state of Washington. I’ve always found rain-forests to be mystical, a place where I would imagine fairies, gnomes and dwarfs living.

Q: What was the hardest part to write in TMW?

A: Definitely toward the ending. I don't want to give anything away but there are
bittersweet moments and I even got teary eyed writing them.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the story? Where were you when you came up with the idea?

A: I remember I was sitting in the movie theater watching the first Harry Potter movie, when I envisioned my main character Kristina walking down a snowy sidewalk. At the time that’s all of the story I had. Somehow inspired, I went home that night and wrote my first page of my story not knowing where it would go.

Q: Do you plan on writing more children fantasy novels?

A: Yes, I’m thinking that there will be three, maybe four books in this series, and then I may come up with another series.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Victoria. Can you tell us where we can find out more about you and your wonderful new book?

A: Yes, for sure! . There are also quite a few reviews on .

Q: Is there a sequel in the making? I'm glad that you asked me that because the sequel has been released November / 11. It is called "The Black Shard." I would love you and your followers to check it out a

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ominous Winter

Ominous – at one time that’s how I described this time of year. I’ve always favored the in between seasons, spring and fall. I loved the spring for the undeniable fact that it was the season of new life. I loved the fall for the gentle release of the hot summer, for the crisp air that the colorful leaves danced upon. Maybe it’s because I live in the south, but I’ve always found the summers to sultry and the winters to chilling.
This year, though, I have a new perspective. One morning last week after I’d managed to get my family off to the various days they had ahead of them I found myself captivated. That moment came when I glanced out the window while waiting for my computer to come to life. I found myself gazing at the gray sky that became darker as it reached the hills around my home, amongst the trees that were now bare was a dense fog. The fog outlined every single limb on the trees amplifying how when in bloom they reach for the sun. There was a light mist in the air promising a dreary, ominous day.
I noticed something else: silence. The road that ran behind my house was absent of the usual traffic. The birds were not singing there were no distant lawn mowers, or leaf blowers, not even a dog barking. It was if the world had fallen asleep, that in that moment the worries, strives, and endless to-do list had been stolen by a world that was lost in a winter dream.
I found myself closing my lap top, pulling the blind open, and taking a deep breath as I held my gaze with the reflection of winter before me…as I listened to the silence.  I realized that moments like that one are needed, season like winter are desired. They are desired because we all need a moment – a brief period of time to reflect, to plan, to gain our energy to conquer the year ahead.
Usually around this time of year I'm tense – so use to the hustle that the holiday season brings that I plan – strive and make to-do list that are endless. I’ve always tried to know where I’m going to be three steps from now – my theory was work now – enjoy the fruits of everything later.
That morning I found myself smiling as I heard one of my characters voices dance in my thoughts. The night before I’d written a scene where one characters said to another “How do you know what you believe today – you will believe tomorrow?! Why is it that you cannot take one single second and relax – reflect? When you do that maybe…just maybe you’ll find the answer that is right in front of you.”
It is common knowledge that when you read you learn whether it is fiction or nonfiction – you learn. The nonfiction fills our minds with facts, and the fiction fills our minds with myths – stories that teach us how beautiful and painful life is. What isn’t common knowledge is that the first person the fictional characters teach is the writer. Characters have a way of opening doorways into our imagination that lead to thoughts that we are to foolish, scared or prideful to say to ourselves. Authors, at times, live vicariously through the thoughts of their characters. When that happens – when you read over the words that just flew from your fingertips, you find a truth in the fiction, a hidden message. My character had reached deep into my subconscious and told me to slow down – told me that where I am three steps from now is not nearly as important as the journey I will take to get there -that each moment needs to be embraced for the ‘fruits’ it brings.
I didn’t write that day, I didn’t spend hours on the social networks, plan every activity for my children. Instead I opened my nook and found a classic. I embraced the moment. I turned off that urge to push forward , that guilty feeling that told me that if I was not working I was falling behind. I fell into the ominous winter.
When I made it back to my PC I found my story still there – in fact it was clearer in my mind. All of my friends across the social networks were still right there-and even more interesting than before. I decided then that I would enjoy every quiet, cold, ominous moment of this winter. Now instead of the endless planning I’m taking time to call a few friends just to see how they are. Planning a few nights out (instead of writing) I’m taking more time to read – to learn. I’m enjoying the silence before the storm…before the year becomes alive in the spring and the race is on. There is a mean voice inside telling me that I’m wasting time – but don’t worry when it gets to loud I just send that character after it…who knows maybe now both me and Willow will get a new “Insight” to the path were are on and be better for it by winters end!
How do you plan to spend your winter? Is it your favorite season or one that you could live without?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Guest Post from Sallie Lundy-Frommer

Inspiration, where does it come from? I’ve heard people say, you should be able to find inspiration in a grain of sand. Well, I don’t know about that. My inspiration to write came from my dreams. One could ask, where do dreams come from? Are they manifestations of waking desires or fears? I don’t know. What I can tell you is I wrote this book out of a great need to satisfy the characters. I can’t speak for anyone else, but having dreams on almost a nightly basis revolving around the same characters where I observed their lives was a new experience for me. My only course of action was to start writing, or seek professional help...:-D

Writing Yesterday’s Daughter has been a marvelous and scary ride. This novel has led me to learn a lot about myself. I am a creative person. Before writing this book, I viewed authors with some deference. The process just seemed so mysterious to me, the idea that someone could have incredible stories and characters in their heads. They’d have to be extra special people right? I firmly placed authors in the creative bucket with artists, designers, and such. And I definitely didn’t considers myself part of that group.

Perhaps this creativity was always a part of me and I had ignored it. Whatever the cause for my being a late bloomer, I recognize it now. Not only do I recognize my creative side, I’ve embraced it and learned to enjoy the journey of telling the story, to putting pen to paper, to giving birth to characters and worlds uniquely my own.

The writer in me has changed me. I see and listen to the world differently. I’ve noticed that sometimes, and it seems to happen without warning, that I will see or hear something that will spark my creative interest. Whether it’s an interesting name, pictures of an exotic location, a look between two people; it can be anything that triggers ideas for writing. For some, this may all be indubitable, but not for me. I’ll be very interested to look back in ten years and see what this new creativity has spawned.

 See what is coming next and hear more from Sallie here:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to write about your life the sneaky way

I do a lot of appearances at local schools in my area (most often middle schools, which are my favorite group to speak to) and there are certain questions I always get at each appearance:

"Are any of your books going to be a movie?"

"Are you going to write a book about your life?"

"Do you know Stephenie Meyer?"

The answers to questions one and three are both no (although if any movie producers out there are interested, I'll be happy to consider your offer...), but the answer to question two is a little more involved. Will I ever write an autobiography? Most likely, that's a big NO. I don't think anyone really wants to read about my life unless they need something to help them fall asleep.

However, as an author, I do write about my life--in little bits and pieces hidden among my books. In Something to Blog About, when Libby daydreams about her crush Seth in class rather than pay attention to her assignment--that was me, hoping that one certain boy in my class would ever once notice me. Troy High was inspired by the rivalry between the high school I attended and one of the other local high schools. It never got as bad as it gets in Troy High, but I took it as a starting point for fun a story.

The setting of Surfacing and Mara's impressions of it came from one very early spring weekend that my husband and I spent on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The loneliness and detachment Mara feels from everyone around her came from my own struggles at seventeen to decide whether to stay with my family in Florida (where we had moved to a year earlier) or whether to go back to my hometown in North Carolina, leaving my parents behind.

When I start to explain this, I then get the question, "So does that mean you stole someone's boyfriend?" in reference to The Boyfriend Thief. I assure you that I was a good girl and stayed away from other people's boyfriends. But I can relate to Avery. Her experiences in helping to raise her younger brother came from my own as the oldest child of four. I was the caretaker after school and summers while my parents were working. A lot was expected of me, and I expected a lot from myself.

Writing is all about creating characters that have experiences and emotions other people can relate to. This doesn't mean you should turn every main character into yourself or the person you would be if you were prettier or smarter or funnier. But take pieces of your life and your friends' lives and turn them into stories or bits of character. Zac's job at the locksmith shop in The Boyfriend Thief? That was my first job right out of college. Like Zac, I had to find ways to entertain myself during the slow times (which was most of the time because business wasn't that great). Stories are about real life, even if they take place on another planet or involve mutant werewolf-zombie-unicorns. Somewhere within that werewolf-zombie-unicorn on the Planet Zorabayek are experiences and emotions that the rest of us all know and understand.

So if you hope to ever see an Official Autobiography of Shana Norris, you're probably out of luck. The truth is, I already write about my life over and over again in little pieces spread throughout multiple places. Try using your own experiences as a starting off point for stories or weave them into the lives and personalities of your characters.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Christmas Surprise

MY HAIR IS GONE! Muahahaha.

Okay, for my Christmas present to myself I wanted to do something nice for others. I couldn’t exactly afford to help out any of the foundations I try to follow this year so I found something I could do without having to spend. I donated to Locks of Love.



Some of my family members know and others don't. Hi family! All of my life my hair has been the one thing I got compliments on. The one aspect of myself that I actually liked and around the holiday season I was sitting there and thinking about how much I wanted to help someone, to make someone I didn't know feel special and unique. So I decided to give them the thing that has always made me feel that way in the hopes that it might do the same for them. My hair was down to my tailbone so I was able to donate well over a foot and still have it at shoulder length!

To whomever gets my hair and anyone else who might need it:

You are special. Never forget that each star in the sky is unique and beautiful, just like you and the people around you. If you ever need a reminder then just wait until everyone is dreaming and look up. The world is a beautiful place and you don't need to travel far to see it. I grew up in and out of the hospital and while I may not have gotten to go outside the US or go on vacations or trips, I got to see beauty in the most unexpected places. I got to see newly born children, nurses who had their jobs because they really did love and care about everyone they met, families who came together and made a difference for the people they loved and so much more. The most powerful thing I got to see was a life being saved.

No matter what your life holds, look around you and you will find more beauty than you ever imagined possible as long as you pay close attention. I truly hope, with all my heart, that all your dreams come true.

Emma Michaels

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Interview with Holly Schindler, author of Playing Hurt

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, or was there something else you wanted to do as a career?

I always knew. I’ve always been a writer—even when I was a little girl. I was writing and illustrating my own books by the time I was in the first grade! I wrote everything I could through high school—poetry, fiction, songs, etc.—and later on, I majored in English in college, taught writing in grad school. I’ve just always been drawn to literature. I can’t imagine doing anything outside of the world of books.

If you had the chance to co-author a book with anyone who would it be and why?

Catherine Ryan Hyde or Gabrielle Zevin. I’m a huge fan of both of those authors. Catherine Ryan Hyde is also one of my favorite authors to interact with, and I think it’d be fun to work with her,too.

Are there any books you’ve read that were so emotional that you teared up?

I’ve done that so many times, I couldn’t even begin to list them all. I’ve been a book nut ever since I was little. It doesn’t matter the genre, either—I’ve laughed out loud and cried at everything from the classics to contemporary…One of my favorite things to do when I was little was to reading my room under the covers, after I went to bed. That’s such an incredible feeling, being sosucked into a book that you just can’t stop reading.

What is the first book that you remember reading?

I remember the Little Golden Books I used to get at the supermarket. Had to get a new one every single time I went shopping with my mom (back when I was so young I could ride inside a cart)!

If your book was being made into a movie do you already have actors in mind for each role? What bands / singers would you put on thesoundtrack?

For A BLUE SO DARK, I really like Marisa Tomei for Grace. Maybe Victoria Justice for Aura (I keep going back and forth on that one)…For PLAYING HURT, I like local boy Lucas Grabeel for Gabe. A reader once mentioned that she liked Amanda Seyfried for Chelsea, and I’ve always thought that was just perfect. I’ve still yet to find an actor that I think would be great for Clint, though…

For the soundtracks, A BLUE SO DARK needs Pink Floyd running behind it (I've always thought "Wish You Were Here" would make a great theme song for the book), and every time I hear Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow’s “Collide,” I think of PLAYING HURT, simply because “Collide” is about two people with pasts finding love.

What are 10 random facts about yourself?

I wrote my earliest novels on a real dinosaur of a computer—it was so old, it didn’t even have any Internet capabilities!
I taught piano and guitar lessons while drafting those early novels. At the time, I was writing adult work; my students inspired me to try my hand at YA.
I’m a huge coffee fanatic. HUGE.
I think the Ozarks have the prettiest skies ever.
I have really crummy eyesight—20/700 vision (probably from all that reading).
I have a special love of vintage costume jewelry and funky hats.
I’ve had every hairstyle known to man—curly, short, long, brown, blond, spiky, straight, bobbed…You name it, I’ve done it.
My mom has titled both my published books.
I have the most spoiled dog on the planet. Literally.
I have a floor-to-ceiling stack of manuscripts in my office, all in varying states of completion.


Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talent artist and art teacher,is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

One of Booklist’s Top 10 Novels for Youth (2010)
Silver Medal, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year (Young AdultFiction)
Gold Medal, IPPY Awards (Juvenile / Young Adult Fiction)


Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?

Holly Schindler can be found on her website and as well as on her Facebook fan page and on Twitter @holly_schindler

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Paul Byers guest post!

First of all, I want to thank Emma and the crew at The Writers Voice for giving me the opportunity to share a few things.

Rather than make this a technical, “How to…” post about writing, editing or marketing, this will be a little more general and laid back. So grab your cup of coffee (there’s a Star Bucks on every corner here in Washington) and prepare to go inside the mind of a madman and see how he thinks; but remember, you’ve been warned!

Probably the number one question I get asked is “where do you get all your story ideas from?” The answer to that question is as varied as the people who ask it. As a thriller writer, with my roots in sci-fi, I am always keeping my eyes and ears open for that little spark that will jump start my imagination.

An idea can come from many different places and can be used to fit many genres. I’ll give you a couple of examples. I read a newspaper article about how scientists discovered unexplained red algae underneath a melting glacier. Well the sci-fi part of my brain jumped all over that. Mars is called the red planet, so maybe the algae under the glacier was the same stuff that’s on Mars and now that it’s been freed from its ice prison, it will start to take over the planet like it did on Mars. Will it turn the earth red, coving it with a strange vegetation that will choke out everything, including us!

A simple phrase can also spark the imagination; take the term, Dream Catcher. We’ve all seen these intricately woven Native American pieces of art that are designed to work in the spirit world and keep nightmares away. But what if they were real? What if someone had unlocked their secrets and could use them to catch good dreams? He could then sell the good dreams to make people happy, but on the flip side, he could catch the bad dreams and sell them to those who wanted to terrorize their enemies.

Suppose a mad scientist (why are they always mad anyway?) discovered a way to manipulate someone’s dreams so that person couldn’t tell if they were awake or asleep? Does the movie The Matrix or Inception sound a little familiar here? Who knows, are we living in our reality or in someone else’s?

There’s a little exercise I use when I give lectures at the high school for their Creative Writing class. I hold up a picture of a spaceship that’s orbiting above the Earth. I then ask the kids what they see. It’s an exercise not to test what their eyes see, but to test what their mind sees.

Is the ship just arriving or about to leave? Who built it? Is it from an alien race here to help us or to invade us? If we built the ship, is it man’s greatest achievement, ready to explore brave new worlds and to boldly go where no man has gone before? Or is it a warship ready to conquer a neighboring planet? The possibilities are endless!
Though I primarily write action / thrillers, like I said earlier, almost any story idea can be used for different genres, take for example the idea I used above about the Dream Catcher. Yes it would make a great thriller, but how about a love story? A man is obsessed with the loss of his wife and is capturing the dreams of everyone who knew her to make a “living dream album” from them. Touching, but what if we throw in a twist, maybe the process is killing the donors. It could be turned into a paranormal / horror thriller if the bad guy uses it to bring out evil dreams or spirits and he wants to unleash them on the world for revenge for the loss of his wife.

Same thing with the spaceship example. Instead of a military or action adventure, a rich gazillionare builds the ship to go after his wife who was abducted by aliens and...poof, instant love story. If done right, and it can be done, maybe the ship is full of space vampires who are here to take over the earth and make slaves of both us and the earth vampires. (look out Bella) Maybe humans and earth vampires must make a truce to fight the space vampires; maybe a human and vampire are boyfriend-girlfriend and must make the ultimate sacrifice to stop the space suckers.

So there you have it, and as you see, ideas can come from anywhere, you just have to keep your mind open to them. I also told you the mind of a writer is a scary place. And what is even scarier is that there are a lot of us out there, writers that is, watching waiting, listening for that next great story idea. And what is the most frightening of all is that as some of you are sitting there reading this, you are feeling a knot beginning to form in the pit of your stomach (and no it’s not because of that fifth slice of pizza with the anchovies that you ate last night, shame on you) it’s the sudden and frightening realization that you might be one of us! That you finally realize that you too can do this and become a writer.
Remember, you were warned.

Paul is the author of the WWII spy thriller, Catalyst and the action adventure thriller, Arctic Fire plus he has a new compilation of short stories title, Act of God, coming out in ebook this December. All his books are available through Amazon, B&N, Nook, Kindle, Smashwords and other retailers.

To learn more about Paul and his books please visit his website at

If you would like to contact Paul directly, you can at.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Interview with Victoria Simcox

Interview with Victoria Simcox

Q: Thank you for this interview, Victoria. Can we begin by having you tell us why you chose children’s fantasy to write?

A: Ever since I was a small child I have always loved fantasy and fairy tales. Now that I’m an adult, juvenile and young adult fantasy fiction are still my favorite genres to read. I chose to write a children’s fantasy because I have a great imagination that I felt I’d like to put to good use. I also love children and the fact that they have such vivid imaginations and a sense of wonder. Being an elementary school art teacher, I get to hear all about the books my students are reading and I love how excited they get when they explain their favorite stories to me.

Q: Did you outline before you wrote your book or did you just go with the flow?

A: I definitely go with the flow, but I do plan things loosely and I do go back
through my manuscript at times to change situations and plots.

Q: Who was your favorite character in The Magic Warble and why?

A: I have many favorites, but one I loved creating was Werrien, because in the beginning of the story he starts out as your typical good looking, self centered teenaged boy, but as the story progresses he becomes kinder, more sensitive, but yet still mentally and physically strong.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the story? Where were you when you came up with the idea?

A: I remember I was sitting in the movie theater watching the first Harry Potter movie when I envisioned my main character Kristina walking down a snowy sidewalk. At the time that’s all of the story I had. I went home that night and wrote my first page not knowing where the story would go.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Victoria. Can you tell us where we can find out more about you and your wonderful new book?

A: Yes, for sure! . There are also quite a few reviews on .

Q: Is there a sequel in the making? I'm glad that you asked me that because the sequel has been released November / 11. It is called "The Black Shard." I would love you and your followers to check it out a

Holiday Recap: A Writer's Perspective

Here it is: my first Writer's Voice post of 2012! I hope that everyone had a truly marvelous holiday season. And hopefully you've entered our Happy Holidays Giveaway...I'm really looking forward to giving away signed copies of the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to one of you!

As for me, my holidays were nice. I know, I know...nice is such a banal word choice, isn't it? But that's the truth of it.

When we think of the holidays, we generally think of the time of year when we're happier and reflective on where the past year has brought us. It's a time when we catch up with family and slow things down for a couple of weeks. We allow the shopping fervor that propelled us through Thanksgiving to die down and we try to decompress.


Well, at least in my case, not so much. While my wedding planning career was on a bit of a hiatus during the last two weeks of December, my author career was in high gear. I was participating in giveaways, interviews and guest posts. I joined in with eleven other bloggers and did a massive 12 Blogs of Christmas extravaganza. I even did what I could to promote my books through social media on Christmas Day, when tons of e-readers and bookstore gift cards were unwrapped by happy recipients.

Vacation? What vacation? I don't need no stinkin' vacation. ( maybe I do if I'm resorting to writing sentences that require the use of a terrible fake accent to work).

Anyhow, I'll add here that I spent New Year's Eve sitting with my laptop poised on an end table in the family room while my family and friends played games on the Wii so that I could get more work done on Shift, Book Two of the upcoming Firstborn trilogy. I sent my husband and daughter off to play mini-golf yesterday so that I could write some more. And although I'm back to wedding planning full-time as of this morning, I'm writing this blog post now and I'll stay up late tonight putting in more time on Shift.

I'm not sure that anyone other than a fellow writer can understand how challenging a writing career can be. Making time to write--especially if it isn't our only job--means making sacrifices, and those sacrifices must be weighed with care. I had a number of choices to make this holiday season, and many of them resulted in me missing out on "fun" things so that I could focus on my writing career.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't ignore my family or obligations over the holidays. I helped bake cookies, went gift shopping and wrapped presents until almost midnight on Christmas Eve. I watched Christmas movie classics, read Christmas stories and took my daughter out to see the neighborhood lights. I sent holiday cards, made Christmas phone calls and even hosted Christmas dinner.

What I didn't do was sleep. But hey...I don't need no stinkin' sleep.

Tell me about your holidays! What are your reading and writing resolutions?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

No Resolutions Here!

It's the New Year and I haven't made one resolution, nor do I plan to. I don't think resolutions are evil or for the weak, they just don't work for me. Instead, I approach the new year as I do when I write a new book.

I think about what I want constantly. I live my life in a way that's true to that vision and then, if I'm lucky, the dreams come true.

In the final week of December 2010, I made my decision to epublish. After I pulled Sleepers from the consideration of two agents (crazy, I know), I dove head-first into learning everything I could about the publishing industry. My first hope? To sell a book to someone I didn't know - whether I knew that person in 'real' life or on the internet. Why isn't this a goal? Because a goal requires the goal setter to have some control over the outcome. I cannot control whether or not anyone actually hits that purchase button.

I got lucky - a few people hit that purchase button all on their own. To me, that's a bit of a miracle. There's only so much I can do. Sometimes I have to leave it up to others to do the rest.

So, for 2012, I hope people continue to find my work worthwhile. I hope they continue to hit that purchase button. As for the things I can control, I plan to write and publish at least two novels (finishing out The Swarm Trilogy). I'm really excited. Writing is the one thing that makes me happy - even on the days I want to toss my laptop out the window. I wouldn't give up writing for anything!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How to boost your confidence as a writer

We, writers, are a nervous bunch, always fidgeting whenever we give away proof copies to our beta readers, anxiously awaiting the inevitable 'I like it but'. It's a bit like performing in front of a huge audience after only ever singing in the shower. I do admit that heavy feeling in the pit of one's stomach gets easier to bear with each book one writes, but I wonder whether it'll ever go away completely.
Confidence is learned and comes with both experience and success. But, let's face it, writing a book isn't exactly like a regular job where you do what you're supposed to do and get your paycheque at the end of the month. It takes years to build a name for oneself, and the regular rejection from agents/publishers/family who think they can do better in half the time isn't helping either.
So, how can writers increase their confidence level (particularly prior/during/after the daunting process of querying or promoting existing work)? I've put together this list of five things that keep me sane:

1. Write the best book you can at this point in your life
Read as much as you can, research the topic you want to write about or the genre of your choice, and study writing techniques and grammar. If you don't like a scene, it's quite likely your readers won't either. Hence, don't be afraid to cut and then go back and cut some more, rephrase, and add. Even if you think it's perfect, an editor will find something to fault. It might still not be the best book, but least you tried, and probably learned a lot along the way.

2. Don't let past failures bother you
Never ever think back to all the books you've written and never got published. Instead, allow yourself a fresh start whenever you write a new book because you've learned and improved so much since that last attempt, and it wouldn't be fair on you to conjure a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3. Keep an open mind
Might sound simple enough, but many new writers take any sort of criticism personally and go into blocking mode whenever they encounter comments other than 'I love it' and 'this will be a bestseller'. Listen to other people's comments and try to see their point of view. The chance is you might be a tad partial. If you're not and the comment's not helpful, then no harm done, right? But at least you've shown you're professional enough to listen.

4. Keep your goals realistic
Let's face it, we all want to be the next Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer, but dreaming of it and then realising that's not going to happen (at least with this particular book) won't exactly boost one's confidence. Keep your goals simple and realistic by focusing on what you'll most likely achieve such as finishing writing, or finding an agent/publisher. Once you've done that, you can focus your energies on marketing and taking it from there.

5. Don't give up
Everyone's discouraged after the first failed attempt at publishing a book, but everyone's first attempt is likely to bomb unless you've already invested months and years into developing a style and learning all about editing. If you haven't, then keep on writing because the more you write the better you'll get at it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Interview & Autographed book by Shayne Leighton

Interview with Shayne Leighton
By: Devyn Dawson

1 autographed copy of OLaD

Hey everyone!  If you have not heard of Shayne Leighton, the time has come for you to remember her name. Her resume is pretty impressive for anyone, but imagine being twenty and having it!  That's right, she is twenty, beautiful, talented and both feet are planted firmly on the ground.  Soon her book Of Light and Darkness will be made into a movie Decadent.  I'm sure my Twilight friends know who Mike Welch is... well, he is playing Aiden.... and holy cow is he sexy!  (my hubby won't read this so I'm safe).  Shayne is also a singer and I've added her video for "Not Like the Others" to the bottom of this interview.  Did I mention she is also starring in the movie adaption?   Please read the interview and enter for your chance to win a autographed copy of Of Light and Darkness!  I will be interviewing Andrew Orozco this month, so please keep watch for this interview.  He is also in the OLaD movie adaption Decadent- if you Google him, you'll find his Twilight relation...oh and you'll be glad to know he is FUNNY, SINGLE, and pretty amazing too!

I’d like to start off this interview with a great big THANK YOU. You have a very impressive resume, regardless of age, but it is even more so because of your age. You’re a model, author, actress, singer and hardest of all, wife. I have no idea how you keep up. I’m so sad I didn’t get to see you when you were in North Carolina this fall. I hope I get another chance in the future.

Your book The Vampire’s Daughter, an Of Light and Darkness Book is being made into a feature film. You and Michael Welch (best known as Mike from the Twilight Saga) star in the movie. It must be surreal to have your book brought to life. That is pretty amazing, how did it happen?

Thanks so much for having me here! And thank you so much for the kudos!  The film adaptation of The Vampire’s Daughter (Decadent 2011) happened mostly because the majority of my background is in film. Not only on the production end of filmmaking, but in screenwriting as well. Recently, my last feature film, an independent film called “The Incubus” was released on DVD nationally by Maverick Entertainment. I loved the process of creating that film so much that creating The Vampire’s Daughter as a film just made the most sense to me. My biggest passion in life is storytelling. I love all mediums of storytelling and believe that that’s what is really means to create art – you want to tell a good story through the medium you know best. I’ve already told the story within the medium of a novel, so now I really want to tell this story with more of a visual aspect involved. Film is an amazing medium, because you are molding performances, music, design, and writing all into one fabulous story.

I approached my co-producer, Candace Charee, with the idea after getting to know her through experiences at various conventions for the ‘Twilight Saga’. I was there promoting ‘The Incubus’ and she was there as a recording artist and performer. The two of us began brain storming about the idea and it has been serendipity ever since. We’ve been in development for about seven months, and already have a stellar cast, a brilliant screenplay (which I did not write – that title belongs to the fabulous Neo Edmund), and a soon-to-be released promotional trailer and music video. I think we’ve come very far very fast and there is a lot of buzz surrounding our “little-engine-that-could” project.

You were in a movie The Incubus that was about vampires too. Do you read a lot of vampire books? If so, what has been your favorite vampire book?

Actually, even though The Incubus was in the same genre, I wouldn’t consider it to be a vampire movie. Incubi are incubi and the two are similar – but have very different mythos. I had a great time with it.
But you’re right – I’m obsessed with this genre. I love monsters. I love all things dark and wicked. And needless to say, I love vampires. So my favorite vampire film of all time is Anne Rice’s modern classic, Interview with the Vampire, and the rest of her Vampire Chronicles series.

In films, who has been your favorite vampire?

Brad Pitt in Interview was by far my absolute favorite because I think he did an amazing job combining the scariness and the sex appeal of what it means to be a vampire. There’s a certain sort of expectation for that kind of thing. You not only need to be absolutely monstrous and scary, but you need to possess that alluring, suave, sex appeal at the same time to really be convincing. I feel he performed perfectly. Plus, Anne did a great job of creating the complex and conflicted character of Louis. I like him better than Lestat, though Lestat is a lot more fun.

With such a busy schedule, how do you schedule ‘me’ time for you and your husband? Does he travel with you?

Frantisek is one of the biggest supporters in my life. In fact, when I don’t want to keep going at times, he’s the one who pushes me harder. He’s absolutely my muse and I feel that it’s because of him that I fight harder every day for what I want. Yes, he always travels with me and going on these adventures together is my favorite form of ‘me’ time. I find that we bond the most when we are working. We treat our work like our baby – especially Of Light and Darkness. Not just anyone can cradle this project. He’s just as passionate about it as I am. I am thankful that he’s such a huge part and such a huge inspiration for my creative life.

In your down time, what do you do for fun?

Haha. What down time? Down time drives me up the wall. I can’t stand sitting still. I constantly have to be working on something or working towards something. I begin to break down when I feel that my life is stagnant. Work for me is fun. When I’m writing, acting, producing, recording, filming – that’s when I’m having the most fun.

What is your ideal date with your husband? Is it a picnic and stroll on the beach? ~ OR ~ Amusement park and greasy carnival food?

My ideal date is probably the date we had this past summer when we were spending a week in Prague. We were alone. It was a sunny day. We had lunch sitting out near the Vltava River, right next to the Charles Bridge. We watched boats sail past. We talked about the last few weeks with his family. We fantasized about the future. It was peaceful, sweet, quiet, and intimate. That’s the best I could ever ask for.

I like to ask questions that others may not have thought of to ask. I hope you’re ready.

I am so ready! I’m tired of answering the same questions!

1. Are you a dog or cat person…possibly python???

Don’t tell my fuzzy child, Bean (the cat)…but I am really more of a dog person. But she’s the exception. Bean has a hysterical, little personality. She thinks she’s human. She makes me laugh. In fact…she’s sitting right next to me as I type.
I don’t know. I love all animals, really!

2. What do you eat on your hot-dogs?

Awesome question! My mom is from Long Island, so I better get this right. Sauer Kraut and mustard. No ketchup. Ever. To eat a hot dog, you must be a hot dog purist!

3. If you could have lunch with any poet dead or alive, who would it be?

Easy! Edgar Allen Poe. His mind is divinely dark, and I would love to just listen to him speak for a while…

4. Do you read Indie books? How do you feel about the Indie Author World Domination take-over?

Well, because I am an indie author and an ENORMOUS supporter of independent films, music and every thing else, I must read indie books. I think artists that take their own big breaks into their own hands are worth it. They deserve a voice. Indie authors deserve to be read, because we work as hard as anyone else. There’s a stigma attached to independent media, but I’m happy to see that slowly disappearing and audiences/readers are growing to appreciate more and more the things that are not produced by large conglomerates. We put out quality work too! We really do! And we put out different work that maybe readers would not stumble across otherwise. I know for a fact my book was too controversial to be picked up by a commercial publisher. But it also wasn’t adult enough to be considered adult. I found my place exactly where I need to be and I am very happy here. 

5. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, how will you protect your family?

Oh, wow! Hmmmm…zombies can’t swim, can they? I’m thinking under water metropolis?

6. I know these guys are old to you, but I gotta know - who is sexiest… Robert Downey Jr. ~ Tom Cruise ~ George Clooney ~ Johnny Depp?

Hahaha…they aren’t THAT old to me! They are still VERY sexy, so I’ve gotta go with my man, Johnny. The dark and twisted ones will always score big with me. If you were Edward Scissorhands, you win the sexy award!

7. What is the sexiest way for a man to kiss a woman?

I love this question. There’s got to be a lot of feeling behind it. If there’s intent, then you’ve achieved a sexy kiss. You’ve gotta mean it. I tend to like one hand on my face, and the other at the small of my back so I’m being pulled toward you. I like intensity.

8. Growing up in an age that is all hi-tech, do you have to have the latest coolest electronics? Do you have a Nook or Kindle?

I don’t. Just like my hot dogs, I am a book purist as well and my entire library is sitting in paperback and hard cover on bookshelves in my room. I do have the iPhone though. I can’t live without certain gadgets! Haha.

9. We’re almost finished. Quick tell me your favorites…

Book ~ Interview with the Vampire
Author ~  Anne Rice
Food  ~ Pomegranates and sushi (but not together…)
Song ~ My favorite song changes every month. Right now it’s Marry the Night…because Lady Gaga is my woman…and I know EXACTLY how she felt when she wrote this song.
Band ~ Mumford and Sons
Musical Instrument ~ Cello.

Shayne - Thank you so much for being a good sport and doing this interview. I’m always happy when I find an ambitious young adult that is focused on their future. I wish you much happiness and success.
Thank you very much once again! It was a pleasure and a lot of fun!

Twitter - shayneleighton

Blood Born by Tanya Contois

“Are you almost ready? I want to get to the club before the line gets really long.”

I looked in the mirror to make sure my makeup looked perfect and adjusted my red strapless dress before answering Emma. I grabbed my clutch purse off my bed and headed for the door.

“Let’s go.”

I locked the door behind us and unlocked the passenger side door for Emma. I walked over to the driver side, unlocked the door and climbed in. I stuck the key in the ignition and turned the key. The engine roared to life and I pulled out of the parking garage.

“Have you called Tansy yet? You know how long it takes her to get ready.”

“Don’t worry, I told her we were picking her up at 8 sharp.”

“I hope she’s ready when we get there.”

 “She will be. She already texted me to ask if we were on our way.”

Emma sat back in her seat and relaxed as we pulled up to Tansy’s apartment building. I pulled out my phone to let her know we were outside waiting. I touched up my lip gloss and brushed my hair out of my eyes. I glanced down at my watch to check the time and honked the horn a couple times to get Tansy’s attention.

“Here she comes. Be nice Tanith.”

I grinned widely. “Don’t worry I’ll be a perfect angel.”

Tansy opened the passenger side door and climbed in, hitting Emma in the head with her purse in the process.

“Watch it. It took me an hour to get my hair like this.”

“Sorry Emma, your hair still looks great.”

“Thanks. Um, your hair looks nice too. Did you use a new shampoo or something?”

Tansy patted her hair self-consciously before answering. “I used the same shampoo that I always use. Is there something wrong with it?”

I shot Emma a look. “No, it really does look good. Emma is just teasing you.”

The rest of the drive to the nightclub passed in silence. I was looking forward to tonight. I had been working extra hard at my paralegal job and I needed to blow off some steam. I pulled my car into the garage and grabbed the parking permit from the attendant. I parked in the first empty spot I found and turned the car off.

“Now remember girls, be cool and let the guys come to you. We don’t want just any guys. There has to be something special about them.”

Tansy and Emma nodded their heads in agreement and we got out of the car and I locked the doors. The line to get into the nightclub was already a mile long and it snaked around the corner. I walked over to where the bouncer was standing and ran my fingers up and down his tattooed arm.

“You’re going to let us in ahead of everyone else,” I whispered into his ear and he nodded as he held open the door.

“Good boy.” I patted him on the arm and gave him a peck on the cheek leaving a red lip print.

We each paid the cover charge and hung our jackets in the coat room before making our way to the bar. The entire place was decorated with colorful streamers and balloons and there were waitresses carrying trays filled with festive green and red drinks. After ordering our drinks we sat at the first unoccupied table we found and scanned the lounge area for potential dates for the evening. I briefly made eye contact with a tall and rugged man who was sitting a few feet away.

“Hands off girls, this one is mine.”

Emma pouted and crossed her arms and Tansy just sat there staring off into space. I really needed to find new friends that didn’t grate on my nerves so much. I smiled as I saw the guy I had been checking out walking in our direction.

“Ladies, can I buy your next round of drinks?”

I batted my lashes at him flirtatiously. “That’s very kind of you to offer. We’ll have whatever you’re having.” I downed what remained of my drink and signaled Emma and Tansy to do the same.

“So what’s your name and are you here alone or are you here with friends?”

“My name is Ross and I’m here with a couple friends from work. What are your names?”

“I’m Tanith and this is Emma and Tansy.”

“Nice to meet you all. Would you ladies care to join us at our table? I promise my friends will be on their best behavior.”

“Thanks, we’d love to join you and your friends.”

Ross smiled widely, revealing a set of perfect white teeth. “Great, I’ll go get your drinks and come back to get you.”

He turned and walked over to the bar. He gave the bartender our drink orders and handed her some money. He dropped a couple bills on the bar as a tip and walked back to where Emma, Tansy, and I were sitting.

“Ready to go?”

“Yes we are.” I stood and Tansy and Emma followed suit. We made our way through the now crowded bar to the pool table area where his friends were sitting. Ross grabbed three chairs from an empty table nearby and pushed them over to our table before introducing us to his friends.

“Tanith, Emma, and Tansy meet Jax and Liam.”

We said our hellos and sat down. After about 5 minutes of small talk we decided to hit the dance floor. We spent the remainder of the night dancing except for the few times we stopped to get a drink. The countdown to the New Year began and at midnight the bar was full with the sound of people saying Happy New Year to one another. Ross pulled me to him and pressed his lips to mine, taking me by surprise.

“Happy New Year Tanith.”

Before we knew it the bartender announced last call. My friends and I went to get our coats and when we got back the guys were talking about what to do next.

“Are you three up for a nightcap at my place?”

“Will you give us a minute or two to decide?”

“Sure, not a problem.”

We excused ourselves to go to the ladies room.

“So what do you guys think? Should we take them up on their offer?”

“I think we should.”

“Good, it’s settled then. Tansy, try not to suck the guy dry this time.”

“That only happened once and I hadn’t fed in over a week.”

“Whatever. Just don’t let it happen again.”

We made our way back to where Ross and his friends were waiting for us.

“We’ll be right behind you guys since we don’t know where Ross lives.”

“Alright, we’re ready if you are. I just need to pay the tab I started.”

We followed the guys to the bar and out the door once the tab was taken care of. We got into our separate cars and pulled out of the parking garage stopping to pay the attendant.

“Do you have the powder to slip into their drinks? This has to go as smoothly as possible. There is no room for error.”

“It’s right here in my purse. Everything will go as planned so will you just relax?”

I clenched the steering wheel tighter. “I’ll relax once I’ve fed.”

“I only told you to relax because your fangs are starting to show. If the guys see them before I’m able to slip the drug into their drinks everything will go to hell and you know how I get when I don’t get to feed.”

Ross pulled his truck into his driveway and turned it off. He stepped out and locked it using one of those automatic door lockers once his friend had climbed out. He stuck a key into his front door and turned the knob while signaling for us to enter. His house was well furnished with two oversized chairs and a black suede sofa. Emma, Tansy, and I sat down on the sofa while Jax and Liam sat in the chairs. Ross headed for the kitchen and I could see him open the refrigerator.

“What’ll you guys have to drink? I have beer, a half of a bottle of white wine, and an unopened bottle of red wine.”

“We’ll have the red wine.”

Ross handed Jax and Liam each a bottle of beer and set our wine on the coffee table.

“Are guys hungry? I can order a pizza or something.”

“We’re starved so a pizza sounds great.”

“What toppings do you want on it?”

“Whatever you choose will be fine. We’re not picky eaters.”

Ross went back into the kitchen to order the pizza and Jax excused himself to use the bathroom. Liam got up to turn the TV on. When his back was turned I quickly dumped the powder in each of their drinks hoping that it would dissolve quickly into the liquid. I sat back down and smiled widely at Liam as he turned back around.

“So what do you do for work Liam?”

He picked up his beer and took a long gulp before answering. “I work for an architecture firm in Manhattan.”

After several more attempts to start up a conversation with Liam failed I gave up and hoped the drug would kick in soon. I watched him carefully for signs of drowsiness and within minutes I knew the drug had taken effect because Liam’s eyes started to droop and his head flopped to the side. He struggled to stay awake but it he was fighting a losing battle. I motioned to Tansy to go check on Ross and Jax. She stood and excused herself, saying she had to use the bathroom. A minute passed and my phone beeped. I took my phone out of my purse and opened it to see that I had a text from Tansy telling me that Jax and Ross were out cold.

“Help me get Liam into the car.”

We each took hold of Liam’s arms and stood him up, draping his arms over our shoulders. Emma yanked the door open and we clumsily made our way to the car. I fumbled for my car keys and unlocked the car as quickly as possible. Once it was unlocked I opened the door and we shoved Liam inside. I shut the door and instructed Emma to go help Tansy with Ross and Jax. I got into the driver’s seat and started the car while keeping an eye on Liam to make sure he didn’t wake up. I was starting to get anxious. I wanted to get out of here before any of the neighbors got nosy. Five minutes dragged by and I decided to go find out what was taking Emma and Tansy so long. As soon as my hand was on the doorknob the door swung open and out came Emma and Tansy. Each of them was dragging a guy by their arm.

“It took you guys long enough to get them out here. Put them in the car so we can leave. We’ve already been here way too long.”

I opened the door for them and they shoved the guys inside next to Liam. I slammed the door shut and got back into the driver’s seat.

“Tansy you’re going to have to sit on Emma’s lap since there isn’t room for you in the backseat.”

Emma got in the car and Tansy climbed behind her. She sat on Emma’s lap and her head was touching the roof.

“Just try not to hit too many bumps because this is so uncomfortable and don’t speed. If we get pulled over we’ll have a hard time explaining why we have three guys passed out in our backseat.”

“It won’t be that hard to explain. It is New Year’s after all. We’ll just say that they had too much to drink and we’re driving them home.”

I turned right onto the highway and speed up. I knew that Marilee was probably wondering what was taking us so long so I wanted to get home as fast as I could. There were very few cars on the highway so I was able to make it home in under a half an hour. I pulled up the driveway and put the car into park. I got out and opened the back door and pulled Ross out. My knees buckled at his weight and I went down taking Ross with me.

“Emma, go get Garrett and Duke to help get these guys inside. Tansy, get Ross off of me.”

Emma was back in seconds with her two brothers. Garrett picked up Jax and heaved him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and Duke did the same with Liam. We all went inside and I shut the door since I was the last one in.

“Bring them to the feeding room.”

Duke and Garrett gave a slight nod of their heads and left the room with Liam and Jax still over their shoulders. Emma and Tansy followed, dragging Ross along by his arms. I stayed behind for a minute to let myself calm down a little before catching up with them. When I entered the room Garrett and Duke had already laid the guys down on the three marble slabs in the middle of the room.

“Are they ready now?”

“Yes they are. You should feed soon because the drug will start wearing off soon.”

I didn’t respond instead I walked over to where Ross was laying and sunk my teeth in the hollow of his neck. His blood was delicious and I could feel it running down my throat. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Tansy and Emma feeding as well. I retracted my fangs and licked the blood off of my lips.

“That’s enough you guys.”

They both pulled their fangs out of Liam and Jax’s necks with a groan. I reached for a small dagger that lay on the table next to me and made a shallow cut on my wrist. I handed Emma the dagger and then I opened Ross’ mouth and held my wrist to it. Both Emma and Tansy did the same and soon the guys were sucking at our wrists. When the pain got to be too much I pulled away and Ross started bucking and crying out in pain.

“When they’re turned completely get them ready for their first hunt as newly turned vampires.”