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We’ve Moved!

December 2, 2010

We’ve officially moved from WordPress to Blogger!

Please stop by and visit us in our new location: http://thewickedwriters.blogspot.com

A Chat with Deborah LeBlanc (and the Last Blog)

November 30, 2010

It was almost a year ago that Wicked Writers began. I remember it vividly because I missed putting my blog up on time on the second day of our existence and C.J. was not shy in letting me know it (for the record, this is where that inside joke about her ripping my arms off and beating me to death with them came from).

Now, on the eve of our move away from WordPress over to Blogger, it looks like I’ll finally have the last word for a change.

So, I’ve decided that I’ll give some free advertising and in a subject I’m usually against – supporting vampires and werewolves as objects of affection. We all know – since I’ve been beating a certain dead horse – that my science fiction and horror writing skews to the “old school” where the vampires bite the dust in numbers reminiscent of the Battle of Verdun. Still, I have been known to make room in my coldest of hearts for a few exceptions.

Deborah LeBlanc is one of those exceptions. The author of such novels as Water Witch, A House Divided, Grave Intent and Family Inheritance is back with a new novel – The Wolven – just

Deborah LeBlanc

released Nov. 23.

The synopsis alone should get tongues wagging:

Someone—or something—is systematically murdering
the members of Danyon Stone’s werewolf pack.

As Alpha, he knows that finding and punishing the
murderous entity is his responsibility, and he’s not
about to rest until he sees justice done. But to stop
the slayings he has to accept help from the most
unlikely source—a wickedly sensual mortal woman.
Mystic-shop owner Shauna MacDonald has a special
interest in the recent string of otherworldly deaths.
As the Keeper of the werewolves, it’s her duty to
guard and protect the packs. Working by Danyon’s
side to stop an unknown killer—and trying to deny
the potency of their illicit attraction—poses a threat
to her heart unlike any she’s ever known, and if she
becomes the killer’s next target, it could be the death
of her.…
The Keepers: Three extraordinary sisters born to
balance the duty that is their birthright with the
yearnings of their hearts…

With something as scorching as this, I had to get the licensed death investigator and active member of two paranormal investigative teams back in for another interview:

* * * * * * * * * *

G: Good afternoon, Deborah, thank you for joining us. First up, I’ve read how you, Alexandra Sokoloff and Heather Graham (not the actress) started “The Keepers” series. How successful has it been for all of you?

D: Well, The Wolven (was) officially released on November 23rd, but so far the pre-release reviews have been wonderful. And, of course, Heather and Alex have received wonderful feedback on The Keepers and The Shifters. Both did a terrific job with their books.

G: What exactly was involved in starting The Keepers series?

D: Nocturne first approached Heather to headline a trilogy and asked her to recruit two friends she wanted to work with.  As we all know, Heather crosses her paranormal romance with very classic traditional mystery/suspense/crime plots, and I believe that’s a big reason she came to Alex and me – all three of us write cross-genre and we love the darker mystery/thriller elements.

We decided immediately we wanted to write three sisters, and we sat down and brainstormed a story.  It went fabulously, except when we discovered that even though Nocturne had initially said, “Anything you guys want to write is fine,” in reality that translated to “contemporary setting with vampires and/or werewolves.”

So it was back to the drawing board, and in a short time, The Keepers was born.

G: How did you come up with The Wolven as part of the series?


D: Wolven were to be a specific breed of werewolves, sexier in my opinion, but they, too, were born from that brainstorming session.

G: Who was the inspiration for Shauna MacDonald? (I ask because we writers love to include ourselves in our characters or so I’ve been told repeatedly)

D: I have three daughters, so it was easy to fit a personality to Shauna, who is the youngest MacDonald sister, and have her interaction with her siblings ring true. All I had to do was pay attention to my kids!

G: So far, I see just three books in the series. Are there any plans for more or will this be it? If so, will you continue with Shauna et al or add a completely new book?

D: As far as I know, that’s it for The Keepers, but I am coming out with my own trilogy next year. It’s called the Grimoire Trilogy, and the heroines are master witches, and the heroes are part vampire/part human. Together they create whirlwind adventures that are hot-hot-hot!

G: Will any other writers join The Keepers or your other efforts (Pen to Press, Writers for New Orleans, etc.)?

D: Pen to Press Writers Retreat is for serious, aspiring writers. We don’t match up writers to projects, but we do try to match up writers with agents and/or editors.

G: How has it been with Harlequin’s Nocturne series?

D: Everyone at Harlequin is so wonderful to work with! I feel truly blessed to be part of their paranormal romance family.

G: For other writers hoping to get into the – no doubt – crowded market of paranormal romance, what would you recommend that they do?

D: Write the best story possible and NEVER give up!

G: On a different note, do you think America has forgotten about its commitment to rebuild New Orleans? Are you satisfied with what is being done and what has been done?

D: I don’t think America has forgotten about New Orleans, but I feel the government sure has. If they were that concerned about our city, there would be mile-high levees surrounding it now. Instead, we’ve thrown mega bucks at failing lending institutions that mismanaged their money in the first place. Arggghhh!

G: Well, thank you very much for joining us today, Deborah and good luck with The Wolven.

* * * * * * * * * *

And that will do it for us, folks. Be sure to check Amazon.com and your local book stores for The Wolven.

We thank you for reading us on WordPress and we look forward to seeing you over our new site on Blogger.com tomorrow (Dec. 1).

We’re Moving!

November 29, 2010

It’s been a long time in the works – a month in fact. On December first we’re jumping ship from WordPress and heading over to Blogger. Hopefully, the transition will be smooth, but with me at the helm that’s questionable at best. The look will be slightly different, and maybe we’ll all add something to it once we settle in to make it more homey.

This month we’ve had a slew of free blog topics – much to most of the writer’s dismay! Who would have thunk that most of us enjoy writing on topic and on a schedule? We’ll be back on track this week in the new location, never fear.

So – what does the move mean to you?

Will there be a new address in the browser window?

I’m not sure. The plan was it would be the same, but I’m not the most technologically gifted and the finer points of “re-directing”, assigning a new domain,  and “re-naming” a blog allude me. We’ll give you the skinny on Dec 1st when the new site goes live.

Will all the team members be there?

Yes, that is also the goal. We’re still missing George from signing up, but he’s excused with all of his horrible dental nightmares lately. With any luck, he’ll have a had a chance to make the jump to Blogger by the time he’s scheduled to post, but if not, rest assured he has not told us he’s leaving, he’s just tied up with personal stuff and will be joining when he can.

Will there be anything different?

Yes! We’ve got another horror writer who is excited about joining the team and sharing a spot with Jimmy on Friday. Carole Gill thinks she’s on track to join in January (getting her edited MS to her publisher takes precedence!). We also hope to add another suspense/mystery writer to the team to go opposite David, so if you’re interested please contact me at cj_ellisson@yahoo.com

In addition, we’ll be mixing things up with promo and guest spots. The promo idea is one I’ve had for a while and one that has worked with success on another blog I’m a part of. We’re opening the doors to allow our writers to post full chapters, excerpts, shorts – anything they’d like to promote for a new or existing release. Some may be done in a serial fiction type of posting, with a new chapter each Saturday for a set period of time. Others may decide a short excerpt is all they’d like to do.

We also plan to open the doors up to other writers who’d like to promo their published work. The goal has always been to reach readers and by adding this content to the weekend we may very well introduce new readers to a story they might not otherwise have tried.

Thanks for being a part of this venture with us on WordPress. In January we’ll be hitting a year and compared to a lot of blogs out there, that’s pretty darn good.

How was everyone’s Thanksgiving? Did you guys eat as much as I did? May the mashed potatoes and stuffing keep coming all month long and may my elastic waistband pants be able to take the added strain!

Giving Thanks

November 26, 2010

Well, wouldn’t you know it? As I pen this note it is Monday evening, and I am sick. Yes, Thanksgiving week! Can you believe it? I hope none of you are feeling under the weather. I was ill once before during this holiday, but, thankfully, it was many years ago. So, right there I guess I should be thankful and complain less. That time I had an allergic reaction which made it extremely difficult to eat. I recall wondering whether I would end up missing out on all of the great holiday food. Thankfully, the problem then began to dissipate just in time, allowing me to be able to eat relatively well.

This time it seems that my regular allergies have kicked in. I began to feel my infamous post-nasal drip begin to choke me last Friday, just as California was being hit with a nice winter storm which brought us a lot of much-needed rain. It was particularly stressing because my wife was having some elective work, which meant that I needed to be on my feet for her. I managed to get through the day, but barely. Saturday night I was hit with a fever. All weekend long I was heading for the tissue box and choking on you-know-what.

I was bummed out because I had hoped to make some headway with the edits on Dance on Fire: Flashpoint, the sequel to my novel. I had thought that by the end of that weekend I might be in great shape. Unfortunately, between going line by line and getting up seemingly every ten minutes, I really didn’t get very far, and certainly nowhere near as far as I had hoped. At this writing, I am barely half way, and I have given myself a deadline of December 1st. We’ll see what this cold thinks about my deadlines. It might be one thing if all that I had to do between now and then was my day job, celebrate Thanksgiving and complete editing. On top of that, however, I had this post as well as an article due for Kings River Life Magazine, a local on-line magazine that I write for.

The Garcia Men

Now, having written all of this, a part of me is poking me in the shoulder. I really do not have to turn around to know who it is and what it is that he want to tell me. The PG version is probably something along the lines of “Stop Your Sobbing”. I say that because I’m a big Pretenders fan and that was one of their early hits. Really, I think it’s something like “stop your whining”. Without going back over old territory, I have way too much to be thankful for. I’ve been married 20 years, which is one hell of a lot longer than many these days. My boys are great and healthy and talented, and well on their way. My wife and I are both working, and we have money to do things. And finally, I have been spending this past year writing. I haven’t made any money doing it, as of yet, but I can see that it’s coming.

I could complain about a few things, but it would be more of a shame-on-me-thing for doing it. You know what I mean? So the doctor gave me an antibiotic, which I will start taking tonight after I eat something. I took some Advil this afternoon and now my fever has broken, and perhaps more importantly, at least mentally, they gave me another allergy shot. I say that because I swear by those shots! I’m surprised that it did not quite make it a complete year, but whatever! I feel so much better already and it’s only been a few hours.

One of the other things that was bumming me out was my potentially not being well enough for Black Friday. Hold your horses! That’s not what I mean. I already have to get up that early for work; why would I want to get up that early on a day off…for shopping? The day after Thanksgiving is my day for decorating the house. It will take the entire day, and I will be rearranging two rooms along with a bunch of furniture, but at the end of the afternoon Christmas will have arrived. So, if I am too sick for that, I will really be bummed.

Our living area

Our Dining Room (Read: my office. See trusty lap top?)

As I said, I am feeling better already, so I’m optimistic it will be a good week after all, and that these two photos will look completely different in a few days time. Come back in December and I’ll show you the “after” photos.

How about you? Will it be a good and thankful week for you and yours? I hope so. If your year has been less than spectacular, then I hope the holidays will be a magical time that restores your optimism for 2011.

Your new friend,

James

What a Writer Wants…

November 24, 2010

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and during my 15 minute break for breakfast with Regis and Kelly, I was subjected to six Christmas commercials.

Yes, it is that time of year, folks.

With the impending ‘Black Friday’ sales looming on the horizon, idiots – errr, I mean, serious bargain shoppers, are lining up in front of stores even now. Their Thanksgiving meals will be catered to them by worried relatives who fear for said shoppers’ sanity.

And people have the audacity to call me crazy.

Back on topic. What does a writer want for Christmas?

For me, all I want for Christmas is my six front teeth. Literally.

However, most writers I know still have a healthy set of choppers, so friends and family are left to ponder what else they can get their beloved, struggling author for Christmas.

Luckily for those friends and family, I have compiled this nifty little list. It’s not the end-all or be-all of every writer’s dream present, but I feel it’s a healthy start.

Besides, this is good reading material to print out while one is standing in line at 3 AM waiting for Kohls to open. After all, Best Buy and Office Depot are the next stop, opening at 5 AM… (open, open, open…)

What to get a writer for Christmas (besides four hours added to the 24 hour day):

1. A blank journal. Preferably one without NASCAR or sparkling vampires on it.
2. A massage session to relieve all the tension in the neck and shoulders. Beaucoup points if the masseuse is really cute.
3. A one time (or more) hiring of Merry Maids or said equivalent. Nothing like a clean house to start the New Year off right.
4. Gift cards to an office supply store, a book store, an online music store or a restaurant. Believe me, your author friend will love you.
5. The current year’s copy of the Writer’s Market.
6. A lap top (yeah, make that writer smile!).
7. Computer accessories.
8. Event tickets. To anything. Get that writer away from the computer and back into civilization, if even for only one evening.
9. For those single authors, consider a couple weeks worth of freezer meals. This is easy to do. Every time you make something for yourself, double the recipe and place some in a freezable container. Mark the contents and date it. All the author has to do is nuke the thing and he has a good, home cooked meal.
10. Books on writing. An author can never have too many books.
11. Subscriptions to writing journals or magazines.
12. A digital voice recorder.
13. Heck, ditch the recorder and get a cell phone that has not only a voice recorder, but a camera, a video recorder, Internet – and oh, yeah, a phone too!
14. A SUPER nice pen. You know, one that doesn’t say Bic, Papermate, or Pilot on it. Perhaps they won’t lose this one.
15. A gift certificate to a host web site for their future web site.
16. If you are good at building websites, offer your own talents to your writer friend. Give your gift on a decorated certificate, redeemable at the authors leisure.
17. A good coffee machine.
18. A variety of flavored coffees, creamers and imported sugars.
19. A great mug with something witty on the front.
20. Your writer isn’t a coffee drinker? Think about a corkscrew, wine glass and a great bottle of vino. Boone’s Farm still makes Strawberry Hill.
21. For those authors whose best ideas take place in bed (get your minds out of the gutter, folks), a bed desk is practical and multi-functional. (Hey! I said to get your minds out of the gutter!)
22. Are you the creative type? Make a pair of whimsical book ends out of children’s rain boots and cement. Or use your imagination to make any kind of bookends – out of coffee cups, old teapots, etc. Salvation Army is great for this.
23. Purchase the services of a professional editor/proofreader and have the author send in his manuscript when he is done.
24. A new lap top bag. Again, preferably one without the NASCAR logo or any reference to sparkling vampires. (D@mn it! Vampires don’t sparkle!)
25. Computer programs are especially nice if they are geared toward writers.
26. A paid registration for a writers retreat or upcoming writers convention is a great way for your writer to recharge from stressful times.
27. Coffee shop gift certificates. This gets said author out of the house and into the general public, possibly eating and drinking while typing away at a table… (or people watching for inspiration for new characters).
28. Wi-Fi cards (or pre-paid Hot Spot or similar type card) – so your author’s out-of-the-house excursions don’t limit him to the library or McDonalds.
29. Your author has a sense of humor? Try making a survival kit. Include novelty pieces, such as a giant pencil or giant eraser. Order customized notepads, with messages at the top like: “From the demented mind of Dawn” or “Tom’s Brainstorming Pad.” Make a silly ‘do not disturb’ sign for a door knob and decorate it with writing paraphernalia. Add a bottle of energy pills to cover any late nights or tight deadlines the person might have. A can of an energy drink or a few single serving snacks round out the package.
30. Make a coupon book. Include such valuable items as: ‘a free beta read’, XX hours of proofreading, a free neck and shoulder rub, a one time deal to clean their bathroom (if you dare…).  You know your writer. What can you offer?
31. If all else fails, get a wastebasket and fill it up with all sorts of office/writing gadgets found in the office/stationary supply aisle of your local, all purpose department store. Don’t forget the ever popular ‘pocket notebook’ the author can carry around to jot down his observations.

Hope this list helps give you the jump start needed to make your author’s Christmas a merry one indeed.

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Take time to think about the people and the things you are most thankful for.

Sell Yourself the Right Way

November 23, 2010

Since it is open topic this week, I wanted to talk about author brands. It has become a sort of obsession of mine as of late as I try to update my website, blog, and other sites to reflect my ‘brand’.

Now, what is an author brand you ask? Well, to me it is the image that you present to your readers, agents, and fellow writers about who you are as a writer. Key point there. Now myself personally, I would rather have my website full of skulls and barbed wire. However, that doesn’t really show my author brand as a fantasy writer does it?

So, part of creating your own author brand is to really think about what you write. What genre or what type of feelings do your stories present? If you write in multiple genres, how could you show the feel of all the genres at the same time?

This part can be a little difficult, especially if you write multiple genres under the same name. However, many people recoomend, and I agree, that if you write multiple genres, you should have a different pen name for each genre. For me that also means having a website for each name, each with the right theme.

Too much work you say? Well, think of it like this. I write High Fantasy right? My website reflects this with a marvelous fantasy theme to it. But I do have some ideas for sci-fi stories. Now, my High Fantasy readers and fans will know that my name on a book means High Fantasy. But if they pick it up and find out it’s sci-fi they will be a bit dissapointed and probably feel a little misled. Sure, many fans read multiple genres. But, if they expect a certain thing from you and you change it on them, they still might feel a little jilted about it. So, consider your fans and your reader base when writing in multiple genres – and thus choosing an image or feel for your site and/or blog.

Pen names are important to a writer’s brand also. My real name as you know is Anastasia V. Pergakis. I went by the pen name Harley D. Palmer for years! But, when I really became serious about getting published, I had to sit down and think what name to use. A friend of mine told me that my real name would look awesome on a fantasy cover and I agreed. So, began the process to change everything in  “Harley’s” name to “Anastasia”. Will I ever use Harley again? Of course! I plan to use it later when I start to write in genres other than high fantasy. At that time, I will create another brand name and slogan to go with those stories.

And that is point here people. Create an image, a feel, and a name that all goes together. Put out there a “slogan” of a sort that people will remember and recognize. It’s all about getting people to remember you and find you when they want. If they put your name into a google search, they should find YOU (the way you are on the cover of your book) all over the place. Website, blog, twitter, facebook, whatever.

For my blog, I went with a theme and layout that fit with me as a person rather than my writings. This is because that blog will be used as a central point for every thing I do under any name. So, I chose a theme that will cover all topics I ever decide to talk about. Some might tell me that my blog should match my website, or match the “fantasy” brand. However, since on my blog I talk about more than just my fantasy works, I don’t think including the blog into my ‘image’ would fit very well. Others might feel differently and wouldn’t do this the way I did. That’s fine too. The main point here is to create your brand however you see fit – but just do it.

So I challenge you to sit down and really think about your ‘brand’ if you haven’t already. Think about the future and where you want to be and how you want people to see and remember you.

Research: A short Postscript!

November 18, 2010

A tricky place…

I sat, contemplating.

Sat in consideration;

sat thinking, mulling and pondering

– just why?

 

Just why, you say.

Why should I deviate

from fictional play

to reality?

 

He spoke not a word today.

Just a wave to beckon me on,

then, carelessly tossed away,

my identity drifted aside.

 

I wait; contemplate.

Did I offend?

Some transgression; even fate?

No. Idle curiosity satisfied, I move on.

 

The old man, sprang from stasis.

His weathered features, grey,

like the dried bed of a dead oasis.

Taxi? he called.

No. No taxi, I plead.

First, I seek the help of others,

a money changing need.

Taxi? The old man reappears.

 

But, where is this he leads?

Steel: a crumbling, decaying fragility,

we mount the old man’s wheeled steed.

Darkness embraces us.

 

Again, where is this he leads?

Sand: it gives place to concrete.

As lights flash by, time pays no head.

The old man smiles in my darkness.

 

I sat, contemplating.

Sat in consideration;

sat thinking, mulling and pondering

– just: why?

 

Steel: the crumbling, decaying fragility;

the old man’s wheeled steed creaks.

Through darkness my taxi’s ability,

once denounced, now championed.

 

Paper: the folded bills demanded;

the old man’s smile fades…

…his extortion plans now interrupted.

The old man turns away; I smile.

 

Just why, you say.

Why should I deviate

from fictional play

to reality?

I stand at the foot

of seven star luxury, contemplating.

Stand again, as considerations put

the breath of life in words I write.

 

Later, as I continue a stand,

more darkness envelopes our ground

as wind rustles and whips at sand.

Yellow dust coats my parched throat.

And, later still, I breath again,

as sand no longer troubles,

replaced by simple generosity, plain

– hands  full, I smile.

The paradox of the unreal real

stands, now bare, before me.

Yet again, in my existence, I feel

what I have known.