Sorry for being so quiet, we've had things happening in that other life of mine, the one that isn't a writer, and it has caused this life to stall a bit.
Having said that, I've decided to post monthly chapters of a book I started eons ago, but for some reason decided to let it sit, and sit, and sit!
The novel, PORTALS, is only half done, and I don't see ever completing it as one I would seek for publication. It was written back in the day of blissful unawareness to POV changes/head hopping and all that good stuff. And I decided to leave it just as it is, I say that now
Of course, when we arrive to the spot I have to write, the halfway point, there might be a change in style because the bliss has fled, I now am so aware of all the no no's, I don't know if I could write with the abandonment PORTALS was first crafted from. Some of the magic has faded.
So, I guess I'm just warning you that I will begin posting monthly chapters here. I hope you enjoy the story thus far, and I HOPE when we arrive to the point where I stopped writing on this tale, I can trudge forward and complete it.
I am also working on a WIP that I do want to try and shop around, so it will be a juggling act for me. But maybe it will get me back into my world of writing!
Today I'm interviewing fantasy author Keta Diablo. I hope you enjoy learning a bit about her and her work.
Dust and Moonlight
by Keta Diablo
"Fantasy lives in all of us. We long to be carried away to an extraordinary world, contrary to the one we live in. In Dust and Moonlight I’ve tried to do just that. Join me in a journey where magical powers and true identities are concealed, where an ordinary woman is thrust into a mystical land that threatens her very existence. Kira must rely on conventional wisdom to stay alive in this alien kingdom where wizards, sorcerers and evil reside. Well, conventional wisdom and a wee bit of help from her deceased grandmother who practiced witchcraft in her day.When she meets Balion, Prince of Locke Cress, she discovers cosmic love, a love that crosses all boundaries and withstands the test of time. Live the fantasy, believe in the magic, and join Kira for the adventure of her life . . . and yours."~Keta~
Please share with us your path to being published. How long did you write before your first book was published?
I wrote historical romance under a pen name for four years and was blessed to have my very first book accepted. It was a medium-sized e-publisher, but I’m still very grateful for the opportunity. One must struggle with angst and setbacks along the journey in order to enjoy the splendid view if they ever make it to the top of the mountain.
Have you ever finaled or won in a writing contest? If so, which contest(s), which book(s), and which year(s)? Do you feel contests are a good use of your energy and time? Would you recommend that writers enter them? Why or why not?
Again, the lucky stars aligned when I finaled in the Molly Contest this year for my novel, Decadent Deceptions. It was so thrilling to receive an e-mail that said, “Congratulations, Keta Diablo, you finaled in the Molly Contest.” I entered and then forgot all about it because it was the first contest I ever entered.
Yes, I feel contests are important for the aspiring writer and the established author. Although I didn’t win the Molly, the feedback I received was immensely helpful. A great learning experience.
What is your favorite animal, real or mythical, and why?
This is a toss-up between cats and dogs. I rescued my lovable, furry kitty from the animal shelter last year. I visited her about three times before I took her home, and she was so lost, so forlorn. Her family moved out of town and took their furniture, but left her behind. Go figure! The shelter was about to put her down so I adopted her. We’re bonded at the hip now, and she is most definitely “Queen” of the abode.
I lost my Sheltie, True Blue, last year after eleven years of faithful friendship. He used to lay behind my desk chair, and even now, I sometimes feel him there.
If you decided to no longer write, what would you do instead?
I can’t imagine not writing, but if I must say, I always wanted to be a singer. If only I had a voice. I think it would be the ultimate trip to walk on stage and have thousands of people scream, whistle, and pass out just because you showed up. Then I’d sit down at the piano and sing “Answer” like Sara McLachlan does. The quintessential high!
What are your best promotion tips for other writers? What works best for you?
Join as many writers’ groups that time permits and network with other writers. Contracting the book is only part of the journey. Marketing and promoting in this business is crucial. If you think of the thousands of books out there, what would make yours stand out? It’s up to you to convince people that your book is special, will knock their socks off. Then you cross your fingers and pray that it does.
Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Many times from my dreams. I know that sounds corny, but people have very active imaginations while they sleep. Scary, vivid, over-the-top, these visions and dreams make for good material. For Dust and Moonlight, two friends talked me into writing an anthology with them. I told them I had never written fantasy before, but they insisted I could do it. Before the anthology was published, we sent out some pre-reviews and the feedback was phenomenal for Dust and Moonlight. I bowed out of the anthology as soon as they found a replacement and turned it into a full-length novel. Don’t ever tell yourself you can’t write sci-fi, horror, or even suspense. You don’t know until you try, and it was such a fun adventure creating the magical, mystical world in Dust and Moonlight.
So, tell us a little about yourself? What is your typical day like?
Oh-oh. I bet some people think authors ride around in limos and eat chocolate bonbons all day. Truthfully, you can find me at the computer from early morning until late at night (and I do mean late) pounding away on the keyboard, answering e-mails, promoting, and marketing. I lead such an unglamorous life, it’s pathetic. Would I trade it for another occupation? Never.
When did you start to write, and how long did it take you to get published?
I was very blessed in this area. I have always written in one form or another. I worked as a newspaper reporter for years (and as a paralegal) and then the “romance” bug hit me about seven years ago. Once I started creating the stories that were rambling about my head, the rest was history. It took me about a year to get my first story published.
What influenced you to write?
The creativity, the word-building and ability to tell a story from beginning to end and watch the characters morph into caring, loving human beings. Being your own boss ain’t too shabby either.
What inspired you to write romance?
Again, developing the relationship between the hero and the heroine, whether they live in the Old West or in another realm. Love is love and crosses all boundaries, forges all time.
What genre or sub-genre do you write? Why did you choose this genre?
Generally I lean toward historical because I love research. This goes back to my days as a paralegal and my love for genealogy. Yet many of my stories have a natural bent toward the paranormal, and I don’t know where that comes from.
What difficulty does writing this genre present?
In historical you must be very accurate. Readers are astute and will call you on mistakes. For fantasy, readers are more lenient. Who is to say that unicorns didn’t exist in this mystical kingdom or that spotted cats had fangs as big as a thigh? Both genres have their challenges and their strong points.
Tell us about your other works, books, stories, etc.
Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Dust and Moonlight, Dust and Starlight, of course, due out in March through Siren. Wow, I best get going! And I always have about three novellas in the works since I write for four publishers: Phaze, Siren, Ravenous Romance, and Noble Romance. My historical, Land of Falling Stars just made the top ten bestseller list at Ravenous. I’m so proud!
How do you write? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influences you the most?
I’m a "panster." I never start at the beginning of the story, but write a scene that might end up in the middle of the book. From there, I work backward or forward and let the characters lead me on the journey. I don’t do outlines or keep note cards . . . I know, unconventional, but it works for me.
How do you choose your characters' names?
Often from phone books, baby books, or from credits that roll at the end of movies. You’d be surprised how many combinations you can put together that always seem to fit one of your characters. If I’m stumped, I live with the character for a while and she/he names themselves based on their quirks, their habits.
What is the coolest thing about being an author?
Without question, independence and the ability to be your own boss. Of course, you must be disciplined and meet your deadlines, keep your promises, but there is no one standing over my shoulder telling me to get to work.
What has surprised you about being a published author?
I still have trouble believing that people actually take the time to e-mail me and tell me they loved my book. This is so rewarding and pushes me harder to keep on writing. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that for a short time you transported someone to another world and they loved the visit.
What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
Sleep, garden, read, play with my furry friends and then sleep some more.
If you could spend an hour talking to anyone from any time in history, who would it be? And why?
Scarlett O’Hara (Vivian Leigh) and then beg her to teach me how to make all those fantastic facial expressions. With one raised eyebrow she could bring the strongest of heart to their knees, and her smile was absolutely devastating.
What is your all time favorite book?
The easiest question of all . . . To Kill A Mockingbird. I was transported to another world, could feel the old fence scrape against my pants, smell the hot southern air, and taste the prejudice. I was ten when I first read it and read it at least once a year. Harper Lee is one of the best writers ever!
What advice would you give aspiring writers today?
Persevere and if anyone tells you you’re wasting you’re time, ditch them. This would include family. Don’t listen to the naysayers, the negative people who tell you one in a million make it. What if the millionth one decided not to write that book?
Thank you so much for having me as your guest today, Sheri, and thanks to everyone for stopping by and reading my interview.
I’m holding a little contest until the end of February. Go to my web site and e-mail me the name of the kingdom Prince Balion rules. Put “contest” in the subject of your e-mail and I’ll draw a winner for a free copy of Dust and Moonlight on February 1st.
This month I've been musing about everything, or so it seems! Mainly, I've been giving the coming year a bit of thought. The New Year is a time to reflect upon the old year as it departs and embrace the hope the new one offers. We look at it as a sort of changing of the guard, a new beginning.
Many people make resolutions. I don't anymore. I use to, but discovered I rarely kept the promises I made to myself and always felt like a failure when I did break the resolution. So, I guess, in a way I did make a resolution: I resolved to make no resolutions.
Having said all that, I have been musing about 2009 and what I want to accomplish. I'd like to find a comfortable medium between self-promotion and my conscience. While I realize it has to be done, it feels rather like I am begging, and well, that makes me uncomfortable. I'd like to finish a novel I started some time back. Hole in the Sky. I'd like to make time to read more of others work, not allow my energy to be so totally consumed by the day's events that I have nothing left, no spare energy to just read. Or to write.
Speaking of reading and writing. I did manage to finish a chapter about fairies for a paranormal guide. My fingers are crossed it is accepted. As to reading? I just finished The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Even though there were some things I felt could have been or should have been explained deeper, I truly enjoyed this book. The whole notion of a living boy being raised by the dead intrigued me. Imagine it…a living child given sanctuary by the dead and granted all the privileges of the graveyard. A living child who could, for all practical purposes, do things only spirits should be able to do.
Nobody Owens, Bod for short, raised from a toddler, protected from the outside world by the graveyard and hidden away from the man who killed Bod's family and still wants to kill him. The Graveyard Book made me ponder things and that isn't a bad thing at all. Pondering leads to notions, notions lead to ideas, and, hopefully, those ideas lead to stories.
This is an excerpt from Summersong, originally posted for others to consider for the PEARL nominations, but I thought I'd share here. I hope you enjoy, Sheri
TWICE UPON AN EVENTIDE By Shannah Biondine and Sheri L. McGathy ISBN-10: 1554045738 / ISBN-13: 978-1554045730
Award-winning fantasy authors Shannah Biondine and Sheri L. McGathy team up again, delivering twice the mystical adventure in this enthralling duet, Twice Upon an Eventide. Here are faraway worlds of danger and intrigue, where dark mirrors hold strange and dark secrets.
A Varlet's Bond (Shannah Biondine) Captain Praxis, wyvern rider, former slave turned royal reeve and bounty hunter, has never forgotten her brief partnership with Prince Zavend of Glacia. Years have passed and now find Praxis a wealthy woman and sometime comrade of Zavend's disreputable brother, Vitus. A twist of fate draws all three back to the heart of Glacia, where an evil is spreading across the land. Can anyone or any sworn oath be trusted? Will Praxis find her heart soaring higher than a wyvern or crushed once and for all?
Summersong (Sheri L. McGathy) Summersong, a magical border Keep created to maintain the fragile peace between Man and Faery, has lost its glory, its grandeur, and its loyal guardians. The land is dark, filled with turmoil. Yet, one bright glimmer of hope still exists. Long ago, Myree, daughter of a proud nobleman, made a childish vow of undying love in a secluded garden to heroic young Connair. Now grown, Connair has not forgotten that pledge. When Myree is abducted into a realm of shadows, he risks everything in his quest to save her and recover the heart of Summersong.
Summersong By Sheri L. McGathy
Long after the wizard completed his tale, the old storyteller remained quiet. He stared into the fire, but his gaze was far away, focused on something only he could see. Firelight danced in his eyes as he finally spoke, his voice soft and wistful, "Once, long ago, there was an ancient border Keep that dwelled between the realms of Man and Faery.
"They called it Summersong–a place of light and heart, peopled by those born of stardust, a gift from the winds of forevermore. Yet, Summersong was also a place where shadows lingered just beyond your sight, ever waiting for a chance to swallow the light and silence the beating of its heart."
The old storyteller leaned back against a fallen tree trunk. As he stretched out his long legs, he added, "Few ever knew the secret that Summersong kept or the real purpose it served.
"But evil, as evil is wont to do, befell Summersong and the Keep's true intent was soon forgotten by even those few.
"This is Summersong's tale. . . ."
Prologue Summersong Silenced
She stood motionless within the silent bailey, with only a tear to show her grief. Nothing stirred. No mournful cries reached her ears. Summersong had been abandoned. Death stalked its lifeless halls. The great bloodline of the Far-mura stood sentinel no longer. Now only shades guarded the border between Man and Faery. She would find no solace here.
The stench of death nearly choked her, yet she refused to look away. The barrenness of the place matched the emptiness of her soul. Summersong's sorrow mirrored her own. Each had lost much this day, their hearts torn asunder. Summersong's heart lay cold and still upon the bloodied cobblestones while hers lay locked away in a horse-drawn carriage with her child–a child taken from her before drawing a single breath.
"My lady." Her handmaiden laid a hand on her arm. "Death reigns here, 'tis no place for the living. Come away, now. Let us seek shelter elsewhere."
When the lady did not move, the handmaiden glanced nervously over her shoulder before renewing her urgings. "We must be gone before others arrive to lay claim. They will surely blame us for this massacre if we are found here. The fragile peace of our two peoples will shatter. They will no longer trust our kind. Please. My lady, come away."
"Trust is fleeting," the lady said, her voice flat and emotionless. "Allegiances change as quickly as the seasons and all memory of former ties easily forgotten with no thought given to those who may be harmed." She shook her head as she gazed out to the dead. "Yet, compassion should never be forgotten. It is what makes us whole."
She tightened her fingers over the handmaiden's still grasping her sleeve. "The Far-mura knew this. They showed our people great kindness at a time when few would. I cannot repay them by leaving their spirits to an earthly limbo. The death rites must be performed. Their spirits must be set free. No pure trueborn Far-mura remains to see this done, so I shall do it for them."
"My lady, the others, they–"
"They do not tolerate what they do not understand, nor will their nature allow them to seek beyond what is shown to the truth that lies beneath. If we leave now, they will bury the Far-mura within the earth as they do their own, thinking it a kindness. Yet, without the words to set their souls free from their now useless flesh, the spirit of each Far-mura will be bound to the earth, unable to touch the sky or blend their voices with the ancient song of the wind. The spirit of Summersong will be silenced forever."
A visible shiver raced along the handmaiden's arm.
"It is too risky, my lady, you are too weak. The chants will tax you further. You will surely perish–"
"Nay, it is the right thing to do, regardless of the risk involved. Do not question my judgment. I will sing the words. Then," she said, as she pulled her cloak tight about her, "I will seek out those who have done this dishonorable deed and exact revenge for those who cannot."
The handmaiden sighed before saying, "Then you must lean on me, my lady, I will give you what strength I possess." She signaled to two burly warriors standing near the gatehouse wall. "Come, our mistress requires your aid."
Not waiting for the strength of her warriors, the lady leaned heavily upon her handmaid's arm as she raised her face to the sky and sang, "Hear my pleas, Father Wind, spoken for those who no longer have voice. Come, carry their souls to the homelands of old so that their spirits may return to the night skies and shine anew."
A gentle caress from a warm western wind wiped the sweat from her brow and eased the song from her lips. The sacred words of the Far-mura death chant echoed throughout the Keep, the solemn notes made all the more lonely by the unnatural silence hanging over the place. Soon, her voice merged with the mournful wails of Far-mura spirits as they abandoned their earthly vessels and soared skyward to join the wind in its ethereal dance.
The sun had set by the time the last spirit was set free and silence claimed the Keep once again. Exhausted, she sank to her knees upon the still warm cobblestones and let the evening breeze cool her fevered skin. As her handmaid had warned, the task had nearly drained her of her life force. It would be many days before she recovered, if she found the will to recover at all. She was no longer sure she wished to live in the light.
Her thoughts strayed back to her lost child, to the pain that crippled her will. As a sob tore from her throat, a weak cry echoed across the bailey. A child's cry.
She struggled to her feet. "Did you hear that?"
The warriors and the handmaid nodded. One of the warrior's pointed toward the far end of the bailey. "The sound came from within the Keep."
She motioned for silence. At first, she heard only the eerie wail of the wind as it swooped down upon the lifeless bailey, and then, faintly, almost without hope that someone would hear, the cry came again. She stretched her hands out. "Take me there, now."
One of the warriors scooped her into his arms and carried her into the Great Hall. Death greeted them, yet a spark of life lingered in its dark midst.
"There," she said, pointing toward the grand fireplace at the far end of the room.
As they drew closer, the truth was revealed. On the floor, covered in her own blood, lay a lady of Summersong, her newborn child suckling her lifeless breast while resting a hand against the dagger hilt that had pierced the mother's heart. Pieces of dark glass clung to them both. Near them, his body littered with more of the strange dark glass, lay a Far-mura guardian, dead by his own hand, his fingers still curled about the dagger's hilt. A smile haunted his pale lips.
With shaking fingers, she lifted the child from the dead mother's arms and offered her own milk-heavy breast to suckle. As the babe clung to her, the light of hope renewed within her grieving heart.
"I claim this foundling for my own," she whispered against the softness of the child's hair.
"My lady," her handmaid said, "if you take the child, those who sought to destroy the Far-mura down to the last man, woman, and child will know they have failed. When the child's body is not found, their evil gaze will turn toward us."
She wrapped the child in the hem of her skirt. "Then I shall offer my own child in exchange so none will be the wiser." She met her handmaid's concerned gaze. "And none save us shall know the truth. I will have your words on it. The truth will remain here with the dead for the dead know how to keep their secrets."
As each nodded in turn, she added, "This child I hold in my arms belongs to the living, while the child of my flesh now resides with the spirits. I do no more than leave behind a reflection of what could have been while offering to another the promise of what could one day be.
"Come," she said as she stood, the child nestled close to her heart. "Let us fade from this world until the memory of the Far-mura is but a distant dream."
This is a reprint of a musing I posted in 2006, with modifications. I thought it still fitting! Sheri
This month I've been musing about Samhain, pronounced "Sow-ain, Sow-en, or SAW in," more commonly known as Halloween or All Hallow's Eve though Samhain was believed to mark summer's end rather than signal our little spooks and goblins to run door to door giggling as they try to scream, "Trick-or-Treat."
There are many, MANY references alluding to Samhain, which, of course causes me to muse. I don't know the true origins of the Halloween we celebrate today though I've heard many different accounts. I've read that the ancient Celts believed Samhain was a time when the old year died and the new one was born again on November 1st. Samhain said goodbye to summer and ushered in winter.
The references I find the most fascinating are those that state that Samhain is a time of transition, from old to new, death to life/life to death, the known to the unknown. It is said that the veil that separates the world of the living from that of the dead is at its thinnest at this time . . . allowing the souls of the dead to cross back into the land of the living, if only for a short while. In preparation, the living would offer fruits and vegetables and light hilltop bonfires to serve as a guide for these souls. The bonfires were kept lit all night not only as beacons, but to frighten away evil spirits and protect the living from harm.
I've always believed Halloween a magical time, a moment when the impossible becomes plausible and reality blurs. Plus, it means November 1st isn't far behind, which never fails to make me smile. If you think you know why November 1st is special to me, post a reply to this blog before November 15th with your answer as well as why you like Halloween, and I'll place your name in a hat for a chance to win a signed copy of OMNIBUS.
As summer slowly ebbs, and fall looms, I find myself once again musing about beginnings and ends, life and death, and the mystery of it all. In fact, for the last few years, death has never been far from my thoughts. It sneaks into my musings when least expected; it haunts me. It could be the time of year that makes it sharper as September and October are months that remind me of my own personal losses.
I lost my dad in September 2005 to natural aging, and my only brother/sibling in October 2007 to cancer. For me, there was barely enough time to come to terms with one loss when another occurred. Dealing with my own beliefs, sadness, and loss, has forced me to face many of my hidden or unfaced fears about death. Thus, death haunts me.
In my mind, death is the ultimate journey, a step into the unknown, a journey that the living cannot follow. Many claim to know what lies beyond, some, actually from dying, if only for a moment, some because they have the ability to look beyond that mysterious veil that separates the living from the dead. Still others claim to have had loved ones return to reassure them that all was well. For most of us, there are no assurances.
Religious beliefs, I feel, ease some of the worry for their loved ones as they travel beyond this realm. Faith that they are in a better place helps the living accept their loss without trepidation. They still feel the grief, but they accept death with far better grace than those who hold the belief that it is, in truth, the end.
Many, confused and afraid of that loss, seek others who claim to be able to contact the departed, the living desperately needing to know that a loved one is fine, before the living can move on.
I recall worrying about my dad after he died. Was he okay? Comfortable? Happy? Did his mom and dad and all his siblings come to meet him? Did they embrace, shedding tears of joy even as the living shed their own tears of loss? Would he be reborn into a better life than the one he left behind? And my brother? Did the family once again gather to embrace him? Shed their tears? I hope so, I certainly want to believe it is true, but I don't know.
Death still scares me; it is a thief in the night, an unknown that defies answers, regardless of my personal beliefs. I recall as a child being carted off to some family member's funeral, where the departed actually was laid out in the family parlor and they had a wake. It was probably my earliest memory of death, and one that has never faded. I stood there, my eyes barely level with the table the departed had been laid out on, and as I pondered the whole notion of death through youthful curiosity, the man on the table actually sat up! No one in the room seemed to worry to awfully much about it, the man's wife just pushed him back down and the wake continued. At the cemetery, as they lowered him into the ground, I recall the horror I felt that they were burying this man alive though the adults in my life assured me they were not. Now that I am grown, I understand why he sat up, but it was that single moment in my young life that started my own quest for understanding knowing there would be no certainties until the day I myself must take that journey.
One thing I've learned and come to accept through my own personal losses is that death requires, no demands, your attention. You have to deal with it, come to terms with it, and face the reality of it regardless of your uncertainties and fears. I've learned that, in time, you do come to accept death, even though you never truly get over the pain of the loss.
You have to give death time, for the grieving, the sadness, the emptiness, and eventually the emergence of fond and even happy memories. And memories come, hitting you in waves of nostalgia easily summoned by a song, a smell, or a whispered word said just the right way. When this happens, the memory of the loss returns, in force, and you are swept up in emotions you thought you had finally laid to rest. No warning. It just happens. And for a time there, as the memories overcome you, both good and bad, those who have left us, live again.
Thanks for letting me come by. I Love the look of your site. You did a wonderful job covering all the information on Death Masks and Firestorm of Dragons these past couple of days. I appreciate that a lot. If anything, this virtual book tour has been good for my ego. Grin. Seriously, I've received so much positive feedback that I'm inspired to spend a lot more time on the two books I'm revising and the handful of short stories I'm working on. It's humbling and exciting at the same time. Y'all be sure to leave your comments and questions. I'll bop in to answer them and each one counts as an entry for the prize drawing. We have one left to do. It's a chance to win a copy of either book, a tshirt or cd from the metal band who is featured in the Death Masks video book trailer.
Recently, I had the chance to read Kim's DEATH MASKS, as well as her short story Dragon Fruit (a fantasy) from the anthology Firestorm of Dragonspublished by Dragon Moon Press.
Let me start out by saying, I'm not very good at summing up or reviewing anything! If I were, I wouldn't sweat the blurbs when I have to write them for my books, so, having declared this little truth, I'll just say this:
Dragon Fruit was an inventive twist on the old legends where once a year, or seven years, or whatever the legend demands, lots were drawn so a virgin could be selected and sacrificed to some menacing dragon. That way, the dragon would leave the town in peace.
Though there are elements of the Old World legends within Kim's story: the lottery is mandatory, and only virginal girls of the village are required to participate (never boys, always wondered about that!), there are small differences and new twists to the old tale. Twists I found quite surprising and really enjoyed.
If you get a chance, pick up a copy of FIRESTORM OF DRAGONS and read Kim's story, Dragon Fruit.
Now DEATH MASKS was a bit of a different read for me. I rarely read full out mysteries, though I stand firm in my belief that all stories hold a mystery. Having admitted that I don't read them, I found I did enjoy this story, almost as much as I liked the dragon tale. Kim has a storyteller voice, something I like, and she was able to draw me in and make me want to read to the end.
I have to confess, though, that I guessed the murderer early on. Yet, in defense of the tale, I admit I like to puzzle and plot and play "what if" when I write and read. It does, at times, cause me to figure out the direction the author is going long before I should and I get bored with the tale. Which says a lot for Kim's storytelling skills, since I wanted to keep reading despite figuring it out early. And do read to the end, even if, like me you guess correctly early on, because the motivation behind the murders is truly fascinating as the truth unfolds.
So, there you have it, my musings on the stories. I warned you I was not very good at summing or reviewing.
Kim will be here all day June 29th, to answer any questions you have or to just chat.
I leave the floor to her with this invite: Kim, please tell us more about your work!
What is a death mask? Throughout the ages, man often made masks of the deceased faces. It is a way of honoring the dead and, before photographs became available, to preserve the visage of the deceased person for the living to view. There are many in museums around the world including some famous people such as Agamemnon, Cromwell, Edison, Newton and Volaire. During my recent trip to Germany I discovered several in museums including the last Teutonic Knight Hochmeister, Archduke Eugen, and two rulers: Frederic II and Frederic Wilhelm IV.
I made a plaster cast of my own face to use for promoting Death Masks and the detail of the features surprised me. The death masks I had the opportunity to see also had great detail. FYI: the one I did of myself is technically called a Life Mask since I am still living.
What does a death mask have to do with the book? One thing many serial murderers have in common is collecting something from their victims. In this story the killer makes a death mask of each victim. It’s also intended to be a play on the words since there is something unexpected about the murderer revealed at the very end so the fact that the identity remained hidden is a kind of mask.
Why did you decide to write this book? What inspired you? I wrote the first draft while living in Ohio, across the street from a metro park. Having come from the wide open spaces of New Mexico, the dense trees of Ohio and steep areas struck me as places to dump a body. Often in the news, people were found days after driving off into one of these areas. I did talk with the park rangers near me and found out they try to keep any assaults or other problems occurring in the parks under wraps so that people will feel safe in coming there.
Why a story about a serial killer? Aren’t those overdone (SPOILER ANSWER)? I decided early on I wanted my protagonist to be someone different than those you find in a lot of thrillers. Bill is an IT computer support tech instead of a detective or someone with law enforcement experience. His curiosity keeps him on the trail but his lack of experience causes him to make mistakes.
The murderer is female. Her sex isn’t revealed until the last chapter. In the opening scene it is left unclear she is even human. Why a female murderer? (SPOILER QUESTION) Women serial murderers tend to be better at killing than their male counterparts. They go for longer periods of time before being caught, with higher body counts for several reasons: they seldom talk about their crimes to anyone, they tend to take choose less violent ways of death, and for women—many of their killings are viewed as mercy deaths and therefore more acceptable to society. For example: the woman whose elderly relatives die in her care. The rest of her family may not realize she poisoned them, thinking they passed on of old age. I find that concept extremely chilling. Why did you decide to publish Death Masks with an e-book publisher (Eternal Press)? I find every path to publishing valid in one form or another. My first book came out as under a print on demand format because I had the opportunity to do it free. I do editing for Eternal Press and so took the opportunity when offered to me to try my hand at an e-book. It may not be the best choice for every book but I believe a good one for this story. I prefer to form my own opinions about such things with a little of my own experience. Tell us about the trailer? My fiancé, William Gilchrist filmed it for me using ideas we brainstormed together. The music is from a death metal band from my hometown of Roswell, New Mexico. I wanted a rougher sound since this is not a happy, fluffy story. The neat thing is the band, Children of a Lesser God, and I are working together to promote ourselves. It’s opened up some interesting opportunities. They will be taking touring all summer and Death Masks goes with them.
What else have you published recently? August of 2007 saw a book called The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction released from Dragon Moon Press. I wrote the chapters on world building and sub-genres. Presently I am writing a chapter for the same editors on Celtic Magic for a book on writing fantasy magic expected for fall 2008 release.
April 2008 Death Masks came out, and towards the end of the month, an anthology of dragon stories titled, Firestorm of Dragons. Firestorm is from Dragon Moon Press. I have a story in this one about what dragons really do with all those maidens who get sacrificed to them.
Then in the fall of 2008, I have an entry in a Twisted Twins horror themed desk calendar. Yep. I got the January 1 spot!! It’s the New Year’s Resolutions of a serial killer (intended to be funny).
What are you working on now? I have a horror novel tentatively titled, Holy Blessed Homicide, which I am revising. It is also out in submission.
I am also in the first rewrites of a story about the Amazon warrior women from the region of Turkey. It was my 2007 nanowrimo project but I have two more in the series planned. The first of which is brainstormed and the first few chapters written.
Kim Richards will be my guest here at my blog all day on June 29th. I do hope everyone will stop in, ask questions or just visit with her. In advance of her arrival, I'm posting a bit about Kim from her interview with her publisher. I'll be doing a second, and hey, maybe a third post, starting with an interview with Kim and IF my new puppy allows, I'll be adding a small review or two. Enjoy!
Thank you, Kim Richards, for agreeing to an interview on Eternal Press Blog.
EP: When did you seriously sit down, and say to yourself, I’m going to write a novel?
Kim Richards: I’ve been writing in one form or another most of my life. After my first marriage broke up, I decided I wanted to take writing seriously. Then I found out how much I still needed to learn so I went back to school and took journalism, started attending conferences and reading everything how-to I could get my hands on. I’ve been lucky to have found mentors online and some great critique groups along the way.
EP: What do you find the most difficult to write? Dialogue? Back story?
Kim Richards: The most difficult for me are transitions from one scene to another. I often get my point of view mixed up there in the first draft.
EP: Have you ever found that you didn’t like your Hero or your Heroine? If so, what did you do to change that?
Kim Richards: I’ve never experienced that. I have had a secondary character end up being my protagonist after I got to know the characters a little better.
EP: If you were to start again, with the knowledge you have now, what would be the first thing you do?
Kim Richards: I wouldn’t let anyone discourage me and I’d not let making money replace the writing. For me writing is something I need to cope with depression so it’s more than just an occupation. It’s my life and I need it.
EP: Do you have the support of friends and family? Meaning, do they understand when you are writing that you cannot be disturbed? Or do you have friends that think since you’re home, you don’t work?
Kim Richards: I do now and it’s wonderful. My previous mother-in-law used to ask when I was getting a ‘real job’ and I took business classes because I believed others who did not find writing an occupation. I’ve had to make it important to ME and shrug off what others think. And yes, when my sons were young, many of their friends’ parents would send their kids to my house after school. You simply learn to deal with it. I figured at least I knew where my sons were at, even if the house regularly got trashed.
The best thing I did for writing is get a ‘do not disturb sign’. I haven’t had to use it in years but it does get the point across when you can hang it on the door and just point to it when you are interrupted. At first people laugh; then they get the point.
EP: What was the biggest hurtle you had to overcome in your career?
Kim Richards: Taking myself seriously and believing my writing worthy. EP: What genre do you write? Do you write more than one, if so, what?
Kim Richards: I write mainly horror, fantasy and some science fiction. However, if an idea comes, it doesn’t matter what genre it is. Sometimes you don’t see it in your story. I wrote a children’s book back in 2000, thinking of a fantasy market. It was another author who saw it as a kids book. It was published that way.
Death Masks is a thriller. When I wrote it, I had horror in mind. It wasn’t until I started to submit it, that I realized where it best fit. You have to write the story and then worry about what mail slot it fits in. EP: How do you research for your books?
Kim Richards: I love research and have to be very careful or I spend more time doing that than writing the actual story. I start online but am picky about my resources. If a website doesn’t list resources of its own, I tend to skip it unless there’s a bit of information I think I need…but I focus the research on finding supporting documents (or the lack thereof). I always end up with new books on my shelf when I research. I’m full of what my sons refer to as “useless trivia”.
EP: How do you develop your characters?
Kim Richards: My stories usually start with a what if. When I start worldbuilding and researching, the characters form on their own from the culture, the setting—it often falls into place naturally.
EP: Are any of your characters a person you’d like to be? If so which one?
Kim Richards: Lots of them. They’re usually stronger or smarter or more admirable than I am.
EP: Who inspired you to write?
Kim Richards: Many, many people. An 8th grade teacher who taught me to write my dreams in a notebook; a high school teacher who taught me to journal; authors I’ve met; hokey stories I thought I could write better. It amazes me how there are many more people who do inspire me to write than discourage me, yet in the past it was the negative ones I listened to. Maybe they talk louder.
EP: What is the most humorous writing experience you’ve ever had?
Kim Richards: Meeting a man in an elevator at World Horror Convention. He saw my name tag and had read my science fiction novel out at the time. He lectured me on how I killed off his favorite character.
EP: If a new writer came to you for advice what would you tell them?
Kim Richards: Perseverence. Wrap it around your shoulders and tie it tight.
EP: Do you have a book coming out? If so what? Do you have a web site? Do you have a blog? My space?
Kim Richards: Death Masks is available from Eternal Press. I also have a story out in an anthology of dragon stories by another publisher.
Check out the trailer for Death Masks. The metal band is from my home town, Roswell, New Mexico.
I’ll be doing a virtual book tour in June, 2008 so check there for the blog visit schedule. There will be prizes!
You can find me at Myspace, Livejournal, Facebook, Blogger, Good Reads and Writer’s Chatroom. All under the username Kim Richards.
I do have one announcement I’d like to make. I’ve just accepted the position of Marketing Manager for Eternal Press. I’m thrilled to be accepted on the team and excited about the upcoming possibilities for me and for the publishing house.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions for the Eternal Press blog. Good luck with your writing.