Friday, April 29, 2011

Michael A. Arnzen Honored with Professor of the Year at Seton Hill University

Many Genres editor Michael A. Arnzen was chosen as the 2011 Professor of the Year at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Michael Arnzen (Ph.D., U Oregon) is an English professor by day and a horror/suspense writer by night. He holds four Bram Stoker Awards for his often funny, always disturbing fiction. His courses in the English program at Seton Hill run the gamut from expository and creative writing to literary criticism and film history, and he is an active teacher in the first year Seminar in Thinking and Writing. He has mentored novelists and led graduate writing workshops in SHU's unique MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction since 1999. He advised the campus literary magazine, Eye Contact, from 1999-2009.

Dr. Arnzen began serving as Humanities Division Chair at Seton Hill in Fall 2009.

Friday, April 22, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Edward L. Cote

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
It's funny, I love to ask readers who their favorite character is, but I'm not so sure I have an answer myself. I think I have strong characters and I've done pretty well with them. I have tried to put new personalities on traditional archetypes and create characters who are unique yet instantly recognizable, in a word, "iconic". I can single out one character who demonstrates this process the most clearly, and that is Alexander Mar'Cathy. He IS the Charming Scoundrel, but he is not Han Solo or Jack Sparrow. His closest cousin is probably Mat Cauthon, but even there the differences are more than cosmetic.


2. Tell me about your travels.
I do love to travel. I have to admit that one of the things I look forward to in the author's life is going to conventions, conferences, forums, and book signings, as well as being able to largely make my own schedule for recreational travels and vacations. I dream of my first appearance at Comic Con as a guest. I once had a job that required some travel; I went to Pennsylvania and Tennessee, where I saw some beautiful scenery. I went to Dallas once to visit some friends. I want to see California and Florida someday, and maybe tour the Pacific Northwest. Milwaukee and Columbus are two great towns in the Midwest, but my favorite place so far is Chicago. And that's just in the US. If money were no object, I'd like to spend a year in Europe.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Music is a big one. Sometimes real people, events or situations give me ideas or inform my efforts to add verisimilitude. For example, Bruce Payne, with his singular ability to mix camp with menace, helped to inspire the villain Der'aevis. I don't often “cast” characters like that, but in that case it was hard not to. Other than that it's hard to say, as I think much of my process occurs on a subconscious level. Often, a character, a scene, or a solution to a problem just comes to me. Sometimes the characters are so well developed in my mind that they inspire me. At this point I know what they would say or do in pretty much any situation. As for the impetus to write in the first place? I don't really know where that comes from, and I can't remember a time when I didn't have it. I don't even remember learning to read, just that I already knew how before kindergarten.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
Music is very important to me. I have widely varied tastes and I follow several musicians and bands. Recently I've liked KT Tunstall's “Tiger Suit”, the self titled album from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and “Suburbs” by Arcade Fire. I'm glad it won the Grammy. My favorite song is “Paper Bag” by Fiona Apple, who has a new album coming out in a few months. Henry Rollins helps me deal with anger and frustration. I like to discover new artists, especially when they are as fantastically talented as Annie Reese of a Chicago band called Rock Falls. I am passionate about what I do and don't like. I love concerts both big and small. Music inspires me and intersects with my writing. In my mind I sometimes connect specific songs with specific scenes. The “soundtrack” of Violet Skies is half Evanescence, but also includes Anastacia and even Kelly Clarkson. When I'm in a position to negotiate with the networks, I very much want to do a sitcom/drama TV series in a cinematic style that will feature pop music prominently.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I take notes, some of which are public on my blog, but I don't outline. I create the best characters that I can and I put them in an interesting setting and situation, then I watch it all unfold. The major players set things into motion, other characters react, and it just snowballs from there. I know the major plot events (sometimes months or even years) in advance, but I don't know the details of a chapter or scene until I actually sit down and write it. I wrote a chapter of the second book that started out as almost a blank slate but ended up having a nice flow and structure to it. I think it's some of my best work so far. I usually know how things are going to turn out, because I know the characters and the larger situation so well, but there have been surprises. In particular, Olbinaar turned out to have a much greater capacity for duplicity and cynicism than I had thought when I first created the character years ago. I love that this story can still surprise me, and I hope that means it can surprise the readers as well.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
I read Frank Herbert's entire Dune series at a young age, as well as most of what Orson Scott Card published back then. While they helped me to realize that I wanted to write, the single most direct influence on my writing style itself is Robert Jordan. My prose is definitely more sparse than his, but from what I understand that is not unusual for YA books. George R.R. Martin has also had a lot of impact on me, and I've picked up a few techniques from him as well. For example, I often use action to attribute dialog, and I learned that from Martin.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Edward L. Cote (born 1975) lives in Lawrence, Kansas, where he went to college. He likes restaurants, bookstores, concerts and coffee shops and has many varied interests ranging from music to board games to politics. He learned to read before kindergarten and has been writing for many years.

Edward is publishing his first book in late May. It's a fantasy YA novella titled Violet Skies, the first volume in a series also called Violet Skies. The story features a female protagonist and several other compelling, iconic characters in a unique setting. It is a coming of age tale and a treatise on the use of power. He just started raising funds on Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edwardlcote/my-first-book-violet-skies-a-ya-fantasy-novella) to cover publishing expenses, chiefly a professional cover. You can find samples of his writing on his blog http://www.EdwardLCote.blogspot.com or in the Twelve Worlds Anthology for Charity: http://www.amazon.com/science-fiction-fantasy-anthology-ebook/dp/B004WT7OSQ which is itself a great deal, $2.99 for about 80,000 words of fiction, and the author royalties go to Reading is Fundamental.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Kayleen Reusser

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Kayleen Resusser

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?

2. Tell me about your travels.
I’ve been to Europe, Mexico, and most US states. My love for travel assists me in writing travel articles and my book, Recipe and Craft Guide to Indonesia.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Milk, cappacino, Chai


4. What else can you do besides write?
I work in a middle school library so I can recommend good reading material for that age group.


5. Who are you reading right now?
Female mystery writers like Mary Higgins Clark


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
My inspirations are all around me in every person I meet. I love to interview people and believe every person has a story to tell. My goal as a reporter/author is to find the story and present it well.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
Anything chocolate


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Kayleen Reusser has written nine children’s books, including biographies on Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Leona Lewis; three books on the Greek gods; and titles Celebrities Giving Back, and Recipe and Craft Guide to Indonesia (Mitchell Lane Publishing).
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She is a regular contributor to the Fort Wayne (IN) News-Sentinel and has written articles for Chicken Soup books. She writes a weekly column for the Ossian Sun Riser and is co-founder of a writing group in Bluffton. She speaks to children and adults on various topics and works at a public middle school where she finds inspiration and joy among students. Visit her online at www.KayleenR.com.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: William O'Brien

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

Peter: A Darkened Fairytale

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I am fond of all the characters in some way, even the evil ones. If I was forced to choose… hmmm… the elf ‘Slip’ – she is sweet!


2. Tell me about your travels.
My travels are generally through my own mind and into other dimensions. I love anywhere remote, quiet and rural.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee – black, no sugar.


4. What else can you do besides write?
I have a strong scientific background, with a BSc (hons) in Geosciences, a PGCert in Occupational Health and Fitness, and an MSc in Science Communication.


5. Who are you reading right now?
Ernest Hemingway - A Moveable Feast.


6. Pop culture or academia?
Academia.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Peter: A Darkened Fairytale CH XIV – 402 – The middle to end sections.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
To completely disassociate and wander – up into the ether!


9. Food you could eat everyday.
Cheesecake


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
Used to be a fitness addict – although, I have calmed down considerably. I sometimes go jogging.


11. What kind of music speaks to you?
Most kinds of music – depends on my mood. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata springs to mind.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I tend to have to have some sort of outline (must be the scientist in me) but when the pen starts scrawling the framework can go anywhere.


13. Celebrity crush.
Today… Eva Green


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Lewis Carroll and Oscar Wilde


15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Sometimes – they make me giggle!


Living in a small village in Lancashire, England, William O'Brien has written his first book, Peter. In the 1990s, he had twenty-one articles published, both nationally and internationally. After gaining an honours degree in Geosciences, doing post-graduate study in Occupational Health and Fitness, and earning a masters degree in Science Communication, he developed an interest for simple communication. A passion for writing again emerged, and combining various interests in fine art, museum exhibition display, biology, geology, poetry, and the mystical led to the story of Peter: A Darkened Fairytale. William retains a childlike vision of the world, which is conveyed throughout the book.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Workshop: Many Genres One Craft Pennwriters All-day Intensive

Workshops
PENNWRITERS ONE DAY INTENSIVE WORKSHOP
Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction


Who: Writers at any level interested in furthering their writing skills and business prowess

What: Contributors to the new, comprehensive writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, based on the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program, will offer six workshops for craft and career. The three morning sessions focus on plotting with Victoria Thompson, character with Timons Esaias, and setting with Heidi Ruby Miller and Jason Jack Miller. In the afternoon, sessions focus on pursuing publication with Natalie Duvall and Matt Duvall, building a brand with Mary SanGiovanni, and investing in your writing with Michael A. Arnzen.

When: Thursday, May 12, 2011 – 9 AM to 4 PM

Instructors: Michael A. Arnzen is Chair of the Humanities Department at Seton Hill University, as well as a Bram Stoker Award winning author. His first novel Grave Markings also won the International Horror Critics Guild Award for Best First Novel. Other projects include a spoken word CD called Audiovile and the novel Play Dead. Selections from his 100 Jolts: Shockingly Short Stories have been made into the film Exquisite Corpse, produced by Jim Minton. Mike’s latest release is the collection Proverbs for Monsters. He haunts the Internet at http://www.gorelets.com.

Matt Duvall was a professional wrestler who appeared on national TV shows and was included in Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine’s Top 500 wrestlers for 1996. He completed his MFA at Seton Hill University, which is also where he met his wife, Natalie. His short fiction has been published in a number of venues, including Chizine, The Ultimate Unknown, and Eye Contact. When he’s not teaching high school students, Matt practices Krav Maga, runs half marathons, and tries to avoid mowing the yard.

Natalie Duvall lives in a big old house in a little town in Central Pennsylvania. She enjoys walking as much as possible. Unless it's cold out. She is married to Matt Duvall and has cats (three of them -- Albert, Chun Lee and Eliot). During the day she's an 11th grade English teacher. At night, she writes Regency-set historical romances. In what free time is left, she trains in Krav Maga and is a lackadaisical triathlete. She blogs at http://dirtythirtytridea.blogspot.com.

Timons Esaias is a satirist, poet and short fiction writer, living in Pittsburgh. His fiction has appeared in fourteen languages, and his poetry has been translated into Spanish, Swedish and Chinese. His poetry chapbook The Influence of Pigeons on Architecture is in its second edition. He has also been a finalist for the British Science Fiction Award, and won the Asimov's Readers Award. He is Adjunct Faculty at Seton Hill University. His website is www.timonsesaias.com.

Heidi Ruby Miller is adjunct faculty at Seton Hill University, where she graduated from their Writing Popular Fiction graduate program the same month she appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Her novels include Atomic Zion and Ambasadora. She is a member of The Authors Guild, Pennwriters, Science Fiction Poetry Association, and Broad Universe. Visit her at http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com.

Jason Jack Miller is a writer, photographer and musician. An outdoor travel guide he co-authored with his wife in 2006 jumpstarted his freelancing career; his work has since appeared in newspapers, magazines, literary journals, online, and as part of a travel guide app for mobile phones. He received a Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill where he is adjunct creative writing faculty and he is an Authors Guild member. When he isn't writing, he's on his mountain bike or looking for his next favorite guitar. He is currently writing and recording the soundtrack to his novel, The Devil and Preston Black. Find him at http://jasonjackmiller.blogspot.

Mary SanGiovanni is the author of the Bram Stoker nominated novel The Hollower and its sequel Found You, both from Leisure Books, and Thrall from Thunderstorm Books. Over the last decade, various periodicals and anthologies have published her short fiction, some of which was collected in Under Cover of Night. She co-edited the GSHW anthology Dark Territories. Mary received a Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Find Mary at http://marysangi.wordpress.com.

Victoria Thompson writes the Edgar-nominated Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt and detective Frank Malloy. Her latest book in the series is Murder on Lexington Avenue. She is also the author of 20 historical romances. A popular speaker, Victoria has taught at Penn State University and currently teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in Writing Popular Fiction. She is online at http://victoriathompson.com.


Tuition: $125 PW members (includes a copy of Many Genres, One Craft)
$165 non-members (includes a copy of Many Genres, One Craft)

Registration: Online at Pennwriters

Endorsements:
“Finally! A book on writing category fiction, presented by those who do it every day. Choose a genre and jump right in.”
--Mike Resnick, Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author

"Many Genres, One Craft is a brilliant and insightful must-have book for any writer, from newbie to working pro. Highly recommended!"
--Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of The King of Plagues and Patient Zero

Many Genres has everything you need to write and sell the book of your dreams. It is jam-packed with practical information, clear examples and brilliant insights, all delivered with clarity and wit. Skip the writers’ conference and read this gem from the masters of genre fiction!
--Suzanne Forster, New York Times bestselling author

"Speaking from experience, I can tell you there isn't a muse and if there is, she's already dating someone else." If there isn't a muse, as you'll read in this invaluable book for writers, MANY GENRES ONE CRAFT is surely the next best thing. No matter what you want to learn--from choosing the point of view for a scene, from getting the most out of a critique group to fine-tuning your final draft, from approaching a literary agent to promoting your published book in print or electronically or both--it's all there. The contributors know their stuff, and what they're teaching applies to writing at any age. MANY GENRES ONE CRAFT covers all the bases superbly, including issues I haven't seen addressed anywhere else in today's rapidly shifting publishing landscape.
--Renni Browne, co-author of SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS

Check out our site at http://manygenres.blogspot.com!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Jeff Young

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Jeff Young

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Right now I would say it is Kassandra Leyden, the spiritualist from the series of steampunk stories that I’ve written recently. She’s smart, observant and dangerous in a very common sense sort of way. In other words, she quickly evaluates a situation and plans ahead whereas most of her compatriots tend to charge right in. But favorite characters are like favorite music to me- it’s more of a du jour type thing.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
I’ve done some acting as well as scriptwriting. Friends and I did a black and white short, The Space Stone, that was shown at Balticon and we’re working on the follow up. I’m also a teacher for a summer camp called Step Back in Time that prepares kids for their first time at the Renaissance Faire.

Dreamwrights Youth and Family Theater calls on me occasionally for props and costuming.


5. Who are you reading right now?
I’m catching up on some Bruce Sterling that I somehow missed: Heavy Weather, Distraction and Globalhead. On the nonfiction side I finished Moby Duck not too long ago, which was an odd look at the fate of 28,880 plastic toys lost in the Pacific.


6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
That’s actually not an easy question. To me the scenes usually aren’t tough to write, the tough part comes in when I am going back over it again to make sure that it flows, makes sense and that it really achieves what I want. I think that action scenes are probably the toughest because I tend to look at things from a very theatrical angle and get caught up in trying to show the reader the complete picture that’s in my head. You simply can’t do that unless you are filming it and you’re losing the opportunity to have the reader co-experience the moment by adding his or her own interpretation to things. I wrote an action scene in a cyberpunk story called “Brought Down Under Heaven” where a person was in a pool at the top of a building. One side of the pool had a glass wall and an aircraft was flown into the wall spilling out all of the water and people in the pool while the main character tried to escape. I could see the whole thing in my imagination and it was a struggle to decide what to keep and what to remove. It still remains the one scene I would love to find a way to film.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Stories I typically let take me for the ride, but I won’t write them until I have enough of the pieces to reach a critical mass. So I do have to take notes in order to keep the pieces together. As for novels, I tend to put together a list of chapters and try to make the working names evocative enough so that I remember the main crux of the action and then of course tack notes onto each chapter.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Iain M. Banks - for his amazing large-scale imagination that still never loses sight of humor.

Larry Niven - another creator who works in epic proportions and does a fantastic job of imagining alien life.

Edgar Rice Burroughs - for sheer ability to entertain without concern for the absolute ‘whys’ of the way things might work.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Jeff Young is a bookseller first and a writer second – although he wouldn’t mind a reversal of fortune.
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He received a Writers of the Future award for "Written in Light" which appears in the 26th L.Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Anthology. He’s been published in: Realms, Neuronet, Trail of Indiscretion, Cemetery Moon and Carbon14. Jeff contributed to the anthologies By Other Means, Clockwork Chaos and In an Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk, all to be released in early 2011. Jeff has led the Watch the Skies SF&F Discussion Group for ten years.

Friday, April 08, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Trisha J. Wooldridge

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Trisha J. Wooldridge

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee in the morning (with milk and/or creamer). Tea in the afternoon. Milk occasionally at night… with libation. (Bailey's Irish Cream, Disaronno Amaretto, Illy's coffee liquor…)


4. What else can you do besides write?
I make arts and crafts… and play with animals! (More on the animals with question 10.)

I drew my own logo for A Novel Friend Writing and Editing.

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It's my impression of my current housepets: Loki the Bunny (the very, very old bunny) and Nylis the Cat. I've also done cartoons for online courses and illustrated my own poetry chapbook. I hand-make most of the gifts I give, too: wood-burnt plaques and ornaments, decoupage cards, paintings, and decorated gift baskets.

My art isn't good enough to make the comic I have mostly-written, unfortunately, but it definitely helps with the scripting.

On top of that, art is fun and relaxing. When we do our annual Myrtle Beach trip, I bring all my painting supplies and can usually churn out a few paintings of mediocre quality - but that I still love.


5. Who are you reading right now?

6. Pop culture or academia?
Both. Most of what we study in academia was pop culture at some point in time. Shakespeare was very much pop culture, for example. Most of the authors we study were popular icons of their time. The Gothic and Victorian writers? They would go on tour! So would Mark Twain. Sure, there were plenty of shut-in writers - where else would we get that cliché? But really, their stuff was getting read by the "cool" people, the rich people, the people in power, the people who talked about what was "in."

Even if you look at history, you've got pop culture. The people we study? They were the cool people, the winners, the ones everyone wanted to hang out with, be with, be seen with.

Outside of critics and criticism, most of the people we study in academics weren't writing (or doing stuff) for the sake of being studied years and years later. They were doing what they loved for their existing audience, culture, and people of their time.

If more academics realized this, they'd probably be able to inspire those students who "have to take the course" a whole lot more than they do now.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I work with horses, too. For 6 years, I've volunteered at the Bay State Equine Rescue (www.baystaterescue.org), where I continue to learn a lot about training and caring for horses.

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I've also recently adopted my own horse! Calico Silver is my baby - and my fitness project. Riding and training a horse is hard work. As she spent the first 12 years of her life as a foal-making slave of pharmaceutical companies and then the following 4 years upon being rescued just learning that humans can be Nice People who don't treat her like a senseless commodity, she has not had a lot of training. So, we're working together to get in shape for trail riding.

Our current goal, if you don't mind me doing a little begging here, is to raise $300 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure ® foundation with Ride for the Ribbon - a 9 mile long trail ride. Up to 75% of the funds stay in Massachusetts to provide education, mammograms, and support to women with breast cancer. If any of your readers would like to sponsor me, Calico and I have our page here: http://komenmass.kintera.org/novelfriend


11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Both. For a long time I defined myself as a "pantser" (writing by the "seat of my pants"), but the more I wrote, the more I found that I did a better job if I did some planning ahead - and that, in reality, I was doing a certain degree of planning already.

Before I even sit down to write, I mull a story in my head for months, if not about a year (for novel length). That mulling includes me visualizing many scenes and conversations in my head, teasing out the main plot and the sub-plots, and a whole lot of getting to know my characters. I also give myself a rough idea of the Beginning, Middle, End/Final Confrontation, as well as the transition scenes between those acts. This is something I've always done but never thought about because it rarely, if ever, gets written.

New steps for me now include more specific planning: I make myself an elevator pitch - a 1-2 sentence description of the book that summarizes plot, theme, and character and matches the "voice" of the work. About a third of the way through the book (and whenever necessary) I do major research and write down my notes, write character descriptions, write a timeline (usually that includes backstory and what might happen next). About two-thirds of the way through, I adjust all those notes I wrote a third of the way through and add bracketed notes for things I'll have to change in revisions.

Additionally, when I'm co-writing (like for all of the Bad-Ass Faerie (www.badassfaeries.com) short stories), my partner, Christy Tohara, and I do much more planning. We discuss plot and character in detail beforehand and set specific parts that each of us will have to write, which translates into a strong outline. We definitely play with it more as we write. Our big lesson has been the importance of pre-planning, though, because it's easy enough for one crazy author to lose track of a story; if two crazy authors are involved, you're in trouble!


13. Celebrity crush.
David Tennant, who played the 10th incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who. I pray that I can get movie deals on my still-to-be-published novels while he can still pull off playing several of my most beloved male characters.


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Trisha J. Wooldridge is a freelance writer, editor and educator from Auburn, MA and the readings & events coordinator for Broad Universe (www.broaduniverse.org). Her experience ranges from Dungeons & Dragons Online to animal rescue public relations. She writes about food, wine, horses, haunted locations, education, and she interviews bands like Voltaire, Within Temptation and Nightwish.

Her short story, "Party Crashers," co-authored with Christy Tohara, was in the EPIC Award winning Bad-Ass Faeries: Just Plain Bad (Marietta 2008, Mundania 2009), with a second co-authored short story in the EPIC Award winning Bad-Ass Faeries: In All Their Glory (Mundania 2010).

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Visit her at www.anovelfriend.com.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Barbara Mountjoy

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Barbara Mountjoy

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I think my favorite is Jake Patrin, a recovering alcoholic in a book I have written, but have yet to publish. He’s caretaker at a conference/retreat facility in New Mexico, stays alone most of the time, works hard at his sobriety. He lost his family and his life to the drink. He’s working when a retreat-load of patent attorneys comes in for one of those "team-building" weekends, a freak snowstorm falls on the place in March, and a truckload of illegal Mexicans gets stuck in the snow and ends up in the conference center. He steps in to handle the situation in a flawed hero way that really warms my heart.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
I have a three-quarter time family law practice, where I especially help victims of domestic violence and parents of abused children—kind of a contradiction. I love to cook all sorts of ethnic foods. I grow and can fresh garden vegetables. I make patchwork blankets for my children and grandchildren and crochet sweet baby afghans for anyone who has a baby at the courthouse or in one of my husband’s computer classes. As for all the rest, I dabble a lot—Jill of many trades, as it were.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
In a story about a victim of domestic violence, the young man the heroine thought loved her beat her viciously. Even though I tried to keep it in perspective, like through the eye of a filmmaker’s camera, it was still very hard.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I write a lot of stories about women lawyers, young and old. I think lawyers have a tremendous ability to help people, and when they actually care about their clients and not just the money, they can rise above the average person and do amazing things. I’ve seen it in my own cases and in the cases of my sister attorneys. Every good story needs conflict, and there’s plenty in the legal arena.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
A good guacamole, a little chunky, plenty of garlic and lime and the right addition of cilantro.


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?

13. Celebrity crush.
Hands down, Sir Sean Connery. Is there anyone else?


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Barbara Mountjoy has been a published writer for over 35 years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at the South Dade News Leader in Homestead, Florida. Her list of publications includes the non-fiction book 101 Little Instructions for Surviving Your Divorce, published by Impact Publishers in 1999, stories in A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women, in December 2008, and A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Parents, in June 2009. Barbara's urban fantasy series of novels premiered in July 2010 with The Elf Queen; The Elf Child has just been released, and The Elf Mage is expected in 2012. You can learn more about the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series at http://clanelvesofthebitterroot.com.
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Her first published romance novel, Secrets in the Sand, will be released by the Wild Rose Press April 20, 2011. She regularly writes tech articles/television reviews at Firefox News (www.firefox.org/news), and blogs on a variety of subjects, including autism, science fiction and life at http://awalkabout.wordpress.com. Barbara has been a Pennwriter about seven years, and is married to an absent-minded computer geek. Between them, they have a dozen computers, seven children, and a full house in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Many Genres One Craft Available for Pre-Order

We have a new cover for Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, and it is available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, Powell's, and other fine locations.

From the back cover:
Romance. Fantasy. Mystery. Science Fiction. Young Adult. Horror. Picture Books. Suspense.

Many Genres, One Craft brings together award-winning authors, bestselling novelists, and hot new writers from all these genres to offer an amazing novel writing workshop in a book. Modeled on Seton Hill University's acclaimed MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction—where all of its sixty contributors have taught, studied, or been a special guest—this stunningly comprehensive guide for writers offers insights into crafting effective genre fiction of any kind, and provides an array of practical advice on selling novels in today's marketplace that you simply won't find anywhere, short of enrolling in graduate school.

Learn everything from beating writer's block to building suspense, making monsters to marketing mysteries, approaching agents to writing romance…all from writers who have actually done it.
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You can find out more about Many Genres at our website: http://manygenres.blogspot.com

You can read the introduction on scribd.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Roger Spires

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Roger Spires

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
There were many wonderful teachers that I wrote about but did not name in my book. I’ll just pick one, Alan, an award winning inner-city teacher in a large city. Alan used hip-hop to connect to the classics. He had these high school students willingly remove their sweatshirt hoods to debate, write persuasive essays and make oral presentations. This is one of my favorites because he was successful with students that most people write off as a lost cause.


2. Tell me about your travels.
a. Every city I get to visit I say, "Oh, I could live here." However, I enjoy foreign travel most. A few years ago I enjoyed a ten day trip with World Neighbors in Oaxaca, Mexico. The city and the surrounding villages and countryside were a delight. I enjoyed this trip because I experienced the culture and day-to-day living of the average people and also visited some ancient Zapotec ruins.

b. Teaching ESL in Changchun University of Science and Technology for six months was a great learning experience. Traveling throughout China with one of my students increased the value of this trip. Now one of these students is an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
I like coffee with a danish...one of my bad habits. I drink tea when I’m trying to be good.


4. What else can you do besides write?
a. Reading is a favorite pastime. For entertainment I read books that are thrillers. Stuart Woods, James Patterson, Vince Flynn and Lee Child are a few.

b. Trying to be artistic with my digital camera is wonderful therapy.

c. Walking nature trails gives me opportunities to relax and practice my photography.


5. Who are you reading right now?
The Mozart Conspiracy by Scott Mariani


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
My inspiration comes from my desire to share the joy of helping others learn, experience success, and have options when opportunities come their way. I want them to have goals but mostly I want them to be ready for opportunities.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
Pizza, but I try to limit it to two or three times a month.


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
Last summer I learned to sail and this winter ice sailing was something new for me. However, a long time activity is hiking in metro, state and national parks.


11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I enjoy almost any country and opera music. I do not understand the words for an Italian opera but these songs seem to touch my soul.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I have a habit of letting my stories or ideas just flow onto the paper. I have discovered that for me, it is the way I enjoy writing. However, in the long run, I have a much better product if I force myself to make an outline.


13. Celebrity crush.
Most of my life I have been head-over-heels in love with Sophia Loren.


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Teachers from my elementary years where very influential. They had a love for teaching and their students. Teaching did not seem to be a job but an activity they enjoy doing.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?
No, I find cartoons boring.


Roger Spires began teaching in a rural school in southern Ohio. Later he taught sixth grade and remedial reading in several schools in Columbus, Ohio. From there he served as K-12 curriculum director, adjunct instructor and GED instructor. He considers his ESL teaching experience in Changchun, China as one of the highlights of his career. He hopes to do town hall style meetings to promote school improvement.

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The Magic of Teaching is a glimpse into the tough world of a teacher and that of classroom teaching. Teaching has always been challenging. The Magic of teaching shows how teachers are meeting these challenges by giving students respect and offering them hope, joy and most important, excitement of mastering the skills they need. Even disenfranchised students can be rescued when they discover the joy of academic success.

Friday, April 01, 2011

PATHS TO PUBLICATION: Preston Black (Songwriter)

So, here's where I'm supposed to talk about how I got my record deal and all that, right? Well, then that means I got to go back to that show at The Stink with Katy on Valentine's. It's an old skating rink that they turned into a brewery, and we played to a full house that night. They had kids jammed in all the way back to the bar. I was nervous, seeing as how it was the first time I ever played any of my own songs to an audience. But Katy looked good, and she was really confident, so that helped. Also, playing when your soul's at stake is pretty good motivation.

Anyway, I played like I had hellhounds on my trail. For real. We squeezed blood out of that stage. Notes I never knew existed dropped out of the air like flies from a bug zapper. Some of those kids never even knew what hit them. After the show the label guys were all like, '...you've got a great look and backstory...' and I was like, "I'd like to think it had more to do with the songs I wrote and the way we knocked them out of the park just now." Right then and there they saw how they were going to package us and market us, but I didn't care because I was finally getting paid to do what I loved.

But the more I think about it, the more I think my path really doesn't start back at The Stink. In fact, the night I talked to John Lennon probably had a lot more to do with it than the show itself. He was all like, '...get off your bum' or whatever. I had a few drinks in me and can't remember specifics, but it was a pretty good speech. You can say what you want, but I was sober as a nail when I said goodbye to him and watched him walk down those stairs. And since all the stuff he said jived with the stuff Joe Strummer had been saying I kind of took it all to heart. That's when I started to look at music differently, I started to see it as a way out rather than as a prison. I figured, look, if John Lennon's sitting here telling me it can be done, then I knew it could be done.

But really, none of that would have happened if it wasn't for you-know-who. The old 'One who shan't be named.'

You can read all about it in this book, The Devil and Preston Black. I don't love the title, but I didn't have a say. The writer stretched the truth a little here and there and, in my opinion, left some important stuff out that may have made me look a little less foolish. Anyway, it's over now. And I'm not going to give any advice except to say a deal with the devil ain't really the easiest way to go about achieving success or whatever. If I had it to do over again, I probably just would've tried a little harder.