AuThursday – Tessa McFionn

Tessa BannerTessa McFionn author picTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I would be delighted. So, I have lived in California for the whole of my life, but oddly enough, you’d never know by looking at me since I have no tan and inherited the East Coast attitude from both my parents. I’m a huge nerd, and very proud of the fact. I’ve collected comic books since I was in elementary school, I had a Star Trek bridge play set growing up instead of Barbie, and my idea of a perfect date night is the latest Marvel flick and pizza. Like most authors, I started writing when I was in junior high, but never took it seriously. I took Creative Writing classes in college, got my teaching credential and even taught English for a brief period before I decided to really give my own words their due. I still collect comic books. In fact, as I write this, I’m preparing to attend a comic book convention over the weekend.

How do you make time to write?

Ugh. I carve it out of every day with both hands, since I do have a rather full-time, full-time job as a teacher, that only leaves me weekends and vacations to dive into my WIPs. But I make sure that I make the most of the scant time I do get. Sometimes much to the chagrin of my hubby.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block?

There are times when my muse seems to be more interested in surfing for porn on the internet. (In my mind, I see my muse as a drunken frat boy. Don’t ask.) But honestly, I think because my writing time is so precious when ideas don’t flow, it can be almost debilitating. Generally, I just open another WIP and that usually helps to kick things back into gear.

Give us an insight into your main character, Kahlym cal Jhuen, in “To Discover a Divine. “What does he do that is so special?

Ah, my beautiful misfit. When I first imagined my sci-fi hero, I wanted him to be fierce and strong, yet have a vulnerable side. In the early phase of world-building, I saw him with not just mismatched eyes, but each eye having two colors. This trait made him an outcast from everyone, but through the love and guidance of his brothers, he became the hero Evainne meets. He has telepathy, but for me, it’s his heart and his courage to rise above that makes him special.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Oh, gods. The names. Especially in sci-fi, it’s all about the names. I wanted them to be unique, but still pronounceable. For me, I think of sounds and the feelings and pictures that come to my mind when I hear them. So, I play with variant spellings, like k or an x instead of ch and such, and voila! A new name is born. It’s one of the parts I truly love to do.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Honestly, on this part, I think I have a bit of a leg up. I’ve never been very good at being a girl. Remember the whole comic book thing? Yeah, well, I also played D&D, street football, and fenced competitively in college. Also, I spent a lot of time with my brother and his friends until I graduated from high school. So, because of spending lots of time hanging out with boys and listening to their conversations, I found it easy to slip into the minds of my boys. But there are times when I run some things past my current guy friends, and even sometimes my hubby.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?

I am a huge extrovert. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of being shy my entire life. By being more outgoing, I tend to talk to more people and get some amazing ideas, and personality quirks, for new characters. I do love talking to people, and watching people, too. It’s great fun to eavesdrop on Joe Q. Public in open spaces. Tons of great material.

How do you relax?

LOL! Actually, writing is my relaxation. Aside from that, I love watching movies. But for ultimate unplug time, I go to Disneyland. I know, I know. For most people, that would be stress central. Not for me. I have an Annual Passport and go at least once a month. It’s my way to escape the world and be a kid again.

How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any?

I did get them, and it’s so odd. I knew they would be coming. I promised myself I would be strong when they came. And after the first, I nearly folded. So much for being tough. But I put on my big kid pants and kept going. I reminded myself that rejection is a part of persevering and nothing good comes without work.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Never quit. If you have a story to tell, there is someone out there who wants to read it. Trust your muse, and don’t fight the plot.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

If you go to my website, www.tessamcfionn.com, there are links to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, I have a monthly newsletter. Sign-ups for that are also on my website.

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

“I do. Thank you so much for chatting with me.” ~Tessa McFionn

DivineThe dunk into the pool was just what the doctor ordered, the temperature somehow perfect. Evainne hoped it would be cold enough to jolt her brain into some emotional state aside from pissed off, but she didn’t relish the idea of a long swim in the arctic. The thing seemed almost intuitive, the water warming after one lap.

Why was she so angry? It wasn’t as if she’d never been rejected before. She should be used to that, but she wanted so much to believe he was not like the asshats back home. Guess it’s a male thing, no matter what planet you’re on.

So lost in her own head, she didn’t realize he was in the water until she heard him call her name. His voice brushed against her bare back, the single word trailing like fingertips along her skin. She closed her eyes, seeking strength in the darkness behind her lids.

“I don’t know if I’m not mad at you anymore.” She swallowed hard, listening carefully as he stepped closer, the wake of his approach lapping gently at the tops of her thighs.

“I do not wish you to be angered, but you must understand—”

That did it. She spun around to meet his apologetic stare, an unspoken sadness casting shadows in his tourmaline eyes.

“No, Kahlym. I don’t have to understand anything. I have no friggin’ clue about of the rules here. I was never one to stand on ceremony on my own damn home planet and I’m not about to start now. I was an outcast, tossed out and alone, and I had to make my way without a whole lot of help. Hell, even the crazy homeless had people willing to step up and say, ‘Yeah, that’s my family.’ All I trust is what I see from people’s actions and what my gut tells me. And I just don’t get you sometimes. One moment, you’re all hot and bothered and the next, you shove me away, spouting all about how you’re not worthy. I’m not some kind of princess or anything special, no matter what you might think. I just want…” She paused to take a breath and sort out her thoughts as they rocketed through her head.

That was when she realized he was naked.

 

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AuThursday – Julie Lence

me-mediumI see you write Western Romances. What draws you to this genre?

I grew up watching John Wayne on Sunday television. I loved his cowboy characters and the fact he rode horses (horses are such beautiful creatures). I also liked the long, colorful dresses his female costars wore, the ranch houses and the scenery. Something about that era was simple and fascinating and stayed with me through. When I began writing, I started with a contemporary story but quickly switched to western romance. The heart of a cowboy, the code of the west, the horses and the rugged land were too hard to ignore.

How much research do you do?

It depends on the story and the characters. Two books I did a lot of research for Lady Luck and No Luck At All. Lady Luck is set in 1860 San Francisco and I needed to find out what the city was like at that time. I discovered tall ships permanently dry-docked, the color of a policeman’s uniform, and a street map from that time; all of which were incorporated into the story. For No Luck At All, the hero is a doctor. His heroine is a Boston socialite.  For that to work, I had to find out if Boston had a medical college and what medical discoveries were made in between 1860 & 1874 that I could use in the story.

One book I didn’t do much research for is Debra’s Bandit. Since this is the 3rd story in a series, the facts I needed had been researched with the 1st book. But Debra does work in a mercantile, so I did read up on mercantile (stores) to get an idea of what her day would be like and how important the mercantile was to society in the 1800’s.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

About 1 year. Sometimes less than that. I self-publish, so writing, editing, and cover design fall on my shoulders, which I love.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Making them speak like a man. A man’s dialogue is different from a woman’s. They usually don’t string together a bunch of sentences or speak in complete sentences. Nor do they overly describe something or talk about their feelings. They speak in as few words as possible. Perfecting their short answers, comments and sarcasm is often a challenge.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Girl names are easy. We all have our favorites, or what we think is a pretty name. I have a list of girl names and add to it when I come across another that I like. Boy names are harder. I do have a short list that I refer to, but if nothing catches me attention, I begin running through my mind character names from television shows and movies. From there, I branch out to country music singers and football players. Football players have great unusual names and often I find the last name that makes a great first name for a cowboy or an outlaw. My biggest challenge is the last name. I obsess on last names until I hit on one that ties perfectly with the character’s first name.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Getting my muse to cooperate. Usually, I find on the days I have time to write, the muse is sleeping and takes forever to wake up and get in gear. On the days when I don’t have time to write, I have complete conversations between characters in my head. Or, I’ll hit on a plot point and run for a piece of paper and a pen to jot down notes.

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

No. I have critiqued with other authors, contributed to a round-writing blog where each author writes one chapter to the story and contributed to a compilation of authors who each wrote about how they met their husband, but I’ve not co-authored a book with someone else.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Writing is a hard and lonely existence. To succeed, one must write every day and write what you know or love and for yourself. Keep at it, develop a thick skin when it comes to rejection, and don’t worry about what other authors are doing or have accomplished.  Stay true to yourself, dedicated to your craft, disciplined, and have a set of goals to work toward.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website: www.julielence.com

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/julielence

Facebook: https://facebook.com/#!/JulieLence

Twitter: @julielence