by Sharon Wray
Today I’m privileged to welcome my dear friend, fellow writer, and intrepid CP Juliette Sobanet to the Muse. A Montlake author of four charming womens’ fiction novels with a French twist, Juliette has agreed to offer us a window into her Parisian-inspired world and her new serialized novel Midnight Train to Paris. It’s truly ooh la la!
Thanks, Sharon! One year ago, my husband and I made the cross-country move from Washington, DC to San Diego. During our first month in the land of sunshine and margaritas, we were totally beach-crazed. Every chance we got, we high-tailed it to the Pacific and spent our days enjoying this new, laid-back lifestyle of ours. Little did I know, those beach trips would inspire the idea for my latest novel, Midnight Train to Paris.
One afternoon, after a sandy beach walk, the train that runs up and down the San Diego coast—aptly named The Coaster—rambled past us, blowing its whistle and giving its passengers a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. The minute I spotted that train, an idea took shape. I envisioned a glamorous young woman, perhaps a woman from the 1920s or 1930s, holding her vintage suitcase and boarding the train late at night. I knew she was running from something, or someone, and I knew that the train would be magical and would possibly transport its passengers forward or backward in time.
This seed of an idea percolated for several months, and when my publisher asked me to write a Kindle Serial, I knew it was time to bring my train story to life. Since I base all of my books in France (I’m even more obsessed with France than I am with the beach), I took that late night train to the French Alps, and Midnight Train to Paris was born.
A Kindle Serial is a novel released in episodes, leaving you on a cliff-hanger each week so that you can’t wait to read the next episode. The idea is that the episodes are released as the author writes them, which makes for an entirely different writing process than I was used to. I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to re-write the first chapters over and over again, as I usually do. I had to get it right the first time, which, to be honest, was slightly terrifying! But as soon as I sat down to write that opening scene, the young girl I’d envisioned months ago boarding the midnight train came to life, and what emerged is a story packed with mystery, romance, and magic…a story I am beyond excited to share with my readers. Episode 4 of Midnight Train to Paris is out this week, and here is a sneak peek of that opening scene…
by Dale Mayer
It is with great relief to say that I have handed off book 5 of my Psychic Vision series to my editor (first round with first editor). I am clarifying the editor situation just in case you think the book will be available for sale in the next week or two – because it won’t be ready that quickly. As much as I’d like that, it never seems to work out quite so neatly.
Getting this book to this point is a huge weight off my shoulders. Not only are these books convoluted in plot, but they are twisted in the type of genre and content. Keeping these books straight, can be incredibly difficult. That I deal with different layers of reality, different skills and different ways of existence and communication only adds to the need for clarity in writing.
Don’t get me wrong. I really love writing these books. They are twisted with lovely villains :) – and I do so love creepy twisted villains. But these books ask the reader to suspend their beliefs and go on a journey through my world. To do that my books need to be authentic.
The only problem with authenticity is when I write paranormal stories – such as my Psychic Vision series – or my Vampire Series. It’s not like I can cross over to the ethers and give you all an accurate description of life on the other side [Or can I? ] But one way or another, I have to make the reader believe that the characters can. That can be challenging.
In my Family Blood Ties, there is a whole paranormal world building to consider. It’s a dystopian story where vampires and humans co-exist peacefully – at least on the surface. But in the Psychic Visions series, these characters live in our contemporary world. As this is fiction, I can invent some stuff, but I can also draw on the many different paranormal studies that have been done, and are continuing to be done around the world.
And some of that material is fascinating. Consider some of the great psychics in history like Edgar Cayce, Nostradamus, Lydia Clar, Elizabeth Baron and of course John Edward. These are just a few of many – some well known and some that prefer to say hidden.
Because it’s that question that is so important to my fiction.
I don’t need my readers to believe in the paranormal, but they need to be willing to suspend their beliefs and take a journey into the paranormal through my books.
There are so many different paranormal or psychic abilities to work with. A few examples include:
- Clairaudience: is the ability to hear things that are normally inaudible to others.
- Clairempathy: is the ability to feel emotions from beyond natural realms.
- Divine Intervention: Spontaneous spiritual visions that can guide and direct the seer.
- Empath: A psychic empath – or sensitive – takes on other people’s feelings of pain or pleasure, actually feeling the emotions of others.
- Energetic Healing: A psychic ability to clear, repair and balance the body’s energy systems by seeing and manipulating the aura.
- Lucid Dreaming: The ability to wake up inside a dream and experience an alternate reality.
- Medium: A psychic who connects with spirits of people who have died and sometimes with entities such as angels.
Part of the fascination readers have with my series is that eternal – What if…?
I doubt I’ll run out of ideas for this series any time soon, because like my readers…I find this field fascinating. And what a writer can do with a little bit of fact is…well…amazing!
Do you believe in the paranormal? Are you open to the concept of there being so much more than we currently understand?
I went to see Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby with a friend on Saturday night. The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of my favorite books growing up. I’m not alone. The Great Gatsby is widely considered to be a literary classic and quite possibly ‘The Great American Novel’. The book explores themes of decadence, idealism, social upheaval, and excess in the prosperous early 1920s. The ‘roaring’ twenties as it were.
And I don’t care what the critics say about this latest movie adaptation – I thought it was brilliant. Leonardo DiCaprio was phenomenal as a sparkling, vulnerable, charismatic Jay Gatsby. Carey Mulligan played a perfectly conflicted, innocent (yet-not-so-much) spoiled little rich girl, Daisy Buchanan. I think I loved the movie so much because it stayed true to the book, not just in terms of plot, but also in the spirit and tone of the novel. DiCaprio was Gatsby – exactly as I would’ve imagined him had he jumped from the pages of the book. The setting and the parties were as grand and lavish as I pictured them, and as the story called for.
I also saw the more famous 1974 version by Jack Clayton, starring Robert Redford as Gatsby, Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan and Sam Waterston as narrator Nick Carraway. In high school, our professor made us watch the movie in conjunction with reading the book. Francis Ford Coppola wrote the script for that version, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as I liked Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation. I can’t say I remember the film all that much, but I do recall being unimpressed. This was definitely not the case with Gatsby. I especially liked hearing some of my favorite quotes narrated in the movie. Here are just a few:
“She’s got an indiscreet voice,” I remarked. “It’s full of-“
“Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly.
That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money-that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it.” Read the rest of this entry »
I saw “42″ last week. I saw it mainly for my Dad whom I lost to a heart attack 30+ years ago. One of my strongest memories of him was a very brief conversation we kind of had about the Dodgers.
It was World Series time and my Dad was watching the game with a lot of interest. I don’t remember who the Dodgers’ competition was, but I remember asking him who he was rooting for.
“The Dodgers,” he growled with a nod at the television. He also gave me a look that seemed to say “Who else would I root for?”
I remember thinking that was a little odd because we had never lived in Los Angeles or New York and the only pro baseball parks we’d ever been to as a family were Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium both of which were in driving distance of our home. But, that was the sum total of our discussion about the Dodgers and, come to think of it, race relations in the U.S.
It was decades later before I realized why my dad (and the Black men of his generation) were Dodgers fans and by then, it was too late to ask him if he ever actually saw Jackie Robinson play or how Robinson’s sacrifices affected him. I’m sure we saw the Dodgers play one of those many times we took in a Cubs or Cardinals game since all three teams were in the National League, but by then, Robinson was no longer playing.
Winter seemed to last forever this year.
In the mountains, the snow hung on so long the elk showed up for breakfast…
What does this have to do with cougars? Read the rest of this entry »
by DT Tarkus
MAY DAY! – MAY DAY!
I always wanted to say that, but only in stories. It’s the last thing you ever want to hear a pilot say (besides the universal cuss phrase just before the plane crashes – “Oh S***”). According to Wikipedia, the call is always given three times in a row to prevent mistaking it for similar phrases under noisy conditions (like the copilot cussing Oh S***), and to distinguish an actual distress call.
For most of us, May Day is a rite of spring. I have fond memories of May Day in my small Connecticut village. It was a time for strawberries and cream, flower shows, and the knowledge that summer vacation was a little over a month away (yes, we got out in early June, how cool was that). Turns out the first of May has centuries of historical significance for the Northern Hemisphere as the official springtime festival, deeply rooted in pagan culture, and traditionally an occasion for raucous celebrations. It falls exactly a half-year from November 1, another auspicious day commonly phrased in the series, Game of Thrones — “winter is coming.” No raucous philandering, just lots of drinking and brooding about how cold it is going to be.
by Hope Ramsay
It’s Thoughtful Thursday at Blame it on the Muse, and I’ve been thinking a lot about community and how important it is for human beings to belong. Real belonging comes from our relationships with people and places, but it goes deeper than that. When we belong, we have responsibilities to the people we care about. And when bad things happen, our communities close around us and hold us up.
You have only to watch the scene at Fenway Park last week, where Bostonians sang the Star Spangled Banner out loud, or to see how the people in Newtown came together at a moment of tragedy, to understand how powerful community can be. Those communities will always bear the scars of the bad things that happened, but we know they will move beyond the sadness and grief and anger because they belong to one another.
I wonder. If the perpetrators of the tragedy in Boston had been members of a true, giving and caring community, would they have gone off the deep end the way they did? It sounds from the news accounts that they felt alienated and turned toward something that masqueraded as community. It’s a chastening thought. Is this how the bad guys recruit? That worries me.
I do know that this issue of belonging is something that resonates deep inside me. My parents were of different religions, and I grew up in a neighborhood that was mostly Jewish. I never really felt like a true member of that community, because I couldn’t tell my friends which Synagogue I belonged to. (There were several in town.) But, by the same token, when I went south for the summer and attended Sunday school at the Episcopalian church, I knew I didn’t belong there either. I was just a visitor.
I think this is why I became a rabid baseball fan. My father was a Giants’ fan, and in those days growing up in New York, you knew which team you belonged to, like you knew your family’s religion, or lack thereof. So we belonged to the Giants and they belonged to us. You can just imagine how heartbroken and angry my family was when the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco. Many years have passed since that happened, and my older brother is still a Giants fan. Another brother, who lives in Michigan, is a Mets fan.
I eventually changed my allegiance and have joined the Nationals’ tribe. I get grief from my brothers for being a turn-coat. This business of belonging to a ball team is pretty powerful stuff that’s not bound by geography. It’s part of community, which can often transcend geography. After all we have communities in cyberspace now, where geography doesn’t matter at all.
Belonging is a powerful emotion. Almost all of my stories are about people who don’t belong coming to a place that opens its arms and takes them in. I once heard Jane Anne Krentz talk about how a writer needs to find her “core story.” I guess community and belonging is mine. I keep writing about the journey home to the place where you belong, over and over again.
So tell me, if you’re a reader, what communities are important in your life? Have you ever felt as if you didn’t belong? And if you’re a writer, what is your core story – the one you find yourself telling over and over again?
Many years ago my husband had what he thought was a pipe dream—to live somewhere he could tap maple trees and see what it would be like to boil up his own maple syrup. Syrup making seemed a wonderful and exotic endeavor, something that conjured mental pictures of snowy woods, draft horses pulling flat-bed sleds loaded with huge collection vats, and stands of trees all hung with metal pails collecting precious sap. It also seemed as likely to us suburban folk as visiting the moon. Read the rest of this entry »
by Dale Mayer
This is an interesting question for me as I found myself trying to research the question of what defines romance and sex in a romance novel. As much as the research was fun it wasn’t all that easy to come to a clear idea of what makes a novel romance, sexy romance, erotic romance, erotic or even porn.
Most of us can easily separate off the first and the last. But what about the middle three? See, it only became an issue when I decided to rewrite and publish books that have…shall we say…a little more heat in them than the ones I have already published. My thriller books, like Touched by Death are heavy on the suspense. There is still romance and sex in the book, but the story is driven by the plot. In my Psychic Visions series, there is definitely love and romance and of course sex, but the stories are heavily intertwined with the character’s psychic abilities. Then comes my New Release -Unbound.
The heat level in this book is…hotter! It’s also driven by the relationship of the two main characters not the plot or the villain.
But what did that mean? I don’t write to fit a genre. I write the stories, then try to figure out the genre that fits. Normally that’s not an issue as I write romantic suspense naturally – and don’t get me wrong – this book IS romantic suspense, just hotter.
So I had to figure out how hot. And for that, thankfully Silvia Day has a wonderful article defining – in her words and thoughts – the different levels. From her website www.Sylviaday.com I could see where my work fit in. As per her definition:
by M.V. Freeman
I have known Ella Grace (Christy Reece) for awhile and she has always been gracious, kind, with a fabulous imagination and a wonderful writer. She’s put up with me asking dozens of questions and now, I can reverse the process. Initially she started writing suspense, but now she is changing her genre-slightly. Today I am here to talk about her alter-ego and her new book.
You have changed your genre and name, tell us a bit the differences, the good and bad of writing this?
I think the good is that I’ve been able to explore outside my comfort level. Even though the Ella Grace books are situated in my home state of Alabama, there are many elements of the series I wasn’t used to writing. My Christy Reece (Last Chance Rescue) books are plot driven romantic suspense–darker, grittier, much more action packed with international settings. Ella Grace’s Wildefire series, set in a small Southern town, is relationship driven and lighter on the suspense. The town of Midnight is filled with colorful characters and the story’s focus is much more on the romance. And while there is suspense, it’s combined with mystery.
I would say that the bad is the dual names have me a bit mixed up. Keeping the two ‘personalities’ separate has been challenging. I’ve had my beta readers weigh in on both my Wildefire series and my soon to be self-published Last Chance Rescue book to make sure that Ella didn’t show up in LCR land and Christy Reece didn’t show up in Midnight, Alabama.
I don’t envy you having to juggle two personalities, but I love you are exploring a different genre. This intrigues me!