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I think this interview has been a long time in the making, and I’m glad it’s finally happened.

Today’s author is a woman who you might have seen commenting a lot on this blog. She’s an author of several vampire novels, as well as a contributor to Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, and a contributor/editor/compiler/whatever to the Ink Slingers’ anthologies, including Strange Portals and the recently published When the Lights Go Out. It’s Joleene Naylor, and I’m looking forward to hearing what she has to say!

Welcome to the blog, Joleene. So tell us, what are your short stories about and what inspired them?

Unforgotten is about a pair of old school chums in the UK who go on an annual trip every year on the same date. This years’ trip is complicated by Gordon’s missing wife and the ghost of a little girl who wants to be found. It’s actually based on a dream I had. It started out the same: in a car discussing having been interrogated by the police. Only there was no ghost girl.

In Beldren, a group of former indentured servants decide to take what they feel they are owed from an easy mark; a household of women. Their plan is perfect except for one thing: the women are vampires.  This one was inspired one night when a pickup kept going around and around past our house and my brother got nervous they were “up to something” and I thought, “I wonder what would happen if robbers broke in and found out the people of the house were serial killers? Or vampires? Hmmmm… That could be an interesting story…” Hopefully it is.

I read the first one and liked it, so I have high hopes for the second one. Now what else have you written?

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The Amaranthine vampire series. Shades of Gray is the first, and the newest is book seven, Clash of Legends. I’ve tried to make the story creepy and disturbing, and at times bloody and horrific, instead of just the usual romantic sop that a certain YA book has turned the vampire genre into. There’s no sparkling and no high school, just blood, fighting, and vampires who feed on humans and burn in the sun.

Are you a traditionally or self-published writer?

Self published because I want to own the rights to my own work.

What got you into writing in the first place?

My mother was a writer and poet, so it never occurred to me not to “make up stories”. My brother and I used to make (and illustrate) books for fun when we were children. (I also used to draw book covers and catalogs, complete with product descriptions – I was strange.)

What is it about scary stories that you think draw people in?

People enjoy being scared – safely. We like that little “Oh!”, the tiny burst of adrenaline and that aftermath giggle, but we like when we know we’re not *really* in danger, and a scary story can give us that.

Are you working on anything these days?

I’ve reworked Patrick: A Prequel, but I need to edit it. I am also working on Masque of the Vampire, the eighth book in the series, and the Tales of the Executioners short story collection. There are four of those, three are available for free through most retailors (except Amazon) and the fourth, Beldren, is included in the When the Lights Go Out anthology.

What is some advice you would give to other writers, regardless of their level of experience or background?


Write what you want to read because if you want to read it, then edit the heck out of it. Change words, shorten scenes, add scenes, delete scenes. The original version may seem like a masterpiece to you, but it isn’t – it’s a rough stone that needs cut down and polished in order to shine.  That may be hard to admit sometimes, or to acknowledge, but it’s the truth for everyone.

If you were stuck on a desert island and could only take three books with you, what would you take?

I think short story collections give you more bang for your buck when it comes to being stranded for a long time, so: The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, The Faun and the Woodcutter’s Daughter by B. L. Picard, and right now I really, really, really want to read A Candle in Her Room by Ruth M Arthur, only I can’t find a copy priced at anything I can afford, so in fantasy land I would have it. Alternately, if it has to be a book I owned, I’d swap it out for My Sweet Audrina by VC Andrews.

Well, thank you Joleene for joining us today. Really enjoyed picking your brain. And readers, if you want to check out more of Joleene, you can find her on her website, her blog, her Facebook page, on Twitter, and on Goodreads.

Also check out the Interviews page for my talks with other authors and even some characters.

And make sure to check out When the Lights Go Out, available from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes. It’s the perfect way to start the Halloween season.

I just recently finished the second draft of “Gynoid”, a sci-fi love story novelette. During that time, I thought a lot about romance in fiction. Have you noticed that it’s everywhere? In fiction, you find a lot of time devoted to find your one true love, and in real life, you find people not just actively looking for their one true love(s), but even measuring themselves by fictional couples! Our music is rife with love songs or how love is betrayed (the so-called “Song of Songs” in the Bible is one huge erotic love song), and if you go back in time, some of our oldest stories involve love and lovers.

Heck, it’s in a lot of my fiction too! And I write fiction where “love” is more likely intense adrenaline and a shared peril being mistaken for attraction. Snake has a love story that’s central to its plot, Reborn City has a bit of romance in it here and there, and..well, you saw the description for “Gynoid” above.

But rather than speculate on why romance and finding it is such a big thing (I think we can all guess at the answer, right?), I think I’m going to share some of the trade secrets I’ve gleaned over the years from other writers and from my own romantic experience, both writing it and from experiencing it (do not ask me which I have more of. I wouldn’t want to upset anyone) on writing romance in your stories. Why? No particular reason, it’s just on my mind and in my stories so much I feel like talking about it. And I know I might not be the most qualified person to talk about the subject–I know I’m not a romance writer–but I know a bit, and since when has not being an expert ever stopped anyone from talking about anything? (*cough* climate change deniers in Congress *cough*)

So let’s begin on my tips for including romance in your stories:

  1. Give the characters personalities, make them fully-rounded and three-dimensional. I feel like often times some of our most celebrated romances involve people who are just good-looking nice folk and not much else. Romeo and Juliet were a sad emo guy with a thing for teenagers and Juliet was a teenager, Cosette and whatever her guy’s name was were good-looking and nice but they weren’t much else, and Katniss Everdeen…okay, Katniss was at least well-rounded. You knew who she was, what her problems were, what she stood for, and what she was willing to do to overcome those problems. Her love interests, on the other hand, just seemed there so as to add something to the story that the story might have done fine without. I mean, Gale is just handsome and angry with the Capitol, and I can’t tell what Peeta is besides sweet. One minute he’s skillful enough to manipulate the hearts of the whole Capitol, the next he’s too naive to tell that Katniss is using him for survival. Make him one or the other! Seriously, if you’re going to bother putting love interests in the story, I’m going to need a reason to ship either of them besides their attractiveness and professions of love.
    And that brings me to my next point:

    It took a long time, but these two became a wonder couple.

  2. What’s the reason they fall for each other? Please don’t say, “Oh, they’re good-looking”, it’s got to be more than that…or heroin-flavored blood. Take one of my favorite anime of all time, Sailor Moon (yeah, I’m a huge fan of that even so many years on. Moonies forever!): all of the main characters are good-looking. So why does Sailor Moon end up with the male lead, especially when in every adaptation of the story they start out fighting and disliking each other and in some he’s already seeing someone else? Leaving aside backstory exposition, I think they just grow comfortable with each other over time. They realize they can be honest with each other and that their faults are just part of who they are. Cute parts too. And it helps when they find out each other’s secret identities, which shows how courageous and reliable they are to one another, to the point they make a pretty good partnership, in love and in combat.
    Another example I’d like to use is Captain America and Peggy Carver in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which is my only reference point, I was never much of an American comic books reader for some reason). Heck, at the beginning of their relationship, Cap’s a scrawny guy who doesn’t seem like much of a hero, while Agent Carter is…well, Agent Carter. What forms the basis of their relationship is that Carter likes that Cap wants to help out despite all the barriers facing him, and his sweet and loyal personality, while Cap likes that she’s a unique and confident woman who doesn’t need a man and who also doesn’t look down on him for not being tall and buff. Over time and numerous battles, their relationship grows closer and they fall in love, which ultimately doesn’t end well but I’m sure that if things had gone differently, it would have been a different story.
    Speaking of which, here’s point 2a. Shared experiences, especially combat experiences, can bring a relationship closer. Unless of course you and your supposed lover work really horribly together, in which case fighting will just highlight it and you’ll fall apart at the seams.
  3. There is no point where the relationship becomes perfect. Work is involved. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about relationships in the real world, they’re always a work in progress. Why? Because we’re all works in progress, so our relationships are too. There’s going to be rough times, where the characters struggle or worry that something or someone will come along and the good thing they have going will be ruined. Back to Sailor Moon for a second. Fans agree that the heroine and her man are a strong and stable couple (though whether or not it’s a good coupling, I find people disagree on the subject more than you’d think), but they do have to work at it. Besides enemies that threaten to pull them apart for whatever reason, they have the normal couple troubles: people who seem like better matches coming along, occasional misunderstandings, an unexpected child. Heck, they even broke up for a time during the anime’s second season. Just goes to show that even great couples have ups and downs.
    And the best part is, you can extend these meetings, character explorations, falling-in-love scenes, and ups and downs over several books. In fact, half of the fun of the TV show Scandal is watching the heroine Olivia have an on-again, off-again relationship with the (married) President of the United States. You never know how that one is going to work out. And as long as you can keep it going, the more you get to explore these characters and their relationships (provided fans don’t start to get bored, of course).
    And now that we’ve discussed what makes for a relationship, let’s discuss some content.
  4. Sex is not always necessary. Yeah, I know we live in a hyper-sexualized society where everything has a sexy component to it, and I know I included a steamy sex scene in Snake, but seriously, sex isn’t always necessary. In fact, some people prefer romance stories without anything racier than a kiss or two. There’s actually an entire sub-genre of romance like that, it’s called sweet romance, where the characters don’t have sexual relations before marriage (or commitment too, maybe) and it has a big and loyal following. Besides, some authors aren’t comfortable with sex scenes. I know I wasn’t at first, though I later got more comfortable with them. So if you don’t want to do one, there’s no law saying you have to.

    Love the relationship dynamics of this show!

  5. Also, you don’t have to just have one person love only one other. I know there are a couple of Buffy fans reading this blog. One of the best parts of that show is the characters had many different relationships over the 7 seasons. Buffy herself had three major relationships over the course of the series.  The writers could’ve had her with Angel, her first love, through the whole series, but they allowed her, Angel, and many others to explore other relationships and really mature through that. Same with Teen Wolf, which had two main characters being “meant to be forever and ever”, but gradually changed things up over time. So if you want to, you can have characters wait a long time and go through several relationships before finding the right person.
    Especially with love triangles. I hear there are quite a few series out there where a good dose of fun is trying to find out who the main character will end up with in the end, especially when there’s two really great, fleshed-out characters to choose from (though usually from what I hear it’s whoever the protagonist meets first).
    And this brings me to my final point.
  6. Don’t do it because everyone else is. And no, that’s not a drug PSA (though you shouldn’t do those either. Not even weed, that stuff will mess with your system). Yeah, you see people putting all these different things in their stories–love quadrangles, the other man or woman, unexpected pregnancies, even some sexual exploration. Only put those in your story if you feel they’re what the story needs, not what others say you should put in or what others are putting into their stories. Believe me, that’s how I avoided something really unnecessary romance-related stuff in Reborn City, and that worked out great for me.

I’m going to end it right here, but I have to say, there’s a lot more that I could include in this post. Suffice to say, there are a lot of intricacies to writing romance and love stories (point number 7, a romance has a happy ending, a love story doesn’t have to. Learned that a romance writer friend of mine), and you learn these things over time. But hey, in the end they can lead to some really great stories, and maybe melt a heart or two while you’re at it.

What romance writing tips do you have? Do you feel romance is important to your stories or not so much?

As soon as I heard about this film, I knew I had to check it out, even if I was in Germany. Why? Because  the companies distributing it, Nerdist Industries, has for a long time been providing me and millions of other nerds with the latest in everything geeky and cool (which at this point are basically the same thing), all while being freaking hilarious at it. If the folks at Nerdist thought highly enough of the film to distribute it, I wanted to check it out.

The Hive follows Adam Goldstein (played by Gabriel Basso), a young man who wakes up covered in blood and sores and with no memory of who he is or what happened to him (sounds like my morning this past Thursday). Using clues around him, Adam starts to remember not only who he is, but the events that caused a very powerful and dangerous virus to spread around a summer camp and beyond and what happened to his friends (played by Jacob Zachar, Kathryn Prescott, and Gabrielle Walsh).

The first thing I have to say about The Hive is that it feels like the most recent Evil Dead film, if that film had been made to be serious rather than humorous, the villains less supernatural but much more threatening, and with a heavier psychological aspect. And I feel that works in the film’s favor. It’s very creepy and definitely a psychological mind-bendy, with plenty of mystery to keep you interested in the slower parts of the movie. The effects are done with minimal CGI (which I love), and a lot of time is spent on getting to know these characters so that they’re a bit more than just cut-out characters there to fulfill a role. Plus the actors manage to make you forget that they’re acting and believe in them in their roles, which is definitely a plus.

What I didn’t like about the film was that there’s more blood and gore than I feel there need be, as well as way too much sexual stuff and swearing, which I feel take away from the film and almost give it a comedic feel at times. For example, there’s one moment where Adam realizes something he did that he shouldn’t have done with one of his friends, and that could’ve been a very powerful moment…if not for the fact that it’s ruined by Adam freaking out about something he experienced in that flashback. Talk about a mood killer! And what was with that shower shot? What did that add, exactly?

But overall, it’s a pretty good psychological-horror apocalypse film. It keeps your attention, the mystery of the film is very well set up, and you want to root for the characters while you watch it. And it even has pretty good commentary on our social media addictions, which I enjoyed seeing. Overall, I’d give The Hive a 3.5 out of 5. It’s not my favorite kind of horror film, but it’s definitely worth a watch if you’re looking for something to creep you out and screw with your mind a bit. And I’d definitely like to see more from the production company behind the movie, Midnight Road Entertainment, which is still relatively new and has plenty of room to expand their repertoire. Heck, if they ever wanted to adapt one of my stories for the screen, I’d definitely be interested if they could bring the same passion and quality to an adaptation as they did to The Hive.*

Oh, before I forget, currently The Hive is only available from iTunes as far as I know. Might be available from other places, I’m not sure, but it’s definitely available from iTunes. And if you want to check it out, I think it’d be a good investment of your time and cash, and maybe a great start to your Halloween season.

*Oh, wouldn’t that be nice if it were to actually happen!

rami ungar the writer:

You remember my recent interview with author Barbara G. Tarn? Well, she also interviewed me and it was just awesome. If you’d like to check out the full interview, check out her blog, it’s got some great stuff on it!

And as always, check out When The Lights Go Out, where you can find creepy stories from the both of us within. Now available on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, and iTunes. It’s the perfect reading for getting into the Halloween season.

Originally posted on creative barbwire (or the many lives of a creator):

unnamedAnd it’s a guest! From the Ink Slingers Halloween Anthology but he was also in last year’s anthology! When I read “Travelers”, I thought I wanted to know more about the guy, but look, almost a year went by and… he did it again! His “Tigress Lizzy” gave me the right chills at the right times… so go grab your copy right now! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Rami Ungar!

Where do you live and write from?

I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio, though for the past two and a half months I’ve been living and working as an intern with the US Army in Wiesbaden, Germany. As to where I write, anyplace I can plug in my laptop and let my creative juices flow, whether that be at home, in a café, a library, or even in the office when there’s nothing going on (rare moments, I tell you).

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As you know, I got to contribute to an anthology that was published recently, When the Lights Go Out. The Amazon and Smashwords links were available immediately, but Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes apparently took their time with it. Or something. I don’t know, it wasn’t my department.

Anyway, WTLGO is now available on five different websites, and I’ve got the links. So if you wish to check it out, you now have a bunch of different options to do it. It’s got 25 different stories by a variety of different authors, including my very own “Tigress Lizzy”, which is about a teenage girl who gains a very dark power and uses it to get revenge on the bullies in her life (no, not telekinesis, that would be a rip-off of Carrie, and this is paying tribute to Carrie). I also was lucky enough to write the introduction, which I’m told is pretty good.

And it’s also October, so some new, creepy tales are just what is needed to get in the mood for the season. Besides pumpkin lattes, I mean.

So go check WTLGO out, whether it be through Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, and iTunes. And get ready for a spooktacular good time.

It’s Friday, so you know what that means! It’s #FirstLineFriday! And it’s October too, my favorite month of the year! Hopefully no serial killers will show up though, especially ones wearing masks based on Captain Kirk (yeah, fun fact, the original Michael Myers mask was a spray-painted  Captain Kirk mask with the hair made wacky. Hilarious, considering that Myers murdered teens for being sinful while Kirk was sinful with as many women as possible).

Anyway, back to the reason we’re here. On #FirstLineFriday, I post the rules of this event, namely state the rules and then post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published work. Then I ask for feedback and critiques from you, the reader.

And since it’s October, I figure that for every #FirstLineFriday I do, it’ll be a story that takes place on or around Halloween, or is just Halloween-related, or just plain spookier than usual. After all, I’m a horror writer, so I have to live it up this month.

Let’s see…our first selection will be from a short story that I hope to write for Teenage Wasteland someday, and features some rather creepy, otherworldly characters:

Leo woke up, slipped out of bed, and strode to the window. Sure enough, someone had left another dead rose on her windowsill.

Thoughts? Grammar or spelling or punctuation problems? Let me know in the comments below.

All for now. I’ve got cleaning and editing and a few other things to do today, so I’m going to get on it. You have a great day, my Followers of Fear. Watch out for serial killers, especially the ones with masks! They always get you when you least expect it.

It’s time for another author interview! This one is with a Facebook friend whom I’ve known for a couple of years now. And while what we write and how we write are very different, I’m glad to know her and I think she’s just terrific. She’s got a new book out and she’s got more on the way, apparently. I think we could all learn a thing or two from her.

Oh, and you’ve seen her name on the blog before. Remember that radio show I was on not too long ago? She’s the host. Ladies and gentleman, Dellani Oakes (hey, that rhymed!).

Welcome to my blog, Dellani. Tell us a little about yourself and what you write.

I’m an author of mostly romantic fiction. I have one historical romance, one retro-romance, three futuristic romances and three romantic suspense already published. My latest book, One Night in Daytona Beach, is an erotic romance, due out October 28th.

Many of my books are set here on the east coast of Florida, as I have lived here since 1989 and consider it to be my hometown. I may not be a Florida native by birth, but I am at heart. I think it’s impossible to live anywhere and not have it become a part of you.

What are some books you’ve written that you’d recommend?

Would I be awful if I recommended them all? It depends upon what you like:

Historical Romance set in Florida in 1739. Full of spies and intrigue – Indian Summer

Retro Romance set in Nebraska in 1976. Action packed thrill ride. – Under the Western Sky

Futuristic Romance/ Sci-Fi set in space in 3032, some hot romance, intrigue, action…. – The Lone Wolf Series – Lone Wolf, Shakazhan and The Maker

Romantic Suspense, all set in Florida in the present. Ice meltingly hot, each also features a fast paced suspense – Undiscovered, The Ninja Tattoo and Conduct Unbecoming

Erotic Romance. The genre and title say it all. Ultra hot, this is also a romantic suspense, which takes place in 24 hours – One Night in Daytona Beach

Each book has something different to recommend it. If you want exciting stories that make you laugh, cry and fall in love, then any one of them would be a good fit.

Good thing there’s quite a selection, then. What are you working on now?

I tend to hop around a lot when I write. From time to time, I am inspired and the story flows quickly, finishing as fast as I can type. Other stories come more slowly. I just finished a romantic suspense a few days ago, that I wrote in four days. I am currently working on book 3 in a YA series I started 3 years ago (not yet published).

What made you become a writer?

I never wanted to be anything else. Necessity sent me in different directions, but I always was compelled to write. I have told stories and written poems, songs, short stories and plays for as long as I can remember. I started writing my first novel in 1988, but it’s still unfinished. My first complete novel is my historical romance, Indian Summer.

You also run some online radio programs, including one I was on. Tell us about those.

It all started with April Robins. She came up with the idea of Red River Writers in 2007, a page on Facebook. I happened to join. Shortly after, author JD Holiday suggested that we begin shows on Blog Talk Radio interviewing one another and other authors. I hopped in as an assistant and was terrible at it. A couple other hosts left and April asked me to take over their show slots. Thus, Dellani’s Tea Time and What’s Write for Me were born.

Dellani’s Tea Time, 4:00 PM EST every second Monday of the month, was my first show. I wasn’t quite as bad at that as I was at assisting, and found I quite liked it. Things ran more smoothly once I brought on author Christina Giguere (Rachel Rueben) as my co-host. She keeps things running smoothly for me and is an absolute treasure.

What’s Write for Me was kind of an afterthought. We decided to add more shows to the schedule and we were asked to pick a day. I asked for the fourth Wednesday of the month (also at 4:00 PM EST) because I didn’t want shows back to back. (Though some months they are)

The shows are available, for free, to any author – or soon to be author. Best way to reach me is through Facebook. I also interview authors on my blogs.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

If I’m not writing, I’m reading. (I also admit to a terrible Netflix addiction) I enjoy re-reading books I love, as well as finding new ones to treasure. I also read and edit my own work. Once a week, I volunteer at the local Council on Aging where I facilitate a small writing group. It’s called Fun in Writing and we have a wonderful time. It’s a great way for older people to socialize and keep their minds sharp. I joke that most of my best friends are old enough to be my mother, but it’s true.

What is some advice you would give to other writers, regardless of experience or background?

Write the way that feels right. So many “how to” books will tell you that you must outline, plan carefully and draw up character sketches before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keys). I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to do that. There is no shame in just sitting down to write, often called pantsing (writing by the seat of your pants) by those who are supposedly in the know. (We panters call them plotters). I’ve been told that my way of approaching a story is inefficient, that I can’t possibly accomplish my goals as a writer if I don’t know where my story is going. According to the naysayers, I’m supposed to put all my creative energy into an outline. I beg to differ.

I have written books in as little as four days. I’m not talking about some 20,000 word novella (though I’ve done those as well), I mean a 54,087 word novel. That’s after I completed another novel for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month) the day before, which was just over 50,000. (The Ninja Tattoo, available from Tirgearr Publishing). Tell me my way is inefficient, please!

Just to bring my point home, I’ve spoken to dozens of authors over the last few years and the majority of them write the way I do, rarely planning anything. There is absolutely nothing wrong with plotting and planning, but there’s nothing wrong with my way, either.

And finally, if you were stuck on a desert island and you could only bring three books with you, which three would you choose?

Oh, I hate this question, because I can’t think of only three books I’d want to have. Honestly, give me notebooks and pens so I can write my own. I will keep myself wonderfully entertained.

I’m seeing that response quite a lot these days. Well, thank you Dellani for joining us. Good luck with everything you do in the future.

If you would like to check out more about Dellani and her work, you can check out her blog, as well as Facebook and Amazon.

All for now. I’m going to try and get a few more interviews out, among other things, so look out for those. Until next time, my Followers of Fear!