author interviews, m/m romance, Uncategorized

Today’s Guest: Asta Idonea

Asta joins PQ today to talk about research, character naming and the first book which made her cry. Asta is the author of Wish You Were Here, published February 2017 by Dreamspinner Press.

What is the first book to make you cry? Mine was probably Black Beauty, but it could have been Where the Red Fern Grows. Sniffle.

Thank you for joining us today, please feel free to share this around!

Without further ado: Asta Idonea!

 

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What is the first book that made you cry?

The first I can actually remember would be Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, which I read when I was about 13-14, after seeing the musical in London for the first time. (I’ve seen it live on stage around 25 times now!) Some of the character death scenes are so sad! It’s still one of my favourite books of all time.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Social Media! The hardest thing when I’m writing is hearing my phone ping and resisting the urge to keep checking my messages and notifications. Before this year, it was never a problem as I didn’t have a smart phone, but now that I do….

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym (or do you already)?

Asta Idonea is a pseudonym. I actually have two author pen names—Asta Idonea and Nicki J. Markus—and that is because I write both MF and MM/LGBT fiction. I have no problem with people knowing that I write either, but I wanted a clear way for readers to tell what sort of story they are getting when they pick up one of my books, since not everyone reads across both categories as I do.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I like to think that I take a middle ground. Of course I want to bring something original and fresh to my stories, but if I don’t also write something that meets readers’ desires and expectations, no one will read it. My current WIP is a case in point. I realised that my original ending would result either in a broken romance or a morally dubious conclusion, and I was concerned that that would alienate readers whichever way I played it, but then an idea occurred to me for an alternate outcome at the midpoint of the plot that will allow me the HEA finale which many MM readers crave. Now that the first draft is nearly done, I am happy with the changes and think it has made for a better tale. Hopefully readers will agree when it finally releases.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Oh, I am friends with many fellow authors from around the world. Some I’ve met because I’ve edited for them. Others I got to know because we share a publisher. Having other authors as friends is great since it means you have someone with whom to discuss the highs and lows, someone who understands the problems and frustrations you face. They help you become a better writer through their support, advice, and opinions. In addition, you can cross-promote with them, which is beneficial to all parties.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have around ten or twelve finished stories sitting on my flashdrive. Some were orphaned before publication due to publisher closures, and for which I’ve yet to seek new homes. Others are ready—once I decide where to submit them. One or two I may still do a final round of edits on before they go out into the world. In terms of half-finished works. I am close to completing the first draft on a new MM novel, and I have also started the first chapter on another novella/novel. Finally, I have a novel (historical) that I wrote about twelve years ago. The prose is dreadful! However, I still like the story and the idea, so I’ve long been toying with the idea of rewriting it. We’ll see….

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

That really depends on the book. Some works require no major research; others need a lot. Naturally historical fiction requires the most. Generally I write about periods I already know well, so I just double-check smaller details as I go. With my current WIP I am in a modern setting; however, I have spent time research sigils and symbol meanings, since those are important to the tale. Most of the time I am not doing hours of research ahead of writing. I am a pantster, so I don’t always know what I’ll need in advance. As I come across something that warrants research/checking, I’ll either pause and do so or leave a note to remind me to confirm the information as I work on the second draft.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Names are important to me. I don’t worry quite so much for modern-setting shorts, but for longer works I like to give my principal characters names that mean something. Either they relate to their personality or they say something about the role they play in the tale. I do this by searching for suitable keywords on name meaning websites and seeing what comes up. Normally one will jump out at me straightaway.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes and no. I am not someone who religiously checks reviews every week. However, if I am on Goodreads and notice a new one, I may have a read. I do also take a look at any I receive as part of a blog tour for a new release. In general, I don’t reply, whether it’s good or bad. We all know that replying to bad ones is a slippery slope, and I also think that responding to good ones isn’t much better as it can look like you are in cahoots with the reviewer. The exceptions are if a reader has made a comment and I feel I can add to the discussion by elaborating on why I included the plot point they liked etc. Or, if someone I know reads and reviews, I’ll send a private message/thanks. Regarding bad reviews, of course they sting. Luckily I’ve not had too many, and none really nasty, but whatever the comments, I simply try to remind myself that we don’t all like the same things. One reader may hate your book, but that doesn’t mean that someone else won’t love it. It’s all a matter of balance and keepings things in perspective.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

In a way. I am very fond of including cultural, historical, and literary references. Pop culture ones stand out, but some of the more obscure ones may not, and only certain people will pick up on them. Occasionally editors who don’t get them wish me to remove them, but as long as they don’t obscure the action or the meaning, I prefer to keep them as they are my little in-jokes.

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Author Bio & Links

Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!

As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.

Blog: http://www.nickijmarkus.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NickiJMarkus

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickiJMarkus

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nickijmarkus/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+NickiJMarkusAstaIdonea

Pinterest: https://au.pinterest.com/nickijmarkus/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4567057.Nicki_J_Markus

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicolamarkus

Amazon Author US: http://www.amazon.com/Asta-Idonea/e/B00RMGGVYO

Amazon Author UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asta-Idonea/e/B00RMGGVYO

Wish You Were Here : Details

Asta Idonea

Dreamspinner Press

8 February 2017

MM Novella/Contemporary/Paranormal

Heat Rating: 1

SoundCloud Audio Excerpt: https://soundcloud.com/nickijmarkus/wish-you-were-here-by-asta-idoneamm-novella-excerpt

YouTube Audio Excerpt: https://youtu.be/lMz0diTCb1Y

Tablo Excerpt: https://tablo.io/nicki-j-markus-asta-idonea/wish-you-were-here-excerpt

Download Media Sheet: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B57lcvfd2bYkMWdReFNGUm5fc1E

Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/wish-you-were-here-by-asta-idonea-8131-b

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N5QYWAZ

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N5QYWAZ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/wish-you-were-here-51

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wish-you-were-here-asta-idonea/1125505394?ean=2940157178949

GooglePlay: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Asta_Idonea_Wish_You_Were_Here?id=5tLTDQAAQBAJ

author interviews, m/m romance, Uncategorized

Welcome, Lane Hayes!

This fine Thursday m/m romance author Lane Hayes visits PQR to discuss literary pilgrimages, reader’s block and her writing process. As a forever fan of Lane, I am SUPER excited to have her come by! My personal favorite is Better Than Safe but I believe it is hard to go wrong with any of her books.

Leaning into…is Lane’s current series, Leaning Into Always is available now from Amazon. Click on over!

(Before I forget, thank you so much, Lane, for stopping by and talking with PQR!)

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Lane answered a few questions for me, as usual, I wanted to ask a zillion more!

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I love this question. There have been a few instances where I’ve been lucky to travel to places I’d read about in books and became mesmerized by the almost magical feeling that comes from walking in your book hero’s shoes. The first time I visited London and the English countryside was like that for me. I was a huge historical romance fan and it seems like every story is set there. I also visited Bath around the time I was in a strong Jane Austen phase. And yes… I made a special trip to Forks, Washington. I just had to see where Twilight took place. LOL

What is the first book that made you cry?

Black Beauty. Books with animals always pull at my heartstrings!

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Honestly, both. Mostly, I find writing invigorating. It’s a creative outlet and I definitely draw energy from it. But after a long day at my computer, my eyes ache, my fingers are numb and I’m just plain exhausted. Or old. That could be it too.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Yes. Usually, reader’s block happens when you finish a fabulous book and the next few don’t measure up. Not fun. The only cure is to keep reading.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym (or do you already)?

Lane Hayes is my pseudonym. Each is a middle name of two of my three kids and my grandmothers’ maiden names. It was important to me that my author name meant something to me.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

Maybe, but I think it would be difficult for that writer to develop a strong readership. A good book, no matter the genre, should touch you somehow. It should have the power to tap into your senses, stir feelings and make you think. In my opinion, the best books are written from the heart and from some measure of personal experience.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I love a good series, but it’s important to me that each book in my series is a standalone for a couple of reasons. As a reader, I get frustrated when I accidently begin a series out of order and it becomes obvious I’m missing a link in the story because of it. To avoid confusion, I make each a standalone. However, anyone who’s read any of my four series will recognize character from other novels and subtle connections in between.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

The first book that comes to mind is Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. It’s a twisted, imaginative marvel. I absolutely loved these very unlovable vampires! Any author who can challenge a reader to study the enigmatic and come away with an appreciation of our fragile psyches is genius. Anne Rice’s vampires aren’t your average paranormal fodder. They’re truly special.

How many hours a day do you write?

I write eight hours a day on average. There are days where I spend too much time on social media or on research, but I do my best to put in a full day of writing everyday.

What was your hardest scene to write?

I’ve written a few scenes that have been challenging for me as a writer because I was forced to tap into deep emotional waters. Lol. A couple that stand out are the scene between Zeke and his dad in A Kind of Romance and the ending scenes in The Wrong Man and The Right Time. And I actually just made myself cry when I reread part of Leaning Into Touch (coming October 5!). I think that’s a positive sign though. Books are meant to send you on a memorable journey and sometimes that involves a tear or two. Thankfully in a romance novel, we can count on that HEA to make it all worthwhile.

Thank you so much for inviting me to come by today!

Happy Reading,

Lane Hayes xo

More about Lane:

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Books by Lane Hayes:

Better Than Good, Better Than Chance, Better Than Friends, Better Than Safe, The Right Words, The Wrong Man & The Right Time, Leaning Into Love and Leaning Into the Fall, A Kind Of Truth, A Kind of Romance, A Kind of Honesty, A Kind of Home, A Way with Words

Coming soon: Leaning Into Always and Leaning Into Touch

 Contact Information:

Website: http://lanehayes.wordpress.com

Twitter:   @LaneHayes3

Facebook: LaneHayesauthor

Email:   lanehayes@ymail.com

 

 

author interviews, m/m romance, Uncategorized

Robert Winter talks writing pitfalls, fear, and good writing habits (among other things)

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Robert Winter author of September, Every Breath You Take and Lying Eyes joins PirateQueenRdz to talk writing and what it means to him.

Thank you, Robert, for joining today! This was a great interview, the best ones are always those that leave the reader wanting to know more.

Cheers,

PQ

Lying Eyes is Robert’s most recent release, read a little about it below!

Adobe Spark (6)

THE INTERVIEW:

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

The one that comes to mind is to Oxford, in England. I was a huge fan of both The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis when I was young. Lewis and Tolkien were friends at Oxford, and both were members of a group called The Inklings. They used to meet at The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford. Going there was an amazing experience that made me feel close to both writers.

What are common traps for aspiring writers, or any writer?

Believing that you can be your own editor. When you produce a novel, it’s very easy to think that, as the writer, you are best positioned to judge the story. After all, you are the only one who knows the tale you want to tell. The problem is that ego inevitably produces blind spots. You can’t see the omissions or logical gaps because, in your mind, the connections are clear. Beta readers are helpful, but since they tend to be friends they may not be willing to identify flaws that might hurt your feelings. It takes an objective, hopefully professional, editor to point out flaws, weaknesses or downright inconsistencies.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Fear of unintentional plagiarism can paralyze me. All writers read voraciously, and the words and ideas inevitably are stored in our subconscious. Every time I have what I think is a good plot or a clever way of phrasing something, I worry that I have remembered something rather than created it. The self-doubt can keep me from writing for days at a time. Sometimes I stop what I’m doing to go back and reread works that I might have aped. Rationally, I know that we all work with a finite set of words and within a range of tropes – vampire, werewolf, May-December, GFY, enemies to lovers and so on – and therefore some similarity is inevitable. As long as I can convince myself I’ve done my level best to tell a unique story, I can work myself out of the crippling fear.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym (or do you already)?

I thought about writing my MM romances under a pseudonym but then I decided that implied I was somehow ashamed of them so I publish under my own name. I’m retired from my law career so I don’t have to worry about professional repercussions, and my family is generally supportive. I have ideas for other types of books, particularly a Young Adult series, and if I pursue those I probably would use a pseudonym as a way to keep my audiences distinct. I don’t think I’d want a 13-year old to pick up Lying Eyes and learn about rope play!

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

It’s some combination. I do want to be original, but I also want to be read. That means keeping an eye on the top sellers in Amazon for various tropes that do well and considering whether I have a story that might fit in a niche. It also means acknowledging that readers have expectations and not being so wed to my own writing that I alienate an audience. For example, in Lying Eyes I originally had my main character Randy meet another character, Danny, before he met the love interest. An editor pointed out to me that many readers would latch on to Danny as the end game because they met him first, and would then resent my intended romantic pairing. I thought that was valid so even though I liked the story structure I started with, I changed it to acknowledge that readers have legitimate expectations.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Starting with my trip to GRL 2016 in Kansas City, I’ve met a number of writers who have become friends and mentors. Leta Blake and Keira Andrews, in particular, have been terrific with their advice, both in terms of story content and the logistics of self-publishing. B.G. Thomas and Brandon Witt have been good sounding boards and they’re both kind men as well. Pat Henshaw, Rick Reed, Devon McCormack, Amy Lane … I’ve really been lucky to meet these great people who genuinely want to help a new writer succeed. I can’t wait for GRL 2017 to connect with even more writers.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Write every day. I heard this advice when I was younger but I never developed the habit that I should have. Storytelling is a talent but writing is a craft. I wish that I had made myself sit down and write at least one page of something every day, even if it was nonsense and would never see the light. Sentence structure, syntax, composition, balance, momentum … all of these are vital and have to be developed with practice. I’ve grown a lot as a writer in the last few years since I began to write my first MM romance, but I think I would be much better if I had started earlier.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

When a book first comes out, I skim the reviews on blogs, Amazon and Goodreads to see if the reaction is generally favorable or not. After that, I keep an eye on the overall summary ratings but I don’t usually read the actual reviews. Instead, I ask a friend to read them and let me know if there is any recurring trend or theme – either positive or negative – that I can take note of and use in future writing.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Spoiler alert. In September, I wrote a scene where Brandon has his leg amputated. That scene gutted me. Of course I fall in love with my own characters so it was painful to do something so awful to one of them. But I had laid the groundwork. I mention early on that Brandon, a physical therapist, worked with someone hurt badly riding a bicycle, then I mention he starts riding his bike more as the weather gets hotter, and then after his hit-and-run accident I introduced the risk of amputation and his devastation at the possibility. I didn’t want to cheat myself or my readers by having his leg recover miraculously. Still, it killed me when I wrote the scene where his doctor tells him that they can’t save his leg.

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

When I get going, it takes me about six weeks to produce a complete first draft of an 80,000 word novel. After that, I spend two to three months on revisions before I get to the point of showing it to anyone else. By the time I go through professional editors and proofreading, it’s typically been six months overall.

ABOUT ROBERT WINTER

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Robert Winter lives and writes in Provincetown. He is a recovering lawyer who prefers writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of sixteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Contact Robert at the following links:

Website: www.robertwinterauthor.com

Facebook: facebook.com/robert.winter.921230

Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/16068736.Robert_Winter

Twitter: twitter.com/@RWinterAuthor

Email: RobertWinterAuthor@comcast.net

Review quotes and links:

“Robert Winter is now an auto-buy author for me. Spectacular writing!!!”  Amazon reviewer

“There are pulse-racing action scenes to go along with the intrigue and building romance, and an ending that goes above and beyond to supply gratification to the reader, as well as to the characters.”
It’s About the Book

“4.5 stars!!”
Bayou Book Junkies

“Robert Winter has definitely made it onto my favorite author list.  This is his third book, and they just keep getting better!”
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words