October 15, 2014
Ten points to anyone who gets the reference in the title and why it might apply to Aidan’s Journey (in a gay sort of way, of course). For those of you who’ve never heard of the movie Alfie, it’s about an unrepentant womanizer who finally has to confront the consequences of his behavior.
If you’ve read Serpentine Walls, you know that Aidan is the gay version of Alfie, an unrepentant manwhore who fucks ‘em and leaves ‘em. There’s an inkling toward the end of that book that Aidan is beginning to regret his ways, but in Aidan’s Journey we learn the full story.
The star of the University of Virginia theater department, Aidan Emery is lusted after and admired for living out and proud. He uses his talent and good looks to his advantage and never sleeps with the same guy twice. But his glamorous patina has been carefully honed to hide the pain he carries inside.
Aidan wasn’t always such a player. He starts college naively romantic, hungry for the attention he can’t get from his workaholic father and mentally ill mother. Unfortunately, that leaves him ripe pickings for predatory professor Rodney Montgomery. Rodney’s flattering regard seduces Aidan into a dysfunctional relationship that destroys his innocence.
Life looks up for Aidan when he finally breaks free of Rodney’s pull and moves to New York City to make it as an actor. Meeting sweet fellow actor Patrick Jaymes seems like the start of a fairy tale. But before Aidan can rebuild his life into happily ever after, family secrets rip him wide open, leaving him easy prey when Rodney decides he’s not willing to let Aidan go.
In Serpentine Walls, the first book of the series, my motivation for Aidan’s character was to have someone glamorous and talented for the main character Pete to project all his desires on – a sparkly performer with a killer voice who stirred things up for Pete and had him want to live his life fully. Someone much like this fellow (Adam Lambert, for those not in the know):
… only with blond hair.
Aidan was meant to be a charming cad who slept with guys right and left and had something going on with the sleazy Professor R. But as I continued to write, Aidan’s character got more and more dimensional and I could see he had a heart and a lot of pain under that gleaming surface.
I started to wonder why he was the way he was and what had led him to be involved with Professor R. Being a therapist by profession, I’m fascinated with people’s psychology and what drives them. I also wanted to explore how Aidan could heal himself and get to his own happy ending. And that was the inspiration for Aidan’s Journey.
Question time: Has there been an “Aidan” in your life? I don’t mean some charming cad, but someone whose very nature inspired you in some way?
October 15, 2014
Hi all, CJane Elliott here to welcome you to the release party of Aidan’s Journey, the second novel in The Serpentine Series. Let’s all admire the beautiful cover by L.C. Chase:
The Serpentine Series consists of contemporary stories that feature characters who attend the University of Virginia. The series started with my first novel and 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Serpentine Walls, although the books can be read in any order.
I’ll be back soon to talk more about Aidan’s Journey. Make sure you comment because three people who comment during the Aidan’s Journey Release Party today will win an ebook of either Serpentine Walls, or any of my novellas.
So to start things off here’s the first question: What’s the most memorable journey you’ve ever taken?
October 10, 2014
Step one, start with some random inspiration…
A photo is good:
Or a random song:
Then, walk a dachshund and think about what the lyrics + the picture might mean. Have an epiphany at the apartment mailboxes if not distracted by the mean lady across the street.
Hurry quickly home and get on Behind the Name
- Reject that name
- And that one
- And that one
- Ooh! This one works. Nope. Rejected.
- Go back to the first name.
Stare at a dachshund.
Pick a profession you know nothing about.
Research, research, research.
Spend a million hours on tumblr looking for a gent to match your new awesome character.
And then of course…
Wanna see how my process all comes together? Consider checking out one of my Dreamspinner Press books!
October 6, 2014
It’s almost time to return the blog to Dreamspinner. Thanks to everyone who has dropped by today. I’m leaving the contest open until the end of my weekend, which is Wednesday NZ time, and also checking back on the blog so it’s not too late to comment if you still want to take part.
What’s next for me? I have a WW1 novella called On Wings of Song coming out from Dreamspinner Press on Christmas Eve, and am currently writing on Family and Reflection, which is the 3rd book in The Sleepless City, a series I’m co-writing with Elizabeth Noble.
After that – ie plans for next year and beyond – is finishing The Harp and the Sea with Lou Sylvre, One Word which is a side story to Cat’s Quill, A Mage to Forget which is book 2 of Dragons of Astria and then Comes a Horseman.
October 6, 2014
Winter Duet can be described, in part, as a road trip across Germany. However, it’s not your average road trip as it takes place in 1944 and there are bombs dropping and they’re on the run from the Gestapo.
While the first book in the series, Shadowboxing, took place in Berlin, in Winter Duet, the characters need to make their way toward Switzerland. In order to do so they needed to cross Germany during wartime, not an easy task as they’re wanted men and identification papers needed to be carried at all time.
I’ve already mentioned using google maps. Travel guides and web sites about the different places they went through were invaluable too so was the big topographical map that hung from one of my bookshelves while I was writing the book. One of my betas, Susanne, and I spent an afternoon plotting routes using that map. I say routes, plural, as we needed two as the characters are split up after the stop to help a downed RAF pilot in the Black Forest.
I can’t thank Susanne enough for her help with this book, and the previous one. The map I used was hers as well and, as helping with location stuff, she also provided—and suggested—the German I used.
In choosing the locations I also had to keep in mind what was happening in that time period in those places. After all, they were in a city where bombs were dropping, I needed to make sure that was referenced by either having them there at the time, or they’d just missed them. But then, why make things easy? Where’s the fun in that?
October 6, 2014
As a musician—I play violin and piano—I tend to have music somewhere in my books. Sometimes it’s just that characters are musicians (Simon in The Sleepless City series plays the piano), or that music plays a part in the plot (a flute plays an important part in the Hidden Places series, and music is very important in On Wings of Song).
In Winter Duet both Kristopher and Michel are musicians. Kristopher plays violin and Michel, flute. The duet in the title is a reference to that and the fact that in Shadowboxing, Michel promised Kristopher a duet one day. He intends to keep that promise.
Knowing there is a risk they will be separated, Kristopher devises a way to write code using music so they can leave each other a note which won’t be easily deciphered. Music code is nothing new and was used by Bach and Schumann, amongst others. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea—it was used in WW2—and one of the lectures in a music history paper I did went into it in some depth, so it was great to be able to use it in the story.
As well as using music in the story, I tend to have music playing when I write, and often have a ‘soundtrack’ for my stories. Winter Duet was no different. As well as the music which is referenced directly in the story, there were other songs that made up the soundtrack. These included: “I Hope You Dance,” by Ronan Keating, “Close Your Eyes,” by Michael Bublé, and “Touch of Your Hand,” by Glass Tiger.
I’d love to know if you have any music that reminds you of characters you read or write about. I love hearing new music.
October 6, 2014
As I mentioned I write in different genres. This year is historical year for me writing wise, as I also have a WW1 novella, On Wings of Song, coming out at Christmas. I love research, which is probably a good thing with writing historicals. I work in a library and it’s not a good idea for me to shelve in the 940.5 section as I get distracted by shiny things.
Half the fun was finding the resources and as is the case with a lot of research, finding answers often led to more questions. By the time Winter Duet was written I had a very long list of resources I’d used. I prefer to use a mix of resources rather than just all internet sources—books and databases, as well as internet sites.
I used more than just history books as I want to get the locations as right as I can too. Google maps has a great feature where you can put in two locations and it will calculate the time it takes for the journey. I used that a lot, although I had to adjust it to the fact this was taking place in 1944. I also looked up specifics of the guns they would have used, which was very useful in a scene where Michel and Ken are counting how many bullets they have left. It’s the little things that I enjoy finding out about.
With one bit of researching I struck gold when I was researching a period in history called ‘The Big Week.’ I found a website that listed types of aircraft used, what time the raids were and where the Allied bombs were dropped. Brilliant!
This next question is also for the contest/giveaway as it ties into the fact Winter Duet is set in the past. If you had access to a time machine, which period in history would you like to visit, and why?
I’d love to visit the time periods I write about: both World Wars and the 2nd Jacobite Uprising in 1745.
October 6, 2014
I love book covers. One of the most exciting things about being published is seeing the cover of my new book for the first time. Dreamspinner Press is great in that they ask their authors want they want with their covers. Obviously some covers aren’t possible but I’ve been very lucky with mine with the artist often taking my ideas and running with them to create something way beyond my expectations.
Dreamspinner also provides an advertising pack with each new release. Here’s a picture of the bookmarks and postcards I had printed out for Winter Duet:
Reese Dante did the covers for both books in the Echoes series. I love them, and I think they capture the feel of each book very well, without giving away too much of the story.
Here’s a photo of some of my other covers:
When I pick up a book I look at the cover first, then the blurb, then I read the last couple of pages of the book.
What do you look at first? Cover, blurb, or what, and what kind of things are important to you with a cover?
October 6, 2014
I have a bit of a series… addiction. I love to read series and I can’t write a one shot to save myself. Even the stories that are supposed to be on shots either breed series, or they want spin off series.
I have a few series on the go, although in my defense one of them was supposed to be a one shot procrastination of all the research I knew I needed to do for Winter Duet. If you want to check out how serious the addiction is, pop over to my website Drops of Ink and take a look at the ‘series’ drop down menu.
I do try to give them all love and attention, so I write in a circle, one book per series, then one book per another series. I work full time—at a library—so I average 1-2 books a year, although this year has been a little crazier than usual writing wise.
Winter Duet is book 2 of the Echoes series, which has its own page on my website here.
With Echoes I knew I was writing a series from the very beginning. The story I wanted to tell was too long for just one book, if I wanted to do it justice, so it’s really one story over three books. I considered one big book but I find as a reader—and a writer—that tomes can be a little off putting.
Winter Duet is the middle book of the three. Shadowboxing, which is book one, sets everything up and introduces the characters, and Comes a Horseman, book three, will conclude the story, and resolve any dangling plot threads. I’m aiming to write book 3 at the end of next year.
Writing in series brings its own challenges, but that’s one of the things I like about it as it gives me the opportunity to tell a more layered story, and explore the characters in more depth. Winter Duet, being the middle book (or middle child if you want to think of it that way) had to briefly recap the story (so that new readers could pick it up), continue and advance it, and the characters, but leave tangling plot threads for the last book. If I tied everything up in this book, there’s not much point in writing the last one.
I’ve read series where all the books come out quickly one after another, and others where I wait a year or more for each new instalment. I wish I could write faster with my series, but unfortunately I only have so many hours in the day and work full time. It’s one of the reasons I write in a ‘circle.’ If I just wrote one series with books back to back, my readers would be waiting a while for new books in the series they like, especially as I write in different genres. I have readers who prefer historical, and others who prefer fantasy.
Do you have any preferences about how soon books in series should be written/released after each other?
October 6, 2014
Hi, I’m Anne Barwell and I’m looking forward to chatting with you all for the next couple of hours. Please feel free to ask questions about my new book, or anything else I’ve written, although I will be avoiding spoilers.
And yes, Reesha, I’m looking at you Reesha’s one of my beta readers. She and another of my betas, Susanne, are coming over for lunch and our usual beta fortnightly get together today, so they’ll be around later if you want to ask them any questions too. We have fun at these meetings, and often end up brainstorming fun stuff in detail such as blowing things up. Because if you’re going to blow something up, it’s important it’s done right.
I’m in New Zealand, so it’s Tuesday morning here. Winter Duet which released from Dreamspinner on the 6th October, is my 7th book with Dreamspinner Press. It is also the 2nd in my WW2 Echoes series and the sequel to Shadowboxing.
Being a Kiwi, I tend to try to slip a NZ connection into my books when I can. There’s a big one in Winter Duet.
Dreamspinner has kindly given me a coupon to share for 25% off my books – it’s for one use per customer, and lasts for 3 days from Sunday 5th (in the US, Monday NZ time). It’s Barwell1005 (case sensitive).
I have a couple of ‘helpers’ hanging around as I type. They get quite stroppy if I spend too much time on here, rather than paying them attention.
Here’s a photo of each of them. And yes, they’re cats. How did you guess?
Kaylee’s the Tortie. She likes to get me up at 5am to let her out, and she leaves dog bones on my doorstep that she steals from neighbourhood dogs.
Frappy is the ginger tabby. She likes baking, especially muffins. I totally blame one of my betas for that as she fed her a bit of cake and got her hooked quite a while back. Frappy will steal the paper cases and lick them clean.
Has anyone else got cats with weird habits?