Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just Cookin'

Anyone who's known me for more than a couple of years and has invited me to any social event has probably heard me say that I don't cook. Hubby took over the culinary duties about a decade ago, and that's fine with me.

So you'd be very surprised to hear that I just spent over two hours on my feet cooking. Yes, cooking. Me. Morven. The one who stresses at every potluck because "just make what you're comfortable making" is not the answer I like to hear to "What can I bring?"

Earlier this year, though, I started a low-carb way of eating. You notice that I didn't say "diet," right? That's because it doesn't feel like a diet to me. I get to eat high-fat delicacies that I haven't been able to indulge in most of my adult life -- or indulged in along with a hefty serving of guilt -- because I was trying to eat healthy. That is, eat low fat.

Oh, darn. I didn't want to get into a philosophical discussion of my chosen way of eating. Let me just say that I feel more energetic eating this way, and that's really important to me because I just haven't had the energy to write as much as I want to these days.

So now I've recovered some of my energy, which should mean that I have more energy to write, right? Not after standing two frackin' hours on my feet cooking!

Oh, well. Maybe I'll get faster as I go along. I did make a lot this time, and I hear that almond bread and crustless quiche freeze well...

And now I have something I can cook when someone says "just make what you're comfortable making."

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Next Big Thing Meme

In the "Next Big Thing" blogging meme, an author answers ten set interview questions and then tags five more people to do the same. Here's my contribution.

1. What is the working title of your next book?

Book 3. Seriously. I have a few names running around in my head, but I haven’t settled on one yet, so in my mind, I call it Book 3. If I get bored with that name, I could always call it Livre Trois or Libro Tres or something until I settle on a title.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

A long time ago I was a computer operator. In those days, it was common to use large magnetic tapes to feed the data into the computers, so they had to have computer operators on site to change tapes and take them down when the job was finished. I would try to keep busy while waiting for jobs to finish, but sometimes, especially towards the end of a shift, I was caught up with everything and had to find something to keep me awake.

If I tried reading or studying at that time of night, I'd start to drowse.  I needed something more active, like writing. Having recently seen the movie Dracula with Frank Langella, I decided to write a vampire story.Book 3 is the third book in the series that evolved from that.

I wanted to do something a little different with the story, and what could be more different than setting it in a computer room? The witches came much later, as I thought about the ending and thought what force could be strong enough to fight the undead. 

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Thriller, paranormal, and horror. I used to think the series was horror, but the way horror has changed over the last five or ten years ago makes this series seem so much tamer, so now I would say it’s more thriller than horror. The series also has elements of mystery and a love triangle, but I don’t think it qualifies as either a true mystery or a paranormal romance.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Alicia, the protagonist, would have to be played by a relative unknown, someone with a blank slate in the public eye. In the beginning of the series, she’s a bit of a loner, not very socially adept, and, despite a “can-do” attitude, she’s very insecure about every decision she makes.  She’s not as wimpy as Alyson Hannigan’s Willow, but not as strong and confident as Emma Watson’s Hermione.

Wesley, the main vampire, is a cross between Christopher Lee and James Gandolfini. The actor who plays Wesley would have to be cultured, yet able to do what has to be done, in that lethal, Tony Soprano way. I could also see Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) play him.

The person I always see in my mind when writing Evan is John Cusak channeling David Carradine (in his Kwai Chang Caine role. Evan has an obsession with T’ai Chi, Kung Fu, and eastern culture in general).  Cusak has the intensity, the inner depth that Evan does. He’s also your go-to guy when the bad guys are attacking.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Since it’s a series, here’s one sentence per book:
Darksome Thirst – There’s a vampire in the computer room – really -- now what do I do?
The Old Power Returns – Something evil remains; call in the Witches.
Book 3 (placeholder title) – This time Alicia’s had enough -- really.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Since it’s part three of a series, I don’t think I can expect a new publisher to be interested. Would love to find it a wider audience, though.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I did the first draft during a NaNoWriMo, so I could say that it took one month, but then when I went to edit it, I saw a different direction for it.  Since then, though, it’s been stalled.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh, I wouldn’t dare! Okay, if you insist, I’d say they have the mystery/supernatural aspect of Rosemary Edghill’s Bast Mysteries (Speak Daggers to Her, Book of Moons, and The Bowl of Night) and the New England setting of Inanna Arthen’s Mortal Touch and The Longer the Fall.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I said earlier, it was a combination of having seen a vampire movie recently and being alone late at night and needing to do something active.  My vampire influences were Christopher Lee’s interpretation of Dracula and Jonathan Frid’s Barnabas Collins. I was a big Dark Shadows fan.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

The series is set in Framingham, Boston, and Brighton, Massachusetts in the late 1970s. It’s different back then. When you’re alone, you’re really alone; no logging on to Facebook to crowd-source a solution to your vampire problem. No answering machine to take a message if your friend isn’t home when you call. No cell phones. There’s a sense of isolation you don’t really have these days, something that I couldn’t have conveyed if I set the story in the current time.

Darksome Thirst begins around 1978. The Old Power Returns picks up about two years later, but it’s still that isolated world where, with just a few friends, you need to fight your own battles. Alicia is fortunate enough that a co-worker just happens to be a witch who can help.

Here are the excellent writers who you’ll hear from next. Hope you enjoy their writing as much as I do.

Scott Thomas is the author of 8 short story collections, which include Urn and Willow, Quill and Candle, Midnight in New England, Westermead, The Garden of Ghosts, and Over the Darkening Fields. He is also the author of the fantasy novel Fellengrey. He has seen print in numerous anthologies, such as The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror #15, The Year’s Best Horror #22, The Ghost in the Gazebo, Leviathan #3, Otherworldly Maine, and The Solaris Book of New Fantasy. His work appears with that of his brother Jeffrey Thomas in Punktown: Shades of Grey and The Sea of Flesh and Ash. Scott and his girlfriend Peggy live in coastal Maine. Scott's blog can be found at

Phoebe Wray is a long-time nonfiction writer now writing in the specfic field. Her two novels, JEMMA7729 and J2, are in print and ebook. A thriller novel, IN ADAM’S FALL, is forth-coming from WolfSinger Productions. She has stories in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Mag, Farthing,, chizine, The Garden, and in the anthologies “No Man’s Land” (2011), “All About Eve” (2010) and “Backless, Strapless and Slit to the Throat” (2009). She's the past president of Broad Universe, lives in a small town outside of Boston, and teaches in the Theatre Division of The Boston Conservatory. Her blog is at

Jennifer Allis Provost is a native New Englander who lives in a sprawling colonial along with her beautiful and precocious twins, a dog, a parrot, two cats, and a wonderful husband who never forgets to buy ice cream. As a child, she read anything and everything she could get her hands on, including a set of encyclopedias, but fantasy was always her favorite. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior. Her blog is at

Hal Bodner, author of the novels Bite Club, The Trouble with Hairy (both WeHo Vampire novels), In Flesh and Stone, and For Love of the Dead (Ravenous Romance), has been an entertainment lawyer, a scheduler for a 976 sex telephone line, and the personal assistant to a television star. He now owns Heavy Petting, an over-the-top pet boutique in West Hollywood. Hal has a Bachelors degree in Playwriting from Rutgers University and a juris doctorate from Rutgers University School of Law. He has other degrees which he is still trying to find a use for. He is a former HWA Trustee and lives in West Hollywood. His blog is at, but you can find his contribution to the Next Big Thing meme at

Theresa Crater has published two novels, Beneath the Hallowed Hill and Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moon and “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age: Helios. She has published one metaphysical novel, God in a Box, under the pen name Louise Ryder. Theresa has also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Visit her blog at

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Guest Blogger: Hal Bodner

For a pleasant change, I'm pleased to host a guest blogger, writer and bon vivant Hal Bodner. This is my first time hosting a guest blogger, and I may be doing it more in the future.

Hal is participating in the "Next Big Thing" blogging meme where an author answers ten set interview questions.

author Hal Bodner

1. What is the working title of your next book?

Which one? I’m almost always working on more than one book at a time.

Currently I’m doing a massive re-write on the third installment in the Chris and Troy series. It’s called Mummy Dearest and is the sequel to Bite Club and The Trouble with Hairy. I was never satisfied with the way the villains came out in Mummy Dearest. I started with one distinct idea in mind and the characters kept trying to move in a different direction. I tried forcing them to do what I wanted – which is always a mistake – and the result was a disaster.

I’m also working on the third installment – this is my years for writing the sequels to sequels, I guess – of my gay superhero series, featuring Alex Archer a.k.a. The Whirlwind. It’s called A Study in Spandex.

And finally, I’ve gone BACK to working on a space opera that’s been giving me so much trouble for the past couple of years.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Since Fabulous in Tights, the first Whirlwind book, is probably going to come out before any of the others, I guess that’s the one to talk about.

I had been toying with an idea for a mystery novel where the “detective” was a male prostitute. However, I very rapidly discovered that I completely lack the skill for intricate plotting that a good mystery requires. Nevertheless, there was something about the prostitute character that intrigued me. I had read both Perry Moore’s Hero and Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible, both of which are super hero books, and I realized that a lot of the elements that I wanted to tackle in a mystery novel could also be dealt with effectively in an adventure/fantasy book. Even better, l could spare myself the difficulties of plotting as I am definitely NOT Agatha Christie!

3. What genre does your book fall under?

It’s definitely a fantasy with a lot of action/adventure thrown in. I had a blast going over-the-top with my villains again. There’s also a fair amount of satire (which is a dirty word in publishing!) thrown in. Though on the surface, my stuff is just good clean campy fun, I tend to write sub-textually and thematically, though many people don’t realize that.

And, of course, being a gay author whose work deals with a lot of elements of LGBT culture, I often get labeled by that alone – which is a shame. I don’t write merely “gay fiction” any more than Bram Stoker wrote “Irish” fiction. An author’s background colors his or her work, but it shouldn’t limit it.

Finally, I think I’m best known as a comedy writer in spite of the fact that most of my work has been in the horror and fantasy genres. I have no idea why that is. Perhaps I’m funny?

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

If it were up to me as the writer – which it would NOT be in the movie industry as writers are considered the lowest of the low – I can think of a couple of actors I’d love to work with. Ryan Reynolds, Zac Efron, Taylor Lautner, Chris Evans or any of the guys from “The Avengers” movie.

In all honesty, they might very well be completely wrong for the role but, as long as I could write lots of scenes where they run around with their shirts off and be on-set when they shoot them, who cares?

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

An male ex-prostitute becomes a super hero and battles his arch nemesis to a surprising and heart-breaking finish… with lots of laughs and zany situations along the way.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ve never had much luck with agents, frankly. I did one book as a self-published work and it didn’t sell as well as anything I’ve published with even the smaller publishers. So, the Whirlwind series will definitely be coming out from a “real” publisher.

Self-publishing is all very well and good but it takes a huge amount of time to do the P.R. that even the lousiest of publisher’s marketing departments can do.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I can’t remember exactly but, generally, it takes me between two and four months to do a first draft IF I’m writing full time. Since the economy went south, and since the advent of self-publishing and e-books, publishers have stopped paying the kinds of large advances that some of us used to get. So it’s even more difficult to make a living writing full time. I own a small business and, for the past year or so, I’ve been actively working in it to save money rather than hiring people. It takes up a lot of time.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don’t know that there ARE any comparisons! I tend to do things that are innovative. Bite Club was the first gay vampire comedy. For Love of the Dead was the first erotic zombie paranormal romance. And Fabulous in Tights is pretty much unique. It’s comedic, for one thing. Neither Moore’s book nor Grossman’s book was written to be funny even though both are within the super hero genre (if there even is such a thing).

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
It’s nothing that “meaningful” that inspires me. I generally get an idea and think, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” or “Maybe it would be fun to take a whack at…” I jot it down somewhere and think about it for a bit. If the idea still resonates with me a few months later when I’m pawing through my desk drawer and I re-discover the slip of paper I wrote it on, I’ll generally start writing it.

Often, of course, I AM inspired by something specific but that’s rare. I wrote In Flesh and Stone because I had agreed to do a paranormal romance for an editor I knew. But the inspiration was having recently finished Katherine Kurtz’s St. Patrick’s Gargoyle. I enjoyed it but found it to be a trifle too political and church-y for my taste. Nevertheless, the gargoyle was a monster I hadn’t yet explored and which interested me. I set out to combine the romance I was committed to writing with the gargoyle concept and, as often happens, the result was something completely different than anything I’d intended! But that’s the way it works sometimes.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

It’s funny as hell. My main character is a really sweet guy in street clothes. But when he’s forced to don the costume and becomes the super hero, he kind of resents the heck out of having to save people from what too often ends up being their own stupidity. He’s also got the MOST caustic tongue of any character I’ve ever written and he has no compunction about slinging a couple of very cutting zingers at people he’s trying to save.

There’s also a pretty damned touching and tragic love story that runs throughout Fabulous in Tights which may also appeal to people. I know that almost every time I have to re-read it for editing purposes (you probably do that about a dozen times with every book you write), I end getting all weepy at the end even though I’m the one who wrote it!

You can find out more about Hal at his website,

And now for the Next Big Thing bloggers that Hal chose:

Michaelbrent Collings is a bestselling novelist, produced screenwriter and WGA member, martial artist, and has a killer backhand on the badminton court ('cause he's macho like that). He has written numerous bestselling novels, including Apparition, The Haunted, Billy: Messenger of Powers, RUN, The Loon, and Rising Fears. In addition, he has also written dozens of non-fiction articles which have appeared in periodicals on several continents. His blog is at

Ray Garton is the author of over 60 books and scores of short stories. He is a passionate lover of movies and books, and along with his wife Dawn, he is owned by several cats. Sometimes he has the urge to write but really don't have anything to say, so he blogs at

Karen E. Taylor is a horror/paranormal author, with eight published novels to date and an eclectic assortment of short fiction which ranges from vampires to ghosts to telepathic, romantic dinosaurs. I'm working on a few new projects, but I'm superstitious enough to not want to talk about them yet. Her web site is at

New York Times best-selling author Cherry Adair, always an adventurer in life as well as writing, moved halfway across the globe from Cape Town, South Africa to the United States in her early years to become a interior designer. Now a resident of the Pacific Northwest she shares the award- winning adventures of her fictional T-FLAC counter terrorism operatives with her readers. Her blog is at

Ryan Field is the author of over 100 published works of LGBT fiction, the best selling Virgin Billionaire series, a PG rated hetero romance that was featured on The Home Shopping Network titled, "Loving Daylight," and a few more works of full length fiction with a pen name. He's worked in publishing for twenty years as a writer, editor, and associate editor. His work has been in Lambda Award winning anthologies and he's self-published a few novels with Ryan Field Press. His blog is at