Friday, April 26, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

It's the best day ever in the Blog Ring of Power! Why, you may ask? Because it's time to interview our very own Sandra Ulbrich Almazan.

Don't forget to look over the other parts of the interview.

Part 4 Right here! - Friday, April 26th

About the Author

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan started reading at the age of three and only stops when absolutely required to. Although she hasn’t been writing quite that long, she did compose a very simple play in German during middle school. Her science fiction novella Move Over Ms. L. (an early version of Lyon’s Legacy) earned an Honorable Mention in the 2001 UPC Science Fiction Awards, and her short story “A Reptile at the Reunion” was published in the anthology Firestorm of Dragons. 

She is a founding member of BroadUniverse and a long-time member of the Online Writing Workshop for Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror. Her undergraduate degree is in molecular biology/English, and she has a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication degree. Her current day job is in the laboratory of an enzyme company; she’s also been a technical writer and a part-time copyeditor for a local newspaper. Some of her other accomplishments are losing on Jeopardy! and taking a stuffed orca to three continents. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Eugene; and son, Alex. In her rare moments of free time, she enjoys crocheting, listening to classic rock (particularly the Beatles), and watching improv comedy.

Section #4: About Your Current Work

BRoP:  Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?

Sandra:  My latest book is called Twinned Universes, Book Two of the Catalyst Chronicles series. Paul Harrison, the clone of a TwenCen musician, must travel to another universe to find justice for his mother and Sean Lyon, the man he was cloned from.  It’s currently available as an eBook on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. You can also buy a paper version from Createspace or Amazon.

BRoP:  Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?

Sandra:  Although the plot bears a loose resemblance to Hamlet, the story is also heavily influenced by my love for classic rock. There isn't much cloning, time travel, alternate universes, or quantum quirks in Hamlet either.

BRoP:  What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Sandra:  I’ve been working on this book for a long time and can’t remember how many drafts this has been through. Still, I think one of the hardest parts of writing this book was replotting it after discussing the developmental edit with the editor. It was hard for me to look at the story from a new perspective and make major changes after working with a different version for several years, but I think the rewrite and replotting made this book stronger.

BRoP:  What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

Sandra:  One of my favorite parts to write was when Paul and Sean got together. They’re both alpha males with some similar personality traits but vastly different experiences. While Paul may be in awe of Sean, he’s capable of telling him off when necessary.

BRoP:  Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Sandra:  That clones aren't necessarily evil, and neither is science. Also, that violence isn't always the best way to solve a problem.

BRoP:  Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?

Sandra:  I worked with Meghan Derico of Derico Photography. She had designed the covers of the other stories in the series. (The series starts in the novella Lyon’s Legacy and continues with a short story set between Lyon’s Legacy and Twinned Universes.) There were some elements we wanted to keep the same to help brand the series. I had some ideas in mind for possible poses, and she came up with several sketches until she came up with something we liked. Then she shot the cover pose with a model I selected and put all the elements together. I think she did a great job.

BRoP:  What are your current / future project(s)?

Sandra:  I have three short projects I plan to publish this year, including one that features a minor character from Twinned Universes. I’m also working on Catalyst in the Crucible, Book Three in the Catalyst Chronicles series.

BRoP: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Sandra:  Thanks for your support!
 Paul Harrison always wanted to play Hamlet, but he never expected he’d live the role first.
TWINNED UNIVERSES: In the aftermath of a family tragedy on 21stcentury Earth, Paul discovers he’s the clone of Sean Lyon, his great-great-grandfather and a famous TwenCen musician. Suspecting his mother’s death was no accident, Paul comes up with a plan to trick the answers out of the great-uncle who had him cloned. But in order to make his plan work, Paul needs help from Sean himself—and Sean’s time is running out in the TwenCen universe next door. Although Paul’s family lives on the spaceship that travels between the universes, he’s never been allowed on TwenCen Earth. Now, with the help of his friends, his disguise-creating holoprojectors, and a quantum quirk, Paul must make his way to Sean while evading other time travelers who fear he’ll change the history of the TwenCen universe. If Paul is to achieve justice, he must not only risk his own life, but the wormhole connecting the universes. “To be or not to be” was a simple question in comparison….

Contact Information:

Twitter: @ulbrichalmazan

Is your book in print, ebook or both?--Both

Friday, April 12, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: A.W. Exley

Welcome to another Blog Ring of Power post.  Check out A.W. Exley.  First thing I thought when I saw her picture. (Wow that would make an epic outfit! No armor though, but we could tweak that) okay, I know, I'm such a nerd. You do have to admit though, the girl has style. Her answers to our grilling were just as good.  Enjoy!

Books and writing have always been an enormous part of Anita's life. She survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, she overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.

Today, Anita writes steampunk novels with a sexy edge and an Egyptian twist. She lives in rural New Zealand surrounded by an assortment of weird and wonderful equines, felines, canine and homicidal chickens.

Part 1 @ Terri Bruce – Wednesday, April 10th
Part 2 @ T.W. Fendley - Thursday, April 11th
Part 3 @Emily LaBonte - Friday, April 12th Hey folks, here we are!
Part 4 @ Sandra Ulbrich Almazon - Monday, April 15th
Part 5 @ Dean C. Rich - Tuesday, April 16th

Section #3: The Creative Process

BRoP:  Where do you get your story ideas?
The tiny spark comes from anywhere. Nefertiti's Heart came from wanting to add an Egyptian twist to a steampunk serial killer. Sometimes it’s a particular timeframe that jumps out at me. Then I do some reading about what was happening in history at that time and then I shake that up and change it! lol

BRoP: How do you deal with writer’s block?
I switch to something different. Recently I hit a wall in plotting my steampunk sequel, so I gave my brain a vacation and wrote a YA paranormal short story. It was fun, it kept me writing, and gave me a burst of renewed energy to tackle my problem.

Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?
I'm a plotter, in that I have to know where I am going and have a rough idea of how to get there. I have found a methodology that works for me. I often brainstorm with a whiteboard and cover it in names, places, links and objects to end up with a kind of flowchart. From there I have a large sheet of paper, broken down into chapters where I jot down a couple of sentences of the key event for each chapter.

BRoP: How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?
Research is continuous with writing steampunk/alternate history. Every day I have some sort of question I have to google - whether it's when was the Gatling gun patented, to knowing the street address of Scotland Yard. I spent a lot of time with a London street map and shopping guides to Victorian London to figure out where my key locations were for Nefertiti's Heart. I have even used Real Estate agent websites to get a feel for the look of particular streets and districts.

BRoP:  Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write?
I am a control freak, and I really struggle to let my words out. There is a great quote by Oscar Wilde, that I can really relate to… "I spent all day editing a poem. This morning I inserted a comma, then in the afternoon I removed it."
I can, literally, spend all day staring at my laptop trying to think of the one exact word to use in a sentence. Words don’t flow and I will endlessly self-edit before writing a single phrase. So, I have to hound myself with daily targets to simply get something on the page.

Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.
London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the strange death of her father - sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beauties start dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered through their chests. A killer hunts amongst the nobility, searching for a regal beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumored to hold the key to immortality.
Her Majesty’s Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a connection between the gruesome deaths and Cara. So does she, somewhere in London her father hid Nefertiti’s Heart, a fist sized diamond with strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication to her life, notorious crime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on Cara and the priceless artifact. If only she could figure out his motive.
Self-preservation fuels Cara's search for the gem. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake.

Twitter: @AWExley

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?
e-book and paperback.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: E.B. Black

It's Friday!!! Okay, everyone get out the party hats.  The weather is getting warmer and we have another guest on Blog Ring of Power.  This one was plucked from AQC to bare her soul to us... Uh I mean show off her book and writing ways.

So lets have a look at her greatness, and don't forget to check out the other parts of the interview

Part 1 @ Terri Bruce – Wednesday, April 3rd
Part 2 @ T.W. Fendley - Thursday, April 4th
Part 3 @Emily LaBonte - Friday, April 5th ~Yup, here we are!~
Part 4 @ Sandra Ulbrich Almazon - Monday, April 8th
Part 5 @ Dean C. Rich - Tuesday, April 9th

E.B. Black lives in southern California with her family and two dogs. She spends her time daydreaming about the worlds she will thrown her characters into next and what it would be like to dress up as a necromancer for Halloween.

Section #3: The Creative Process

BRoP:  Where do you get your story ideas? 

E.B.: Something I've observed or felt in my life usually sparks them. Like recently, I was thinking about how much sadder I usually feel when night time rolls around. I love the sun. And then, randomly, a plot bunny popped into my head about a nymph who is in love with the god of night, but because he betrayed her, she is terrified of him and avoids him. She teleports and runs from place to place, rarely sleeping, all to keep away from the night and avoid falling in love with the god of night's presence. Because the only way to stay away from him is to always be in the sun.

BRoP:  Do you have a specific writing style? 

E.B.: My stories are usually dark and I write with the hope of making readers feel emotion when reading my stories. I don't shy away from any topic. The majority of my novels will have happy endings, but not all of them do.

BRoP: How do you deal with writer’s block?

E.B.: I write anyway. Sometimes it's harder to type the words I want to say on my computer, but I force myself to write anyway. Even a poorly written scene is better than no scene at all. After it's written, I usually find ways I can tweak it to make it better or show my critique partners and ask them what I can do to make it better.

BRoP:  How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

E.B.: Stories often come to me in chunks. I'll jot down ideas, so that I don't forget them and add to those ideas later until it's ready.

BRoP:  Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?

E.B.: I am a mixture of both now. When I first started writing seriously, I was a plotter all the way. I didn't know how to create characters or keep a plot consistent unless I planned every detail ahead of time. Now, I sometimes have a general idea for a story in my head and just start writing. Or I sometimes write a detailed, but brief outline in comparison to the past and write my story based off of that.

BRoP: Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?

E.B.: I almost always use critique partners. I tend to write stories that have a lot going on from scene to scene. My critique partners help me flesh out stories and characters so they feel more real.

BRoP: How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?

E.B.: It depends on the story. I've spent as much as a month straight reading and researching things like mythological characters and gods for my fantasy stories. I've also often researched the stages of death and ways to die because I love writing about necromancers.

BRoP:  Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write?

E.B.: I find it difficult to write romance without a fantasy element included. I'd love to write a contemporary or historical romance novel, but without those fantastical elements, I usually find that I don't have a lot to say.

Medusa's Desire By E.B. Black
    When Medusa was beautiful, finding a man to love her was easy. Poseidon fought for glances from her heavy-lidded eyes against suitors who proposed whenever she left her house. Even goddesses weren't treated with such worship.

    Athena grew jealous. She allowed Medusa to be violated in the Parthenon and turned her into a monster for her indiscretion.

    Now when Medusa stares into the eyes of men, they scream as their skin hardens into stone. A caress against her cheek will be rewarded with the poisonous bites of the snakes that slither on her head.

    No man is brave enough to approach her, until Perseus is ordered by the gods to kill her.

    When they meet, desire sizzles between them. They are willing to risk it all-death, the wrath of the gods, the destruction of their families-if it means they can spend one more night together.

    Here's how to find her and her books.

    What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?