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The Story Behind The Voodoo Follies

In Book of The Month on April 4, 2012 at 1:59 am

People ask me all the time how I come up with my stories. So, here’s the story of how The VooDoo Follies came to be.

First of all, let me address the title, because I have been attacked by “critics” for the capital “d” in Voodoo. I capitalized the “d” on purpose because it is, in itself, a folly. That’s it. That’s my big reveal! lol Sometimes, the answer is short and sweet. I won’t change the spelling – no matter what my critics say! 😉

So, how did this book happen? It all started when I was taking a shower. My mind runs rampant at the most inopportune times, really. And I just happened to have zombies on the brain that day for some reason or other. So, as I am taking a shower, I am thinking… ‘I wonder what it would be like to hear the zombie’s side of the story?’ Lots of moaning and groaning I would imagine. But, what if you could be inside the zombie’s head? So, then I wondered what it would be like to be a teenage zombie. Let’s face it, as the mother of a couple teenagers, I often stash the Twinkies away and worry that I will have to get cracking on more cardio if the kids get any faster. Sometimes all my kids are capable of are grunts, groans, and jerky shuffling movements to get to necessary spaces in the house.

BAM! an idea has been born. I believe I might have titled it, “My Life as a Teenage Zombie” or some such nonsense at first. Then, as I’m washing my hair the ultimate zombie question pops in my brain. “But how did little miss teenage zombie become a zombie in the first place?”

This one tiny little question changed my story and turned it into The VooDoo Follies. You see, I was tired of the virus route. So, I figured what better way for her to become a zombie than a voodoo ritual run a-muck? Then the character of Seraphine developed rather quickly, because obviously someone had to loose control of the zombie to begin with. Seraphine was such a fun character to develop, that she actually became the focus of the story instead of the zombie.

Seraphine is based off of my own 16 year old daughter. She’s super smart, but she also has issues with grace. In other words, she’s clumsy. So, Seraphine took on a little of that demeanor and ended up being “clumsy” with her voodoo, which leads to a slew of other problems along the way.

Those problems are worked out in a series of six short stories told in succession. When put together, they become The VooDoo Follies. I do plan to follow up The VooDoo Follies with a full length novel this summer titled, Beyond the Grave. Until then, I hope you grab a copy of The VooDoo Follies and enjoy Seraphine’s adventures. Oh, and the first story in the book is all about that darn zombie that started it all!

Until then, you can check out more about The VooDoo Follies on the website HERE or like the series on Facebook HERE

Christine M. Butler is not only an official member of LitU, but an author, blogger, reviewer, and owner of a rabbit named Mr. Fuzzy Bumpkins. You can find her personal blog HERE.

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The Story Behind Of Moths and Butterflies

In Book of The Month on February 29, 2012 at 6:03 pm

How did Of Moths & Butterflies come about? Well, in all honesty, it was  inspired by a song…sort of. You see, Moths isn’t my first book. Like many authors, I have several stashed away in desk drawers and cardboard manuscript boxes. (Yes, I’m that old fashioned.) Ok, there are some on my hard drive as well. The first book I finished was about an arranged marriage that did not manage to come into fruition. But one day as I had the latest (then) Royksopp album playing, I listened, really listened, to the words of 49 Percent. There is a line that says, “Less than half? Why won’t you try to make this damage better?” I immediately thought of that first story line, and another thought came to me: “What would have happened if the marriage had come off, after all?”

But if the guy was a creep, as he was in that first story, then the end would be quite obvious. What if he wasn’t so creepy, but just fatally flawed? What if he had some redeeming qualities? What if the heroine might like him, even love him, had the circumstances surrounding their marriage been more favourable?

The main plot of Moths was at that point formed.

Of course I’ve never been known, even in my earliest writing endeavours, to construct a simple plot. Other influences necessarily went into the shaping of that story. One of which was Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I don’t think any book I’ve ever read has affected me the way that book did. I cried for Tess. I raged for the injustices heaped against her. I wanted something better for her. So, in constructing Moths’ heroine, I added in a bit of Tess, but attempted to retell her story so that the resolution was something I could live with.

And then I sat down and wrote the bloody thing. I think the first draft took me something like five months, and it was nearly 200K words. At which point I decided to make it two books. I had an agent interested, and that was the only way she would take it. So I split it, pared it down. And then she didn’t want it. It wasn’t enough of a category romance for her. And it was still too long.

Then I joined Authonomy.com and put it up there, and, to my dismay, discovered I was not the modern day answer to Dickens that I had hoped I might be. Authonomy was rough. So many people, whose only purpose is to critique everyone else’s manuscripts with the hopes that their own work will prove superior enough to land a spot on the Editor’s Desk, the prize for such an accomplishment being a critique (and hopefully consideration) from a Harper Collins editor. (To this day, to my knowledge, no one has been published by HC from the Editor’s Desk, though many from Authonomy have gone on to publication by publishing houses large, small and independent.)

And so I rewrote it. The re-written, re-plotted, re-examined, re-characterised draft took me nine months to finish. During which time I sweated and bled and prayed over the sucker. But I had, by that time, and thanks to Authonomy, more experience, greater insight, and an incredibly supportive team of friends and editors, and even an illustrator, who believed in the story I wanted to tell. So that, when at last it was finished, it was precisely what I wanted it to be, and exactly what it needed to be.

As for that first book, Cry of the Peacock will be published October 2012 by Captive Press Publishing.

I’m still no Dickens. But it is a beautiful book. And I’m satisfied with that.

Of Moths & Butterflies (read an excerpt here) is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble in hardcover and paperback form. A Kindle edition is also available.

VR Christensen is not only an official member of LitU, but an author, blogger, and resident of Appalachian Virginia. You can find her personal website HERE

The Story Behind Eden

In Book of The Month on February 1, 2012 at 11:44 pm

In keeping with the tradition started by the esteemed Mary Ann Bernal, I’ll take this time to talk a bit about how Eden came to life. What path did I take and why the hell did I do it?

Everyone’s first book seems to have a checkered past – a history complete with stops, starts, frustration, tears, wonk and (hopefully) joy. Eden was no different. I actually started the book on an Apple IIc computer, back in the days before hard drives. I rarely talk about the book’s *actual* beginnings because it’s embarrassing: I lost the disks long, long ago. Those first, few brain droppings are forever gone.

But the nuggets survived. They survived high school, college, cancer, marriage and my kids. They survived to make it onto one of my first PC’s. Then, those notes and chapters were migrated to an ancient, portable HP device. Then, the mangled bits made it back to a newer PC and I learned my lesson: I began to backup my work online.

So, the story survived, or rather: the bits of Eden’s story made it through the fire & rain. You see – there wasn’t a full story there. I had an “idea,” but it wasn’t complete. I knew in my heart it wasn’t ready to be told. It was missing something crucial – and that last puzzle piece came into place after hearing a song on the radio. At once, the story assembled itself into a complete “whole” for the first time.

After that immaculate realization, I re-wrote the beginning and started work in earnest. I woke up every morning 1-2 hours before work for ~8 years. (okay, maybe not *every* morning) I scrapped and rewrote major sections. Writing a novel-length manuscript was a new and scary process for me, so the going was rough. Perseverance is a quality I learned from my battle with cancer, so I wasn’t going to surrender despite the difficult journey. In the end, I competed the story that occupied my mind & heart for almost 2 decades.

Each writer blazes their own unique path from idea to completion, and I’m convinced there is no “right” or “wrong” in any of it.

Matthew C. Plourde is not only an official member of LitU, but an author, blogger, and an absolute writing machine! You can find his personal blog HERE.

The Story Behind The Briton and the Dane Trilogy

In Book of The Month, Featured Author, Thoughts on Publishing on January 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I fell in love with medieval England after reading Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe” in my sophomore year of high school, but my interests soon turned towards the Dark Ages when the formidable Vikings harassed the civilized world once Hollywood released such blockbusters as “The Vikings,” “The Longships,” and “Erik the Viking.” Add to the mix “Alfred the Great,” “Prince Valiant,” and “King Arthur,” and an incurable romantic anglophile was born.

As time went on Hollywood changed its venue of period movies, but I found solace with the many British programs being aired on our local PBS station. With the advent of BBC America and History International, I was able to find great documentaries such as “The Dark Ages,” “Life in Anglo-Saxon Times,” “Dark Age England,” and “Viking Exploration,” to name but a few.

During this time, Erik the Viking was hovering in the cobwebs of my creative mind, waiting to escape oblivion, waiting to tell his story, waiting and waiting and waiting, but it was not until 2008 that I was able to find the time to devote to fulfilling my lifelong dream of writing my Erik the Viking novel.

Why did I focus on Alfred the Great and King Guthrum? I chose these two formidable characters because they are fascinating. This was a time of conflict and change, when Christianity was replacing the pagan religion, and the feared Vikings no longer plundered the fertile country of Britannia but remained and settled the land.

When King Alfred defeated King Guthrum in 878, one of the terms for peace was the Christian baptism of the Danish King. I wondered how this heathen King might have felt about denying the gods of his ancestors as he willingly accepted the Roman Christ God, and also wondered how willing his subjects had been to submit to the rules of the new religion.

In addition to the religious conflict, there were also petty Kings who coveted the throne, not only King Alfred’s crown, but King Guthrum’s as well. Throw into the mix, illegitimate offspring and you have all the makings for a great story.

While Erik started out as my main character, the supporting characters quickly sought to usurp the protagonist role. I had often heard the phrase, “but then my characters took over,” and suddenly discovered that the statement is very true. Erik had to share the limelight with the many prominent figures, and these characters refused to play a minor role in an ongoing saga.

The same holds true for our antagonist; there are many opponents as the story unravels, each with their own agenda, but each seeking power and wealth.

I delve into the minds of the characters as they deal with conflicts that are quite common today: father/son relationships and acknowledgement of paternity, religious confrontation, and warfare. The people who lived in the 9th century were flesh and blood as we are flesh and blood. They faced the same problems, made similar choices, and perhaps regretted their decisions.

I also wanted to reach out to the families of our modern day warriors, and to remind everyone that the only thing that has changed in warfare over time has been its weaponry. What has not changed is the anxiety as one awaits the fate of their loved one; waiting is difficult no matter which century you live in.

Since “The Briton and the Dane: Legacy” is the third and final installment of the trilogy, I should be willing to say goodbye…the key word here is should…but there are many stories still to tell, and many characters to meet, and enough passion, intrigue, treachery and betrayal to enthrall an audience…so fear not my faithful fans, the series will continue.

“The Briton and the Dane” trilogy has been a joy to write, and I trust a joy to read. Enjoy the adventure, it only gets better.

Mary Ann Bernal is not only an official member of LitU, but an author, a blogger, and one of the absolute nicest human beings walking the face of the Earth. You can find her personal website HERE.