Wednesday, May 25, 2016

SKIN with Brenda Corey Dunne

Brenda Corey Dunne by the sea
Brenda Corey Dunne and I share a publisher, a passion for books and a love of monsters. She visited the Mansion before for her book DEPENDENT. She returns to the Blog Mansion today to visit seal cave and talk about her new book SKIN.

Johnny: Watch the steps. They’re slippery.

Brenda: I didn’t think the Blog Mansion property extended so far.

J: All the way to the sea. I found this cave after I built the place. I had the stairs cut in for tourists and such. When we get closer we’ll have to be quiet so we don’t disturb the resting seals.

B: Do you get a lot of tourists down here?

J: Not many. Mostly writers.

B: Ugh, it stinks.

J: Seals are stinky. Putrid fishy poop is the perfume of the day.

B: It’s so pungent. Really bites the nose. Bet that’s why you don’t get many tourists.

J: That and seals are dangerous.

B: And the stairs treacherous.

J: Doesn’t help. But we’re almost there. Wait until you see them. They’re majestic.

B: Can’t wait.

J: So on the subject of seals, tell me about your new book, SKIN.

B: SKIN is a paranormal with a hint of romance, set in one of my favourite places on the planet—the red-sand beaches of Prince Edward Island. Only no Anne of Green Gables...well maybe a hint. It’s set in modern day. And there are selkies.

J: Spoiler - tell us about Selkies.

B: There’s lots of myths and legends about Selkies—half-human, half-seal creatures that woo unsuspecting humans into the ocean to be their slaves…forever. The legends change from culture to culture, but my selkies are loosely based on Irish and Scottish legends.

J: Do you play Dungeons and Dragons?

B: Ha! You’re kidding, right? I have no time to brush my teeth. D & D is beyond my grasp. But my teens play League of Legends…and sometimes I watch for a second or two...does that count? Are you a D&D guy?

J: I used to be, especially during my formative years. Great story telling training and a solid introduction to mythical and magical creatures. I still draw from the monsters I met there in my writing. Where did you get your ideas?

B: SKIN started with the setting. Seriously. If you haven’t been to PEI, you need to go. But go in the summer, when it’s warm. I also really like seals. Where I live now, on Vancouver Island, I see harbour seals almost every day. So I was thinking, what would happen if a selkie washed ashore on PEI? And went from there.

PEI (Prince Edward Island) Seal.
J: This blurb makes your story sound like a horror: “She realizes that her life has been based on a lie, and that she is missing something...something she never knew existed.
Her skin.” WTH?

B: *giggles* Yeah, my agent mentioned that line was a bit creepy. But it’s good for shock factor. Selkies shed their skins to become human. Perhaps there are hundreds of humans out there that are missing their selkie skins… food for thought, no?

J: What’s the audience for the book?

B: Young adults, or people who like young adult fiction.

J: SKIN is coming from Fortunate Frog Fiction - your own imprint. You’re doing your own publishing. How’d you get into that?

B: I published my first book—TREASURE IN THE FLAME—in 2012 via Fortunate Frog. I was just learning about the publishing business and had an audience for the book at a local museum. I’m really glad that’s how I started, because it’s a great way to learn how much work goes into a traditionally published book. Having complete creative control of your final product is a real rush. As is the payback.

J: I know about DEPENDENT from when you visited the Mansion last time. I still need that brain sample by the way.

B: Still no secrets about how I got an agent, Johnny. Pure luck I think. Actually, SKIN is the reason I have an agent in the first place. The wonderful folks at Literary Counsel saw something in it, and signed me as a result. Sadly, wee seal-skinned Irish-Canadian humans are not perceived as sellable in the traditional market right now. I hope to prove that perception wrong.


B: Also a YA, also set in eastern Canada, only way back in the late 1700’s. Think Anne of Green Gables without red hair, or Laura Ingalls meets Captain Jack Sparrow. No seals. Well, not yet anyway, but I’m working on a sequel, and there may be some foreshadowing. Creative control has it’s benefits.

J: We’re close enough you can hear the seals now.

B: Sounds like barking.

J: That’s how seals communicate.

B: What do you think they’re saying?

J: Probably complaining about the smell.

B: Yeah. Now it’s loud and stinky.

J: And slimy.

B: Charming.

J: Make me wonder how could anyone love something like this. How does Sam do it in SKIN?

B: He may have his own skin problems. And I’m not talking about acne.

Prince Edward Island
J: The more I hear about Prince Edward Island the more I want to visit. What’s it like?

B: I grew up a few hours away, and have visited many times. The food is awesome, lobster dinners everywhere. My favourite part is the Twin Shores, on the eastern coast. It’s a bit less touristy with small villages and lots of red-sand beaches and dunes. Cavendish is fun—there’s even a little Avonlea village dedicated to Anne’s story. I took the opportunity to do some ‘research’ while I was writing SKIN—we stayed on Thunder Cove Beach which was amazing. *hands picture* Go ahead, admit it. You’re jealous.

J: You’ll have to show me around sometime.

Thunder Cover Beach
B: Well, I’m on the other side of the continent right now, but it would be my pleasure.

J: Okay, just around this corner is the seal cave. We’ll have to be quiet now or we’ll disturb them. Before we go in there, tell us where we can find out more about you and SKIN.

INSTAGRAM: brendacoreydunne

J: We're here! Check them out. Aren’t they majestic.

B: Who are they?

J: Seals.

B: They look like soldiers.

J: Marines actually.

B: What? The smell and the barking—

J: Shhh… we don’t want to startle them. They can be dangerous.

B: But they’re men. They’re… What are they doing?

J: Basking on the rocks. It’s what seals do.

B: With rifles, wet suits, and rubber dinghies?

J: They always have those. I told you. They’re SEALs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DREAMLESS with Jenniffer Wardell

Jenniffer Wardell - Drug Pusher?
Jenniffer Wardell returns to the Blog Mansion today to talk about her new book, Dreamless, the third installment in her series of fluffy funny fairytales. Her previous visits to the Blog Mansion can be found here, with Fairy Godmothers, Inc. an here where we talked about Beast Charming.

Johnny: So, you’re advocating roofies now.

Jenniffer: Roofies?

Johnny: Rohypnol, the sedative. You know, the date rape drug. I saw your book, Dreamless, was about sleeping and dating and so naturally assumed...

Jenniffer: Eh, no...

Johnny: Well it would be a timely and interesting piece if it were about that. What is it about then?

Jenniffer: Dreamless is a twist on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, where our princess actually gets to help break the curse and save herself rather than just sleeping through everything.

Johnny: Well that’s totally different from what I thought it would be. I thought we were going to have a long talk about drugs. Just look at all the drugs I have here.

Jenniffer: Wow, that is quite a supply.

Johnny: Okay so what was the inspiration, if not drugs, for Dreamless?

Jenniffer: It always bothered me that Sleeping Beauty got to do so little in her story. She accidentally touches something she shouldn’t, loses consciousness, and then the rest of the story goes on without her. I wanted to tweak things so that she’s the one who has to go on the journey that ends in breaking the curse and solving her problem.

Johnny: Hmmmm… So I can assume your target audience demographic is not college fraternity boys with low morals. What age group then is Dreamless intended for?

Jenniffer: Probably shouldn’t be anyone younger than 12, but beyond that it’s for anyone who always felt disappointed in how little the princess got to do in the original.

Johnny: So no sex or violence?

Jenniffer: Actually, there is some violence. One of the bad guys keeps trying to get away.

Johnny: And there’s horror, right? Did I see something about a zombie apocalypse? Or was it just an undead character?

Jenniffer: We do have an undead wraith. He’s actually quite pleasant unless you annoy him.

Johnny: How many laughing mice are there?

Jenniffer: …I don’t think there’s any laughing mice.

Johnny: What? Don’t you hear all the laughing mice? They’re laughing in tongues.

Jenniffer: No.

Johnny: How about melting walls. Do you use them? Where is it set?

Jenniffer: I think the melting walls are just you, buddy. As for “Dreamless,” it’s set in the same world as my other books, Fairy Godmothers, Inc. and Beast Charming.

Not my fault pills look like candy.
Johnny: It’s a fantasy world, right?

Jenniffer: Yes. It’s a world where fairy tales are common, every day occurrences, which means that people buy anti-curse insurance and you can go to graduate school to become and evil sorceress.

Johnny: What are you doing for the release? Will you have a party? With cocktails? Drugs? Can I come? I can bring drugs.

Jenniffer: The only party will be online. If you can figure out how to get alcohol or drugs people can ingest electronically, I’d love to hear about it.

Johnny: Your books are unique. How do you describe the genre?

Jenniffer: Humorous fantasy romance, which is unfortunately a mouthful. Amazon calls me “dark humor,” but that’s also what they call Kurt Vonnegut’s work and he and I are nothing alike. So I think I confuse people.

Johnny: You see that cat right?

Jenniffer: Yes.  Cute.

Johnny: And his mind control? You feel that right?

Jenniffer: You need to stop eating those.

How’s the success on your other books?

Jenniffer: It’s not easy being an independent author, but as long as there are people out there reading my books I’m happy.

Johnny: What kind of promotion has worked?

Jenniffer: Anything that lets me find individual readers. Social media sites are great for making those kind of connections.

Johnny: I’m feeling a little lightheaded. How you doin’?

Jenniffer: I’m fine.

Johnny: How are you keeping your feet dry in all this tangerine syrup?

Jenniffer: What?

Johnny: I need some golf shoes!

Jenniffer: Have you been eating these drugs?

Johnny: Only some.

Jenniffer: I think you should lie down.

Johnny: Wait - First, tell us where on the internets can people find out more about drug abuse prevention, you and your work?


Barnes & Noble

Johnny: I think I’ll just lie down here for a moment. Don’t you molest me while I”m sleeping okay.

Jenniffer: Don’t worry, I won’t.

Johnny: You didn’t have to say it like that.

Jenniffer: Well Johnny…. you… do you hear those mice laughing?

Laughing mouse approves of DREAMLESS

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I am again teaching A STUDY IN MYSTERY at the University of Utah as part of the lifelong learning program. We're only a week into it, still room if you want to join up.

Lifelong Learning - University of Utah

UofUWednesday Nights
May 11th — June 15th
6:30-9:00 p.m.

University of Utah Annex Building
1901 E South Campus Drive
SLC, UT 84112
After a successful debut, I will again be teaching this genre class about Mysteries in the Summer Semester. Check back for links when registration opens.

UofULLLook behind the curtain of the formulaic, but eternally popular genre: the Mystery Story. Learn about the constructions, tropes, types and methods that make the modern whodunit. Designed for both writers and fans of the mystery genre, class will include assignments and activities on plot, character web, record keeping, suspense, tension and conflict. Refine your work as you’re asked the questions: Did you hide the clue well enough? Does the audience care about the victim? Is the suspense tight enough? By the end of the course, if the crime is writing a mystery story, the “Whodunit” will be you!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Twinkling - WonHundred Words Wednesday

Once again, I'm playing the WonHundred Words Wednesday challenge.

Tide current pulled the good ship to the river flow and into the fjord. Its oak was silent—no sail to test the decking. Current borne and steady.

Furs around the king, shield and braided beard. The good sword gripped to his royal chest. Flames at his feet.

Ancient rites of fire and water, blood, air and steel. A dwindling glow between sea and sky. Inferno to watery grave.

Ululating folk, torch-bearing and bonfire-warmed, saw the ship into the night. Each a twinkling to the other. 

Even as one lost sight, each knew the other was still there.