Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Guest blog from fantasy author Nancy DiMauro

Today's guest blgger is a fantasy fiction auther, Nancy DiMauro. I notice from her web site that she is also a lawyer, like me! In fact, we have quite a lot in common, from pen names to living on a small farm to writing at night. Here, she responds to Ten Questions for Authors:.
 
1)  A short paragraph on what you write about and the genre, please? (don't forget your web page address!)
 
I write stories about characters that interest me. These tend to be stories that generally fall into some portion of the fantasy genre and include strong romantic elements. The story dictates the heat level for the romance. I’ve written everything from sweet to sizzle. My protagonists tend to be female, but not always. I’ve written about a disinherited princess turned spy, a psychic whose talent is limited to reading memories from corpses, a few Greek gods and goddesses, a gorilla in a phone booth, and many other intriguing characters. Watch in the upcoming months for many of these stories as Musa Publishing has them under contract.
You can find me at FalconsFables.com and Fictorians.com. I tweat as kings_falcon@yahoo.com - that's an "__" between "kings" and "falcon".  
 
2)  What is a typical writing session like, in 300 characters or fewer?
 
I often write at night. The kids are in bed and the house is relatively quiet. I put the television on as background noise and type out the scene I've been playing with in my head. Unless I'm in a strong burst, I'll stop writing about 11 pm and average about 1000 words a session. If I'm burst writing, all bets are off and I growl at my husband when he says it's time to stop and go to sleep.
 
3)  Men: boxers or briefs? Women: underwire or banded? (apparently people want to know this!)
 
Underwire. There's just no real comparison between banded and underwire once you hit a certain size.
 
4)  If you use a pen name, why?  If you don't, do you worry about stalkers?
 
By day, I'm  a trial and business lawyer. So I  write under my maiden name - Nancy DiMauro- to keep the fiction writing separate from my day job. Clients are generally looking for a conservative lawyer, Some of my writing isn't very conservative. My short story - Gorilla in the Phonebooth - published by Doghorn Press in the Woman Writing the Weird anthology is romantic fantasy that borders on erotic. One of my novels in progress is erotic as well. So, in theory, using a pen name makes me a bit like Clark Kent and Superman. I take my glasses off and now I'm a superhero, but no one knows.
 
5)  What is the oddest thing about your writing or the way you write?
 
I write while I wait for the court to hear my case. Most of the courts will have a motions' day docket with somewhere between 30 and 100 cases to be heard. Often, the court will take time estimates and hear the shorter cases first.  I usually have time to wait. Continuing to prepare for (stress about) my matter isn't productive at that point. I'll take out my handy note pad and write a scene or two in the time I have before my case is called. I've written a novel this way.
 
6)  Give us a glimpse into how you choose the names of your chracters, please?
 
When I chose a name, I'm either looking for a sound association, meaning or a feeling. I have a character that loses his family in a civil war. He's the 15 year-old heir to the throne and next likely assassignation target. He needs to hide and change his name. When he's informed the kingdom is his, he says that death rules the land. So, he picks a namethat sounded connected with death - Mordent. His name also resonates  with the word "mordant" which is a fixative - a substance used to set dyes on fabrics  by combining with the dye's elements and then attaching to the fabric. The character "Mordent"  brings the other plot elements together and binds them in a way that changes the original.
 
7)  Any thoughts on staying healthy while pursuing such a sedentary career?
 
It's a battle. Just like you need to make finding writing time a priority, you need to make getting out of the chair and eating properly a priority.  I'll do little things during the day like parking farther from the building since getting a large block of time is difficult.
 
8)  Dogs or cats, and why? (don't say "neither" because even if you don't have one, choosing is informative!)

Yes. I live on a small horse farm so I have a somewhat smallish zoo. The husband would argue on the size designation. We currently have 3 cats, 2 dogs, 3 hermit crabs and 2 horses.   
 
9)  If you research, what's your method?  If you don't, how do you get away with that?
 
Wow. That's a really great question. The answer depends on what I need to research.  I research characters pretty much every day. I have a love/hate relationship with waiting for the court to call my case. Because I despise waiting, I keep a note pad with me at all times. When I have to wait, I crowd watch. Notes of what I see and histories I make up for the people passing by end up on the note pad. So, crowd watching is a critical part of my character research.
For historical or setting research, my location helps me. I live about an hour outside of Washington, D.C. and the Smithsonian museums. A trip to the appropriate museum is a great research tool. I also read a lot about the time period I’m using as a pattern for the world I’m writing. I’ve read a lot on medieval warfare and have taken fencing lessons.
I also try to consult experts. Most people love talking about what they do for a living. As an example, I have a work-in-progress that’s an urban fantasy murder mystery. I’ve done all the “book” research I can do without having diminishing returns. Now, I need to consult a homicide detective.  I’ll ask my contacts if they know a detective who would be willing to talk to me.  I  also always say “thank you” to those who help me.
 
10)  What is the most interesting or outrageous comment you've heard/read about your writing?
 
I think the most interesting comments I've received relate to my voice.
One reader told me that my legal writing and fiction writing "sound" nothing alike and he never would have known I'd written both. I have two very distinct voices depending on whether I'm writing to persuade (legal writing) or entertain (fiction writing).
I’ve had a similar comment about my fiction. I tend to under-describe surroundings because I’d like them described with light brush strokes rather than layers upon layers of paint. A group of beta readers wanted more detail about the world. So, I’d gone back into a story to flesh out some description. It was a struggle for me. Satisfied I’d added more details, I sent it off to my next reader. He, a prolific and very successful writer, flagged the new section. He said that it read as if someone else had written it. I had to go back and lighten the touch so it was consistent with the rest of the narrative.

Thank you for your blog, Nancy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

New guest blogger - Wendy Soliman

I've asked some authors to respond to ten questions, some of them a little off center, just for fun. Here's what Wendy SolimanI've, author of regency romances has to say:

Ten Questions for Authors:

1) A short paragraph on what you write about and the genre, please? (don't forget your web page address!)

I started life as an author writing regency romance. I now write contemporaries, too, and also a series of marine crime mysteries. You can find me at http://www.wendysoliman.com and http://www.wsoliman.com

2) What is a typical writing session like, in 300 characters or fewer?

No such thing. Every day varies. I have to clear the decks, so to speak, get all the boring daily stuff out of the way first – like cleaning, shopping or whatever – then the rest of the day’s mine and I can lose myself in a world
of my own creation.

3) Men: boxers or briefs? Women: underwire or banded? (apparently people want to know this!)

Underwired. I’m an inverted pear-shape so carry most of my weight up top! Enough said.

4) If you use a pen name, why? If you don't, do you worry about stalkers?

I write my contemporaries and marine crime novels as W. Soliman, just so that readers of my regencies don’t get confused. I’m certainly not trying to hide who I am – far from it.

5) What is the oddest thing about your writing or the way you write?

Went to an Abba tribute band concert a while back and as they sang ‘The Name of the Game’ I thought it would be a great title for a book. (Us writers are never off duty!). That book will be published later this year.

6) Give us a glimpse into how you choose the names of your characters, please?

If I’m writing regencies I refer to my Penguin book of names and then check on line to make sure the name I choose existed in the time period I’m writing about. A Lady Jenna wouldn’t really cut it! With contemporaries, I usually just choose names that I think fit the personality of the character I’ve created, or a name that I like, but with eighteen published books under my belt, I’m running out of those.

7) Any thoughts on staying healthy while pursuing such a sedentary career?

I walk – fast - at least an hour and a quarter every day with my dog. (A great activity for plotting, by the way), I pump iron at the gym twice a week and have just acquired a push bike.

8) Dogs or cats, and why? (don't say "neither" because even if you don't have one, choosing is informative! )

I love all animals but have had dogs for years. My latest is a rescuee from a shelter in Spain. We paid more than the price of a business class seat to have him flown out to Florida, where we spend half the year. Couldn’t be without him and didn’t think twice about the expense, which is more than can be said for my husband, who had to
foot the bill!

9) If you research, what's your method? If you don't, how do you get away with that?

I mostly use the internet for research but also have an impressive library of research books, mostly centred on the regency period.

10) What is the most interesting or outrageous comment you've heard/read about your writing?

When my first book was accepted for publication, someone very close to me who ought to have known better, asked if I was actually being paid for it!

My name is Wendy Soliman. I’m a Brit but now divide my time between Andorra and Florida. I live with my husband Andre and a rescued dog of indeterminate pedigree named Jake Bentley after the hero in one of my books. They’re both good-looking mongrels with independent spirits and naughty streaks! I love all animals, enjoy walking, decent wine and generally making the most out of life.
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