Today, because it is my birthday and I’m far from home, all you’re getting from me is a picture!
Today in my When I Get it Together (WIGIT) semi-regular series on meeting other writers, please welcome DL Orton whose sci-fi debut novel CROSSING IN TIME (first in a series) was recently released and is free on Amazon May 25, 2015 (which I hope is today unless my talents using WordPress are total crap). This fast paced novel envisions a world on the brink of extinction where two star-crossed lovers may hold the key to survival. However, they must go back in time. A very risky business. From my reading of her book, DL has researched quantum physics, climate change, and – dare I say it? – Masters and Johnson’s studies on sex.
JTT: Hi Deb, thanks for agreeing to be featured on WIGIT. Let’s assume you’ve come from either the future or past (which is probably the truth). Which is it and why?
DLO: My pleasure, Jan! I’m from the future, of course. Come to the dark side; we have time machines. Unfortunately, if I told you why, I’d have to shoot you. And yes, a woman DOES eventually get elected President, gays DO have a constitutional right to marry, and Florida IS going under. If you want to know how Game of Thrones ends, sign up for my newsletter. (PS: If you’d like to win a special prize, guess the news headline for May 4th, 2050, and include your email address written backwards e.g. moc.notrold@old in the comments. I’ll send you a telepathic message if you win. Or perhaps I’ll arrive in your bathroom with the news!)
JTT: Wow, well I’ll have to sign up. In your book, Crossing in Time, you address two issues which psychologists believe are more strongly related that most people would think: parallel universes and the gender gap. Your response?
DLO: A shower curtain, an ant, and a bowling ball.
DLO: Start with the shower curtain: a two-dimensional object in a 3-dimensional world. Imagine that you, gentle reader, are an ant, walking, talking, and having sex (do ants do that??) on a thin, flexible membrane (or a “brane” in physics-speak). Layered beneath you are a million other shower curtains, all of them with their own allotment of ants (some of which get paid 78 cents on the dollar due to slight differences in their copulatory organs). In a very real sense, those other ant universes are close to you in space (and time), but still seemingly undetectable — until someone drops a red-hot bowling ball on those piled up plastic sheets and makes the real-world equivalent of a black hole. Mind the gap.
JTT: Okay you’re officially too smart for me. I saw strong similarities between your female protagonist, Isabel, and Sarah Connor of the Terminator Series. Why is it that female protagonists in sci-fi series such as the Terminator, Alien and Avatar are much more formidable than the protagonists of erotica such as Fifty Shades of Grey? Can the sci-fi and erotica genres unite to gain an audience?
DLO: Well, if the reviews I’ve been getting are any indication, then no. 😉
Although my book is not erotica, I expect some women will be turned off by the sex (because my protagonist is the antithesis of the ditzy woman in 50 Shades, and Isabel’s lover is no demigod with a helicopter, handcuffs, and expensive taste in high heels. Sorry.)
JTT: No reason to be sorry. I think a lot of women fantasize about being an Isabel. I hate to ask this question because it is so hackneyed in writer interviews, but as a reader I really am interested to know, what motivated you to write this series?
DLO: When it comes to fiction, I find Frankenstein’s monster very appealing. I’m drawn to an author who tosses together eclectic body parts and then sews them into something cool and unexpected. Books with character-driven sci-fi, lots of action, good (real!) sex, dark humor, strong female leads, a bit of a mystery, and an edgy love story are great reads, but there aren’t many out there. So I wrote one. And once I got started, the monster took on a life of his own.
JTT: That’s an interesting answer! My book – the Monster! Just one last question: What do you wished I’d asked you and why?
DLO: “What did you do with the $500,000 advance you got for the book?” But I’ll settle for: “Any advice for unpublished writers?”
I once googled “how to get rid of a dead body” as part of my book research. The browser ads I started getting after that were downright scary, and I began to wonder if the NSA was going to coming knocking on my door. (I can’t imagine what would have happened if I googled “how much fertilizer does it take to blow up a building.”) I have since learned about “private browsing,” and I highly recommend it.
My second best tip is: Keep writing, but also keep reading! Lots of the unpublished writers I meet have stopped reading because they don’t feel they have the time for it, and I think that’s a mistake. Reading is an excellent way to keep your writing tools sharp, and hey, it’s damn good way to come up with unsavory phrases to google!
And my final tip: Murder the hero, maim the children, rip the clothes off the intrepid heroine, bestow fame and riches on the villain, and set the whole damn city on fire, but whatever you do, don’t draw cartoons of bearded dead guys, and don’t shoot the dog!
JTT: Great advice! Best of luck with the book.
DL ORTON lives in the foothills of the Rockies where she and her husband are raising three boys, a golden retriever, two Siberian cats, and an extremely long-lived Triops. Her future plans include completing the books in the BETWEEN TWO EVILS SERIES followed by an extended vacation on a remote tropical island (with a Starbucks). When she’s not writing, playing tennis, or helping with algebra, she’s building a time machine so that someone can go back and do the laundry.
How to contact DLO:
Writers, you know, are the beggars of Western society— Octavio Paz
One of the things I signed up for to promote the release of Willful Avoidance (otherwise known as Secrets of a Kick-ass Tax Woman) is a book blog tour. Has anyone ever done one of those? Am I completely crazy?
The point of a book blog tour is to spread the word about your wonderful masterpiece and to hopefully convince people to review your book (because, as every writer knows, if your book doesn’t have 35 reviews it goes straight to the shiteree.)
Just the thought of self-promotion turns me into the most wretched of creatures – a full blown pity puss -flogging myself, over imbibing and piteously wailing: Woe is me, to whoever will listen. At this point, only the cat.
Many of us think that successful writers, like Mark Twain, would never in a million years lower themselves to take part in the wretched process of self-promotion. This notion is often perpetuated by those same authors in statements such as:
How often we recall with regret that Napoleon once shot at a magazine editor and missed him and killed a publisher. But we remember with charity that his intentions were good. – Mark Twain
Sounds as though Twain would spit in the eye of any publisher who dared to order him on a book blog tour, doesn’t it?
Well, nothing could be further from the truth. According to this article from the University of Virginia, Twain practically invented self-promotion. He was the first author to incorporate himself, the first author to trademark his name and finally the first to sell books via subscription (basically pre-ordering) and would not publish a book unless he had enough “subscribers.”
Curse you Mark Twain!
Here are some quotes from other pity pusses (err, writers) on the subject of self-promotion:
- In other countries, art and literature are left to a lot of shabby bums living in attics and feeding on booze and spaghetti, but in America the successful writer or picture-painter is indistinguishable from any other decent businessman — Sinclair Lewis
- Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent — James Baldwin
- America is no place for an artist: to be an artist is to be a moral leper, an economic misfit, a social liability. A corn-fed hog enjoys a better life than a creative writer, painter, or musician. To be a rabbit is better still — Henry Miller
- All publishers are Columbuses. The successful author is their America. The reflection that they–like Columbus–didn’t discover what they expected to discover, and didn’t discover what they started out to discover, doesn’t trouble them. All they remember is that they discovered America; they forget that they started out to discover some patch or corner of India — from the Autobiography of Mark Twain
Are you a pity puss like me or a Mark Twain? Fess up, your secret is safe with me!
I have a hard time answering the question “why do you write.” This, I’ve been assured, is a disaster. Being able to articulate your WHY is a key element to “building your platform,” “branding yourself” or “finding a niche.” People who succeed in the WHY will sell books and those who don’t, won’t.
The WHY, being so important, must be answered before we set pen to paper or slop enchiladas over our keyboards in the middle of the night. However, being that I’m a half-ass backwards kind of person, I started writing long before I knew about the WHY. I just sat down and words came out.
However lately I’ve had a revelation.
Revelations are strange things, aren’t they? You see the face of Jesus in beer foam and suddenly boom/ bang you know your WHY. I wish I could say this revelation came to me while meditating on the top of the mountain or deep in the forest but it didn’t. It came to while sitting on my butt, eating peanuts and watching Philomena, which, for those of you who haven’t seen it, is a full box of Kleenex movie about an Irish girl forced to give up her baby by evil nuns. When she goes in search of him many years later those same nuns lie about not knowing his whereabouts and so she turns to a journalist for help. The journalist takes on the assignment not out of the goodness of his heart. He intends to turn her story into a “human interest story,” one which will tug at the hearts of readers and reestablish his drowning career. His WHY is money and fame.
Several times during their search Philomena balks at the idea of her story being publicized. Does she really want to expose things long unseen or forgotten? Painful things, the revelation of which may alienate family, friends or even God?
I’m sure once Philomena’s story did get published (and turned into a movie) it irked the Church to which she’d remained faithful, despite their treatment of her (where is Jesus – lost in the beer foam?). But it also brought to light an abomination and maybe even helped other poor Irish women to find their stolen sons.
So my WHY is a slippery little devil. Sometimes I write for fun and sometimes it’s a slide down the Iron Maiden. But if I write with the intent of not stepping on anyone’s toes (even my own), it doesn’t feel genuine.
Here are more articulate writers on the topic of why they write.
- “Those of us who write do it because there are stories inside us burning to get out. Writing is essential to our well-being.” Judy Blume
- “My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.” Ernest Hemingway
- “Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.” Flaubert
- “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.” Joan Didion
- “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” Lord Byron
- “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” Gloria Steinem
- “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.” Truman Capote
Of these esteemed writers I think Lord Byron’s WHY makes the most sense to me. How about you?
Ah, once again, another Blogger’s Lazy Day (known as #WordlessWednesday to Twitterbugs)
First an update on the animal party taking place in our cellar, (Maybe it’s a Drunken Kangaroo) it took about five minutes for Crocodile Dundee to find a hole beneath our deck that has eluded us for, I dunno – 20 years! In his words “That hole’s so large, I’m surprised you didn’t run into an elephant in your cellar.” I felt as stupid as the time I paid a refrigerator repair man $75 to tell me the darn thing was on the fritz because the freezer door wasn’t closed all the way. Have you ever paid someone to point out what a ninny you’ve been?
Okay, back to wordlessness or, in this case, the reservoir near my house . . .
My husband just told me we have a “large” animal living in the cellar beneath our house.
Me: “How large?”
Him: “Well, it wasn’t afraid of me. It just kind of waddled away swishing its fluffy tail in my direction.”
“Do you think it was a raccoon?” I ask hopefully.
The only other animal small enough to get into the cellar is, yes, you’ve guessed it – a SKUNK. Double, triple yikes. (Faithful readers will remember the unrelenting Skunk Siege of December 2014.)
Now it’s our raccoon. I must nip this idea in the bud, immediately. Hubby has already adopted several squirrels and chickadees. “It’s not our raccoon!”
He has another idea. A few weeks back he left the door to the cellar ajar and of course Pretty Kitty with his little furry paws managed to pry it open and romp around in the dark, dank and dirt of the storage area. Of course we didn’t realize it until three in the morning when we heard a piteous yowl and practically fell out of bed. “What the hell was that?” We both asked in unison. The resulting search of the house failed to locate Kitty and, after coming to the conclusion that he was hiding in some deep crevice and would come out when he was ready, back to bed we stumbled to try to get some rest. In the morning Kitty still could not be found, until around noon when I looked out the back door and there he was.
Snubbing his nose at us as if to say, “Aren’t I a clever cat”?
Hubby’s new idea is that the cat ran into the raccoon. “Maybe that’s how he got outside.”
“Wait a minute. If it’s been under the house for so long then what’s it been living off?”
“Hum. I haven’t caught any rats in a while.”
Great! Apparently while I sleep there’s a party going on beneath me. Cats, rats, raccoons and skunks. Did I mention that we keep our wine in the cellar?
Never fear. We’ve called in Crocodile Dundee to track the wild beast down. Who knows? Maybe it’s a drunken kangaroo and he’ll know just what to do.
I’ll let you know how that goes.
Today I turn the floor over to fellow author Arleen Williams whose ALKI Trilogy has just been released. For those of you who don’t know, Alki Point is just west of Seattle Washington, an area very lush and green. Wikipedia describes it as “reminiscent of a Pacific Northwest beach town, with a mix of mid-century bungalows, medium-rise waterfront apartment houses, waterfront businesses, a thin beach, and a road with a bike/foot trail running several miles along the water.” As you can tell by the titles, Arleen is a very active woman as are her protagonists! In this piece she talks about the inspiration for her novels.
Years ago I was living in Mexico City and thought about studying English/Spanish interpretation. When I took the college entrance examination and failed, I was sad and filled with relief. It really wasn’t for me. I have too many of my own words and thoughts to express to fill the role of an official interpreter. Yet at times, I still feel like an interpreter. In The Alki Trilogy, I “translate” immigrant lives into stories, offering a window into the realities of modern immigration.
As I write these words, I am reminded of Reese Witherspoon’s 2014 movie, A Good Lie, about the lost boys and girls of Sudan. I remember sitting in the darkened theater shaking my head when those responsible for assisting these immigrants upon their arrival to the U.S. were portrayed as totally clueless.
“Nobody can be that dumb, can they?” I whispered to my husband.
“Most people haven’t spent thirty years working with immigrants and refugees,” he shot back.
In a world of instantaneous information, one would think we’d all know of the horrors that continue to bring immigrants – both documented and undocumented – across our borders on a daily basis. But we are inundated with snippets of news and information, with work schedules and family responsibilities, with the challenges of the hectic day-to-day routine so common in this country. We don’t always understand the stories or the worlds behind the headlines we catch as we rush from one responsibility to the next in our busy lives.
In The Alki Trilogy I introduce readers to characters living lives in the shadows of our own back yards, characters making livings, making love, making mistakes and often interacting with native-born Americans in relationships that enrich the lives of all. And like those immigrants who cut our lawns and clean our pools, who grow our fruits and vegetables, who care for our elderly and infirm, they do it carrying the horrors that brought them to this land branded on their souls.
I wasn’t on some sort of zealous mission when I started writing The Alki Trilogy. In fact, when I began the first novel, Running Secrets, I had no idea I’d be writing a trilogy at all. I simply had characters in my head demanding to be heard: a suicidal young woman and an Ethiopian home health nurse, a homeless Salvadoran girl alone after her parents were deported and the college student who offered sanctuary, an Eritrean man haunted by the terrors of his escape and the hatred of some African-Americans while buoyed by the love of another. These stories were rooted in a lifetime of teaching, explaining, interpreting my world to immigrants from around the globe in an attempt to help them build new lives in this strange land. I suppose at some point my audience shifted.
When I started writing Biking Uphill, I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to Gemila Kemmal, and when Walking Home came to me, The Alki Trilogy flowed from pen to paper as though I were nothing more than a conduit for the voices of my students and the characters based on the lives and experiences they have shared with me over the past thirty years.
About the Author:
Arleen Williams is a Seattle novelist, memoirist, and co-author of a dozen short books in easy English for adults. She teaches English as a Second Language at South Seattle College and has worked with immigrants and refugees for three decades. To learn more, please visit http://www.arleenwilliams.com and http://www.notalkingdogspress.com.