Saturday, April 19, 2014

Author Interview with Lori Sjoberg

Happy April! This month I interview Lori Sjoberg about reapers, her new book Grave Destinations and how a birthday present inspired her new book.

So let's begin…   

1. Let's get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?
I was born in Massachusetts, lived for a few years in Vermont, but have lived most of my life in central Florida about an hour away from Disney World.  I write paranormal romance and urban fantasy. 

2. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?
Well, I guess I'd blame it on the need to share my stories.  Like most authors, I have an overactive imagination and needed an outlet for my creativity.  And since my day job is fairly analytical by nature, writing gives my mind a chance to run wild after a long day at the office.

3. What do you like most about the genre's you write? What do you like the least?
I love writing paranormal fiction because the only boundaries are the ones I create.  I can design whatever kind of world I want and fill it with the most fantastical characters—vampire, werewolves, aliens, demons, as well as my favorite, reapers.  The downside is I have to keep it all straight in my head—the characteristics of each race, their hierarchies and limitations, etc.  That can become challenging when you’re working on a four-book series!

4. Is there an element about paranormal romance or urban fantasy that you find is overused?
I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the Mary Sue element that’s present in some stories.  That’s probably because I prefer my female protagonists to be three-dimensional and self-sufficient.  They may get saved by the hero from time to time, but they’re much more likely to figure a way out on their own. 

5. What things influence your writing? And have you ever written them into a story? 
Pretty much everything influences my writing.  What I read, the people I talk to, weird stories I see on the news, things that happen at my day job, etc.  It’s all fair game when I’m working on a book!  The setting for GRAVE DESTINATIONS was largely influenced by the cruise my husband took me on for my birthday.  My mood also plays a heavy influence.  Rough day at the office?  Time to kill someone on paper.  Great day?   In that case, I’ll be writing something more upbeat.

6. Was there any one influence that made you want to write? 
 As strange as it sounds, the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich played a huge role in my motivation to start writing fiction.  A friend of mine badgered – oops, I mean talked me into reading the series.  I was reluctant at first, but I eventually gave in and was immediately hooked.  After I read all of the books (I think it was book eight or nine at the time), I hopped online and discovered the wonderful world of fan fiction.  After a while, I developed the urge to write some of my own, and the rest is history.

7. Let's talk a little about your latest project. What is the title and what is it about?
My latest project is Grave Destinations.  It’s the story of Ruby, a reaper assigned to harvest a soul on board a cruise ship.  Most reapers would love that kind of gig, but boats remind Ruby of the chain of events that resulted in her becoming a reaper.  She finds distraction in the form of follow passenger Jack Deverell, but there’s more to him than meets the eye.  Jack’s harboring a few secrets of his own, including the curse that’s plagued him for nearly a century.  And when people who weren’t on Ruby’s list start dying, Jack becomes the prime suspect. 

8. What do you hope readers will find interesting or unique about your story?
My reapers are damned mortals who have been given one final chance to earn their salvation by collecting the souls of the recently departed.  They work under the direct authority of Fate, who is far from a gentle mistress.  The hours are long, the assignments are often dangerous, and they have to work under the radar to avoid mortal detection.  Each book focuses on a particular reaper and his/her journey toward redemption and a happily ever after.

9. If you were given the opportunity to write a fan-fiction novel, who is the author you would choose, and what would be the book?
Anne Rice.  I loved the early books in the Vampire Chronicles.  (The later installments…not so much.)  And ever since I read The Vampire Lestat, I’ve wanted know what the vampire Gabrielle (Lestat’s mother) was up to during the centuries she was on her own.  She’s my kind of gal – tough, smart, and independent, with a whole lot of gray to her character.  I have a feeling she went on a ton of adventures, and it would be a blast to ride shotgun for a few. 

10. Is there a genre that you would like to write? Something you would find a challenge?
I’d love to take a crack at science fiction.  Most of the “what if” questions in my head fall under that category, and I think it would be great to explore some of them on paper.

Where to find Lori online:
Twitter: @Lori_Sjoberg

Grave Destinations

Friday, April 18, 2014

Writing Update for April 18, 2014

I've had a productive two weeks on book 5. I was a little concerned as I added quite a bit more to the first few chapters. Things have balanced out nicely now and I don't see any more massive wordage for the last two chapters.

Yes, the last two chapters. I can't believe I'm there already.   

11/13 chapters revised.

So I'm flipping through the channel guide for our satellite and I see this word – slaughter, and it hits me SLAUGHTER RULES. I really liked this title and apart from it being some kind of horror I wasn't sure, so I put the question to #TheGoatPosse and asked them. From their replies I  came up with a zombie novel outline. So cool.

I even have a tagline: And you thought surviving the zombie apocalypse was difficult; SLAUGHTER RULES.

I have thirteen chapters outlined and about 2k already written.

Other Updates/News
I'm coming close to the end of my paranormal series and I'm looking ahead to what I'm going to write next. Other than the zombie novel I just mentioned, I'm torn between my scifi series (four books) or my paranormal Steampunk (eight books). I'm putting away my Gothic series for now; it's romance and I'm still unsure of the voice for them.

How has your writing been coming along? 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mythical Wednesday; Good Luck Charms

Originally, I had titled this post Lucky Charms, but you have no idea how hard it was to keep from saying, 'They're magically delicious!' As a matter of fact, researching this topic was a bit difficult as just about every link led be back to the cereal. Wasn't until I changed the keywords that I got something.

Good luck charms have been used by people for centuries and come in about a variety of shapes, sizes and things. Anything from a blessing from a Holy person to an inanimate object to a living creature, can be seen as a good luck charm.  Almost any object can be used as a charm as long as the person who owns it believes in its power. 

Here are some interesting good luck charms.

Here are a few more of the unusual charms. If you have #11 or #12, I'm not going anywhere you’re your home.

I used to have a rabbit's foot. It was given to me when I was about eleven or twelve by a boy I knew. It was two shades of purple and I kept it with me everywhere I went. Then one day, our dog got to it and ate the whole thing. There was nothing left but a small pile of purple fur.

Here are some animal and insect good luck charms.

What about you? Do you have a good luck charm? Do you believe in them?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Writers and Prose; Don't fear the Reaper

~All our times have come. Here, but now they're gone.~ 

Have you noticed it? People have become obsessed with the end of the world. Whether it's by zombie plague or alien invasion or what have you, popular Dystopian novels are becoming movies and people can't seem to get enough of it.

Why are we so obsessed? Myself I can't get enough of The Walking Dead. Mind you, it took me a couple weeks to acclimatize myself to the gore. I had nightmares for a while after I started watching, and it was worth it, but what is it about seeing everything we know, everything that makes us feel safe, get blown all to hell?

A while back, I wrote a post about the lure of Dark Fantasy and how we might be drawn to it because it safely takes us into unknown worlds. If things get to scary, we can simply close the book and it's gone. Could this be the same reason? Are we drawn to end-of-the-world stories because we want to see what it would be like within the safety of our own home?

For me, it's how we, as a society, would act or react in these situations. Will we survive as a species? Will the old world of gluttony and greed be washed away and replaced with something else. Something better? Something worse? We always want people to be good and do the right thing, but most of the time that doesn't happen. In real life, bad people win and good people get screwed, but maybe if the world falls, if society crumbles, the bad people would finally get what they deserve.

Do I want the end of the world to happen? Of course not. Quite frankly I don't think I would survive without my creature comforts, but it's fun to play along with the Facebook games and meme's. Like my Grandmother used to say, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

What about you? What do you think of the end-of-the-world stories?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April Birthstone – Diamond

I know this stone very well, as it is my birthstone.
Diamonds come in two colours, a light tint of yellow and the crystal-like, translucent stone. Once believed to ward off insanity, diamonds didn't become popular until the Middles Ages that diamonds were sought out in great numbers.  In Sanskrit, the diamond is called "vajra," which means lightning.

Energy: Projective
Planet: Sun
Element: Fire
Chakra: Seventh Chakra – Crown
Associated Metals: Platinum, Silver, Steel
Healing Lore: Diamonds are said to enhancing relationships and increasing inner strength. Bring balance, clarity and abundance to the wearer, and are thought to be effective for health problems relating to brain diseases, and the pituitary glands. It is also thought that diamonds draw out toxins from the body.

*Additional information provided by Scott Cunningham’s Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic*  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Writing Update for April 4, 2014

For the near future, my writing updates will be limited to my paranormal series. I have a revision deadline of May 1 for book five so I won't be able to work on my other projects.

Having said that, book five THE PROPHECIES OF MORTALS is coming along nicely. I finished the first draft near the end of March, and took the rest of the month off. It comes in at 67, 647 word count and so far, I've revised the first two chapter and brought that up by 5k.

Ugh. I thought revisions were about cutting words, not adding. I still haven't come up with a good book blurb either. Usually I have one at this point, but my brain doesn't seem to want to do that just yet.

I still have another eleven chapters to go. I'm pushing to do one chapter a day, except on weekends. With the nicer weather, I'd rather be out cleaning up the property than writing. Plus, I need the exercise. Boy do I need the exercise.


2/13 chapters revised.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Writer-In-Progress; Sword and Sorcery Sampler, by A.R. Williams

This month I am proud to bring you an excerpt from A.R. Williams anthology Sword and Sorcery, a collection of sword-wielding heroes, dark magic, monstrous villains, and brave new worlds.


LEIF JURGENSEN GAZED AT the thirty-foot-tall doors in the side of the mountain. An elk made of iron and wood decorated both. It reared on its hind legs, its antlers a pattern of intricate circles that spiraled and twisted over one another.
Rows of giant icicles hung above the doors. They caught the fading light from the sun as it dipped below the mountain crest and shimmered like dying candles. The wind blew harder. Sharp and cold, it bit through Leif’s clothes and chilled his skin. Snow that had collected along the rock face fluttered into the air.
Leif scratched his beard and looked up at the walls for signs of a guard. He was not tall enough to reach the door knocker that towered twenty feet above him. He raised his hammer and slammed it against the door three times. Three booming echoes greeted him. Then silence.
Leif waited patiently, wind and snow swirling around him. He listened for the call of a guard questioning his presence. There was no one about as far as he could tell. Darkness descended quickly once the sun disappeared behind the mountains. The temperature would grow colder just as quick.
Leif shook his head. The tribe of the Elk was lax in its duties, overconfident that the giants that had abandoned the mountain would never return. Angered, he raised his hammer once more.
But the doors began to move. They ground slowly open, growling and rumbling as stone scraped against stone. A dark tunnel stretched ahead of him into the depths of the mountain. A warm orange glow came from a room further down.  The smell of roasted goat and garlic wafted through the tunnel. Leif smiled at the promise of warmth, food, and companionship. He strode forward. His stomach grumbled from the smell of the cooked meat, but his heart ached from a greater hunger.
Behind him the doors banged completely open. No longer held at bay, the winter winds howled into the mountain hall in all their fury. Wisps of snow settled onto the ground, while shadows tall as giants danced on the walls.

# "The Blessed and the Damned" - Her daughter kidnapped, Lorna Jassan travels to Kuwar to get her back. But old friends, and old secrets stand in her way.

# "The Dragon Brood War (episode 1): It Walks Among Men" - Nothing is at it seems when Gerhardt is given a contract to kill a priest. That includes the assassin himself.

# "Sword & Sorcery Adventure: Winter's Cold Heart" - In the cold of winter, Leif Jurgensen hunts a local monster in order to win the chief's daughter's hand in marriage.


A.R. Williams developed a love for reading at a very young age and in the fourth grade, when an assignment to write their own works of fiction was given, it occurred to him that he could craft tales for others to enjoy. His work has appeared in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Three Crow Press, and Every Day Fiction. A.R. received an honorable mention in the fourth quarter of the Writers of the Future Contest in 2010.


Website -

Twitter ( @a_r_williams ) -