4/29/2011

Story Orgy Presents: Interviews with Julie Hayes

  
Story Orgy Presents: Interviews


Story Orgy is happy to Welcome the lovely and talented Julie Hayes to our first ever interview!  Julie is the author of Leonardo di Caprio is a Vampire and other tales.  We'll get into Leonardo later, but for now, tell us a bit about yourself.  What is your favorite quality about yourself? 

I have this very analytical and detailed mind. You might even call me nosey. I’m not sure what quality this might be, but I always want to know why. Why something is, or why it was; why someone thinks it is that way, why they think the way they do, why things happen. I think it is that quality that often results in my having new stories to tell. As I wonder why, plots appear in my head as part of the why question, as I speculate on answers. Then naturally, I have to write about it.

I'm addicted to quotations, so I have to ask this.What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

There are so many wonderful quotes, it’s hard to narrow it down, so I’ll use one that I have in my email signature, even though it’s from a film. “Data, data, data. I cannot make bricks without clay.”  It’s from the newest Sherlock Holmes film.   I like this because it says a lot to me about the thought process, and the writing process. You have to experience life before you can write about it, which is why so many authors don’t become published or even accomplished writers til after they hit forty, til they have time to actually live. I’m not saying that younger writers don’t have ability or credibility, but a certain amount of writing does come from life itself, and there is no substitute for living it. How can you write about things you haven’t experienced? No, not in the way of imagining it, because of course Tolkien never met a hobbit or saw an Ent walk, and sandworms only lived in Frank Herbert’s mind. But some things have to be felt—life, death, birth, happiness, sorrow, pride, embarrassment, and so on. What happens in your life becomes the clay that you use to form the bricks of your writing. Without clay, how can there be bricks?

Julie, what are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

I am very proud of my children. They are wonderful people, with their own unique personalities, and their own lives. I wouldn’t change anything about them, even if I could. I’m proud of who they are, the good people they have become.


I"m always curious about how people began writing.  When and why did you begin writing?

I first remember writing about the age of nine, after hearing a story that the teacher read to us, about children on an island, with dinosaurs and danger. I sat down and wrote my own story. I’d been reading since I was two, it was just the next logical step to do it myself, to make up stories and write them down. I found it fascinating, and I still do.

Wow!  Reading at 2?  I'd say writing was the next step. Who or what influenced your writing over the years?

I think my writing has been largely influenced both by the books I’ve read, and by the movies I’ve seen. I’m a big film aficionado, of all sorts. When I write, I see what is happening in my hand, as if it were a movie unfolding in my mind, and it’s up to me to describe what I see, and what my characters feel, in order to make my readers see and feel the same things, hopefully. Hopefully, the more I write, the more I learn and improve upon my writing. In truth, I consider myself a cross between two writers—P.G. Wodehouse and William Faulkner. The first for his unusual wit, the latter for his long-winded style, which I happen to love. A strange marriage of influences, I’ll grant. Recently, I would add Charlaine Harris to this list of influences, for her own brand of appreciated humor, and her well drawn characters.


What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

The biggest challenge I face is to stay focused on one thing at a time. I generally don’t. I have several WIPs at any given time, and plot bunnies waiting to be born. And ideas waiting to become plot bunnies. As a result, it may seem like I have no method to my madness, but I consider it, rather, a controlled chaos. I keep my deadlines in mind and stay ahead of them. And when it comes down to it, you can only really focus on one thing at a time when you’re writing. Then you move on.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I think every writer’s had blockage at one time or another. Sometimes it’s a matter of life, sometime’s in something inside of you. I went for several years without writing, concentrating on children, husband and home. I missed my writing, and I started it up again. That was long term block. I’ve had times when I found that I could not write, so I would watch something instead, and fill up, so to speak, so that I was ready to write once more. And for short term writer blocks, I’ve found that doing puzzles or games helps—it engages the practical part of your brain, so that the creative side is free to come out. Have you ever noticed that you get good writing ideas at the worst times? In the shower, driving, having sex? Same principle.


I'm beset by the best ideas while I"m driving, as a matter of fact.  I carry a notebook with me so I can scribble them down as soon as the car stops.  As for during sex, I'll have to plead the fifth on that one! Tell us your latest news?

Well, Leo releases on April 30th. The sequel to my first published novel, To The Max, releases on June 4th, and I co-wrote a book with a fellow St. Louisan, S.L. Danielson, which should come out in October. It’s called My Fair Vampire, and it’s set during the 1904 World’s Fair. Other than that, I’m still writing Captivations, over at Wicked Nights, and my new series Forbidden comes out May 27th.
  
How did you come up with the title? 

It was the first thing that my character said to me, I just knew it had to be the title. It intrigued me, and I hope it intrigues potential readers to look into the story.

Can you tell us about your main character?

  Some might say that Fisher Roberts is uptight, he prefers the term no-nonsense. He’s a reporter for an online magazine, and writes articles on various topics, including the holidays, which he doesn’t like. He hates how much his best friend/roommate, Hunter Long, enjoys celebrating the holidays, especially Halloween. He and Hunters have been friends forever. Fisher has a little secret—he’s in love with Hunter, and has been for some time. He doesn’t dare tell him however. Once upon a time he had other dreams, but they got pushed aside after his father left them, when he was ten. He focused on journalism, instead, and forgot about the fiction which once fueled his imagination. Fisher just wants to get by the best way he can, and not lose his best friend in the process.
  
Who designed the cover?

 The incredibly talented and wonderful Reese Dante


Reese does beautiful work.  Where can we purchase the book?


Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I think that the message is to always believe in the beauty of your dreams. To feel that anything is possible, if you want it badly enough, and if you’re willing to work to get it.

How much of the book is realistic?

I think that is open to interpretation, and what you believe in.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?

In this case, no, I don’t think it includes any of my actual life experiences, per se, and none of the characters are thinly veiled friends.

How important do you think villains are in a story?

Villains push us to change the status quo and not remain complacent about ourselves. You have to watch out or do better or whatever. Villains keep us on our toes. Plus they can be a lot of fun. Today’s villains aren’t necessarily the villains of yesteryear.

What books have most influenced your life?

I’ve read Gone With the Wind 17 times; there is something about Scarlett’s story that is fascinating to me—the way she faced her life and handled her problems and never gave up in going after what she wanted. Desiree was the first book I ever cried over, and it showed me how history and fiction and romance could be wedded. Dracula introduced me to my love of vampire

 Who is your favorite author and why?

There are so many authors that I love, it would be hard to name a favorite, so I’ll pick a few and elaborate on one: Jules Verne, Preston and Child, Agatha Christie, Patricia Cornwell, PG Wodehouse, Thomas Harris and Christopher Moore.  I read Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. I was skeptical going into it but he won me over and I fell in love with the book, and his writing. It resonated with me and with something I wrote. I just love it to death. Also, I’d like to give a special shout out to Thomas Harris for creating one of the most perfect characters ever, someday I’d like to have my own Hannibal Lecter.


What are your current writing projects now?

I have a few sequels to write – my Max series, my Dark Love series, Captivations and Forbidden, a sequel to Sex on the Beach Christmas Style, and the sequel to Leo as well, which I hope to be done in time for Christmas. Also I have a new book I’m working on called Cheatin’ Heart which is completely different, about a guy with a cynical outlook on love who opens a bar where fidelity is optional.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?

I’m reading Abigail’s Cottage by Margaret West and Condor One by John Simpson

How do you deal with rejection letters?

I accept them for what they are—one person’s opinion—and I move on. I don’t bother analyzing what happened, because most rejection slips are forms and don’t tell you anything as to why you were rejected. Sometimes it’s just the wrong place at the wrong time. I just look for someone else and try again.

Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why?

New to me or new to writing?  That isn’t necessarily the same thing.   Let’s go with both then, shall we?  That would be Gail Carriger. Her Soulless, Blameless and Changeless books are just incredible. Her characters are well written and not cliché, she takes familiar tropes and turns and twists them to her bidding, and her sex scenes, while not the most explicit are extremely hot nonetheless. I love that Alexa is not conventionally pretty, plus she’s strong and independent. And Lord Maccon is just damn hot.


What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?

My advice is to read a lot, watch a lot of movies and TV series, and don’t be afraid of writing fanfiction. It’s a great learning tool. You learn to develop characters in your own way, dealing with familiar characters, and then work your way up to your own. Also, finding betas and a critique group is invaluable. You will be glad to have both in your life and in your writing.

Do you have any advice for writers?

Never give up your dream, despite the naysayers that surround you, or the people who tell you that what you write is wrong, and that you’ll never succeed. Believe in yourself first.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I love to read and watch movies, and I like to do Sudoku. Whenever I get the chance, I go to visit my daughter Katie in Indiana. I don’t have internet access there so I spend a couple of days actually relaxing and hanging out and not doing anything but having fun and talking to my daughters.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

Being published was always my biggest dream, that and having people tell me they like what I write. I’ve succeeded on both counts. Next I’d like to become self-sufficient in my writing.

If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?

Arthur says it, in Leo, to Fisher – To thine own self be true. Yeah, it’s Shakespeare, he was quoting the bard. The point is that you are the best you possible, why would you want to be anyone else? We love you for who you are.

Blurb: Leonardo di Caprio is a Vampire
“Tis the night before Halloween, and Fisher Roberts wishes it was over, not being a fan of this or any other holiday.  But he tolerates it because his roommate/best friend Hunter Long takes a childish glee in all things Halloween.  And Fisher has a vested interest in keeping Hunter happy.  If only he could find the nerve to tell his childhood friend that he loves him, and has for a very long time.
Fisher thinks Hunter is carrying things a bit far this year, though.  First Hunter claims to be a vampire, and he just won’t let the silly joke go.  Then he forces Fisher to go to a costumed Halloween party which Fisher would rather avoid, especially when he realizes where it’s being held, and whose house it is. Things at Fisher’s job might just be going south, too, when he receives a mysterious summons to report to the editor’s office the next morning.  And then Fisher goes and does something stupid—like kissing Hunter!
Bad leads to worse when Fisher ends up at the Halloween party from Hell, and he learns something that threatens to destroy his and Hunter’s relationship forever.  Running from his fears, Fisher encounters a strange young man with an unusual resemblance to Leonardo di Caprio, who shows him things he never realized before, truths about his life and the people in it.
Can Fisher find his way back to Hunter, and can he find the courage to do what his heart wishes?


Excerpt:  Leonardo di Caprio is a Vampire
 “Did you know that Leonardo di Caprio is a vampire?”
            Fisher Roberts stopped in mid-chew of a mouthful of fibrous cereal to cast a wary, disbelieving glance at his best friend and roommate Hunter Long on the other side of the table.  Wary, because he wondered what in the world Hunter was going on about so early in the morning.  Disbelieving, because he only had so much time for breakfast before he had to get going to work, and he had a bad feeling that Hunter was trying to eat into that time.  Why he wanted to do that was beyond Fisher.  Of course, a lot of things about his roommate were beyond Fisher, despite the fact that they’d been friends since they were—well, too young to actually remember how long they’d known each other.  But for as long as Fisher could remember, he and Hunter had been best buddies.  And he’d learned over the years that, with Hunter, longevity did not equate to knowledge-ability, far from it.
            Now, Fisher could react in one of two ways.  He could ignore his roommate and keep eating.  Pretend he’d heard nothing.  But from past experience, that would only cause Hunter’s performance to escalate.  Which would entail taking more time to decipher what he was saying, and in the process make Fisher even later to work.   Or he could simply bow down to the inevitable and give in by asking him the question he was doubtless waiting to hear.  Even if it brought about that smug smirk he was so fond of wearing.
            Fisher finished chewing, swallowed, and managed not to roll his eyes as he reached for his juice to kill off what was left in the glass.  Waste not, want not.  “What do you mean?”
            Hunter Long might be six foot two and possessed of a body that many a male model would kill for—at least that’s what Fisher heard the girls who flocked around him say—with the palest of blue eyes that twinkled all the time, and a smile that could and did light up a room.  But honestly, he had the capacity to be an overgrown child at times, and this was one of those times.  Fisher chalked it up to it being that time of year.
            “Well,” Hunter replied, “look at him, going on forty, and he looks just like he did what, fifteen years ago?  It only stands to reason he must be a vampire.  They never age, you know.  I mean take a look at us.  We’re almost his age, but over the years we’ll grow up to be little old men and he’ll still be playing sweet baby-faced guys even when he’s collecting social security, know what I mean?”
            “There are no such things as vampires,” Fisher made his typical logical reply, “and just because it’s Halloween tomorrow night, and you’ve got the house all decorated for it, doesn’t mean you have to bring it to the table.  Know what I mean?”  He arched a no-nonsense brow at the other man.  This was not Fisher’s favorite time of year.  Neither was Christmas, come to think of it.  Or any other holiday.  Ironic that he should write articles for a living that meant he was forced to expound on such seasonal topics for Midwest Home and Fantasy, a regional online magazine with a growing fan-base, when he had no real interest in them himself, being a practical, no-nonsense kind of a guy.
            “I’m a vampire.” Hunter smiled, leaning across the table toward Fisher.  “Want to see my fangs?”

4/28/2011

Release Day Give Away- If You Dare!

Release Day Give Away!

6 More Days to Enter! 

Hey, hey friends! The release date for Keeping House, Truth or Dare # 1 looms closer and closer.  May 6th is just around the corner.   

 What better way of celebrating  a new release from a hot series than having a contest and giving away a free copy?

So that got me to thinking.. .and I called in reinforcements in the form of my Lovely Havan.    What sort of contest would be worthy of this series?  And she said with a wicked giggle, "Truth or Dare . . . hmmmmm . . . yep, it's a no-brainer. The enticingly cute main character Mischa is forced to participate in the ‘dare’ part of the game . . . so it is only fitting that the contest be wrapped around that, right?".

So, from today until next Thursday, May 5th, on both Havan's blog and mine, if you make a comment and describe the most outrageous, completely insane, erotically hot or simply stupid dare you’ve ever fulfilled,  you will be entered into a random drawing. On May 5th, we'll combine all the entries and  randomly draw a winner, who will receive their free copy on May 6th.

Here is the blurb for Keeping House and an excerpt to wet your whistle. Now remember, after reading to leave a comment describing your best (or worst *chuckles*) dare to enter yourself into the drawing for a free copy!


Keeping House

Mischa knew his brothers were up to something. 
He didn't know it would lead him to Donovan Holloway and change his carefree lifestyle forever.


Donovan Holloway, advertising executive, newly made vice president of the company where he's worked for twenty years, grew up in a free love hippie commune, taking care of the parents who should have been taking care of him. He's worked hard to put himself through school and achieve the American dream. All he's ever wanted was a normal family life—house in the suburbs, two cars, two kids, a shaggy dog. A family to come home to—to care for, and to care for him.

Mischa Blake is the green eyed, liberally-pierced, black-haired, Mohawk-wearing spoiled youngest son of a Hollywood producer and his actress wife. Mischa has made a terrible mistake. In a fit of childish pique, he's accepted a dare from his older brothers. The dare? Live on his own, supporting himself completely for a year without accessing his trust fund. No problem. Except Mischa has never worked a day in his life, hasn't finished college, and has absolutely no skills that he can bring to the table. 

So when he sees Donovan's ad for a housekeeper/gardener, he has nothing to lose by applying, because really...how hard can it be?



EXCERPT



"So, tell me why you want to work for me." That should give him pause.

"I don’t. My brothers dared me to get a job, and it’s been a lot harder than I expected. I just came from a McDonalds where the manager had a guy with a BS cleaning the toilets and an MBA flipping burgers. The economy sucks." Mischa sounded dejected.

"Ahh." He wanted a job on a dare? What the hell? Who told a prospective employer they didn’t want to work for them? "Let me tell you a little about the parameters of the job.”

Mischa gazed at him quietly, waiting. Maybe the daunting aspects of the task would send the kid the way of the first applicant. "You’ll be responsible for preparing meals. I eat breakfast at six, daily, take a boxed lunch to work, and expect a minimum of a three course dinner. Sometimes I have guests, and occasionally dinner parties." He didn’t really, but threw out the possibility anyway. For a moment, he was distracted by the amusing vision of a room full of elegantly clad clients and coworkers staring in horror as a Goth-garbed Mischa, hair spiked and piercings glittering in the candlelight announced that dinner was served.

"Got it. Cooking. I can do that." Mischa seemed to be trying to convince himself as much as Donovan of that fact.

"You’ll have to do the shopping. I don’t have time for things like that. Then there’s the cleaning. I expect the house to be spotless at all times." He assiduously ignored the fact that the house was currently anything but clean.

Mischa wasn’t inclined to be so kind, though. He glanced pointedly around the kitchen, at the stack of dirty dishes in the sink, the debris from several takeout meals on the counter tops, and the unpacked boxes of kitchenware. "Ok. Clean. I can do that."

"I need the house put together, too. The boxes," he waved around, "unpacked and stuff put away. The walls painted, furniture ordered and assembled and put in place."

Mischa looked shocked. "You trust me to decorate your house?"

"No. I have the plans here." He thumped the red leather-bound album that held the dream house drawings he’d labored on over the years on the marble counter. "I need my housekeeper to coordinate the workmen, decorators, deliveries and so on."

More nods. "I can do that."

Donovan stared helplessly at the kid. Stop calling him kid. It’s too pervy. What else? "References? Do you have references?"

Mischa bent over and the tight black t-shirt rode up as the skinny jeans inched down. Damn. All that creamy white flesh, hairless and smooth tempted him to reach out and touch, to examine the texture and resiliency. He wondered if there were any more shiny piercings hidden under that severe black garb.

"Hey," Mischa was waving a handful of papers in front of his face, and Donovan flushed slightly. Could Mischa tell he’d been staring inappropriately at his exposed skin?

"I’ll, ahh, I’ll keep these. I need to call on them later." He searched desperately for something, anything to turn the kid-man off the idea of working for him. Recalling the indignation and vitriol of the second applicant, he took a shot in the dark and threw it out there. "I’m gay."

No response.

"I said I’m gay, a homosexual, a flamer."

No response. Just inquiring green eyes locked on his face. Someone must have told the kid–man that eye contact was important.

"I sleep with other men?" Shit now he was making statements as questions.

The pierced brow rose slightly at that in an enigmatic gesture, but no response was forthcoming.

"This is a live in position. You don’t mind working for and living with a gay man?”

Finally, Mischa smiled. Donovan’s heart lurched at the sexy sweetness of that smile. The tiny silver hoop in his lower lip glinted seductively. Wonder how that piercing would feel when he pressed his lips to Mischa’s? It certainly drew attention to the swollen plumpness of the full red lower lip. Yeah—he really needed to get laid this weekend.

"No. I don’t mind working for a gay man, as long as you don’t mind hiring one." Mischa’s smile was now a broad grin, and he settled back more comfortably on the barstool, as though he were suddenly making himself at home.

Sudden sympathy overrode Donovan’s concerns. Why not give the kid a chance? If Martin Weston hadn’t hired him to work in the copy room at his company all those years ago despite his being an underage gay hippie he wouldn’t be where he was today. He’d probably regret this, but it looked like the skater-Goth-boy/man had talked himself into a job. And the corporate advertising executive was sentencing himself to a series of cold showers. 

4/26/2011

Recipes I Love ~ Roasted Chicken

Another special recipe from my mom's collection was  Roasted Chicken.  This was standard Sunday evening dinner at our house with roasted red potatoes and carrots and apple pie.  Of course, we couldn't just leave it alone, so it's a bit different than my mom's recipe, she stuffed the cavity of the bird with bread stuffing and seasoned it with sage and onion.  This is a bit different, but wonderfully juicy and flavorful!  
           
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup chicken broth
1 whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 cup butter, cut into 1 tablespoon sized pieces
2  oranges, halved        
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh sage

DIRECTIONS:
1.         Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Pour the chicken broth into a small roasting pan, and set aside.

2.         Loosen the skin from the breasts and thighs of the chicken. Stuff the butter pieces evenly underneath the skin of the chicken, and place into the roasting pan. Squeeze the orange halves over the chicken, and stuff the orange halves into the chicken cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then rub in the minced garlic.  Drizzle the melted butter all over the chicken, then lay the herb sprigs onto the breast and around the legs.  Place bird in pan breast side down. 

3.         Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and baste the chicken with the pan juices. Continue cooking until the chicken is no longer pink, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F (74 degrees C), 1 to 2 hours. Twenty minutes before end of cooking time, turn the bird upside right and allow to brown.  Baste the chicken every 10 to 15 minutes after you uncover it. Once cooked, allow the chicken to rest out of the oven for 10 minutes before slicing.

Calculate your cooking time at twenty minutes per pound for a whole bird.  

Be Yourself

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~e.e. cummings, 1955