Monday, October 31, 2011

That Monster in your Mind

I was asked to be a guest blogger over at Bookish Delights Halloween Carnival, so I thought I'd post what I had to say here as well. (But if you're thinking of just staying here to read it, be warned that they have contests with prizes over there.)

Hey all! I'm really excited to join this Halloween carnival! What could be better than a whole holiday that celebrates zombies, vampires, witches and monsters? I thought I'd take this opportunity to chat about a monster-type topic that's a little out of the ordinary: namely mind control.
Don't worry. I'm not going to make you do anything against your will. If I could do that, my kids would be eating their veggies.
But the premise of mind reading and mind control is a delicious one for writers. I like to think of it like this: the creepiest part of any story is just before the bad guy arrives—when the scary music starts and a door creeks and the good guy's pulse begins to race and you know something's about to happen but you don't know what.
But when mind control is involved, that monster never shows up. The hero can't stab anyone through the heart or pull a gun or even run away. Because the villain is in his head. And there's no way to fight him or even know who he is.   
Mind control happens to be a major theme in ExtraNormal, where inhabitants from the planet Nreim use their own electro-magnetic energy to chat with one another in pretty much the same way we use cell phones. The problem is, we mere humans don't know what to do with someone showing up in our head to have a chat. Which means the residents of Nreim could potentially just come on in and help themselves to our puny little brains.
Not that anyone would do that, would they? Yeah, of course they would, otherwise the story would be boring. And I'm in big trouble if it's boring.
Anyway, Happy Halloween all. Peace, love and safe brains.
Now go eat your vegetables.

Happy Halloween! Family Flick Time...What to Choose?

Top on my To Do List today is to head the video store to grab a Halloween movie for the fam before they all disappear off the shelves. While waiting for the store to open, I've been perusing possible titles.

This can't be straight horror, since tweeners and squeamish twenty-somethings are invited. (Not to mention squeamish slightly-older folks).

But we also can't do Halloween Town or the like since horror-fan twenty-somethings are also part of the group.

So is there such a thing as a Halloween movie that will please both crowds?

Following are the titles I'm considering.

1. Alfred Hitchcock movies such as: Rear Window, Psycho, & The Birds - I know, old. And corny. But you just can't get creepier. Besides, the old-time cinematics incredibly entertaining.

2. Wait until Dark - Old again. But the definition of a classic. Hepburn is the perfect combination of a vulnerable and tough heroine, and you just can't help both fear and cheer for her.

3. Signs & The Sixth Sense - My horror peeps tell me these arenb't scary enough, but they are good entertainment. And since we're trying to please both crowds it might be a good fallback.

4. Ghostbusters, Nightmare Before Christmas & Hocus Pocus - Comedies with a bit of creep that would definitely please the tweener in the group. But only the horror fans if they're in a giving mood.

5. (I'm going out on a limb with these:) Scream & Van Helsing - I've never seen either one, and they are rated as horror. But I've heard they may be campy enough to not cause psychological damage to our tweener. Any opinions? Any other ideas?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Remarkable Reads Author Interview

Here's that author interview I was talking about over at Remarkable Reads. Sandra did a great job and left me all blushing and happy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Finding Myself and Kinda Freaking Out About It

Wow this book promotion stuff is crazy. It's like the circus part of the writing business. Writing is quiet and solitary. Promoting is busy and friendly. I guess it's good to have the balance, but I'm still adjusting.

I just got my manuscript back from my editor. She loved it, which is such a relief. She mostly just had comma issues. Since I tend, to use those, a lot, and in the wrong, places. Though my daughter is a tougher critic, and I'm still waiting on her final critique. She's not bothered by bad punctuation, but by things that don't make sense or sound lame. Which is also pretty important. So I'm happy to have them both.

But now I'm feeling the crunch. I've got to get the arc copies ready and off to those who are waiting before they lose interest. I also need to make a book trailer. And a cute little grab button. Maybe some swag. (I've got the perfect thing--twine friendship bracelets. It'll make awesome sense after you read the book.) And last night I had an idea for a couple of video blogs. And a whole new series that I'd like to draft before I forget...

As you can see I'm having a hard time focusing. But it's not just because there's so much to do. It's more because I know I'm being watched. And to keep it with a Halloween theme, it's kind of freaking me out.

Now please don't misunderstand. I love readers. And reviewers. I love feedback, even if it's negative. What I don't love is attention. I think it's one of the great ironies of being a writer--you have to have the kind of personality that doesn't mind sitting unnoticed and all by yourself for hours and days and even months at a time. But in order to have your stuff read you have to wave your arms around and say "Hey look at me! I'm totally awesome!" I suppose there are some authors who don't mind that so much, but I think for most of us it's kind of painful.

And frankly since I'm starting from scratch with ExtraNormal (I'll be explaining that in an upcoming post, so stay tuned) I feel like I've got to wave my arms real hard. I mean, I have like a half-dozen followers on my new blog. I've tried to get the followers on the other blog to make the leap, but they're not YA followers, so it's okay, I understand. But because of my low friend/fan/follower numbers I've been feeling pretty anonymous. Just me and my book in the back of a very crowded room. Which is just fine with me.

But that was before I noticed that I'm being noticed. First it was GoodReads. (Love, love, love GoodReads by the way.) A week or so ago GoodReaders started adding ExtraNormal to their shelves left and right. After that Google Alerts starting going off like crazy. Lists, recommendations. Ones that total strangers who just love the cover and the concept were making. Totally awesome. And freaky.

So I've spent most of my morning (which as you remember was supposed to be spent working on my manuscript), tracking down all the mentions I've had in the last week or so.

First I ought to do a plug for Bookish Delights, who have invited me to be a guest blogger as part of their All Hallows Eve carnival. They've got contests and prizes, so make sure you check it out!

But then there's all these other lists made up by people who are excited to read ExtraNormal. Which makes me so happy. But also, like I said, a little freaked. Because I feel like I'm moving up to the front of the room where people will notice what I do. Yes, I know. You're shaking your head and saying, "That is the point of promotion Suze, get over it." I do realize that. Really. And I'm really glad people are finding me without me having to go out and brag myself up. But it's stll not quite as cozy as anonymous.

I may have missed some. But here's the general idea:

Amazing, isn't it?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Author Interview Part One: Suze Reese & ExtraNormal

I've been finding myself and ExtraNormal all over the web, which is both exciting and a little nerve-racking. Since all this media hopping is keeping me hopping, I'm thinking maybe I'll be allowed a little cheat. I just gave an interview to Remarkable Reads, and thought I'd post bits and pieces of it here while we're waiting for the full interview. Here's question number one (the basic one): 

1. What can you tell us about your book ExtraNormal?
Someone recently referred to ExtraNormal as genre bending, which I kind of like. I generally call it YA paranormal romance, but it also has elements of science fiction, adventure, and even humor. And romance. I think I said that already but that's importance enough to say twice.

Mira Johns is from the planet Nreim, visiting the newly-discovered planet Earth as the first-ever representative of the student emissary program. She's supposed to just blend in and observe. Her trainer tells her that her mediocrity is her best quality for the assignment, which doesn't exactly boost her confidence. She has hundreds of rules to follow, most of which involve various ways of saying she should stay away from males. She assumes that will be easy, since their primitive pheromones are nauseating. But there are two boys that make the rules pretty much impossible to follow—one because of his cruelty and the other because of his intrigue. The romance with the second complicates her life in ways she'd never imagined. Eventually she realizes the awful truth that the two of them may not survive separation, yet could very well be terminated if their relationship is revealed. It also becomes clear that Mira was selected for the assignment for a reason, and that it is more than a simple sight-seeing trip. The end is a fast-paced and complex rush to discover the source of threats against Mira's friends, and figure out the reason she was selected, all while keeping her romance a secret.

There many more questions, so stay tuned until the full interview shows up on Remarkable Reads!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Belated Blog Action Day Post

There are thousands of posts out there that start by saying "Today is Blog Action Day" or "World Food Day". And there are a few that say "Sunday was Blog Action Day or World Food Day." I'm in that second group. A little late, but still there, right? (I've never been famous for my promptness.)

I don't have any profound, save-the-world kind of commentary, but I do have some thoughts on the subject of food and world-wide implications. At least fictional ones. When I began making plans in my novel ExtraNormal for my main character Mira to travel from the planet of Nreim to Earth, I realized that food had to be one of her major transitions. And as I pondered the possible implications of a different food system on not just Mira but on Nreim, the possibilities became endless.

Food has the power to be its own Marvel Comic-worthy multi-faceted and multi-faced super hero and  villain all wrapped up into one. In excess we turn into near-combustible rolly pollies. But with deprivation,  the unthinkable and unacceptable happens.

Food keeps most of us occupied throughout every hour of every day of our lives, as we each attempt to strike the perfect balance between intake and deprivation in order to adequately provide for our physical, emotional, and social well-beings. When we strike the wrong balance, and most of us do at one time or another, the results can be disastrous. When a nation fails to provide the correct balance, entire races of people can suffer.

And it is with this dilemma that the first hint of Nreim's dystopic society are introduced in ExtraNormal. I think I'll post a bit of a scene from when Mira gets her first taste of earth food, since it shows both Mira's and Nreim's dilemmas better than I can tell them. (Warning: this excerpt has not yet been through my brilliant editor's hands).

"I'd ignored the cheeseburger as long as I could. I picked it up again, and did possibly the most rebellious thing of my entire seventeen years of life.

I took a bite.

And moaned with pleasure. I rolled the juicy meat around in my mouth, reveling in the unfamiliar texture on my tongue. I swallowed. Then immediately filled my mouth again, tears forming in my eyes. I savored the juice that splashed against the inside of my cheek, the smooth texture of the melted cheese.

Then I looked up. Three sets of eyes watched me. I grinned, realized how disgusting I must look, and clamped my mouth shut.

Until my arrival on this planet yesterday, my nutrition had come in the form of a cube, ingested five times daily. The development of the cube as a nutrition source was hailed as the single most important advancement of all mankind. It would normally take dozens of generations to implement such a drastic change, but somehow the brilliant geneticists on Nreim had done it in only four. The cube had wiped out many major illnesses and freed a multitude of valuable economic resources. Not to mention all the good it supposedly did for the goal of purified genetics. At least that's what they taught us in school.

I shoved three fries in my mouth and decided that the cube was, in reality, a wide-scale tragedy of untold proportions."

The novel, or this excerpt, are not intended as political commentary. Just a few moments of fun escapism. But if there is a commentary to be made, perhaps it is simply to be careful what you wish for. Solving one problem can create ten others. I don't offer up solutions to the problem of world hunger, though I wish I could. The best I can do is to not suggest the cube.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

'Scuse Me, There's an Alien in My Paranormal

When I was back in the idea stage of my novel ExtraNormal, I very comfortably considered the genre to be YA paranormal romance. I worked on it for months with that in mind. It wasn't until I got into the marketing stage that I realized my choice of genres might be a tad bit scandalous. Okay, maybe not scandalous. But at least not completely black and white.

My first hint was when I started a search for bloggers and book groups who follow paranormal romance. I came across greetings that went something like this: "This group is for fans of romance books that feature werewolves, vampires, fairies, angels, shape shifters, mermaids, mermen, monsters, robots, Bigfoot, ghosts, creepy clowns, telepaths, unicorns, purple frogs, pink furry bunnies, and gnomes.

Seriously there was one group that had an entire page with links of each category like the ones listed above. Like fifty of them. And do you think one of those links was aliens? Or even extraterrestrials? Nope. Tooth fairy yes. Aliens no.

I have to admit that at first I was a little huffy.

I mean, like, what the? Are they saying they don't like aliens or what? We're talking PARANORMAL here! P-A-R-A-N-O-R-M-A-L. The word was made popular during the whole Roswell controversy thing many many decades ago. We all know what that is, right? Little green men supposedly came for a visit and the government supposedly covered it up. People converged on the place. Groups were formed dedicated to uncovering the truth. Paranormal groups. Ask anybody. Aliens are paranormal. They just are.

 I pranced around all wanting to pick a fight like that for a while. But then my rational side kicked in and I decided I'd better calmly figure this thing out. So I did a search for aliens in paranormal romance, and came up with group discussions that went like this: 

Q: Are there any good paranormal romance books that have aliens?
A: Uh, no. You'll have to look for futuristic romance.


Q: I'm trying to find a paranormal romance with aliens.
A: I think you mean science fiction. Bozo.

And on it went. (By the way, while I have no problem with the genre of science fiction, it is not my genre. And while I might kind of like Star Wars, and even possibly Star Trek, it's just not where I hang. That's my husband's domain (A computer programmer, of course. Not that that's geeky. It's actually very sexy. Even if he does watch Doctor Who incessantly.) But I digress, and I'm in double parenthesis, which is always a bad idea. But my point is science fiction is not my first choice in genre labels. And the futuristic thing? Well, ExtraNormal is contemporary, so that doesn't work.)

Plus, I really really like the term paranormal romance because it fits so well with the title. I mean, consider which of these you'd read: 

"Science fiction romance ExtraNormal" 


"ExtraNormal, a paranormal romance". 

No contest, right? I'd totally rather read the second one. Especially if you read it in a deep, dark sexy and mysterious voice. Try it again. Good, hah?

So what's a girl to do? 

More research, of course.

Wikipedia puts paranormal activity into three camps: ghosts & other spiritual creatures; aliens or extraterrestrials; and what they call cryptics, which is basically anything else mysterious. So if aliens are one of three categories of paranormal, why aren't they more accepted in the genre of paranormal romance?

That is the big question. Can aliens fit into the genre of paranormal romance? Is the reason they don't have a strong showing just that the good books haven't been written yet? (Host is the one book that came up frequently in my searches, but interestingly it's not young adult.) Could there be a of a turn off of aliens combined with romance? (I can see how that could make you go eww. But more so than hooking up with cold pale vampires or Bigfoot?) Are aliens suffering from a deep underlying prejudice within our very own society? Can werewolves and monsters be accepted into mainstream but aliens are just too green and creepy?

I don't know. But as an author, my biggest worry is that a fan of paranormal romance will pick up my book and be disappointed with it, simply because the main character is an alien. Honestly, no author wants a reader to be disappointed.

So I'm calling out to all two of you who might stumble across this blog (It's new, the book's new, what can I say?) to answer the questions above.

If you answer please also tell me if it would make any difference to know that my alien, Mira, is not a traditional alien. She is technically from another planet, (a fairly messed up planet) but the folks on her world have the same DNA as the folks on our world. They do have some neat abilities, that one might call telepathy, except Mira doesn't like to call it that since telepathy is unexplained communication and her streaming is just a science-based form of communicating that the folks on our planet haven't figured out. Yet.

Oh, and it's cool.  A cool book with a cool story. And a cool alien.

So there.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New-Age Web Construction

Time used to be, back in the olden-times of the internet, that anyone who wanted a presence set up a website, then sat around dusting the cobwebs off the corners. The website host would offer all kinds of ways to help folks find your site, but unless you were Nike or Coca Cola, odds were good nobody but your mom and Aunt Martha would show up.

But as all good things do, the options began to increase. You could have a blog! And a Facebook presence! And don't forget Twitter for the truly anal media user!

The lucky business owner or just plain person could add those things a little at a time, announcing any new opening to their current collection of fans or friends. Kind of a snowball effect. And rarely ever lonely. Facebook alone makes sure you're never lonely.

But here's how it is when you start from scratch: You have to build your house (ie. blog or website), and the wings of the house (Facebook, Twitter, Google and Goodreads if you happen to be an author). And all those things have to be connected and intertwined. Otherwise you might want to turn on a light in the bathrom but the lightswitch is in the kitchen! (Talk about problems.)

Which means you're running all over the internet blasting all this information, sending links from here to there and everywhere, but there's nobody there to see it. Cause for now it's just a structure. Or a bunch of structures. Where nobody lives or even visits. Which feels kinda lonely. Okay, very lonely.

So even though all the parts aren't completely in place, here's hoping that the first entry in this first blog introducing the FABULOUS Book One of the new young adult paranormal romance ExtraNormal gets the party started!

Cause nothing's as sad as a party where nobody comes. And this party is definitely worth finding! (Never mind the painters and carpet layers, they're just getting the finishing touches on!)

Take a look around, ask your questions, and be watching for a great read coming soon in 2012.