Friday, March 28, 2014

Writing from a Male POV - Guest Post by Rainy Kaye (Plus $50 Gift Card Giveaway)

Here's something that has always fascinated me: authors writing from the perspective of the opposite sex. When you're a man, writing from the viewpoint of a woman takes a little work, and when you're a woman writing from the viewpoint of a man, the same thing applies. Rainy Kaye, author of Summoned - a New Adult paranormal adventure/romance - did exactly that. With her newest novel, she had to get inside the head of her male protagonist, Dimitri. Check out what Rainy had to say about penning tales from a male point of view, and make sure you add her book to your reading pile!

Rainy Kaye:

3 Tips on Writing From a Male POV as a Female Author

It never occurred to me that writing as a male character should be difficult until people asked about it. Then again, I do have a tendency to be pretty clueless.

Those people were usually female writers trying to figure out their own fictional guys. To be fair, my long time interest--and then career path--in IT probably laid the groundwork, and not just for insanity. I've worked in groups that they would have been less surprised for a unicorn to show up instead of a female tech.

We aren't such an anomaly anymore, but I do tend to have quite a few more male acquaintances than female.

Maybe there is some connection between that and why I don't stick to just female protagonists. So I set to work trying to narrow down how to write a male character without resorting to stock frat boys.

Observations. While I am by no means implying men only know primary colors, their box of crayons often end at sixteen instead of twenty-four. Same goes for other descriptions, such as scent. In SUMMONED, Dimitri mentions how Syd smells of coconut. It becomes part of her identity to him. If she changed it up, I would expect him to balk that she smells like flowers, but he probably wouldn't identify it as honeysuckle.

Women. I think women often look at other women differently than a man does--besides for the obvious reasons. Women notice how other women wear their hair, their makeup, their shoes. I've known a scary amount of women who discuss other women's pedicures from a safe, judgmental distance. Gross, right? Men, on the other hand, seem to go for the complete package: if she looks put together, high-maintenance, cracked out, etc. In SUMMONED, Dimitri spends some narrative time on describing Syd, but she intrigues him. The other females around him are analyzed on what their looks convey.

Reaction. Men seem to spend less time than women going through ten thousand possible-but-unlikely scenarios, right down to "what if we find an orphaned orangutan?" Given a problem, he probably wants to provide an answer--even if it creates a new problem. In SUMMONED, Dimitri is so certain he can't help Syd with her issues--he's got a few too many of his own as it is--that he rather just not talk to her about it at all.

This isn't to say all men are created the same. There certainly are men who upgraded to the big set of crayons, and ones who like to pose what-if scenarios. Just like with female characters, it's important to know who your fictional guy is and what makes him tick, and that might include him being able to distinguish patchouli and sandalwood incense.

But the one aspect of writing male characters that I've been asked about the most is *love scenes. SUMMONED contains quite a few explicit scenes, all from Dimitri's perspective. I can't say I approached it any differently than if he were female, except being the fly instead of the fly trap.

Perhaps the real difficulty in writing male characters stems not from understanding how they are different from females, but by not acknowledging how much they are the same.

Synopsis for Summoned:

Twenty-three year old Dimitri has to do what he is told—literally. Controlled by a paranormal bond, he is forced to use his wits to fulfill unlimited deadly wishes made by multimillionaire Karl Walker.

Dimitri has no idea how his family line became trapped in the genie bond. He just knows resisting has never ended well. When he meets Syd—assertive, sexy, intelligent Syd—he becomes determined to make her his own. Except Karl has ensured Dimitri can't tell anyone about the bond, and Syd isn't the type to tolerate secrets.

Then Karl starts sending him away on back-to-back wishes. Unable to balance love and lies, Dimitri sets out to uncover Karl's ultimate plan and put it to an end. But doing so forces him to confront the one wish he never saw coming—the wish that will destroy him.

A dark twist on the genie folklore, SUMMONED follows a reluctant criminal as he unravels the mystery of the paranormal bond controlling him.

Warnings: 18+, adult content, mature themes, strong language, violence.

Pick it up today on AMAZON! 

Summoned is represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA.

Find out more HERE.

About the Author 
Rainy Kaye is an aspiring overlord. In the mean time, she blogs at and writes paranormal novels from her lair somewhere in Phoenix, Arizona. When not plotting world domination, she enjoys getting lost around the globe, studying music so she can sing along with symphonic metal bands, and becoming distracted by Twitter (@rainyofthedark). She is represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA.

Author Links:

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Monday, March 24, 2014

New Adult Mystery Giveaway + Cover Reveal!

Mystery. I don't know about you, but a good mystery always piques my interest. I'm what you might call a mystery fan. Nancy Drew? Yes. MONK? Oh, my goodness, YES! Ellen Mansoor Collier is a great writer friend of mine, and in the last couple of years she has penned some pretty awesome historical fiction/mystery novels in her Jazz Age Mystery series - Flappers, Flasks, and Foul Play and its sequel Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets. You gotta love titles that make alliteration work like that. Her books are set during the Roaring Twenties, when the Prohibition made everybody crazy and glitzy dresses and glamorous women were the norm. It was a romantic time. It was a gritty time. It was the perfect setting for Ellen's books. 

A seasoned writer, Ellen used her experience in the world of journalism and her fascination with Galveston, Texas, to create the story world for Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play. The sequel was released last year, and was equally as enticing, laced with just enough period slang and descriptions to make you feel as if you were really there with the main characters as the events in the novels unfolded. 

Today, you can win a paperback copy of Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets right here on GoodReads. 

But the most exciting news is that Ellen is sharing the first glimpse of the upcoming third installment of her Jazz Age Mystery series with us! Check out the vintage cover art: 
Artist: George Barbier (French Deco Artist)
Summary: After Agent Burton's life is threatened, Jasmine and her brother get tangled up in the dangerous world of high-stakes gambling.

I love the cover! You can get all of Ellen's books on Amazon, available on Kindle for just 2.99 and 3.99! It's a steal, let me tell you! Be sure to add Ellen's books to your to-be-read shelf on GoodReads

About Ellen 
Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in a variety of national magazines. Several of her short stories have appeared in Woman's World. During college summers, she worked as a reporter for a Houston community newspaper and as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries. 

A flapper at heart, she's worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and served on UTmost, the college magazine and as president of WICI (Women in Communications). FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, BATHING BEAUTIES, BOOZE AND BULLETS, released in May 2013. 

She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible. "When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. Finally I had to stop researching and start writing, trying to imagine a flapper's life in Galveston during 
Buy Links:

Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets on Kindle | Flappers on Barnes & Noble | Bathing Beauties on B&N

Until the release of the third installment of Ellen's book, here's the synopsis on her most recent novel, Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets! 

"Boardwalk Empire" meets "Miss Universe" in 1927 Galveston, Texasthe "Sin City of the Southwest." Jasmine ("Jazz") Cross is an ambitious 21-year-old society reporter for theGalveston Gazette who wants to be taken seriously by the good-old-boy staff, but the editors only assign her fluffy puff pieces, like writing profiles of bathing beauties.
Jazz becomes suspicious when she finds out the “Bathing Girl Revue” is also sponsored by the Maceos, hard-boiled Beach Gang leaders and co-owners of the Hollywood Dinner Club, where the girls will perform before the parade and pageant. Worse, her half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis, a speakeasy on a rival gang's turf, asks her to call in a favor from handsome Prohibition Agent James Burton: He wants Agent Burton to raid the Hollywood Club during the bathing beauties dance routine--or risk revenge from the Downtown Gang leader.
Meanwhile, Jazz fends off advances from Colin Ferris, an attractive but dangerous gangster who threatens Sammy as well as Agent Burton.
In the end, she must risk it all to save her friends from a violent killer hell-bent on vengeance. Inspired by actual events.

Writing Belle will let you know when Gold-Diggers, Gamblers and Guns releases. Stay tuned - and keep reading!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (And its Author)

Zombie slayers. I'll be the first to admit that when I hear that term, I picture someone whirling an ax over their head, Abraham Lincoln/ninja style. But what F.J.R. Titchenell has done in her debut YA novel, Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) from Jolly Fish Press, is create a zombie slayer that is unconventional in the tamest of terms. Yes, Cassie Fremont - the protagonist in this zombie tale - just might be the youngest slayer ever. I'm halfway through my review copy at the moment, and I'm delighted that F.J.R. has managed to find such a lighthearted, sarcastic narrative for her main character's story. It makes the zombie scenario fun - even if it is a bit...creepy! 
I was lucky enough to snag an interview with the author, who graciously took the time out of her busy schedule to visit with Writing Belle. 

Welcome! Tell us about yourself, as a person, and as a writer. 
As a person? I'm a pretty boring, happily married, overachieving bookworm and all around geek. I look forward to every moment I spend with my husband, writing together or otherwise, and I wait all year for Halloween.
As a writer, I'm sure all those things come through. I write speculative YA, sometimes funny, sometimes dark, usually at least a little of both with a side of love. I live for stories and what they make people feel.

How did you become interested in writing? 
My life has always been about stories and books. My earliest memories are of the reading circle my parents used to take me to when I was little. I started making up my own stories at the same time I was learning to read. It took me until my late teens to feel confident enough to share any fiction I'd put any real heart into, though. Until then, I spent a while trying out other art forms that didn't make me feel quite so exposed, like theater and music, but they were never a substitute.

Explain the plot of Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I know Of).
Well, Cassie becomes the first zombie slayer by accident and happenstance when she sees the first zombie rise and, because she's a geek, instinctively smashes its brain. She survives the apocalypse because she's being kept in a holding cell by the very confused cops, and when the last traces of organization are gone, she escapes to find her friends barricaded in the resort where their parents would have been... if there were any of their parents left. Most of her friends. Lis is missing, stranded in New York City where she was visiting her father. And "friends" is a loose term for some of the group that's left with Cassie in Hollywood. With nowhere else to go, together they embark on an epic road trip across zombie-infested America to find their lost friend, and along the way, they have to learn to get along, keep their sanity (and sense of humor!), and start their lives over. Cassie and her best friend, Norman, can definitely use the chance to see each other in new light.

The beginning of the book is quite shocking (to me, at least!). How did you manage to keep such a lighthearted tone for your main character in such a dark situation?
As my theater teacher used to say, comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same coin. If someone else slips on a banana peel, that's comedy, if we slip on a banana peel ourselves, that's tragedy. When we see pain, we either want to cry, or we want to laugh, or both. It's a twisted defense mechanism we have, and that Cassie has a lot of, and as a writer, you have a lot of power over which reaction to invite.
Zombies have a lot of inherent silliness that's been forgotten in recent interpretations, especially in YA. Yes, it's very sad that almost everyone's dead and the survivors are running and scrounging for their lives, but they've got what's left of the world to themselves, no jobs, no rules, and lots of gooey, soulless monsters shambling about for often consequence-free action scenes. Those are a big part of why I think zombies appeal to us in the first place, and I didn't want to miss out on that and use them in one more doom and gloom drama. I love The Walking Dead as much as anyone, but it's been done, and it's not the sort of story Cassie was made for.
Comedy alone can only go so far, though. As long as we have enough distance from a story to laugh without any guilt, we can't fully invest in the characters. For a story to resonate emotionally, I believe you have to let the fear and sadness in now and then, at least a little. If you can strike a balance, I find that comedy and drama complement each other rather than clashing, so yes, you will find moments in Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) that get dark and serious too.

How did you get into the mind of your main character? 
She got into mine. Most of the time, I start with a general idea of the kind of character and story I'm writing and have to play around for a while to get a real feel for who this person is, but it wasn't like that with Cassie. She just showed up one day and started off like, "This is why I smashed that guy's head in and what happened next. Are you getting all this down?"

There is a strong sense of sarcasm and humor throughout the narrative. Does it reflect  your personality a little bit? I think we, as authors, put a little bit of ourselves into our work. How would you contrast yourself to your MC? 
Cassie and I certainly do share a wry sense of humor. Hers is a little narrower than my more eclectic (and, I'd like to think, slightly more sophisticated) one. We're both geeks who never had much of a problem talking to the boys but could be better at keeping and relating to our girl friends and (in my high school years) knowing when to make the jump to more than friends with those boys.
We're also both total suckers for the funny guy.
I envy Cassie’s ironclad optimism, though. I obsess over things and let them get me down when she'd just laugh them off even harder.

What's next for you? Are you working on any other writing projects? 
Always. Right now, my husband, Matt Carter, and I have a YA Horror/Sci-Fi series in the works called The Prospero Chronicles. The first book, Splinters, is coming out this fall. It's about two sixteen-year-olds, Mina Todd and Ben Pastor, working to uncover the plot of the shapeshifting, human-impersonating aliens invading their small town, and the unlikely friendship they're forced to build in the process. Mina’s spent her whole life fighting the Splinters. It's all she knows. Ben is new to town and to the paranormal and just wants to live a normal life, but he can't fight his curiosity or his need to do the right thing. Prospero is darker and more serious than Zombie Slayer, but there will be laughs along the way. We can't help it.
On my own, I'm also in the early phases of working on a YA Horror standalone about a teenage actress who volunteers for a medical experiment that's supposed to make cosmetic surgery obsolete. The side effects include cravings for human flesh. Isn't that always the way?

What advice could you offer to new authors who dream of being published?
Read and practice. Read in and out of your genre, and read about writing and publishing too. Practice all parts of the process, especially digesting feedback and editing. Finally, brace for plenty of rejection along the way, and go for it!

Thank you for stopping by! Best of luck with your upcoming release! 
Thanks! And thanks so much for having me!

About F.J.R. Titchenell 

F.J.R. Titchenell is an author of Young Adult Sci-Fi and Horror fiction. She is represented by Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel and currently lives in San Gabriel, California with her husband and fellow author, Matt Carter, and their pet king snake, Mica.

The "F" is for Fiona, and on the rare occasions when she can be pried away from her keyboard, her kindle, and the pages of her latest favorite book, Fi can usually be found over-analyzing the inner workings of various TV Sci-Fi universes or testing out some intriguing new recipe, usually chocolate-related.


Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) is F.J.R. Titchenell’s debut novel, to be released May 6th, 2014. It is a Young Adult Horror-Comedy.