Saturday, May 9, 2015

Ireland, (and a few other places) at LAST! Part 1: Galway, a few cliffs and a castle...


Dreams come true. Sounds like a Disney movie(actually, I think it IS a Disney movie, lol), but it's truth. Last month, a lifelong dream for me came true.

Ireland.

At LAST.

To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. I was also terrified, nervous as hell and ready to bolt. But on the morning of April 8th at 8:00am, my feet touched Irish soil at last. Then I had to drive to Galway. On the wrong side of the road. After no sleep for, oh about 24 hours or so. How do they prepare you for driving in a foreign country, backwards from everything you're used to?

Hertz agent: Well then, here are your keys. Mind the roundabouts. (points to a diagram on the windshield.) Safe travels.


Yeah, thanks for that, love. lol (Honestly he was very kind, even though my GPS never worked.)

It really wasn't so bad. On the main road. 

Irish drivers are fairly patient. Waaay more polite than even Minnesota drivers. I never once got flipped off, though I did glimpse a few eye rolls. Then I hit Galway. 

Which way do I turn? 

Why do all the signs have to be in Gaelic and then English? Yes, I am a big supporter of the Irish getting their heritage back, but now I am here and I need to find my goddamn B&B before I pass out. 

Why do the lights go yellow before they go green?! Okay, now I got that figured out, but why does everyone signal the wrong way? 

I gave up. And called the B&B. Now, I understand most Irish accents pretty well. But they are a couple where I am not even sure they are really speaking English or just pretending. 

The lady on the phone had one of the hard accents. And my phone was about to die. Oh, yay. 

Then I made out, 'Stay put and we'll come get you.'

A half an hour, and a fair amount of road work later, I was hauling my luggage out of the rental. (After I figured out how to open the trunk..boot...whatever.It finally gave up its secrets, so I don't care what it's name is.)

After an amazing late morning tea, courtesy of the sweetest host ever. (Mary O'Brien, I loved you at the first sip of coffee!)

It was off to explore Galway. Sans car. I took the bus. Much quicker. Trust me. 

It was GORGEOUS. Sunny, about 60 F. (there was snow on the ground when I left Duluth!) I was in heaven. Half the town was at harbour. People watching was fun. There were kayakers and parachuters. Everyone is very thin and seems to smoke a lot. And yes, lots of redheads. And lovely accents. I just sat on the harbour wall for hours and soaked in the sun.





I also had my first pint of Guinness in Ireland(tourist tip, it takes two pours to fill a pint properly, be patient!) This was at Brogan's, off the Galway town centre. 


Also overheard a couple of hilarious conversations in the pub:

"Yer bloody British, so shut it!"
"Its not British, its English. And I'm from Yorkshire, damnit."
"That's fucking worse."

Back at the B&B I talked politics with Mary's husband. A dangerous propostion in Ireland. He abused the English happily for a bit then laughed ruefully, "But sure if having our own in charge is much better. They're all crooks and thieves." 

Politics, I guess, is rather a universal language.

My hosts had a 'removal' to go to that night. My confused look must have said it all, so Mary said gently, "You'd say wake." I learned very quickly that the rites of family are a huge part of Irish culture. A few days later, I came upon a funeral procession, every car in the roadway pulled aside and stopped until the last car passed. Every time I turned around, someone was talking about a wedding, or a 'hen party' (the Irish version of a bachlerette party, which I gather is far move involved.)  

I hit the hay gratefully, sunburned, exhausted and happy. FYI, you go to Galway, stay at 
Anach Cuin Bed & Breakfast

The next day. More driving. Oh joy. I learned to despise tour buses. Loathe. Hate. I wanted to learn Gaelic just so I could swear at them properly. See, Irish roadways put new meaning to the word 'NARROW'. 

Tour bus drivers don't care, they fly down themost hemmed in sheep path and you either head for the diitch or end up smeared on their windshields. 

I took a break for sanity's sake on a mountainside overlooking the Burrens. This somewhat desolate but lovely land is has more of an effect that pictures con convey. Deep, peaceful and contemplative. All is right with the world. 



And enterprise is still a part of it, even way out here. These Irish kids were waiting in a look out point, and as soon as I excited my car, they started playing. They were quite good, too.


A few tour buses and cursewords later, I had arrived at my destination. Words fail me. I used this place as a pivotal scene in one of my books. But seeing it in real life...breathtaking doesn't even cover it.

The Cliffs of Moher(with a side of O'Brien's Tower)


There is beautiful and then there is make-your-heart-hurt happy, drop-dead right now and I-wouldn't even-care gorgeous. The Cliffs of Moher is both. The other side of that ocean laps on America's shores. It was surreal in the extreme.


Me and my thumb were very happy!

On the way to the Cliffs, in between fearing for my life, I had noted a cute little town and my first castle! (sqee!) On the way back, I stopped.  The town is Kinvara and the castle is Dunguaire. The first shots of the Easter Rising were said to be fired at Kinvara, but it is a peaceful spot these days.





Legend says if you ask a question at the gate of the tower, you'll have your answer by day's end. No, I didn't ask, but if I did, would I tell you? :)




Next stop: Donegal, more castles and the North. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sex Type Thing

Okay, so I was going to write about Ireland this week and give you all a bunch of pictures, but the slide show is gonna have to wait.



Oh, you'll live. lol So why no Ireland fun?

Because I have a bug up my butt, that's why. A dilemma, if you will. Something I have noted for awhile now, but as I get older it is becoming annoying enough I feel the need to swat that sucker and crush it underfoot.



What is this pain in my ass, you might ask? Well, as it happens, it’s about sex. More specifically women and sexuality in romance. And the whole what makes a 'good girl' in romance novels. Or a ‘respectable’ woman. Somehow this is never as issue with the guys, is it? Male MCs can be manwhores all day long and twice on Sundays. There are even specific tropes about the ‘manslut’ or rake, etc.



So basically if a man can't keep it in his pants, he's still hero material, but god forbid a woman opens her legs too easily or too often. Not only can she not be a heroine, at least without a tiresome redemption story, she gets regulated to the 

‘washed up’ 

                            ‘hard’ 
                        
                                                  or ‘jaded’ girl. 

The bad girl, or sad girl, the one we are supposed to pity, but secretly feel superior to.





Men are told to be proud of themselves if they have a lot of lovers and women are taught to ashamed,



Thank you, Jack! My sentiments exactly!!

Now, no, all romance authors aren’t guilty of this. But precious few break the mold. The catalyst for this blog was my recent read of  Law Man, by Kristen Ashley. She's an amazing, successful author and a good one. But while I mostly really enjoyed the book, something kept nagging at me,a background of annoyance even while I was loving the romance and the characters. Then after I finished it, it hit me. 



Why the hell is it that it kept having to be stated that the female MC has had so few lovers, and that she doesn’t take a man to bed easily.

Excuse me, why can’t women take a man to bed easily if we damn well want? What’s to say once in awhile a woman just doesn’t want a straight-up fuck? Or more than once in awhile even?



Maybe you got kids at home and you aren’t interested in exploring the complications of a relationship, but you def could use some stress relief. Maybe you are loving being single, and aren’t interested in giving that up? Hell, maybe you just have a damn itch you want to scratch…or several of them?

Why the hell does a woman need to edit the number of her partners, but a man doesn’t? 

Why is an explanation of her sexual history needed in romance, but by and large, a man’s isn’t? 

Why is a woman who has a lot of experience viewed as having low self esteem, or self respect issues? 

What, you can’t respect the hell out of yourself and want to get laid as often as you like?


Argh!! Particularly in this day and age, when health and pregnancy safety is relatively easy to ensure, why is this still such an issue in our heads and even our fantasies? Yes, some woman DO have issues with sex and seek it just for the illusion of intimacy and acceptance. Of course. 

Guess what, so do some men.

But some woman also are healthy, vibrant and successful…and just like to fuck a lot. What’s wrong with that?  And who are we as readers, or writers, to perpetuate such an ugly, damaging stereotype. Does that mean to look down on the so-called good girls? 



Hell NO!!

Here’s a wild thought….

Can we just not look down on anyone? Whether you have had one lover in your life or upwards of fifty, whatever. Your sex life should be only your own to judge.


Personally, as a writer, in most cases I don’t make a lot of either my H or h’s sexual history. Some are more experienced. Some are less. I try not to define my characters exclusively by either. But it is sure to be a trigger in my lastest work, because the h in question is a succubus, who has rather unique perspective on sex. 

She doesn’t feel guilt for having had  lots of sex and she doesn’t understand why humans do. Getting a handle of her is a bit difficult for our human H, but believe me, he learns a lot. (and I don’t mean in the bedroom, though that too, lol) 

Admittedly, my character is half demon, doesn’t have to worry at all about STDs and has very little reason to fear men overpowering her (as if). So in other words, fantasy, like all romance really. But even in PNR you see these clich├ęs perpetuated and I for one, am damn sick of it. 

'Kay, rant over now.


But feel free to let me know your thoughts on this topic and any irritating examples you have seen. Or great books that turn this steroetype on it's ear.

Ta-ta for now, and have fun. in the bedroom and out. ;)


Monday, April 20, 2015

RISING STARS, INDIE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: PIPPA DACOSTA(!!!!)

Happy Monday, peeps!!!
Isn't wonderful to be back at work?


Okay, okay, don't hurt me. Jeez! I bet my Monday sucked worse than yours because *I* just got back from my recent trip to Ireland, the Isle of Man & London(more about that soon) on Saturday.

*sigh*

It was hard to come home, but great to see my kids & sleep in my own damn bed.

Getting up this morning was definitely no fun though.

But.....
            I had a leetle secret

                       to help me get through the day. :D


I'm trying something new on my blog. You wanna know what it is, do ya? Huh??

Do you?







HUH?


Okay, okay----I got the chance to interview one of my FAVORITE AUTHORS EVER!!!!! 




                     ********************************
Pippa DaCosta is the author of the AMAZING Veil Series, the best Urban Fantasy series I have ever read. The kick-ass and often times heart-breaking story of half-demon Muse, this story is can't miss for UF lovers. If you haven't checked it out yet, get on it!!! 

(Links to Pippa's page follow the interview) Without further ado, let's get to it!                     ********************


The Veil Series recently hit a major milestone, over 10,000 copies sold! For any author, that has got to feel amazing, but for an indie, it must be especially sweet. Any advice for those 

who would love to follow in your footsteps?



PIPPA: Gosh, when I started this crazy journey I was happy to sell ten. A year, and over 10,000 sales later, I’m still amazed. I think marketing and persistence are key. A lot of authors fail by uploading their book to Amazon and expecting miracles overnight. Your book can be the next big thing, a modern classic, the ending might be mindblowing, but without marketing and persistence, it’ll soon get buried by the bazillion other books on Amazon, and your masterpiece will flounder. 

Your readers need to find you. And they are out there, but you have to help them. Take off your author hat, and put on a marketing one. Research your audience, find out what they like, roll your sleeves up, and go find them. This doesn’t mean stalking them on Goodreads (DON’T DO THIS). And it doesn’t mean spamming your book on Twitter (DON’T DO THIS). You will need to pay for promotional adverts, run freebie promos, do blog tours, be professional and approachable. FIND YOUR AUDIENCE. Once you’ve found that sweet spot, your readers will spread the word, but again, don’t go expecting miracles. It takes time. Don’t give up. 

Oh, and write more books. 



You are releasing City of Fae with a major publisher, Bloomsbury. (Congrats, by the way!) 

Was that a hard decision to make, as a successful indie author?

PIPPA: Thank you! 

I see it as a natural progression. Bloomsbury Publishing has been around since the early 80’s. They’re an international company with offices all over the world. They have clout (They publish Harry Potter, I mean, c’mon!). For example, Bloomsbury has just sold the rights for City of Fae to Random House Germany, who’ll be publishing City of Fae in paperback next year. They have connections, that little ol’ me at my desktop computer just can’t make. 

But, no, it wasn’t an easy decision to make. They initially approached me for the Veil Series, and I couldn’t bring myself to let go of my baby. That was one of the most difficult decisions of my life; to say no to Bloomsbury. But, remember persistence? I knew they wanted fantasy. I had an idea brewing, and approached them with crazy pitch about the fae living under London. 

The rest, as they say, is history. 



As all readers of the Veil series are painfully aware of, you come up with some truly stunning plot twists. 
Do you outline those sucker punches well in advance of the actual writing or do they just come to you during the process?

PIPPA: I have an overall story arc when I start a project like the Veil Series, but much of the time the characters themselves surprise me. None moreso than Akil. 

That SOB talked me around in circles. Just when I thought I had a handle on him, he’d drop a bombshell and blow my plans out the water. He definitely enjoyed watching me squirm, and swear, and rewrite, to suit HIM. I’ve never loved to hate a character more. 


But, outside of Akil, I’d ask myself what readers would expect to happen, and then do the opposite. I’m evil like that. 


Yes, you ARE!! lol 

You are also a British author, but you chose to set the Veil series very vividly in Boston, Massachusetts, here in the States. Akil especially, really adores Bean Town and lots of the demons seem to agree with him. 

Why Boston in particular and do you know something we don’t?

PIPPA: I holidayed in Boston a few years ago, right after my Dad died of cancer. The city resonated with me at a time when my heart and head were healing. The juxtaposition of sparkling highrises and ramshackle river huts got under my skin. It was my first taste of America, and I fell in love with 
the friendly neighborhood feel. 

Muse does a lot of healing and self-discovery in Boston. She thinks of the city as her home, and later comes to realize how important that is to her. As for Akil, he’s as old as dirt, and yet somehow exquisitely modern; just like Boston. 



Okay, as an author myself, I know how hard it is to choose between your ‘babies’, but c’mon, you MUST have a favorite, so tell us:  Stefan or Akil?












PIPPA: Oh, geez. I always get asked this, and I really can’t answer for certain. The two guys are so very different. Stefan wants to be the good guy, he wants to be the lover, not the fighter, but as we know, events don’t quite work out for him. Akil starts out as the typical villain, and along the way, ends up walking the line between good and bad. If I had to be honest, I’d say give me Akil for a night; we’d have a wild time, but he’s not a keeper. Stefan on the other hand, he deserves a happy ending, even if half-bloods don’t get happy endings. 

Don’t tell Akil I said that.



Don't worry, we'll keep mum. :)
As much as I love, love, love the Veil series, you have a lot of other projects going on right now. City of Fae (May 7th) and Girl From Above (April 29th) are both releasing soon. Can 
you tell me a little about both? 


PIPPA: City of Fae is a new adult fantasy, which basically means the protagonist is 19, and discovering what it means to be in charge of her future. As readers of my work will know, this usually means she’s about to be put through the wringer. Throw in a sexy fae rockstar (readers have compared 
him to Anne Rice’s Lestat, which I love!), a queen right out of spider-infested nightmares and a whole heap of dark secrets, mix them up with some gritty London, and you’ve got one hell of a wild-ride.

 Girl From Above is an urban sci-fi romance
(yes, I made that up), that is to say I’m bringing some urban fantasy awesomeness to the sci-fi genre. The main character, #1001, is sent to kill a smuggler captain, Caleb. Caleb, fresh out of prison, sees her as his next meal ticket. The mayhem ensues when #1001 remembers when she was human, and what Caleb did to her. Girl From Above is darker and dirtier than my previous works, but also a lot of fun.



You and I have talked a bit about your decision to write Girl From Above, which is science fiction. City Of Fae is NA UF and the Veil series is of course, UF. It seems you are a ‘variety is the spice of life’ writer, which I adore. What are the challenges & rewards of working in different genres? 
And do you have a favorite?

PIPPA: I write what I love. I grew up watching Buffy, Farscape, and Supernatural etc. So these genres feel like old friends. After the Veil Series, I needed to clear my head. I was between projects when I decided I wanted to throw caution to the wind and write sci-fi. The challenge is keeping each ‘world’ fresh. I always said I could only work on one project at a time, but that’s obviously not true. It’s easier to work on one project at a time, but limiting too. While I have a book with an editor, I need to be working, so I’ll start on something else, or return to a previous project. 


But, hopping in an out of stories like this can often ‘bleed’ elements from one book into another. Editing usually catches these slip-ups, but it is a challenge. The main reward is reaching new readers. I might write in different genres, but my style remains the same, so I hope to bring sci-fi to urban fantasy readers, and urban fantasy readers to sci-fi. 

So I have to ask, because I know I’m hardly the only one
wondering - have we really seen the last of Muse? 
Also, in the same vein, we have the prologue in Book #4 & a small bit of Book #5 from Akil’s POV. Both were stunning, any plans to do a full-length novel from his perspective?

PIPPA: Akil’s prologue was a few hundred words, and that was difficult enough to write. His head is not a nice place to be. He’s super-complex, multi-layered, and 100% demon. I don’t think he’d let me write his story, and even if I did, I’m not sure it’s one readers would want to read. I never say never, but I don’t know if I could tell Akil’s story. 

I do have plans to explore the five years he 
spent away from Muse prior to Beyond The Veil, Book 1 in the Veil Series, but this will likely be from Nica Harper’s (Stefan’s sister) point of view. It will feature Stefan, Ryder, Sam (Muse’s ‘brief’ boyfriend), and of course, Akil. 


As to if we’ve seen the last of Muse? We’ll have to wait and see ;)

*sigh* 
Okay, one last question for fun, you’re a big Supernatural fan, so if Dean pulled up right now in the Impala and said, “Don’t ask questions, just get it the car.” Would you do it? ;)

PIPPA: Does he have pie?


Of course I’d do it. :D



Bye, Pippa!!!

***********
Find all Pippa's amazing books on her Amazon page(including the amazing Veil series:




And stay tuned for MORE indie author spotlights. 

             COMING SOON!!!