Thursday, March 14, 2013
Author Guest Post: Nicolette Grey
What are your greatest challenges in your writing career?
Promotion, definitely. It’s hard enough to give people your work and let them critique; self-promotion takes nagging to a whole new level. That said, I now have a website, facebook page and email (nicolettegreybooks at yahoo dot com). So I’m trying!
When did you find out that you wanted to be a writer? What inspired you to put pen to paper?
I’ve always wanted to write – I just had a temporary (47 years) case of writer’s block! Then the economy fell apart, work slowed down, and I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands. I figured why not? I sat down at the computer and began a middle-grade story about mermaids and never stopped. It seems that all those years of not writing had served as a catch basin for my imagination. Now, I’m never at a loss for a new story – there are millions of them brewing in my head, just waiting for their turn to hit the paper.
Of your published works, do you have a favorite? Why?
There’s a story I wrote under the name of my alter-ego, called “Tonic Immobility”. The main character is based loosely upon my son (who’s a marine biologist). It’s about a recent college graduate and his associates who work as tank divers in an aquarium and their instant repore with a kid who is watching the show. Of course, there’s tension and tragedy and even a slight love story in the 5,000 word piece. It won a semi-finalist place in a literary competition for short stories last year and was supposed to have been published. I’m still waiting for my author’s copies!
In my “to be published” works, THE GODDESS OF BLACKWATER POND holds a special place in my heart. It’s not my first full-length novel, but it’s the first that I feel is good. I spent so much time weaving the story that I’d almost become my characters by the time I deemed it “done”- and, no, I’m not a serial killer. I must have re-written that book at least five times, tweaking things here and there and adding/ deleting/ adding back the sex and violence! You can’t believe how many agents found this piece of work “distasteful”. I wasn’t writing it to be tasteful, I was writing a suspenseful love story! Anyway, I’m glad it found a home with Hot Ink Press. I couldn’t give up on it no matter how much it bends the rules of societal niceties!
What are your biggest pet peeves for other people's grammar? Are there any mistakes that you find yourself making regularly?
I hate adverbs. The letters L and Y, when used together too often, jar me. It’s one of the first big mistakes I made when I was learning the art of writing and a big no-no as far as legitimate publishers are concerned. That and dialog punctuation. When I began writing 3 ½ years ago, it had been so long since I’d taken an English course that I’d completely forgotten all the rules. And then there’s when to use ‘s versus s - its and it’s, in particular. Seems like a simple thing to get a grasp on because it’s easy to pick up the mistake when others make it…but I’m constantly surprised by how many times I do the same thing, myself.
Do you ever want to go back and edit an older story?
All the time. I’ve found that my best work comes after I shelve a completed story and then pull it out a month or so later. The problem is, I can never wait that long. I’ve submitted many many stories that were rejected - only to completely rework them before submitting them again to a different publication.
Also, there have been a few that I wrote for competitions with word restrictions. Once they were rejected and the word limit was a moot point, I went back and fleshed them out. It’s much harder for me to write flash fiction than longer length pieces. My optimum? 15-20 k. It gives you long enough to fully develop the story and its characters, but not so long that it gets muddled and confused. That said, I truly enjoy full-length novels, as well…it’s amazing how something that could have been dashed out in 20,000 words deepens and richens with the addition of 60,000 more!
How do you decide on character names?
I look into names that are/were popular for the time period, or ones that are appropriate for the character’s persona. In GODDESS, my heroine is named Selene (for the Goddess of the moon). It’s imperative to the plot that she shares her name with a deity, just as her lover, Odin, is named for the leader of the Norse Gods.
Tell me about your first publication. Who was it with? How did you feel when you got that acceptance?
My first publication came early last summer. It’s a story that was placed in a themed anthology that was based on a timeline of 200 years. My piece was written about a dancer in the twenties and was accepted along with 22 others. I almost couldn’t believe it when I got the editor’s email, then, a month later I got my second acceptance and two days after that, my third. 2012 was a breakthrough year for me. And then I started writing erotic romance and the floodgates broke wide open!
What's the worst thing that ever happened to you that you've incorporated into a story?
A date rape when I was in college. Bear in mind, when I was in school, the term didn’t exist, so I had no way to deal with the emotional upheaval that it wreaked. In fact, I shoved it from my consciousness for many years - until I began writing and it came up again. I wrote an entire novel (now gathering dust in my closet) based upon that one event, with the perpetrator and myself thinly disguised within a work of “fiction”.
How much of your life and the people you know end up in your work?
A ton of it. Many of my characters bear a significant similarity to people I’m close to, whether they can see it or not. The story “Time and a Half…Plus Benefits” comes directly from dealings at work and the settings for GODDESS, “Windswept Beach” and “Moving Violations” are all places where I’ve spent a good amount of time. I constantly use phrases and stories that I hear on the job or from friends, and often just a couple of words that someone mentions in passing can spark an entire story, which is where I got the ideas for my shorts “Youth Day” and “Tonic Immobility”.
What projects are you currently working on? Are you willing to share a small excerpt from a work in progress?
My current work in progress is an erotic romance/suspense story set in the early 70’s. It revolves around a college senior and a graduate student who find their roommates missing after visiting a commune in Vermont. Teeming up, they head north to search for clues to the abrupt disappearances only to find themselves pulled into the hippie lifestyle. It has all the usual ingredients…tension, angst and sex, sex, sex! I added the clip at the end.
What's your writing routine?
On the weekdays, I get up at four in the morning and write until six or six-thirty before work. On the weekends, I usually try to get a full eight – twelve hours in, beginning at four or five and ending in the mid- late afternoon. Often, I write in the middle of the night, as well. Evening is my least favorite time to write…I’m tired from work and my mind needs a break!
Is there a character or story that's stuck in your head and won't leave, from either your work or someone else's?
There’s one that I’m 40,000 words into that I’d shelved for a while because I was having difficulty with the timeframe. It’s sci/fi but not hardcore – very character and plot driven. Actually, it might work well as a YA for CH&BB if I ever get it finished! Leaving it on hold has been bugging me for a while, especially because I’m so far into it. But I see it as a Trilogy, so it’s kind of daunting.
What writers or novels do you consider “must reads”?
Ayn Rand. THE FOUNTAINHEAD, and ATLAS SHRUGGED, Hemingway, Susan Minot, Ann Patchett…I don’t know, the list is too long to cull it down to just a few! Until I began to write I was an avid reader. Now, I don’t have as much time to devote to my former favorite pastime. Perhaps this summer. I’ve got a whole list of things earmarked for my Kindle, mostly stuff from my new genre. It’s kind of strange to be writing erotic romance when I’d never read any of it before a couple of months ago!
Tell us three things about you that are interesting.
I’ve managed to stay married for 25 years when that’s pretty unheard of these days.
I work in an industry that’s usually considered a man’s occupation.
And…I’m the girl next door who writes explicit sex in her spare time – I think that’s the thing the people I know would find the most interesting about me! If they knew it, that is!
Excerpt from Gone
“Jonah and I are going up to Vermont this weekend,” Bethany announced two weeks later. “Do you want to come?”
Susannah shook her head. She knew the invitation was extended only out of her roommate’s sense of duty. Jonah, a Harvard graduate and first year’s Masters Candidate at MIT, was a new relationship - and new relationships, for Bethany, meant sex. Lots of sex.
“I have a paper due on Monday,” she lied. “I should probably stick close to the library.”
“Suit yourself, but don’t say I didn’t ask.” Bethany rounded up her shampoo and soap box, frowning as she searched through a heap of clothes for a towel. “I hope there’s still enough hot water left for a shower.”
“Where are y’all going, anyway? Skiing at Smuggler’s Notch?”
Bethany started through the hamper, found a likely candidate, and sniffed it, grimacing. “Not this time. Jonah and I met this chick and her old man at the Dylan show last week. He turned us on to a commune upstate where they hang out. We’re going to stay with them for the weekend.”
“Hippies?” Susannah tried but failed to keep the disapproval from her voice. The only hippies she knew were dropout friends of her older brother. Most of them were alcoholics or junkies - and all of them smelled bad.
Bethany laughed. “More likely hippy want-a-be’s. The dude looked too preppy to have authentic hippy friends.”
“If you’re not skiing, what will you do all weekend?” It was a loaded question. Susannah flushed, regretting it the moment the words left her mouth.
Her roommate laughed and raised her brows suggestively. “Drink, smoke, and screw our brains out, probably. It’s a commune, Susie – what do you think?”
Susannah’s cheeks burned as she shook her head. “If it’s a real commune, you’ll probably be working. That’s what people who live in communes do, don’t they? Work for the common good?”
“Unless it’s a cult - then we’ll be worshipping.”
“Or the Manson Family…then you’ll be dead.”
“The Manson crazies are locked up tight. Besides, we’re talking Vermont here, not California.” Bethany found a second towel at the bottom of the pile and held it to her nose. Apparently, it passed muster because she threw it over her shoulder and headed for the door. “As far as prayer and work are concerned, no way. The only thing I plan on worshipping is Jonah’s holier than holy you-know-what. And the only things he’ll be working are these.”
Susannah’s composure eroded completely as Beth turned and flashed her tits. Her body was perfect and she knew it. “It’s not like I’m a prude,” she protested as the door swung shut. “I was screwing Stanley on a daily basis until I caught him with Julie Brown!”
There was no one there to dispute it. Bethany was gone.
Shrugging off her coat, she fought the urge for a Lucky Strike as she wrapped her shoulders in a brown army surplus blanket and claimed the coveted position on top of the belching radiator. She wasn’t prudish at all, she told herself as she opened up her book. Unlike Bethany, who’d screw anything in pants, she was merely selective.