An Interview with the author of Acquittal: The Revenant Series Book One!

Hey all!  Welcome to the first of what I hope are many author interviews!

Today we’re going to speak with Serenity Valle who has written a paranormal mystery book named Acquittal!

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Serenity began writing short stories when she was 7 years old. She illustrated these stories as well, even though now she admits she can’t draw. Her parents would buy her extra school notebooks to write her stories in and her favourite place to write was under the carport during a rainstorm. She would sit at the picnic table and write for hours during the Midwest summer storms. While still in high school, Serenity had nearly finished writing a full length novel. Unfortunately, the notebook fell out of her backpack during her Junior year (she believes on the bus) and was never found. Devastated, she turned from writing and threw herself into drama. For many years she participated in school musicals and community theater. She even had a very small (uncredited) part in the 2001 Tim Burton film “Planet of the Apes”. She met Burton on the set and said he was “eccentric but very nice”. She also did some modeling in the past few years and continues to pursue that venue as well.

During this time she began writing again for an online RPG game based on the show “La Femme Nikita” (one of her favourite shows of all time). Slowly, she began to have ideas for her own stories again but always found that the middle of the story was missing. She wrote the beginning and left it until her block was defeated. In 2013, Serenity started writing again full force and has two books currently available with another on the way April 1, 2014.

Serenity is the wife of an author. She is mum to 3 boys, currently aged 21, 17 and 2. Serenity graduated from Cerro Coso Community College in 2002 with two Associates Degrees in Social Sciences and Humanities, then went on to graduate in 2005 from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Latin American/Latino Studies. She is a proud Banana Slug and a proud sister of Sigma Pi Alpha Sorority. In the little free time she has between family and writing, she enjoys gardening, reading, crafting things, henna art, and watching such shows as “Burn Notice”, “Covert Affairs”, “Warehouse 13″, “Law & Order SVU”, “Touch”, “Kitchen Nightmares” and others.

Now let’s get to the INTERVIEW!!!!

1.  Tell us a bit about yourself.

A little? Ok, I’ll try, ha ha. I’m the wife of an author and mum to three boys. I have degrees in Social Sciences, Humanities, Psychology and Latin American Studies. I’m a Banana Slug through and through (UC Santa Cruz!). I’m part Calo (Gypsy is the well-known word), Zacateco, Scottish and Native American. I love to act and sing, model and write. I edit books on the side. When I’m not doing those things, I love family time, gardening and henna art

2.  When and why did you start writing?

I started writing when I was seven. I have no idea why except to say I felt creative one day and just picked up a pencil!

3.  What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

During their junior year of college, best friends Krizi and Kenzie suddenly find themselves in the middle of a mystery!

4.  Was there an event or a person that inspired the creation of this book? 

I would have to say that my numerous paranormal experiences throughout my life contributed, but I can’t pinpoint a specific event or person that inspired it.

5.  Under what genre does your book fall?

This book (and the subsequent books in the series) falls under Paranormal Mystery/Crime

6.  Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would choose Phoebe Tonkin to play Krizi, Emma Stone for Kenzie, I’m not sure who would play Scott, still working on that. Liam Neeson as Ira, Nathan Fillion as Badger (funny innit, Browncoats?), Bruce Campbell as Hatchett, Chris Meloni as Elian, Jeffrey Donovan as Dodge. (Don’t worry if you read the book and don’t know who half of them are, some aren’t introduced until later books, but I figure if one is made into a film, then all of them should be!). There are other characters, but I’m still thinking on them as well.

7.  How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I would say it took about 6 months. I started on it before my second book was done… I had an idea and had to go with it… then put it on the back burner to finish the second book. Once that book was released, I went back to this one.

8.  Will this book be the first of a series or is it a stand-alone?

This is the first of a five book series. While some of the events are solved within this book, others are not, so I would highly encourage readers to follow up with the other books when they come out.

9.  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Both. I’m pretty meticulous in my planning, but when something comes up I just go with it for a while.

10. Do you have a favorite character in this book?

No. I just can’t decide!

11. How did you come up with the title for this book?

My husband and I were brainstorming for the title of this and the second book (which there is already an outline) and I said I wanted something legal-sounding. I don’t remember which of us said it, but Acquittal was put out there and I went with it.

12. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Gosh, I don’t know. I haven’t had time to read for a while (sadness!) and I’m not sure I’ve recently read an actual paranormal mystery… I’m a big mystery buff and love crime novels, but it’s been a while for a combo paranormal + mystery.

13. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I have unique characters, but when it comes down to it, I think they are very relatable. There’s also just a smidgen of romance that just *might* be explored more in later books. *wink*

Honestly I can’t wait to read this tale.  I hope our readers here will enjoy it as well!

Links to buy Acquittal!

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JE21FY0

Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/4596637

Autographed paperback: http://serenityvalleauthor.wordpress.com/autographed-copies/

If anyone here will like to be interviewed about their creative workings please let me know!  :D  I really enjoy seeing all the different ways that we come up with our art, music, and writings!

My Favorite History Resources – Today we tackle the electronic databases

As a librarian, I’m sure it’ll come as no shock that my favorite part of crafting a book is the research.

So many might ask… how on earth does someone find research on an esoteric topic on something the Celts (especially the Gael culture).

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Many people might be surprised, but a lot of librarians love these kind of questions.  In fact we also enjoy showing how we got the answer, at least I do.

So… here are some basic research tools that you can use

1.  World History Collection

Generally most reference databases aren’t free to everybody… but the great news is if you have a library card chances are you will have access to them both at the library and at home.

When you go into it, you’ll see a list of subjects like automotive, medical, genealogy, and history.  One of my favorites is EBSCOHost’s World History Collection mostly because it’s user-friendly and patrons can pick it up quickly.

Once you have the database up, you can put in a topic or use boolean phrases.  If you don’t have a clue what I’m writing about, either call the library or go find a reference staff member.  They’re there to help and generally get all excited once they figure out you aren’t asking about the copier or how to print.  Generally they’ll take you into the advanced search, so you can find the latest and the greatest in terms of research.  While it might be interesting to find an old article about the Gaels mythology, you may wind up with something from the 19th century.  If that floats your boat, great, but if you want new information that’s accepted by scholars of today, you may want to try to limit the years of the search.

I’d also make sure that you click on the checkbox for ‘full text’.  That’ll make things a lot easier unless you’re doing a search to find print documents that may or may not be available at your local library.

Just for S & G’s I decided to type one of my typical searches…’celts’.  This search will bring up a huge number of results but sometimes that’s okay.

One of the first articles that comes up is

 

What Chris made me do in inDesign the other day

And what I’ll probably do again later…

Okay all joking aside I figured I’d talk a bit about the publishing end of things now.   InDesign is a great tool but it also requires learning and honestly now I’m pretty impressed that Chris sort of figured it out on his own.  I may know the terminology that goes with it (sorta), and I know shortcuts and other things but I still feel like he’ll be the expert and the go-to guy for any issues we have.

Other than that, learning about it has been a lot of fun.  I always thought laying out books and magazines were a kind of magic that I’d never be able to understand.  Somehow, an intelligent force made the slick pages of a magazine or the weighty mass of a book.  A force far more intelligent than me.

Anyways, while I knew about master pages, Chris showed me how to take the document out of word and put it into chapters for a print and ebook.

I’m just so tickled and pleased with my new knowledge!

I’m in no way an expert, but this is something I was convinced I’d never learn, and yet… the first version of the new book is ready to go.  Granted Chris is in the middle of editing it.  So after that it goes to our copyeditor, and then it comes back to us, and finally Lucius, Clyde, and Brigid will then have to sit on the computer or laptop to signify their approval or warm their butts, I’m never sure on that.

Anyways back to the writing board!

The Baton Moves to the next runner

`Now it’s my (Heather’s) time to take the baton and run.  Hopefully the journey of the baton will continue and be an exciting endeavor for both the authors and the readers.

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I have gratefully accepted the baton from one of my favorite authors, Ruth Davis Hays.  She writes the thrilling Translations from Jorthus series, which I feel is quite an original tale wherein the main character is female and does not wield a sword, sling arrows, or throws spears at her enemies.  Lylith, a human spellsinger, learned in the majiks, is not a warrior, but she has a strength that many warriors would envy.  Plus, there’s that hottie D’harromar… mmmm mmmm!  Anyways the best thing to do of course is READ the series.  The books are The Dawnstone Taleand The Convergence.

Ruth also happens to serve as our final editor and she catches a bunch of errors for us.  She helped greatly with the work on Curse of Venus and now is helping us with the editing a novella and a few other side projects.

I’m also very excited that Ruth is going to be at the Triscelle Publishing booth at Aggiecon selling her series!!!  Fun will be had and stories will be told.

You can follow Ruth on facebook, on the Worlds of Jorthus facebook fanpage, and over at goodreads.

Now to get to tooting my, rather our own horn, as I co-author the Morrigan’s Brood series with the kilted hubby otherwise known as Christopher Dunbar.

Morrigan's Brood: Morrigan's Brood Book I
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Madness & Reckoning Front Cover
Dark Alliance: Morrigan's Brood Book III Front Cover, by Khanada Taylor
Cover Art for Curse of Venus: Morrigan's Brood Book IV

Now the four questions that must be answered before the baton moves on!

1) What am I working on?

Wow… what am I not working on?  Right now, Chris and I are working on the first draft for Dynasties of Night: Morrigan’s Brood VI.  It involves dragons, and blood-drinkers from the far east who have been fascinating me for quite some time!  I am in the middle of typing a draft of this book (the first draft is written out on notepads – that’s how we roll I guess).  We are working on getting an anthology to print that will involve librarians.  Letsee… I am taking classes on InDesign, a program publishers use to create the layout for books both print and e-book.  We are working on getting Shards of Light:  Morrigan’s Brood V to print before the end of the year.  We are looking into moving our tales into the realm of audiobooks.  I am urging a friend to get her drafts together so we might have a book about other beings in our universe.  I am looking for a new job and I’m listening to the wee kitty Brigid play in the bathtub.  She sees her reflection in the shiny tub and chases herself around… okay so that’s not something I’m working on, but cats make you take on their work too.

As for what’s happening in our world… Julien has discovered something shocking about his parentage.  Marcus is trying to keep it together.  His family is wondering how to deal with Marcus and his issues.  Mandubratius is… having fun.  Let’s face it, that’s his goal in life.  He is a hoot to write for most of the time, though it’s a bit like herding a cat.

2) How does our work differ from others of its genre?

I always tell people that Chris and I write historical fantasy primarily focusing on beings that come from the Celtic countries.  I suppose what we do differently is to bring in mythology from all the ancient cultures that we love (getting to the new world one of these days).  We also bring in blood-drinkers of these ancient cultures and just sort of let them run wild and see what sort of problems they can get themselves into.  We do work hard at fitting the history into the tale and I love weaving historical figures into the series, such as Emperor Charles (Charlemagne).  One of our editors, Sally, said that we don’t write the typical vampire horror stories, we write adventure fantasy where there are blood-drinkers involved.  The blood-drinkers aren’t vampires.  Vampire is a slavic term for the undead.  Our characters don’t move around at night, killing victims.  Most of the time, our characters like to feed off several people or beings because why kill something that can feed you tomorrow night?  Also, they don’t mope about their changed existence.  They have duties and goals set forth by deities or their leaders.  In addition, there is no sparkling.  Some may be beautiful, but some are related to beings such as the fae who can be very beautiful or sometimes quite ugly.  Generally we can be found at sci-fi cons or Celtic festivals.  Our series is becoming known locally, nationally, and internationally through word of mouth.   Which is very exciting.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’m not sure.  Chris and I generally don’t read a lot of historical fantasy.  Granted, I love Game of Thrones, but that’s not exactly what we write.  I was greatly inspired by traveling overseas to Europe.  I loved learning about the ancient peoples of Britain and Ireland.  I’m a big history nerd and I love the mythology of these places too.  I have always enjoyed a good vampire yarn and thought that the myth seemed a bit tied down to the slavic countries where the beings were undead and gruesome.  I thought it might be fun to see beings from other countries who drank blood and see how cultures could clash.  I guess we write this series primarily because it is so much fun for us.  It brings us great joy.

4) How does your writing process work?

Well… it’s a little confusing.  Chris and I write the first draft together on notepads.  Then, I type it out and add historical nuances and it becomes the second draft.  Chris looks it over and adds more and edits the second draft.  Next, it goes to one of our editors, who reads it and sends it back to Chris.  Then we go through the edits and accept the changes or sometimes rarely, we reject them.  Then it gets published.  It’s a magical process that sometimes makes us tear out our hair, but no big deal.

Now on to the baton tossin’!   It’s going to three very talented authors on Monday, March 31st!

1. Kara Owl

Kara Owl lives in Florida and writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her passions include the tarot, fantastic worlds, football, and magic in the mundane. The first in a planned trilogy is forthcoming from Jupiter Gardens Publishing. You can buy her non-fiction here at Jupiter Gardens Publishing.

2. Serenity Valle

Serenity began writing short stories when she was 7 years old. She illustrated these stories as well, even though now she admits she can’t draw. She turned from writing after the loss of a beloved notebook, and threw herself into drama and has acted in several roles on the stage and in front of a camera.  In 2013, Serenity started writing again full force and has two books currently available with another on the way April 1, 2014.  Serenity is the wife of an author. She is mum to 3 boys, currently aged 21, 17 and 2.  In the little free time she has between family and writing, she enjoys gardening, reading, crafting things, henna art, and watching such shows as “Burn Notice”, “Covert Affairs”, “Warehouse 13″, “Law & Order SVU”, “Touch”, “Kitchen Nightmares” and others.  Her works can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

3. Wendy Van Camp

Wendy Van Camp is the writer behind No Wasted Ink. She makes her home in Southern California with her husband and an australian shepard. Wendy enjoys travel, camping, bicycling, gourmet cooking and gemology. Currently, Wendy has published two short stories in literary magazines and is working on a steampunk science fiction trilogy.

Anyways… I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about Chris and I.  I cannot wait to see what answers we see for the next runners/authors!

Your Guilty Reading Pleasure and How it May Affect Your Writing

I thought it might be amusing to speak a bit about writing and reading and generally how the two sometimes do not match.

Chris and I write historical fantasy for the most part.  However, oddly enough… most of the time we don’t gravitate towards reading historical fantasy for fun, which sort of strikes me as odd.

Generally, if I have time to spare, I’ll pick up true crime books.  I’m not entirely sure why I enjoy reading them.  Maybe it’s the fact that when I was younger, I wanted to be Clarice Starling when I grew up.  Granted that dream never got very far.  I’m flatfooted, clumsy, and not the best at logic puzzles.  I know I’m a better librarian and writer than I would be an FBI agent.  However, maybe that’s why many of the female characters we write about are deceptively strong and quick-witted, but also come with flaws.  Let’s face it Mael Muire/Maire is pretty flawed and messed up on the inside.  Then again, I guess the male characters are just as fractured and messed up in their own ways.  Marcus can’t move away from his mistakes in the past sometimes.  Mandubratius is pretty much opening a can of worms when it comes to trauma affecting how they treat others.

Then again, I’ve never liked perfect characters.  I feel nothing in common with someone who makes everything look easy.  I remember this happening a lot in the YA books that were popular when I was a YA librarian, and it annoyed me greatly as teenagers are seldom like this.  At least I wasn’t.  Like I said, clumsy, shy, and naive about a lot of things.

Chris enjoys reading Star Trek books and pretty much sticks to the Forgotten Realms series, particularly those by R.A. Salvatore.  Perhaps that’s why our stories have been called ‘more like adventure books where the characters are blood-drinkers/vampires as opposed to horror stories with vampires’.  Which is a good thing as it means that we get a wider and more diverse audience I think.  I’ve seen women pick up the series for various reasons and so will the men.  Generally, most men aren’t interested in the typical supernatural stories involving sparkling, big chests and happily ever after endings.   Usually if a reader wants that I point them to another series we carry or mention… well, books, you know.  You can’t please everyone with them.

I have no idea why we write what we write sometimes.  Other than it piques my interests about history and how we interact with each other.

I wish I could say more and make it a profound statement, but there are whiny kitties to pet now.  ;)

So what do you all read for fun?

Happy hump day all.

Librarian without a library

Okay that’s not entirely true.  I do have a library at home which is what once was a dining room, but seriously who uses a dining room.  They are a waste of space that’s used maybe twice a year.  Most people turn there’s into something else… like a sewing room with a dining room table or dad’s office where he yells at his computer during the tax season.

So if you didn’t already know, I’m out of a job.  I was given my walking papers on thursday and told to use us my holidays and they’d call me with all the paperwork for stuff like unemployment, severance, etc.  I went in for half a day on friday and said goodbye to everyone and headed back home after running errands.

Right now there’s a wee Brigid on the back of my chair making cooing noises.  Lucius is guarding the room and last I saw Clyde was taking a sun-nap in the bedroom window.

The dishes are drying, the clothes are tumbling in the dryer, I have some music playing on the stereo/tv called the ’100 names of the mother’ or something like that… primarily buddhist/indian chanting.

I did my usual job-searching this morning and that made me somewhat sad.  People seem to believe there’s a bunch of jobs for the taking these days.  Unfortunately, there were no new jobs for librarians in Houston.  So I looked for proctor jobs because I proctored for an official test for our students.  Wow…that was extremely depressing in that I’d make the same money on unemployment.

Well, back to writing.  Right now I’m working on book six, Dynasties of Night.  Love to you all!

‘Halloween’ as Seen by Some of the Characters of the Morrigan’s Brood Series

Welcome to the Cemetery

Welcome to the Cemetery

Last October, Paranormal Haven posted this piece Heather and I (Christopher) had penned that described ‘Halloween’ through the eyes of some of our characters. I use the apostrophes because Halloween as we know it didn’t exist. Each character mentioned (Sitara, Marcus, Maire, and Julien) was from a different time and culture, so each one celebrated a different holiday during this time of year. Well, I thought I would brush the dust off that little bit of writing and re-post it. Now, discover how these four characters celebrated the October through November holidays when they were mortals.
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The What-if Loop

Librarian Seeking …

‘Dear Hiring Manager’… it’s how most of my cover letters start.

I (Heather) did my morning job search again.  For those who don’t know, I’m a librarian.  It’s what helps me get to the nitty-gritty of history and culture that Chris and I write about.  I do love delving into research.  It doesn’t always matter what it’s about most of the time.  I can say without reserve that I’m a great researcher.  I love the challenge of it.  I love helping other people with it.
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