Thursday, 27 September 2018

Hidden Diamond: Carey Decevito, Essence Extracted and Getting Into A Man's Head

There are lots of authors and books out there, so many that it can be hard for readers to find what they're looking to read.  So I want to share the gems hidden among the chaos.  Each month I'll feature a new Hidden Diamond author.  If you want to know more, please connect with me and you won't miss the diamond you've been searching for.

Carey Decevito is a delightfully charming woman whom I met through ORWA.  She always has a smile and an encouraging word for her fellow writers and I'm proud to call her a friend.

Her latest series, Essence Extracted, is a paranormal romance about Payton, an empath who comes face to face with the hidden supernatural dangers in the world, the existence of the Fae and a new love.  The second novella just released this week and the third will be coming next month!

One of Carey's talents is in finding unique voices for all of her characters.  Today, she's sharing with us some of her secrets for getting inside the male mind.

Looking Through The Male Mind

And they thought women were complex creatures…

After decades of reading an array of novels: thrillers, mystery, suspense, paranormal and yeah, romance (duh), I realized one thing…I hadn’t come across many works of romance where a woman had written in a male’s perspective, in the first person.

Since I’m some kind of masochist—okay, so I love to impose a challenge or two (or a hundred) where my writing is concerned—I took a leap of faith, thus began my adventure!
Once Written, Twice Shy (OWTS), the first in my Broken Men Chronicles series, was inspired by a play on online dating and my love for reading and writing. What I didn’t know at the time, was that not only would one book be born, but an entire series would follow!

All interconnected, yet vastly different, the men of The Broken Men Chronicles series each have a unique story to tell.  From a divorcĂ©, to a widower, a retired militant, even the age-old lost love scenario, and childhood nemeses, these men are scarred in some way ("broken" if you will) yet they persevere. Some battles, both physical and emotional, are tougher than others but they all seek one thing…to come out on top.

I’m no shrink.  I’m no guy.  I don’t have some degree in male psyche analysis of any kind.  And no, I haven’t suffered an electrical shock much like Mel Gibson in What Women Want where I miraculously know what’s going on up there. Now, you’re wondering how in the world does a woman pull it off?

You see, there came a point in my life (as I entered my thirties), where I came to realize that what the average man and woman want out of life isn’t all that different: a career, a family or at least someone to call theirs, a home, friends, happiness…need I say more? So, I seized the gauntlet and began to write.

I’m the kind of writer that writes with inhibited emotion. If I can’t feel it, it’s no good. In keeping close with everyday life, I like to mix things up. From the hot and sexy, to the rage, the grief, the turmoil that uncertainty in one’s life can cause, not to mention the humor, my readers are thrust into a world where they can relate. Personally, I love nothing more than a work of fiction where I can picture myself as being part of the character's experience. It's that proverbial fly-on-the-wall syndrome.

Reading is an escape. It’s a way to detach yourself from your world and immerse yourself into another’s. Should you laugh, feel angered, annoyed, overjoyed, not to mention, thrilled at any point in a read, then the author’s done their job efficiently.

Some may say that I have feminized my male leads. I disagree. Inspired by people in my life, I wrote characters that have a certain degree of respect toward the opposite sex (yes, even players can have some). In true guy fashion, my men’s dialect can be crass and inappropriate at times as it can be loving, sweet and endearing at others. Same goes for their behavior. I wasn’t looking to write up a slew of Stepford characters. Realistic means with fault and I strive to capture that no matter who the character may be. Of course, writing first person also means that your characters need substance and delving into each of these men’s lives, you’ll quickly come to find out, there is no lack of it. With that said, male readers are able to relate to these characters as much as their female counterparts.

In closing, I have to say that my experience in writing from a male’s perspective has been a
humbling one. I’ve loved the self-imposed challenge, not to mention the humorous discussions I’ve had with my male friends and husband while entertaining the task. For those of you reading this post, I hope that you’ve enjoyed the insight to my inner writer workings.

- Carey Decevito

An Author Interview With Carey Decevito

What is the craziest thing you've done to research a book?

Do attending self-defence classes to get a fight scene right, or contacting a cop friend and sitting in a blood spatter analysis and bomb/SWAT team workshop with the Ottawa Romance Writers’ Association count?

Aside from that, I’ve only written about things I know, researching things online (mythical creatures, Greek mythology, witchcraft, firearms, American law, hacking, etc) or referring to my old college textbooks for anything medical to make sure that what I’m writing makes sense and is right.

What is your writing process?  (Eg: plotter vs pantser, solitary vs public)

When it comes to my writing processes, they vary depending on the genre of book I’m writing. If it’s strict contemporary romance, I’m usually a pantser and simply let the story flow from the tips of my fingers onto the keyboard and go from there. I usually have some sort of plot in mind but nothing is ever mapped out on paper or on my computer. I typically know how the beginning goes, what the major hurdle will be in the middle, and how I want things to end. It’s funny to say, but I actually see my novels develop as though I had an internal movie playing in my mind.

As for my romantic suspense or paranormal genres, I need to plan a bit more. I usually have a document that lays things out. It helps me with the research I need to do whether it be on witchcraft, or firearms…hell, even the time allotted before refueling a helicopter for instance.

Undoubtedly, no matter the genre I’m writing at any given time, I remain a bit of both a pantser and plotter.

And when writing, I typically prefer doing the bulk of it in a quiet corner. If the ideas are clear in my mind, then I can usually write no matter where I’m at, but normally it’s my writing cave or bedroom. The chances where you’ll see me in a local Starbucks are slim unless I’m editing or plotting. Being surrounded by people, especially during plotting the development of a specific book works like a charm to inspire.

What is your favourite thing to do to relax?

As a mother, wife, author, employee, life tends to dominate. My greatest way to escape it all is to either be writing or reading. Whenever I get some “me time”, I like to dive into a work of fiction and only come up for air when needed. Suffice to say that doesn’t happen often.

When I feel the need to get out of the house however, I’m usually walking the dog or finding some kind of footrail with a friend to be a little more active and to simply recharge my mental batteries.

Who is your favourite fictional crush?

Damn, that’s a tough one! I honestly don’t think I have one at the moment, but if I’d have to pick someone, I’d say that it would be Rex, a character in one of my upcoming novels in the Nightshade series. He’s rough around the edges, honest, tough, yet a sweetheart when it matters—okay, so he’s also sex on a stick too. He has a dark past that could have completely wrecked him (and in some ways it has) but he’s worked so hard to get over those demons. I admire him for his restraint, his dedication to his team and duty, and most of all, his sense of values. He’s a scary man with a questionable work ethic and past—especially since he’s a bounty hunter—but he’s the ultimate bad boy you hope to see stay good and get his turn at happiness.

And in the spirit of the great Joss Whedon debate, who would win: astronauts or cavemen?

And I just took a trip down the Angel memory lane on this one. (Yes, I’m dating myself, aren’t I?) LOL So who would win? Both have merits really. I mean cavemen are who we were before we evolved both mentally and technologically. Let’s face it…cavemen became astronauts, so wouldn’t both win? Isn’t it in fact a tie in the grand scheme of things?

Regardless, if you were to pit both of them against one another, I’d say the guy with the superior intellect (astronaut) would win. They do have the problem resolution skills and aptitude to research a hell of a lot more than cavemen would. Let’s just hope the problem at hand isn’t one too simple however. It seems the more knowledge we have, the more someone of superior intellect will suss out a complicated way to solve a problem when the resolution is so simple.

Thank you to Carey for being one of my hidden diamonds and for those who want their very own copies of Carey's books, you can find them at the following links:

(ebooks available at Amazon, Nook, Kindle, Apple, Google and Smashwords)

Or you can find her on social media at

Come back on October 25th to discover the next Hidden Diamond!
Or check out last month's Hidden Diamond, Lucy Farago.

Or you can join the mailing list and have the perfect gems for you sent right to your mailbox!

Monday, 24 September 2018

Weekly Update: Sept 16-22

Weekly word count: 4 624

I'm coming to the end of getting the first draft of Third Eye Open finished and that makes me excited even though I'm not going to be able to release it or the re-edited first two short stories in time for Hallowe'en fun.  But once it's done, I can get started on book 5, Division, and possibly book 2 of the Special Investigations series, Until Proven Guilty.  I'm still not quite sure how I'll manage working on both but I've got some ideas.

Division has really started haunting my brain with ideas for scenes and character arcs, so it is definitely ready to come out of the gate and start putting it down on paper.  Until Proven Guilty is a little more nebulous but it's developing nicely inside my head.

This week was actually pretty exciting.  Not only was it bookended by two great events: Tanya Huff's ORWA workshop on the 15th and ALSO's Persisting Beyond Margins on the 22nd, but the areas near where I live got hit with a tornado on Friday evening.  Luckily, the worst we suffered was the loss of our nearly empty freezer contents and no power until Sunday morning.  

Ottawa doesn't get too many natural disasters.  There was an earthquake when my kids were younger, but the worst damage from that was to knock my CD collection slightly askew in their racks.  We had a major flood a few years ago, and there was a fair amount of damage from that but I wasn't personally affected.  And now a tornado.  

One thing that this weekend did teach me is that I'm seriously lacking in my post-apocalyptic coping skills.  Thirty-six hours with no internet or television and my brain was starting to go crazy.  I couldn't even write because my laptop's battery was dead.  Granted, in an actual post-apocalypse, having to survive among the alien invaders or zombie hordes will probably provide a decent amount of distraction but not being able to crash and binge some Supernatural is too much to ask a girl to do.

I ended up binge reading instead and playing a lot of board games with my kids.  I ended up burning through a fair bit of my TBR pile and since I imagine others probably did the same this weekend, I thought I'd offer some new TBR acquisitions.  This week, I'll have the first book in my Lalassu series, Revelations, on sale for just $1.27 Canadian on all platforms for those looking for some new books to try.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Banned Book Week and Persisting Beyond Margins

For the second year, I'm participating in a special charity event for ALSO, a local charity that supports adult literacy programs.  On September 22nd, me and several other local authors will crawl out of our comfort zone to be in public to talk about our favourite topics: books.

I've never quite understood why there are so many calls to ban books.  And it's been even more of a mystery why such a wide variety of books get attacked in this way.  I love books.  They're a way to expand my awareness by exposing me to ideas and lives different from my own.  Not to mention, they're fun!  So why do so many people get themselves tied into a knot.

This year, my curiosity was too much.  I decided to start looking into it and what I found was depressingly bleak.  There seem to be a few specific reasons for banning that keep coming up over and over in the lists: the book features queer characters, diverse characters, encourages people to question authority, or deals with alternate realities.  To me, those are a check list of things I want to read but for some, it strikes them with terror.

Most requests to ban books seem to come from various fundamentalist Christian groups who see these books as an attack on themselves and their faith.  (And just to be clear, these groups are a minority of Christians and I'm sure that many Christians would have a problem with the version of their faith as portrayed by these groups).  In the view of these groups, anything that might encourage anything other than blind faith and obedience is a threat.

And as a result, they will never know the vicarious thrill of tessering across the universe, or flying in a spaceship, or riding a unicorn, or any of the other wonderful and exciting adventures that books have opened up to me.  They will never learn to see the world through someone else's eyes and thus increase their compassion for those who are different or who have lived different experiences.  And to a point, if they don't want to do that, if they would rather stay in their narrow world bounded by fear, that's their choice.

What they don't have is the right to make that choice for anyone else.  They don't have the right to look at a book and say "This scares me" and insist it be destroyed or locked away.  They don't have the right to deny people the chance to experience stories of others like them and others who are completely different.  

So I am proud to be part of Banned Book Week and part of the ALSO fundraiser.  And if you'd like to support freedom of expression and helping adult literacy, or even if you'd just like to enjoy an evening of books, food, wine and conversation, please join me on Saturday for Persisting Beyond Margins.  And if you'd like to know more about my chosen banned book, A Wrinkle In Time, and why I feel it's a great story, please check out my Heroine Fix on Margaret Murray and the value of an angry heroine.

And if you'd like to check out my own fantastical stories about a secret society of superheroes living among us, the first book in my lalassu series, Revelations, is currently on sale for 99 cents US on all platforms.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Weekly Update: September 9 to 15

Weekly word count: 6 253

Things are moving a little better writing wise this week.  I'm managing a decent average and I've got a much better handle on the third Spirit Sight short story.  I'd been trying to do it without a central ghost story and realized that was ultimately hurting the pacing and emotional impact.  I was trying to have multiple small paranormal encounters instead of one big one but it ended up feeling like the supernatural side was an afterthought.  I'm much happier with it now.

On Saturday, I had a lovely day with Tanya Huff.  I've been organizing the ORWA event for several months and I was really pleased with how well it all came together.  She gave a fantastic talk full of great advice for authors at all levels.  And most importantly, I think everyone had a good time and no one felt rushed or isolated.  We had a great guest turnout with lots of new faces, hopefully they'll come back.

I also got some very exciting news this weekend but professional discretion means I can't quite share it yet.  As soon as I can, I will be announcing it everywhere I can.  But it's got me feeling much better about my writing and myself.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Heroine Fix: The Loyal, Lovely and Lethal Dutch from Killjoys

Heroine Fix is a monthly feature looking at characters whom I admire and who influence my own writing. (Warning: this article will contain spoilers.)

I love a good action story and I love a strong female character who steps up and takes charge.  I only recently started to watch the Space series Killjoys about a team of wise-cracking interplanetary bounty hunters but it only took half of the first episode to hook me.  The lead character, Dutch, played by Hannah John-Kamen is a fascinating mix of determination, fierce loyalty to her friends, extraordinary skills, and stunning warrior.  She has the kind of casual excellence that I've always found appealing, particularly since I'm the type of person who is more likely to trip over my own feet and tongue.

The Jaqobis brothers are also impressive... but that's a topic for another time.
However, what makes Dutch worthy of a closer look is that she isn't just a two-dimensional warrior.  There's a beautiful layer of vulnerability underneath her armor of perfection.  She is someone who has faced her world and dreams being destroyed on multiple occasions and who has decided to cope with it by never again being in a situation that she can't control.  As a child, she was royalty but her family lost everything, abandoning her in an orphanage.  She was rescued from the orphanage and trained as assassin.  She took the bold and dangerous step of leaving that life.  She's become one of the top Killjoys (bounty hunters) in the Quad (the local solar system), known for never failing to get her target.

It would have been very easy for the character to tip over into being a villain, uncaring and aloof.  She's had so much tragedy in her life that no one would be surprised if she'd developed an emotional callus over her soul.  But instead, she is still a deeply caring individual.  She cares about the people who are at the mercy of the mega Corporations and capricious aristocracy who own the quad.  She's fiercely protective of her partner, Johnny, and his brother, D'avin.  On more than one occasion, she faces death and torture to make certain they are safe.   And as an added measure of her retained humanity, those who have gotten to know her are loyal and protective of her as well.

Dutch might know a thousand different ways to drop a target, but it's her relationship with her partner, Johnny, that really impresses me.  He was a starship thief who made the mistake of trying to take off with her ship.  She could have killed him but instead chose to mentor him and make him her partner.  A techspert and self-proclaimed nerd, Johnny's skills gets Dutch into all kinds of places, from palaces to sewers.  She has the heart to go into any Hell because she trusts that Johnny will be able to get her out again.  Emotionally, they are tied tighter than any couple, but there's no attraction between them except that of chosen family.  They are siblings bound by love and shared history rather than DNA.

One of the other facets I find fascinating about Dutch is her constant questioning of herself and her motives.  She knows that she was raised abnormally and worries constantly about slipping into becoming a sociopath.  Her constant reality checks give her character a surprising maturity and insight.  It would have been very easy to make her into an anti-social loner, but instead she takes the harder road of staying as a part of society while still knowing she can never be entirely comfortable within it.

Hannah John-Kamen's portrayal of the character is beautifully nuanced, with tiny moments of hesitation and tensed lips saying just as much as the big gestures and grand speeches.    The character is a consummate actress, able to play any role from a regal aristocrat to a lost thief.  Even "Dutch" herself is something of a role: the confident, competent hunter and killer.  But it's the moments between roles, when we see the glimpses of loneliness and uncertainty that make her real and admirable.  She's not a superwoman, she's a woman who is facing overwhelming and frightening odds and is choosing to get the job done and help where she can, while trying hard not the let the scars of failure grow too thick.

The damaged heroine seeking redemption is a character that has long resonated with me but with Dutch, it's a slightly different twist.  She's not looking for redemption.  She doesn't seem to believe that redemption is possible for her.  Instead she's looking for something a little more tangible and in the moment: a chance at a few stolen moments of happiness in between the challenges of trying to make the world a little more right.  She isn't pushing the world away in an attempt to stand strong on her own.  She knows she's strong and knows that isolation would only make her unhappier and more dangerous.   She's open to love, even knowing that it opens her to hurt as well.   And that takes much more courage than any amount of kicking ass.

(Keep on reading for more information on next month's Heroine Fix and a special offer on my own books.)

I hope you've enjoyed my take on Dutch and that you'll consider hanging around to check out some of the other fun things I've got going on in my website.

My first damaged and seeking redemption heroine, Dani, is a burlesque dancer who can bend steel with her bare hands and who needs to hold back the ancient monster hiding deep in her soul.  You can try the first novel in my paranormal romantic suspense series, Revelations, for only 99 cents US across all platforms.

Or you can take a look at last month's Heroine Fix when I looked at the ladies of Ready Player One and how the world of the Oasis gives the freedom to be whoever you want to be.

Or take a peek at last week's post about the one skill that every writer needs right now: patience.

Or check out my Hidden Diamond feature, where I share some of my fellow authors who write amazing strong female characters, fast-paced romantic suspense and reality-twisting paranormal romance and speculative fiction.

Or you can just visit my blog for weekly updates on my writing and my thoughts on all kinds of subjects.

Next month, I'll be looking at Evey from V for Vendetta.  Some heroines are determined to be great right from the first minute or page.  Others, like Evey, find themselves caught up in overwhelming situations and become stronger than they ever imagined they could be.  Join me on October 11th for your next Heroine Fix.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Weekly Update: September 2 to 8

Weekly word count: 5 669

Ah, the most wonderful time of the year: back to school!  I love spending the summer with my kids and doing all the fun summer stuff like going swimming and spending time at the park or going on little mini road trips.  But it's nice when they head out the door with their backpacks and I know I'll have several hours to myself to both do my day job and get some writing done.

I decided to take a major plot change for the third Spirit Sight short story but I'm much happier with the new idea.  I also think I've come up with a great title: Third Eye Open.

I got a really great writing day on Thursday.  The ideas and words were flowing.  It's been awhile since I had a day like that and it was a really encouraging day for me.

I'm looking forward to ORWA's Tanya Huff's workshop next weekend.  She's been an inspiration to me for a long time and is also such a genuinely nice and generous person as well as being a talented writer.  It'll also be great to see all my ORWA friends again after the summer break.

I know that January is the start of the calendar year, but to me the year always starts in September.  It's the start of a new cycle and a new routine.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

The Real Skill All Writers Need: Patience

Many things in life seem to operate on the "hurry up and wait" principle but it applies to a lot of an author's career.  Hurry up and send the pitch and then wait patiently to hear from editors or agents.  Hurry up and promote and then wait to see if it helped readers to find your book.  Hurry up and write and then wait and go patiently through the editing process.

If I see one more teh...
When the story is still in an author's head, it can seem very easy.  When I begin, I feel like I can see the whole thing in my mind.  It's brilliant and amazing.

The challenge comes when I try to translate that interior vision onto the page.  What seems perfectly clear in my head turns out to be less clear when I need to capture it with words.  It takes patience to try out different ways of saying the same thing, trying subtle variations to find the right way to make the words disappear and then the story becomes real.

And it's not just the writing process.  All of the great authors are continually learning about their writing craft.  Which means reading widely and taking the time to break down how other authors convey meanings, emotions and impressions.  Recently, I read a story where a few short sentences created a horrific combination of vulnerability, denial, and terror as a predator grabbed their victim from behind.  It was an incredibly powerful impression that lingered with me for days afterwards.  

"She wasn't laughing when the screams started behind her, high and shrill and terrified, or when she felt the touch of a hand-oddly long and spindly, covered in a cool, clammy film, like aloe gel was smeared across the skin-on the back of her ankle. Elena stopped waving her arms. She closed her eyes. If she couldn't see it, it wouldn't be real. That was the way the world worked, wasn't it.  Her scream, when it came, was short and sharp and quickly ended." - from Mira Grant's Into The Drowning Deep

I've re-read that paragraph a half-dozen times since, trying to understand how the author created that effect.  Is it powerful because the only sensory description is done in relation to the monster's hand and the screams, making them stand out prominently in the reader's subconscious mind?  Is it the quick pacing, where the attack is over almost before the character realizes they're in trouble?  

It takes patience to try and understand the subtle differences that punctuation, word choice, and writing style can make.  It's a lot easier to just enjoy or dismiss and not think too much about why things work or why they don't.  It takes patience to work through a book (enjoyable or not) and learn from it.  It takes even more patience to apply those techniques to one's own writing and to see if they fit in an author's own voice.

Patience (and its counterpart, stubbornness) will get an author through a great deal of the challenges in this industry.  Got a brilliant story that doesn't quite fit the current market?  Have patience and watch the market for an opening.  Do you write slowly and could never do the publish a book every 90 days strategy?  Then be patient and develop your career more slowly.

Patience doesn't mean just passively waiting.  It means accepting your own pace and your own style and continuing in spite of any naysayers or pushes to do things differently.  It means accepting that you know yourself best and that there is not, and never has been, only one path to publishing success.

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Monday, 3 September 2018

Weekly Update: August 26 to September 1

Weekly word count: 4937

Friday was a busy day of visiting my son's new school and dealing with the paperwork.  Unfortunately, that meant I didn't get any writing done that day, but I'm reasonably happy with my weekly total.

I am very much looking forward to having the house to myself while both my kids are at school.  I'm hoping I can settle into a writing rhythm quickly.  In previous years, September has been pretty rocky but I'm in a more stable routine than usual right now.

I haven't heard anything further from the editors and agents I sent my manuscript to.  It's hard to be patient and not second guess what I've done.  That's the hard part about a career that ends up with a person living mainly in their own head.  It can be hard to get out of.