Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Author Interview: Savannah Knight

As we continue our interview series of the authors on the Twisted Tales blog we welcome Savannah Knight! Savannah is writing the retelling of Cinderella, which you can find here.

1) What got you started on writing? 

Honestly, Facebook RP… I had never written anything except papers in school, which I always hated. After a couple of months of talking to some of the RPers, I was persuaded by a couple of dear friends to JUST DO IT. So, I created a character. And the rest, as they say, is history. I found out I could write, I was decent at it, and it was a much needed escape from my crazy busy real life as a mom and wife.

2) Are your non-writing friends and family supportive?  Or do you get the "author/writer...yea... okay..." response?  

My husband and teenage son are very supportive. My son loves to write and wants to write a story with me. But he did specify our book could not be “gross.” In other words no sex. I don’t think my husband realized just how long it took to write even 1,000 words. But he bears with me and reads them over and over again. He my first beta with every story I write. I haven’t really outed myself to rest of my family about writing yet. Still scared of what they might say. But the friends that know I write are very supportive.

3) Why did you choose your particular story for the Fairy Tale Blog? 

Cinderella was always my favorite childhood fairy tale. The Disney version, of course. The idea of a fairy godmother, beautiful carriage, Prince hunting the right girl down to fit her with the glass slipper…a true fairy tale in my eyes. As an adult, I know for a fact, the right shoes can change your life. ;)

4) Why you took it in the direction you did? 

One area I need to work on in my writing is plotting and planning…so why am I taking Cinderella in the direction I am, I can’t answer because I’m not sure. I have an idea but not sure how to get there yet. I want a balanced mixture of fantasy and real life. Present time and past. I love current pop culture but I want ball gowns and castles and dukes and earls and princesses and princes. Hopefully, I can mesh it all together and make it a great story.

5) What elements are you going to keep the same as the classic version and why? 

Oh, most definitely there will be a fairy godmother, of sorts…The step-sisters and step-monster will be wicked to the core. Elle will be their whipping post. And there will be indeed be a “slipper” although I’m not sure if it’ll be glass. There are also aspects from the Brothers Grimm version of the story I will be keeping. Because you can’t have a twisted tale without a little twisted and gory Grimm, IMO.

6) Do you prefer to write in silence or with the TV going or with music? 

Well, usually the TV’s on in the background because I write curled up in my recliner or at the kitchen table. But I prefer a quiet house with just music.

7) What is your dream writing space? 

A room with just my computer & desk completely stocked with everything I need all the time. A coffee maker that knows when my cup is low and refills it. One whole wall to be a window and the scene outside changes with my mood. Bright and sunny if I’m writing a happy romance. Dark and rainy if it’s a depressing scene and thunder storm if I’m killing someone off.

8) What do you do to put yourself in the mood for writing graphic scenes like sex, violence or debauchery?

 Music is always a great mood-setter for any scene I need to write.

9) If your life was a novel, what would the title be and who would write it? 

I would love for Sandra Brown or Jaycee Clark to write it. That I know for sure. They write crazy, evil villains and great heroes and heroines. But the title, I have no clue.

10) Who helps you through this crazy journey of writing? 

Along with my husband, my friends. Everyone on the Twisted Tales blog. I have written with Jacy and Phoebe since I started writing a couple years ago. They are a constant encouragement to me. 

Find Savannah Knight!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Author Interview: Alexandra Webb

For the next couple of weeks we will be doing Author Interviews with the writers at the Twisted Tales Blog. The blog is contributed to by 7 authors, all giving their own takes on some classic fairy tales. The stories posted so far are Aladdin, Alice In Wonderland,  Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. New chapters are posted every other week for each tale. If you are interested in reading these twisted tales, please be advised that they may contain graphic content .

Today we interviewed Alexandra Webb creator of The Self-Publishing Experiment and who is also writing the tale of Alice In Wonderland at Twisted Tales.
(from The Alice Page at Twisted Tales)
Blurb: Alice
Alice falls down what she thought was a rabbit hole, only to end up in the world of the Fae, the place she calls Wonderland. Forget off with her head. Entangled with the curse that has come over the land, Alice has no choice but to face the Red King, the collector of hearts. Literally.

1) What got you started on writing?

          I’ve been telling stories since I can remember. I used to tell mystery stories in grade school during recess. When my life hit a hard spot I started to put my stories onto paper. I spent the majority of my childhood grounded so the computer (when we had one) wasn’t an option. I fell in love with telling the stories of the characters that I had no choice but to continue with it.

2)Are you non-writing friends and family supportive?  Or do you get the "author/writer...yea... okay..." response?  

          Most of my family thinks that writing is simply a hobby for me. They don’t know about the things I write, nor do they ask about it. Some of them are to the point of judgmental that I won’t tell them when I publish something because I don’t want to deal with that. It’s just how I am.
          Friends on the other hand, they are all very supportive, even if they don’t like the type of writing that I do. (The BDSM aspect of it) They still encourage me and joke around about what we’ll do when I hit it big. I wouldn’t be anywhere without my friends on this adventure.

3) Why did you choose your particular story for the Fairy Tale Blog.

          Why did I chose Alice in Wonderland? I loved the world of the book, the possibilities of it, even though I feel that the book has no plot. (I know there are people out there who will argue with me on this), but the world is amazing. I wanted to be able to take that world and put my own twist on it and the characters.

4) Why you took it in the direction you did?

          The direction I plan on taking is one that I mulled over and over. In the end I decided to let the characters run amok and do whatever the fuck they wanted. I wanted Wonderland to be the Fae world because in my mind it was the only supernatural world that would have such wondrous and horrifying things in it. I love working with the world of the Fae because there are so many things that can be done within it.

5) What elements are you going to keep the same as the classic version and why?

          The wonder of discovery is something I’m going to keep the same, other than that I’m really taking some liberties with this. Alice’s curiosity is something in the book that I admire. I really want to portray this in my adult Alice.

6) Do you prefer to write in silence or with the TV going or with music?

          I can go either way. I like music that reminds me of the character or that inspired the scene. When I’m writing sex I need something without words and when I’m editing I need silence. There is no if ands or buts about that. No music while writing. The TV I can get away with having it on, but I get so distracted so work tends to go slower. Much slower.

7) What is your dream writing space?

          My dream writing space would be somewhere with two monitors for editing, a wireless keyboard so that I can sit cross legged without having to worry about wires. A window with a beautiful view, where it is warm, but not too hot to work, or that ‘I want to take a nap’ warm that can happen, that needs to be somewhere where I can see it. It needs to have endless coffee and snacks. Maybe a mini fridge for cold drinks. Or man servants to bring stuff to me. ;)

8) What do you do to put yourself in the mood for writing graphic scenes like sex, violence or debautchary? 

          Ahhh sex…that needs mood music, maybe some sexy pictures to inspire…with being a BDSM author I actually have to research things so that I don’t get hounded by the masses about things not being accurate. (Though things that are not lifestyle based I do take some liberties with.) A lot of time that alone will get me in the mood to write a scene for the characters. As for violence I need anger music. I pull upon the anger and urges in me to write them. You know those urges, the one that makes you want to punch the stupid people? Yeah those ones.

9) If your life was a novel, what would the title be and who would write it?

          This is a hard question. I’d have to say the title would be something like “Hidden Beneath” or “Beyond the Mask.” As for the author I’d have to stay Janet Evanovich. Yep pretty sure my life is a comedy of shenanigans.

10) Who helps you through this crazy journey of writing?

          As I mentioned before I wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of my friends. Most of them act as my beta readers where some cheer me on from the side. I’m taking this journey with Mia and I have to say it’s been great having someone side by side with me, struggling, researching, and writing. She knows exactly what I’m going through with this. Eventually I hope to have fans going on this journey with me.

Click the links to follow Alexandra Webb on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and at the Alice page on Twisted Tales for updates and chapters that will be added to Alice’s story.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


There is something bitter sweet about ending a story or a novel. You have slaved over these characters. They are your babies. They spoke to you and tortured you in the middle of the night, and now you're done with them. Even if you are writing as series, it's bitter sweet. Yes, you'll work with them again, but they won't be the same. The journey they took through the book changed them. As a reader the ending should be what brings everything to a satisfying close. Happy Ever After or not.

I hate writing endings because for me my heart is torn out at the climax and my tears are exhausted and...then we have the down part. The part where everything should wrap up to some extent. How do you do this without shoving information down your reader's throat? How do you make it stay within that realm of believability?  To me, life doesn't always wrap up in a nice little package, so I don't always have my books do that. That being said, endings at least need to be satisfying. Endings to book with a cliff hanger better have another book in the series, or a story. If you leave your reader wanting for more, good, but don't piss them off or they are likely not to buy the next book.

I'm sure well all remember this from Lit class.
My suggestion on how to avoid the information dump is, see how much of it you can weave through out the story and give you readers the benefit of the doubt. Drop them hints so that towards the end things can be wrapped up with a couple sentences or so. It's tricky I know. You can also put it in with the climax, is your characters sneaking around? Add tension as they hear the information they need and the reader needs, but have them almost get caught, have them get lost, throw in something like they picked up a paper. I love little details that bring things together in the end as a reader.

Recently I attended a panel on things like this. Agatha Christy was a master at details like that. The example used was a character went in to get a jacket that was supposed to be upstairs, instead it was on the couch. As she went to retrieve it she saw a flash of someone going up the stairs. She ran after him, only to find that he escaped through the window. Later on it was the jacket that came into play, not the mysterious person jumping out the window.

Though sometimes the information being revealed gives your reader a chance to breath. If you just dragged them through an emotional roller coaster you need to give them a chance to come down. In the pun what feels right for the characters. This is where Beta readers come in. They can tell you what they felt about the ending. If they feel that it was rushed (One of my biggest problems) or if they felt it was too slow, or whatever they find as a reader.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cover Art, Part 2: Restrictions

Okay, so I thought I was done talking about cover art, but then I remembered one very important detail. 

Model Release.

What is Model Release?

A model release, known in similar contexts as a liability waiver, is a legal release typically signed by the subject of a photograph granting permission to publish the photograph in one form or another. The legal rights of the signatories in reference to the material is thereafter subject to the allowances and restrictions stated in the release, and also possibly in exchange for compensation paid to the photographed. [1]

This is extremely important to know when choosing a cover design if you are doing it yourself. Granted if you are having someone else make your cover they should already know this.

If you use a stock/royalty free image, like the ones from any of the big stock image sites or if you are having someone model for you, as long as they are identifiable then you need to make absolutely sure that the model has signed a Model Release.

First off let’s clear up the “identifiable” part. That doesn’t mean if the person is well known and it is in no way defined as someone you, yourself can recognize. It means that if the model is identifiable to anyone, if some passer-by sees your cover and goes “Hey! That’s Sally from my local Wal-Mart!” because Sally’s face is plastered on your cover clear as day then you better hope that Sally signed a Model Release form. And to be clear, it isn’t just for people whose face is fully featured in a photograph or stock image. There are pictures of random football players all decked out in their gear where you can’t see their face at all, but they are still a person and while you might think they are unrecognizable that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t recognize themselves and say “I didn’t give them permission to use my image.” Then BINGO, you’ve got a law suit on your hands, and no one wants that.

You need to remember that just because you can download an image that you paid for doesn’t give you the right to use that picture however you like.  The keywords to look for on the major image sites are:

Editorial Use Only

Signed Model Release on file

I can go on my favorite stock image site and do a search for pictures of David Beckham and I will come back with thousands of results but that doesn’t mean I can use his image. As a celebrity he owns his image, it is his brand. So while I can use it for Editorial purposes, if I am writing an article about soccer players, male underwear or if I am a sports reporter talking about his last big game and I am not marketing, advertising or making a profit off of the picture then I am allowed to use it (side note: even then, I would still be too afraid of his legal team to risk it). BUT, as much as I would love to use him as my cover model for my book, I cannot use his image even though I’ve paid for and downloaded it because it is specifically for Editorial Use Only.

Keep in mind that as long as you are using a reputable company for your images this really shouldn’t cause you too much stress. Almost every image I’ve found (as long as it is not of a celebrity) has a Model Release, but this is your livelihood we are talking about here so it never hurts to just make sure you double check before you click the download button. Or if you are taking pictures yourself download a simple Model Release form and have your model sign it. You can download a simple Model Release Form from various sites all over the internet, click here to see one example that is available for use.  Be forewarned, they accept no responsibility for any liabilities you may incur on any of your jobs. Also, please know that the legal issues surrounding model releases are complex and vary by jurisdiction. [1]  And that this blog post in no way should be misunderstood as legal advice or representation, it is merely meant as advice on what to look for and as with all things you should do your own research and make sure you gain legal help if necessary.

It is truly better to be safe than sorry. And always, make sure you abide by the licensing agreement and read the terms!