The Pinch: Michelle Garren Flye

It will only hurt a little, just a pinch. That’s what the nurse says.

Remember that as we welcome a favorite of mine, Michelle Garren Flye. Michelle and I go back to the old +Horror Library+ days of the Zoetrope website. I’ve been fortunate enough to become a friend over the years, and worked with her on a couple of projects. I’ve been even more fortunate to have had the joy of reading her work when she wrote ~GASP~ horror.

It is an honor to welcome Michelle back to the Donor Center for The Pinch.

10 books. That is a lot of books to have written and released. Tell me, Michelle, is this what you imagined or is it better (or maybe even a little worse)?

Thank you for having me here, A.J. Let me answer your question with a little story. Once there was a little girl about seven years old who wrote cute little stories. Her mother said the little girl had a good imagination and could be an author one day. Of course, the little seven-year-old girl barely even knew what an author was, but that word—author—stuck in her head and germinated over the years until she was certain she wanted nothing more than to write and write and write her way into the stars.

Of course, real life intervened over the years and the girl grew into a young woman who let her dreams be mashed up into a way to make a living and became a journalist. When the young woman became a wife, she wanted better hours so she could spend more time with her husband, so she went to school and became a librarian. And then she started having children and took some time off work and started writing again, all the while dreaming of one day being able to call herself an author.

Well, with ten books out there being read by other people (even if it is just a few dozen), I know I can now call myself an author. But I also know I haven’t reached the limits of my dream. I still want my books to be read by a LOT of people. So I guess the answer is, the seed is still germinating and growing and becoming a vine that someday I hope will bear fruit.

Tell us about Island Magic—the tenth book.

Island Magic is the third in my Sleight of Hand series, a romance series featuring magicians as either the hero or heroine. In this case, the hero is Logan, a retired magician whose guilt over his wife’s death several years before has kept him from returning to the life of magic. When his wife’s best friend Rachel shows up at his Caribbean resort determined to party her way through her alimony, Logan wants to help her. In the process, he pulls off a pretty cool magic trick, falls in love with Rachel and finds out the secret of why she’s on such a self-destructive path. I like Island Magic because I feel like it has a lot more depth than the first two books in the series—although I’ll always love Andre, the magician hero of Close Up Magic.

I have to do this: You used to write horror, and you were magnificent at it. Why did you choose to go in the almost completely opposite direction with your writing in doing romance novels?

You are very kind to say I was magnificent at writing horror. I never deluded myself that far. I wrote some kind of neat ghost stories, but I was nowhere near as good as most of my contemporaries (including you). However, I’d probably still be writing those ghost stories if it weren’t for the fact that one day when my younger son was still a baby, I looked at his face and realized I wanted everything in the world to be beautiful for him. Love is the most beautiful thing in the world—the one power that can light up the darkest moment in our lives—so I decided I’d rather write about it. And that’s what got me started.

What are the differences between writing horror and writing romance?

Well, obviously, you’re aiming for a different demographic with romance. Romance readers are almost entirely women. But other than that… This is actually a very difficult question to answer. Every time I start to write something down about romance, I realize the same could be said for horror.

How are they the same?

Strangely enough, this is a much easier question to answer. Because yes. They are. Good horror is realistic. So is good romance. Good horror comes from the depth of your soul, and so does good romance. In both genres, you want to shock your audience (at least a little), keep them wondering, build suspense and finally come to an inevitable conclusion. Of course, horror never requires a happily ever after and romance does. 6. Is there a chance you may go back to horror one day? You know, for old time’s sake?

Always. I still get ideas for horror and I’ve never given up my fascination with a good ghost story. Whenever I travel, I find a bookstore and go straight to the local interest section to find the local histories and legends. And living on the coast of North Carolina, I’m determined I will one day write a book about a ghost pirate. Maybe it’ll even be a romance. Who knows?

The following is an excerpt from Island Magic, Michelle’s newest releas. Enjoy:

“Rachel!” The voice yanked her into semi-consciousness, or maybe it was the hands gripping her shoulders. God, had she fallen asleep in the waiting room? And why was everything so bright, and why did it all hurt so much? She wanted to tell him to leave her alone, let her rest for a few more minutes, but the anxiety in his voice when he called her name again made her push past the inertia.

“Jesus. What? Did I fall asleep?”

Logan stared at her for a second, then enfolded her in his arms. “Thank God. For a second I thought…” He stopped, pushing her away from him and she noticed for the first time the black marks on his face.

“God, what happened to you? Were you working on the plane or something?” She pulled away, brushing something gritty from her shoulders, feeling more in her hair. Why was she sandy? She looked around, taking in her surroundings with astonishment. “What?” She returned her gaze to him. “What am I doing on the beach?”

He frowned. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

“The waiting room at the airport. What happened? I hurt all over.” She struggled to stand, but he stopped her.

“Wait. Take it easy. You don’t remember getting on the plane? Maybe you hit your head harder than I thought.” He brushed her hair back from her face. “You’re not bleeding.” His frown deepened. “How do you feel?”

“What do you mean, how do I feel? I feel like a truck ran over me. I told you, I hurt all over.” Her voice came out sounding petulant and whiny and she stopped, taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I just don’t understand. What happened?”

He hesitated, glanced around and finally said, “Let’s get out of the sun. It’s the middle of the afternoon and you don’t have any sunblock on.”

She let him help her to her feet, leaning on him as she turned toward the shadier area just off the beach. She stopped, first because she didn’t recognize the beach and second because of the smoking, blackened hulk a few hundred feet away. She gasped, her knees buckling beneath her. “Oh my God! Were we on…that?”

Before you click off the page, please check out Michelle’s links. Here’s the thing: she’s not just a great writer, but Michelle is a great person, who puts her heart and soul into her work. If you like romance, then you will love Michelle’s books> Check her out at the following links:

Michelle Garren Flye’s Website

Michelle Garren Flye on Twitter

Michelle Garren Flye on Facebook

Sleight of Hand Facebook Page

As always, thank you for reading, and until we meet again, my friends…

The Versatile Blogger Award… and the Nominations Are…

Sometimes the best surprises come out of nowhere. And it’s those little things that can make a world of difference in a person’s attitude, outlook, or just make them smile and feel good inside.

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of my day working on writing related materials. Had an interview done of me and then started doing an interview with someone else. Wrote a blog about trying something different, a teaser for the readers, if you will, called The Inside View. In the process of creating The Inside View (the I.V. as I fondly call it) I started two other blogs related to it and hope to finish those soon. I asked a favor of a friend, then asked another favor of another friend. I sought advice about an idea from a close writer friend—one I trust more than most—and she gave me her straight up honest opinion.

I did a bit of writing on Her Cure. Managed a decent two thousand words.

I did some reading on Andy Taylor’s book, The Drunk and the Dead. Yes, there is a theme there and no, this is not Andy Taylor from Mayberry.

All this with my lovely wife in bed sick most of the day, which meant I had Kid Watch Duty. Thankfully, the kids played well together.

Oh and I had a great time bashing Twilight on Facebook with some friends. If my wife reads those posts, she may disown me.

As I was about to settle in to watch The Walking Dead I pulled up my blog to post a draft for the next installment of the I.V. series to go up sometime this week or next. Lo and behold there was a comment on the blog I wrote yesterday.

Before I go to that comment, let me say this: I have had my blog, Type AJ Negative, for a little over eighteen months. There are a total of 116 Posts, 44 Pages (most of which are interviews) and a grand total of 325 comments. In that same span, I have had 2091 Spam comments. Basically, the math equals out to one legit comment to every almost seven spams. I guess that comes with the territory.

Now that you have a little history about the blog, let me tell you about the comment in the post from yesterday. It was from Candice W Coghill and she commented to let me know she had nominated my blog for The Versatile Blogger Award.

That may not mean much to some, but for me, it made me feel good inside, like an acceptance letter does. For one thing, I haven’t known Candice all that long, but her words in her comments were nice and it told me that I haven’t just been writing into the Internet Black Hole. Someone reads my blog on a regular basis. That alone made me feel really good.

Now what?

Well, I’m going to make sure the image goes up on my blog’s front page, that’s for sure. For me, if someone thought enough about something I’m doing to say, ‘hey, I read your blog every chance I get’ then I want to make sure everyone knows. Besides, it’s nice to be acknowledged by someone who is not a judge of some contest or part of a committee to decide if my work is worthy enough to win any other awards. It was something nominated by another person because they liked something I did.

So, Candice W. Coghill, thank you. Thank you for making my day and for giving me the knowledge that someone reads Type AJ Negative and that my ramblings aren’t just from a mad man, but they reach ears… err… eyes.

There are rules to this award and they are:

* Thank the award-giver and link back to their blog in your post.

* Include a link to the original blog, The Versatile Blogger Award.

* Share seven things about yourself.

* Pass this award along to fifteen blogs you enjoy reading.

* Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

* There is no deadline for responding, although I would imagine that being “fairly prompt” would be the polite thing to do.

Let me see, I already did the first two, but let me do it again. Candice W. Coghill, THANK YOU from down south. This southern boy appreciates it.

Now, all you folks out there reading this, you need to go check out Candice’s blog, read the posts, comment. You don’t have to tell her A.J. sent you, but just make sure and visit HERE.

While you’re at it, go to the blog where all of this originated at: The Versatile Blogger Award.

Seven Things About Me

Are there really seven things I can tell about me, legally? I guess these should be things that most folks don’t know about me.

1. My wife asked me out on our first date. True story. She asked me out as a last resort to a birthday/tailgating party then told me if there was another guy there, to act like I was her boyfriend. We haven’t been apart since. I’m one heck of an actor, eh? (And one VERY LUCKY man)

2. I once picked imaginary spiders out of my hospital bed as a kid. Long story short, I had an accident as a child and ended up in the hospital for a period of time. I had hallucinations when I woke up that spiders were in my bed. My mom, who is deathly terrified of spiders placed her hand in the bed with me and said, ‘Would I do this if there were spiders in the bed?’ The natural response was ‘no.’ Later, my mom saw me plucking out the hallucinated spiders and asked, ‘What are you doing?’

‘I’m picking out the nice spiders.’

3. I secretly like my wife’s cat, Mia. Though I call her Hellspawn, she is a sweet cat and fun to play with, especially when using a laser light. She also looks at me funny when I say, ‘What up, dog?’ to her.

4. When I was a child I wanted to be the Fonz, from Happy Days. I even had a false leather jacket and the whole thumbs up and ‘Aaaaay’ routine down pat. Then I thought I had the Fonz’s touch when trying to be cool, I hit a drink machine one day and a coke came out. That’s right—I am cool.

5. My eyes tear up every time I hear My Hometown by Bruce Springsteen. It reminds me of my dad and me when I was a kid and all the things he taught me. I love my dad.

6. My favorite book of all time is Where the Wild Things Are. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to elaborate on that one.

7. I once wrote my own version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and titled it Rudolph the Dead Head Reindeer. In it, Rudy was a drunk who liked Fuzzy Navels and was arrested for FUI—Flying Under the Influence. I also drew a picture of the drunk reindeer missing an ear and sporting a tattoo on his forehead that read OUT TO LUNCH.

Fifteen Blogs that I Find Worthy of this award:

Fifteen? I’m not sure I could qualify fifteen, but quite possibly ten.

BREATHE: This is Michelle Garren Flye’s blog. I think she deserves it simply because, a) she’s super cool and b) The HONEOWP. That would be Helpful Outstanding Novelists, Editors and Others in the Writing Profession. Each month she donates a portion of her royalties to a charity and it’s a different one each month.

Belinda Frisch, Author: As you can probably guess by the title, this is Belinda’s blog. Belinda constantly updates it with useful information about both the traditional and indie publishing worlds. She also calls it the way she sees it and I like that in both my friends and what I read.

Speaking of Belinda:

The E-Book Bin: This is another of Belinda’s blogs (which shows just how versatile she is and why she is nominated).

I’m going to count those two blogs as one nomination.

Word Blurb: Chantel Boudreau’s blog. I don’t know Chantel all that well, but I do know that at her blog there are a lot of book reviews and good articles to ponder on. Her reviews are honest and straightforward. Her blogs are the same way.

Juniper Grove: The blog of writer Jaidis Shaw. Like most blogs, Jaidis focuses on her self to a point, but then, like most good blogs, she focuses on others as well. From featured authors to book reviews to a little thing called Nurture Your Books, there is a lot to see from writers to books to Jaidis as well.

The Writer’s Block Party: Is it obvious I like the sites that offer to help promote other writers? I’ve always said word of mouth is the best marketing tool and that’s exactly what The Writer’s Block Party is, a blog dedicated to other writers with interviews and guest blogs going up on a regular basis. Lisa Taylor has dove in with both feet to help promote others while drawing very little attention to herself.

This Is My World, the blog spot of Nerine Dorman. Again, another writer taking time out to pimp other writers. Nerine does interviews and guest blogs and it helps everyone involved.

Raccoons with Tubas… yeah…: Okay this blog is just fun to look at. It’s Steve Lowe’s bizarre (dare I say bizarro?) site and yes there is some language, but it’s all Loweprechaun…

The Galloping Ghostwriter: I’ve only been following this blog for a short time. The articles about writing action fiction are informative and insightful. It’s the blog home of David Ritchie.

Fran Friel’s Yada Feast: Okay, this one has a lot of sentimental value for me. Fran is one of those people who helped me out when I first started writing and trying to get published. She was the one responsible for getting me into blogging and the Yada Feast is always full of great information, neat insights and Fran being Fran. There’s a reason I call her my Big Sis.

My Name Is Not Bob: This is Robert Lee Brewer’s blog. I do not know Mr. Brewer, but I absolutely love his blog and all the information on it.

Ramblings of an Anxiety Ridden Mind: Suzanne Robb does a LOT of interviews of horror writers and we all know how much we like to be interviewed.

So, eleven it is.

I close this as I have come to close all of my blogs and posts: Until we meet again, my friends…

[[Herbie’s Note: Again, thank you Candice, for the nomination. I am honored.]]

It’s ALIVE…

Oh my. It’s here. The new phonebooks are here…

Oh, wait, that’s not right. While I do feel a little like Steve Martin from the movie The Jerk right now, the new phonebooks don’t arrive until February around these parts.

What has arrived is my three story compilation, Along the Splintered Path. Officially, it was released yesterday by Dark Continents Publishing, but sometimes it takes a day or so for it to appear on Amazon. I’m here to say that, yes, it is now Alive—Alive, I tell you… mwa ha ha ha ha—at Amazon.

Ahem…

I like to make things easy for the readers, so here is the link to the Amazon page:

Along the Splintered Path

If you, the readers, wouldn’t mind picking up a copy and reading it, I would appreciate it. Seeing that it is priced at 2.99, I’d say that’s a deal, wouldn’t you?

Also, if you feel inclined to, would you mind leaving your thoughts about the collection? If not, I’m okay with that. I’m just glad you wanted to read it.

Also, the first of what I hope is many interviews is now live at BREATHE, Michelle Garren Flye’s blog. You can check it out here:

A.J.’s Back: Announcing ALONG THE SPLINTERED PATH

Drop a comment, say hey to Michelle and peruse her blog—lots of good stuff going on there.

Also, I want to mention that my collection is one of ten released by Dark Continents Publishing in what is The Tales of Darkness and Dismay book release. Twelve authors, Ten books. In the coming weeks, I will post blogs and, hopefully interviews, for all of them. Stay tuned. You won’t be sorry.

For now, I’m A.J. and I’m out…

Keep It Simple Stupid

Who am I to tell you how to write? I’m not the best writer in the world. I’m clearly not the smartest guy you’ll ever meet. I may be in contention for the opposite end of that spectrum. I can’t do quantum physics. I’m not a rocket scientist. I can, however, color within the lines and I build a mean Lego castle. Even if I slept in a Holiday Inn Express, I wouldn’t be any smarter when I woke up than I was the night before. You know, Holiday Inn Express… the commercials…

Wow, crickets.

Though I can’t rap like white bread in the video, I do know one thing: what I like in writing. That is simplicity. I like the simplicity of the written word, when the writer writes, well, simple.

Some of the old school writers had the right idea when they penned their stories, giving just enough detail for the reader to understand the location and then let the story spell itself out.

However, in many cases, the dialogue really lacked a realistic flair.

Then you had those writers who were quite knowledgeable with their vocabulary. I found many of those stories to be tedious and aggravating. If I have to keep a dictionary handy when reading something, more often than not, I stop reading.

As time moved on, writers began going full on descriptive. You know some of those writers I speak of. Anne Rice and Stephen King come to mind (hey, not bashing King here–he’s my favorite writer, but let’s call a horse a horse, okay?). I love to know the scenery and the way folks appear and what’s going on, but I don’t need four pages on the shade of purple a curtain is. Yah know?

In today’s world of fiction, we are told action, action, action. Get straight to the action. So, the modern writer has become action driven, while character and descriptions have gone by the wayside.

What I like is a mixture of all of those. Details without overdoing it, simple prose without being too wordy and action that feels real without all the Batman BIFFS and BAMS.

Is that too much to ask?

Here’s the thing with me, the reader: If I find a story is straight up action, I put it down. I don’t care much for that style at all. If I find a story that is straight up descriptions, I put it down. If the story is too weighty on one thing and not balanced out by the other, I put it down. Bad dialogue makes me cringe and I almost always put those stories down. Lately I’ve put down a lot of books.

As a reader, I want the mixture. I want writing that’s not going to confuse me and a story that will engage me and not something that is so quick I feel like I just had great sex that ended badly. Does that make sense? I hope so, because I really don’t want to go into details with that…

I want the well rounded story. The simple story.

Simple? Yes, simple. Simple sentence structure. Simple language.

You see, we writers tend to over think things. Things our readers could care less about. In most cases, that is fine, but in some, not so much. We want our words to be just so, that when the editors get them they will gush and say they have to have that story. We tend to over analyze and scrutinize and theorize and whatever-else-ize you want to throw in there.

Listen to me for a second: Readers want great stories. That’s the bottom line. They want to be entertained. They want to fall in love with and/or hate the characters. They want to FEEL something while they are reading and, especially, when they are done. They don’t want to be confused. They want to be immersed in a story until its end and then need a cigarette afterward.

In order to do that, you don’t need purple prose or elaborate sentence structure. You simply need to tell the story.

Let’s be honest here: Do any of you wish you were Stephanie Meyer right now? She may not be the best writer in the world, but she wrote in simple terms with engaging characters. Bottom line. She wrote the great American novel–though many, myself included, don’t find it to be all that great. But, thousands upon thousands of women do. You can’t really argue with the success, can you? It wouldn’t do you any good. Those women are vicious about their Twilight…

Meyer had an idea and she wrote it. She threw the rules out the window and just wrote the story. The sentence structure is easy to read; the wording simplistic. If you ask a thousand women, nine hundred of them will say the book is a page turner.

Simple writing. Simple story. I need to vomit now…

Some folks are just born with talent and anything they write turns to gold. Most of us were not and we have to develop our skills as we go along. It’s an eternal internship. Say that five times real fast. We have to learn how to tell a effortless story.

I’ve pondered this over the last few years as I’ve tried to develop the ability to write engaging stories and memorable characters. I experimented with the action oriented stories and didn’t like them. I tried to use sophisticated language, but it just wasn’t me. I tried the heavy descriptions and found myself nodding off while writing. A bad sign if there ever were one. Now, I’m in the Happy Medium mode, trying to blend enough action with descriptions and feeding off the senses of the characters to, hopefully, create memorable works. I like where I’m at right now, though I’ve got a few major areas that need work.

The one thing I have always tried to do is keep my story simple. You’ve heard of K.I.S.S., right? No, not the rock band.

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K.I.S.S. stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. Ring a bell? Good. That philosophy is perfect for writing. It doesn’t mean you have to dumb down your writing. Just don’t overdo it. Complicated storylines are fine. Complicated writing is not. You want your stories to be free flowing and capture the imagination of your readers. By using eighteen letter words that start in X and end with Z you just may lose your readers, or at least jolt them out of the story.

I have come across some stories that are simple in the writing and hard to put down. I find the writers to be refreshing and have won me over as a fan.

My favorite of these is a guy named John Mantooth. If you’ve read any of my blogs before you may have heard his name once or twice. I’ve never read stories that seem so effortless in their telling. Take for example, The Water Tower, which appeared in Fantasy Magazine in 2009. Great writing, terrific story and engaging characters. The writing is simple and very easy to read. I could not pull myself away from this story until the final word had been read.

Mark Wolf, an individual I have watched grow as a writer over the last few years has quickly developed an easy reading style. I often find I have a hard time getting into fantasy and sci/fi types of stories, but I’ve often enjoyed his pieces. A little peek into Mark’s writing style and you will see it is simple and you can garner a lot of information in just a few words:

I was about 12 when I met Redder. I’d been orphaned for nearly half my life and made my way through snatching. Of course I had a wee advantage. I was a morph.

Very easy to read. This being a work in progress, I asked permission to use a little of the story ahead of time. I’m sure by the time Mark gets done with it, that paragraph will probably look different, while maintaining its simplicity.

There is Belinda Frisch , the author of the novel, Dead Spell. I received her book in the mail last week and sat down to read it. I’m a slow reader by nature, so the fact that I read through about 25 pages in about ten minutes is pretty good. The story is a page turner and it has none of the useless drivel that we find in so many novels these days. Unfortunately, my wife swooped in and took the book and has been reading it. Until she is done, I won’t see it again. If not for spring break here in SC, I would probably already have my grubby little hands back on it.

Possibly my favorite female author is a friend of mine, Michelle Garren Flye . I’ve known Michelle for a few years now and, aside from the way she writes, she is a terrific individual. The Steps My Lover Built is a short, yet powerful piece and it’s a very good example of simple writing. There is nothing fanciful about this story, but the meaning of it is easily understood.

There are others, but many of them don’t have websites or don’t submit their works for publication. It drives me nuts.

I will leave you with a thought. Keep It Simple Stupid–it’s easier than most of us think.

But, who am I to tell you how to write? After all, I’m still just another writer trying to find my way in this business. Ah, but I’m also a reader, and I know what I like to read and usually those stories that are the easiest to read and swallows a person up are the ones that are simply written…

Secrets of the Lotus By Michelle Garren Flye

My friend, Michelle Garren Flye, has a novel out. Yes, I know a lot of other folks do as well, but Michelle is my friend, so…

At any rate, her book is titled Secrets of the Lotus and, yes, it is a romance novel, which normally would make my gag reflex kick in. But, not in this case and not only because Michelle is my friend, as I mentioned above. Michelle is a terrific writer and her characters can suck you in (for the men in the audience, please behave for two minutes) and her storylines are always engaging and keep you reading.

Not only that, but Michelle is doing a donation drive. For the ENTIRE year of 2011 she’s donating all of her royalties to charities—a different one each month. How cool is that? So, if you buy Secrets of the Lotus not only will you get a great read, but you will also help the charity that Michelle donates to in that particular month. It’s a win-win situation, especially since the book is not that expensive.

Secrets of the Lotus

If you would like to purchase Secrets of the Lotus, please follow the link below and it will take you to the Lyrical Press website where you can pick you up a copy or two or three and help a charity at the same time.

http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=81&products_id=273

And when you’re done with that, go check out Michelle’s blog/website, BREATHE.

http://michellegflye.wordpress.com/

And if you want to read an interview that Herbie had with Michelle, go here:

https://typeajnegative.wordpress.com/blood-donors/michelle-garren-flye-pricks-a-finger-and-kills-commas/

Thank you for reading and thank you if you purchased one of Michelle’s books. It is truly worth it on all counts.