Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Guest Blog - Matt Schiariti

Today I'm delighted to welcome my friend and fellow writer of books that feature wise-cracking badasses and demons, Matt Schiariti, to the blog! He's here today, not with demons, but romance. Or maybe kinda both. Take it away, Matt!

Thanks to Naomi Clark for letting me muddle up her blog with some of my rampant ramblings for a while. I promise I’ll try not to do too much damage. Good thing I signed that waiver.


Today’s topic is on switching writing genres. Was it hard? Fun? Why did I go from one category of book to something completely different? In order to answer those questions, I’ll have to give you some background about my work and myself. Then we’ll get into the whys, difficulties, fun factor, and why I write what I write. Go on, make yourself comfortable!

If you go to my Amazon author page you’ll see six works with my name on them. Three are self-published, and the other three are small press anthologies. In order of publication they are as follows: Hollow: Be Careful What You Wish For (horror short in the Apocalypse 13 anthology), Words with Fiends: A Short Story (horror/suspense novelette … permanently free pretty much everywhere including Amazon, by the way), Ghosts of Demons Past (my debut paranormal/urban fantasy novel), The Carnival 13 (I’m responsible for Chapter 7 of this shared world horror story), A Dollar and a $cream (paranormal/crime noire short in the Lucky 13 Anthology), and Funeral with a View (my contemporary romance novel).

*queue the sound of screeching tires*

You wouldn’t be alone if you did a double take after reading the end of the preceding paragraph. A contemporary romance novel? This guy who’s written about mediums, ghosts, demons, twisted carnivals, haunted lottery tickets, and vengeful spirits almost exclusively? Stranger things have happened, I assure you. Let’s get into the why, and you’ll see it’s not so strange after all.

Funeral with a View was my first foray into novel writing even though it’s my most recent publication. I cranked it out in just over five weeks back in early 2012, and then went to work on what would become Ghosts of Demons Past, Words with Fiends, etc., etc. The funny thing is, it wasn’t supposed to be a romance. I had an idea for a retrospective of sorts and ran with it. I had no idea what it would turn into back then; I sat and wrote, pantsing every single chapter. The story took on a life of its own—as many authors will tell you stories are wont to do—early in the writing and at the end of the day it had turned into a love story on me. What really made the book what it would become was real life. Funeral with a View is partially based on true events. It’s not a personal memoire or a “the names have been changed to protect the innocent” tell-all, but some personal experiences were the inspiration for what’s in those chapters. In a way writing the book was cathartic, a chance to take some of the things on my mind and toss them onto unsuspecting characters of my own creation.

So, was it fun? Difficult?

The initial writing of Funeral with a View was very fun. I had nothing riding on it. I was writing for the sake of writing, trying to find my voice, completely filled with the piss and vinegar of the inexperienced. It wasn’t until I came back to it well over a year later that it turned into work.

After publishing Ghosts of Demons Past, I went back to the world of Richard Franchitti (the main character and narrator) and his cast of supporting characters, wanting to see if what I’d written by the seat of my pants was worth putting out into the world. There was gold in them thar hills, but it wasn’t easy to mine it. I spent a few months chopping and rewriting. The original manuscript was over 130,000 words (!!). Hard to believe I did that in just five weeks. I trimmed it down to about 78,000 or so, thought it was at the point where I could send it out to beta readers, and did just that. Response was mostly positive, but there were flaws. You see, the book is such a character-driven emotional roller coaster that everything, from cause and consequence to character motivations and reactions, had to be damned near perfect. Turned out that I didn’t do quite a few things right. I was ham-fisted with some characters, didn’t assign enough weight to others. It was always a romance, but I had to romancify (I just made that up, but you can use it if you like) it even more. Given that my previous work had never had that level of “romance” to it, it required a lot of thought and planning to get it correct. Those five weeks of writing turned into almost a year of editing. So, no. In that regard switching genres, or going so far afield of what I’d published before, really, was anything but easy, and was the polar opposite of fun. It didn’t help that I had all kinds of personal crises rain down on me during that time period. It wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it. I couldn’t be any happier with the book, and reader reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Guess I’ve done something right, huh?

This topic is rather timely. The subject of straying so far from “my norm” came up a few times in conversations with book friends as I slaved away editing Funeral with a View, but it’s just come up again within the last few days. I’ve already started a sequel to Ghosts of Demons Past, but there’s been this idea nagging at me for months, an idea that falls right into the romantic suspense category. Essentially the conversation became a discussion about sticking to a single genre and working it, the market, what sells. It was then that I realized something important: I don’t have a specific genre. Funeral with a View, while retaining my voice and style, proves that.

I am an indie hobbyist. There is no denying that. Writing isn’t my job. Writing is something I do. Because of that, I can write whatever I feel like. My stories aren’t reliant on on what’s selling or what the market dictates. I can get away with that because I have a career with a steady paycheck, benefits, pension, the whole nine yards. I wrote Funeral with a View not because I thought it would sell as a romance, but because I had the seed of an idea that I thought would make a good story. Same can be said for Ghosts of Demons Past. I didn’t write a paranormal novel about a screw-up medium and ghosts and demons because it’s popular. I wrote it because, once again, I had the idea for good character, a back story, and a plot. My romantic suspense work in progress? The genre is huge right now, but that’s not why I’m traveling down that avenue. I’m doing it because there’s potential for a great, engaging story is there based on the ideas that keep coming to me and I’d like to see what I can do with it. A good friend once told me she likes my stories because I’m “not commercial, but that could be hurting my sales.” And that’s fine. I like not being commercial, and I like writing whatever moves me. There’s a certain degree of freedom in all of this when you’re not dependent on it.

Maybe I do have a genre, after all. I’ll call it the “Good Stories That Are Fun For Me To Write” genre. Because that’s what I’m getting back to with all this writing business: fun.

Author Bio

Matt Schiariti is an Engineeer by profession, guitar legend in his own mind, and would-be author, time permitting. When he’s not writing, he’s reading. When he’s not reading, he’s enjoying a beer sporting a fancy name on the label. When he’s not enjoying a fancy-named beer, he’s most likely reading some more. Sometimes he does all three at once, to disastrous effect.
Matt lives in southern New Jersey with his wife, two children, and insane dog. Funeral with a View is his second published novel, but not his last.
You have been warned.
Here are some links should you want to find out more about what he’s up to or just say hi.

Monday, 15 December 2014

MOAR Ethan

Step right up, kids, because I've got another Ethan Banning short story for you all! ICE, ICE, BABY is available now via Smashwords, Amazon US, and Amazon UK

So what do you need to know about ICE, ICE, BABY? Here's some facts:

1. It's a pre-UNDERTOW story, so Ethan is demon-free and blissfully unaware of what cruel fate awaits him.

2. But you don't need to read this to understand anything that happens in UNDERTOW - these Ethan Banning shorts are meant to be stand-alone.

3. It's a Christmas special! And a murder mystery! And Ethan almost has a really nice night.

This is the third Ethan short I've polished up and re-published this year, following on from UNGRATEFUL DEAD and STAKEOUT. Next year I hope to add some brand new short stories to the collection (not to mention another novel!), but in the mean time, if you need an Ethan fix, this is your deal, yo.

Monday, 8 December 2014

"You know time crawls on when you're waiting for the song to start...

...so dance alone to the beat of your heart."

Oh Jesus it's like, properly December and what am I doing? I didn't get any writing done last week due to A) an avalanche of perfume orders, B) taking up swimming again, and C) going to a rave for Kyle's birthday and spending the next day too tired to do anything but veg out on the sofa watching Stargate: SG1. Bad writer. Slapped wrists all round.

This week it shall be different! I don't want to lose the momentum I built up in November with Nightmare Moon, and I have plans for a couple of other projects that I need to crack on with. I cannot wait until I finish work next Friday - two weeks off for Christmas! I plan to split my time as evenly as possible between perfume-making and writing so I can start the New Year in a good place to finish some projects, as opposed to just having a million things started.

Look at this majestic asshole
I decided 2015 is going to be the Year of the Basilisk* (following on from 2013's Year of the Unicorn and 2014's Year of the Kraken), and have thus decided I want to go into the New Year with all guns blazing, ready to be king of the serpents queen of the world. To that end, I am making a To-Do List, because that is pretty much the only way I can keep myself focused in a world full of comic book movie news and pictures of adorable kittens.

1. Finish first draft of Nightmare Moon
2. Finish first draft of Ethan #2
3. Finish first draft of In Cold Blood (an Urban Wolf spin-off)
4. Work on Secret Urban Wolf Project
5. Re-start the next Urban Wolf novel

I'm not setting deadlines on these things, because I still need to allow for running Common Brimstone, and the fact that my arm problems really flare up in the colder months, but that's roughly the order of importance. I also want to work on some more Ethan short stories and I have this really nagging idea about a banshee working for vampires floating around my head...But that needs to wait. I guess "blog more" should be in there somewhere, and I'm also on a quest to find the perfect candy floss pink hair dye, but I don't think I need to add that to the list particularly.

I should also be getting the rights to AFTERLIFE reverted to me in the extremely near future, so then I need to decide what to do with that baby. In the mean time, please enjoy the song I can't get out of my head at the moment:

  *I'll explain next time

Monday, 1 December 2014

Aw, Monday. No.

Today was definitely a Monday. I can tell because I had to go to work and I didn't like it. I can also tell because my bike was stolen from outside the hospital. Someone literally just hacked the lock in half and took off with it (the bike, not the lock). This is coming hot on the heels of our boiler breaking down and our washing machine packing up, so I guess at least nothing else bad is due to happen for a while?

I guess?

Anyway. Let us not dwell. The boiler and washing machine will be fixed and the bike will maim the genitals of the thief, if we're all lucky. The good news is there are good things happening out there. Here's some of them:

Evernight Publishing is having a Cyber Monday Sale - 25% off all ebooks!

Why yes, that does include all my titles with them, including the Readers' Choice Award nominee, THE BEAST OF BIRCH HILL (which you can still vote for, if you're so inclined and want to see me win Best Lesbian).

Two of my favourite indie perfumers are running Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales that you should definitely check out. Deep Midnight Perfume is offering a "buy two, get one free" deal. This is exceptional value, as Cat has tons of choice and some truly amazing perfumes. I snapped a few to add to my not-at-all-excessive collection, and I can recommend Grimalkin, Gardens of Babylon, Skeleton Crew, and Darkness Falls as particular favourites of mine.

Midnight Gypsy is running a sale all this week, offering 15% off your order with the code CYBER. Tina's perfumes are sheer class, stunningly made, and a joy to wear. I adore Absinthe Sucre (one day we shall discuss my absinthe perfume fetish in detail, perhaps), but I also have a fondness for A Murder of Crows.

Not a Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal, but still awesome, Beastly Beverages (maker of artisan fandom teas, so what more do you want?) will be donating £2 from every sale until 18th December to the Ferguson Defence Fund. They are also offering 50% off when you spend over £50 with the code CHRISTMAS. So if you desperately need Sherlock, Firefly, Supernatural, or Hannibal inspired-tea (which you probably do), you should check that out.

What else good is happening?

Oh yeah! This is coming:

So, despite it being a Monday, I suppose it's not all bad.