With Love: An Interview with Genilee and Sharon

With Love: An Interview with Genilee and Sharon

by Judy Spring Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up to the authors of Twist of Fate, F. Sharon Swope and Genilee Swope Parente. This mother-daughter writing duo has offered insight into their lives, collaborative process, and a bit about the upcoming sequel in their Sam Osborne Detective Series, Wretched Fate. Sharon and her husband Robert live in Woodbridge, Virginia, while Genilee lives a little ways down the road in Dumfries with her husband Ray and daughter Christina. Although Sharon has had dogs most of her life, she currently doesn’t have any pets. Genilee’s household is shared with a mom cat and two kittens, and a dog that would like to make friends with the feline crew, but hasn’t yet succeeded. Music is a must in this family, and Genilee thanks her ma and pa for the introduction to swing music from the wonderful 40s, as well as a shared love of classical music. In addition to listening to acoustical folk music, country, and Irish music, Genilee offers an extended thanks to her daughter for sharing the popular genre, and also to her talented brother for a love of instrumental. In down time, Sharon relaxes by playing games of any kind: card games, mahjong, and computer games are a mentionable few. Genilee, however, relaxes by “doing ANYthing but play games. Mom did not pass down the competitive gene. I read, write, and watch movies.” Each of these ladies had a favorite quote to share. Sharon believes in fairness and hard work, citing two quotes that demonstrate these qualities to her: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and, “God helps those who help themselves.” Genilee shared the quote: “Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” She says that this quote has been overused in recent years, but she has a copy of it on her refrigerator. She applies this quote to her craft with these words, “Writing is about focusing on those moments.” When asked what advice they would give to their younger selves, they offered a ponderable thought. Sharon shared this piece of heart, “Don’t wait so long to pursue your dreams.” This is a powerful observation by one who is respectably pursuing and achieving her dream. It’s no wonder her daughter Genilee offered the same words of wisdom following it with, “But never give up on them, as they can happen at any age.” Below are a few detailed questions, followed with replies from both of the authors, and we hope you enjoy. Who is your favorite author? Sharon:  Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsay, and Mary Higgins Clark. Genilee:  Mary Higgins Clark,...

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Halloween Reads

Halloween Reads

Something for all the Ghouls and Boils… by Merethe Walther There is little more compelling in horror stories than the unexplained and hidden things that go ‘bump’ in the night. And why not? Fear is a riveting source of entertainment. Why else would we sit, huddled in the dark around a television set, eyes glued to the screen, waiting for the monster or killer to jump out and scare not only the characters in the story, but also us, our pulses jumping just a *little* bit faster? For those of you who like the thrill of being terrified, the elation of a ghost story in the cemetery, and the fright of hearing noises when you know no one is there—we’ve got a little something for you. If you’re looking for a spine-tingling good tale, why settle just for one? Disturbing holds a collection of seven heart-hammering stories of the terrifying and the unknown. Disturbing is a compilation of the frightening; a tome of relentless, hauntingly creepy stories that leave goosebumps and uncertainty in their wake. Take a step outside of the ordinary and into a world where anything is possible, and everything is… Disturbing. “Truce.” She carefully unhooked her arm and reached up to clasp his hand. With help, Annie climbed up, swung her leg over the railing, and dropped to her feet on the other side. An odd, shivery sensation passed between them, leaving her a little disoriented when she eventually slipped her hand from his. His remained outstretched for a moment, suspended in the space where their palms had touched, until slowly, he curled his fingers closed and let his arm drop. His gaze never wavered from hers. Annie shifted away from his scrutiny and looked around. The dark expanse of bring yawned into the night from either side, with a single, sickly streetlamp to light the way. Something didn’t seem quite right, though she couldn’t explain why. “So,” Annie hugged her arms to her chest to ward off the sudden chill, “What are you doing out here? Really.” Her words frosted the evening air with little clouds of white. “Oh, you know,” he said. “Stalking.” “Yeah, right,” she looked at him, incredulous. “And girls on bridges just so happen to be on the venue tonight, huh?” He shrugged. “Those are the best kind, aren’t they?” Maybe you’re hungry for something a bit more gruesome than some ghost stories? Perhaps you’ve got a craving for something more to whet your horror appetite? How about a good old-fashioned, nail-biting, clawing, terror-inducing zombie attack to sate that craving? Welcome to a world in which the zombie apocalypse really happened, and see it from the view of those who kill...

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The Darkest Age Interview

The Darkest Age Interview

by Judy Spring Spectacle Publishing Media Group has recently published a horror role-playing game, The Darkest Age, collaboratively written by Eric Staggs, Rob Gee, and Julia Gengenbach. Based on the d20 OGL system, The Darkest Age is set in 14th century Europe where an unusual strain of the bubonic plague creates a world full of zombies, corruption, fear, and paranoia. Eric Staggs has answered a few development questions to give us insight to the frightening experience that is DA. Where did The Darkest Age originate? What was the motivation behind the role-playing game? There have been quite a few attempts in the tabletop gaming world to capitalize on the zombie craze. I wrote an elaborate research paper on the sub-genre of zombies when I was doing my undergrad. work and since then have spent much time considering this phenomenon. I wanted to try to explain all the inconsistencies, to create a viable game world that would allow players to explore a dangerous environment, yet without the futility of a true “extinction level event.” How did the project mature or expand over time? The initial idea was intense—profound almost. What happens when the Black Plague, which killed ¾ of Europe, also turns the infected into zombies? We had to determine how the world would react, how would a medieval/pre-Renaissance society survive? Could they at all? We had to do some detailed anthropological work, as well as extrapolate concepts from other writers, like Max Brooks (Zombie Survival Guide and WWZ). What aspects of DA are different from other RPGs? First, DA has unique character classes. Most character classes are based on a cultural concept—the Skald for example. We worked hard to find a way to logically create a measure of gender equality in this historical setting. The Midwife and Mystic are great examples. The mystic is a historical figure not often mentioned in church history—a heretic or prophet [with powers] a church official thought they might use to their own advantage. It’s pretty shady stuff, but imagine if you were accused of witchcraft, yet offered this chance to have the ear of a bishop? The midwife has evolved into something much more powerful than a nurse or medicine woman. They’ve become an organized power group that literally has control over the future of humanity. Further, The Darkest Age is a role-playing game. The precarious grip of this civilization requires players to be clever, and to think. The typical, “I draw my sword and attack,” scenario simply won’t work. What aspects were important to keep the same, and why? Well, it’s still a d20 based game system. This is important because anyone who’s played Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 or above will know...

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Learning to be a Writer

Learning to be a Writer

By Yen Ooi The journey in becoming a writer neither starts nor stops at writing itself. Of course, producing copious amounts of stories, prose, poetry, and text is vital for a writer, but there is also the much ignored fact that in becoming a writer, one must be like a writer. Don’t worry—last I checked, writers are not a different species or a specific sub-species, but there are two important characteristics of a writer that I believe are key. These characteristics are probably true across all creative types, all artists. Neil Gaiman famously said that, “If you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave like they would.” So, I twist his words and say, pretend to be a writer and just behave like writers would, and slowly, you will be one. But what is it that makes a writer, a writer? In the last few years, I have met many people in various creative careers—writers, artists, designers, musicians—and I realised that everyone is creating something, and that we are all passionate about our own creations. I also realised that there are those, like Gaiman, who are a cut above the rest. I believe that this is because of two characteristics. Good artists are: 1) humble 2) proud.   Yes, I know. It sounds like the above makes all artists hypocrites, but hear me out. All artists, people who create, know that their skills and quality of their creations can always be improved upon, and that there are always people out there who are better than them. This keeps them humble. This also is how they are able to accept criticism at a level that no other jobs require, whilst giving them an open heart and mind to be able to work with others collaboratively. However, to be a good artist in today’s world of social media, self-publishing, and accessible technology, artists need also to be proud. Proud enough to believe in their own work and sell it. The solitary writer is a dying breed, preserved only by the archaic functions of traditional publishing houses. A writer needs to be able to approach future readers and say, “I know you’ll love this!” and believe it. Writers and other artists have a difficult job to do today. Humble and proud are antonyms of the other, but they go hand-in-hand in creating a good artist. It is the balance of the two that we all seek, in order to survive in a very harsh environment that destroys all who fail, and makes celebrities of those few who shine. So, if you are thinking of becoming a writer or if you are in a transition to do so,...

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An Interview with SPMG’s CEO, Eric Staggs

An Interview with SPMG’s CEO, Eric Staggs

By Judy Spring Behind the scenes here at SPMG there are many gifted people dedicated to offering their best to our authors to achieve their publishing goals. As a segmented part of our newsletter, we would like to bring you an inside look at this enthusiastic and committed group of people. To start things off, we presented a few questions to Eric Staggs, CEO and co-founder of Spectacle, to better understand from his perspective what SPMG has to offer, as well as his vision for its future.   Can you share the progression in your life that led up to Spectacle Publishing Media Group? Like many writers, I’ve had a slew of jobs in a vast array of industries. I found them all interesting, but my true passion has always been story. Following that to its logical conclusion, a well told story is one of the things that defines a civilization: The Grand Myth. I’ve always wanted to be part of helping our civilization experience the great stories and myths that are being made.   As CEO and co-founder of SPMG, what was the inspiration behind its creation? The concept was simple: the industry doesn’t make it easy for struggling authors. Agents, Publishers—it’s all a big self-serving mess. Can’t get an agent until you get a publisher and can’t get a publisher until you get an agent. Pay your meager wages to contests in the vain hopes you might gain some recognition. Throw your ideas out into the void for less ethical or inventive vultures to scavenge. It’s a tough proposition for anyone. My high school guidance counselor told me “you’ll never make money as an artist.” In the old paradigm she grew up in, yes, it was hard for artists. But these days, we are not bound by those old ideas. We don’t have to give 70% to the publisher, 15% to an agent. SPMG is designed to bring the new and talented voices of literature to the fore without exploiting them. We work extensively with our authors to help them create the best, most marketable story they can while maintaining trueness of vision and integrity of story. Has the vision changed since the beginning, and how so? Yes, very much, and no. We intended to create online media only, eBooks and the like. We quickly found that to maintain and increase our reputation and integrity as a publisher we needed to print books as well. This meant adding new skill sets, and preparing for another battery of associated and unexpected costs. Our business model had to change, but we learned from the Six Sisters and their dinosaur ancillaries. That said, our primary advantage over competitors—technological awareness and...

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Will Wretched Fate’s Characters Find the Change They Crave?

Will Wretched Fate’s Characters Find the Change They Crave?

by Joy Shearer Wretched Fate is the second novel in the Detective Sam Osborne series by mother-daughter authors Sharon Swope and Genilee Swope-Parente. The crime/romance novel is, in part, a story of metamorphosis. Each of the main characters must leave their past behind, if they can, to build a better life. Will they be able to achieve their dreams? Rosalie struggles with her weight, self-confidence, and her relationship with her mother.  She doesn’t look like the women in magazines and her mother is no help in her attempts to lose weight. She cooks for Rosalie and serves her fatty foods in heaping helpings. Rosalie puts much effort into accepting herself while aiming to get healthier. Will she find a way to accept who she is now and make the changes she wants? Jacob strives to leave behind his troubled childhood. His parents had an odd relationship that left him leading an isolated life. He hardly ever leaves his mansion where he writes best-selling romance novels even though he has no real experience with romantic relationships. He doesn’t like others to disturb his schedule, so he’s hired a groundskeeper who very rarely enters the house. He has a cook who lives in a cottage on the property and only comes to the mansion briefly to drop off his meals. Can he learn to connect with outside world? Wretched dreams of having a real family and normal childhood, but can’t see how. He only has vague memories of a woman holding him close. Now, still a child, he is living a nightmare. He is in bleak circumstances and sees no way he’ll ever have a life like the kids he observes at a carnival. Can he escape his condition? Wretched Fate’s main characters all want to change their lives, but are unsure if transformation is even possible. Read the intriguing novel to find out what happens to Rosalie, Jacob, and Wretched.   Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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