Friday, April 27, 2012

Why I need to find a new place to shop by Lise Milligan

I pride myself on being a good shopper. I make a list, clip coupons, can figure out cost per unit without consulting the shelf tag, and am seldom swayed into buying extras just for bonus rewards if it's an item we don't need. Having worked in a grocery store in my youth, I also pride myself on being a good customer: I never complain about how my groceries are bagged, am unfailingly nice to staff, and savvy enough about store layout psychology to find things without needing assistance (Campbell's tomato soup will almost always be on a bottom shelf). However, I also seem to be a mishap magnet. To the kind folks at Sobeys on University Avenue, my deepest apologies. It will likely be a while before I darken your door again after my recent visit.

List in hand, I was doing my usual circuit of the store. When I reached the meat aisle, a woman ahead of me was trying to make some room in her cart. In the process, she dropped a bottle of liquid laundry detergent which splattered all over the floor. A clerk was right there to clean the spill. The lady looked back at me red-faced, and I gave her a "what can you do?" shrug. I knew she was mortified, and it wasn't like she did it on purpose. While she sent her son to get another bottle, I continued past her and moved on to the dairy section. I have to admit I was feeling a bit smug and relieved that I wasn't that poor woman.

Once I'd picked up my milk and cheese, I noticed a huge display of barbecue sauce, and there was a buy one, get one free offer. Since it was on my list, I plucked a bottle from the top of the display and looked to see what other flavors they had. The only other kinds I liked were further down, and they were all on cardboard cutaway boxes stacked on top of one another to just above my eye level. I reached down for a garlic bottle, and when I removed it, I could feel the column start to sag. Quickly I replaced the bottle and steadied the stack. Further up was onion, which I also liked, so I thought I'd take that instead. I just barely put a hand on it when the stack abruptly collapsed. I tried to steady what was left to avoid further mayhem. Another shopper asked me if I wanted her to get a clerk, and I said yes as I was intent on damage control. Shortly after that, the rest of the right side of the display cascaded onto the floor. I was ankle-deep in barbecue sauce. Fortunately the bottles were plastic.

By this time, there were several people watching all this with interest and amusement. Just as I saw the manager coming with two clerks in tow, the whole left side of the display gave way..... which also took out an adjacent shelf of pickles. Those, sadly, were in glass jars. It was carnage. A little boy goggled at me, and I could tell he was wondering how long I'd be on time out for creating that big mess. Just then, the lady who'd dropped the detergent came along, and she gave me the same shrug. This is why I don't laugh, because karma is indeed a bitch. Surveying the havoc I'd caused, and aware there were kids nearby, all I could say was, "Well, poop". I was standing there, with a bottle still in my hand, surrounded by debris, and it was almost irresistible to blurt out "I didn't do it". The manager rushed over and asked if I'd hurt myself. I said, "No, I'm embarrassed to death, but I'm fine. I tried to keep it from getting worse.... but it just kept getting worse!". He reassured me that it was no concern, the main thing was that no one was hurt. He and one of the clerks lifted my cart clear of the wreckage and set it down on the other side so I could continue. Seeing how scarlet I was, the manager consoled, "If you just keep going, hardly anyone will know this was your doing". Somehow I doubted that, but I thanked him, apologized, and kept going. I had new admiration for the Dutch boy and the dike.  In the same predicament, I'd failed miserably. As I slunk away, I could hear the manager telling the clerks, "We should never have built the display that way". No kidding.

To compound my humiliation, two aisles later I passed an end cap with more barbecue sauce. I could have taken it safely from there. Then I went down the condiment aisle and again felt a fool as I realized I could have gotten it there as well. So much for being a clever shopper. And as if to mock me, Britney Spears' "Oops, I Did it Again" was blaring from the store stereo. That was enough for one day. I hightailed it to the register and then beelined for home. As I made my way in with the groceries, James came to help me. He took one look at my face and asked what was wrong. I said, "Bet you're glad you stayed home today", and launched into the story. He was laughing so hard he was crying by the time I  recounted it all for him. Still snickering, he joked, "Hurricane Lise strikes again", and thanked me for letting him stay home that trip. 

Well, there's a new Sobeys just opening closer to home.... think I'll try my luck there. Surely I can't do worse....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Alexia Purdy Interview

Alexia Purdy is a  Las Vegas, Nevada writer and Registered nurse. A mother of 4,  she loves to spend every free moment writing and playing with her four rambunctious kids.   She is a very avid devourer books, especially paranormal fantasies and finds genre books and independently published books to be irresistible.  She has been writing since she can remember (probably since the age of 6) and loves creating paranormal urban fantasy and poetry.  She also enjoys watching movies, dancing, singing loudly in the car and Italian food.  

Her debut novel was Ever Shade: A Dark Faerie Tale. Ever Fire (A Dark Faerie Tale #2) was released in October 2012. Reign of Blood, her latest novel is releasing this Sunday, April 29th 2012, and Ever Winter, the third installment of A Dark Faerie Tale series is set for release in 2013.

She took an hour out of busy schedule to answer my questions. 
Below is that interview.


You live in Vegas, did you also grow up there?

I grew up in Reno but moved to Vegas when I was about 13 years old. Been here ever since.

Is there any difference living in Reno as opposed to Vegas?

Oh yes, the heat! It doesn't get nearly this hot in Reno. Reno also has four seasons, snow and ice, nice springs and falls, and great summers. Vegas is either cold or hot.

How has and how does living in Vegas affect your writing, if it does at all?

It affects it a lot. My newest book Reign of Blood takes place entirely in Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. It's been great writing about my surroundings and bringing it to life for readers. I think I only could do that living here.

 In a nutshell, what is Reign of Blood about?

 A viral epidemic has killed everyone or turned them into various mutations of vampires. April and her family are the only humans left. One day they are taken and April searches the city and battles it out to find them. She discovers there is more in the city than she bargained for.
 It takes place in Vegas of course ;)

 How did you come up with that idea, and where do the ideas for your stories come from?

 The opening scene to the novel was actually from a dream I had. I get most of my ideas from my dreams, I have vivid ones and they can be pretty whacked out. I also have a great recall of them, that helps when I need ideas. :)

 Have you had any dreams that you wished you remembered for a story, but could not?

 I have, I kick myself in the pants every time too when I realize that the dream is gone from my mind. I try to write them down, the ones that are really vivid, I seem to remember more but there have been a few that slipped away from me.

 Have you ever dreamed the same dream over again?

 I used to have this one dream when I was younger over and over again. I was standing by a river and a knight in shining armor would stand on the other side holding his sword as he stood there watching me. Creeped me out back then. That is the only one I remember dreaming many times. Otherwise, my dreams don't usually repeat.

 If you could move to or live in another city, anywhere in the world, what would that city be?

 Oh that is soo hard, I haven't gone many places to check them out yet! It's on my list! I would say right now, somewhere like Rome Italy. I might change my mind later though when I visit it, who knows?

 Any particular reason why Rome popped into your head?

 It's a city I have always wanted to visit. It's history is vast and it has some nice countryside, all of Italy really looks awesome.

 Do you think, in that case, you would write a story based on something you saw there?

 I might, I am always taking in my environment to take down the details for story ideas. I actually have a story set in Tokyo, Japan, I have researched it but I'm dying to visit the city to get the real feel for it. Nothing replaces that.

 What kind of educational background do you have?

 I have an associate degree in Nursing. I am a Registered Nurse but I consider myself a writer first. I took tons of creative writing in high school but nothing like that in college. I am playing catch up now with the creativity that health care kind of kills.

 Most don't know this, you are a nurse by profession. What made you decide to do that for a living?

 I always wanted to be a nurse and a writer since as far as when my brother got his tonsils removed and stayed at the hospital, we were 3 I think. The nurses were awesome. I really admired them. I also always loved books so they both were ingrained in me since forever. At least I can now say I've done both.

 How does doing that work affect or involve itself in your writing?

 I do have some scenes in a hospital in Reign of Blood. I plan to write a book about quirks in nursing one day but that's in the far future. It has influenced me greatly, I have met so many different types of people as a nurse and that helps me develop my characters.

 Give me a short example of one character or story scene that came from a hospital experience.

 One character in Reign of Blood who's name is Grace is a nurse. Her scene is very short but I hope I convey the professionalism and concern that she has for my main character in that short scene that ends up turning tragic. How a nurse portrays herself to patients is important for they trust you with the most private things.

 If your writing becomes successful enough to support you would you give up the nursing?

 Yes I would. Don't get me wrong, I do love being a nurse but the long hours and demands are vast and patients and families are much less appreciative nowadays than when I first started nursing. It saddens me but sometimes it is downright abusive. I hope some change comes about for my colleagues, it is not an easy profession at all.

 You have 4 kids, how hard is it to write and manage that task, in addition to your day job and a husband?

 OMG, it's very hard! My 4 kids alone keep me very busy. I have to find time to write like nap times and when they are sleeping. Otherwise, I can't really write when they are around.

 Do any of your experiences raising your kids make it into your books?

 Yes, actually, I do try to convey the hardships of a busy family in my stories. They are not the main focus but are there and I try to add this as a realistic view of modern families. Ever Shade's character Shade has 3 siblings and a single mother who often get's too busy to tend to everyone's needs. Reign of Blood, the Mother is very organized and precise, coordinating scavenging trips while maintaining the seriousness of the situation. My own experiences bleed into my books quite a bit.

 In terms of life experiences, what is off limits as far as you are concerned?

 What do you mean by that?

 What has happened in your life, that while it may be interesting, that you won't use in a story..if anything?

Hmmm, not much I wouldn't use to inspire a story. I guess talking about my own family's issues would be taboo. Thank goodness I write fiction.

 I have a friend who will not use any past sexual experiences they have had in any story they write, what are your thoughts on that?

 I agree to an extent, no names of course, things that would hurt people or my current life are taboo, it's all in the past so I try not to really think much about it. It's great material for writing, but I would change the names.

 You are known to be a very aggressive promoter of your work, how have you found that to work out for you?

 I think it helps a lot, I haven't managed to find that magic place that sells thousands of books for me, but every sale helps. I think you do have to put yourself out there to get noticed. People forget very quickly and you have to remind them of your product frequently. That's just how it works. I do admit it can get exhausting and frustrating at times and fruitless. But sometimes it is very successful and gets me to keep on going. You are selling yourself in a way, you have to make it visible.

 Of all the methods you have tried, what has worked best for you so far?

 Facebook is by far the best for me. Next is Twitter then goodreads. Blog interviews and giveaways help a lot on book blogger sites. Just interacting with others is probably one of the best ways to get your name out there. 

 What is your writing process?

 I am a pantser writer. I have an idea, and I sit down and write. The story comes to me later. I do outline characters but I have pretty much just come up with the plot as I go.

 In terms of genres, what is your favorite to read and/or write?

 I enjoy Epic Literature and Urban Fantasy. I like YA a lot but more of the Fantasy paranormal genre. I enjoy writing paranormal urban fantasy the most and poetry.

 Your genre is primarily young adult and paranormal, how do you go about adding sexual content to your work, if that is a consideration at all?

 I actually have no sex scenes in any of my books right now. I do intend to add some more sensual scenes in the future, maybe some implied sex but actual sex scenes is pretty much taboo in YA

 In 10 years, where do you see your career?

I do hope to be a bestseller of course.
I plan to have a lot of novels under my belt

 You are one who gives a lot of freebies away. What is your theory there and how have you found that worked out for you?

 It's touchy, I do give out free bookmarks and some free books, I do try to space them out to bring me some exposure when sales are slow. It's hard to say if they help much, most people who enter giveaways are those that have already read my work. Sometimes you get the new ones interested. I think that helps a bit. :)
 Do you have a writing agent? What are your thoughts on agents, pros/cons?

 I did query some agents when I first finished my manuscript for Ever Shade. I got rejected, they seem harder to get one interested in you than a publisher. I think it would be nice to have one but nowadays with all the publishing options, you are better off with a lawyer to look at paperwork for you and you dealing with the publishers yourself.

 Your blog consists mostly of interviews of other author friends you know. How do you find that helps you in anyway?

 It helps me and the authors by bringing traffic to my site. I have all my work and projects listed there too and I am hoping to bring some people over with awesome interviews, free stuff and get them to look around a bit, hopefully notice my work and check it out. I hope they definitely check out the guest's work too, they are nothing but awesome authors.

 If you could only show one blog to anyone, of all the ones you have done so far, what would that be?

 Oh boy. Hmm. I think I really liked Linna Drehmel's interview a lot, her work is colorful and different. I enjoy her writing a lot. There are so many I hate to decide on just one though! They all rock!

 Tell us something that no one in this group knows about you?

 I see dead people. LOL, it sounds crazy but I do see spirits and entities a lot. I have seen them all over, hear them speak, get picked on by some. It's definitely not something I tell everyone but it is pretty interesting. I don't sleep very good, they are pretty noisy around me, the ghosts I mean.
 I don't think I'm insane but who knows right?

 You aren't the first person to tell me that. I think a lot of people have things like that happen to them but mostly keep that to themselves because of the stigma that gets attached to it.


Anything else you want to say before we wrap it up?

 Thanks for having me, Mark! It's been awesome! Reign of Blood launches April 29th, that's also my birthday! :)


Excerpt from Reign Of Blood

Chapter One

Never tease anything that wants to eat you. The ravenous eyes that bled death all around and peered from their windows drooled at the sight of us. The buildings loomed above as we rushed across the concrete and asphalt, hurrying to beat the sun as it set. They lurked in every window, shrouded by the shadow from the searing sun.
The east sides of the buildings were crawling with vampires. They smirked and sneered their inhuman growls, hissing right at us as we jumped from sunbeam to sunbeam, racing to the awaiting van. Only the light kept them at bay. Only the light kept us from their sharp, gripping fangs. 
Each block felt like it stretched longer and farther, growing with each of our steps. My mother ran hurriedly, as fast as she could with my little brother wrapped around her, molded to her chest, afraid to look up. I was dashing right next to her, afraid to get left behind and afraid to be first in any place. My backpack bounced on my back with each jump and step. I tried hard to not look up. To look upon them was to feel your soul drain of life, to wither away. Mom always said not to let them look into your eyes; they can steal your humanity and freeze you in your steps. But I did look, and I did study their red searing eyes. Even while running, I had glanced up into their pale, grey ashen faces. I waited for them to take my soul; I waited and discovered that I was immune. Immune to their mind control and their deepest desire. I wanted to smile and flip them off but I didn’t think that my mother would appreciate that. I wasn’t sure if she or my brother were immune. I wasn’t about to piss her off by admitting that I had given in to such a temptation and had stared eye to eye with monsters.
So for now, we ran. We ran to our awaiting van where mom tied my little brother into his seat and slid quickly into the driver’s seat, turning the ignition and slamming the gas as though our lives depended on it. 

Actually, they very much did. Soon the sun would fade, inhaled into shadows and we would be surrounded by monsters capable of draining our bodies of every little drop of crimson blood. They did not discriminate. They would rip even me and my younger brother to shreds. For now, they waited in their makeshift graveyard; the
city’s dilapidated buildings and streets.
I stared out the windows of the van and hugged my knees to my chest. Mom had her serious and stern face on. Sometimes I wish I could see her smile again, like the old days, before any of this happened. Before foraging for food had become an absolute for survival. Before running was a daily occurrence. Seeing her hair streaked with grey was not something I thought I would see so soon. She wasn’t that old. Times like these, even I felt old.
We left the city limits well before sunset. We were safer in the rural areas, where vampires feared to tread, too far from the shelters of the concrete jungles. I learned early on that some part of their humanity must still be intact because unlike the stories and movies I had heard and seen about vampires, these ones hated to sleep in the dirt. Oh, and all that crap about mirrors and garlic? Definitely not true. Stake to the heart? I had found that it did work but decapitation was a much more successful option. Missing the heart was too easy a mistake. Crosses and holy water? Well, that does work but you must be a believer for it to work as intended. If you did not believe, well, let’s just say you might as well be throwing plain water at them.
An arsenal of swords, crosses and faith was pretty much all I needed. It had been just a year since the virus had turned more than three quarters of the population of the Americas into blood-seeking walking dead.
Most died within days of contracting the strange ailment. I’d had all the practice I needed for a lifetime in learning how to kill vampires. It definitely made for an interesting life but I would give anything for my old one.
Nothing beat a cold soda and movie on a Saturday night. High school issues seemed petty compared to the ones I had now. Stability, security, all gone. Staring out the dusty windows of the van as the trees grew thicker and the dusk seeped into the sky, I felt nothing but numb. Everything was all but gone.