Thursday, 29 November 2012

Watcha Doin' with Rashad Freeman

(Cover art: Courtesy of Rashad Freeman 2012)

Author Bio:
Rashad Freeman is the author of “Shadow of Darkness”, a young adult novel and Volume I of the Creature Kid series.  In addition to that Rashad has published two short stories and most recently a suspense thriller called “Night Slashers.”  A true Floridian and self-proclaimed comedian, Rashad’s passion for writing can only be matched by his ridiculous desire to throw off caution and sail the world as a pirate.       

What inspired you to become an author?
Well I know it sounds clichĂ©, but I’ve always been a writer.  I have dozens of works in progress, but have been horrible about finishing anything.  I’m not sure what exactly pushed me over the edge.  One day I just decided I was going to finish something and I sat down and finally finished my first novel.

What was your most memorable childhood memory?
My most memorable childhood memory or memories would be growing up around a library.  My mother is an English Professor and we practically lived in the library.  It’s something that’s lost on today’s generation, but I truly thank her for showing us the beauty of books.  A simple walk down a hallway would turn into an adventure through an underwater cave and the double doors that lead into the bathroom were the decompression chamber of a submarine.  The ability to use your imagination and grow your mind is something that can never be done enough.

If you could be anything or anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
Definitely an eagle.  I love the idea of flight, the ability to be limitless and free.

Please tell us a little about your latest release. What were the best and worst parts for you personally? Are there any novels of yours that are your personal favourites?
Well my latest release is called “Night Slashers” and it’s a suspense thriller.  I really love the idea of this book, but I have to say writing it is was a chore.  There were so many twists and turns that I had to be meticulous to make sure everything fit.  My favorite novel is my first “Shadow of Darkness.”  I really got to just have fun with this book and it’s in one of my favorite genres, young adult.  It’s also a series (Creature Kid Series) and will eventually have seven total volumes.  I really love the idea of sticking with characters for that many books and getting to see them grow and change.

What is more important to you: characters or plots?
Characters definitely.  I think if you have the right characters they will create the plot.  It’s like life, boring people will be boring regardless of the situation.  But if you have exciting people they will make the situation.  I really try hard to develop my characters and show the many different dimensions of the human condition.

“To err is to be human”. What are your thoughts on this quote and what do you think are the implications for writers? What about character and plot planning?
I love this quote.  We are nothing more than the collection of experiences that shape us.  Without failure there can be no success.  We are all broken yet striving for perfection and that’s what makes life so beautiful.  As a writer I feel it’s my duty to explore that and show the reader that in my characters. Whether I’m writing a murder mystery or a love story my characters show the struggle within.  If your characters are not evolving then they are dead and so is your story.

How do you “breath” life into your characters?
It’s funny you use that expression, “breath” because I’m always telling people that writers breath life onto pages.  For me a character has to have life like qualities.  All of my characters are flawed in some way.  They are all searching for something.  I’m also able to relate to each one.  I think as people we have so many dimensions and writing really gives me the ability to explore who I am as a person.

Any words of wisdom for our readers:
Well, of course my first tip would be to buy all of my novels, the real treats are in there.  But seriously if you’re a writer, respect the craft.  Whether you never sell a book or sell millions understand that this is an art.  You take words and give life to them and give dreams a space to fly.  Never underestimate your place in the world, but don’t overstate it either.  To readers, respect the craft.  What writers do is no small feat.  Many of us pour our souls onto paper in hopes that we may reach a single reader.  So next time you see a starving artist, give them a pat on the back.
Thanks, Rashad for your awesome insights! I really enjoyed this. Hey readers, if you'd like to know more about Rashad Freeman, please feel free to check out the sites below:

Twitter - @RashadFreeman

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Unsolved Mysteries

Somehow, documentaries featuring past lives and hypnosis have been flooding the TV channels recently and guess who’s been wallowing in it all? Yes, yours truly. It’s fascinating! The idea that we subconsciously still remember who we were in our past lives just blows my mind—not to mention the implications proving life after death (my father, a very staunch Christian, will probably be shaking his head from heaven but I can always apologize later).

So, being the busy body that I am, I’ve been reading up and came across this site which made me feel like the hairs on my neck were marching in a parade! I gave in my info and got this:

“Your past life diagnosis:

I don’t know how you feel about this but you were female in your last earthly incarnation. You were born somewhere in the territory of modern Western Australia around the year 1375. Your profession was that of a sailor of shoemaker.

Psychological profile:

Inquisitive, inventive, you liked to get to the very bottom of things and rummage in books. Talent for drama and natural born actor.

Lesson from past life to be brought into current incarnation:

There is an invisible connection between the material and spiritual world. Your lesson is to search, find and use this magical bridge.”

Freaky or what?! Those who know me well will know how much truth lies is this diagnosis. I love Australia and have always wanted to live there…am still planning on retiring there when I’m old and grey…something about the country has always pulled at me. I love everything supernatural and my books are about bridging the material and the spiritual world. I’m fascinated and yet terrified of the deep sea (although I don’t know how I could have been a sailor and a woman in the 14th century…I think I should have been having a village full of babies and stocking the fire). Anyway, because every believer also needs to be a skeptic, I’m a little critical about how a website can tell me who I was just by analyzing my birthday.

So, all this got me thinking: are these memories really from our past lives or could it be DNA memory? Is it possible that we are only sharing the thoughts of our ancestors?

“Research into the nature of DNA has revealed that this material within each cell of our bodies has important implications for who each one of us is, on many levels. In addition to determining our physical characteristics, our vulnerabilities to certain diseases, and maybe even our personality, is it possible that the DNA helix holds some of the important memories of our ancestors?...For humans, with our relatively complex brain, feelings and memories, what other kinds of experiences might be saved in our DNA over the many thousands of years when our ancestors were born, lived and died? And, can they be accessed by us here and now?... To conduct our own personal research and to find out for ourselves, maybe all we need to do is listen to our inner DNA. Listen to the voices, feelings, sights and experiences of our ancestors. Their lives, joys and fears are within us. In that way, they are with us always.”—Steve Hammons,

My protagonist Anjeli in The Scarlet Omen keeps having visions of her destiny. In the second novel of my trilogy these visions take on a more important role…implying memories that are probably not her own but those of her ancestors. Let’s see where they take her…

Sunday, 4 November 2012

How did your Mama raise you?

Writing used to be something magical when I was a kid. Authors were, to me, a race of their own. Someone who could get the world to listen to every word they said had to be of magical descent. Now that I’ve become one (of humbler descent but nevertheless weird), I see the literary world for what people say it is: a market. Sad really. What happened? How did the magic fade?

I blame the Internet. It has no doubt empowered us in more ways than I can count (math+me=???) but readers are also now spoiled for choice. There are millions of sites where writers now have to squabble and pull at each other’s virtual hair for space in a reader’s limited free time. Sad to say, some people have become a tinsy bit arrogant and don’t show writers the respect due to any person.

I was reading through some forums on a certain large online bookstore and came across a discussion which a reader used to practically trample on authors that were trying to promote their books. I agree that the forums are only for readers but the language that that reader used really got me angry. Many people complain that writers are flooding them with “spammy content” (is that even a real word?!) in their attempts at promoting their work. Helloooo? What else are we supposed to promote? Author=brand, novel=product!! Marketing 101, people!

 When did authors lose their right to be respected? Some would say that they lost it the moment they started flooding the discussion areas with links to their books. (Okay, some writers really wouldn’t know subtlety if it bit them on the nose, but I’ve never seen a rude author post or one that actually provoked a rude comeback) However, what is book marketing if not self-promotion? New authors are buried under layers of Rowlings and Co. and their bestsellers so they need to push and shove. Trust me—writers would very much prefer being holed up somewhere writing their next book instead of prowling and lurking around reader forums. We don’t tell people off for drowning us with photos of their babies’ 100th attempt at potty training, do we? So why don’t people think that new writers deserve the same respect given to annoying parents?

Frankly, I’m too stuck up/proud/lazy to kiss ass (especially when some of those butts try to bite back once in awhile) so I haven’t had the pleasure of being “put in my place” by anyone yet. I just think that it’s imperative to show people that there’s a real problem here. When I was a kid, authors were respected figures in society (and I’m really not so old that anyone could put it down to the strange phenomenon of the Dark Ages). A bad review is something else entirely—the reader has at least given the content a chance before chewing out the author.

 That person’s comment on the forums was plainly hurtful, rude and discouraging and I don’t think that the authors he aimed his comments at should take it lying down. Such disrespect should not be allowed and I personally call it as it is: Cyber Bullying! It needs to stop. None of the writers on the forums were forcing anyone to buy anything—they were merely recommending their work. There was no need to be rude and those readers whose vocabulary their mothers would be ashamed of should seriously rethink how they communicate with their fellow human beings. New writers work hard for pittance in return and are forced to the edges of literary society where they have to make sure they don’t step on anyone’s toes. It sounds exhausting and new authors should be allowed to be proud of their achievement (of actually being published after years of rejection letters and tears) and not be treated like used-car salesmen!

Needless to say, for every fool, there are a million lovelies out there who are genuinely thrilled about getting news from new authors. These are the people that we write for…don’t forget it! A big thank you to every reader that has ever sent a positive reply to a debĂșt author…your Mamas will be proud that you mind your P’s and Q’s.