Interview with Jackson Baer

My first interview as an author and I think it was more fun than nerve racking. Besides, writing about myself is easy. A pop quiz about what I like? Piece of cake. The hardest part was the free form question about me in general at the end and meeting the deadline to hand it in.

Jackson had some really fun questions to loosen me up and then hit with two difficult ones: what world leader would I want to meet and what one wish would I have. Those were noggin scratchers for sure.

Meet the Author: Tina Blenke

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Athan’s Kiss – book excerpt

 

Most of the night was spent talking. Athan was not a talkative person but Evander more than made up for it. Evander locked up Divine Readings and the two of them walked to Evander’s apartment with Evander reciting stories the entire time. He could find all manner of topics to talk about and most of them where centered on ancient folklore and mythologies. He was in the middle of such a tale about Persephone when Athan stopped him.
“The sun will be up soon,” Athan said.
“Yes, I guess it will. There is nothing here and it’s only a matter of time before she comes after me again. I wish I knew what it was that she wanted and why she is after me, of all people. You know that night that I met her, when she was alive of course, she thought that I was the suspicious one that could have been after all of those kids. But she must know by now that it isn’t me. She was the one who killed Brandon,” Evander paused. “Why would she do that? Why would she kill someone who was one of her own?”
“Evander?”
“It just doesn’t make any sense. He was just as alone in the world as she was, and she still went after him.”
“Evander? Is it me?”
“You would have thought she would have gone after someone else instead of Brandon. But, then no one would go looking for him would they? He was alone. No one would miss him.”
“Evander? What about me?”
“But that’s just it isn’t it? There has to be more than one killer. It’s not only Diane. Someone was killing these runaways before Diane was ever killed and became a vampire. There was the one who turned her, wasn’t there? We are looking for another one aren’t we?”
“Evander!”
“What, Athan?” Evander turned to him in mid thought, annoyed at the intrusion since he realized that he was obviously onto something here.
“Maybe it’s me.”
“What? Don’t be absurd. You were…wait. What?”
“Maybe it’s me,” Athan repeated. “Evander, I can’t stay here much longer. The sun is beginning to rise.”
“What?” Then it hit him. Dawn. He had never seen Athan during the day.
“It’s true.”
“How is that possible?”
“I don’t know. There is a lot I don’t know. I remember waking up this way several months ago and I don’t know anything of my life before this and I’m afraid. I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
“Was it you?”
“I don’t know. It makes me sick to even think about it.”
It wasn’t until now that Evander noticed that Athan had been pacing again.
“Stay with me.” Evander’s words came before he thought about them. He had known people in his life that had been more evil than this man could ever be. He wasn’t threatened by Athan. Every moment he’d spent with him had brought him the safest memories of his entire life. This was what frightened him the most—not that he was listening to this unbelievable man revealing his dark secret, but that he was feeling something deep for this man.
“You said that you don’t know if it’s you or not. If you stay with me, I can watch over you and we can be sure that it isn’t you that is the cause of the murders.”
“I can’t do that. It would be too dangerous. For both of us.”
“Stay with me.”
“Evander, I care for you more than you can ever imagine. But if I am the cause, then I don’t want you anywhere near me. Diane is dangerous enough, but I can’t trust myself around you all of the time. Please don’t ask this of me.”
Athan had just shared his deepest darkest secret—that he was a vampire—and yet the thought of life without Athan frightened Evander much more. He should be afraid for his life, but yet he wanted Athan. He wanted nothing more than to lie in Athan’s arms and he couldn’t imagine Athan to be the monster that he was claiming to be.
“Athan?”
“Yes,” he answered quietly.
“When did it happen?”
“I don’t know.”
“Has it been the entire time I’ve known you?”
“Yes.”
“You have never once tried to harm me.”
“No, I haven’t, but it wasn’t without extreme care on my part. There are times when I can barely control myself, but to take another life would be against all that I know I am. I am an abomination and I don’t deserve whatever life that I have. I don’t know how it came to be, only that I exist the way you see me. I crave to take life. I have come close to ending the lives of others more times than I care to recount. But I’ll admit that I don’t know how long I can hold out or what my limitations are. I do know that when I am with you I feel stronger. The craving is lessened, though the pounding of your heart even now beckons to me. You make me feel alive, like the man I could have been rather than the killer I know I am. The potential to kill is still there, Evander, do not ever deny that part of me.”
“Can I ask how you eat?”
“Seriously, E? I’m a vampire. What is there to elaborate on? I drink blood.”
“Well, yeah, I know that…”
“You want to know the detailed mechanics of it? Do you want to know if I attack innocent babes in dark alleys and leave them drained of blood with silent screams on their lips?”
Evander stared at him with his mouth hanging open.
Athan smirked.
“You’re an ass.”
“Maybe. But I had you going for a while and the look on your face was worth it.”

Athan’s Kiss

Athan's Kiss

It’s amazing how my manuscript was made into a book almost overnight. Weeks and months passed without a word from my editor and then a book cover was shared by the artist and the first professionally edited manuscript was returned. I was stunned.
I heard horror stories about returned manuscripts. Sometimes there were harsh edits, strict reviews, or even cause for rewrites. I was expecting the worst. But it was a really good experience. She was good and she was thorough. She obviously spent a lot of time going through the story and made it better. I could tell that she knew what she was talking about and even found a few sticky places missed by beta readers. She even liked my story.
My cover artist was fantastic, too. I really liked the colors and mood that he was able to capture on a flat book cover. His can’t be an easy job and I’m sure writers can be choosy. I know I was.
It’s been a few weeks now since my book’s release and it’s all surreal to watch the whole process. The evolution of my brain child. I can’t wait to send the second one out into the world.

Renewed Inspiration

The concept for my first novel came to me when I was a teenager and it took many years of this story tumbling around in my mind before I put words to paper. Even then, my main character was a woman and as I continued to write the story it became more wonderful by the page and she remained boring. She never spoke to me and so she didn’t feel real. We were disconnected and I put the manuscript aside for too many months.

Then, something amazing happened, an epiphany that would change everything. My main heroine became the story’s hero. Yes, it was a romance, and yes her love interest remained a man. I had a Dickens of a time changing all the pronouns and conversations to be sure that I didn’t lose any flow within the story. And you know what happened? I fell in love. Evander spoke to me and we connected instantly. I became a part of his world and he has been a part of mine ever since.

I encourage you to pick up your stalled writing and change your point of view. Challenge the piece and mold it into something that you love. As you learn new lessons in life and love, perhaps your viewpoints have changed – add these to your manuscript, enhance your poetry, pick up that short story and reword it with wiser eyes and an open mind. Reach out and grab those words, shake off the dust, and OWN it

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From concept to reality

I like to start with a timeline, much like an outline of sorts, but there are lots of holes where many things can happen depending on character choices and surprises on my part. I draw out a simple horizontal line and fill in all the parts that I know right now. For instance, in my current WIP I know the beginning and something in the middle and then I know the ending. Those are entered on my timeline and the open parts are filled in when I know them better. Occasionally, I have really nice surprises and I follow where those leads take me. Many times, I’m stuck at a dead end and I have to turn around. Once in a while, I think I know where the story is going but the characters don’t want to go that way so the voices in my head take me down a different path. That’s always the best!

The timeline helps me to keep the story in one piece since I don’t write from Point A to Point B. I enjoy writing on sections that I’m in tune with at the moment. The timeline allows me the freedom to move around in the story, an organic creative process without boundaries.

Torturing my main characters

I threw one of my heroes into a scene before I had a chance work through how it was going to end. It was though I was at the computer and then there he was, his life in peril, and I had no idea where it was going to go. The story happened and the words flowed through my mind and ran down onto the paper as the scene played out. For days, my main character was kidnapped and tortured and I had no idea if he would survive or not.

A week before, I read an article featuring one of my favorite authors and he had shared that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbow (I’m paraphrasing of course) and it occasionally throws curve balls at us. Make it messy. Make the characters suffer and we can watch them redeem themselves and come out as better people. In the case of romance, we will see them for the better and their relationships will strengthen. Well, that was what I took from the article and now my main guy was suffering from my cruelty.

It was nearly a full week of writing this scene before he worked his way out. Sure, he had help, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Even the best of us need help from each other and from society. It’s what makes us social creatures and needing help wasn’t a flaw or a crack in his character.

It all worked out and I was happy with the results even if only a fraction of that writing piece made it into the final submission. It took on a life of its own and I couldn’t be more proud.