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Friday, May 12, 2017

Authors to Watch: R.J. Blain, author of Playing with Fire & Win $25 Amazon Gift Card




RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.

When she isn't playing pretend, she likes to think she's a cartographer and a sumi-e painter.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.

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Warning: This novel contains excessive humor, action, excitement, adventure, magic, romance, and bodies. Proceed with caution.

What do you get when you mix gorgons, an incubus, and the Calamity Queen? Trouble, and lots of it.

Working as the only human barista at a coffee shop catering to the magical is a tough gig on a good day. Bailey Gardener has few options. She can either keep spiking drinks with pixie dust to keep the locals happy, or spend the rest of her life cleaning up the world’s nastiest magical substances.

Unfortunately for her, Faery Fortunes is located in the heart of
Manhattan Island, not far from where Police Chief Samuel Quinn works. If she’d been smart, she never would have agreed to help the man find his wife.

Bailey found her, all right—in the absolutely worst way possible.

One divorce and several years later, Bailey is once again entangled in Chief Quinn’s personal affairs, and he has good reason to hate her. Without her, he wouldn’t be
Manhattan’s Most Wanted Bachelor, something he loathes. Without her, he’d still be married.

If only she’d said no when he asked her help, she might have had a chance with him. While her magic worked well, it came with a price: misfortune. Hers.

When Quinn’s former brother-in-law comes to her for help, he leaves her with a cell phone and seventy-five thousand reasons to put her magic to the test. However, when she discovers Quinn’s ex-wife is angling for revenge, Bailey’s tossed in the deep end along with her sexiest enemy.

Playing With Fire is available at Amazon.


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi, I’m RJ! Thanks for having me here today. I like to think of myself as an average, run of the mill person with a twisted sense of humor (and a fondness for puns and bad jokes.) When I’m not writing, I either have my nose in a book or am playing computer games with my husband. I read a lot of things, but my guilty pleasures include romantic comedies, romances involving billionaire bosses (I prefer the non-erotic ones,) and CIA/spy thrillers—or anything like the Patriot Games / Hunt for Red October era Tom Clancy novels.

My main reading interests involve fantasy—urban, paranormal, epic, you name it, I probably like it. I skirt away from dark fantasy, though. I like thrills and chills, but I’d rather not need therapy by the time I finish reading a book. I enjoy happily ever afters, and that often reflects in what I write. (Albeit, it might take my characters a while to get that happily ever after.)

When did you begin writing?

I’d like to say I’m one of those kids who started writing out of the gate, but that’s simply not true. I was barely literate in 4th grade. (By barely, I mean it—I classified as functionally illiterate.) Nothing against the school I went to growing up, either. It was all on me. I was the girl who wanted to play sports and that was it. I had no interest in anything other than recess, a little bit of art, and playing any sport possible.

Enter a Wrinkle in Time and a teacher who figured out I just didn’t like the ‘normal’ offerings. So, she put a science fiction/fantasy in my hand, and I liked it so much I turned the train wreck around and went to town. By 5th grade, I was reading Stephen King, Robert Jordan, and tested more towards college level reading.

I didn’t start writing until high school, and it didn’t even occur to me people could become writers. I was in school for engineering. Had I actually finished college (which I didn’t) I would have had a degree in biomedical engineering.

I became an author instead, and I am so glad I made the choice I did.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

This is a tough question for me. My process changes with every book. Some books I write by the seat of my pants, some are meticulously plotted. Others are a mix! I’ll talk about two titles which use two totally different methods of writing.

I’ll begin with Playing with Fire. It started as a joke, in a way. I wanted to read a romantic comedy, but I couldn’t find one that wasn’t just about the explicit sex—or an urban fantasy. Or actually any fantasy. It was a bad day on the reading front for me. Anyway, I was talking with a few friends, and we were making fun of a lot of clich├ęs, and I decided I’d go to town. I grabbed a moleskine writing journal, picked a character name (Bailey) and went to work. I had no idea what I was doing, but I decided it’d be funny and I’d have a lot of fun writing it.

I gave her a serious case of misfortune, a huge crush on her worst enemy, and an even worse case of miscommunication. Thus began her love story with Quinn. Since I can’t seem to write a book without thriller elements or killing someone, it became a romantic comedy with a body count. Add in the fact that magic is my bread and butter, and it became a world filled with faerie, incubi, succubi, gorgons, phoenixes… you name it, they’re in there—or might be in there.

While I wrote Playing with Fire by the seat of my pants, I also spent a great deal of time going back and fixing everything. So, in a way, my process looked a whole lot like “write this, re-read that, write some more… oh, crap. I need to go fix that because I did this.”

It was a lot of work, but I had a great time with it.

Now, on the opposite side of the fence, I have a story named Memento Mori. The concept for this project include eighty pages of notes, and that excludes the actual outline. The outline is done on an arc by arc level, includes critical plot points, information, and structure notes, and character tidbits. I have book one plotted out with parts of book two ready, too.

I’ve already begun writing this book, but it’s going to be a long time in the works. It’s a play project, but it’s one I’ve approached in a very meticulous fashion. When I finish each arc of the book, I write down how many words the rough draft is, notes on the timeline, and all sorts of other little bits of information. Memento Mori’s world is really complex, involves a great deal of history, and goes far beyond anything else I’ve written before. (It also includes a lot of references to mythologies from all over the world!)

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

Playing with Fire is a magical romantic comedy with a body count. It’s a little bit of a mystery, a little bit of a thriller, a little bit of a romance, over the top fun, and ridiculous. It tells the story of Bailey Gardener, a young woman who has gotten the short stick in life. She’s from a family that takes pride in being absolutely normal—plain old vanilla humans—in a world filled with magic and wonder.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t live up to the family tradition of being plain, vanilla, or normal at all. She’s essentially been disowned, has enough self-esteem problems to keep an entire mental health ward busy, and is immune to pixie dust, the recreational (and legal) drug of choice, one that takes the edge off life and helps people see the brighter side of things.

She also has a serious case of lust for Samuel Quinn, Manhattan’s Most Wanted Bachelor. Unfortunately for her, she proved his ex-wife had been cheating on him in one of the worst ways possible, so the object of her lust has every reason to hate her.

Unfortunately—or fortunately—for her, Samuel Quinn has had her in his sights all along.
And thus the mayhem begins.

How did you get the idea for the book?

I have three people in particular I’d like to blame for this book: Diana Pharaoh Francis, Mel Sterling, and Grace Draven. Instead of a dedication, this entire series needs a blameication. Di gets the blame because she fell in love with Bailey and Quinn right out of the gate and kept asking for more… going as far as bribing my editor to make certain it got finished faster. (Really, she did! And my shameless editor accepted the bribes…)

Mel Sterling gets the blame because when she gets together with Grace Draven, they start ridiculous conversations, I get caught up in them, and the whacky ideas come out, as do the crazy jokes.
I took one of the jokes from the conversation and turned it into a book. Mel practically goaded me into it. And so the book came to be.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

This is a tough one. I have so many characters I enjoy. One of my favorites is Dustin Walker, a secondary character from Beneath a Blood Moon. He’s gotten a life of his own and features in short stories I post in my newsletter whenever I have a new release. He isn’t always a newsletter staple, but he gets a lot of attention there. One day I hope to write a novel dedicated to him. But for now, short stories.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

The editing. The writing came easy—I had so much fun with the book it flew by. The editing work is always a challenge, because I want the book to be as good as I can make it, but I also want to get to work on the next book. It’s a really tough balance, as I want to write the perfect book, but I also want to write the next story.

Which authors have inspired your writing?

There are a lot of authors who have influenced me in some fashion or another, but I’m going to go with my favorites, as the books I love to read determine the type of books I want to write. In no particular order: Jim Butcher, Patty Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Madeline L’Engle, Mercedes Lackey, Robert Aspirin… there are so many more, but that’s a decent start.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have several books in the works I’m hoping to have ready for release this year, including Water Viper (A Jesse Alexander novel), Silver Bullet (Book 4 of the Witch & Wolf series), Hoofin’ It (Book 2 of the Magical Romantic Comedy series), and Wolf Hunt, (Book 1 of Wolf Hunt, technically Witch & Wolf #5.)

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Keep writing. It’s hard. It never really gets easier. It’s frustrating at times, it’s probably one of the hardest careers you could pick up, and there are never any guarantees… but keep at it. And while you’re at it, don’t beat yourself up too much when you make a mistake.

We all make them. Just keep writing.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog!

 

R.J. Blain is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive $25 Amazon Gift Card.
  • This giveaway ends midnight May 31.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!




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