Thursday, May 26, 2011

He's back -- Willsin Rowe

Who's back? Why the naughty, the bawdy, the multi-talented Willsin Rowe. As you may recall, he is an author, cover artist, trailer creator, and musician — not necessarily in that order. ;)

How about a recap for our new readers, please tell us a bit about yourself, Willsin.

Hi, Cassie. Thanks for having me back. I might have to leave a toothbrush here, just in case!
The Willsin Rowe story? I fall in love with a scent, a playful expression or an act of casual intimacy more easily than with physical beauty. When confronted by any combination of those I am a lost cause.
I have done many things over and over. I have done even more things only once. I have half-done more things than I care to admit.
I don't yet know if I can ski, speak Italian or keep calm in a life-threatening situation, but I have my suspicions.
I play bass in a swampy blues band. I love to sing and don't let my voice get in the way.
I am intelligent but not sensible. I am polite but inappropriate. I am passionate but fearful. I am honest but reticent. I am neither stylish enough nor scruffy enough to be cool.

For this blog post, let’s talk about music. Not only do you create awesome movie trailers for lucky authors but you’re also a musician in a band. This has got to be juicy. I’m guessing that you were a musician first. Let’s hear all about the music man.

At the age of 16 I decided I’d like to play guitar instead of just wishing I could. I appropriated my dad’s unused guitar and used a book to teach myself how to play. Then classical guitar lessons, which I maintained for a little over a year, developing to a high enough standard to be accepted into a music course in a distant town. I was only 18, and it was an enormous slice of experience. Moving away from home and to a new town, absorbing all kinds of musical knowledge and practice, experimenting with different instruments and finding out I had a natural ability to get a reasonable sound out of almost anything. That was where I first played a bass guitar and it felt like a home-coming. And even more importantly, it was in that music course that I met my amazing wife.

What instrument(s) do you play?

My main instrument is bass guitar, but as I say, I started out on guitar and can still play to a reasonable level. I can also handle myself (heehee) on drums, and can manage keyboards, too…if it’s a really slow song.

Keyboard player here. Leader of the band?

No…I’m kinda the perpetual second-in-command. It wouldn’t matter if it was a two-piece, three-piece or twelve-piece band…I tend to end up as the vice-captain!

How many bands have you been in over the years? In a band now?

If we include all attempts at getting a band off the ground, the number would be somewhere around 20. If we restrict it to bands that actually played publicly, then it drops below 10. Then if we just make it the bands that actually got paid…then it’s 6. Including the current bands. I’m in three at the moment. The chief one is called The Medicine Show (where I go by the name “Burnin’ Log Dawkins”). I’m also a part-time multi-instrumentalist in a band called Thuggee Tennessee, and as chance would have it, my new next-door neighbour is a drummer who needed a bass player, so that’s the third band.

Play often? Where?

The Medicine Show is on a bit of a rest break at the moment, but we’ve played around our home town (Brisbane) quite a bit over the years. We also did a tiny 3-gig tour of Melbourne in 2008. We’ve played support to both Nashville Pussy and Wolfmother in our time, as well as a bunch of Roller Derby gigs. Mmm…derby chicks… Oh, and we recently signed a distribution and development contract which should see our songs on iTunes in the very near future. Yay!

Congrats!! Oh dear, I sound like a groupie, but inquiring minds want to know. Over here, we’ve had some strange names for bands. Ever been in a band with a weird name?  What was it?

It’s not hugely weird, but I was a founder member of a band called Planet Cake back in 1994.

Well Planet Cake is different. Ever name a band?

Yep. Planet Cake! Everyone naturally said the name like you’d say “Planet Earth”, with the emphasis on the last word. Originally, though, I intended “Planet” to be an adjective, as in “Oh, I could really go for a nice piece of planet cake right now. Do we have any?”

Now I want cake. Ever write a song that was played for a show?

Oh…I’ve written plenty of songs over the years, but not a lot are fit for public consumption! I recorded a few of them back in 2002, and have shared them with select people who are far enough away that they can’t hit me. I wrote a single song for Planet Cake which only lasted for two gigs. It was the wrong kind of song for that band, but we were desperate to swell our playlist towards the mythical ten songs! The song was called “Dig Me Up”, and it was really quite…um…not so good…

Because I know my readers want to know this, I have to ask, did the girls throw panties at you on the stage?

Did I mention that I’m the bass player? That should answer that question!

We’ll get a tad more serious. Just a tad mind you. How did you get started making trailers?

It was a step-by-step process. I’d already made a few little music videos for The Medicine Show. I was also making covers for Excessica, my publisher, and the head honcho / publishing guru there, Selena Kitt, suggested I should freelance my services. Encouraged by that, I bought myself a brand new iMac and the Adobe Creative Suite. That iMac also had music and movie software, so I just started out by making a trailer for my friend Katie Salidas. That trailer, House of Immortal Pleasures, gained quite a bit of notice and again it was suggested to me that I could probably make a bit of a business out of it.

Since I’ve watched several of your trailers, which are excellent by the way, how long have you been creating trailers?

Aw, thank you ma’am. I made my first trailer back in 2009, but it was really quite simple and poor. I don’t believe it exists anywhere any more, thankfully. Through the urge to extend my ability, I’ve experimented further and further since then, incorporating animation and sound effects…and lately, even voice-overs.

Do you make trailers for authors or publishing houses or both? Can we ask you to create a trailer for us?

It’s always been at the author’s request, and yes, anyone can make a request. I’ve not dealt with publishing houses so far for trailers, but only because they’ve never asked!

Publishers pay attention!!! When you’re requested to make a trailer, does the author give you an idea of what she/he wants like email you a form? Or do you have to read the book or excerpt?

Well, unlike with covers, a trailer can obviously be made after the book is released. On the odd occasion I’m lucky enough to read the book before I make a trailer. Usually, though, I end up working from a similar brief as with a cover request. A blurb and excerpt, and brief character descriptions. The chief difference with a trailer is that you can’t afford to be too wordy. Even a half-page blurb is usually too long. That’s where my work in flash fiction helps me. You might not be able to tell from these answers, but brevity is one of my strengths.

Do you email the author what you’ve created up to a point, like half-way, to double check if that’s what the author/publisher had in mind?

That’s definitely an essential step, but one that I learned the hard way. Even the best description can fail to convey the look of a scene or an entire trailer, so it’s very important to let the author see what I’m doing. I strive to make my trailers a “point of difference” product. So letting the client see the “rushes” is very important, in case I’m pushing things too far for them! A three-second animation can have as many as a hundred frames in it, sometimes more. Each frame has to be made individually. So if I had, say, the hair colour wrong, I’d have to make every frame again! The same applies with the music. I send the authors my composition as a separate file so that they can listen without visual distraction. Only at the end do I combine the sound with the vision.

That's fascinating and what I've been wondering about. Anything that you know now that you wished you knew before you started?

Always get specifics. Ask plenty of questions before starting!

So true in so many areas of life. Floor is yours, Willsin the music man. Share with us a few trailers, links to find you online.

This is the trailer that started it all! And it’s a bonus that it’s for my buddy Katie.

House of Immortal Pleasures:

This was the first trailer in which I attempted a voice-over. I think my American accent needs a little work…

And the trailer for my pet story.

The Three-Day Hump:

Here’s a music video for my band, The Medicine Show. This was the first time I’d attempted animation, and I used some of the artwork I’d created for band posters, along with stock footage.

This Father’s Son:

PS: The crying boy is my younger son, aged 3. The way I’ve edited the video makes it look like he’s deadly scared of something…in truth, I was just trying to get him to take a nap and he was doing that whole “I’m not tired!” thing…heh…

And here’s our version of the famous “Bad To The Bone”. The live footage is from our gig supporting Wolfmother. A lot of the other footage comes from my wife’s family farm.

Bad To The Bone:

My covers/trailers blogsite:

My shared writing blogsite:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Welcome Willsin Rowe

Please help me welcome multi-talented Willsin Rowe. He is an author, cover artist, trailer creator, and musician, not necessarily in that order.

Please tell us a bit about yourself, Willsin.

Hi, Cassie, and thank you for having me here at Romance, Suspense and Sizzle. I love what you’ve done with the place. Sexy new web banner and all!
I fall in love with a scent, a playful expression or an act of casual intimacy more easily than with physical beauty. When confronted by any combination of those I am a lost cause.
I have done many things over and over. I have done even more things only once. I have half-done more things than I care to admit.
I don't yet know if I can ski, speak Italian or keep calm in a life-threatening situation, but I have my suspicions.
I play bass in a swampy blues band. I love to sing and don't let my voice get in the way.
I am intelligent but not sensible. I am polite but inappropriate. I am passionate but fearful. I am honest but reticent. I am neither stylish enough nor scruffy enough to be cool.

Hope you don’t mind, Willsin, but I thought since you do so many different things that we’d focus on a couple of your talents separately. For this blog post, let’s talk about your writing. Did you always dream of becoming a writer?

It’s hard to remember a time I didn’t. I was actually a reluctant reader in the first year or two of school. I dug comics, but not books. Then in second grade, my teacher issed a reading challenge, just to promote literacy. Thanks to my nifty genitals and their habit of producing testosterone, in my mind it became a competition. I started devouring books like they were potato chips. As I’m sure happens for most writers, the act of reading awoke a love of writing. I still remember, at the age of 10, telling my grandfather I wanted to be a writer. He assured me I’d starve and needed to find a real career. He’s still alive, age 97, and I’m still setting about proving him wrong!

What genre do you write most often?

The simple answer is Erotica. Within that wider genre, I’m currently focused on urban contemporary. I enjoy writing stories with darkness and grit, and while the stories don’t necessarily fit within the Romance genre, most of my characters are quite romantic.

Must have some romance. Is there any genre you wouldn’t write? Why?

I have no interest in writing splatter. If (when?) I tackle horror, I’d rather scare people with shadows than with innards.

No gore for me either. In my case, I want to write Time Travel, but haven’t yet. Is there a genre you want to write, perhaps at some time in the future?

Oh, I’d love to see what you do with time travel, Cassie. For me, there are several. If I had to narrow it to one, then I’d say paranormal. I’ve always had a fascination with supernatural mind powers, like prescience, psychic powers and telekinesis. I have a good half-dozen story ideas (some started) which fall within paranormal. And only one of them has vampires!

Title of your first book, be it ebook or in print or anthology? Did you get it published? If so, where?

My first published work (and in fact, only the second piece of erotica I’d written) was a little number called “Hearts and Beats”. It was a story of new love and chronicled the journey of Sian and Ed from an accidental nose-to-arse collision through to their first night together. I wrote it specifically for a contest at Aphrodite Unlaced, and was very pleased when it won*. It was actually a little adventurous, too, since it had twin points-of-view. The first section was in Ed’s voice, the second in Sian’s, and so on.
*In hindsight, given the size of the publisher, and its status as “now-defunct”, perhaps mine was the only entry!

What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know beforehand and you wished you had?

The importance of teamwork. I was very fortunate with my first two books (at Aphrodite Unlaced) that I managed to get them published without having a crit partner. Over the past three to four years I’ve managed to fall in with an amazing group of writers like Katie Salidas (or as I’ve re-christened her, The Lovely Katie™) and Sommer Marsden (“Awesommer”). I’ve learned many things from both of these incredible women, whether it be from them reading my work or from me reading theirs. Sometimes you learn about how to write from reading an early draft of someone else’s work. Not to mention that they’re just darn smart cookies with excellent listening skills.

Sommer is a gem and I've just "met" Katie, but crit partners are priceless. Since you’re from Australia, do you have time conflicts when contacting your publisher and/or editor?  I’m East Coast and my publisher is West Coast, three hour time difference here in the States, and it seems like forever before I get an answer.

There is a time lag, of course. Where I am (Brisbane) is about as far East as you can get in Australia, and it’s 10 hours ahead of GMT. So at first I became very familiar with the time zone websites, but now I’m getting pretty good at working it out in my head. It hasn’t presented any problems so far with writing. Sometimes it does with covers and trailers, when I have an idea in the morning and can’t get any feedback until my night-time. 

Waiting for feedback drives me crazy, which is a short trip in my case. What was the best writing advice someone gave you?

“There’s another story in there.” It was in a writing course, and the comment was on a 20-line poem. It was meant as a suggestion to rework the poem, but I’ve appropriated it now as a mantra. It’s reminder that a story can hinge on something that you never meant it to. That as a writer, you should always keep one eye out for an epiphany, or serendipity. Like when you start a story knowing exactly how it’s going to end…only to realize that the true ending is vastly different. And you can’t believe you didn’t see it right from the start.

But don't you just love it when characters take over and you're hanging on, unsure of the destination. What was the worst advice? Did you know it at the time?

It wasn’t so much advice as something that came up in discussion. Someone calling himself a writer claimed he basically didn’t read anything. Not just within his genre (which was sci-fi, I believe), but literally nothing at all. His reasoning was that there was no way he could regurgitate anyone else’s ideas if he didn’t read anyone else’s ideas. I’m not sure whether it worked for him or not, but it certainly wouldn’t work for me.

Wonder if that's the same guy I talked to. A writer not reading doesn't compute. Any WIP? Care to share?

There’s a little story I began in July last year. It was the first time I’d ever sat down with only a single character in my head and just written about her. New characters jumped into existence around her and in the space of about 6 hours I had 6,000 words. For me, that’s positively turbo-charged. Meanwhile I’ve busied myself with other projects and ignored that little story, but I checked back on it not long ago…and I still love it. So that’s the one I’m bringing to completion. I was recently made redundant from my Stoopid Day Job, and at time of writing this I have three weeks until I finish up there. I’ve set myself the goal to have that story submitted to a publisher before I finish at the SDJ!

In the states we call redundant laid off, which happens a lot. As the old saying goes, when one door closes another opens. For your published books, do you design the covers or is that out of your control?

With the first, now-defunct, publisher, I wasn’t given the option to design covers (although I sent mockups for my second book with them…and they couldn’t re-create it so I ended up supplying some of the art). With my current publisher, Excessica, I did end up designing my own covers. I actually find it more difficult to make covers for my own stories than for others. Because when you look at it, a cover is a visual blurb. It’s a two-line synopsis in graphics. And I dare you to name me an author who LOVES to write a synopsis!

You've got that right. Just reading the word "synopsis" caused me to hyperventilate. There's only one good reason we want to be breathless. How about a blurb and/or excerpt from a one of your books. Please include your links so we can find you and your work.

This one’s my “pet” story. It’s called “The Three-Day Hump”.

34-year-old Luther Prescott has a solid career as a lawyer and is married to a world-famous lingerie model. Despite the verve of his youth, his life has grown comfortable and he drifts from day to day without dreams or aspirations. He can’t remember how it felt to truly want something…anything.
One night after work he meets Opal, the younger sister of a workmate, and despite their differences, they begin to spark off each other like shards of flint.
Opal is 25, debatably single, and has lived a life poor in everything but experience. She has a lush and fiery darkness emanating from within and it pulls Luther to her like a black hole. He suddenly remembers what want feels like.
The sharp desire in his eyes slices through Opal’s prematurely jaded heart, and they begin to flirt shamelessly. When the flirting inevitably turns physical, they each strive to escape the gravity of their lust, but lust turns to obsession, obsession to addiction. They can’t see a future, but they can think of nothing but the present.
Even when careers and lives are in the balance, they can’t fight their craving. The sex is so potent and consumptive that every time, as soon as it’s over, they feel hollow. They don’t know how to stop, they only know they need to.
An urban myth tells that three days of abstinence will break the back of an addiction. They hole up together in a hotel for a long weekend.
The ultimate test.
Can their addiction be beaten? Maybe. But first, they need to make it over the three-day hump.

She studies him briefly. He looks tranquil as a winter sunrise. She grinds her teeth in pique, steps out towards him, her hands balled as if to hide their quivering. She stops with only twelve inches of air splitting them.
She’s an animal, dripping with urges, stupid with lust. He’s a brute, stinking of musk, pulsing with heat. They’re beasts that have chanced upon each other, nothing more. They greet first with their eyes, barely daring to blink lest a weakness be revealed, or a secret betrayed. Three ragged breaths pass before an uneasy truce sighs down over them. They already know each other’s secrets. They are each other’s weakness. They pore over one another, but learn nothing they hadn’t already known.
He sees the frisson in her fingers and senses his own trembling in sympathy. He rubs his arms, brushes at the ghosts of spiders past and future.
She itches only on the inside, but it grows every second. Her bottom lip catches the rhythm of her hands. She blinks moistly and it weakens his knees.
He moves first, squeezing the air out from between them, ducking his head until he’s level with her throbbing eyes. He sniffs, a smooth and lengthy pull, hauling in the scents of her hair, her skin, her tremulous breath. He searches for any trace of threat, some other bull’s musk. His blood squeals urgently, petulantly in his ears, demands that he mark her as his own.
He prowls around her skinny, static frame, hoarding her essence. His breath gains momentum as he nears her hair, her shoulders, the feathery curls under her arms. He drops to his knees and grasps at the air around the small bump of her belly. He scrapes a path in the carpet as he orbits her pelvis, gnawing the atmosphere of her slender bottom, her bony hips. Before long he’s right where he fears he’ll lose himself.
She fills his vision. Her dark, thick bush seems to expand before him and he crams his nose with her scent. Like an animal. She courses through his body at the speed of blood, but it doesn’t fill him up. It just pools in his groin and weighs him down.
He twists his eyes closed and falls, finds his humanity swimming around her ankles. He drinks it back in with the smell of kept feet. Sweat and leather. Thick socks and skin.
He pushes away from the floor, sends himself back up into the stance that evolution has forced upon him. His head feels frothy. His blood, so insistent only moments before, weakens to a mere whisper as it claws back up to his heart. He staggers and almost regresses before his mind sops up enough blood to stiffen his spine.
He swallows heavily as she moves in to return his greeting.


My regular writing-based blog:
My own cover and trailer based blog:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Please welcome Chris Redding

This is a very special guest, Chris Redding. She's #17 and my last guest as part of the All Things Romantic Suspense Authors Blog Tour. In her honor, I redecorated my blog.

Now, it's Chris moment in the spotlight.

Tell us about yourself, Chris. Then how about something that hasn’t been previously stated? Maybe a phobia or pet peeve.
I live in New Jersey with my husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and still root for the Eagles and the Flyers. I graduated from Penn State (Go Lions) with a degree in Journalism. 
I don’t like my food to touch on my plate when I am eating. Odd, I know.

What genre do you write and what genre would you love to try?
I write romantic suspense. I’ve dabbled in romantic comedy. I’d like to try a middle grade novel next.

Tell us about what you've had published.
Corpse Whisperer a paranormal romantic suspense
The Drinking Game, a romantic suspense
Incendiary a romantic suspense.

Any works in progress?
Right now I’m revising a romantic comedy for submission. Hope to be done next week.

What's your inspiration?
Not sure I have one. I just have all these stories in my head and if I’m not writing them down I get cranky and can’t sleep.

What drives you as a writer?
See above. I really HAVE to write.

How long have you been writing? 
Since I was ten, but seriously for publication for about 13 years.

Do you have a dream man/cop/detective? Does he appear in your writing and if so, what does he look like?
A dream man. Not really.  When I was younger I dated mostly tall blonds. I married a guy of average height with brown hair.  I guess all my heroes are tall. I love firefighters so I have one in Incendiary.  I love nerds and I have one of those in another WIP.

Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
My kids. Hands down. I have two teen boys. One in middle school which is a very hard time of life for a boy. They take more energy than you think.

What makes you laugh? Cry?
Laugh? Puns, and bathroom humor. I LOVE Austin Powers movies.
Cry? Anything where children are involved. For instance if they aren’t getting a fair shake.

What do you do to amuse yourself when not working?
Farmville and TV.

Sinful indulgence?
The Real Housewives of New Jersey. So glad none of my friendships are like that.

Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?
The first time I gave a workshop at a conference that wasn’t my home writing group.  When someone who doesn’t know you thinks you are an expert at something, it’s validating.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. The floor is yours. Please tell us where to  find your work, your website, your blog, book trailer, and anything else you care to share.
Here I am on the web:

All my books are available at your favorite online booksellers.
Thanks for having me.

Blurb: Incendiary
Chelsea James, captain of her local first aid squad, is trying to keep the organization afloat, but someone is sabotaging her. The squad is her father’s legacy and she feels responsible to keep it going.

Jake Sweeney, back in town after a decade, is investigating the arsons he was accused of long ago. When they start again Chelsea and Jake must join forces to defeat their mutual enemy.

Jake would like to rekindle what they had before he left town, but his departure left
Chelsea hurt and bewildered. To begin again, she must learn to trust him.

Her life could depend on it.