Articles by: Beautiful Monsters

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Reviews

5-Star Review by Anne Halfpenny on Amazon.com

(May  2017)

FIVE STARS

“Beautiful but vulnerable Riley Rinaldi’s passionate love affair with deviant “Lothario” Keller Cross is a sizzling erotic story of love, intrigue and Hollywood scuttlebutt. I don’t think a white picket fence awaits them, but “The Life Of Riley” does. A book to enjoy!” Anne Halfpenny

5-Star Review by Stephanie Mcguire on Amazon.com

(September 2016)

FIVE STARS

“Wonderful book with great characters. Loved it from the first chapter!!!” Stephanie Mcguire

Review by Mark Morris on GoodReads.com

(August 2016)

Riley Rinaldi is a makeup artist working in Hollywood…

“Riley Rinaldi is a makeup artist working in Hollywood. She’s an intelligent woman, she’s attractive and she’s successful in her chosen career. She’s got it made. Right? Well, no…

Working side by side with the most charismatic and beautiful actors and actresses in the world seems like the perfect way to spend your life until you realize that the perfection you see on the screen disappears as soon as the cameras stop rolling. The stars of the screen soon lose their shine then and the tarnish goes all the way to their cores.

This is a well-observed novel written by someone who’s intimately familiar with the real-life stories that go on in the back lots and the mazes of buildings that rarely feature on the studio tours. The characters are often cruelly real and this is a captivating story that kept me thumbing the ‘next page’ button until the story ran out, leaving me satisfied but still wanting more. If you enjoy reading about the hidden Hollywood you’ll love this. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves to read about the grit behind the glamour.” Mark Morris

5-Star Review by Henry Coe on Amazon.com

(July 2016)

Looking for a book that doesn’t have the best it has to offer on the front and back cover?

“Ever read the front and back cover and figure it looks like an interesting book? By the time you’ve reached the third or fourth chapter and discover you still have no idea what the story is or will be about? Beautiful Monsters keeps you and your imagination fully engaged from page 1 to the last. The characters are followed throughout the story which flows from page to page. It’s a great read (story and characters) that keeps you fully engaged, bringing your imagination to life while you’re always anticipating the next paragraph. Cynthia Ogren is a magnificent writer and story teller and has written a fascinating book you can’t go wrong with.” Henry Coe

5-Star Review by Amazon Customer on Amazon.com

(June 2016)

Beautiful Monsters by Cynthia Ogren.

Beautiful Monsters is a well-written story of two people who created a relationship with the familiar Hollywood scene and managed to overcome their demons and eccentric individual behaviors. Riley Rinaldi, an executive, makeup artist becomes involved in a heated and passionate relationship with the egocentric heartthrob, Keller Cross, who has more issues of his own to overcome. Their intense and emotional rollercoaster relationship takes us through their journey of realistic trials and tribulations that make this story so much more intense. Cynthia Ogren knows how to keep you captivated. Her writing manipulates your attention to be drawn into her characters’ volatile and beautiful journey to the end. I highly recommend this book, and I give her a 5 star.” Amazon Customer

5-Star Review by Hymsh on Amazon.com

(May 2016)

But a friend recommended Beautiful Monsters to me.

“I don’t usually buy books, but a friend recommended Beautiful Monsters to me. What a fun book to read! I really enjoyed the love story between the two main characters and the look into the lives of the rich and famous. I hope the author is working on a sequel!” Hymsh

5-Star Review by G.E. Hamlin on Amazon.com

(May 2016)

If you like Jackie Collins, you will enjoy Cynthia Ogren!

“My takeaway from this novel is that each of us are more alike than we are not alike. The author has created believable characters with hurts and emotional baggage that will speak to the brokenness in each of us. I didn’t know what to expect in reading this novel as I write Christian novels, but I was moved by the author’s characters. I rooted for them from beginning to end.” G.E. Hamlin. Author, Marriage Takes Three

5-Star Review by A.J. on Amazon.com

(January 2016)

Thought provoking read…

“This is a thought provoking book, written I believe, for a more intellectual woman. Sexy and steamy, but with a much deeper story than many I’ve read. Can’t wait for the next book.” A.J.

5-Star Review by Marina J. Neary on Amazon.com

(December 2015)

Cosmetic, synthetic, prosthetic – review of Beautiful Monsters by Cynthia Ogren!

A few months ago I had the honor of interviewing Cynthia Ogren, the author of Beautiful Monsters. As a reviewer I am supposed to view the novel independently from the person who wrote it, but I always like to know where the author is coming from. Ogren’s narrative is refreshingly raw and candid without being bitter or judgmental. As a former insider who has worked in the entertainment industry and survived, she does not have a vendetta against Hollywood as some authors would. I know that it can be very tempting to “expose” the underbelly of a very unforgiving industry that has scarred and discarded many. The underlying message is that some individuals want to be scarred, and they will continue sticking their fingers into proverbial outlets, because the side effect of pain is sick masochistic pleasure. Ogren’s female protagonist Riley Rinaldi, an executive makeup artist who also flirts with acting and choreography, is one of such individuals, or rather she has convinced herself of that. With a long list of disasters on her romantic resume, she half-jokingly refers to herself as Bloody Mary of Romance. That statement becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy as she embarks on what she believes to be her last romantic journey with tormented egocentric heartthrob Keller Cross. Both bring an impressive vintage collection of inner demons, and when those demons engage in a dance … buckle your seats!

Film is not just an escape for the moviegoers. It’s an escape for those who are involved in the production process, from the executives dubbed as Suits to the actors and the crew. If you feel hostage to your past, to your secrets and misdeeds, to an uncomfortable relationship, playing a role can indeed be an escape. But there is another side to it – that quest for liberation can lead you into an even deeper, darker trap. If you work on a set for 20 hours, the line between reality and fantasy starts to blur. You can longer tell where the actor ends and the character begins. Makeup and prosthetics become a part of your body. You have to have a really resilient psyche to be able to maintain your sense of reality and your place in that reality. It’s the price people pay for creating movies.

Ogren’s Beautiful Monsters is a credible, psychologically authentic depiction of an entertainment microcosm.” Marina J. Neary

5-Star Review by R & B Cunningham on Amazon.com

(October 2015)

You MUST get this book!

“This is a very hot and addicting read! I love everything about Cynthia’s work! The only challenge is to actually be able to put it down. Cynthia knows how keep the reader captivated.” R & B Cunningham

5-Star Review by Mickalia Peckon on Amazon.com

(September 2015)

Top 10 Reasons to Read Beautiful Monsters by Cynthia Ogren

“Ben & Kate’s Disclosure: We received a complimentary copy of the book from the author / author’s representative which did not affect our honest opinion.

  1. Ah, a relationship set on the grounds of Hollywood. If a gossip column is anything to go by, we know these relationships aren’t easy and Beautiful Monsters takes this point all the way.
  2. Riley Rinaldi comes across as a competent person but yearns to fall in love with Mr. Right. When Keller Cross shows up, we are all convinced he is Mr. Wrong but she’s swept off her feet.
  3. Every bit of both the main characters are engaging.
  4. Putting aside the boy meets girl cliche, this book is a wild ride of emotions which most readers can connect with. Think of it as a lighter, fictional version of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.
  5. The writing was great, the author has a manipulative way of keeping the reader tuned in to all the drama.
  6. Keller does get on your nerves but then so does Riley which makes them all the more endearing.
  7. As Riley and Keller’s relationship progresses, you feel happy, then sad, then happy again. Who’s been in a relationship that is happy all the way?
  8. The title, “Beautiful Monsters” becomes to mean so much more than the title of the movie. The beauty of a person we see in public, and the monsters they become behind the scenes. Awesome, awesome author.
  9. Cool story with some impressive writing skills that will give you an emotional high.
  10. Romance fan or not, if you like books where both characters work at a relationship in the most flawed of ways, this will be a good bet.” Mickalia Peckons

5-Star Review by Amie Iams on Amazon.com

(September 2015)

A Fantastic Read!

“I don’t read many books in this genre so I wasn’t entirely sure whether I’d enjoy it. Well, I was drawn in from the first page and could not put the book down. I work a full time job and managed to finish this book in two work days. The relationship between the two main characters was an intense emotional roller coaster ride. It was so well written I really felt their love, anguish, desperation, ecstasy, longing… the list goes on. I highly recommend it. You will not be disappointed” Amie Iams

5-Star Review by Lisa on GoodReads.com

(June 2015)

What a great book…

“What a great book! The ride that Riley and Kellar took me on was a wild one. The Hollywood life style, wild and fast. Can’t wait to read more of Cynthia Ogren books.” Lisa Smith

5-Star Review by Reader on Amazon.com

(May 2015)

It was brilliantly written and you definitely got an up close and
“I was skeptical at first about this book , cause I don’t normally read romance books. But I must say this one has definitely changed my mind. It was brilliantly written and you definitely got an up close and personal attachment to the characters. It’s definitely one you won’t want to put down it keeps you going till the end. I absolutely loved it hoping for a sequel.” Lisa

5-Star Review by Reader on ReadersFavorite.com

(May 2015)

I found Beautiful Monsters to be…

“I found Beautiful Monsters to be an intriguing read and my only complaint is that I have to wait for its sequel. Riley and Keller are standout and believable characters who meet in an exceptional town under exceptional circumstances, so this relationship had no hope of being anything but explosive from the outset. Riley has everything she needs in life except true love but finally feels she has found it in actor Keller Cross. The question that probably doesn’t need answering but keeps presenting itself at you through out their torrid affair is; is it love or lust she has discovered? What ever it is Cynthia Ogren has brought the characters alive with some very clever writing and if you can read this book without feeling the emotion and passion that jumps out at you from these very life like characters, then I suggest you check your own pulse.” Neal Davies

Review by Cathy Naser, Broker/Realtor San Antonio, TX

(May 2015)

I am enjoying reading Beautiful Monsters
“I am enjoying reading Beautiful Monsters with all its great character development. I have never read a book and known the author of it.  Noticing the slow exposition of the character Riley, I wondered about the process you go through to create a story like this. Do you plan out the characters and the plot in advance or do you write and let it reveal itself to you as you write? When you started the book, did you know where you wanted to go with it? As I read it, I am pulled forward wanting to know more about the characters and what is unfolding. It is so cleverly written that the invitation to keep reading is almost seductive in itself.  Because I know you, it makes me curious how someone creates something like this. I am only 7 chapters in but am enjoying it. Good job!” Cathy Naser

4.5-Star Review by Madiha on GoodReads.com

(May 2015)

Beautiful Monsters was an awesome read

Beautiful Monsters was an awesome read. The story was perfect. Very well-written. It was quite different from the stories we generally read. It’s not your common Erotica. It was too good to keep you gripped right from the first page till the end in your urge to know what happens next.Riley Rinaldi is very beautiful but she thinks that’s the only thing that makes men attracted towards her. She is a make-up artist. One day she crosses paths with an actor Keller Cross. They fall for each other but their relationship can’t go smoothly because Keller is already married.Riley and Keller both have their secrets, both have their past to face. Will they be able to forgo their past and unite? Will their relationship work?You need to read this book to find what happens in this amazingly sewn story!” Madih

5-Star Review by Reader on Amazon.com

(April 2015)

I decided to read Beautiful Monsters because…
“I decided to read BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS because I was intrigued by the title. I expected it to be a somewhat predictable story about the rich and famous, but I was in for more than a few surprises! I found myself very drawn to the main characters, Riley and Keller, both of whom struggle with their own inner demons – yet yearn for love and redemption. It is a sensitively written, complex and sensual love story that delves into the human characteristics that have the ability to unite us, or to destroy us. It certainly begs the question: Must we be fully accepting of those whom we love? If you haven’t read BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS, do it! You won’t be disappointed.” Mina J.

 

5-Star Review by Reader on ReadersFavorite.com

(February 2015)

Beautiful Monsters is…

Beautiful Monsters is an irreverent romp into the entitlement, complexities, and heartaches of the Hollywood elite. Riley Rinaldi, makeup artist for the stars, collides heart-on with sexual deviant movie star Keller Cross. Cynthia Ogren brings to life these two beautiful, yet broken, people, letting you crawl into their souls to experience their joys and heartaches first hand. The story is well-written, well-plotted, and emotionally satisfying, with light humor scattered amongst the darkness. I wholeheartedly recommend Riley’s and Keller’s story. When you turn the last page, you may look at love and forgiveness in a whole different way.” Maxine McCoy

5-Star Review By Reader on Amazon.com

(January 2015)

Not Your Mama’s Romance Novel

“It has been a few years since I’ve read anything in the romance/erotica genre. After a while, it seemed that each story followed a predictable pattern. Not so with this gem. Beautiful Monsters is truly unique – sweet but with just the right edginess to make it an excellent read. Authentic, three-dimensional characters set among Hollywood glitterati will have readers panting for a sequel!!” Andanver

5-Star Review By Pamela Stuard for Readers’ Favorite

(November 2014)

“A must read!!! Riley Rinaldi believes she is cursed. Her beautiful looks makes her feel has if that is the only reason why men want her. Until she meets actor Keller Cross. She and Keller become as one but their relationship is very difficult because Keller is still married. Riley and Keller both have a past, but can they both overcome their past and move forward? Does Kellers wife Claudia get Keller back and does she keep Keller and Riley apart for good? You’ll just have to read it.”

5-Star Review By Reader on Amazon.com

(December 2014)

Well written. I am only a few chapters into the story, but have enjoyed every minute thus far.” C.H.

5-Star Review By Reader on Amazon.com

(December 2014)

A fun book that I simply could not put down!

“What a fun book to read! I don’t normally read erotic books and this book surprised me as I enjoyed the book very much (and learned a few things along the way!). Could not put this book down as the author has a way of ending a chapter in that way that you just have to turn the page to find out what is going to happen next in the lives of these two very complex and interesting characters! Certainly hope Ms. Ogren is working in a sequel as I am very anxious to find out what happens to Riley and Keller in the next phase of their lives and it will not be the cut and dried “living in a house with children and a white picket fence”! This books also shows that money and beauty does not buy happiness although most of us in the general population would certainly like to give that life a try!” P.C.

5-Star Review By Ruth Renwick on Amazon.com

(November 2014)

Loved this little novel! Romantic Erotica?

“Being a retired teacher, I’m a bit of a prude but was laughing out loud reading erotic but hilarious passages. I was pleased with not an over abundance of characters and soon had not only Riley and Keller (Killer?) but the supporting cast clarified easily with apt descriptions, in an amusing introductory plot. In the beginning, embarrassed, successful, Riley, the lead character, a makeup artist in the movie set Beautiful Monsters, with her emotional baggage and her lust for Keller, the Hollywood star, is deeply confounded by this lust for this man who turns out to have a ton of his own psychological baggage, much of it stemming from his bisexual proclivities and strong drive. Their characters are gradually revealed through their sexual magnetism. Other characters provide interesting direction and support to the story as well in this tale of Hollywood with Beautiful People being Monsters underneath while the metaphorical vampire movie they are making involves Keller and Riley’s dance being center stage as it is behind the scenes. Layers upon layers of metaphor and innuendo leave the reader expecting the evil steamy side of this story to prevail. I was fanning my face when Riley as Dominatrix does her dirty on him. This old lady skimmed those pages and shut out the light early that night. Curiosity kept me turning the pages, however, as this book is a well honed piece of literature with some really unique twists in the plot around this ambivalent relationship. She doesn’t really want to do the dance but he does and can be very convincing. The vampire metaphor runs throughout leaving one feel drained at times when their love is completely sapped out, seemingly. Not only in the vampire art form but in their lives they dance a tragic dance of love. I was surprised as the pace quickened at a climatic turning point of brilliant writing. This changed everything and the dance around evil and good behaviors and actions left me wondering right up to the last chapter with a real connection to these two characters, now, what would become of them. A very satisfying ending. I hope Cynthia Ogren has started her second book!” R.W.

5-Star Review By Avid Reader on Amazon.com

(October 26, 2014)

Hollywood Like You’ve Never Seen It Before!

“I received this book for an honest review and liked it so much that I had to purchase an official copy. Before reading a word, I checked out reviews and noticed this book was being put into different genres. I wondered why, so I read the book and now have an answer. This book truly does have something for readers of every genre, over the age of 18.With that being said, this book is predominantly a Romance. It is full of drama, intrigue, plot twists, and steamy scenes. It also has something unexpected, vampires. Okay, they may not play a major role or in the way you’ve come to expect, but they are there.
The main characters, Riley Rinaldi and Keller Cross would probably get my vote for favorite literary couple. Although they are among the Hollywood elite, they are nothing at all like the way most of us envision the Hollywood community. They are flawed and don’t go out of their way to hide that fact. For that reason, I found them highly likable and became involved in their story.The writing flowed beautifully. There wasn’t one incident where I thought the story lagged or went too fast. The editing and formatting was spot on as well.
In case you couldn’t tell already, I loved this book. I am now anxiously awaiting the next book by Cynthia Ogren, which I hear is a sequel to Beautiful Monsters. I can’t wait!” A.R.

4-Star Review By Rene Averett for Readers’ Favorite

(October 2014)

“I am not really a fan of the romance genre and seldom read romance novels although I do like suspense romance and some paranormal romance. So, while I did enjoy the read of Cynthia Ogren’s Beautiful Monsters, I wasn’t totally engrossed in it. As a romance novel, it was a bit more of deviant sex than I like to read about but for those who enjoy this type of novel, it does hit some kinks. Ms. Ogren writes very well and has built strong characters. If a racy, sexy novel is your cup of tea or bedtime reading, then give this book a read.”

5-Star Review By Author and Publisher on Amazon.com

(September 2014)

“As both a best-selling author and a publisher, I have gone into many literary worlds, into the throngs of numerous genres and I can truly say that Beautiful Monsters is one of the best summer sizzlers around. Erotic Romance is delightfully twisted and turned in this sexily created novel. Beautiful Monsters is not like other novels of this genre that I have read. This novel has a beautifully crafted foundation of plot, scenery and characters that is so exquisite and so precise that the very definition of being a page turner wouldn’t do it justice. I would highly recommend Beautiful Monsters to all readers everywhere. I am truly looking forward to a sequel!” E.E.

5-Star Review By Manta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite

(August 2014)

Beautiful Monsters by Cynthia Ogren revolves around makeup artist Riley Rinaldi. Riley Rinaldi is envied by many. She has it all – wealth, beauty and sex appeal. But underneath her shining personality is a lonely woman whom many don’t know. Her life is devoid of love and she feels very lonely. At this juncture, heartthrob Keller Cross comes to the set of Beautiful Monsters and Riley is attracted to him in a big way. What follows is an awakening of her dormant feelings and their wild passion and intense love spill onto the set of the movie. The passion of these two characters dominates the theme, along with the scenes where they fight their own demons while trying to create a future.

The author has portrayed Riley Rinaldi and Keller Cross beautifully with all their flaws and shortcomings. The reader will definitely fall in love with these two broken people. The grandeur and fake world of Hollywood has been captured well here through the plot. The glamour, intrigue, wild passion, the flawed characters and the movie set give the much required pace to the story. Readers are swept away as they are pulled into a world of jealousy, love, hatred and greed.

The story is wonderfully executed, making it a compelling and satisfying read. There is a bit of humor that is laced throughout, which adds to the lighter moments in this otherwise intense plot. The setting in Hollywood and the steamy and erotic scenes make it a page turner. It has all the ingredients of an interesting and exciting romance making it a compelling read.”

5-Star Review from Random Reviews

(August 23, 2014)

Prepare to fall in love with Riley, Keller, and this book.
Prepare to fall in love with Riley, Keller and this book.Beautiful Monsters is an irreverent romp into the entitlement, complexities, and heartaches of the Hollywood elite. Riley Rinaldi, makeup artist for the stars, collides heart-on with sexual deviant movie star Keller Cross. Cynthia Ogren brings to life these two beautiful, yet broken, people, letting you crawl into their souls to experience their joys and heartaches first hand. The story is well-written, well-plotted, and emotionally satisfying, with light humor scattered amongst the darkness. I wholeheartedly recommend Riley’s and Keller’s story. When you turn the last page, you may look at love and forgiveness a whole different way.”

5-Star Review By Kathryn Bennett for Readers’ Favorite

(August 2014)

“Beautiful Monsters by Cynthia Ogren takes us into the famous land of Tinsel Town, La La Land, Movie Capital of the World, Hollyweird, Gomorrah, Land of Broken Dreams, hell … also known as Hollywood. Once there, we meet the beautiful and talented Riley Rindaldi, envied by many for her life and her wealth. Sadly, her life is lonely and missing the one thing that everyone wants: love. Then the heartthrob of Hollywood, Keller Cross, swaggers onto the set of Beautiful Monsters and Riley finds herself unable to control herself. She and Keller come together in passion and right onto the stage of Hollywood fame and jealousy.

This book is wild and intense and brings a whole new level to the erotic romance game. Cynthia Ogren has created something that is well layered, intense, and hot and it will make you fall in love with the genre in a whole new way. I always wondered what it would be like to try to fall in love in Hollywood and, while this is fiction, it certainly gives us a look into what might befall a couple, from the attitudes to the egos and so much more. I have to say I enjoy Riley as a character; she is not perfect though she may seem to be on the outside. In truth, she is flawed like the rest of us and just trying to find someone who truly loves all of her. If you want to read what I feel is a new form of erotic romance, this is the book for you; it does not disappoint.”

5-Star Review By Faridah Nassozi for Readers’ Favorite

(August 2014)

“Riley’s love life had always been disastrous, to say the least. All her past relationships had ended up in one disaster after another and so she had sworn off relationships. While working as an executive makeup artist on the set of a movie, she found her relationship history repeating itself when she had a one-night stand with the star of the movie. The next day, she was the sole topic of gossip on the set, and as if that was not bad enough, her ex decided to join in the circus. But then she found herself working on the most handsome and charming man God has ever created, Keller – another star in the movie. It was clear from the start that Keller was interested in her and, much as she was interested, she told him that she did not date. But the chemistry between the two was so intense that they could not deny it so they decided to give it a try. But Keller had a soon to be ex-wife who did not want to let him go and a very dark secret that would scare even the most understanding of women. Riley’s emotional issues also did not help matters much.

Beautiful Monsters by Cynthia Ogren is a sad, dark and twisted but beautiful love story that touched the very bottom of my heart. What was most amazing is the way Cynthia Ogren brought out the emotions of the story in such a way that made me feel all the struggles of the characters, their desires, pains and the beautiful moments too. This enabled me to connect with them and understand their actions, whether right or wrong. I have never seen two people so wrong for each other and yet at the same time so right for each other, but the way Cynthia wrote the book made me see clearly why this was so. At times, I found myself rooting for them to make it and at other times fighting the need to scream at them to make up their minds already. And at some points I needed a tissue to wipe away the tears caused by the pain their love was bringing them. Beautiful Monsters is one hell of an emotional story and worthy of every single minute spent reading it.”

5-Star Review By Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

(August 2014)

“Beautiful Monsters is a contemporary romance written by Cynthia Ogren. Riley Rinaldi is a makeup artist working in Hollywood. When we first meet her, she’s trying to sneak out of a lead actor’s trailer on the set. Stephen had a lovely accent and played a very sexy vampire, but Riley realized after the fact that she was attracted to the character he played, not the star. Riley’s had a hard time romantically. She chooses the wrong lovers and is still smarting over the last unhappy relationship which ended when an irate wife she hadn’t known about burst in on the scene. Ignoring the looks and good-natured ribbing from her friends and co-workers, Riley finds herself attracted once again to another, older actor named Keller Cross, who is quite irresistible and has assured her that his marriage is definitely over, but it’s so very hard for Riley to learn to trust someone again.

Cynthia Ogren’s contemporary romance, Beautiful Monsters, is a well-written and enjoyable story. While it does contain some scenes that could be considered steamy and mildly erotic, they are tastefully written, and I did not find them at all offensive. Riley and Keller are marvelous characters, both of whom are flawed and very human, even if they are both physically beautiful. They each have issues that work to make them fully defined in the reader’s eyes, and their struggles with trust and acceptance keep up the dramatic suspense. There’s also a wonderful supporting cast of characters in Keller’s and Riley’s friends, especially Bebe and Riley’s adopted mom, Carmen, the housekeeper. Beautiful Monsters is quite a good read. I found myself reluctant to put it down until I had finished the last page. It’s highly recommended.”

Comments by ARC Readers

(August 2014)

  • “Look out Hollywood! Your ears must be burning!!”
  • “This novel from Cynthia Ogren is absolutely amazing. It really gives you the sense of being the paparazzi as you read page by page, looking into these brilliantly crafted characters’ lives from the outside.”   G. Thomas
  • “Quick, get the top Hollywood movie producers in a room and let’s see them fight over this script!” J. Spidel
  • “I am an avid reader who enjoys a bit of scandal in the things that I read. Beautiful Monsters hooked me up to a transformer, slammed down the switch and poured on the juice! This work energized me and threw me into a world I never realized could be so intense.” S. Terranova
  • “I have been an author for twenty plus years and all I can say about Beautiful Monsters is wow! Why couldn’t I have written this one? Guaranteed to be a best seller!!”

Review of Cynthia Ogren’s Beautiful Monsters by Author Mathew Peters

(July 2014)

“If you’re like me and haven’t read a romance erotica book, take everything you think you know about the genre and set it to one side. Now, pick up a copy of Cynthia Ogren’s Beautiful Monsters and let the wild ride begin.

It would be easy to focus on the excellent pacing, the well-drawn characters, and the intriguing plot of this book, all of which will fully satisfy devotees of romance erotica. But I’d like to focus on other aspects of Beautiful Monsters, those that appealed to me and led me to read compulsively this wonderfully executed and beautifully told story.

Riley Rinaldi and Keller Cross are likable, yet extraordinarily flawed characters. Their journey into and out of love has all the to-hell-and-back-again qualities associated with a glamorous Hollywood production. Oh wait…it IS a Hollywood production. But the fact that the setting is Tinseltown should not lead one to think the characters are shallow and two-dimensional, because all of Ogren’s characters come with fully rounded personalities, idiosyncrasies, and yes, lots of baggage.

What is less obvious is that the setting and the Hollywood production around which all of the action centers, the vampiric “Beautiful Monsters,” serves as a metaphor for Lala Land itself, and for the people which populate its palatial houses and its slapdash sets, its raunchy clubs and seedy tattoo parlors. Beautiful on the outside, monstrous on the inside, the town’s inhabitants are consumed by jealousy, love, anger and greed.

But what Ogren unfolds against the reprehensible backdrop is a lyrical tale of love addiction, one that is intoxicating and breathtaking. The story grabs the reader in a passionate embrace and will not let go until the story is spent. The reader emerges fully satisfied, caring about the main characters, and eager to be swept away in another story from the mind and heart of this truly wonderful new storyteller.”

–Matthew Peters, author of The Brothers’ Keepers (MuseItUp Publishing) and Conversations Among Ruins (forthcoming through All Things That Matter Press).

5-Star Review By Pamela Stuard on Goodreads.com

(November 2014)

A must read!!!

“Riley Rinaldi believes she is cursed. Her beautiful looks makes her feel has if that is the only reason why men want her. Until she meets actor Keller Cross. She and Keller become as one but their relationship is very difficult because Keller is still married. Riley and Keller both have a past, but can they both overcome their and move forward? Does Keller’s wife Claudia get Keller back and does she keep Keller and Riley apart for good? You’ll just have to read it.”  P.S.

5-Star Review By Patrick Loughrey on Goodreads.com

(October 2014)

True love never runs smoothly…L.O.L.

“Beautiful Monsters is the perfect example of that well-known phrase in life. Beautiful Monsters is an awesome read. The storyline is perfect, as its keeps you totally hooked from start to finished to find out what happens at the end. Cynthia has shown great imagination and is an awesome author. The book is funny, exciting, easy to read and fast moving, and it take you on a roller coaster ride, as the storyline unfolds. The characters in the book are awesome, strong, funny, with a great sense of humor. I love this book and I recommend it as a must buy and a must read. You will love it! My rating is 10 out of 10. More books please Cynthia Ogren. I can’t wait till her next one comes out; it will be awesome.”  P.L.

4-Star Review By Kayti Nika Raet for Readers’ Favorite

(August 2014)

“In Beautiful Monsters, an erotic romance by Cynthia Ogren, Riley Rinaldi is a Hollywood make-up artist who feels that she’s cursed in love even though she seems to attract the obsessive attention of every male she meets. So when Keller, an actor in Hollywood’s latest vampire flick, shows some interest, Riley is initially very standoffish even though there is an undeniable attraction between them. They are both very passionate people and when their romance begins it’s white-hot, almost burning out of control as they constantly fight and make up. There is also the specter of Keller’s soon to be ex-wife that is driving a wedge in his and Riley’s torrid, BDSM-filled romance. She doesn’t love Keller but she loves his money and is willing to do anything to keep it all to herself. A wild ride of a novel, Beautiful Monsters by Cynthia Ogren is filled with surprising twists and turns for an unlikely couple crazy in love.

Beautiful Monsters by Cynthia Ogren is a quick read and, while it is a romance, it’s definitely no chick-lit with a navel-gazing heroine obsessing over shoes. Keller is quite the bad guy and the romance between them is very hot and volatile, so much so that I often found myself wondering if the two of them would survive until the end. Filled with an interesting cast of secondary characters, Beautiful Monsters is a very dark romance and might be the perfect choice for an adventurous reader looking for something a little extra in their romance novels.”

 

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December/January Blog: Resolutions

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As the days of December wane, an eager new year waits to embrace us. Have you made resolutions for 2016 yet?

To be perfectly honest with you, 2015 was a bust for me. The two main entries on my list of resolutions for the year were the only things I didn’t do: finish my sequel and exercise regularly. Sounds easy enough to accomplish, right? Wrong! And the irony is that they’re both activities I love. So, what did I do?

  • I put my writer’s retreat in San Antonio up for sale, packed myself, and moved back to Kentucky to be closer to family.
  • I went on several vacations and entertained guests in San Antonio.
  • I spent countless hours—to the detriment of my writing process— on book business, all the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts of publishing and promoting a book.

That’s about it. Those three things consumed 2015! And here I sit at the end of the year with enormous guilt for lack of productivity in both my resolutions. Did I mention that every moment I spend not writing, I feel guilty? Yeah, I’m one of those authors. But I blame no one but myself. I’m the type of writer who needs everything else to be settled before I sit down and become incarcerated in my story. There was so much extraneous activity on my agenda this past year that concentration was out of the question. But I resolve to change my mindset in 2016!

Before I declare my resolutions for the upcoming year, I want to talk about the psychological importance of making resolutions and why we fail to keep them. Resolutions, which we typically make at the end of a calendar year, make us reflect on our lives, take stock of where we’ve been, and aim for where we want to go. They focus us on what is important to accomplish in the foreseeable future—and, possibly, on what we need to leave behind with the passing year. It’s always great to have a plan, right?

So, why are we rarely able to keep our resolutions past the middle of January? Bottom line: When we focus on extraneous events other than our objectives, we’re hiding from something.

For writers, it generally takes the form of procrastination in starting that new book—or hiding from the emotional drain required to write great prose or poetry. Or we could be hiding from the overwhelming task of querying countless agents and publishers. Since we don’t have a boss hanging over our shoulder (although some writers have an editor biting at their heels), it’s easier and more fun to fritter away our time on social media, blogs, books, or anything other than our writing. Guilty as charged!

Exercise is the same for me. It’s enjoyable alone-time where I can listen to music, think about my current manuscript, and tone my body and mind. But if anything else comes up, exercise is the first to go.

And every other resolution “should” is just the same. So, what can we do to stick with our resolve? Well, your friendly refugee from Over-Thinkers Anonymous has some ideas, of course.

  • Keep regular hours. Regardless of your occupation, find a block of time to practice your resolutions and stick to it! For writers, we need to go to our writing spot, sit our butts down in a chair, and write. That means NO Facebook or social media, NO phone calls (except emergencies), and NO interruptions by family members or friends. Be protective of this designated time! Other people need to respect your personal priorities.
  • Your resolution HAS to become a habit. That means you must make it a priority in your life. It has to come first, and you must become invested in it. Perhaps, you can create little rituals around it to make it more fun. For instance, with exercise, you could use a step counter and calculate your steps or activity per day. Or you could share your progress with friends. Writers often give themselves arbitrary word or page counts to achieve. These little activities keep us interested and make us feel successful. And nothing spurs one on like accomplishment!
  • Remember to be grateful. Gratitude works miracles. I’ve practiced it for years now, and it never fails to bolster my spirits. It makes me take stock and realize how lucky I really am in life. It also feeds on itself. A positive mindset brings positive circumstances.
  • Meditate. Time seems to fly these days, doesn’t it? In this high-pressure tech world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fall into bad habits. Meditation slows us down and centers us. It only takes a few minutes, but it makes a world of difference in our mental wellbeing. I now practice it before bed every night, and it has cured my insomnia. In combination, gratitude and meditation keep us grounded and moving forward with our plans for the year.
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What’s on my list of resolutions for 2016? I plan to KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!) this year. This means that I need to say no to extraneous events a little more often, and discard things that don’t serve my resolutions. So, here’s my shortlist for 2016:

  • Finish my sequel manuscript and have it edited by the end of 2016.
  • Exercise every other day—regardless of what my schedule looks like.
  • Stay present and remember to meditate each day.
  • Travel to Europe. I have a few other little trips already planned, but a trip to Great Britain will be the crown on my year!

IMG_0935And that’s my KISS list! What are your 2016 resolutions? I’d love to hear them! Share your opinions and anecdotes in the section below, and, just to prove how much I adore my readers, I’ll send a signed copy of Beautiful Monsters (with matching bookmark) to a randomly drawn commenter. Also, if you enjoyed this blog post, I’d appreciate a “share” on your social media pages. Thanks for stopping by! Happy reading and see you in 2016, tribe.

Remember Sharing is Caring! ❤️

~Cynthia

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November Blog: The Audacity of Singular “They”

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I’m surprised at the number of people—and writers—who are unaware of singular “they.” I’m equally surprised at the number of copy editors who disparage as distastefully ungrammatical the use of singular “they” (and it’s related forms) as a singular pronoun—and want to blue pencil it out of existence. And I suspect you’d be surprised at my relaxed stance over this lexical debate.

STKILL

What would you say about the writer of the following sentence? “She kept her head and kicked her shoes off, as everybody ought to do who falls into deep water in their clothes.”

 

Would you tell (him/her/them) (he/she/they) needed a grammar lesson? Well, you’d be insulting the late C.S. Lewis—and many other authors of note. This illustrious list includes: Lewis Carroll, George Eliot, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, William Thackeray, and Jane Austen to name a few. Oh, and did I mention that various versions of the Bible employ the singular “they” as well?

 

Before I get into this brouhaha further, let me first offer some examples of the much maligned singular “they” and its related forms.

 

  • A journalist should not be compelled to reveal their sources.
  • Everybody returned to their assigned classroom.
  • Somebody left their car keys at the desk. Would they please return to the counter to retrieve them?
  • A patient should know their rights.
  • Everyone promised to behave themselves.
  • No one put their hand up.

 

So you see the problem, right? According to standard grammar, “they” and it’s related forms can only agree with plural antecedents. Well, to my mind, there is no problem. Singular “they” has been used for centuries because English lacks a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun. So “they”was pressed into service and has become part of our standard lexicon. I learned it back in high school and college, but I’m always leery of using it out of fear of the grammar Nazis, who favor reworking sentences to avoid the black sheep “they.”

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Through the years, strict grammarians have tried to eradicate this tricky issue by employing “he” as a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun. (No one put up his hand.) But this did not sit well with women in the 1970s or with the transgender crowd of today. Also, the “s/he,” “she/he” solution has proven clunky at best. Other attempts at “xe,” “ze,” and “thon” left readers uttering “What the f …?”

 

Swedish grammarians, however, will list the gender-neutral pronoun “hen” as one of 13,000 new words in its official dictionary this year. “Hen” has been proposed since the 1960s as a gender-neutral substitute for “han/he” and “hon/she.” It will be interesting to see how “hen” fares with the populace. (Ben Zimmer, “‘They’, the Singular Pronoun, Gets Popular,” The Wall Street Journal

 

As all writers know, when a reader stops reading to figure out what the heck the author means, it stops forward momentum. Essentially, it’s the kiss of death. And because of this, some of the grammar bibles (The New Fowler’s 3rd Editon and Grammar Girl) are either acquiescing or taking a neutral stance on singular “they.” And many other grammar mavens are seeing the light as well.

 

For those rule-conscious holdouts like my grammar bible (The Chicago Manual of Style), I would offer these arguments:

 

  1. The real sticking point is when “they” is paired with a singular antecedent. The two do not agree in number. But I would offer a comparison with the subjunctive mood.
  • I wish he were home now.
  • If she were here, we’d go to the dance together.

Because this is the conjugation of subjunctive, it appears on the surface that the pronoun and verb do not agree in number. So singular “they” is not alone! There are many irregularities in the English language.

 

  1. The English language needs a gender-neutral third person singular pronoun more than ever today. To dabble with odd-sounding hybrid words is an insult to readers. When the only holdouts are the pedantic blue-pencil copy-editors and grammarians, it’s time to come down from that grammatical high horse and get with the prevailing historical sentiment that singular “they” is fine—and it offends no one.

 

  1. It’s always been my stance that it should be the objective of writers and grammarians to build a system of language that makes the written word easy for the reader to understand. That’s the purpose of grammar and punctuation. That’s all. Since singular “they” is common, well-understood usage, why fix what’s not broke(n)?

 

This Hemingway quote comes to mind when I hear pedantic grammar divas duking it out: ” We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.

 

Our English language is a living, breathing, evolving entity. It’s been tough for me to let go of certain staples of the lexicon, but evolve we must! I hold on to icons like the sacred Oxford comma and let go of lesser favorites. I suppose these various choices contribute to each writer’s personal style. But if the grammar Nazis want to harass some grammar foible, let them set their sights on the flagrant use of comma splices in modern writing. Or how about bringing back into common parlance the useful interrobang? Those are causes I’ll fight for!

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How do you feel about singular “they”? Are you morally offended when it doesn’t agree with it’s singular antecedent? You know I lurve you, and I adore hearing from you. So if you post a comment and give me an earful, you’ll have a chance to win a signed copy of Beautiful Monsters by yours truly—and maybe a little extra swag. *waggles eyebrows* Enjoy your November, tribe, and keep reading!

Remember Sharing is Caring! ❤️

~Cynthia

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September/October Blog: KyANA Book Signing

As some of you may have noticed, I’m running behind on my blog posts. With the move and unpacking, I’ve barely had time to breathe. I assure you the blog will be back in action soon. But it hasn’t been ALL work and no play!
I had a delightful time at the  KyANA (Kentucky Association of Nurse Anesthetists) Fall Meeting, held at the beautiful Griffin Gate Marriott Spa and Resort in Lexington, KY, the weekend of September 25-27. I’d like to thank KyANA board members Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists: Lara Barrow, CRNA and Donna Fiaschetti, CRNA , (picture below) for their warm welcome and support. Readers are simply the best people, aren’t they? I plied them with cookies, book chat, and jokes. And not only did I sign a lot of books, but I made some new friends. Check out these photos!❤️

 
[If you would like to learn more about Anesthesia and the tremendous care given by Nurse Anesthetists please check out the KyANA and the national organization the AANA (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists)]
Cyn Lara Donna at KYANA
Cyn at KYANA
KYANA Book Sign Ad 1
KYANA Book Sign Ad 2

~Cynthia

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Quickie Interview by Chevoque

Author Quickie with…Cynthia Ogren

October 13, 2015

by

Chevoque

NOTE:

These are the most random Qs I could find and come up with, but it is to show readers how authors are just like them or maybe so different that they are their own species.  I have several awesome authors already on board, but don’t let it scare you to take part though.  I’ll be sharing with you all; the answers to the set questions and introduce you to some awesome people, and later, all of this will be used in a statistical type blog.  Hopefully, we can keep this going for as long as possible and gain as many author’s inputs to make this thing grow.

But it doesn’t stop there:

~If you are an author who is interested in taking part in this silly game of mine; message, email or find me on a social network.

~If you are a reader and wanna take part; do the same and become part of the fun.  (It’ll be really cool to have your stats as well.)

~If you are none of the above…ag, shame.  Anyway, if you are an artist, a doctor, a barista or just randomly ended up here; bring it on and we can have a little fun when the stats have grown.


 Cynthia Ogren

 

Morning person or night owl?

Hoot hoot! I’m well acquainted with the wee hours of the morning.

 

Coffee, tea or neither?

I love both. I’m powered by caffeine and imagination.

 

EBooks or printed books?

I’m partial to print books, but I’m also aware that Ebooks are the way of the future. I read both, but if I really LOVE a book in E-format, then I have to buy it in print.

 

Bookmark or dog-ear pages?

I do both, although I hate to mar the pages of a book.

 

Extrovert or Introvert?

I’m more an introvert than an extrovert. Writers are by nature introverted, usually, and we have to spend long hours alone at the computer. But I also like to interact and have fun with friends, readers, and people I meet in daily life. I guess that makes me an ambivert.

 

Secret talents?  If so, what are they?

Well, this is pretty boring, but I’m inordinately organized. I’m a big-picture person, which helps me coordinate scenes for my manuscript or manage the details of a large cocktail party. I also predict future trends in fashion or culture with alarming accuracy and have a good sense of artistic design.

 

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Well, if I could choose a superpower, I would either like to be invisible or to be able to walk into a setting and make people instantly happy.

 

What is your biggest fear?

I’ve always been a Type A personality, trying desperately to be a Type B. I’ve made great strides to relax, but I’m prone to performance anxiety. I suppose my biggest fear would be that I couldn’t complete some important task on time. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? lol

 

You have three wishes, what are they?

  1. I’d like to be a successful enough writer that I could hire people to do all the PR and tedious tasks associated with writing.
  2. I’d love to leisurely travel the world. Bliss!
  3. I’d like to start small libraries or book huts around the world so ALL people would have access to books.

 

If you could forever break one habit, what would it be?

Diet Pepsis!!!

 

Your favorite:

 

Colour – Black

Animal – Dog

Mythical Creature – Dragon

Author – Oooh, hard one! Probably, Barbara Kingsolver.

Book – Little Altars Everywhere

Movie – Out of Africa

Music Genre – Everything! But I love Hip Hop.

TV Show – Downton Abbey or Sherlock

Place to Read – My big black leather rocking chair

Food – Great New York style pizza!

Beverage (Alcoholic and/or Non-Alcoholic) – Diet Pepsi or dirty martinis

Dessert – Chocolate cake with white buttercream icing

Word – “Coterie”

Season – Autumn

Procrastination method – Facebook, of course!

 

Turn on or turn off

 

Accents – Turn on!

Surprises – Turn on

Shyness – Turn off

Quiet Places – Turn on

Loud Places – Turn off

Dimples – Turn on

Glasses – Turn on

Scars – Turn on

Games – Turn on

Comic Books – Meh!

 

What is your motto?

If I had to choose one motto, it would be “Live your ART!”

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Interview by Marina Julia Neary

I was recently interviewed by the delightful author Marina Julia Neary for her Blog. Intelligent and humorous, Marina provided unique and provocative questions that piqued my interest and kept me on my toes. I’d like to thank Marina for the opportunity to appear on her blog. It was a lot of fun!

For an always interesting read, follow Marina’s Blog and check out her book Saved by the Bang: A Nuclear Comedy. Please see my interview below:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Beautiful Monsters – Cynthia Ogren’s Hollywood-themed romance

Greetings, commies!

Say hello to the glamorous and witty CynthiaOgren, a pop culture devotee and author of an introspective and richly developed novel Beautiful Monsters set in Hollywood filled with all the drama you’d expect from a glamorous romance – with a few unexpected twists.

 

MJN: When people talk/write about Hollywood, it’s usually with a mixture of feelings that seem to contradict each other: admiration, envy, judgment and ridicule. In real life, the grotesque and the sublime goes hand in hand. In Hollywood, these elements are taken to a whole new level. As an author, you have to know enough about the industry to make your narration authentic. At the same time, your proverbial “beef” with the industry can’t be too raw. If you have too many horror stories that you’ve experienced first-hand as an actor or director, you will be too emotional to tie those stories into a coherent plot. So what is your personal experience with Hollywood – if any – and which one of the above-mentioned emotions is prevalent?

 

CO: First of all, thanks for inviting me to your blog interview, Marina. I’m delighted to be here, and I’m further delighted to reply to your interesting, well-conceived questions.

 

Hollywood: the land of contradictions! It’s the perfect setting for Beautiful Monsters because, just as it’s a brittle glass stage for actors, it’s also the perfect testing ground for my characters. I haven’t spent too much time in Hollywood or LA, but as an avid pop culture devotee, I’ve watched and read about it for years—everything from tabloid newspapers to reality television to biographies. Also, my sister was a working actress on stage, television, and film for many years. While she never became famous, she worked with many big-name stars, and she dished to me regularly about the gossip, the craft of acting, and the accompanying lifestyle.

 

You might be surprised to hear that I have no beef whatsoever with Hollywood. Hollywood is just a spotlighted microcosm of the same lifestyle that most of us share on a more mundane scale. Essentially, we all are beautiful monsters to some extent. While many people think that being a celebrity would vastly improve their lives, I wanted to show that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. There’s enormous pressure accompanying great beauty, riches, and fame—and numerous complications. And it’s extremely difficult to live a sane life under that constant microscope. Some manage it, others don’t.

 

MJN: We hear so many stories about Hollywood stars destroying their lives behind the scenes because they feel “ugly” and “empty” and “unloved” even though on the surface it seems like they have all the bragging rights in the world. There is a school of thought out there, perpetuated by authors like Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens who glorified the “little people” of the world, that true love is only accessible to those who are totally stripped of all material and social benefits. Only outcasts, the deformed and the destitute, can find true love and friendship that’s not tainted by vainglory. I don’t know if I personally buy into that theory. I think writers invent those theories to make the down-and-out people feel a little better and give them some hope. What do you think?

 

CO: Well, I’m not so quick to paint the common folk as white and the rich as black—or vice versa. In fact, I feel we all should be painted in gray tones. I do think it’s a wonderful to give hope and insight to the great masses of common folk, but in Beautiful Monsters, I try to break that stereotype. Most actors are not so full of bravado as they portray on camera or at award shows. In fact, actors are some of the most insecure people on the planet. They are at the mercy of gossip, age, studio whims, and the good will of their fans. It’s a bit of a cutthroat business, and there are always prettier, younger actors right behind them who would sell their souls for a chance for a role—any role. I do, however, agree with Hugo and Dickens that wealth, fame, and beauty do not make us happy. A wealthy aristocrat—or a film star— does not automatically draw the happy card. Rather, it’s the love of family, wonderful friendships, and our interests that make life fulfilling. And those are available to people across the socioeconomic spectrum.

 

MJN: I see you have a dual major in English and Psychology. I often see those career paths matched up. Was there any specific branch of psychology that you studied in depth that gives you a more three-dimensional perspective when you create your characters? Your book was described as having emotional depth and meaning, so I was wondering your interest in psychology had something to do with that.

 

CO: Yes, psychologists and writers have much in common. They both study people, so it’s a perfect marriage. I’ve always been a people watcher who is interested in the human psyche. I particularly find abnormal psychology interesting. People (and characters) are not one-dimensional prototypes. They all have a place on the abnormal behavior scale— with neuroses, quirks, and abnormalities. That’s what makes the world diverse and interesting. All my characters have distinct personalities with inherent quirks and flaws. I LOVE flawed characters, so Riley and Keller are imbued with all manner of idiosyncrasies. When I take these two damaged characters and put them on the glass stage of Hollywood AND throw obsessive love into the mix, we’re in for a wild ride! I’m very interested in the topic of love because it makes no practical sense. People do outrageous things in the throes of love. It’s said that the legal plea “not guilty by reason of temporary insanity” was developed because of this phenomenon.

 

MJN: Let’s talk about the structure of your novel. One of my favorite plot tools is having a movie within a movie, or a book within a book. In Beautiful Monsters, you have a production-within-a-novel structure. How does the storyline on screen complement the turbulent love story between Riley and Keller?

 

CO: I’m all about subtext. Readers are smart, and they are readily able to grasp the subtleties of a well-layered plot. Beautiful Monsters is three levels deep. It’s the title of the book, of course; it’s the title of the vampire film that’s the setting of the book (more subtext and analogy there); and it’s the theme of the book. The vampiric element of the story lends itself to the predatory nature of some of Riley and Keller’s friends and co-workers. And Riley and Keller have both monstrous and redeeming characteristics, which makes them beautiful monsters—just as we all are. The element of obsessive love with Hollywood as a setting allowed me to cut the dynamic open and explore it thoroughly. In fact, I’ll be examining it more in the sequel, which I’ve started. I’ve been humbled and delighted to have readers search me out and rave about the book, demanding a sequel. I think they relate to what Riley and Keller endure to be together.

 

MJN: Let’s talk about your female protagonist Riley Rinaldi and the role that makeup artists play. My birth father is a former opera singer. He says that getting into character and putting on a mask really messes you up. Sometimes you lose that fine line between the character and the performer. Sometimes the masks sticks to the face too tight and you cannot rip it off without taking some of the skin off with it. Makeup artists are the often unsung and neglected heroes who help create those characters. In a sense, they play that Frankenstein role of literally “creating a monster”. Do you believe there is a symbiotic bond between the makeup artist and the actor?

 

CO: Very interesting question! Yes, I do think there is a symbiotic relationship between the makeup artist and the actor. Just as an author gives birth to his books, the makeup artist must feel that same pride and concern for the characters he creates. And conversely, the actor is dependent upon the makeup artist to give him the “face” of the character he populates. On a side note, I had to chuckle when you mentioned method acting because it plays a vivid role in the sequel to Beautiful Monsters. The readers want more of Riley and Keller, so I’m going to dish it up in spades!
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August Blog: 6 Reasons NOT to Use a Pen Name!

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Do you know who these authors are: Douglas Spalding, Erika Leonard, Mary Westmacott, Robert Galbraith, Victoria Lucas? I’ll explain later in the article.

It’s a brave new world in publishing. Just ask any author. The old paradigm has fallen, and more than ever, success in the field is up for grabs. But in order to stay afloat as an author these days, we must keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of the book business.

One pillar of the old guard to fall is the pen name. Traditional wisdom in the land of words was that an author needed a pen name for each genre s/he wrote in. But this applied to the days when readers browsed in bookstores and didn’t have unprecedented access to the digital world—and to authors. Not only has Amazon turned the page on that concept, but they rewrote the book.

I’ll briefly discuss 6 reasons authors should NOT use pen names in this digital age. That’s not to say there aren’t very good reasons to adopt pseudonyms in certain circumstances, which I’ll mention briefly at the end of the article. I just want authors to be aware that they have choices these days. (Little did Bob Dylan know how prescient the song “The Times They Are A-Changin'” really was!) Many famous authors now lead the exodus from the pen name and openly write in different genres with their real names. It’s truly up to the author. But hear me out before you make a decision.

First, let me say that while I was writing Beautiful Monsters, I agonized for three years over whether to use a pen name or write under my legal name. There’s some erotic content in my book, although I use it mainly as a device to make a point. It’s not the theme of the story. Still, it’s enough to offend some people who are not comfortable with explicit sexual scenes. I worried about what my friends, family, and neighbors would think. I didn’t want anyone to be embarrassed privately or professionally because of what I write. I told my family about the content, and they’ve been extremely supportive and encouraging. I doubt all my neighbors and friends are so supportive, but I feel strongly about owning what I do in life. So eventually, I came to the decision to put my real name on the book and claim my work—but to leave specific mention of my family out of my online social interactions. And I’m so thankful I chose this route! In the four years since this decision, the trend of using pen names has slowed significantly. I’ll tell you why.

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1. The new catchword in publishing is branding. The author is the star, not the book. And the brand is what sells the book. Big Brother—I mean, the digital world—has killed any notion of privacy. Google is God. It knows everything and can find anyone. And our social networks are our platforms—or our voice as authors. Readers want to know us. They expect to get up close and personal and to post with us. Many authors (who are mostly introverts) find this intrusive and would prefer to hide behind their books. But to sell books in this overcrowded market, it’s imperative to get out there and mix it up with readers, bloggers, and industry professionals. And this is much easier to do with your primary profile in place. I personally love to interact with other writers, creatives, and readers. I’ve met some truly wonderful friends and colleagues who’ve enriched my life enormously. And I realized at the end of my agonizing decision to pen name or NOT to pen name that it was an advantage to launch my book form a platform where people know (and hopefully, like) me.

2. Privacy is an illusion. Most readers know the different pen names used by authors. It’s nearly impossible to keep people from finding out your identity. Again, Google is God. (Bow and be known! lol) If some troll wants to out an author, it’s easy to do. Unless you enlist cybersecurity, they’ll find you anyway. So why go to the extra work of another name? Plus, readers fully accept that writers write in different genres.

3. LOTS of extra Work! If you already have a real profile on the social networking sites, then your connections already know you’re an author and that you’re writing a book. When it comes time to publish, these peeps (your tribe) will become an invaluable source of encouragement, networking, and sales. To employ a pen name, one has to start a whole new social networking platform. I don’t know about you, but I can barely get through my email and interact with my friends on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Google+ as Cynthia each day let alone repeat it with a nom de plume! A pen name adds a whole new layer of bureaucracy to an already fully punched dance card. And wouldn’t you rather be writing?

4. A postscript to number 3 is the legal responsibilities of having a pen name. Here in the states, it’s no longer enough to just assume a name and go with it. Masked authors need a DBA (doing business as) to cash checks as someone else and to pay taxes. That’s just one more layer of legalese that gives me the heebie jeebies. And this gets even more complicated with success. Think screenplay rights, translation rights, etc.

5. I touched on this briefly before, but you no longer need to have separate names for each genre you write in. You can use the power of your name, personality, and platform to cross genres and reach an entire new field of readers! For example, James Patterson now writes book for young people. And remember the debacle with J.K. Rowling and her initially unsuccessful 2013 crime fiction, The Cuckoo’s Calling? Under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, the book didn’t launch well. It’s surmised that the dismal sales prompted the publisher to announce that the author was J.K. Rowling in disguise. The book then took off like fireworks on the 4th of July. There’s a lesson to the wise here: play the cards you’re dealt!

6. Your time is better spent writing than in juggling branding platforms! It’s estimated that before an author actually makes a living at writing, s/he needs five books under the belt. Thus, it’s imperative to keep writing and turning out great work. This is difficult to do while managing multiple platforms. Personally, I prefer to use this time reading (for pleasure and to keep up with industry news) and honing my craft. My motto has become: Keep it simple, stupid! I’m torn in so many directions with writing, blogging, staying informed, researching, maintaining my platform, and endeavoring to have a real life that I cannot imagine having to deal with my alter-author’s demands, too.

So there you have the 6 reasons NOT to use a pseudonym. But when SHOULD you take a pen name?  If you’re a teacher and you write erotica, it’s necessary to go incognito. When your day job or personal relationships might be jeopardized by your genre, it’s definitely something to consider. These are possible examples:

  • lawyers who write legal thrillers and might be accused of mimicking an actual case.
  • law enforcement personnel, military personnel, or intelligence officers whose superiors might have a problem with disclosed information.
  • an author whose family might have serious objections to the material. Don’t give dad a heart attack! lol
  • an author who is divorced or divorcing and who wants to keep the legalities separate.
  • an author who shares a name with a famous author.
  • an author who needs the out-of-body experience of slipping into your alter-author’s skin—and name—to achieve the mindset to write a specific genre. (All my alter-authors come to the name Cynthia!)
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And for heaven’s sake, if you’re already a branded author with a following, a platform, and a pen name, keep it! You’re sitting pretty! But the rest of us newer scribblers—who are developing our platforms in this ever-changing industry—need to seriously consider the pros and cons of each choice. Perhaps the ultimate questions we should ask ourselves are these: Will a pen name offer me more advantages or disadvantages? Will it make my life easier or harder?

And by the way, remember the authors I named in the first paragraph? Respectively, they are either the legal name or alternate pen name of these famous monikers: Ray Bradbury, E. L. James, Agatha Christie, J. K. Rowling, and Sylvia Plath. All were easily googlable.

I’d love to hear what you readers, writers, and industry professionals think about this topic. I’m sure there’ll be strong feelings on both sides. Weigh in in the comment section and let’s discuss it! I’ll award one randomly drawn commenter a signed copy of Beautiful Monsters (and you can tell me if I should have used a pen name lol).

I’m moving this month, so I’ll see you in September if I can fight my way out of the boxes—and if I haven’t lost my marbles by then. Happy reading and writing, tribe, and enjoy these waning days of summer! If you enjoyed this article, please share it on your social media sites. Remember Sharing is Caring! ❤️

~Cynthia

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July Blog: Interview of Author Chris Sheerin

ChrisSheerinBlog Guest              10551590_10203473851402051_2516523315660470054_o
Welcome to the July issue of Midnight Missives! For Americans, July is a month of celebration: family gatherings, barbecues, vacations, fireworks, and the spectacle of our 4th of July. I can’t think of a better way for Midnight Missives to celebrate this Independence Day than to introduce you to Author Chris Sheerin, who has just released his new ghost story/psychological chiller, Grave Union (darkWolf Press). And it’s quite a sparkler! (pun intended)
Author: Chris Sheerin

Author: Chris Sheerin

And while Grave Union takes place during the Civil War (rather than the Revolutionary War—from which springs our Independence Day), Sheerin’s beautiful prose captures the essence of war, the stench of evil, and the natural setting in a manner that awes the reader as much as the most spectacular fireworks display. I am a big fan of Sheerin’s work, and while reading Grave Union last night, I marveled at how this talented author consistently manages to place the reader into whatever scene he sketches. He’s a master of setting, creating mood and tone with his prodigious vocabulary and deep connection to the earth. His themes are subtle, never preachy, and he always manages to surprise the reader with a unique twist or two.

 

But what, perhaps, surprised me the most with Grave Union, is his excellent grasp of Civil War terminology, parlance, and general knowledge. You see, Chris Sheerin is an Irish author. Most American authors couldn’t have written a better Civil War ghost story!

 

I met Chris a few years ago on Facebook and decided to read one of this novels. Well, one novel turned into several—and a few of his poetry and erotica books, as well. And I became a fan! Since then, we’ve become colleagues and friends, and I have learned much from him. I urge you to check out his author’s bio and the interview I did with him below, then proceed to the purchase links. If you’re a fan of the classics, like me, you’ll adore his wonderful style of writing.

 

Author Bio:

Chris Sheerin was born in Manchester, but has lived in Derry, Ireland, since 1969. He trained as an electrician, studied Hotel and Tourism Management at Magee College, but has also taught Creative Writing locally. He currently writes and works in security.

His first novel, Chasing Shadows, was published in 2001, and tells the tale of an across-the-divide love affair during the Troubles in 1970’s Derry. Since then, he has published six more novels, ten books of poetry on all subjects, and one self-help book. He also writes erotica under the pen-name Padraig E Griffiths. Most of his books are available in paperback from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk, though all are available as e-books.

 

Interview:
  • Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

Hi, Cynthia 😉 I’ve just finished a novel entitled Grave Union. This is a mystery chiller set during the American Civil war. I don’t normally write horror, but I’m still in the process of discovering what I write best. Nor do I particularly like horror, because so many of the stories are predictable: More often than not, you have a house, a hero, a supernatural villain, and dozens of scenarios in which a chase ensues and our hero barely gets away.

I’ve tried to be slightly more original. The hero of this tale is Private Gallant. He is, by all appearances a despicable man who, though the reader may detest his actions, at least has a sound philosophy for acting in the way he does. When he attempts to flee the northern side of the Rappahannock on the eve of the Battle of Fredericksburg, he encounters four orphan girls. Now, he has a chance to make up for all of the things he has done wrong in his life. But, to his horror, he soon discovers that helping others isn’t always easy to do.

  • What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write in every genre there is – or, at least, that is what I seemingly aiming for. It didn’t start that way. The first novel – an historical thriller entitled Chasing Shadows – was set in Derry, N. Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s. It was well-received by many, but not everyone liked it, and it was described as controversial and unsettling by many newspapers of the time. The next book I wrote – another historical thriller called Days of Rain – was also quite controversial, in that it was set during the 1940s and it is based strongly upon the true story of Herman Goertz and a few of the other Abwehr spies who were sent to Ireland to fashion links with the IRA during that period.

Since then, however, I have written everything. I have penned another four novels: Three Wolves is set in Yellowstone park shortly after the American Civil War, and is related from the perspective of wolves; Consequences of Being is a fictional Greek tragedy set in modern-day southern Ireland; Old Habits Die Hard is a Private Eye yarn set in ‘the city’ in the 1990s USA; and now I’ve just completed Grave Union.

In addition, I’ve written seven or eight poetry books, three hoetry books (rude poetry for the non-discerning lover of the unclean rhyming word), one self-help book entitled One Year from Today, and about seven or eight erotica novellas under the pseudonym of Padraig E Griffiths. Oh, and I’m trying my hand at a few scripts as well, just to keep things fresh.

  • Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

Most of my books are self-published. I have my own imprint name – darkWolf Press – and I do all of my own editing and typesetting. I also make most of my own covers. I won’t say the latter are the best on the market, but they do hold up and people seem to like them.

To be honest, the entire publishing game is in a mess these days, and self-publishing is actually the way to go – initially, at least. A lot of publishers out there are simply interested in taking your money. They will provide the cover for your book, but you do most of the marketing, and, although they may tell you differently when you sign with them, your work isn’t guaranteed to be actually published in book form. It will go into e-book form at the start,, simply because there are no costs involved. After that, they may do a limited run – or they may not even bother – in which your book hits one or two stores at best.

  • What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Write your book from start to finish, without overly editing it. I recently read a quote from an author who wrote half a book, then spent a year editing it. But, when he went to write the second half, the story had changed, and so he had to go back and rewrite much of the first half. So, write the book, leave it in its raw form, all the way up until the end. Then edit. You will save yourself so much time.

Then self-publish, and self-promote. Once you have your book out there, you can start looking for agents and publishers, but be discerning. Don’t jump at the first deal you get, because you might waste two or three years of your life in the thrall of someone who really doesn’t care less how far your book goes.

  • What are you currently working on?

At the moment, I’m working on the screenplay for Grave Union. Well, I will be after I have a few days off. As I near the end of a novel, I tend to work night and day on it until it is exactly how I want it to be, which I often do to the exclusion of all else. Luckily, I wrote the screenplay for this book before I wrote the book (if that makes sense) and I was advised by an agent to pen the story. I didn’t want to, simply because of all of the studying and research involved, but now I’m glad that I did. People seem to like a good ghost story, and hopefully that is what I now have out there. To see the film of the book, of course, would be nothing short of amazing.

  • What makes good writing?

To write well, you will have to ignore what people think and say about your writing. If you allow opinions to sway the direction of your writing, it isn’t your writing. After that, you should write what you want to read. I wanted to read a story narrated from the perspective of wolves, in which their philosophy unfolds in line with the story. So, I wrote Three Wolves, which is still my favorite. I wrote Chasing Shadows feeling that the untold story of the Troubles in Derry should be told. At the time, no one did that: All of the stories of that time followed a political agenda.

I received lots of reviews for that story, some from Irish Senators, some from politicians, and one – which is still available online – from An Phoblacht (a paramilitary newspaper of the period) in which they weren’t all that nice, and ended up calling me a ‘simple bastard’, a term I use in the book to describe my central character.

So, you have to be prepared to receive some sort of flak for your work, though hopefully not to that extent. The thing is, you will be criticized no matter what you write. Should your book sit on the bestseller list for ten years, you will be criticized, so write with that thought in mind and you will write the way you should do.

Oh, and recently, I decided that rude poetry – hoetry – was the way to go. To be honest, I got a lot of flak for that idea, though I did put three short books of it out there (Whore Moans, Whore’s Play, and Whore Nets) before I decided that it might not be the way to go. The people who bought the books liked them, though, so that’s the main thing. And I enjoyed doing something different. Do I regret it? No. You have to go with what you feel, and I enjoyed being creative, even though it was rude.

  • With all the demands of an author, how do you keep sane?

I try to live a varied life, Cynthia. I have always participated in sports. In my early years, I was involved in Karate, Judo, Kickboxing, Boxing, Running, Hiking, Marathon running. Now, I do strongman shows – perhaps four or five a year – and so I lift a lot of weight. More recently, I was asked (talked into) competing in a bodybuilding show, which is set for September.

I’m dieting for that at the moment, which isn’t as bad as I thought, though it takes one hell of a lot of time to cook and prepare the right meals. I’m enjoying seeing the changes in my body; and, to be honest, this is perhaps the best I have ever looked, physically, in my life. But my hat has to go off to anyone who competes in that sport and holds down a full-time job. As a writer, I can write anytime, and so I can work around this. But would I bodybuild full-time – not on your life.

  • Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

To become a writer, you have to give up expecting to be published, expecting your book to be a bestseller, and expecting fame to search you out. That will only happen in less than one percent of the authors out there. To be a writer, you have to enjoy sitting down, in privacy and away from the crowd, and putting your thoughts on paper.

I have given up a lot, yes, but nothing that I didn’t want to ultimately give up. I like writing, and that’s what I want to do. But, thirty years on and having received very little for it, I now write for me. If people like my books, so well and so good. But I can’t make them, and I don’t have the time to go chasing after reviews or nice sentiments. If people want to say something nice, excellent, but it’s neither here nor there. So, I have learned to give up on all expectation, and I believe that’s what you must do in order to succeed, perhaps in anything at all.

  • Are excellent writers born to the craft, or can they be taught?

I don’t hold with the idea that writing is something you are born to do. I hold with the theory that no matter what you want to do, you can do it – or at least attempt to do it to some degree. The thing is, there are millions of writers out there, and not all of them are very good. But they still write, simply because they want to. And the strange thing is, once a person believes that they are a writer (this applies equally to anything) then it doesn’t matter how ‘bad’ they are perceived to be by the majority: Their love of writing makes them good at it, because they project their story onto paper. This becomes their style, and their style is then accepted by some, if not all. Strangely, that style might then turn out to be the next biggest thing.

For example, if you ask a schoolteacher for a couple of editions of a school magazine, you will learn more about writing in one hour than you will learn in a library in ten years The reason for this is because children group their words together differently (foreigners do this too, when writing English, as we do when we attempt to write in their language) In the case of children, however, we see words grouped together that we would never consider placing together, ever. And there is a simple brilliance in this, which makes you smile and wonder why you haven’t got that skill.

So, writing is also about unlearning to write conventionally. For this reason, anyone who writes is eventually excellent, if they do so consistently and if their message is relayed to the reader.

  • Which author would you give credit to for shaping your style of writing?

I like Tanith Lee. She has the most amazing vocabulary, and her ideas are brilliant. Too many modern writers dismiss the value of settings and characterization, and instead go straight to the plot. That’s fine, if you like that sort of thing, but I like to know where I am in a book, and I believe the setting and character-hints should be revealed in line with the progression of the story.

I also like some of Paulo Coelho’s novels, mainly for the simplicity he can impart into a story and the underlying philosophy. To be honest, though, I don’t particularly favor any modern writers, though I do try to read as much as I can when I can. Nor are there any modern novels out there that I would say I’ve especially enjoyed of late. Today’s writers appear to skimp on everything but action. Which is fine, I suppose, because we all like action, though I’d prefer that it was a part of the tale and not the entire story. Of course, who am I to say what’s right? Those kinds of books are the kind people read, so maybe there is something to be said about writing for others/money.

  • If you write stories about foreign lands, how do you approach language differences and research to make your work authentic?

Google is God, basically. Years ago, I was never out of the library, but now you can get absolutely anything online with the punch of a few buttons. So research had changed for the better in that respect. What I tend to do is approach it as simply as I can. For example, for Grave Union, I typed in ‘phrases used in 1860s USA’ which I then further refined to Virginia. As you point out in your question, language is important. I also researched uniforms, living conditions in a Union encampment, prevailing diseases of the time, period dress, and food consumed by both sides in the conflict, etc.

To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to that research at all. As I say, I wrote the film script first, and there’s no call for such detail in a script. We all know what a Union soldier looks like, for example, and when we place him in a conflict situation, our mind fills in the gaps. However, I’m happy that I wrote the book now – (I pray there aren’t too many mistakes in it; though, even if there are, they can easily be corrected) – and hopefully my readers will feel the same. By the way, I welcome all constructive criticism on that or any of my books, because that ability to take it on the chin is also part of being a writer.

Find Chris Sheerin on social media:

Chris Sheerin on Facebook

Chris’ FB Author Page

Author Padraig E Griffiths on FB

Purchase links for Grave Union:

10551590_10203473851402051_2516523315660470054_o

• Amazon (U.S.) • Amazon UK

Find all of CHRIS SHEERIN’S books here on Amazon or Amazon UK

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Poetry AnthologiesCS

PEGCollage of Erotica

THANKS, CHRIS!

I’d like to thank Chris for this interview with Midnight MissivesIf you have any questions or comments for him, please post them in the comments section below. One lucky commenter will win an eBook of Chris’ wonderful new chiller, Grave Union! For the rest of you, do yourself a favor and pick up one of his novels at the links listed above. You’ll thank me for introducing you to this incredibly talented author.
 
Thanks for stopping by, tribe. For my American readers, have a safe, enjoyable 4th of July! And to my foreign friends—I wish all of you a wonderful July and happy reading—regardless of season. See you in August when I discuss whether or NOT to use a pen name in this brave, new world of publishing. And if you enjoyed this interview, please share it on your social media sites. Remember Sharing is Caring! ❤️

~Cynthia

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June Blog: Interview of Thriller Author Mathew Peters

Blog Yellow MidMiss            Beautiful Monsters Front Cover
One of the goals of Midnight Missives is to introduce you to some of the wonderfully interesting people I’ve had the privilege to meet along my journey in life. In my current incarnation as an author, I’ve become friends with many talented and creative authors, poets, and publishing industry insiders. One of my favorites—and my first guest blogger—is novelist Matthew Peters.
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Matthew is the author of The Brothers’ Keepers (MuseItUp Publishing) and Conversations Among Ruins (All Things that Matter Press)widely available online. He’s currently working on the much-anticipated sequel to The Brothers’ Keepers.
Rather than use a typical blog format, I chose to interview Matthew because he’s far too humble to to toot his own uber-talented horn. Yet you’ll see through his answers what makes him so special. He is, without a doubt, one of the most gifted writers I’ve met—or read. Matthew’s Hemingwayesque prose (in its ability to be concise, yet gorgeously descriptive) keeps me glued to his storylines, eagerly turning pages! His command of the language rivals any celebrated author, and he’s a true master of story structure.  And to top it off, Matthew is one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. Humble, multi-faceted, extraordinarily gifted, and generous: these ingredients add up to a wonderfully interesting novelist and and an even better human being. Without further adieu, I give you Matthew Peters:
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  • Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I am a recovering academic, who turned to the world of fiction writing about a decade ago. I have two books out: The Brothers’ Keepers, a religious-political thriller, and a work of literary fiction called Conversations Among Ruins.

  • What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write thrillers and literary fiction. I feel like my creativity is fulfilled by writing both genre and literary fiction.

  • What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

The amount of research that goes into my books, and the quality of book I try to give my readers.

  • Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I have two publishers. MuseItUp Publishing handles the religious thriller(s) and All Things That Matter Press publishes Conversations Among Ruins.

  • What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

My biggest piece of advice would be not to rush into shopping for an agent or a publisher. Don’t give into a case of premature querying or shopping your manuscript around before it is ready to go. Have your manuscript professionally edited before submitting.

  • What are your three favorite books?

Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and Dead Souls

  • Who is your favorite author and why?

Dostoevsky because of his psychological and philosophical depth

  • What are you currently working on?

I’m working on the next Nicholas Branson novel (i.e., the one that comes after The Brothers’ Keepers).

  • If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead whom would it be and why?

The historical Jesus. It would answer so many questions.

  • What are you currently reading?

Frankenstein

  • What makes good writing?

Good writing is a good story well told. Anything less is substandard.

  • Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

Don’t follow others blindly. Form your own opinions and establish your own way of doing things. These are often the most effective means of achieving anything worthwhile.

  • With all the demands of an author, how do you keep sane?

Sane. I once came across that word in a novel. I had to look it up.

  • If you could be any character in literature, whom would you choose to be?

Any fictional character, whose story is made into a movie, and who plays the love interest of any fictional character acted by Scarlett Johansson.

  • Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

The philosophical works of Marx & Engels, as well as the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

  • If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

Don’t Try this at Home

  • Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

No, writing has actually saved my life on more than one occasion.

  • What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

Only those I have put it my own way, like the demon of perfectionism.

  • What do you like best/least about writing?

I like the research the best. I like the messiness of the process of writing the least.

  • Do you remember the first book that had a strong impact on you? If so, what was it, and how did it affect you?

I think the first book that had a strong impact on me was Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The rest of the books in the series affected me as well, especially the portrayal of a strong familial bond. It was something I desperately wanted growing up, but never did find.

  • At what age did you develop a love of writing? At what point in your life did you decide to become a professional writer?

I developed a love of writing early on. But I did not decide to become a professional writer until 2010.

  • How would you describe your style of writing?

Succinct. It is descriptive, yet economical.

  • What are your thoughts on the current climate of today’s publishing experience?

The current climate of today’s publishing experience is a nightmare. The market is saturated with (mostly) self-published books of poor quality that muddy the waters for writers truly devoted to the craft of writing. The self-publishing revolution is therefore not without deleterious consequences. Of course, traditional publishing and smaller press publishing suffer from serious defects as well. Too little money is given to the author in standard contracts, making writing for a living tenuous at best. I think writers need to form a union and demand that conditions change.

  • Are excellent writers born to the craft, or can they be taught?

I believe you have to be born with a basic aptitude for writing, and then you can learn how to do it better over time and with much practice.

  • Would you rather be discovered and lauded as an icon of literature after your death or be a moderately successful author (among many) in your lifetime?

I’d rather be lauded as a literary icon after my death. I tend to go to extremes; mediocrity never appealed to me.

  • Which author would you give credit to for shaping your style of writing?

Ernest Hemingway

  • Would you consider yourself a prolific reader? How many books would you guess you’ve read in your lifetime?

I would consider myself a prolific reader. I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime.

  • What themes or occurrences from your daily life bleed over into your writing?

That’s a hard question. I think my struggles with alcohol and depression bleed over into my writing.

  • How do you approach cover art?

My publishers handled the cover art for my books. I had some input, but the specifics were left to them.

  • If you could pick a perfect setting to write in, what would it be? Describe it, please.

A mountain cabin with a lake nearby

Here are Mathew’s social media links and links to purchase his books.

Mathew Peters’ Website/Blog:  www.matthewpetersbooks.com

Twitter: @MatthewPeters65

Mathew Peters on Facebook

                      Conversations Among Ruins:                                                The Brothers’ Keepers:

ConversationsRuinsBook                               BrothKeepersBook

 • Amazon Paperback • Amazon Kindle                            • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • MuseItUp Publishing

• B&N Nook • All Things That Matter Press Paperback

THANKS MATHEW!

I’d like to thank Matthew for consenting to be the first guest of Midnight MissivesIf you have any questions or comments for Matthew, please post them in the comments section below. One lucky commenter will win an eBook of one of Matthew’s wonderful thrillers! But for those who don’t win the giveaway, do yourself a favor and pick up one of his novels (widely available online). You’ll have won far more than a free eBook, and you’ll thank me for introducing you to this incredibly talented writer.
 
Thanks for stopping by, tribe. Enjoy these summer days and see you in July! ❤️

~Cynthia

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May Blog: The Science of Creativity: Are Creatives Born or Taught?

Blog Yellow MidMiss            Beautiful Monsters Front Cover
I ran across an article the other day that surprised me, yet confirmed what many of us artistic types have always suspected: that there’s a link between highly creative people and mental illness. But the further implications of the cited studies prove even more profound!

“Secrets of the Creative Brain” (The Atlantic), by psychiatrist and neuroscientist Nancy C. Andreasen, (see full article) details the doctor’s decades of study on mental illness and creativity. She shares what she and other scientists have discovered about where genius comes from, whether it’s dependent on high IQ, and why mental illness so often accompanies it.

Creative Definition Magnifier Shows Original Ideas Or Artistic Designs

What does this have to do with creatives being born or taught, you ask? Bear with me, and I promise you’ll be as astounded as I was. Andreasen’s article is lengthy and a bit clinical, so after some preliminary background, I’ll break it down into key points and add some of my own insights.

Although Dr. Andreasen has spent most of her career studying the neuroscience of mental illness, more recently, she has focused on the science of genius and the elements that produce highly creative brains. Specifically, the two following questions fuel her research: How do nature and nurture play into the quandary of why some people suffer from mental illness while others—like close relatives—do not. And why are/were so many of the world’s greatest creative geniuses more afflicted with mental illness than the general population?

Andreasen’s ongoing study grew out of the work of earlier pioneers such as Cesare Lombroso: Francis Galton; Havelock Ellis; and Lewis M. Terman, a Stanford psychologist who developed the IQ test. From Terman’s empiric, extensive study (1920s), scientists learned that high IQ does not predict high levels of creativity, even though the myth of the highly intelligent creative brain persists today. None of the participants in his study won any major awards (like the Pulitzer) for creativity, and few contributed creatively to society. Subsequent research studies confirmed Terman’s conclusion that high IQ does not predict high creativity. What they found, instead, was that highly creative people are generally pretty smart, but above a certain point, intelligence doesn’t have much of an effect on creativity. An IQ of 120 is considered sufficient for the creative genius.

In further studies, Andreasen hypothesized the link between mental illness and high creativity, using distinguished writers from the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop (the most famous creative-writing program in the U.S) and creative legends with mental illness in their families: James Joyce, Bertrand Russell, Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, Kurt Vonnegut, Albert Einstein, and others. She not only confirmed Termen’s findings but also found that 80% of her subjects had suffered some type of mood disturbance in their life, compared to 30% of the control group. The connection between mood disorder and creativity was obvious. She also realized that many of these writers had creative relatives in other fields such as visual arts, chemistry, dance, mathematic, and architecture—and that creative geniuses often had close relatives with mental illness. Creativity tends to run in families, as does mental illness.

I am a writer..Andreasen’s study answered some questions, but raised even more provocative ones: Are writers were prone to mood disorders because of the lonely, introspective nature of the profession? How much of creativity is nature versus nurture? Why does creativity run in families? And if so, what component gets transferred? Is there a difference in creativity between scientists and artisans? She was astounded by what she discovered through MRI and PET studies. I’ll summarize her preliminary findings, highlight the key points, and add some fascinating corollary implications.

  • Andreasen’s creative subjects (scientists and artisans) and their relatives have a higher rate of mental illness than the control group. They also tend to have one or more close relative with schizophrenia. Other typical mental illnesses include: depression, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorder.
  • Highly creative people are better at making associations and connections—at recognizing relationships. They see things that others in the normal population can’t see. They “think outside the box” and are able to see the bigger scope of things.
  • The association cortices in the brains of highly creative individuals become extremely active during rest. This holds true for both artists and scientists. (which brings into question the wisdom of forcing students to choose between the arts and sciences). When flashes of brilliance strike, they are often triggered by long stretches of preparation, and gestation—and they hit while the mind is at rest. This speaks volumes on the importance of relaxation for both adults and children. Creative people need free time to dream and “veg out” in order for the association cortices to produce flashes of creative inspiration. Now I know why I get hit with brilliant insights or perfect narrative phrases while I’m listening to the radio and driving the car!
  • Creatives work much harder than normal people, probably because they enjoy their work so much!
  • Creativity runs in families and takes various forms. These families place great value on education and learning, so nurture obviously plays a role here too.
  • Other factors contributing to creativity probably have to do with personality, specifically the following: an adventurous, exploratory nature; risk-taking; persistence; obliviousness to the fact that their ideas are unique; feelings of excitement and joy about their gift; the desire to teach themselves instead of participating in traditional education; diverse interests in several fields of study; a tendency to see the big picture.
hand shows concept of "think outside the box"

Do you see yourself in this picture? I do. While I wouldn’t consider myself a creative genius, I certainly fit the criteria. I undoubtedly fall on the spectrum somewhere. Finally, science is confirming what most of us have already secretly surmised: 1. There’s a fine line between creative genius and mental illness. 2. The evidence strongly suggests that heredity plays a vital role in creative genius, but that environment nurtures the creative soul, as well. For writers, this implies that we may be able to learn the craft of writing through education, but we’ll never become masters of literature without a genetic predisposition. And the same probably applies to the other creative fields.

The iconic mad scientist and the crazy creative aren’t just anecdotes or fodder for snappy memes anymore; they’re either genetically predisposed creative geniuses, people suffering from mental illness—or a combination of both. The line of separation is thin, apparently. Throughout history, creative masters were thought to be odd or, worse, mad. I love Nelson Mandela’s wonderful quote: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” And visionary creatives are always the ones who do it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Share your opinions and anecdotes in the section below, and as always—just to prove how much I adore my readers—I’ll send a signed copy of Beautiful Monsters (with matching bookmark) to a randomly drawn commenter. Also, if you enjoyed this blog post, I’d appreciate a “share” on your social media pages. Thanks for stopping by! Happy reading and see you in June, tribe.

~Cynthia

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