Friday, September 21, 2012

Author Interview--Sally Bosco

Hello again,

It’s Fiction Friday, and I have another author interview. I present Sally Bosco. Okay, interviewee, take it away.

About Sally Bosco:
Sally Bosco writes dark fiction for teens. She is inexplicably drawn to the Uncanny, the shades of gray between the light and dark, the area where your mind hovers as you’re falling off to sleep. She loves writing young adult fiction because she strongly relates to teenage angst, the search for self-identity and the feelings of being an outsider.

What book and/or experience made you want to be a writer?

When I was very young, in grammar school and middle school, I loved the writings of Ray Bradbury. I wanted to capture that magic, so my first stories were very bad attempts at science fiction. I’ve always loved reading, and throughout my life I’ve read widely, from D.H. Lawrence to Anais Nin to manga. My serious attempts to become a writer were inspired by Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Her books transported me to a dark world I wanted to explore further. The thing that’s improved my writing the most has been getting an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. The intensity of the studies took my writing to a whole new level.

What genre(s) do you write?

I most enjoy writing in the young adult genre. I’ve naturally been drawn to horror, not overly-violent splatter-punk type, but creepy, psychological stories. Ghost stories and anything related to Freud’s theory of the Uncanny interests me. Lately, however, I’ve been writing novels that explore gender. One is about a cross-dressing teen and the other is written from the point of view of a person of indeterminate gender.

Publication history?

My published novels include:, the story of an Internet vampire; Shadow Cat, an adult paranormal romance written as Zoe LaPage; and most recently, The Werecat Chronicles, the story of a young girl who at first isn’t aware that she was born into a family of werecats. All are available in paperback and ebook versions. I was a contributor to Many Genres, One Craft, and I’ve had short stories published in literary magazines and anthologies, most recently the Small Bites anthology. Also, I have an MFA degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill Universityy.

Works in progress?

This is my work in progress: Written from the point of view of a person of indeterminable gender—Poisonous Garden is a love story between Palmer, an introverted artist, and the free-spirited Jackie who disappears mysteriously after their love reaches an intense peak.

This has been quite challenging and fun to write, not being able to give away any clues to the main character’s gender, especially since it’s a love story.

For other aspiring writers, any tips?

It depends on what level you’re at. If you’re first starting out, you need to find a good writers’ group or take some classes so you’re not writing in a vacuum. After that, I can’t stress enough the importance of writing every day. It’s the only way to improve. Read widely. Read books instead of watching television. When you read the works of great writers, you internalize the rhythms of their prose and you’re more likely to create beautiful, strong words yourself.

What’s your favorite book/genre to read?

I read lots of different stuff but lately I think some of the best books out there are young adult. I do have a weakness for literary novels, also, such as the work of A.S. Byatt.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

My favorite novel I’ve ever written is Cevin's Deadly Sin, the story of Cevin, a hetero teen cross-dresser who is trying to make it through his senior year in a small Florida town. To add to his problems are a school bully, Hunt, who picks on him non-stop, an evangelical mom who thinks he’s doing "that thing the Lord despises," and a girl, Tessa, who is the only one who could possibly understand him if he could get up the nerve to tell her about his cross-dressing.

I’m still searching for an agent for this one. I think the subject matter may put people off, but it was a story I needed to tell, and I feel very close to it.


From The Werecat Chronicles:
“This can’t be real. It’s not possible.” I had the creeping realization that he’d sought me out somehow, for his own purposes. Why did he just happen to be there that night when I was being attacked in the woods? The pieces started to fall together. I stopped dead. “I hear something.”
“What do you hear?”
I tilted my head. “People.” I held out my hand, touching the air. “And I feel heat, too.” I looked at his classic features in the moonlight. His profile could have been that of a Renaissance statue. The sheer beauty of him, the strangeness of the situation, made the surreal seem possible.
The scent of burning pine filled my head.
We walked a little further, and soon I saw a bonfire with figures milling around it and smelled the wood-singed scent that reminded me of fireplaces on a crisp winter day.
“Is this the rave?” I asked, knowing full well it was not. “I can make out Molly and Cristen. Josh.”
“No, this isn’t a rave. Tonight this is just for you. It’s you’re werecat birthday, and we’re going to help you change.”

The Werecat Chronicles cover was designed by Lynne Hansen.

Want more from Sally? Says she….

You can read more about me on my web page,, and connect with me through Facebook and Twitter..

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"I Wish I Could Go Back to Grad School" - Parody Lyrics for Writers

Hello folks,

Last month around this time I delivered to you a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call me Maybe” entitled “Read My Novel Maybe.” In honor of my fun in writing that post, I have decided to make the second to last Wednesday of each month “Parody Lyrics for Writers.”

This month I have one that hits close to home. It is specific to the Seton Hill University MFA in Writing Popular Fiction experience and to the tune of “I Wish I could go back to College” from the Broadway musical “Avenue Q.” Listen along as you read here.

WARNING: Strong language in both the parody and original.



I wish I could go back to grad school
Life is so simple at SHU

What would I give
To go back and Live
In the dorms or hotels with my group

I wish I could go back to grad school
In grad school you know who you are
You sit in the caf
Shout, cry and laugh
And know that you’re gonna go far

How do I go back to grad school?
I can’t write alone anymore
I want to go back into class and find a lesson on dry erase pen on the board

Wish I just had modules
Plot and POV stuff’s okay
Meet with my mentor
Guest speaker last day

I need all of my teachers and mentor to point the way

I could be
Sitting down at the hotel bar
4am before the final critiques are due
Cursing the world cuz I didn’t start sooner
And helping my friends critique their stuff too

I wish I could go back to grad school
How do I go back to grad school?

I wish I had taken more notes

But if I were to go back to grad school
Think how little I’d do

I’d walk into crit
And think holy sh*t

I’d never write if I lived at SHU

Wednesday Word Tally

As promised—my urban fantasy word count for the week and some extra info. This week meet the short synopsis.

Half-dryad Vern Sumac works for her boss/best friend, Warren Gazeban, at the Magical Investigation Agency (MIA). The magically assisted theft starts her on a case and brings her into contact with Eliot Keeper (a reporter for the New York Times). When she witnesses the murder of Keeper (as a wolf) by a second wolf, she discovers that all is not as it seems and must find both Keeper’s murderer and the device that Keeper (who had non-magical blood in his veins) used to give himself the ability to turn into a wolf.

DayStart CountWrittenFinal Count

Total Written: 6377
Average words per day: 911
Words remaining: 51,175

Monday, September 17, 2012

"The Other Man:" Getting it Square about Love Triangles

Welcome back and I hope everyone had a good weekend.

I had a very uneventful weekend. Friday night I said to myself, “Self,” (just kidding) “I want to read some urban fantasy.” So I set out to find some good urban fantasy that didn’t focus on vampires. I’m not big on vampires.

I discovered Cassandra Clair’s “Mortal Instruments” series, which I dove into after seeing the quote before part one in “City of Bones” was from “Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” I took a class on “Paradise Lost” during my undergrad, and I have a soft spot for it. I finished “City of Fallen Angels” last night and plan on starting “City of Lost Souls” tonight. And then I plan on reading the “Infernal Devices” books also by Cassandra Clair. What can I say? I’m hooked with the angels and demons thing.

But I’m not going to review Clair’s work today. I’m still in the initial read phase. I’m reading for fun, not to analyze, though stuff does jump out at me every so often. No, today I am going to talk about something that Clair made me realize—the “love triangle issue.”

WARNING: This post will give spoilers for the following series:

-“Mortal Instruments”
-“The Stephanie Plum Novels” – Janet Evanovich
-“Twilight” – Stephenie Meyer
-“Fever Series” – Karen Marie Moning
-“The Hunger Games” – Suzanne Collins

DISCLAIMER: I am not a romance writer. And before anyone asks, yes, these are all female writers. Yes, these are all stories that involve two-boy, one-girl love triangles. I’m talking specifically about these types of stories. I’m not discriminating.

Let’s go back to the “Mortal Instruments.” Clary (the protagonist) starts out the story at a club with her best friend, Simon. As the story progresses, she meets Jace—a strikingly handsome and reckless shadowhunter. As things continue, it becomes apparent that Clary would be safer with Simon. She should be with Simon. Anybody with a sense of self-preservation would go for Simon.

Clary wants Jace, and I wanted her to end up with Jace.

This got me thinking about those three classifications of heroes—alpha, beta, gamma.

To put it out there real quick:

-Alpha – the self-sufficient, macho man who can do it himself
-Beta – the softer guy who is caring and often what the alpha is turned into by the end of the story
-Gamma – sort of a mixture, the “I can do it myself” guy who cares about people

Simon is a beta. Jace is an alpha. Clary would be better off with Simon. Most girls would probably be better off with Simon. I like Jace better. And so far, she is with Jace.

So this got me thinking that I go for alpha males.

Except, I don’t.

To illustrate this, I now move to “The Fever Series.” Mac Lane protests her growing attraction to Jericho Barrons—the definition of alpha male—for most of the first four books. Barrons fights for her affections against V’Lane—a deadly erotic fae prince—and Christian MacKelter—a devilishly handsome young Scotsman. In the end, Mac ends up with Barrons. I never really liked V’lane—least of all after he was revealed to be the over-arching villain Cruce—and characterized him as another alpha. Christian, on the other hand, I rooted for. I wanted Mac and Christian to end up together. Christian—the gamma.

So much for my alpha love. Now I was after the gamma. I wanted the heroine to end up with the Gamma, and she didn’t. Even though Barrons sort of turns into a gamma by the end of the books, I still wanted Mac to be with Christian.

I experienced the same feeling when reading “Twilight.” Yes, I read “Twilight.” Don’t judge me. I don’t like the books, but I wanted to be able to say I read them and be able to back up my reasons for disliking them. I can do this, but will not today. Maybe in a future post.

Back on topic, I hate Edward Cullen. I’d define him as an alpha with serious beta “problems.” I would not define him as a gamma. Jacob Black is a gamma, who is very in-touch with his alpha side. I like Jacob better. I wanted Bella to end up with Jacob. All right, this was mainly out of my deep dislike of vampires and my desire for Bella to wake up and realize her own self-worth. But she disappointed me and went with the vamp.

K, so far we have me liking two gammas and an alpha. We also have me agreeing with only one of three matches for my heroines. I have a thing for gammas.

Or do I?

Next we have the “Stephanie Plum” novels. In these books, we are presented with Joe Morelli—a definite gamma—and Ranger—a definite alpha. Stephanie—the situationally challenged protagonist—is in an on-again-off-again relationship with Morelli throughout the series. In her “weaker” off-again moments, she finds herself in Ranger’s bed.

I had to read the eighth book in the series for class last semester. In the online discussion, someone pointed out that “Stephanie belonged with Morelli.” Maybe it’s my pigheadedness, but from that moment on I wanted her with Ranger. Blame my 20th Century upbringing.

Why did I want Stephanie with Ranger, though? No really, why? It couldn’t just be because someone said she belonged with the other guy. I hunted around in my head after reading some more of the books, and it dawned on me. Morelli was over-protective. He’d sooner lock Stephanie in his basement than let her face anything. Ranger, by contrast, let Stephanie do what she wanted and was there to clean up the mess he knew would be in the aftermath. That decided it. I wanted Stephanie with Ranger because he wasn’t a control freak.

But now back to “Mortal Instruments.” Jace is very over-protective of Clary. He lies, cheats, steals—basically does whatever he has to do to keep Clary out of harms way.

Here’s the kicker. For some stupid reason, I don’t mind the protectiveness from Jace. I think there are two reasons for this. One, Clary does what she wants to despite what Jace says. So did Stephanie, but the difference is that Morelli got pissed. Jace just deals with the fact that Clary is her own person after a while. Two, “Mortal Instruments” is young adult. This doesn’t seem like a real reason, but it is. There’s behavior I’ll accept from teenagers that I won’t accept from adults. Over-protectiveness is one of them.

Where are we now? I like alphas because they’re not over-protective.

Now I’m really going to mess with your heads—“Hunger Games.” Gale is an alpha. Peetah is a beta. Someone told me at my Seton Hill residency this past June that it was Peetah that Katniss ended up with. Peetah is exactly who I wanted Katniss to end up with from the beginning. Even in “Catching Fire” when Katniss states her preference for Gale—even in “Mockingjay” when Peetah comes back from the capital seemingly gone from the tracker jacker venom, I still want Katniss to be with Peetah.

Let’s look at this, Peetah is not an alpha. I already said that. He is, however, fiercely protective of Katniss. I think that’s the difference. I didn’t say over-protective. I said fiercely protective. There is a difference. He always volunteers to protect Katniss. He goes back into the arena to protect her. He doesn’t like letting her go off on her own. But he’s not Edward Cullen.

In “Catching Fire” Johanna Mason slaps Katniss across the face. If it were Bella in Katniss’s place, Johanna would have been thrown across the arena and possibly skinned and sucked free of blood before Bella could say “No, Edward.” Johanna Mason slaps Katniss, and Peetah does nothing. I know what you’re thinking. How can I think Peetah’s a good person/lover if he won’t stand up for Katniss when she’s been hit? He knows Katniss can take care of herself. He comes to her rescue when she needs it. Later in the book when the Jabberjays torture Katniss with the desperate sounds of her loved ones, Peetah reaches her and brings her back from the hell the birds left her in. He will do whatever he must to protect her but only in situations where she needs protecting.

K Mary, rein it in.

Where am I going with this? For me, the love triangles only work if the female is as strong as her two male counterparts.

I read somewhere online before reading “Mortal Instruments” that “if you loved Twilight, you’ll love Mortal Instruments.” I did not love “Twilight.” But I can admit where the love triangles from both are similar—specifically Jace and Clary vs. Edward and Bella. I like Jace and Clary. I hate Edward and Bella.

Here’s why. Clary recognizes her own self-worth. She politely listens to Jace’s protests that she stay safe and then promptly ignores them. Bella, with perhaps an exception or two, does whatever Edward wants her to do to stay safe and doesn’t object. She drives a freaking armored car for him. That’s a bit over the top.

Mac is the same way. She ignores Barron’s orders. Stephanie Plum ignores Morelli’s insistence that she stay locked in the house and safe. Katniss—she just takes care of herself.

Alpha, beta, or gamma?

Answer—the Daily Double. (Just kidding.) It doesn’t matter. There’s a reason Stephanie Plum is on and off with Morelli—he smothers her. And he’s a gamma—not an alpha. Barrons controls everything in his life—including Mac at points. He’s an alpha. The strongest love triangles are the ones where both the man and woman grow. What’s important is that people change.

Edward doesn’t change. Bella doesn’t change. The love triangle didn’t work for me. Love triangles shouldn’t be about the girl choosing the hottest guy. They should be about choosing which one makes them feel safe, which one they love and would protect into Hell. It’s about what they can do for each other, not just about what he can do for her.

So back to my personal issue of hardly ever wanting the heroine with the guy she ends up with.

One of two things is at play here. Either I’m a terrible writer/person and don’t understand love at all. I’m hoping this isn’t the case.

Or it’s the product of growing up in a 20th Century home where my parents encouraged me not to “just settle” for someone. “Find a guy who is worthy of you.” In taking this advice, have I set my bar too high? Now I’m even disagreeing with fictional men.

No, it’s just that I’m more like Katniss. I don’t see it right away, but when it happens, I’ll know. I’m glad I figured this out. I was seriously worried about my ability to tell good fiction from bad. But no, I just want my heroines to pick the guy who will most let her be herself and that she would be happiest with. As is seen here, that person is different for everyone.

Lesson—love triangles require three strong characters to work. At least, that’s my opinion.

See you out of the box,