I’d like to thank Walt Disney for being one of my biggest inspirations. Born just ten years before my Daddy, in 1928, Walt was born in Chicago Illinois, and co-founded the timeless Walt Disney Productions with his brother Roy. Winning 22 Academy awards, he was the creator of Mickey Mouse and various other Disney characters. Belle and Beast were my two personal favorites.
Over the years, the intriguing story of Beauty and the Beast has inspired many spin-off television shows, movies, and books. For my stories, it lent the elements of a strong-willed girl who envisions her man’s monstrous qualities as gifts instead of a curse.
Of all my novels, taking a whopping 8 years to write and perfect, Ever After (The Cursed Series) probably parallels Beauty and the Beast the most. It’s about a girl who inherits a house and a mysterious farmhand who protects her but can never quite bring himself to reveal his true feelings for fear of putting her in danger. At times, his appearance and disposition can be as alarming as Beast’s, but his inner beauty is as epic, immense, and heart-wrenching.
The moralistic approach in Walt’s storytelling, and the pure joy in my children’s eyes as they watch his movies or read his stories will stay with me forever. I only hope to inspire a tenth as much as he has. Thank you, Walt Disney for making a difficult life a little easier to bear, for being an inspiration.
When you lose sight of who you started writing for, it’s not hard to lose your focus and find yourself chained up with a bad case of writer’s block.
There are many days I find myself staring at a blinking cursor. If I wallow in self-pity long enough eventually I ask myself who I’m writing for? If I try to write for me, I tend to get stuck.
When I remember that I wanted to share a story with as many people as possible, that I’m not just writing to entertain myself, the juices start flowing again. I start getting excited and words start to flow.
I also remember not to edit while I’m writing and just let loose. Editing comes later. Write the bones of the story, and add the meat later.
Apart from having some of the most controversial reviews I’ve ever received, Ever Bound has been one of my funnest releases. I loved sharing the origins if the curse, giving insight to some of Grace’s twisted background, and hopefully generating some more sympathy for Cole and Allie, who have to fight a curse through a century to be together.
I touched on a lot of upsetting subjects Cole and Allie had to overcome to make it to present day in a very short book. I would have loved to give the 1879 era a full-length novel so that the events wouldn’t have seemed so rushed, but the novella Ever Bound was originally Cole’s journal written in entry form. Every entry was brash, rushed, upsetting to Cole and would also be for a reader. I am so very proud of this work. It gave insight to who Cole was before centuries of suffering overcame him and whittled him down to the tortured soul he’d become in Ever After (Cursed 1).
This brings me to the overcoming joy I feel in announcing next month’s release of Ever Tempted Book 2 of the Cursed Series. This book picks up where Ever After left off. Allie waits for Cole to come home, and when he does, he’s changed and his love comes with a terrible price…
My life has been full lately, so the WordPress release for the actual release of Ever Bound Book 1.5 of my Cursed Series had to be put on a delay. I take care of two ailing parents, four children, teens I rescue, animals I rescue (c-sectioned a recently deceased cat and saved her babies–a story for another post), and work two jobs. So, needless to say, I’m a bit busy.
Ever Bound was originally a journal from Cole Kinsley’s p.o.v. that I never planned to publish, until my children read it and begged me to submit it for publication. They felt the world would love to learn in-depth details as to why my hero and heroine in Ever After had such a deadly struggle to survive. Not just in life, but in love.
So, I submitted it.
Kensington had tight deadlines, so I’ve been so overwhelmed with edits and reviews that I barely had time to breathe. The house was in shambles, my cars needed and still need a good wash, and my parents beg me to spend more time with them than just a quick stop-in to cook and clean then run. I’ve hired a cook/nanny/personal assistant who just happened to be a marketing genius. I really lucked up. Who gets all that in one person?
She is a blessing from above.
We’ve recently begun new strides to get the book in front of more faces, but it’s a feat in itself when the world of ebooks are so overran with a variety of different choices in publishing.
I’ve become a hybrid author, utilizing my publishing company and working on the side to release as many novels as possible. I hope all my hard work comes to fruition at some point. My real dream is to have my novels adapted to the big screen, but isn’t that all of us?
Enough catching up. It’s time to introduce Ever Bound:
A love as doomed as it is destined… 1879, Tennessee. A farmhand on the vast Rollins estate, handsome young Colby Kinsley makes the mistake of his life when he becomes briefly entangled with conniving Grace Rollins, the plantation owner’s beautiful but unstable daughter. Yet matters become even more complicated when he finds himself falling truly in love with Grace’s clever younger sister, Annabeth…
Intent on escaping her darkly troubled father and her melancholy home, Annabeth is also determined to avoid Colby. Yet she is still drawn to his quick wit and many talents. And when he performs an act of astounding courage, she can no longer deny her true feelings for him…just as her sister cannot hide her jealous rage. Grace will do anything to destroy the blossoming romance—even invoke dark, powerful supernatural forces. And as her dangerous machinations begin, the passions of all three are set on a tragic course—with a conclusion that will echo across lifetimes…
I hope you enjoy this dark, twisted novel as much as I enjoyed writing it. And not to be confused, you must read Ever After to understand the terrible events that unfold in Ever Bound. Allie and Cole’s fight to be together didn’t start in the here and now. They have been fighting a malicious spirit for over a century just to spend one lifetime of happiness together. To find their happily Ever After.
For years, Allie Knowles wondered why she dreamed of a guy with no face. In the dreams, he had the perfect masculine build but where expressions should have matched his low, sensual voice, his face was always a blur. This nameless, faceless guy would do nothing short of kill for her. Her affections were just as strong, but the bond made no sense. He didn’t exist. Or did he?
I can relate to Allie on so many levels. For years, I’ve written, rewritten, reworked scenes, killed off characters, renamed characters and through it all, it was so hard to imagine what Cole looked like. How did his hair look when it fell into his eyes? Did his eyes crinkle when he smiled or was their smoldering gaze so intoxicating that one wouldn’t notice the crinkles? I knew his eyes were green and haunted with years of loneliness. Chestnut streaks born from working in the sun highlighted his milk chocolate brown hair. He was strong but not muscled up like massive body builders. Veins didn’t bulge down his arms, but they were quite capable of putting a hurting on anyone or anything that threatened Allie.
But how would all those qualities come together for a reader?
Allie was revealed on the cover of Ever After which was just as striking beautiful as I’d always pictured her to be.
Today, I present you with Cole on the cover of Ever Tempted.
I’m here to introduce acclaimed author Odessa Gillespie Black. I’d like to congratulate her on her recent release of Ever After (Cursed Series Book 1). It’s been a long time in the making, and as a teen reader, I’m glad to finally see something fresh and new hit the press. Without further adieu…
Me: Hi, Odessa. I know you’re busy, but I wanted to get in a few quick questions.
Odessa: No problem. I’m always glad to meet new people and discuss the loves of my life. (smiles)
Me: I’m going to jump right in if that’s okay. How did you come up with the idea for Ever After?
Odessa: Honestly, I feel like this is a tired answer, but I woke from a dream with the weirdest notion that I’d had a wonderful book idea. It took all day to remember what I’d actually dreamed and when it hit me, I wondered what I’d had for dinner the night before. They say if you eat pepperoni, you have some weird dreams. I hadn’t had pepperoni, but boy was the dream that I’d had a doozy. Normally, my dreams are real with people I know involved in situations that could really happen. This time it was different. I was a girl in a car driving with a few friends up to a creepy yet beautiful house. Once we were inside we were greeted by all these nice people, but at times they whispered to each other and gave us crazy looks. A really hot guy tries to get us to leave the house, but we are so fascinated with the house’s size we decide to stay the night. Over the length of the evening, we learn through listening to the butler and the maids that they want us gone. We try to figure out why and after a long night of searching dark hall ways, and encountering more and more house servants, we come upon a few of whom are see through. Ghosts. The dream sort of fades from there. I’m sure I probably dreamed an outcome, but I don’t remember it.
Me: Is this at all like Ever After?
Odessa: In ways, but it was an idea that after being carefully molded, switched up and added to, became something different entirely. It was a weird, unconscious brainstorming session that just happened to be a hit, at least with the local teens.
Me: So you have a bit of a local following?
Odessa: Somewhat. A lot of girls who graduated around the time the first copy of Ever After went to Kensington and was accepted fell in love with the Grace, Cole, and Allie love triangle from hell.
Me: So it’s got a love triangle base?
Odessa: It’s not your run-of-the-mill love triangle. That’s for sure. There’s a lot of love and a lot of hate working together to make a wonderfully romantic and scary story. At least in my opinion. I wrote something I’d never seen before. It’s sort of a mix of all things I love put together. Horror, romance, comedy, drama and action. There’s a little something in there for every reader.
Me: How do you feel about your characters? I guess writers get attached.
Odessa: I think writers are the only people of whom can be given the diagnosis of split personality disorder. It’s like the voices of the characters just scream to get out of your head and aren’t satisfied until you’ve written their views down on paper, or in my case the screen.
Me: What is your favorite line from the novel?
Odessa: Ooh. There are so many. I guess if I had to choose, it’d be a paragraph as Ava reads her will aloud on video camera to her family and friends. Her final words were, “I’ve oftentimes wondered if everything I’ve ever done in my life was a mistake, but in this final moment, as I leave this world and enter into the next life, I can rest knowing I’ve done at least one thing with precision. I leave all of my worldly possessions other than the aforementioned property to Allison Ainsley Knowles… Live life to the fullest, love like you’ve never loved before, and when you find something worth fighting for, don’t let anything come in your way.”
Me: That was one of my favorites, too. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I can’t wait for book two. Do you know if there are any plans for it?
Odessa: A prequel to the novel called Ever Bound is due out early 2016, and Ever Tempted (Cursed Series Book 2) will release later in the year. Stay up to date on my Facebook Author Page. I’d love as many visitors as possible.
There are many things you could write about, but one thing I’ve learned is that there are areas in which I am not good at writing. I like to write about what I know and what would be fairly easy to research. Not to say that I recommend taking the easy road out, but when you write about what you know and have to do minor research, you take less chance of writing something an expert will pick through and find flaws. And there are experts everywhere.
When I take on writing a novel, I try to keep within my comfort zones, most times. Sometimes I venture out, but I make sure I research a few different accredited sites so that I don’t sound like a moron. Science fiction is where one could easily take a nose dive.
Modern technology advances like light speed, so make sure the site you research when taking on this genre of writing is up-to-date. If it was published in 1997, then, for the most part, the information you’ll find there is obsolete.
Historical romance has been the most interesting and easy to research that I’ve found yet. There are so many articles that will tell you what one would find in a barn, or inside a house, or outhouse that you can easily find what you need and base a really neat story around it.
I once read a romance novel set inside the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC, Maid to Match by Deanne Gist. Deeanne Gist’s knowledge of the house was such that I thought she either had lived there for years or had to have visited the Biltmore at least 30 times. Her execution and description was flawless. I read the book in a day and never felt so close to a character as I did her heroine. This was the result of awesome researching.
So if you decide to write outside of your knowledge base, be sure you’ve done the homework. There’s nothing like a poorly-researched novel to make a reader put the book down and never touch it again.
When #KensingtonBooks sent me the contract, I cried.
When I saw all the work involved, I almost cried. 🙂 But I knew it would be the means to an amazing end. Or beginning.
And it has.
When Cora Graphics Cover Art released the cover, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was as if Cora had crawled in my head and tapped into the very soul of the novel. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.
When the editing rounds started, I was a little overwhelmed, but one of Lyrical’s best freelance editors Penny-Jo Barber-Schwartz baby-stepped me through the process. We ended up with a professional grade novel.
I was suddenly so glad I hadn’t tried to self-publish it. I could have never done a better job than Kensington Books, Lyrical Press and Cora Graphics. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
It’s been awhile since I’ve updated everyone, but I’ve been busy editing and writing new books. I’ll make myself less of a stranger now that I have more time. Since we’ve last talked I have some exciting news. Ever After (Cursed Series Book One) will release September 1, 2015.
After working with the cover designers for a week, they finally revealed one of the most beautiful covers I could have ever hoped for. The picture depicts so much of the novel, I wondered if the designer at Cora Graphics hadn’t gotten in my head and picked my brain. The colors are gorgeous. So eye-catching. The backdrop of the house behind the girl is exactly as I depicted it in the novel. I could go on and on about how great it is, but I’ll let you see. I’m tickled pink.