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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Interview with Jessica Fortunato Author of The Sin Collector

*Imagine only blackness. You can hear murmurs from the audience around you. A spotlight shines on the stage, revealing two women at a table draped with a velvet tablecloth. In between them sits a crystal ball and a deck of playing cards with the ace of spades on top. The audience cheers.*

Noree: Welcome everyone. It’s time to “Trip the Eclipse” again. Today I have the vivacious Jessica Fortunato here to tell us about herself and her book “The Sin Collector.” It’s good to have you here, Jessica.

Thank you for having me Noree! Pardon me while I take off my crushed-velvet Capelet.

Noree: So, I know you get asked this, would you mind telling us more about “The Sin Collector?”

Of course! The Sin Collector follows main character Liliana. She is a Sin-Eater (referred to as a Collector) and when the book begins, she has left that world behind. She is trying to live a boring normal life, with a normal job, a cat, an apartment, the whole deal. Soon however two men from her past suck her back into her calling as a Collector. She hasn’t seen either in at least 100 years and is suspicious of both their motives for seeking her out. She learns that an ancient organization known as the Castus has resurfaced and their only objective is killing off her kind. Facing genocide, she joins a group of fellow Collectors in hopes to stop a war and find out where she belongs.

Noree: Is “The Sin Collector” your first book?

It is the first book I have ever published. I had previously written (most of) another book, but I find reality can be a whiny and boring genre when written poorly (which mine was). Therefore, I scrapped it and it will probably never see the light of day.

Noree: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, it was mostly poems and very short stories. I always had stacks of notebooks growing up. I would write about pretty much everything. I think writing is the most therapeutic thing in this world, and that includes actual therapy. I finished The Sin Collector in November of last year. I had no idea how to go about finding a publisher, and in this economy, I knew that being unknown was going to make me seem like a financial risk to most companies. I received a Kindle for Christmas and then found out about their publishing program. I think it’s an excellent way to get feedback on your book and put yourself out there.

Noree: Is there anything in “The Sin Collector” written from real life experiences or is it pure imagination?

I worked in a library for four years. The character of my boss Jimmy is strongly based on the real life boss I had there. (I hope he never sees this book) I think a lot of the elements of my book are based in real life experiences, even though the book itself is fantasy. Things such as Liliana’s devotion to her family, as well as her loneliness and trust issues, those are experiences I’ve had and I think others can relate to.

Noree: I notice several themes in “The Sin Collector.” Did these come naturally with writing the book or did you plan them?

I knew I wanted to write a story about Sin-Eaters. I knew from the beginning what Supernatural abilities I wanted to give them. However, it was the human aspect of their legends that drew me to them, their social isolation for instance was important to me. I also wanted the theme of finding a home to take center stage. Liliana’s impression of home changes drastically throughout the novel. I believe she moves from a fairytale version of the word to the actual reality of it. That people can be your home, not a place. I also wanted to spend time on the meaning of family as well. Family is very important to me. Therefore, it seemed only natural to make it a driving element for my characters.

Noree: So, you’re currently working on the sequel. Will we learn more about the origins of Sin-Eaters in the next book?

Absolutely! I am the type of reader who loves instant gratification. I wanted to reveal everything in the first book, and it killed me not to. However, the main characters of The Sin Collector are just as blinded to their history as the reader. We will all learn about their origins together, as well as more detail of rituals. I solemnly swear that by the end of the series you won’t have any lingering questions!

Noree: I read in Rebecca Hamilton’s interview that you read about Sin-Eaters from a book of funeral customs. Do you have any other bits of interesting lore that you have found?

Some of the lore contradicts itself, and they aren’t a well known myth. I wish there were more accounts of them because I find then so fascinating.

In some stories, the Sin-Eaters are penniless humans who are called upon to take sins and given a sixpence for their troubles. In another story, Sin-Eaters are recognized as being different at birth and are treated as lepers to the community, until they are needed of course. One story described them as a sort of underworld Fae. In addition, a Twitter follower of mine told me there is a Heath Ledger movie that touches on Sin-Eaters. I caught part of it a few weeks ago. It seemed that in that movie Sin-Eaters were the “bad guys” so to speak, easily bought with little moral standing.

Noree: What’s your favorite type of supernatural creature?

That is a hard one! I’m a complete supernatural nut. I probably could have a PhD. In the Loch Ness Monster alone. I love dragons. I always have. I wanted a pet Phoenix when I was little (before I realized they weren’t just a bird you could buy at the pet store) I love theology so I’ve spent loads of time reading about Demons and Angels. I’ve also been known to ghost hunt. Ok, I’m not really answering this question, I don’t think I can pick just one!

Noree: Who is your favorite character on the show “Supernatural?”

Again, I don’t know how to answer! Of course the guys are just…can you say yummy! If Jared Padalecki gets any bigger, he’s going to crush buildings! I loved watching the evolution of Castiel finding his humanity. Sadly, I’d have to say my favorite character was Bobby (may he rest in peace) He served as a touchstone for every other character. He was the wise sage, the Dad, the rock. He always helped but never sugarcoated things. I truly miss his character. I think you need to have a realistic and relatable person on a show about monsters. He served as that ONE character who was 100% human. I don’t know what those writers were thinking in killing him off!

Noree: You mentioned your tattoos on Twitter. How many do you have and what are they?

I’m blaming Rob for this question! I have six total. I got my first one at sixteen it’s a red rose. I have a stitched heart, a spiral, 7 stars on my left hand, a Celtic knot on my ankle and The Little Prince on my left forearm. All of my tattoos are very important to me and I got them for specific reasons. A few are memorial tattoos. If they didn’t cost so much I’d certainly have many more. I would love to expand on The Little Prince, adding his planet and other aspects from the book and making that a full sleeve. The next tattoo I hope to get soon is going to be two bats, one small and the other a bit bigger to represent my little sister and I and our love for all things horror and Halloween.

Noree: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Don’t let criticism destroy your universe. If you were a cement mixer or a gravedigger, someone would eventually have something crappy to say to you. If you want to be an author then this is your job and some people suck. Some people will love you. Others will hate you, C'est La Vie, C’est La Mort. You have a story inside of you meant for the telling, so tell it to the best of your ability and then be proud that you have, because that is something to be proud of.

Noree: Where can readers buy “The Sin Collector?”

Currently The Sin Collector can be found on Amazon in e-book format. I’m hoping to offer it in paperback by the end of this year for those of you who want to know what the fuss is all about but don’t have Kindles!

Noree: Jessica, Thanks for taking the time to visit. Everyone, thanks for taking this journey with us. I’ll see you again next week.

Thank you for having me Noree. I had an awesome time, and will continue to stalk you and your fantastic tweets!

Noree: Let's end this with the trailer for "The Sin Collector."

*Noree raises her glass and the lights fade back to the black.*

Monday, March 26, 2012


This is from another author I met on Twitter. She's bundle of funny. Check out @JessFortunato. Anyway, I was given a copy of this book to review.

Premise: (Taken form Goodreads) "The Sin Collector" follows the life of Liliana, a born Sin Collector. She has spent over 100 years absorbing people's sins so they may rest in peace come death. However when she meets another Collector, one who insists everything she has been taught is a lie, Liliana must make her way from Sunny L.A. all the way to the streets of Madrid. Searching for answers to a question we all share. Why are we here? The friends and enemies she makes along the way only seem to blur the line between right and wrong. Can Liliana fight the Castus, an organization bent on killing off every Sin-Eater? Should she trust her head or her heart when the two most important men in her life are fighting alongside her?

Then there is the worst question of all, who will be left when the dust settles.

The Good:

Voice: I loved the voice in this series. It was humorous, yet it didn't get overly snarky like a lot of books. I had several laugh out loud moments, such as Lily's whole balance and bike issues. The voice had a balance of light and dark moments when appropriate. It kept me interested.

Characters: I love Liliana. Yes, at times she can be immature for her age, but I think she is trying to cling to that last bit of innocence. I can really see this when she is with another character Juliana. The secondary characters are great as well. Each has their own personality and motivations. Jessica kept me guessing at who was the traitor for most of the book.

Story and Worldbuilding: The Sin Collector concept is something I have rarely seen. I think i have only heard of another movie perhaps a book that had anything like it. (I'll have to look those up again). Anyway, You know how we've talked about wanting to see a different type of race in Modern Fantasy. Well, here is your chance to read about one.

Themes: The main theme I saw through the book was finding home, whereever home was. I love this theme and Jessica has pulled it off. The story also touches on good and evil. Not just good vs. evil, but also intention vs action. If you have good intentions does that justify your actions?

The Bad:

Pacing: I loved faced paced books but I felt the pacing was little too fast on this. It is a short book, so it is like taking a bite and it's done.

Details: I felt the author could have shown more detail in certain points in the story. . I think this could have also helped with the pacing and gave us a deeper look at the characters. I had a few moments of confusion during the story, such as: "Wait, she on the ground? I thought she was standing." or "Where did she get that knife?" These were very few, but could have been cleaned up by going into more detail. Also, I would have loved for Jessica to go into the history of Sin Collectors more. I'm hoping she will in the next book.

Overall: Get this book. It was unique and entertaining!

Check out Jessica's page for the Sin Collector here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Midnight Crossroads

A lot has happened to me in the past couple of months. I got more involved with Twitter to the point of addiction. There I met some awe inspiring authors. They brought to may attention a side of publishing I never considered. Self-publishing.

For years I have been perfecting my writing in hopes of one day being chosen among the thousands to have my book published by a Trade publishing house. I soaked up agent and publisher blogs on writing advice, query letters and of course the horrible odds. Still, I heard the best way to beat the odds was to write a great book. But that's not completely true. Great books are being passed up because publishers only have so many slots to fill. So, then I started looking into the self-publishing/indie movement. I weighed my options and here are the pros and cons of both and my thoughts on them.

Traditional Publishing route:

-You get and advance up front. This can be anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 as a reasonable estimate for new authors.
-Placement in brick-and-mortar stores like Barnes and Noble. (I don't know about you but my Barnes and Noble has shrunk the amount of paperback books they carry. On whole, they take up a quarter of the store. So, this is not really impressive anymore.)
-The prestige of being published buy a trade publishing house (I thought about this and decided that the only people I need the approval of is my readers.)
-Possible promotional push (Not likely unless they think you'll be a bestseller)
-Free editing by professionals
-Commissioned cover art

-Book contracts (Now if you have a good agent, they should help you navigate this)
-Low royalty rates
-Danger of publishing house going out of business (This has happened with several small publishing houses, and in this market who knows?)
-15% of your payment goes to the agent
-Odd/offbeat genres not wanted
-The danger of having your series cancelled after the contracted books are completed
-Time and frustration spent on the phone/email with publisher, editor, or agent (Yeah, they have other authors as well)
-Publisher controls cover art, deadline, and publishing schedule
-Backlist orphaned (No I wouldn't have one yet. but I have heard a few horror stories)

Indie/Self-Publishing route:

-Higher royalties per sale, both ebooks and print
-Real Sales numbers (I'm the kind of person who likes to know this and I'm not sure if you can get this with trade publishing)
-The ability to fix typos
-Branding control over covers, blurbs, typesetting, and layout
-Deadline and Publishing schedule control
-Genre control, you no longer have to write to type (And yes I see a lot of this in tradition publishing. It's why we have the back tattooed heroine in leather pants in Urban Fantasy.)
-Control of backlist (when you have one)

-Learning Curve (Hey, we're all bound to make mistakes)
-No up front advance money
-Expenses before you've earned anything-(artwork, editing, formatting, marketing...Now depending on if you know a few people, there are workarounds.)
-No respect, leads to problematic placement in brick-and mortar stores (so?), certain blogs will not review you, and other looks down their nose at you.
-Time and headache spent formatting

So, I have spent the last few month reading many different sites and have decided to self-publish. I have set a goal to have A PRESCRIPTION FOR DELIRIUM published by my birthday. That's August 26th. It's a tight schedule but I'm confident I can get it down. I've met a lot of great people who are happy to help make this possible.

Now, this is a personal decision. If anyone feels that they want to go the traditional publishing route then more power to them. In fact, my readers, which do you prefer?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

All in the Dice! Tagged for Lucky 7!

"Well close your eyes and try to count to seven, 
And if we die, I'll meet you up in heaven, 
'Cause you're beautiful." 
Live Forever by Sixx A.M.
J.W. Alden has tagged me for the Lucky 7 Meme. So, I decided to play my hand! There are a few rules for this:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 sentences -lines or paragraphs- and post them as they're written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let them know

So, here is my seven lines from A PRESCRIPTION FOR DELIRIUM. I warn you, this part is still rough draft and slotted to be cut out of the MS. But since it's still there, you have it. (I already cringed reading over this again.)

     I turned and walked across the yard to the driveway. No cars sat parked in our driveway. Mine had probably been abandoned. Did, that mean Esais was riding with Marguerite? A mental image of him clinging onto the angry woman for dear life made me giggle.
     “What protections do you have around here?” I asked.
     "I don't know Adrian handles that," Tres said shrugging his shoulders. 

So, now here are the authors I've handed the dice to:

Rebecca Hamilton
S.M. Boyce
Jessica Fortunato 
Brandon R. Luffman
Jasmine Walt
J. Scott Sharp
R.P. Kraul

Now, there's no guarantee these guys will be able to participate. Even so, drop by and check out their blogs. They're some of my favorite people.

Monday, March 12, 2012


This is by another great author. S.M. Boyce, or @thesmboyce on Twitter.

Premise: When hiking in the Rocky Mountains, Kara Magari steps through a magical portal that takes her to the hidden world of Ourea. She becomes the master of the Grimoire, a book that will answer any question she asks of it. Now, as the Vagabond, Kara must unite Ourea while everyone in it seeks to use her to their own ends or kill her if they can't.

The Good:

Worldbuilding: First let me say that as a child I always daydreamed of traveling to another world and having adventures there. Not only does this book do that but it does it well, so it holds a special place in my heart. Not only that but Boyce twists the old myths of muses and demons into new races. Ourea is a beautiful vibrant world I enjoyed exploring throughout the story.

Characters: I grew to love both Kara and Braeden as the story progressed. Kara is strong of heart despite her past scars. I loved her intelligence and snark, even though that got her in trouble a lot. Braeden has scars of his own that he tries to overcome. He hides it well with his charm though. He had some of the best lines in the book. Even the villains were well rounded. They were not evil just because. Each had their own goals and reasons.

Story: Wow. Adventure, intrigue, and a little bit of romance. This story has it all and it is just beginning. This trilogy has the beginnings of an epic.

Pacing: It started a little slow, but soon picked up. By the last 100 pages I could not put the book down.

The Bad:
The first few chapters dragged a little for me but not enough for me to stop reading. They soon gained momentum.

Overall: Get this book. This is the Neverending Story for a new generation.

Check out Lichgates at S.M. Boyce's page here:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lusting for Bloodsuckers

So, this is actually inspired by several conversations with some awesome people on Twitter. It started as a question from @inkmuse about whether vampire fiction was over filled and should be laid to rest. Also, how we could revive it? This sparked a lot of opinions. My favorite was between @TheRaymondMRose, @peterdawes,  @ondinal_songs and myself. This got me thinking of vampire psychology and modern fiction.

Years ago, we had some decent vampire fiction. Anne Rice and even Laurell K. Hamilton's first few books were great reads. They let you view some vampire psychology and see how manipulative they can be. Then came Stephanie Meyer. I know, she's on everyone's lips. You either love her books or wish to throw them into the pit of fiery forgetfulness. Why is there so much hate? Well, I'm not going into all the reasons, and there are enough to make a mountain. Her books inspired a flood of vampire romance fiction. Along with the vampires came the werecreatures, the fairies, and *shudder* the demons.There is a big problem here.

These monsters are supposed to represent our darkest fears and emotions. Right now, I'm just going to stick with the undead. Vampires, at best, would be sociopaths bordering on psychopaths. Yes, there are perhaps some that would want to be good but their trying to to do so should be an enormous struggle. And what they consider good to them may not be good to others. Evil and good are relative, depending on your moral compass. A vampire who only hunts criminals is still killing and eating people.

This leads into the whole relationship thing. Sure, I can see the whole dark fantasy, bad boy thing, but these are creatures that want to eat us. We are food and pets to them. Would you want to date a cow? I know, cows can't hold an intelligent conversation. Then again, if you were centuries old, how intelligent would you view a 17 year old? The main point is that these are not healthy relationships. They will end badly. I'm not talking about crying into you half gallon of ice cream bad. More like, closed casket funeral.

So, what about you? Do you enjoy the undead romances? Or would you like to see more stories about the dark side of vampires again?