It’s finally ready for pre-order! Pua’s Kiss tells a significant part of the backstory to the Niuhi Shark Saga. In it you’ll learn why Justin came to Hawaii, how Pua and Justin met, hooked up, and how all of the events in One Boy, No Water; One Shark, No Swim; and One Truth, No Lie; came to pass–and who was really pulling all the strings.
This was a tough book to write. The characters fought me every step of the way. It wasn’t until I let them speak the story they wanted to tell that I made any progress.
A word of warning–this one is not middle grade. It deals with some mature themes. Two adults fall in lust–off camera, closed door lust, but it’s clear that’s what’s going on.
Johnny Worthen recently released his newest novel, The Brand Demand. An eclectic writer whose work spans many genres and ages, The Brand Demand is an adult eco-political thriller set in Utah and published by Cherokee McGhee. It’s available as a trade paperback and eBook.
In celebration of his fourth novel, Johnny’s dropping by his old blog tour haunts and sharing his thoughts.
Some authors take the time to plot the entire story and create extensive character backgrounds before they write, others sit down and wing it. What’s your writing process like and how do you balance planning with spur of the moment creativity?
Allow me to ramble: Every book is different, but I’m getting something of a system now that tells me that too much pre-writing will take the energy out of the work, if not the fun. My prewriting process usually consists of pages of notes, character lists with minimum descriptions and waypoints. A waypoint is a place I want to get to. They’re like plot points, but more general. I think of them as scenes I want to have, not just for the plot but for the theme. Theme is huge. It’s the biggest pre-writing concern I have. I need to know what the book is going to be about before I can write a thing. Waypoints are how I’ll to navigate the theme to get to the end that may or may not be plot dependent. “Galen meets with Carson,” “compare rich and powerful vs. invisible and powerful.” “Galen confesses to Bonnie. “Ideology softens” “Show the city in winter.” This kind of thing.
My original idea for THE BRAND DEMAND came from a vision of the ending. I saw the climactic moment in my mind and felt goosebumps. I then worked backward from that, inventing the characters that would get that ending, developing the theme to justify and explain it. I developed waypoints and outlined – only outlined – the characters. I then let their voices come out and gently guided the action to the end.
Many authors say they write because they cannot not write. If you couldn’t tell stories with words, what artistic medium would you choose?
I’m a modeler. That’s the archaic hobby of glueing plastic together and painting little men and spaceships. It’s a lonely outlet, but an art and I really enjoy it. It is however ridiculously frivolous and the finished models pile up with no place to display them. Sometimes you can build game pieces and theoretically have a use for them, but truth is I’m the only person I know who does this and games are few and far between. One day, maybe, I’ll get back to my collection and lose myself in little men and spaceships again.
Successful authors are more than writers; they are public speakers, educators, marketers, and business owners. As you’ve grown in your career which things have surprised you? Which aspects of being an author delight you and which horrify you?
I’m not sure what makes a successful author. There are no rules. We all just make it all up as we go along. It’s so much a matter of luck that if one were to think logically before embarking on this career they’d never do it. The odds are frightening, – horrifying, to use your word. Rejection is constant and unrelenting. You never get used to it. I thought I would, but I haven’t. They don’t sting as much as they used to, but they still bite.
The delights are when even against these odds, something gets through. Better still is the wonder that people read your work. And beyond belief is when they get it and appreciate it. It’s a drug I can only liken to the experience of finishing a book in the first place. It’s wonderful.
With such stiff competition and long odds, you’d think that writers would be a mean and bitter bunch, but they’re not. I’ve met so many wonderful people doing this. Helpful, encouraging, nice people who, like me, labor under the idea that the best way – the only way, to achieve one’s dreams is by helping other people achieve theirs. There’s a solidarity and friendship among the authors I’ve come to know. Of course there are few outliers who don’t get it, but I’ve been surprised at how warm the community generally is – so welcoming and supportive. It’s been a wonderful discovery of friends in arms.
Twitter: Twitter @JohnnyWorthen
In the heat of the desert, Detective Cody Oliver inadvertently stumbles upon a strange garden adorned with exotic flowers. Upon closer inspection, he finds the garden is but a cover for the scores of bodies buried below. Soon, the small town of Mt. Dessicate plunges into chaos as journalists, reporters, and cameramen from across the nation descend upon the tiny, desert town to get a piece of the action.
Along with the media, a mysterious woman appears—she may be the only person who has come face to face with the killer, dubbed the Botanist, and lived to tell the tale. If Cody can’t piece together a timeline of the land the crime scene is located on, decipher how the woman’s mysterious past is connected to the killer, and bring the Botanist to justice, he may lose the people he values most.
I recently interviewed Brenda Corey Dunne about her newest book, Dependent. This was a big summer for Brenda and her family as they sold and bought houses, renovated the new one, and moved the whole family–horses and all–across Canada to her husband’s new military posting. Somehow between the move, the new book launch, and discovering where to buy groceries and back to school clothes, Brenda found the time to answer a few of my questions.
In Dependent Ellen makes many sacrifices for her family and husband. Do you think that’s typical of all women or something special about Ellen?
That’s a tricky question to answer! I’m not a fan of the ‘the woman’s place is in the home’ stereotype. Women should be able to do whatever they want. This is the 21st Century for goodness sake! And so many husbands make sacrifices for their wives careers.
But I DO believe women take on the nurturing role more often than men. And I live in a world of military relationships. It takes only quick mental review of all of my friends to realize that almost all of my married female friends and closer acquaintances have sacrificed for their husbands in some way. They’ve given up good paying jobs to follow their spouses. Most of them have had to start at the very beginning at least once in their careers. They’ve moved thousands of miles away from family and friends. They’ve scrubbed and staged houses over and over again for a quick sale. They’ve smiled bravely as their husband shouldered his bag and walked away for another deployment. And they’ve done it willingly.
Dependent exposes some of the unique challenges military families face. How can non-military families reach out and support military families more?
Another tricky question. Military families are often strong and proud. They don’t want charity and they don’t want pity. And they won’t ask for help because that would be considered weakness…so they suffer in silence. I think the best way to support them is to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you are a thousand miles away from home, your house is full of boxes, you have two toddlers and are pregnant with the third, and your hubby has just left for a two month ‘refresher’ course in a different state. What would you like most?
A friendly smile. A cup of coffee. Help getting the trash to the curb on the right day. Knowledge of where the local library is. Hot brownies. Someone to talk to while your kids play at the park. A line on a good daycare in town.
Really, the best way to help a military family is to extend the hand of friendship. I have made so many wonderful friends over my 25 years associated with the military. Some came and went, but most will always have a place in my heart. Those friendships have sometimes been my lifeline—the only thing that helped me cope when things went downhill. That kind of support is the priceless.
Without giving too much away, how do you imagine Ellen’s life now?
I think Ellen is realizing that university is a lot different at 46 than it is at 19! I think she’s dealing with different issues, still trying to figure out how everything works in her new life. Not sure I can give you much more than that!
Thanks, Brenda for stopping by. Click here to see my review of Dependent. Dependent by Brenda Corey Dunn is published by Jolly Fish Press and is available as a trade paperback or eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books.
Connect with Brenda Corey Dunn
Dependent, the stunning new novel by Brenda Corey Dunne, is an unusual coming of age story about a forty-five year old woman finding herself after making hard choices at nineteen that set the course of her life.
Ellen Michaels has been an officer’s wife for twenty-five years. Living in the military’s shadow, all of Ellen’s decisions have been influenced by her husband John’s career—where she lives, what she does, and who her friends are—as well as the choices she makes to protect her family. Lumped in with John’s worldly goods as “dependents, furniture, and effects,” it’s profoundly shocking for Ellen to discover that with John’s death her future is her own again.
Much of Dependent is told in flashback, and we see Ellen grow from a young teen to a mature woman. We see the struggles every young mother faces and typical challenges even the best marriages go through. With John’s death we see the devastating effect of losing a partner and father. But Ellen also has a terrible secret she’s kept for twenty-five years, and she fears this secret is what killed her husband.
Told from an insider’s perspective, everything from early marriages, frequent moves, and long absences to the culture of rank and stiff upper lip is vividly portrayed. It’s these military culture conventions—and the idea that everything is happy, happy, happy!—that keep Ellen prisoner until she finally realizes that she independent and powerful.
And when she does you’re going to want to stand up and cheer.
But I’m not going to spoil it!