Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Anne-Rae Vasquez and Her Writing Process @Write2Film #amreading #paranormal #ya

at 11:00 AM
Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
"Doubt" mashes fringe science, corporate espionage and paranormal encounters to catapult you into an out-of-this-world experience.
The Among Us Trilogy is about a group of outcasts (online gamers) who band together to investigate who or what is behind the catastrophic events happening around the world.
When I first started writing Doubt, I was shaping out who would be the hero of my story and I decided that I wanted someone like the late Aaron Shwartz, intelligent beyond his years, courageous and a seeker of truth and justice.  My book Doubt is a tribute to Aaron’s memory and also an inspiration for all young people to uphold Aaron’s determination that all of us can use our talents to help make the world a better place.
I was also inspired by a young documentary filmmaker and activist Harry Fear whose coverage of the conflict in the Middle East was watched by millions on UStream all over the world.
Both Aaron and Harry are real truth seekers, which were my main inspirations for the main character Harry Doubt.
I have taken this same theme of Truth Seeking and applied it to the fictional story ‘Doubt’.
If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?.
I’d invite the unnamed seekers of truth out there… those who gave up their lives to fight for truth and justice.  In addition, I’d invite truth seekers: Aaron Swartz, Harry Fear, Cairn Rodrigues, author of Song of Soltice series, The Book Landers, Heromine Granger, Linus Pauling, and Gene Shoemaker.
And to entertain them, I’d invite John Lennon (my childhood hero), Johnny Depp (straight up good guy and actor), Jeffrey Dawson (good actor), Joshua Jackson (a Canadian actor) and Justin Timberlake and Jay Z (so that they can perform their hit song “Suit and Tie” for me and my kids).   Just realized that they all start with the letter J…. hmmm… coincidence?  My mother always told me that there are no such things as coincidences.
When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?
Watching back to back episodes of my favourite shows… Fringe, Turkish soap operas (yeah, read my last book to find out about that connection), Burn Notice, White Collar, 666 Park Avenue and more…
Do you have any tips on how writers can relax?
Buy your kids tons of games so that they can play quietly in their room.  Kidding!  Take time to spend time with your family.  Work is always there but your family may not be if you ignore them too much.
How often do you write? And what is the process?
I write in spurts.  Then I drag my developmental author into a room where she can rip it apart and massage it or punch me out.  Then we sit and rewrite it and then go through it again.  We let it sit and then visit it again and re-work, re-edit.  When we finally get to a point where we need more input, then we call on our beta readers and my critique partner to give us feedback. We have some that love it and some that hate it and then we go back and try to rework it again.  Finally when it is done, we send it off to professional editors to polish the book off.
Sometimes it’s so hard to keep at it - What keeps you going?
Artists just want to create and that is really all that keeps me going.
What’s your favorite meal?
Mediterranean food is my favourite kind of meals because I love the rich ethnic flavours and spices.
What color represents your personality the most?
Purple or magenta – my developmental editor says that colours have meanings that describe a person’s personality. She just read to me what Purple and Magenta mean and I was a bit surprised at how accurate it was.
If you could do any job in the world what would you do?
I would be a film maker and author.
What are you most passionate about? What gets you fired up?
I’m passionate about being creative.
Are you a city slicker or a country lover?
City slicker. Born and raised.
What’s your next project?
Book 2 of the Among Us Trilogy… and my developmental editor is bugging me to get started.
What would you love to produce in your life?
A TV series like Fringe or more feature films.
How important are friends in your life?
Extremely important but I can count on one hand who my true friends are.
Do you find the time to read?
Always… and I try to squeeze reading in between even the writing.  It is a my way to escape for a few minutes into another world and sometimes I find that a good book can jump start my creative juices.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
Quote by me:  Writing is emotional. It is baring your soul to the world and waiting for someone to acknowledge and love it, or shun and hate it, or worse be indifferent about it. --- Anne-Rae Vasquez
What’s your favorite place in the entire world?
Vancouver, BC, Canada is the best place in the world. If you have never visited, you should. Enough said.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
As you can see I inject a lot of culture in my stories no matter what the genre. I come from a mixed background and witnessed many clashes between both sides of the family especially from the different cultural traditions and way of life. I like to throw my characters into situations where they have to overcome cultural differences to achieve their goals.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for four decades since I was old enough to hold a pencil.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
I usually write by myself but I learned that being the Lone Ranger is not the best way to write. Thankfully, when I was writing Doubt, I had my developmental editor by my side. It was mostly a collaboration of minds, although we frequently butted heads. But the outcome, once we ironed things out, was pure magic.  In addition, my team of beta readers participated in missions (in the theme of the book) and also provided further feedback of each chapter. I also worked with my critique partner who helped shake up the story and make it richer.  Finally, the manuscript went through two copy and proof editors to refine the work and polish off the writing.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
No… never… Yeah right! ; )  I usually bang my head against the wall and then go watch a bunch of TV shows or read a book or cook to get my head back on track.
How did you come up with the title?
Aaron Swartz who passed away in early 2013 and Harry Fear, two young truth seekers were the inspiration for my book’s main character Harry Doubt.  The title Doubt not only is a play on the main character’s last name but also reflects how the characters question the reality of the world they live.
Can you tell us about your main characters?
Harry is a former child prodigy and tech genius. He created the popular online game the Truth Seekers.  His best friend, Cristal is also a talented and intelligent programmer. Her father went missing when she was a child. She senses that there is something different about her but she cannot bring herself to admit it.
How did you develop your plot and characters?
The story mixes social media communications such as text messaging and video messaging as a form of communication between characters as they go on missions to find their family members.
All characters have aliases and avatars, which are displayed as a splash page image at the beginning of the book.  The official website of the book (amongus.ca) also has detailed M.O.’s of the characters so readers can also view and interact with the characters on the website.
The story although geared to young adult/ early adult readers is also entertaining for general readers who are interested in the supernatural, sci/fi urban fantasy, apocalyptic genres with themes similar to the TV show Fringe (by J.J. Abrams).
As a filmmaker, journalist and web design programmer, I tell stories in multiple mediums.  Doubt (book 1 of the Among Us Trilogy) was literally created from an interactive online reality game that I created with the help of my developmental editor (Josefina Rosado).
The official website http://www.AmongUs.ca interacts with visitors allowing them to participate as Truth Seekers following the theme of the story.
I wanted to give readers another way to connect with my story.  Entertainment does not need to be contained in one medium. I believe in telling your story in many mediums. How do we do this?  One way was to entice readers  to participate in the experience of the story as it is being written. Putting Theory to the Test Here was the plan I used for fan recruiting  for my new novel Doubt, Book 1 of the Among Us Trilogy:
1)    Design website for the book series using the theme of the story
(Theme: Truth seekers who are online gamers use the internet to communicate with each other and also hack into global networks to save the world from catastrophic events caused by an unknown entity.)
2)    Entice beta readers to read drafts of the chapters as I write them but only awarding the first 10 who register
3)    Assign characters from the novel to each beta reader.
4)    Provide the beta reader with their assigned character’s strengths, weaknesses, personality traits and physical characteristics.
5)    As more chapters in the book are written, the ten beta readers will be asked to provide input with the incentive that what they write may be included in the next chapter. They will not know until the next chapter is released.
6)    Release each new chapter to the first ten fans as an award for having joined early.
7)    As more beta readers register to the site, ask them to create their own character and post the character’s 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses and 3 physical characteristics on the website.
8)    Entice additional beta readers to complete simple mission assignments related to the story with the incentive that their character may be chosen to be written into the Book 2 and Book 3 of the series.
9)    Give beta readers a Thank you credit on a Thank You page on the site and also on the credit page when the book is published.
10)    When the beta readers pass a mission assignment, a chapter will be released to them.
Using this approach to write Doubt, I also allowed fans to participate and shape the story. This has helped build the fan base and also promote the book launch. The release of the book is November 9, 2013 and because of this approach, Doubt is being featured at the Rain Dance Book Festival in Canada.
Who designed the cover?
Moi. I’m a web designer in my alternate life so graphic design is one of my hidden talents.
How do you promote this book?
We’re currently doing a book launch tour online and at live events. Fortunately, the Raindance Book Festival on November 9th was a perfect venue to launch “Doubt”.  The festival provided us the platform to have a live event attended by hundreds of people which we UStreamed to our fans all over the world.  On our book launch day, we connected with other authors at the festival and exposed our book to a lot of attendees. Currently, we are marketing “Doubt” to book review bloggers and social media sites; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, our blog, GoodReads, Amazon, Kindle groups, etc. We also are hosting giveaways on our blog, GoodReads and Library Thing.  We are really excited to be doing an Orangeberry Book Blog Tour, which starts on Dec 30th with over 25 blog stops. During the tour, we are scheduling more giveaways, interviews and social media events.  Recently, we did a KDP Select free day where almost 6000 people downloaded my novella “Truth Seekers” which is Part 1 of the full novel “Doubt.” It is like a ‘Try before you buy’ approach. If readers like the novella, we know they will purchase the novel Doubt for the whole story.
Will you write others in this same genre?
Yes, I will be writing books 2 and 3 of the Among Us Trilogy in the Young Adult/Teen Urban fantasy paranormal apocalyptic thriller genres.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I believe that there is a truth seeker in all of us whether we want to admit it or not. Some people will reject the idea while others will open their eyes and embrace it.
How much of the book is realistic?
Ummm…the time travel part.
Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?
I plead the fifth.
How important do you think villains are in a story?
In all my stories, I am particularly fond of my female bad girl characters. The evil characters bring the story to life. Seriously, as an author, the best part of writing is writing in the wicked characters. It allows to let loose my dark side <wicked laughter>.
Have you started another book yet?
Yes, in my head <grin>. Actually my developmental editor and I sketched out a storyline prior to writing the first book in the trilogy. So technically, yes I have started the next book but it is still in the early stages of development.  Hoping to work on it more very soon.
Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?
I’m reviewing the soon to be released novel Smokescreen by Khaled Talib. It’s a thriller which involves the Israeli Mossad and the Singaporean government. Think of an Asian style 007 story with a lot of international intrigue and spy action.
What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?
The internet is rich with resources for an author to hone their writing craft, learn about marketing, and network with other authors and fans.
Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?
It is because of my readers that I continue to write. Without them, my work is meaningless. Thank you for your support and encouragement.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
The thrill that readers are enjoying the book and telling me to write book 2.
DoubtAmongUs
Do you love shows like J.J. Abrams' Fringe and read books like Cassandra Clare's City of Bones?
"Doubt" mashes fringe science, corporate espionage and paranormal encounters to catapult you into an out-of-this-world experience.
At 21 years old, Harry and Cristal are fresh out of university with their PhD's. Labeled all their lives as being 'weird' and 'geeky', they find true friendships with other outcasts by playing online virtual reality games.
Harry Doubt, a genius programmer and creator of the popular online game 'Truth Seekers', has a personal mission of his own; to find his mother who went mysteriously missing while volunteering on a peacekeeping mission in Palestine. His gaming friends and followers inadvertently join in helping him find her; believing that they are on missions to find out what has happened to their own missing loved ones. During Harry's missions, Cristal and the team of 'Truth Seekers' stumble upon things that make them doubt the reality of their own lives. As they get closer to the truth, they realize that there are spiritual forces among them both good and evil, but in learning this, they activate a chain of events that start the beginning of the 'end of the world' as they know it.
Doubt is Book 1 of the Among Us Trilogy. Among Us is a book series which delves into the world of the supernatural and how it intersects with the everyday lives of seemingly ordinary young people as catastrophic events on earth lead to the end of times. Among Us weaves the theme of a young man and woman, who while not fully understanding their 'abilities', are drawn together in their desire to find out the truth about the world they live in which is similar to themes used in J.J. Abrams' TV shows Fringe and Lost.
What readers have to say...
As a big fan of the show Fringe, this book appealed to me tremendously. The writing was well done, and the way the "supernatural" forces were introduced was great.
A good, clean read for any age.
It was an excellent story that I'm sure both adult and teen urban fantasy fans will enjoy. You don't have to be a gamer or know one to identify with the characters. They're very well developed and definitely feel like people. I would definitely recommend it to a friend and I'm really looking forward to the second book.
...the novel is written in such a languid style, it moves on effortlessly and absorbs the reader into the story completely. Although the story itself revolves around the online gaming industry, one does not have to have an in depth knowledge as it is ably explained and discussed within the plot line.
OMGosh! I just finished reading "Doubt" INCREDIBLE! I couldn't put it down.
˃˃˃ >>> Depth and Substance mashed up with Fringe Science. Will entertain young and old alike.
This book is intended for mature young adults and new adults. Ages 16 to 45 +
˃˃˃ >>Inspired by real Truth Seekers Aaron Swartz and Harry Fear
The main character Harry Doubt was inspired by Aaron Swartz, internet prodigy and activist, co-founder of the Creative Commons and Reddit, and Harry Fear, journalist, documentary filmmaker and activist whose coverage of the conflict in the Middle East was seen on UStream by millions of viewers.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Young Adult, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Thriller
Rating – G
More details about the author
Connect with Anne-Rae Vasquez on Facebook & Twitter

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