The L.A.W Knocks ’em Dead in Lubbock.

The continuing saga of Ronovan’s search to save his friend Hugh from disappearing at the hands of the Grammar Black Market. Ronovan has joined up with The L. A. W., The League of Awesome Women to find out is happening. We find our hapless Chunk in the middle of the dark streets of Lubbock, TX the Fab Fem Five. If he only knew what had been going on in England with Hugh and Miss Maple and the Royals.

The cast:

AmiraTL3
Amira
CatTL3
Cat
ElenaTL3
Elena
JennaTL3
Jenna
KateTL3
Kate

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lubbock, TX, population-just under 300,000 and home to three universities, it isn’t surprising we would find a major minor bad guy here, especially one that considers himself an academic.

“Ronovan is with us and we are about to go in,” said Jenna. I wondered who she was talking to on that wrist communicator thing all the L.A.W. members were wearing. I had an idea since her accent had gone all British that it wasn’t Dick Tracy. Knock knock jokes were not my forte. Let’s just say they ain’t in my rep-o-twar-ay. (To find out who Jenna was talking to click here.) I wiped my forehead . . . again. Nights were still hot in Texas, or was it the humidity?

Heat was still rising off the concrete sidewalk even though the sun had set over hours ago. I could smell the old exhaust fumes on the empty street. They burned my nose with each breath.

“Too bad we couldn’t bring the ship all the way,” said Kate. “But we’ll get to work the kinks out of our muscles after that long trip.” I had noticed Kate had a lot of energy or perk or something. I thought perhaps too many chocolate covered espresso beans in the L.A.W. Mobile or a few ‘bad’ mushrooms had found their way into her kitchen, but it turned out she was a fitness freak.

Yes, I said it. When it’s dark and you were walking down a dark, creepy street in Lubbock, TX, yeah, I’m going to call her a fitness freak. Just not to her face . . . or within hearing distance . . . of the planet.

“Slow down, Kate,” said Amira. “We can’t rush into this.” She glanced to her sister. “What do we have on Lubbock?”

Elena tapped the side of her glasses as we walked slowly along the dark street, leaving the safety of the camouflaged L.A.W Mobile farther and farther behind. Elena’s eyes moved back and forth rapidly. “Not much to worry about. There have been some weird reports of ‘zombie parties’ lately. Wish we could check one out. That would be so cool.”

“Not as cool as ours was,” said Amira. “I love that show. Zombies and TV and hit show, who would have thought.”

“Tru dat, home spice . . . nice . . . rice . . . you got that right, sis.” You had to love Elena as she was just so smart and adorable. All I could do was shake my head at the young lady I had come to think of as uber intelligent. Just like with me, stick with what you know, right? Ferizzle my frizzles. Word.

“So I am like so worried about my beta reader not liking my next chapter,” said Jenna, apparently finished with her knock knock jokes. Cheerfulness had a way of lightening even the darkest streets. But it was still creepy and exhaust fumey.

“Someone is reading your fish?” I asked.

“No, you silly. A beta reader is author geek for test reader. But authors couldn’t pass an English test if we tried so we like to call them beta readers or we freeze up at the thought of a test. Talk about humongoso writer’s block.” She flashed a smile.

“Stop that!” Cat growled. I jumped. Foot slipped. Body fell. Noise echoed. I was going to seriously need some new undies after this was over with. “That smile of yours keeps lighting up everything and gives us away.”

I stood up as quickly as possible from the hot concrete, keeping my distance from growly face.

“Oopsies, my bad,” said Jenna as she covered her smile with her hand. Dimples showed on either side. “But as I was saying, my beta reader won’t like that I wrote about an M&M invasion of Cookie Land. It’s not exactly in keeping with the book plot.”

I couldn’t help but laugh a little. I could just imagine the look on someone’s face reading that. I looked up and noticed we had fallen behind slightly. Kate had picked up the pace again and the others had followed along without noticing.

“Well you could always write about some whacked out security detail for the president run by cartoon characters. I bet that would really throw the reader off. But we better catch up to the others,” I said.

We both started walking a little faster when we were suddenly faced with a hit video from the 1980s. And I was not thrilled . . . at all.

“Excuse me,” I said as we tried to go around the party machine.

The bodies moved with us, not allowing us to pass. “Uh, Ronovan, dude, look,” said Jenna. I looked where she was pointing.

“Seriously?” I asked.

“Amira! You’re missing the partyyyyy,” Jenna called out.

All we could see around us were people dressed up like zombies. “You know, you’re a bit old to be doing the zomtusi,” I said to the man who was either 20 years older then I or 20 younger. I had a bad feeling. The makeup was great but I wasn’t sure Hollywood was called in for just a party to make people look this bad this good. “But I am seriously hoping to hear some Vincent Price voice coming through a boom box somewhere and a beat kickin’ it.”

One of them reached out and grabbed Jenna’s arm. She did what any woman would do. Now I don’t know about that whole zombies feeling no pain. But this one felt pain as he dropped to his knees clutching his zombies.

“Well they aren’t the dead kind,” said Jenna. Random one-liners came to mind but before I could do anything she kicked it up a notch.

The next thing I knew all I could see was blonde hair flying all around and the bright light from her smile blinding our attackers. I felt hands grab my neck from behind. I screamed like a . . . high pitched voiced man? Yeah.

That’s when the rest of the L.A.W. arrived. I’m not going to attempt to describe the action that took place next as they all did some serious To Wong Foo Julie Newmar moves on some Crouching Zombies Hidden Aladdins, yeah apparently one of the guys didn’t know the theme of the party and came as Aladdin, and quickly had things under control.

Elena knelt beside one of the unconscious undead or whatever. “These guys are legit. This isn’t makeup,” she said. “Those zombie parties might have been more than reported.” She looked around. “Anyone have any wine?”

“Then what’s with the Arabian Nights guy over there?” I asked.

Amira looked at the guy in a little vest and balloony pants as she handed Elena a flask. Then looked back at me. “Hey, we hit first.”

“I know and ask questions later,” I said.

“No, we just hit first. We usually aren’t around for later,” she said. “Why do people bother with waiting around for asking questions? It just causes law suits and hurt feelings.”

“You think this zombie crap is that powder concoction they use in the islands?” Cat asked.

Amira looked around at the bodies. “If so it would take a lot of it. Not sure where they would get a big batch of puffer fish powder around here.”

Elena passed the flask back to her sister. She had a yuck face on. “Did you guys press that with your feet after a soccer game?” She asked.

Amira turned the shiny metal container upside down. “Apparently you like Chateau le Foot 2012.”

“Texas Tech University Health Services Center is here. They would have just about any chemical or powder you would need, I would think,” said Kate. Thank goodness hew as looking at her wrist communicator. I saw the screen and she was playing Minecraft. “Mandi, don’t do that or I will seriously kick your cheery butt when I get home,” she mumbled.

I nodded slowly and turned. “So someone with a bit of medical background and knows some biology stuff, huh?” I stopped and looked at Amira and Cat. “How do you know about puffer fish and zombies?” I was getting a little creeped out. Okay, I was way past that.

“Do you need to know?” Cat asked as she took a step toward me. A whistling sound echoed through the dark streets. Everyone lifted an ear as if trying to detect where it came from, everyone but me.

“Um, it sounds like you’re right, Ronovan,” said Elena. We were still on the same track.

“Uh, guys,” said Jenna. “Yeah, I think they really want to party with us.”

We all turned and looked up the street the way we had been walking. There were dozens of zombies headed our way. I turned. “They have friends,” I said. There were more behind us. I couldn’t believe it.

“Ladies,” said Amira. “Let’s get ready. Cat, get the attitude on. Kate pump up the perky. And Jenna . . .”

“Yeah?”

Amira’s eyes narrowed. “Lock and load the dimples,” she said. “We got some zombie butt to smack down.”

“Yay, I love butt smacking,” said Jenna.

I just wanted Chinese food, some tacos and a football game. What was I doing in the middle of a zombie butt smack down?

Much Respect
Ronovan-Lost In LalaLand

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Meet Amira Makansi Author of THE SOWING.

I had no idea I was making a friend that knew the writing and publishing world so well. She was and is just a friend to me. Even knowing she was the first line of contact for when an author’s submission made it to a publisher, to her eyes, and her fully equipped literary mind didn’t hit home. She’s just a friend to me, but for everyone else, I wanted to share what else she is. So without my rambling any further, meet . . .

 

Amira Makansi

Co-Author of The Sowing

A Writing InterviewAuthors Photo

 She’s the one in the middle.

(Be still my heart if I were ever in the same room with all three for an interview.)

THE SOWING - Book One of the SEEDS TRILOGYTheSeedsTrilogy.com

RW: Amira, you have a book out now, with another one closing in on completion of the process, tell us about your book, The Sowing.

 

AMIRA: The Sowing is, at its most basic, a story about two people coming to terms with each other and the world around them. In the future society of the Okarian Sector, Okariascience rules all, and the food you eat has the power to change who you are. Sector ‘Dieticians’ program certain individuals for specific roles using genetically modified seeds and chemically-altered food; some are programmed for success, others for servitude. The majority of the Sector is kept in the dark about the true extent of the manipulation taking place, but some have learned the truth and are fighting back. The Resistance, a small, underground group of guerrilla fighters, has sworn to stop the Sector’s oppression of its citizens. Remy Alexander is one such fighter; when her sister was killed in a classroom massacre, her parents fled, taking their surviving daughter underground to join the fight against the Sector. But now, Valerian Orlean, who once loved Remy and has never forgotten her, is put in charge of a military operation to hunt and destroy the Resistance. The two are set on a collision course that could bring everyone together – or tear everything apart. 

 

RW: I think I may have a few friends who would like you to write their book jackets for them. You are a co-author, who are the other authors of THE SOWING?

 

AMIRA: Two of my favorite people in the world: My mom, Kristina, and my sister, Elena. 

Authors Photo

 

 RW: I can’t imagine working on such a creative project with family and not wanting to perhaps do some type of bodily harm one another but we can get to that later. Real quick, where can my Friends purchase your book, THE SOWING?

 

AMIRA: You can get it in print or get an e-book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. (Thanks in advance!) 

 

RW: I want to focus on your writing process during our time today because we’ve discussed you coming back for an interview for when your next book is set for publication. With that being said let’s get into your writing process, and please use THE SOWING, which I have a copy of, (And no, it was not a gift.) as an example so we can see the process in real action.

First, what is your background as far as education, degrees? What brings you to the writing arena?

 

AMIRA: I have a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Chicago. UChicago is a grueling place with a strong emphasis on academia. I wrote countless papers in college, which, I think, honed my ability to write from a structural and grammatical perspective. Studying history is also where I really found my love of storytelling, and therefore, writing. History is just the assembled story of hundreds of thousands of lives, and studying history, at its most basic, is nothing more than discovering, analyzing, and retelling those stories. 

 

RW: As a Historian myself, degree thereof, bravo. (I have never actually written the word bravo before. You must try it. Fascinating.) Now we know about your background to be a writer, let’s take this step by step: how did you come up with your book idea?

 

AMIRA: It was definitely not my idea. I wish I could take credit for it, but it’s actually Kristina’s, my mom. She had a dream almost four years ago that sparked the original concept of THE SOWING. In her dream, two young adults are fighting in an abandoned city at night, on opposite sides of the battle. The girl skids to the ground and falls. The boy reaches his hand out to her. When their fingers meet, a flash of electricity pulses through the two of them – and then the dream ended. Kristy woke up and knew she had to tell the story of these two young lovers. Although the electric jolt has since been removed from the novel, this fundamental scene became the crux on which the entire first book rests: when Remy and Vale meet again for the first time in three years, on opposite sides of a battle with enormous ideological consequences. 

 

RW: So your Kristina has the idea, she brings it to you and your sister, what did you do next?

 

AMIRA: After Kristy decided she really, really wanted to write this story, she and my sister Elena sat down and drafted what ended up being that scene. Then they went back and wrote what eventually became Chapter One of THE SOWING. They showed both chapters to me, and I was really impressed. So impressed that I sat down and wrote Chapter Two, but this time, I wrote it from Vale‘s perspective, instead of Remy‘s. The dueling protagonist narrative was something we’d never seen before in a novel, but we wanted to tell both sides of the story, so we took it and ran with it. My sister and I went back and forth like that for a while – she would write several chapters from Remy’s perspective, and I’d write a few from Vale’s. We kept going that way, plotting out the next few chapters, but without a fully-conceived idea of where the book was going and how it would end. In a way, it was a stroke of good luck that the first draft came out as well – and as coherently – as it did. I think we were all a little surprised when we finished writing. We kind of looked at each other and said, “Well, now we have a book. What do we do with it?” 

 

RW: So it sounds like there really wasn’t any outlining really or even really the seat of pants writing, but as technical as THE SOWING is how did you make the book flow considering there were two writers?

 

AMIRA: We didn’t really outline in THE SOWING, although we always tried to make sure we knew what the next few chapters would be. It was kind of like driving at night – we could only see as far as our headlights, but we always knew there was more road ahead.

 

RW: And the research?

 

AMIRA: Most of the actual research we did came in draft two, when we focused on perfecting the science and making the world believable. When you’re dropping words like ‘hovercar,’ ‘airship,’ ‘DNA encryption,’ and ‘genetically modified’ on almost every page, we knew we’d have to do a fair bit of research to make the science at least feasible. I like to think we succeeded.

 

RW: How did the writing go for THE SOWING, was it smooth and just come easily for the first draft?

 

AMIRA: It was very smooth. The first draft was, in many ways, radically different from the book that we eventually published. For example, Remy had superpowers – we called it “bird vision”, and she could see in frequencies that no one else could. But we threw that baby out with the bathwater – we didn’t want to write another superhero novel, and we wanted our protagonists to be powerful because they are good, strong people, not because they have superpowers. But the first draft came very smoothly. We just went back and forth, chapter by chapter, until we came to a good stopping point and we said “I guess that’s that!” 

 

RW: You mentioned writing the book with your mother and  sister, how easy or difficult did that make the initial creation of the book?

 

AMIRA: The initial creation was so much fun! Working with Elena and Kristy was a thrill, as both of them bring unique abilities to the table. We all complement each other. For example, Kristy is very imaginative, and is really good at filling in plot holes. A lot of the times, when Elena or I were stumped about how to move forward or to make a chapter work, Kristy would come up with a really good idea and Elena and I would just be like, “Why didn’t we think of that?” Elena, by contrast, is a very emotional writer. She spins these gorgeous phrases that just knock you off your socks and make you totally empathize with the protagonist. Also, both Elena and Kristy tend to be much better at writing humor. My own writing is starker, and more serious. I’m also the one who brings the “science” to the “science fiction”. I’m not a scientist (though I do work in a laboratory!), but I do tend to be the one who makes sure everything’s correct, consistent, and yet readable for a layperson. 

 

RW: Let’s say you have your first draft done, did all of you walk away and leave on the shelf for a time like so many say to do?

 

AMIRA: Yes. We did, and I think that was enormously helpful. I recommend it to everyone who’s editing a novel. We finished writing the first draft of THE SOWING in November of 2012, and we handed it to some trusted friends and writers for a beta-read. The feedback we got was not only really encouraging, but also critical to shaping what the book eventually became. This interim period was when we came up with one of the most critical elements of THE SOWING, which was the mystery of the DNA encryption. Without giving too much away, the DNA mystery became a driving force in the first novel. We dove back into editing two months later, in January of 2013, and that was when we shaped the book into, essentially, what it is today.

 

RW: How many drafts did you do for THE SOWING?

 

AMIRA: It’s hard to say, because we did so many different stages of revisions. I would approximate that we did five major drafts. Three of those were re-writes for structural changes, and the last two were line-by-line edits for language and style. 

 

RW: Who did the editing for your book?

 

AMIRA: All three of us! And boy, was that a challenge. If writing the first draft with three people was smooth sailing, by draft three, we’d hit stormy seas. We all had very strong opinions about the book and believed passionately in the story, which meant that we were willing to fight tooth and nail to get rid of parts we thought weren’t good enough and to keep our favorite parts in. Editing with two other writers is a humbling experience. You realize that not every word you’ve written is gold, and that your opinion is by no means the right one. It was both an honor and a challenge to write with two other equally talented authors at my side. 

 

RW: Is there a favorite “darling” you had to “kill”, and can you explain to some of my Friends what it means to “kill your darlings”?

 

AMIRA: For me, killing your darlings means sacrificing parts of the story or phrases you love for the improvement of the novel as a whole. It means prioritizing the big picture over that scene you wrote one night that you absolutely love. One of my darlings was a scene I wrote early on in the story where Vale accompanies a squadron of soldiers on a ‘training’ mission to show him how to be a commander. In this chapter, Vale watched a fellow soldier die, killed by poisonous flowers planted by the Resistance, and his reaction was one of righteous anger and a desire to take revenge. At the time, I loved that scene, because I thought it helped justify Vale’s passion at the beginning of the novel, and it upped the ante on both sides of the war. But in the end, it didn’t fit in the overall narrative. We neither had space for it in the beginning, when we really needed to get to the heart of the action, nor did it make sense for Vale’s character arc. We cut it, and it was definitely the right choice. 

 

RW: How long did it take from the idea to the final in the hands of the publisher of THE SOWING take?

 

AMIRA: We really started writing in January of 2012, and we had a published book by August of 2013. So, almost exactly a year and a half. 

 

RW: Once the publisher had your book, how long did it take to make it out to the masses?

 

AMIRA: Well, our publisher was us! We self-published the novel, a choice I’m still proud of. It gave us more control over the art and the story, and it allowed us to get the story to the public much more quickly. We had a finished book in mid-July, and we published the whole thing in early August. So our turn-around time was about three weeks. For most books, the time between when your agent sells your book and the finished product actually hits bookshelves is around eighteen months to two years. So the fact that we put the book out a mere three weeks after finishing it is frankly pretty amazing. 

 

RW: What has been the most difficult part of the whole novel process from idea to actually selling your book to the masses?

 

AMIRA: People aren’t joking when they say that writing the book is the easy part. Marketing, and learning how to sell in this new, strange world of digital books and independent publishing, is one thousand times more difficult than writing. I love writing – it’s something that comes naturally to me, no matter how tired I am or how burnt out I am on a story. But marketing, selling, advertising, spreading the word – that’s the hard part. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about marketing a book on social media, it’s simple: Just be yourself. There’s a writer on Twitter I very much admire named Ksenia Anske, and for a little while, when I was new to Twitter, I tried to emulate her. I was at my most boring, then, when I was trying to be her instead of myself. My follower count started jumping (not that it’s anywhere near hers) and people started really listening to me when I decided to stop being her and to start being me instead. (It was a lot easier, too!) 

 

RW: When you had those moments of frustration, exhaustion, almost burnout, what did you do as an escape?

 

AMIRA: Whiskey. And beer. And wine. No, I’m not joking, and I’m not trying to play the ‘tortured artist’ card, either. Food, drink, and good conversation with good friends, has always been my escape during times of stress. And since my co-writers are also two of my best friends, it’s easy to find an escape in a bottle of wine and a heated debate over environmentalism or economics or whether an IPA is a better beer choice than a porter. 

 

RW: What gets you pumped to write?

 

AMIRA: Music! When I’m lacking in focus, I’ll close out all my social media tabs and turn up the music. I’ll listen to everything from classical piano to jazz to indie folk to classic rock. 

 

RW: Who is your favorite author right now?

 

AMIRA: That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t know that I’ve had a ‘favorite author’ since I was much younger. I’ve been trying to read books by a lot of different authors, instead of delving deeply into the works of only one. But I will say that the book that most recently blew my head off was INFINITE JEST by David Foster Wallace. The book is enormous, and it took me almost six months to finish, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so overwhelmed by how thoroughly a writer inhabited so many different writing styles. DFW is like a shapeshifter for writers – he transitions effortlessly between countless voices. I was astounded. 

 

RW: What book are you reading now, or the latest book you read that you really enjoyed and recommend?

 

AMIRA: Right now, I’m reading IRONWEED by William Kennedy. So far, so good. The most recent book I would recommend is THE VAMPIRE LESTAT by Anne Rice. Technically, it’s a prequel to INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, but you don’t need to have read Interview in order to understand Lestat. I didn’t expect a book that was so enormously popular and ‘hip’ to be so philosophical, or so emotional. But it was both. It really resonated with me as a story about trying desperately to make connections in a world where loneliness is so prevalent, and about trying to understand the world from an outsider’s perspective. 

 

RW: What writing resources would you recommend to my Friends, including sites, anything?

 

AMIRA: Joanna Penn’s website on publishing and writing is fantastic: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/, although to be honest, I haven’t read very many books about writing. Personally, I’ve found that the best way to learn how to write is simply to read a lot and write a lot, and that if you don’t do those two things, no amount of writing ‘advice’ is going to help. 

 

RW: What is your favorite beverage?

 

AMIRA: I’ll take a really nice Riesling or a whiskey sour, depending on my mood. Also, dry rose wine, which is chronically under-appreciated in the United States, is the perfect drink for sitting on the patio with friends and family. 

 

RW: What is your favorite munchy food while writing, and if you don’t while writing what is it anyway?

 

AMIRA: Cheese and olives. 100%. Cheese is manna from heaven, and olives are the perfect complement. 

 

RW: Would anyone be surprised if I told you she had some Greek in her? What is your favorite word and why?

 

AMIRA: Oh, but I have so many! Recently I’ve been really digging the word ‘loquacious’. It’s just so weird, and I love weird words. Look at it, how weird it is. ‘Loquacious.’ It means ‘talkative’, but I can’t help but think of lollipops and Dr. Seuss whenever I think about it. I don’t know why.

 

THE REAPING COVER 8.13

RW: And a Bonus Question: When can we expect THE REAPING, the next of the THE SEEDS TRILOGY to be out?

 

AMIRA: We are shooting for October 15.

 

I hope everyone likes the cover of THE REAPING. It was revealed Friday, and I had to sit on my hands not to let everyone see it early as I was able to get a peek at it early. I thank Amira for the trust.

 

I want to thank Amira for doing this interview. Hearing her experience from beginning to end was a learning time for me. I learned that my thoughts and ways of doing things aren’t completely off the mark, and I see how you have to keep working. Even if you had a publicity machine behind you, you still have to keep working. Even walking away from your draft doesn’t mean you aren’t working on another project, you best be.

 

Amira has agreed to come back for an Author Interview when The Reaping is released. Who knew a simple follow on Twitter would turn into a great friendship. I just wish the time zones were the same.



 

Amira didn’t ask for all the links and the like in the interview and she definitely didn’t ask for the below but I wanted you to have everything in one place. By clicking on each book cover below you can go to the Amazon.com site for each book showing. THE SOWING is in both kindel and paperback.

COVERTHE SOWING - Book One of the SEEDS TRILOGY

The Seeds Trilogy Facebook Page

TheSeedsTrilogy.com

Follow on Twitter

 

Much Respect to Y’all

Ronovan

 

2014 © Copyright-All rights reserved-RonovanWrites.wordpress.com

AMIRA MAKANSI-Writing Interview Tuesday, August 19th. She knows the business.

THE SOWING - Book One of the SEEDS TRILOGY - Copy

AMIRA MAKANSI takes us from idea to published! And let me tell you this, she knows the business better than you can imagine.

2014 © Copyright-All rights reserved-RonovanWrites.wordpress.com