Catherine Cruzan

A New Realm of Fantasy


Leave a comment

DARE TO SUCCEED!

Most people define SUCCESS as a measure of accrued power, wealth and fame. We spend an exorbitant amount of time striving for more—more money for more stuff, a loftier place on the company ladder, utter dominance in our local spheres. We want everyone to love us, and in this media driven age, we seem to have learned that the only way to accomplish this is via celebrity status.

We’ve lost sight of personal FULFILLMENT, and the concept that what we nurture within becomes the foundation of what we manifest around us. Fulfillment is a byproduct of a happy self. No matter how many financial, emotional or physical burdens we must overcome, a healthy dose of dedicated personal growth can help us thrive and be successful.

Our inner dialogues become an indelible imprint upon who we are. Without tending to what truly motivates us, we can easily be overwhelmed by negativity.

SophiainLRAccording to my author, poet, correspondent friend, Sophia Ann Montoya, this negativity adversely affects our actions and reactions, regardless of the circumstances, resulting in disproportionate feelings and behavior. She discusses our need to manage our state of mind, so we can stay on course and be successful.

Some of the many pitfalls we face today:

  • Failing to recognize and develop our innate talents and abilities
  • A consuming craving for the opinions of others
  • A need to interject our own negative thoughts on any given subject
  • A temptation to do all sorts of crazy things to get noticed by others
  • Giving in to destructive behavior such as obsession, jealousy, criticality, aggression, contempt, revenge, etc.

LEARN.SAMSophia prescribes a recipe for Falling in Love with the Life You Create, and challenges us to Dare to Succeed!

  • Learn – everything that captures your interest
  • Practice – what you learn
  • Perform – set your new skills into action
  • Perfect – new skills open new doors
  • Fulfillment – live in a happy state of mind

Visit her website to delve further into her formula for SUCCESS!!!

JPG..e.BookSERIES08.20.14covers


1 Comment

Shimmy for Me

Next stop on my magical mystery tour of fabulous talent, is my dear friend, DeAnna Cameron.  She is best known for her historical fiction featuring feisty heroines and the art of belly dance, including The Belly Dancer and Dancing at the Chance for Berkley Books.  Her latest novella Shimmy for Me is now available on Fine Skylark Media.

DeAnna is the founder of O.C. Writers, a network of Southern California writers over 200 strong.  She is also the founder and editor of eMagazine Lit Central O.C.

Her early years as a writer include working as a journalist, and a writer and editor for a number of Southern California newspapers and magazines.  When she isn’t writing or having fun with her family in Orange County California, she is creating wire-wrap, bead and multimedia designs for her company Odd Alchemy Jewelry.

Who is DeAnna Cameron in a nutshell?

DeAnnaCameron_AuthorPic_300dpiI’m a traditionally published author who is excited to add “indie author” to my résumé, too, with the recent release of SHIMMY FOR ME, a contemporary romance novella that launches my new California Belly Dance series.

Why do you write?

Before I was a writer, I was a voracious reader. Reading made me fall in love with meeting new characters and new places, and it taught me how transcending it could be to get inside someone else’s head and experience things I probably would never experience in my own day-to-day life. Once I was hooked on that, it was a short leap to wanting to create my own stories.

What is it you love most about what you do?

I could be flip here and say it’s pretty great to be able to work in my PJs and have a morning commute measured in steps rather than miles. And that part of the job is terrific, but what really keeps me coming back to the keyboard or the notepad is usually just one simple question: What’s going to happen next? What are these characters going to do or say next? How are they going to resolve their problems? What new situations are they going to get themselves into? It’s that constant sense of discovery that I really love.

What and/or who inspires you?

There are so many authors I admire and who have inspired me. Anne Rice, Elizabeth Peters, and Kate Chopin are a few of them.

As a local Southern California author, how are you influenced by the Orange County lifestyle?

I’ve lived in Orange County most of my life, but I’m still not sure exactly what the typical O.C. lifestyle is. People tend to focus on the pockets of affluence we have or the surf culture of the beach cities, but the truth is there is an incredible diversity here, in terms of ethnicity, economics, politics, you name it. Whatever kind of lifestyle you can imagine, you can probably find it somewhere in Orange County.

Do you have any favorite OC hot spots and/or things you like to do in Orange County?

Disneyland is hands-down my favorite place in Orange County. I go about once a year, and I always have the best time. Since my husband and I started taking our daughter when she was 3, it has been even more fun because we get to experience the magic through her eyes.

You created a burgeoning group for local authors, O.C. Writers. It is an active community of writers supporting writers. Do you think writers have an increased level of freedom and/or responsibility in this new era of self-publishing?

We certainly have more freedom than we’ve ever had, thanks to—but not limited to—independent publishing. There’s a wonderful spirit of camaraderie and information-sharing that I don’t think was present before, at least in some circles, and I think many authors now see how mutually beneficial it is to view other authors as potential partners, instead of competitors.

You have worked as a journalist and a magazine editor. Do you think that background affects story and characterization in your fiction writing as well?

In some ways, that old training was an impediment because journalists are trained to tell a story in a dispassionate, objective way. That doesn’t make for compelling fiction. So I had to forget how to tell a story to a reader, and learn how to let a reader experience the story.

Your books focus on entertainers overcoming adversity in colorful times. Can you tell us about your fascination with dancers? What draws you to these vibrant heroines?

You said it: dancers are entertaining and vibrant. What’s not to love? I also think dancing itself is not only wonderful artistic expression, but there’s something primal about it, something that resonates on a deeper level. As a species, movement was our first language, before spoken language, and I believe dancing taps into that. As far as my heroines go, whatever problems they may have, dancing is always a powerful influence in their lives. It gives them an inner strength or an inner drive that propels them in really positive way.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

The best advice I can offer is to stop talking about writing and write. Start a story, then finish it. Rinse and repeat. There are no shortcuts.

What can you tell us about your current project?

Orig_WSpine_SFM_5_5x8_5_144SHIMMY FOR ME is a novella that grew out of my love for the Southern California belly dance community, as well as my experience working at some of our local newspapers. Specifically, it’s about a strong young woman struggling to keep her dance studio, called the Shimmy Shop, from going bankrupt who has no time for romance, although it has a way of finding her anyway. And I’m looking forward to telling the stories of some of the other women who work and play at the Shimmy Shop with future installments of the California Belly Dance series.

Book Blurb:

One passionate night. Two lost souls. A whole world of trouble.  Juggling two jobs to keep her belly dance studio afloat keeps Abby Anderson’s mind off her shattered love life—until a reawakened pain sends her into the arms of an anonymous stranger she plucks from the audience of her tribal belly dance show. No names, no strings, no romance. She tells herself it’s a harmless hookup.  Until he turns up at her day job . . .  Derek Collier, the sexy heir to the Collier media dynasty, just landed everything he’s always wanted: the publisher’s seat at the Orange County Herald. Except his first order of business is to sell the newspaper. Reeling from his family’s betrayal, his only comfort is the memory of that mysterious belly dancer and the perfect night they spent together.  He won’t rest until he finds her again.  She’ll lose everything if he does.

Book cover artist info and link:

Sommer Stein of Perfect Pear Creative Covers (http://www.ppccovers.com)

For more information about DeAnna Cameron:

 


Leave a comment

A Tangle of Fates

 

It has been a terrific year for books, I think.  In celebration of that fact, I charmed my friend Leslie Ann Moore into answering a few questions about life, writing, and her latest release, A Tangle of Fates.

pubphotoLeslie Ann is an award-winning SF/F author and international speaker.  She currently serves as the Vice President of the largest Writers group in Southern California, the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (GLAWS). Last summer, she appeared as a panelist at the 72nd Annual World Science Fiction Convention–home to the celebrated Hugo Awards— in London, U.K.

In 2008, her debut fantasy novel Griffin’s Daughter won the prestigious IBPA Ben Franklin Award for Best First Fiction. Her short stories appear in Literary Landscapes, the official magazine of GLAWS, and on the ClonePod SF/F podcast. In 2011, her short story Invisible won Honorary Mention in the Writers of the Future contest. A practicing veterinarian since 1988, in her spare time, she studies the ancient and beautiful art of belly dance.

 

Who is Leslie Ann Moore in a nutshell?

A teller of stories and inconvenient truths.

Why do you write?

Because the voices in my head make me. Seriously, though…Writing for me is like breathing or eating. Essential to my existence. I’ve been creating stories for as long as I can remember, and the sharing of those stories satisfies a deep-seated need in me to connect to other human beings in a way that involves my creativity.

My brain is always churning up ideas in the forms of snippets of conversation, plot points, character names, partial scenes, one-liners, faces, place names. Most of these bits are akin to flotsam on a heaving sea. I strain them out with my mental net, examine them, and if they’re worth keeping, I make a note and put them in a computer file for future reference.

What is it you love most about what you do?

Making a connection to a reader through my words. Eliciting an emotional response, so that s/he cares just as deeply for my characters as I do. There’s nothing like the thrill of having a discussion with a reader about my work, and listening to that reader talk about my characters as if they are real people. It’s a total rush!

What and/or who inspires you most?

The thing that inspires me the most is my passion for social justice. It influences virtually everything I’ve ever written. We live in a world where so many people suffer needlessly because of greed, racism, sexism, bigotry of all kinds. As a woman of color, I will always use my writing as a platform to rail against injustice. My fervor may not be overt in every story, but it will always BE in every story.

As for who…that’s easy. My soulmate and biggest fan is my husband. He gives me all that I need emotionally and his own amazing talents as a writer are truly inspirational.

As a local LA author, how are you influenced by the City of Angels?

L.A. is my hometown. I was born here and have lived all but 14 years of my life here. L.A. is essentially a Latin city now. Spanish is the unofficial second language. It’s everywhere. Place names, street names, billboards. Everyone who lives here, whatever their ethnic heritage, is influenced in some way by Latin culture. So, it only made sense to me, when I was first thinking about and planning my latest book, to create a society based on what I imagined Latin culture would evolve into on an alien world, several hundred years into the future.

Do you have any favorite LA hot spots and/or things you like to do in LA?

My husband and I love the L.A. Zoo. The zoo has really come a long way in terms of how it houses its residents since I was a kid. We also love the beach, of course! One of our all-time favorite pastimes is walking along the shore in the late morning, stopping for lunch, then finishing up the rest of the day at a locally owned coffee house, working on our latest writing projects.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write every day, if possible, even if it’s only a few paragraphs. Study writers you admire, learn how they do things, then emulate them. Know proper grammar, in whatever language(s) you write in. Then, when you break the rules, you’re doing it as a stylistic choice and not out of ignorance. Learn how to critically analyze other people’s criticism of your work. Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone who reads your stuff will have the necessary insight and abilities to offer useful advice. It’s OK to reject suggestions as crap, even if it’s from someone you trust. In the end, you are the boss. Write what you want to write.

Your last award-winning Fantasy book series also published in a Young Adult release, and this first in your new series of books crosses a few genres as well.  How does this affect your process?  Does it impact your story, your characters, or even how you market your books?

I didn’t purposefully set out to cross any genres with Tangle. I built a world based on what I decided was plausible given a certain set of parameters. It so happens that the story could be shoehorned into the steampunk subgenre, though it’s not hardcore by any means. There are steam-powered cars, airships, and gaslit interiors, but there’s also electricity, radio, fuel cells and energy weapons! Seems a hodgepodge, but it’s all very logical, based on the parameters I’ve set up. As for how the book is marketed, because it does contain enough of the right elements, my publisher is aiming it more toward the fantasy/steampunk audience, rather than a straight-up sci-fi audience.

What can you tell us about your current project?

007-Cover-test2A Tangle of Fates is the first installment of a new trilogy, the overall title of which is Vox Machina. Genre-wise, it’s soft sci-fi, with steampunk flavorings, a lot of politics, adventure, some mysticism, and a dash of romance. For those familiar with screenwriting terms, the log-line would be ‘Snow White as revolutionary.’ Another log-line could be ‘Snow White meets The Terminator’. Both of those should give you a good idea about the general plot.

My heroine is born into the elite class of her oligarchic society, but she feels very keenly the injustices suffered by others to make her life comfortable. She wonders why she has so much, while so many, including her best friend, have so little. Yet, she believes herself to be powerless to change things. During the course of her personal journey, she is forced to face many truths about herself that she’d rather not face, but in doing so, she discovers that she, indeed, has the power to literally transform her entire world.

This series is different from my Griffin’s Daughter trilogy, which was a romantic fantasy very much in the epic fantasy tradition; however, it is similar in that both series address social justice issues that are so important to me.

The book has already gotten glowing reviews from, among others, Howard Hendrix, a Hugo and Nebula Award nominee, and Emma Bull, one of the inventors of the urban fantasy genre back in the ’80’s.

It’s available in both trade paperback and both e-formats from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and direct from Muse Harbor(e-version only).

For more information about Leslie Ann Moore:


Leave a comment

A Writer’s Journey – Catherine Cruzan – Part 3

My author friend, Sophia Ann Montoya, continues our discussion about writing–what goes into it, what a writer should be focused on as they hone their craft, and some basic elements to improving as a writer in general.

Me_cut2b-HANDSShe likes to blend these types of interviews with a mosaic of her subject’s interests and adventures, because it broadens the palette and makes it more interesting.  For this segment, she chose one of my dance photos, when I was a member in a troupe called Rasa Shakti.  We blended American bellydance, classical Indian, Flamenco and tribal style dance with modern and world fusion music.  It was definitely a fun time in my life.  I still count my Rasa Shakti ladies amongst the best of my friends.

Visit Sophia’s website for Part 3 of our discussion about A Writer’s Journey: http://www.ponderanddream.com/a-writers-journey-catherine-cruzan-part-3/.

 


Leave a comment

Things to do in LA: SHADES & SHADOWS at CIA

clownJuly 19, 2014, I did my first live reading from my novel ELFKIND at the most amazing event: Shades & Shadows.

If you’ve never attended a live reading in LA, you definitely need to check one out.  The California Institute of Abnormal Arts is a wild choice for this kind of thing—like Beetlejuice’s imagination come to life in a quaint North Hollywood house-turned-venue packed with rare circus artifacts and sideshow oddities.  I’d done some dance shows at this location in past years, so I was excited to return to their stage.

stage bar hallway patio

marqueeSeeing my name on the marquee reduced me to the emotional stability of a two-year-old child, because I honestly thought I’d go my entire life without experiencing anything like it.  I had to photograph it for posterity, given the likelihood of it ever happening again.

hostsOur hosts, Xach Fromson and Lauren Candia, are fantastic writers in their own right.  And I’ve just adopted Lauren as my new style guru, with her retro chic hair and makeup, and flirty fifties dresses.  She’s the pride of pinup girls around the globe.

ericBram Stoker award winning author Eric J. Guignard was first up at the microphone, reading an excerpt from “Midnight and Jefe Bowman”.  Rather than me tell you about it, I suggest you experience it for yourself on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVJi5NXIXOs.  He was terrific with his narration and the many voices of his characters.

It intimidated me to follow such a talented artist, and this was my first time reading.  I also made the fatal mistake of practicing one excerpt during the week, only to change my selection immediately before taking the stage, thinking it would be more exciting.  This only added to the butterflies tearing up my stomach.  And needless to say, I completed a seven minute reading in under six.  My apologies to the audience!

scottAfter my six minutes, it was nice to relax again, and enjoy Scott Tarbet read from his story “Tombstone”.  It was another inspiring performance with Scott’s great voice and fun characterizations—definitely something for me to strive for.

XachOur host, Xach Fromson, read from one of his new shorts next.  I enjoyed the story a lot.  He’s a great writer.  And considering it was only his second time reading, he did so well I was convinced that I could come back for a do-over that I could be proud of.

jeffJeff Eyres can easily double as a standup comedian.  The man is completely entertaining, and utterly funny.  The pages you see him holding here are blank, as his first instinct was to complete the audience’s expectations for a “reading”.  But since his printer prevented the actuality, he gave us a rote recitation of his short story “Bugs”.   I promise you the entire audience walked away feeling like kings and queens of the cockroaches.

mereI warmed to Mere Smith the moment I saw her, because she is the spitting image of a dear friend of mine.  I almost grabbed her into a hug before remembering my friend had moved away.  And if that wasn’t enough, the woman wrote for one of my favorite shows, Angel.   At CIA, she read “Dead Girl” from her book COWFACE and other hilarious stories about death.  I laughed the whole time and freaking loved it.

Suffice it to say, me and my girls were mesmerized by the talent surrounding us Saturday night.

My author friend, Sophia Ann Montoya, later commented she’d never seen me nervous before, despite the many times she’d seen me take the stage as a performer, speaker and show producer.  I pondered this further, and came to the conclusion that I should have approached the reading as a performer rather than as myself at a mic, exposing something as personal as my own words.

trioPerhaps only another writer can understand how daunting it is to strip away everything else so as to bare one’s soul beneath a spotlight.  We publish our books in hopes of everyone reading our stories, after all, so what is the fuss over reading a few pages, right?  But I think there is something more to reading your own pages than there is to bringing any other kind of performance to the stage.

Theatrical productions require the performers to don a persona, complete with costuming, hair, makeup, and more often than not, someone else’s words.  Tribal style dancers sport ten pounds of hair and makeup, and lavish costuming that would make anyone feel like a completely different person.  We use props and layers of silk fabrics in every color you could imagine.  Story-telling dance takes it a step further as the performers bring fanciful tales to life.  And announcers are still a part of the act, with their own personas to share.

Public speaking strips a lot of that away, yet still, you step out of yourself a bit into the story of whatever topic you’re presenting, and again it feels like play-acting.  For us teacher-types, sharing what little knowledge we possess, the stage becomes a mere broadening of the classroom.

In the end, I discovered something as a result of this new experience: I have a profound and unmitigated respect for anyone willing to step in front of a mic with their own words.  Each and every one of my fellow readers impressed the hell out of me Saturday night.  I’ll definitely be back for more.  You can count on that.  I may or may not bring it to the mic again myself (hold the applause, jokesters), but I am certainly down for more of them.


Leave a comment

A Writer’s Journey – Catherine Cruzan – Part 2

My conversation with author friend, Sophia Ann Montoya continues in Part 2.  I hope you enjoy it!

Yokohama137

Yokohama Silk Museum

http://www.ponderanddream.com/a-writers-journey-catherine-cruzan-part-2/

In our discussion, we touch on some of the traveling I’ve done.  In this photo, my friend Monique and I pose with the wonderful Japanese woman who dressed us at the Yokohama Silk Museum.  She was amazing, and spoke no English, so my Japanese skills were stretched.  A lovely Japanese couple joined us and did some translating, though I did okay with the Japanese I had studied.  I’m so glad I learned Hiragana and Katakana, or we would’ve gotten lost in some of the smaller towns we visited over the course of the three weeks we were there!

Future installments of A Writer’s Journey are coming soon!