Tag Archives: Fun

Meet the Author… Mistress Joanna Noor

‘But… didn’t you interview Joanna already?’ I hear you think. Yes, you are absolutely correct; I did! And last week I promised you that I would interview Dark Side of Fiction authors. Writers are very, very busy people, though, and don’t always check their emails. If they’re like me, they get too many a day to check them all out. Not to worry, I’m going to get to them, one way or another :).

In the meantime, let’s find out a bit more about the creative process of this funny, mysterious, and mischievous Mistress…

Mistress Joanna Noor

Joanna_Noor

Biography

Hi, I’m Joanna Noor, and when I’m not penning naughty epic fantasy stories, I am also an illustrator, cartoonist, graphic designer, and editor. Unfortunately I can’t divulge my real identity, because I have a successful alternate career as a YA author and children’s picture book artist. However, everything you need to know about me personally can be summed up in one description: I am a cat. Sweet, friendly, mischievous, sometimes scratchy and fierce, a little bit lazy, but very patient and determined when I need to be! I also enjoy having my back scratched.

How has your environment & upbringing colored your writing?

Joanna_Noor_StormingtheBarbariansGates

We moved around a lot as a child, so I changed schools often and learned to be very self-sufficient emotionally. I created my own portable worlds, stocked with countless imaginary friends who comforted, amused, and incensed me. My mother is a professional artist and writer, so she was totally cool with that.

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?

Joanna, please focus more on story and characters than style. Style will come as you develop and gain confidence, but no one will want to read your work if you can’t spin a good yarn.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

Spiritual and mental. It’s how I organize my thoughts, it’s how I connect with strangers on an intimate level, and it’s how I make sense of the beautiful mystery and cosmic joke that is life. It’s also how I get to be naughty and subversive.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was old enough to pick up a crayon. Literally.

Pen or typewriter or computer?

Pen for jotting down ideas and sketches, computer for outlining, drafting, and writing my manuscripts.

Do you write alone or in public?

Both. I like to mix it up, working from my office at home, at a library, or sometimes at my favorite coffee shop with a latte close by.

Music or silence?

Joanna_Noor_DildorRampage

Music when I’m brainstorming, silence when I’m writing. When I’m writing, I’m actually just dictating a narrating voice in my head (and it usually sounds like Christopher Lee or Ian McKellan). If I can’t hear the voice clearly, I can’t write.

Goals of certain # of words a week or when inspiration strikes?

I try to write 2000-5000 words a day, five days per week, when I’m completing a novel. If I do less, it makes me grumpy.

Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?

I must have coffee.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

I am a full-time author/artist, and doing it full-time for most of my adult life has allowed me to develop into the enthusiastic writer I am.

What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, could you please share an example?

Joanna_Noor_TheWizardsMagicalWood

As an artist, I have a very visual way of looking at things, and this informs my writing. Readers often remark that my fantasy worlds are very vivid and well-drawn, and that makes me happy. They are very vivid and well-drawn in my imagination, so conveying that is a triumph.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing energizes me like nothing else, leaving me buzzing for hours after a successful session. It’s almost post-coital in the way it leaves me feeling warm and happy.

Is your ‘being an author’ a goal achieved or an accident?

Definitely achieved. I work very hard at what I do, from the writing to the packaging, to the presentation and the promotion. It is my passion.

What is your writing style?

I always hated reading first-person narration, but I have completely embraced it with my new books and it works very well. My style is muscular, poetic, playful, and polished.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Joanna_Noor_TheBigBlackKock

I’m a history buff and, as mentioned, I have a magpie mind which is very good at hoarding useless facts. I draw upon my extensive wealth of arcane knowledge, and supplement it with Wikipedia articles when required.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Anywhere from two months to two years. Mostly about two to three months now.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Remaining in my chair and not getting up to play with my cats.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

Sometimes they hijack it, but then I hijack them in the editing phase. My guns are bigger.

How do you select the names of your characters? Are your characters based on real people?

Joanna_Noor_KockRiderofKhymeera

If it makes me laugh or smile, then I know it’s a winner and it goes in. I have a bawdy, totally absurd, and ridiculous sense of humor. Aspects of my characters’ personalities may be based on real people, but their names certainly are not.

When you develop characters, do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

Definitely a mix of both!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes. If you can decipher the clues in my texts, it will lead you to a church in France where you will discover that Christ had a child and . . . oh wait, that’s already been done! Let me think of something else.

What do your plans for future projects include?

Many, many more Khymeera novels/stories, and many stories in my new, top secret series.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I have streamlined all my systems and the whole book creation experience is now a well-oiled machine.

What do your fans mean to you?

Joanna_Noor_SuccubusofKhymeera

Everything. Without readers, there would be no completion of the artistic circle, no home for the characters in my stories. I, the author, plant the seed of a tale. You, the reader, give it life and nourish it into a garden. Thank you 🙂

Thank you, Joanna, for letting us know about your writing process. I think many of us are a slave to ‘the coffee’ when writing. And I think your explanation of what fans are to a reader is beautiful!

Next time (yes, there will be a next time!), we will concentrate a bit more on the contents of Mistress Joanna’s books.

Don’t forget her second novel, Sukkubus of Khameera, the sequel to Kock Rider of Khameera, is now available!

You can contact Mistress Joanna Noor via the following Social Media:

Email: mistressjoannanoor@gmail.com

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon Author page


The Emit Blackwell Show

I have been interviewed for the third time (first time by Detroit’s DJ Jon, the second time by lovely Londoner Angelina Kalahari)! This time by Emit Blackwell from Michigan, and it’s live!

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You can listen to the interview here:
 

But why stop at my interview? Emit interviews a lot of authors to put them in the spotlight for a moment. Check them out too on The Emit Blackwell Show website!

The Emit Blackwell Show

What to Watch? Incredibles 2

Excuses for posting this a day late. I’ve been working my ass off to get my second newsletter out (in online magazine form). It takes a lot of time to do the editing, but I love it. You can sign up for it on my home page, if you like :).

Last weekend we watched Incredibles 2. For those adults who say ‘I don’t watch animated movies,’ let me tell you that Incredibles 2 is the  ninth highest-grossing film of all-time domestically and the highest grossing animated film domestically. That’s got to say something, doesn’t it?

Incredibles 2

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Cast

Obviously, this movie only has voice-overs. The most known ones are done by Holly Hunter (Elastigirl), Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone)(surprisingly, he actually never says ‘motherfucker’ in this movie 😀 ), and Usher (as Lucius’ best valet). You can check out the full list of the cast on Wikipedia.

Plot

The new movie starts where the first movie stopped; chasing The Underminer. He escapes, but as the superhero family tries to stop his mining machine, there is a lot of damage done to the city. As a result, the relocation program is shut down and all superheroes find themselves not only illegal (they can’t use their superpowers) but also homeless.

Not to worry, a superhero fan called Winston Deavor, owner of DevTech, and his sister Evelyn, creator of the communications technology of DevTech, come to the rescue. They propose a publicity stunt to show the world that superheroes do good things. They choose Elastigirl to head the stunt to defeat Screenslaver, a supervillain who hypnotizes people through TV screens.

Bob is slightly disappointed that they have chosen his wife Helen as the superhero to battle Screenslaver, but he agrees to look after the kids, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack. While Helen is away, Jack-Jack finally starts to show his superpowers.

What I liked about Incredibles 2

This movie is as entertaining as the first movie. Obviously, there is a bigger theme underlining the concept of good vs. evil. The interactions between the family members are so funny as they portray common teenager issues as well as seeing Bob’s resentment against having his wife doing all the hero stuff while he has to deal with the kids at home. It’s probably slightly over the top, but shows oh-so-well the problems most mothers have to deal with on a daily basis. Except for the superpower part, of course!

What I didn’t like about Incredibles 2

Honestly, I don’t think I can mention anything here. It was clear who was the supervillain early on, but it didn’t take away from the entertainment at all.

Summary

This movie is a great one to watch, by young and old. It contains lots of humor, surprises, and most of all recognizable situations. Go and see it with the whole family!

 

 

6 Reasons to Attend a Writers’ Conference

I’m sorry not to have a ‘What to Watch’ blog post for you this week as I haven’t been watching TV all weekend. The reason being I attended the 4th Dublin Writers’ Conference, organised by BooksGoSocial. I flew to Dublin on Friday morning and returned back home on Monday morning. I didn’t blog at all yesterday as I had to catch up on my lack of sleep (I only got about eight hours of sleep over the whole weekend!).

Laurence O'Bryan
Laurence O’Bryan giving his introduction speech of the fourth Dublin Writers Conference 2018

It was my first conference ever, and I had a ball. The cost of the conference wasn’t too bad, but the price soon ramped up as I had to fly to get there and had to organize accommodation for three nights. I made the mistake of not reading the itinerary properly and thought that the dinner with awards ceremony was on Sunday evening. The last plane back home on the Sunday was in the afternoon, so I booked myself another night and a Monday morning flight (it later appeared later that the dinner was on Saturday, and I didn’t need the extra night). I had anxiety attacks since booking for fear of missing my 7am flight (those who know me know I’m not a morning person).

So, if it was costing me a small fortune and causing me anxiety attacks, why would I recommend going to a writers’ conference? Let me count the ways…

1. Boost Your Self-esteem

The anxiety attacks mentioned above are caused by menopause (I only found this out recently). Yes, I have the hot flushes as well, but drinking (any) alcohol makes me wake up in the middle of the night panicking about some trivial thing. This undermined my self-esteem to the point I would let my husband take care of everything.

I put my fears aside and booked the conference, the flight, and the accommodation without any help from my husband. It gave me a tremendous boost knowing that I’m not a pathetic, dependent housewife. I am a woman who knows what she wants and goes for it! Yes, I made the mistake of not reading the itinerary properly, making coming home a tad more difficult, but I did it, and I’m here and still alive 😀 .

2. Making Friends

As you all know, writing is a lonely existence. I don’t know about your social life, but mine is as good as non-existent. And that’s okay. I’m quite happy with that. Alone doesn’t mean lonely. I kinda like having the day to myself, being my own boss, and making my own schedule. I don’t meet a lot of people this way, though.

Allie Marie and I out on the town
Allie Marie and I out on the town

Going to a conference makes you meet people face-to-face. You shake their hands, you see their facial expressions, you hug them when the conference is over. I hugged them as I was truly sad to leave them. These people are at the conference for the same reason as you. They all talk about what you talk about. No longer do you have to see people’s eyes glaze over when you start telling them about your protagonist’s latest character development. You know what I mean. It was emotional to meet all these people sharing the same love.

I’ve made some great friends this weekend, and I’m looking forward to chatting with them online about our stories and meeting them again next year!

3. Gaining Contacts

Not only is going to a conference great for making friends, it’s also great for laying contacts with people in the business. I chatted with a representative of publisher IngramSpark who gave me a discount code, I accidentally sat next to a US based publishing expert who told me the difference between an author and a successful author, and I gave my book to someone who does podcasts and hence interviewed me on Saturday. I even met someone who wanted to write my memoir!

It’s always nice to know the face that goes with the name you see online. When you meet in person, they get to know you and, hopefully, remember you and your books. You never know what may happen as a result 🙂 . One can always hope for some more reviews…

4. Branding Yourself

Wendy H. Jones and I
Wendy H. Jones and I

During the summer of 2016, I attended a workshop in Elgin, organized by the Scottish Writers’ Association. That’s when I met Wendy H. Jones for the first time. Her talk about branding yourself was so inspiring! Hence, before I went to this conference in Ireland, I got out my fangs, bought some ‘Victorian’ blouses, and branded myself all weekend. I think I was the only one who did, but I don’t care. I bet you most people attending the conference will remember ‘the vampire lady’!

5. Pitching Experience

I put my name down for the Algonkian workshop and also for the movie pitch with a Hollywood producer. I learned so much from those two experiences. I knew my movie pitch was not going to be successful as vampire movies are not ‘in’ at the moment. But, I happened to find out that the podcast lady had done a pitching course and she gave me some hints and tips. Afterward, a lot of people told me my pitch was excellent which made it a great experience even though not successful.

6. Learning the Trade

Last but not least, you learn an awful lot from all those speakers. They’ve all been at it for longer than you have and share their wealth of information with you. They don’t want you to reinvent the wheel and want you to be as successful as they have been. That’s what I like about writers most; they are all such nice and helpful people.

I made lots of notes. Not only the hints and tips that applied to my book, but also the ones for others as maybe, one day, they could apply to a book I’ll write in the future. You can never learn too much! Now I have to apply what I’ve learned which is something altogether different 😀 .

Summary

There you have it; six reasons to attend a writers’ conference. Yes, it costs money, but it will be a an experience of a lifetime which will make your life richer in all possible ways!

Let me know if you have another reason to attend a writers’ conference 🙂

 

 

What To Watch? Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Yesterday we watched Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011), a golden oldie, again. It wasn’t as ‘golden’ as I remembered, but it was good fun anyway. It’s a quirky look on the paranormal, and I’m all for quirky 🙂

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

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Cast

Taye Diggs as vampire Vargas
Taye Diggs as vampire Vargas

Dylan Dog is played by Brandon Routh, and it’s not surprising he played Superman in Superman Returns (2006). He has the chin, the body, and the overall looks for it. Dylan’s sidekick, Marcus, is played by Sam Huntington who, to my surprise, also features in Superman Returns (I’ve got to watch that one again, now). The love interest, Elizabeth Ryan, is played by Anita Briem who has featured in Journey to the Center of the EarthDr. Who, and The Tudors.

The main villain, Vargas, is played by Taye Diggs, an actor who has been nominated for and won many awards. Another character with an important role is Peter Stormare, who plays Gabriel the werewolf. I like him. He has an extensive list of filmography but usually doesn’t play the main character.

Plot

Dylan Dog used to be a detective for the paranormal creatures of this world (‘no pulse, no problem’ was on his business card), but since the death of his girlfriend, is now retired. This changes when his buddy Marcus is attacked by a super zombie and is turned into a zombie. Dylan now wants to know why Elizabeth Ryan’s father has been murdered, where this super zombie came from, and why they’re trying to keep him from taking the case. Together, the three go out to seek the truth, dealing with werewolves, vampires, and zombies on their quest.

Marcus is being told he's a zombie
Marcus is being told he’s a zombie

What I liked about Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Obviously, it’s great to see another movie about paranormal creatures that is not doom and gloom. This is a funny movie with the role of Marcus the funniest. He gets killed and turned into a zombie sort of in the first chapter. From that moment on and continuing for the whole movie, Marcus has to come to terms with the whole ‘being undead’ thing. His dialogue and acting are hilarious and worth the watch.

The creature Belial, who features at the end of the movie, is well done and not too fake (although he does look like he’s wearing huge boots).

What I didn’t like about Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Dylan_Dog_Beliar.jpgI won’t lie. The acting is bad. I tried to figure out why as all these actors have an extensive list of experience. The only thing I could come up with is that the dialogue is often cliche and/or unnatural.

Summary

Dylan Dog is a fun watch if you haven’t got anything else lined up.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is available on Amazon.

 

 

 

Easter Egg Hunt – extended with clues!

I just spent twenty-one minutes on an egg hunt with my family. Well, it was my daughter and me looking for hidden chocolate eggs for this long. Before our Easter brunch, we hid the eggs for the boys (my husband and my son) and it took them twenty-three minutes to find them all. We love our egg hunts! No matter how old we are, we will always have Easter egg hunts.

I thought you may like them too. So, I’ve hidden three Easter eggs on my website (see above for the images you need to find. The ones on this page, obviously, don’t count). If you find one, email me (jackydahlhaus@gmail.com), let me know where you found the egg, and I will send you a signed copy of the first edition of ‘Living Like A Vampire’ in print! Obviously, you need to send me your address as well. I have six copies to give away. I will let you know on this page if all six ‘eggs’ have been found. The eggs can be on pages or blogs. The winners will be announced on Tuesday (3rd of April 2018).

I’ll give you a hint: the eggs can all be found in 2018 and are on sites that I think could do with some chocolate 😊

Okay, too hard still? Some more hints then:

  • The first site is a short story that has to do with food
  • The second site is a blog post when I could do with some chocolate to eat away the stress
  • The third site is a blog post that I think every writer should read or know by heart

I’m giving you one more day to find them 🙂

Ready, set, go!

What To Watch? Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

It’s the school holidays, so we’ve been going to the cinema a few times and watched a couple of movies on TV. With my daughter, I went to see Coco on Friday morning, a very entertaining and musical movie. I didn’t keep a dry eye watching that one, no matter how hard I tried. On Saturday evening, the whole family went to see Ready Player One. My daughter had read the book and told us the movie didn’t follow what happened in the book. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining movie. But, what was in the front of my memory queue was Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a movie on Netflix. Here’s my review.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Cast

This epic sci-fi movie is written, directed, and co-produced by Luc Besson and is based on the French comics series of Valérian et Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières. Although there are some great names in the supporting roles list, with Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, and Rutger Hauer making an appearance, the main characters were played by Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline, actors I have never heard of or seen before.

Plot

The setting is a huge, ex-earth space station, called Alpha, floating in deep space where millions of creatures of a thousand planets reside.

The story is about two Alpha ‘space agents,’ Valerian and Laureline, who need to rescue a creature, the last of its species. It’s a special creature as it is able to replicate anything and is very valuable on the black market.  Of course, nothing goes as planned, and all sort of excitement and mishaps happen. A thread throughout the story is the relationship between Valerian and Laureline.

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What I liked about Valerian and the City if a Thousand Planets

This is an incredibly colorful movie, full of strange creatures, adventure, and action. Even though the movie lasts well over two hours, I only got bored one moment. Mostly there was so much to see and so much happening. I don’t know if it was my writer’s brain or not, but I want to watch it again just to see all the creatures in the background. The ideas are all wonderfully unconventional, a nice change from the usual.

The special effects are phenomenal and the choreography of the action was good to follow. The scene with Rhianna performing was perhaps a bit over the top, but very entertaining.

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What I didn’t like about Valerian and the City if a Thousand Planets

As you can see on the image with the comics illustration above, the actors don’t really look like the comics characters. I didn’t know the movie was based on the comics series before I watched it, so it didn’t bother me. What I did find annoying was that Cara Delevingne doesn’t have a lot of facial expressions and has extremely thick eyebrows and that Dane DeHaan comes over as a spoiled teenager rather than a handsome, dashing space agent. For such an expensive movie (apparently the most expensive non-American and independent film ever made), you’d think they could have gotten better actors for those roles.

As I mentioned before, toward the end there was one moment my thoughts drifted away as the story was getting a bit bland. According to my husband, I didn’t miss much.

Summary

If you like sci-fi, adventure, and strange creatures, this is the movie to watch! It’s a movie for all ages that will keep you in your seat for over two hours.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is available on Amazon.

 

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Easter Egg Hunt!

I just spent twenty-one minutes on an egg hunt with my family. Well, it was my daughter and me looking for hidden chocolate eggs for this long. Before our Easter brunch, we hid the eggs for the boys (my husband and my son) and it took them twenty-three minutes to find them all. We love our egg hunts! No matter how old we are, we will always have Easter egg hunts.

I thought you may like them too. So, I’ve hidden three Easter eggs on my website (see above for the images you need to find. The ones on this page, obviously, don’t count). If you find one, email me (jackydahlhaus@gmail.com), let me know where you found the egg, and I will send you a signed copy of the first edition of ‘Living Like A Vampire’ in print! Obviously, you need to send me your address as well. I have six copies to give away. I will let you know on this page if all six ‘eggs’ have been found. The eggs can be on pages or blogs. The winners will be announced on Tuesday (3rd of April 2018).

I’ll give you a hint: the eggs can all be found in 2018 and are on sites that I think could do with some chocolate 😊

Okay, too hard still? Some more hints then:

  • The first site is a short story that has to do with food
  • The second site is a blog post when I could do with some chocolate to eat away the stress
  • The third site is a blog post that I need every writer should read or know by heart

I’m giving you one more day to find them 🙂

Ready, set, go!

Join Me Tonight for the Dark Fantasy Spring Giveaway Event!

Do you like FREE books? Do you like FREE DARK FANTASY books? Do you also like games and quizzes? Then you’re in luck, because tonight, Dark Fantasy Books is hosting a Spring Giveaway Event. You read that right, a Giveaway! Authors will give away their books! They will share some exclusive knowledge about their characters and their stories as well as entertain you with games and quizzes. I attended last Halloween and had a ball!

Why don’t you join us tonight at Dark Fantasy on Facebook from 12:30 to6:30 PM EDT? That’s 4:30-10:30 PM GMT or 9:30 AM – 3:30 PST.

Check out the books you could win:

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Dark Fantasy Spring Giveaway Event

Fun, games, and prizes! Why not join us at Dark Fantasy on Facebook this Wednesday, 21 March from 12:30 to6:30 PM (EDT)? We had a ball at the last event, doing quizzes, sharing jokes, and winning books! Everyone can join, so come and have some fun with us 🙂 !

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