Category: Authors

Interview: Nancy Wood, author of Due Date

How did you choose the subject for this story?

Originally, this story was not in the mystery genre at all. It was women’s fiction, and was a story about the relationship between a birth mother and the adoptive parents. However, it was clunky and slow and not so interesting! In a brainstorming session at a conference I attended around the time I was trying to figure out what to do with this uninspiring manuscript, someone suggested I turn it into a mystery.

I never thought I’d be able to write a mystery, what with clues and tension and plot twists, but I decided to give it a try. I am forever indebted to the woman at the conference for the idea and to the larger group for helping me develop the 250-word book blurb that same day. Once I chose the subject and genre, I started reading mysteries and thrillers. I got hooked, and to this day, mysteries and thrillers are my genre of choice.

In Due Date, the main character is in a very unusual situation for a protagonist. What prompted this choice for the character?

I found that making the protagonist a surrogate mom put her in a very precarious, vulnerable situation, which worked well to build tension in the story. She was also isolated, both physically and emotionally. The beginning of Due Date finds Shelby, the protagonist, moving from her brother’s home in Santa Cruz to a cottage on the intended parents’ estate in the Santa Cruz mountains. She has no car and is often alone.

A few months later in the story, she develops hypertension and is on bed rest. Shelby moved to the Santa Cruz area for the term of the surrogacy and has no friends. She’s estranged from her parents, and over the course of the book, becomes somewhat estranged from her brother. Her isolation causes her to make choices she might not have made otherwise.

What was the hardest section of Due Date to write? Why was it more difficult?

The hardest sections to write were the violent scenes, both emotionally and logistically. I have a hard time with my characters getting pummeled! It’s also challenging to figure the logistics of a fight, how to make all the actions taken by all the characters fit together in a seamless thread of action.

Occasionally, I found myself walking through the actions in my office: She’s running, in the dark, in clogs; how does her weight shift from one side of her body to the other? What’s she doing with her hands for balance? What happens when she makes contact with her enemy? And how does that feel when you’re pregnant with twins?!

Conversely, what was the easiest section to write and why?

The easiest and most fun sections for me to write are when my character is outside, wandering around in the beautiful place I call home, Santa Cruz county in California. I love the outdoors, and it’s such a joy to write descriptions of the Monterey Bay coastline and the redwood forest.

The way that the climax resolves in Due Date was intriguing. Was this a planned decision, or did the idea develop as you worked on the story?

This developed as I worked on the story. I’d been reading a lot of mysteries and thrillers by this point, and was really drawn in by the longer stories with twists. The ‘first’ ending would have been a great place to stop, but I decided to keep going and see where the story took me. Once I decided to continue, I had to edit the first part and plant in a few more clues.

When you work on developing a story, is there a process you use to help develop the idea? Or is it a lot of off-the cuff-writing, or a combination?

A combination. I have learned that I’m better off with a plot well in mind before I start. Now, after many years of rewrites, I’m better at plotting out a story to the chapter level. I also write extensive character sketches and back stories for each character, so I feel that I know how each character will act and react in a given situation. For me, it makes for a lot cleaner writing and a lot less editing.

Was there any special preparation or research you did to help develop the protagonist of Due Date?

I did a lot of reading on surrogacy and talked to a few surrogate moms. I read plenty of discussion boards, forums, and blogs, as well. I also researched fertility clinics, trying to figure out how that end of the arrangement works.

What advice would you share with other nascent authors as they work to create their own stories?

Keep going! And read anything and everything in your genre. Find something that catches your attention, and something that will catch the attention of readers, and just go with it. Writing and creating a story is so rewarding and seeing it take shape as the number of chapters increases is a thrill like no other.

New Book Release: “Due Date” by Nancy Wood

We are extremely pleased to announce the immediate availability of Due Date (A Shelby McDougall Mystery) by Nancy Wood.

Surrogate mother Shelby McDougall just fell for the biggest con of all: a scam that risks her life … and the lives of her unborn twins.

Twenty-three-year-old Shelby McDougall is facing a mountain of student debt and a memory she’d just as soon forget. An ad in Rolling Stone for a surrogate mother offers her a way to erase the loans and right her karmic place in the cosmos. Within a month, she’s signed a contract, relocated to Santa Cruz, California, and started fertility treatments.

But intended parents Jackson and Diane Entwistle have their own agenda — one that has nothing to do with diapers and lullabies. With her due date looming, and the clues piling up, Shelby must save herself and her twins.

As she uses her wits to survive, Shelby learns the real meaning of the word “family”.

Due Date is available in hardcover, trade paperback, and digital editions. Signed editions are also available.

New Book Release: “L’ultimo granello del mondo” (The Last Speck of the World) by Flavia Idà

We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of the Italian edition of The Last Speck of the World (L’ultimo granello del mondo) by Flavia Idà.

No name. No race. No nationality. The survivor of the perfect catastrophe struggles to preserve herself and her hope that she may be found — by humans.

“I am female, thirty-two, alone in the last speck of the world. My name, my race and my nationality are no longer important. I do not know why the plague has spared me. It has taken everything else. All the clocks and all the machines are dead. What keeps me breathing is the hope that I may not be the sole custodian of the planet.”

Senza nome. Senza razza. Senza nazionalità. La superstite della catastrofe perfetta lotta per preservare se stessa e la sua speranza di essere trovata — da esseri umani.

“Sono femmina, di trentadue anni, sola nell’ultimo granello del mondo. Il mio nome, la mia razza e la mia nazionalità non sono importanti. Non so perché la pestilenza mi abbia risparmiato. Mi ha tolto ogni persona ed ogni cosa. Tutte le macchine e tutti gli orologi sono morti. Ciò che continua a farmi respirare è la speranza che io non sia l’unico custode del pianeta.”

The Last Speck of the World (L’ultimo granello del mondo) is available now in digital editions. A printed edition will available soon. Signed editions are also available.

Call for Submissions: Corporate Catharsis

We’ve all been there: standing behind a desk or a counter for ridiculously long hours, letting the movie of our imagination roll behind our eyes. Maybe you open the supply room door and find another dimension; perhaps the photocopier reproduces cryptic messages from other realities. We’re certain that you can, far too easily, find inspiration from your workplace. Magic, mayhem, revenge — and, yes, perhaps even redemption — can all be found there.

Corporate Catharsis is the anthology we all need — one that can help us survive our corporate servitude with our hearts and souls intact.

Submission Details

Open for Submissions: February 1, 2019 through April 30, 2019
Expected Publication: November 2019
Story Length: 2,000 – 10,000 words
Payment: 0.02 per word + two (2) contributor copies

Submission Requirements

  • Please submit your complete story in standard manuscript form in digital format (DOCX, RTF, or ODT) to submissions (at) paperangelpress.com. (If you want bonus points, also attach a MOBI file; that will help our editorial team be able to read it faster.)
  • Please include “Corporate Catharsis Anthology” in the Subject line of your submission.
  • Include the following in your cover letter/email:
    • Title of your story
    • Your real name
    • Your physical mail address
    • Your preferred email address
    • Genre
    • Approximate word count

Submission Guidelines

  • Your story can be from whatever genre best fits its theme. However, we are not looking for erotica or stories that contain excessive gore or violence.
  • No simultaneous submissions, please. You may submit more than one story, but please send each one as a separate submission.
  • We will accept stories that have been previously published. If your story has been published before, please provide proof that you hold the current publishing rights for it when you submit your manuscript.
  • We highly recommend that you change any names based on real people in your story to protect the innocent — and to prevent possible further harassment by the guilty.

Check this page for the latest information about the Call for Submissions for this anthology.

Interview: Andrea Monticue, author of Memory and Metaphor

All authors I’m sure see this one at least once: What prompted you to get into writing?

I really don’t remember. I was in the 5th grade when I wrote my first book, Castaways of Skull Island. My teacher was quite supportive, and even bound it for me, and placed it in the classroom library. I think it was all of two or three thousand words.

When I was in the sixth grade, we had weekly writing assignments to use all the word in our vocabulary list in a short story. We were only supposed to write one page or so, but I always wrote more than was needed. At the end of each week, I’d end the narrative with “To be continued!” The next week, I’d continue with different characters and a different setting. In the end, the story was a little like Kerouac’s On the Road with lots of characters and mini-adventures, but no overarching plot. The teacher never complained.

You’ve worked on aircraft as a profession. Do you feel this helped your attention to detail in the story, and how?

Yes, it helped me pay attention to the way things worked, although I’m not certain that the average reader will appreciate the details. Instead of imagining a black box that the character activates, I imagine the details of the box. Does it work with hydraulics or electrical power? Pneumatics? EM fields? I worked for Northrop on the B2 project, and I know how complicated a machine like that can be, and all the things that can go wrong if you don’t stay on top of maintenance.

With all the detailed information on how the mind is affected for the main character, I’m guessing you had to do a lot of research for your book. Could you detail some of the subjects that you had to research, and how they affected the story?

I did do a lot of online research, but I didn’t understand a lot of it. The human mind is still mostly uncharted territory even for experts, and I’m the furthest thing from an expert. In the end I had to assume a lot of properties of the human consciousness. I also assumed that though much research had been done, a complete map of the human mind had remained an elusive goal, much like fusion research is today.

I was specifically interested in how an old personality might die and be replaced by a new one. There are actual historical cases where this happened.

What was it like for you, when you found out that your story was going to be published?

Are you kidding?! I was beside myself! The submission guidelines at Paper Angel stated that they’d reply within a month and, after six or seven weeks had gone by, I figured it was another no-go. When I finally received an email, I convinced myself it was another rejection and I had to read it twice before I realized that it was not, because the words made no sense on the first reading.

I don’t think I slept at all that night. I remember trying to tell my wife, and the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth in any coherent order, so I just let her read the email.

I was attending weekly weight-loss support group meetings, and I almost didn’t go to the meeting that night. I went, and told everybody what happened, and they gave me a round of applause.

My feet have only occasionally touched the ground since.

What was it like to see all the parts of getting a book published, such as the cover design, manuscript formatting, etc.?

Frustrating in some respects; fascinating in others. There are aspects of the story that only I have ever imagined, and now other people were trying to imagine them, too.

To shift back to the book again, the book seemed to actually have two stories ongoing. Was this structure something you planned out ahead of time, or did the story develop the parallel threads as it evolved?

You’re absolutely correct. There is the personal narrative of the protagonist, and then the global narrative of how society and government reacted to a new existential threat. People don’t exist in isolation, and I wanted to offer insights into the larger universe of Kentaurus. Plus, I have done a lot of world building for this story and wanted to show it off.

Your story raises some interesting and thoughtful questions. The foremost one, is the question of “What constitutes a living being?” The situation the main character seems to have that as a central theme. Was this a deliberate choice?

Not so much a living being, but a legal civil entity. There are debates in the story about whether the protagonist has civil rights, and if so, do they outweigh the rights of society to protect itself. These are old themes in science fiction, as well as other genres, but the debate still rages. An additional dimension to the debate in this case is that the protagonist used to have civil rights. Should government and military leaders ignore that, or do they have a point?

What authors, if any, did you read that might have helped steer you into writing Memory and Metaphor?

I was inspired by David Weber’s Honor Harrington series in terms of creating a space navy and how spacecraft of the future might navigate. I intentionally steered away from the Star Trek and Star Wars models of spacecraft that are basically airplanes in space.

The ghosts of Isaac Asimov and his robots were always haunting me in this story.

There’s also a bit of Spider Robinson in there.

I reread several of Elizabeth Moon’s books from her Vatta’s War series while writing it.

Finally, I’m sure you recognized the influence of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.

What was the thought behind the title of your book?

It’s pretty obvious that memories play a big role in the plot. The metaphor part is subtler, but I really liked the alliteration.

Finally, as a new author, what words do you have for other authors looking to become published?

An obvious one is: Don’t give up. But more importantly, stop treating your writing as something you do after all the other chores are done. It’s far more than just a guilty pleasure; it’s a part of who you are. If you don’t think it’s important enough to give it your best, then publishers won’t, either.

New Book Release: “Memory and Metaphor” by Andrea Monticue

We are thrilled to announce the immediate availability of Memory and Metaphor by Andrea Monticue.

Civilization fell. It rose. At some point, people built starships.

A millennium after the Earth was abandoned to climate change and resource depletion, Sharon Manders wakes up in a body that used to belong to somebody else, and some say she was a terrorist. She has no idea how she could be digging for Pleistocene bones in Africa one day, and crewing on a starship the next. That was just before she met the wolfman, the elf, and the sex robot.

Struggling with distressingly unreliable memories, the expectations of her host body’s family and crewmates, future shock, and accusations of treason, Sharon goes on the lam to come face to face with terrorists, giant bugs, drug cartels, AIs, and lawyers.

All things considered, she’d rather be back in 21st Century California.

Memory and Metaphor is available in hardcover, trade paperback, and digital editions. Signed editions are also available.

New Book Release: “The Last Speck of the World” by Flavia Idà

We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of The Last Speck of the World by Flavia Idà.

No name. No race. No nationality. The survivor of the perfect catastrophe struggles to preserve herself and her hope that she may be found — by humans.

“I am female, thirty-two, alone in the last speck of the world. My name, my race and my nationality are no longer important. I do not know why the plague has spared me. It has taken everything else. All the clocks and all the machines are dead. What keeps me breathing is the hope that I may not be the sole custodian of the planet.”

The Last Speck of the World is available in trade paperback and digital editions. Signed editions are also available.

Paper Angel Press Author L. A. Jacob Published in “Selections” Anthology

We are pleased and excited to announce that Paper Angel Press author L. A. Jacob’s short story, “My First Demon”, has been published in the anthology, Selections.

What really happens when you take out a bully?

When Mike LeBonte is faced with a bully every year for his middle-school life, he does the only thing he can think of to solve the problem.

He summons the demon Andromalius — a demon that is meant to punish “wicked men” such as Mousey, Mike’s present nemesis.

Selections (published by The Association of Rhode Island Authors) is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

New Book Release: “War Mage” by Jake Logan & L. A. Jacob

We are thrilled to announce the immediate availability of War Mage (the first book in the “War Mage” series) by Jake Logan and L. A. Jacob.

In war, here be dragons.

First Magus Brent Rogers has just been transferred from Fort Leavenworth to Afghanistan. His mission: to find out how and why a seemingly indestructible dragon died on an alleged suicide mission.

Brent finds out that even dragons have secrets — and those secrets, if known, can kill them. Will Brent be like all the other wizards, and work for the Army, or will he keep the secrets of the dragons?

His success — and maybe even his life — could depend on his decision.

War Mage is available in trade paperback and digital editions. Signed editions are also available.

Paper Angel Press Goes to WorldCon

We are excited to inform you that we will be attending the 2018 World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, California from August 16th through August 20th.

Visit us in the Dealer Room to receive special deals on our books and meet some of our authors in person. We will have some exclusive free stories for you, along with some other special items!

We will also be available listen to your book ideas, so come by our table and pitch your stories to us.

If you can’t visit us in person, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We will be posting updates daily!