My interview over at The Art and Craft of Writing Creatively is HERE

Purchase my book Images of America: Detroit Lakes HERE

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Author Guest Post & Giveaway: Shirin Dubbin

I’ll Write It If You’ll Make It Your Own

from Goodreads
Years ago, three friends and I went to see the Matrix (the first one). We had an amazing time—doing chair-kung-fu along side Neo, Morpheus and Trinity. Our conversation rang with excitement as we exited the theater and we weren’t the only ones. The woman in front of us enjoyed the movie just as much… but as we listened to her describe her favorite parts it became clear she hadn’t “seen” the same movie we had. Her Matrix was a world of tangible holograms projected into reality, while humans fought to shut down the machines producing these killer projections. My friends and I were puzzled but it didn’t really matter. I doubt the writers/directors mind if her understanding of the film varies from their intent. This woman loved The Matrix. She probably saw it a second and third time, which would give any creator a big ole happy buzz.

During the editing of my new release, Dreams’ Dark Kiss, the editorial team—including myself—was split down the middle on how much we needed to define the dream-world setting of the book. In the end, it was decided The Dreaming should be outlined in great detail because it is so complex and the team dearly wanted readers to understand and enjoy the world to the fullest.

The reviews of DDK have started coming in and they range from “I liked it” to “I liked it a lot” to “I loved it” and everyone has asked about a sequel. Good stuff! But one type of comment is present in every review: too much explanation/exposition/confusing description. Ah.

As authors we remain students of the craft of writing. Some of the best writers, like Stephen King or Neil Gaiman, have become student teachers and they’ll tell you they are still learning. So, here’s what this burgeoning author learned:

Exposition, much like my editorial team’s thoughts on it, really needs to land right in the middle; there should be enough to introduce the parameters of the world, but not so much that the book becomes a dissertation. =giggle= One of my teacher’s for this lesson is our host, Kelsey. My heart nearly stopped when I read her DNF rating on GoodReads.

“Dear lord, was my work so terrible she couldn’t get past 16% of it?”

“OMG not a DNF!”

But Kelsey was kind enough to provide insight into her thoughts. Here’s a bit of what she had to say, “I loved your storyline. :) For me personally though the dreaming world was way too complex…I think I might finish the book at a later date but as of now I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around it…”

Now, don’t get scared. From what I’ve heard, Dreams’ Dark Kiss is crazy fun; filled with action, hot guys, a feisty heroine, hard loving, LOL-moments, unusual weaponry, and many surprises [takes a breath]. I’ve been overjoyed at the response to the story. But if exposition is not your thing there’s a glossary in the back. Once you’ve read it you can skip the few expository paragraphs here and there ^_~ or, better, you could go the Matrix route and make the dream-world your own. If your version of The Dreaming turns out to be different from mine that’s cool. I wrote the book for you. As long as you have a good time that’s all that really matters.

Promo Blurb:

The nightmares will strike tonight…Ciaran Letang has taken care of preternatural business since childhood. Her job is soul conducting, ferrying the dead into the afterlife. She’s never had reason to be afraid. The ankou, nightmarish beasts escaped from the Dreaming, will change that tonight.

For Keoni Maka, protecting dreamers is business as usual. Meeting the enthralling, yet annoying, Ciaran is a life-altering event. One that will force him to face both his childhood demons, and those born of nightmares melded to hijacked human flesh.

The pair will have to suck-it-up and deal because the ankou pack leader plans to take dominion over the waking world—and he means to do it now. Together, Ciaran and Keoni must avert their enemy’s schemes or risk an invasion akin to dropping the Earth into the pits of hell. Oh, what a night


Chapter One

“Demons do not dream, my chile, but dare not close ya eyes. For while they dinna tarry sleep, from dreams they may yet rise.”- Cora’Delieye, Mad Mother of Shifting Magicks

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Dreaming…” Ciaran sighed, pressed the clutch and shifted the astral car into fourth gear. Time to go to work. The Otherside had beckoned, and she had responded by phasing through her dreams and into psychopomp-dreaming. In other words, soul-conductor duty called.

She couldn’t complain. At least now she understood the process of ferrying a soul into the afterlife. When she was ten things had been different. The uncertainty of where her dreams would lead had frightened her younger self into super-secret bedtime–coffee-drinking rituals—no easy feat for a little girl born in the land of high tea.

Nowadays she’d reached pro status, able to discern which direction her night would turn a blink before closing her eyes. This skill helped her prepare for the task ahead, and one had to be in the right frame of mind in her profession. The Otherside—neighbor to the dreamscape—where psychopomps punched the clock, exuded a realness that separated it from the subconscious, a sense of danger making it…ominous? Right. Just call her Charon. She only lacked a River Styx.

The man beside her was having the time of his life—irony duly noted. Her enthusiasm matched his, despite her businesslike pretense otherwise. After so many years on the job, she’d cultivated compassion without allowing herself to feel the soul’s passing too deeply. This mission was different. It felt amazing, speeding down the road in a little red convertible, top down, the breeze whipping through their hair like freedom. Tonight she rode with Wallace Flint. The Wallace Flint. Ciaran suppressed a squeal, twisting her lips to hide her glee.

How many times had she watched his classic American TV show? Too many. The show’s legions of international fans had elevated the character he’d played into a pop culture immortal. The four, almost five, decades since the final episode hadn’t changed a thing. Rockin’ Wally Flint would be missed.

A hill rose into view on the road ahead. She could just make out train tracks running along the ridge to outline the horizon. They’d cross over them shortly, transitioning from the dreamscape to the Otherside in the process. Psychopomp-dreaming always contained two things: something red and something to cross over; for one person, there’d be a crimson boat and passing beneath a bridge; for the celebrity beside her, a vermilion convertible and driving across train tracks—final bits of poetry to transition a life from living dreams to the perpetual dream of hereafter.

Wallace Flint whistled in exclamation. Ciaran sighed. His trademark grin, lopsided but dazzling, transported her back to childhood, and the reality of his death saddened her until she remembered the bliss awaiting him in the afterlife. Joy pierced the melancholy. He would be happy on the Otherside; she had no reason to doubt. She’d felt peace emanating from every soul she’d ferried across the realms.

Ciaran blew out a breath and echoed his smile. He laughed into the wind in return. The crisp current drew happy tears from his eyes.

“Think we should floor it?” she asked with a devilish arch to her brow.

More delighted laughter framed by his killer smile. Perfect teeth and dimples. No wonder he’d continued to make People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” list well past the age of sixty-five.

Ciaran mashed the accelerator into the floorboards. They became a red bullet, locked and loaded. No real car moved so fast.

“Huzzah!” the man yelled as the car hit the base of the hill and went airborne. It sailed over the train tracks Thelma and Louise–style and landed, smooth as butter, on the Otherside. The TV star was gone. No need to check the empty passenger seat beside her. She’d done the job long enough to know.

Downshifting, she slowly released the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Rockin’ Wally Flint would take the final leg of his journey alone.

Soulconductor mission complete.

A familiar sense of elation enveloped her, soothing away the sorrow of bidding yet another life good-bye. The job was done. Time to wake. She waited but remained in the Dreaming.

Something’s wrong.

The Otherside shifted beneath her, giving way to the Wastelands under, yet between it and the dreamscape. No. She shouldn’t be stuck in the Dreaming, and she definitely shouldn’t be here—no soul, living or dead, should walk the Wastelands. Psychopomps traveled directly from the dreamscape to the Otherside and back, never to this place. This wasn’t right.

Ciaran watched as jagged red peaks jutted upward from the fabric of the dreamscape, cutting into a bleak expanse of sky, and whorls of dust resembling powdered blood stirred on stale winds. She seriously needed to wake up; only creatures who devoured death and nightmares prowled the in-between places. While she understood the purpose of the Wastelands—they had to exist as surely as the Otherside, the dreamscape and the totality of the Dreaming; it was the nature of balance—she still wasn’t delusional enough to believe her presence here was natural. Just the flip side, actually. Being here felt as natural as dancing butt-ass naked down the middle of a cobra’s nest. Not good.

The convertible came to a stop, it also fading now its reason for being, the soul of Wallace Flint, had departed. Trust her to run out of petrol in a place where none should be required. Ciaran sighed, opened the ephemeral remnants of the car door and stepped out to search for a getaway. A repetitive thud reverberated across empty peaks.

She turned slowly round, scanning the landscape for a swatch of Otherside to escape into. Some part of it had to be nearb—


Ciaran sprung into a headlong roll, hurling her body toward a fleeting bit of Otherside at the edge of her vision.

Thank God! Soon she’d phase back through dreams and land in bed as she should have after Wallace Flint’s crossing. Instead she landed backside in the sanguineous dust. A cloud of it puffed around her, the metallic taste coating her tongue and filling her nose.

She’d missed.


The Otherside had no real geography. It would best be termed amorphous. Isles of it drifted through the Dreaming, appearing where they would.

Similarly, the Wastelands couldn’t be quantified by the rules of the Waking World. They were the border between the dreamscape and the Otherside in a wrong-side-up and inside-out sort of way. A kind of chasm, the Wastelands could most often be crossed as easily as a crack in the pavement. But the chasm could also split open and rise up, or swallow a traveler down—a dream turned nightmare before the dreamer could awaken.

Ciaran had learned the Dreaming didn’t have to make sense. It existed because consciousness existed and was without rules because the sleeping mind knew no boundaries. She’d also come to believe the Wastelands were the negative visions of death a soul shed before entering the Otherside—all the world’s imaginings of hell so to speak. This was not a Wonderland to wander through.

Time to wake up. She nervously tapped the rhythm of the words against her thigh. Time. To. Wake. Up.

~about the author (taken from author's website)~

Shirin Dubbin/Sherin Nicole is a megalomaniac prima donna…um, ok…not really. I’m actually a closet wallflower with an addiction to laughter. Besides being a voracious reader and lover of storytelling I host DC’s Fantastic Forum, a show celebrating comics, sci-fi and fantasy.

As Sherin Nicole, the orange, ass-kicking geek, I write graphic novels, screenplays, stage plays, TV pitches and do the secret identity thing as a graphic designer. My alter ego, Shirin Dubbin, writes Urban Fantasy with romantic edge. My first novella, Keeper of the Way, debuted in 2009 and I was overjoyed (and more than a little surprised) with the great response to the “modern Fae trapped in Washington, DC tale.”

Culturally, I’m half American, half British and very southern; right down to the accent and love of grits—they’re great with shrimp…try it! Government reports show a residence in DC but I spend most of my time on the astral plane and I’m certain I’ve seen you there.

~find Shirin Dubbin~


~her books~

Dreams' Dark Kiss Dusk Takes Dawn Keeper of the Way

~Shirin's Sweet Sampler~

Shirin has graciously decided to giveaway one copy of each of her books to one lucky winner! That's right! Since Shirin's name means "sweet" she has called this her Sweet Sampler! The winner will receive Keeper of the Way, Dusk Takes Dawn and her newest release Dreams' Dark Kiss.Just fill out the form below!

GIVEAWAY RULES for entering
  • This contest is open INTERNATIONALLY! Yes my faithful followers EVERYONE can enter this one...:)
  • Must be 18 years old or older.
  • You don't have to be a follower but I would love your support and you will get an extra entry...:)
  • Please complete the form below - comments are nice but they will not count.
  • EXTRA ENTRY: Leave a question for Shirin and you will receive an extra entry.
  • The contest will end on January 5, 2011 at 11:59PM EST; 1 winner will be selected and contacted thereafter.
  • Once the winner is contacted, they will have 48 hours to respond to my email or another winner will be chosen (make sure to check your spam filters!).
  • Books will be shipped directly from the author.


    Kristen My Bookish Fairy Tale said...

    Oh your books look so good! I am glad that they are being featured here!! Thanks so much for the chance to read them!!

    Kristen H

    Heather Long said...

    Excellent blog. Excellent points all around and I love how you tackle the DNF with such aplomb and gusto. You are always among my favorites, which you know, but I think this blog just made me love you a little bit more.

    Lisa Pietsch said...

    I've been a fan since 2009. I fell in love with this story when you shared one of the first samples with me. I can't wait to read the final product! I'm off to buy it now!

    Shirin Dubbin said...

    Kristen H., Thank you!

    Heather, Coming from my twin from another mother that means more than the world to me; we'd have to go for omni- or multiverse and even then I'm not sure that's enough space to cover it.

    Lisa, Wow. I forgot you read one of the earlier versions. You've been here for DDK's full arch. *mwah!* Check your email...

    Rebekah said...

    Great interview. Here's my question. How do you find time to do all that you do? I can barely manage running my blogs and working on my novel, but you've got so much going on in your life. How do your prioritize your projects, and more importantly, do you sleep?

    mstcat said...

    Hey Shirin, I'm so excited to have found your books. I love paranormals and fantasy that feature multicultural characters - they're a better representation of the world we live in. Do you have more stories planned for release in the upcoming year?

    Shirin Dubbin said...

    Hi Rebekah,

    It's really funny but I don't think I make very good use of my time at all. ^_^ Right now I'm about a month behind in my writing schedule. Thank goodness I'm up to date with graphic design or the guest blogs would be late too. Adding to the delays, I write slowly and when a story isn't flowing I don't force it.

    One thing that saves me, I wake up early and go to bed late--so it seems I have extra time in my day (not much sleep *grin*). I also take the metro train, in DC, a lot. While traveling I jot down story notes and entire scenes in my phone. When I'm ready to write I import the file into my computer and have a head start on the day's writing.

    On my most productive days I work or attend meetings until 3pm then head out to my fave tea shop to write from 3:30 until 8 or 9pm...but those days are rare.


    Shirin Dubbin said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Shirin Dubbin said...

    Hey mstcat,

    I hope you enjoy the books. If you have any thoughts to share please come back here or visit my site to let us know.

    I feel the same as you do, I grew up around a variety of cultures--my circle of friends and family remains that way today--so it was important to me to write stories in which all the people I love could see themselves (even if they think I'm a little out there). *giggle*

    Right now I'm plotting a second book in the same series as Dreams' Dark Kiss, featuring the dream guardian Jay. But, what I'm most excited about is the urban fantasy fairytale retelling I've just completed. It's codenamed CHAOS and follows Goldilocks and a shape-shifting Russian bear on a one night caper. I'm waiting to hear back on a contract but I think it's safe to share a sneak peak here:

    CHAOS: Preview Blurb©
    A Fairytale Retelling by Shirin Dubbin

    "Chaos magic, golden dreadlocks, and break-ins are Ariana Golde's trademarks. Ordinarily she pulls a B&E to retrieve an object and put it back where it belongs. Not tonight. She's accidentally stolen a family heirloom from the Medved Brothers, a trio of fabled Russian bears. Maksim Medved is known as the surly one, and stealing his parents' sculpture is a good way to set-off his chaos magic. Now Maks has caught up with Ari and when two equally chaotic forces meet the results are cataclysmic.

    Magical demolition aside the pair are stuck, partners-in-crime for a one-night caper. They're on the trail of the unknown client who took possession of the Medved sculpture and put Ari on the case—and they'll cause major destruction along the way.

    Falling in love has never been so...devastating."

    CHAOS preview blurb is © 2010 Shirin Dubbin. All Rights Reserved.

    Frozen Love said...

    You books sound amazing and I would love to win a copy! I am a new follower, and this is on my to read list. i have always been into the dream world, and can't wait to see what you come up with!

    Shirin Dubbin said...

    Hi Frozen Love,

    Thank you all around! I think you're one of my new facebook friends. I like the dreamworld too. It's a wonderful playground.

    BLOG CREATED JUNE 20, 2010