Writerly Wednesday Welcomes Alisha Costanzo author of Blood Phoenix: Rebirth.
Interview with Alisha Costanzo, author of Blood Phoenix: Rebirth.
1. What is your favorite marketing task that has resulted in a sale?
Giveaways. Before I published my novel, I posted two version of my cover and asked my followers to vote on which cover they liked best, one of which won a free copy and others won memorabilia. This helped the views on my pages and started conversations with friends and potential readers, which is my second favorite part of the job—the first remains talking to my characters.
2. What do you like about your publisher or why did you decide to Self Publish?
I decided to Self Publish because I had more creative control, and I reap more benefits from my work. I also got to create connections and help other freelance artists, like my editor, Joe Martin, and my cover designer, Cathrine Langwagen, both of whom are wonderfully talented.
3. What do you have under your bed?
Since I’m married, most of it is my husband’s, or that’s what I tell myself. A few of my favorite items are my Daddy boots, which I don’t so much need in Oklahoma like I needed them in Plattsburgh, NY; my mace, which is this thick wooden bat with metal spikes imbedded into it; and my 12-guage. I’m only slightly paranoid.
4. Are you a plotter or a pantser when you are writing?
Big time pantser, although I am trying my hand at plotting, which worked well for the last draft I finished. It’s important to be both. I need to know where my characters are headed, but a lot of what happens on the way surprises me as much as it does everyone else.
5. Do you write in a bubble or do you prefer critique groups, writing buddies or other companionship during the process?
My actual writing takes place in my own little world, although I can generally put my bubble up anywhere. But depending on the story, I’ve used varied activities and friends for developmental reasons. My childhood friend Becky, who inspired one of the characters in Blood Phoenix: Rebirth, chats with me online when I’m stuck. I love her demented brain, and she loves playing make-believe with me. After our conversations, I gain a better understanding of my world, my characters, and my plots.
I also role-play online, which isn’t the Dungeon and Dragons kind. Another friend of mine, Laura, and I create character profiles and drive them into interactions. This type of writing and creation is completely different than drafting a novel, yet not really. I can never completely predict how the scene we play will go, how her character will react to mine, or what type of plot she has cooked up. I love this type of writing because I get to know the characters by playing them live for an audience. And later, I can refer back to the scenes.
And finally, once I’ve done the majority of work on my novels, I send them to my friends for honest feedback. It’s hard to find people who will be honest about my work, and I appreciate it because that’s the type of friend I am—honest yet constructive.
6. When do ideas come to you and how do you capture them?
Right now, ideas like to come while I’m grading papers, which is extremely inconvenient. But they come whenever they feel like it, really. They don’t have a routine or anything. However, I have finally bought myself a notebook to carry around with me rather than scraps of papers or napkins like I’ve used before. I once used a paper placemat at a restaurant after I’d worked a craft show with my mother in PA. I also keep a pen and paper on my headboard for the middle of the night. And occasionally, I still write on the back of my hand for lack of anywhere else to write. But when I can’t take note, I try my hardest not to worry over it, the idea will either come back or it will move on to someone else. Elizabeth Gilbert has a great TED talk about tapping into the muse that I feel akin to.
7. What is your favorite word processing program and what other tools do you use, pen, notebooks, white board, index cards, finger on fogged bathroom mirrors?
I use Word predominately, but I use note cards for plotting, notebooks for character sheets, and I have folders on my computer for each character and each world. The white board is useful for reverse outlining and restructuring plot—since I write satirically, this process helps me pinpoint places to poke at pop culture.
Alisha Costanzo is from a Syracuse suburb. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she currently teaches English. Book two, Blood Phoenix: Claimed, is undergoing serious edits for its 2014 release. In the meantime, she will continue to corrupt young minds, rant about the government, and daydream about her all around nasty creatures.
Before she ran into a compelling stranger on the busy streets of NYC, before she knew the truth about her father, before she died, Ria was just a normal girl, trying to make ends meet.
Now with an unhelpful six-thousand-year-old mentor, she wished someone had written a handbook on how to be undead. But small details, like how to drink blood without killing, why she wakes up in the middle of the day, and how to juggle two paranormal men, are near pointless when the scary Wicked Witch of Watertown has given her a week to report to the training facility. Better yet, she’s popped up on the collection list for the Assetato and the king of the were-lions. Can Ria survive long enough to come head-to-head with a ten-thousand-year-old vampire?
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And there sat the mirror, high on the wall attached to a yellowing medicine cabinet. I inched forward until I stood at the threshold of seeing myself. This would be a final reality check, wouldn’t it? If I had no reflection, what other proof did I need? Which method should I use? Test the water with my fingertips or jump all in?
My gaze lost focus on the corner of the offending mirror, and I pushed myself in front of the reflective glass as a whole, gaze adverted. With a heave of my chest, I looked. The shock made my heart hammer. A creature stood there with pale skin, a red stained mouth, and bay leaf eyes. She didn’t have blemishes, lines, or even pores. She looked like the porcelain masks Grammie used to hang on the walls by their bright red and yellow ribbons. I waggled my fingers toward the woman reflected at me, and her fingers waggled back. Laughter filled the small master bath. I combed my hands through my rough, ruby curls and twirled in front of the vanity.
I had a reflection. God, he was being good to me. This meant I couldn’t be a vampire, right?
But my smile halted my short-lived relief. My canines were larger and sharper and deadly, yet they didn’t seem like vamp-fangs. I caressed one with a fingertip, smooth and hard like ceramic, and the point had no trouble slicing open my skin. A bubble of blood pooled precariously before my flesh fused back together. But my finger slipped into my mouth out of habit.
A knock sounded at the locked door, and James spoke. “Having trouble?”
“Yeah. I taste like a goddamn pastry. And I have a reflection. What am I supposed to do with that in the middle of this crazy shit of a mess?” Serves me right for paying such close attention to popular media and those sparkly, night-walking Prince Charmings with their weak human love interests. News flash. Girl here. Now, what the fuck was I supposed to do? Was I supposed to be Princess Peach or Princess Leia?
James’ laughter eased through the cracks of the door. And I slammed my fist against it to get him to stop. My body buzzed when I looked in the mirror again. A weak female didn’t stare back at me.
“Tell me I’m not sparkly, at least. I’d rather be the glow in the dark kind of vampire if I’ve got to be one.” My fingers pulled at my red curls again. I appreciated whatever trick made me seem a tad bit prettier.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlishaCostanzo or @AlishaCostanzo
Thank you Alisha for being my guest this week. Come back next week and see who is in the spotlight.
Don’t touch anything sharp.