Friday, July 9, 2010

Interview With Kilt Kilpatrick, The Manny Diaries

My guest, Kilt Kilpatrick, is a fine Celtic swordsman who happens to write erotic romance. His debut novel, published by Ravenous Romance, is The Manny Diaries.

By day, Kilt is a serious non-fiction writer, but by night all his wickedness comes out in his erotic romance. Actually, Kilt is a fascinating person, very intelligent (his bio makes me dizzy), and he has a wonderful sense of humor, which permeates his fiction.

Kilt was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Céad míle fáilte romhat, a Kilt!

  • Tell me a bit about Kilt. I know you have a gorgeous woman in your life. She won you in a wicked sword fight, right?

I really do! And you know, you’re not far off… Inara and I did meet through sword fighting, and we’ve had some wicked sword fights ourselves, too. I have the scars to prove it… (And did you know she’s a former Hollywood stuntwoman? Among other roles, she was a fight captain for the cult classic Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness)

I did, Kilt. She shared a few pictures. My son about fell out of his chair when he saw her in her costume, lol!
  • Seriously, are you a swordsman? Where did you learn? Is this fencing with foils or if you were whisk back and time would you be able to handle swords or rapiers?

That’s a big ole yes. I started fencing with foils, eppes and sabers in college twenty-seven years ago, but then I got into Florentine style – which is where you have a real sword in one hand and a real dagger in the other. Very fun! I've also been working with cloak-and-dagger, and on a style of my own using two shortswords. And no mask or jacket, just a padded vest, so I’m ready for my time machine trip…

Hmmm, I have a few things to say about sans mask, Mr. Kilpatrick, but at least you wear a vest.
  • As you know I have a penchant for men in kilts, oo-la-la, and I know you’re Celtic. Do you actually wear a kilt or is it something worn for special occasions?

I love wearing my kilts. I have four of them, including a big ole Braveheart style Feilidh-Mór great kilt. It’s basically just 5 yards of Scottish tartan wool that I have to spread out on the floor, painstakingly fold all the pleats, and roll myself in it like a big burrito.

For more ordinary occasions, I wear one of my beloved Utilikilts or my all-Ireland tartan kilt.

Oh, I know all about *pleating*, my brothers have, what they will proudly tell you, are *real* kilts, lolol! I will admit I’m pretty good at unrolling the kilts too. ;-)

  • I’m thinking storytelling comes natural to some Celts, but when did you start telling and writing stories?

It must be in the blood – I’ve been writing stories as long as I can remember, and even when I was a kid, I always thought I would be an author – though I always thought I’d be a science fiction writer!
  • What made you want to write romance and in particular, erotic romance? I know very few men who do.

A totally unexpected twist of fate. I’ve actually been primarily focused on a nonfiction biblical history project for the last ten years, a critical examination of the historical evidence for Jesus. But then one day Inara and I each wrote a sexy short story for one another. Her story was “Champagne,” which became the novel of the same name and is still my favorite of hers. Unknown to me, she also submitted my story to Ravenous; they liked the way I write, and the rest is history. And I have to say; I’m totally loving writing erotic romance! I love how many different genres you can explore with it, and let’s face it, I love being able to put all that sex, lust and steaminess in the writing.
  • You possess a good sense of humor, Kilt, and from what I’ve seen of your book; you utilize that sense of humor with Evan. What do you like about Evan?

Thanks, Sia! I tried to give Evan as much of my sense of humor as I could. I like that Evan is smart and funny, and still at heart a vulnerable guy who’s trying to find true love and keep going despite setbacks and the general weirdness of life.
  • Now comes the tough questions; what made you pick this particular story to tell?

Honestly, I didn’t think I could write a full-blown romance novel, let alone a m/m novel; it was Lori Perkins who twisted my arm and said she knew I could do it. And once the cast of characters came together and I fell in love with them, that’s when it really did come together.

It sounds like a story that made you stretch as a writer. Not a bad thing.
  • I have to tell you most stories with gay characters are *coming out* stories. And frankly, they get old after awhile. How would you classify this one?

This is the story that happens after you come out of the closet. There’s no long hand-wringing, agonizing over “Oh, oh, am I gay, or am I straight?” Instead, it’s “Okay. I’m gay. Now what do I do about it?”
  • Good for you! My opinion is, people are people. We're hardwired to want to find love and happily ever after. That's true regardless of our sexual orientation.

Incidentally, there is a lost first chapter that tells the coming–out story that Trini and Evan hint at in the opening of the book. Watch out for that coming as a stand-alone short story from Ravenous…
  • What’s the difference between a sexy (and they have some pretty hot sex scenes) romance story and an erotic romance?

I think “erotic” can cover a multitude of sins that you wouldn’t generally find in a straight-up romance; and I’m a big fan of sin… this where I admit to a very cool black tank top that says, "I feel sin coming on...?" LOL!

  • What’s next for you, Kilt?

At the moment I’m getting the 2nd annual Atheist Film Festival together in San Francisco, and finally getting that historical Jesus book published. Then there’s some new RR anthologies coming I’m excited about – and I promised Lori to write another m/m novel; I’m thinking of doing a paranormal... It’s going to be a busy year!

It certainly sounds like it Kilt. I wish you the best, my friend. Thank you for taking the time to chat a bit with me.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~
The Manny Diaries back cover Blurb:
Young art student Evan Ross falls out of the closet and into the fire when an unexpected sexual encounter with a friend changes his life forever. His rocky - and surprisingly hot - search for true love and a real job (not necessarily in that order) takes him on a series of romantic adventures and misadventures, from the lofty hills to the seedy streets of San Francisco.

When he lands a job as a male nanny for a precocious 8-year old, his career and romance paths start to converge - and he finds himself falling for a dead-ringer of his dream man, Clive Owen. The only problem? It's the girl's straight father.

Can he land his dream job and his dream man? THE MANNY DIARIES is sexy, warm and hilarious novel with a supporting cast of quirky, lovable characters, a fun pace, and a true-to-life setting.


Kilt Kilpatrick is the pen name of an Irish author sometimes called "the Ferris Bueller of San Francisco." When he's not writing sexy stories for Ravenous he is a nonfiction writer, public speaker, Bay Area event organizer, and somewhat oxymoronically, a biblical historian and atheist activist.

He is linguistically promiscuous; he is conversant in Irish Gaelic and bits and pieces of about two dozen other languages, including Welsh, Breton, Hungarian, Japanese, Arabic, American Sign Language, Cherokee, Klingon and Elvish. He loves reading, movies, dancing, sex, and has been a saber fencer for over 25 years.

He lives in San Francisco with his steady girlfriend and # 1 fencing partner Inara Lavey; who is also a Ravenous Romance writer. And yes, he does wear kilts. If you know anybody like that, it's probably him.

Titles by this author: The Manny Diaries, Bedknobs & Beanstalks: Anthology of Gay Erotic Fairy Tales (Contributor), Hungry for Your Love (Contributor), I Kissed a Girl: A Virgin Lesbian Anthology (Contributor), I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus (Contributer), Threesomes: An Erotic Anthology (Contributor)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Interview with Dorchester's Fresh Blood Finalist—LISA KOOSIS

I’m amazed how many contests there are in existence for writers to enter. Many aspiring authors choose to enter contests to receive feedback on things they’ve written with the view to improving their work enough to eventually win the big prize of a publishing contract. There are various contests out there. Some small contests online and through various magazines, some larger contests provided by writing associations, like RWA. Then there are the colossal contests like Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award, started in 2007, American Title Writing Competition, based loosely on American Idol and these two bring in thousands of entries.

I’ve had various friends compete in small and large contests. I competed in Gather’s First Chapters Romance contest, which was also big and similar to ABNA and to lesser degree, ATWC. All three of these contests have a base in not only writing skills, but also the writer’s promotion abilities and popular vote does come into play at one stage or another depending upon the sponsors and rules. I will say it’s a rather insane way to get a publishing contract. I’m glad I did it; I learned an amazing amount about good writing and the importance of promotion.

Not long ago, Dorchester Leisure, Rue Morgue magazine, horror fiction web site ChiZine, got together for “Fresh Blood,” a new writing contest specifically for unpublished horror authors. I know little about this contest other than it’s similar to Amazon, Gather, and American Title, with thousands of entries. Writers not only have to be able to write well but be able to promote themselves and their work because there is also an element of popular vote.

The prize? The winner will have their book published by Dorchester's, Leisure imprint, and see their book in bookstores in 2011.

My guest is Lisa Koosis, one of two finalists in Dorchester’s Fresh Blood contest. Lisa was nice enough to let me pick her brain.

  • Tell me a bit about Lisa Koosis.
First of all, thank you so much, Sia, for having me on your blog.

  • Oh, it's my pleasure, I assure you. So tell me about you.
A little bit about me… Let’s see… I’m a native New Yorker. I grew up on Long Island, so you’ll see the influence of the shore in a lot of my writing, and I currently live in the Hudson River Valley with my family and a bunch of furry, four-legged friends. I’ve been self-employed for the last few years, which has really given me the opportunity to pursue my writing dream, mainly concentrating on my short fiction. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had stories published in a number of great speculative fiction magazines and anthologies like Abyss & Apex, Murky Depths, Meadowhawk Press’s Touched by Wonder anthology and recently, Blade Red Press’s Dark Pages anthology, among others. I’m also a bit of an internet junkie and a hopeless multitasker.

  • Have you been writing long? What’s your preferred genre and why?
I’ve been writing for a long time. In elementary school, when the teacher would assign the class a creative writing assignment, the other kids would turn in a paragraph or two, and I’d be the crazy kid churning out pages-long epics about talking dogs and mer-folk. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.

My penchant (as you might have guessed by my cringe-worthy early efforts) is for speculative fiction. I’m not so good about sticking to one genre--you’ll find me moving around among science fiction, fantasy, and horror, sometimes even mainstream—but I just love those crazy, magical, surreal elements.

  • Do you belong to any author/writing associations?
No. Ironically, my only professional sales have been in mainstream short story markets so I haven’t yet qualified for membership in HWA or SFWA, which would be my goal.

  • Have you entered many writing contests in the past?
I love writing contests, and contests have been kind to me. My first published short story came about through a contest. Several years ago I placed second in The Poughkeepsie Journal’s Talespinners short story contest. This year, I was the grand prizewinner in Family Circle’s fiction contest. It’s a little bit ironic because in both of those contests I won with mainstream stories that were way outside of my comfort zone. In fact, each year those contests served as a challenge, a reason to push myself and stretch my boundaries. I think contests like that keep my writing fresh and new.

I’ve also entered Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award competition all three years with widely varying results. The first and third year I didn’t make it past Round 1. Last year, I made it all the way to the semifinals with the novel that’s now a finalist in the Fresh Blood contest. ABNA was an excellent experience because I not only came away with more confidence in the novel, but also with feedback that allowed me to make the novel even stronger.

  • What made you decide on an author promotion styled contest to enter?

I hate the thought of a missed opportunity. I want to keep putting my work out there. I want to push as hard as I can toward my goals. I plan on entering the Amazon contest every year as long as they run it. And when I came across the information for Dorchester’s Fresh Blood contest, I knew I just had to submit an entry even if it meant I would have to give myself a crash course in author promotion.

  • It’s always fascinating to me to see how an author chooses a title, why did you choose the title Heart Of The City?
Funny you should mention the title, because if you read the comments of the judges, it’s probably the thing they like least about the book. It’s a good thing to know, and I’ve learned through short stories that it’s never wise to get too attached to a title.

In Heart of the City, Charlie and Eva travel from city to city in a world devastated by Charlie’s creation, the Phoenix Particle, and with every place they visit, the heart of that city becomes a part of Eva. Though I’m not a city person myself, I’ve always been fascinated by cities and how they each have distinctly different personalities, different hearts. Walk down a street in Boston and it has a completely different feel from walking down a street in New York. In Heart of the City, the hearts of those cities and how they change Eva become a crucial part of the story.

The book is also a bit of a love letter to New York City post-9/11, when the world got to see not only tragedy but also the heart of New York, so the title is also a bit of a nod to that.

  • This contest is largely decided initially by judges, correct?
Yes. The good folks at Dorchester Publishing, ChiZine Publications and Rue Morgue Magazine decided on the Top 10 based on the submitted manuscripts. From there, a panel of judges, which included editors and published novelists, determined the Top 5.

  • Promotional votes play what part?
Promotional votes began once we hit the Top 5. After that, it became an American Idol styled contest where the contestant with the least amount of votes got eliminated each month.

  • You’re one of the finalist, how does that feel?

It feels a little surreal. Or maybe a lot surreal. I took a gamble entering this contest because I’d always considered Heart of the City more science fiction than horror, so I really never expected to make it too far. To make it to the Top 10 was huge. To make it to the Final 2 is an amazing feeling. I grew up reading Leisure Horror novels, and to be this close to getting a publishing contract with them...I don’t even have words for how good that feels.

  • I’ve read the judges critiques. Over all, you have some high praise for the professional polish of your work. How do you handle the negatives?

They promised us at the start of the contest that they would be brutal, and sometimes they have been, but I find that I’m okay with the negatives. I think, in part, being a short story writer has prepared me for the editorial criticism. I’ve worked with zero-sugarcoating critique groups (which I wholeheartedly recommend), and I’ve been out there submitting my work and collecting rejections for years as a short story writer, so I’m no stranger to the tough stuff.

And that adage about being our own worst critic…well it’s true, at least for me. I’m always tough on myself, so the judges can give it their best shot, but they’ll never be tougher on me than I am on myself!

  • So, if after reading the first two chapters I want to vote for you, how would I go about doing it? Is it hard and involved?

Voting is about as simple as it gets. All you have to do is send a blank email to with “Fresh Blood Vote - Heart of the City” in the subject line. It’s as easy as that. They’ll accept one vote per unique email address and voting closes on July 14th at midnight EST.

  • What are some of the good experiences that have come from this contest?

On the whole, this contest has been an exceptional experience. It’s been a crash course in the art of self-promotion and networking, which I needed. Plus, no matter what happens, I’ll come away from it with feedback from a field of professionals, feedback that I know will help me to make the novel even stronger.

But I think the best part about it has been the people I’ve met through the contest, the community of writers that I’ve connected with while trying to drum up support for Heart of the City. Seeing people who hadn’t even known me before the contest going above and beyond to support and encourage me, well that’s a feeling like no other.

  • What difficulties have you faced and how have you over come them?

Self-promotion has never come easy for me. For a long time in my life, my writing was something I kept private. Even friends I’d had for years often didn’t know that I was a writer. So having to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and push so hard to promote myself was really very difficult. I’m a pretty determined person though, and I want very badly to succeed as a writer, so I did my best to learn as I went and to just go with it.

  • Any lessons learned from this experience?

Absolutely. I’ve learned to have more confidence in myself and in my work, and that sometimes I just need to get out of my own way. I’ve learned that it’s okay to let people know how important something is to me. I’ve learned that there are great people out there who are willing to share their experiences and their expertise to help out a fellow writer. I’ll take those lessons with me now and apply them to whatever comes next.

  • Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Lisa. I wish you the very best in this contest.
Question to readers and authors: What benefits have you had entering contests?

Here's the blurb on Heart Of The City:

The Phoenix particle, created to burn out and replace damaged DNA, should have been the medical breakthrough of the century. Instead, it was the beginning of the end, its fires decimating person after person and city after city with a ferocity its creator could never have imagined. But cities don’t die so easily. The Phoenix particle was engineered to remember, and in the ashes, the particles remain, carrying within them the genetic blueprint from the billions fallen prey to the burning. And the Phoenix still has a mission, to pass on that information.

Eva Moline—immune to its devastation—is the perfect conduit for the Phoenix. She’s prepared to help put the world back together in any way she can, even when she feels the Phoenix at work inside of her, somehow sentient, somehow knowing. As the children of the Phoenix grow to term in Eva’s womb, so does the essence of each city become a part of her. And as Eva joins the creator of the Phoenix in a cross-country journey from city to ruined city, she must decide whether she’s recreating a world or giving birth to monsters.

Lisa Koosis & Taffy
Originally from Long Island, Lisa A. Koosis currently lives in New York’s historic Hudson Valley. She was recently named the grand prize winner in Family Circle's 2009 fiction contest. Over the past few years her short stories have appeared in an assortment of publications including Abyss & Apex, Meadowhawk Press’s "Touched by Wonder" anthology, Susurrus Press’s “Neverlands and Otherwheres” anthology, and Murky Depths. In 2006 she was awarded second place in Poughkeepsie Journal's Talespinners short fiction contest, which was judged by a celebrity panel including bestselling author, Da Chen, and Michael Korda, former Editor in Chief of Simon & Schuster. Mr. Korda called her work, "sharply written and nicely conceived." Lisa is a dedicated and prolific writer of speculative fiction, and a former fiction manager at Barnes & Noble.

Find Lisa online.

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's A Grand Old Fourth and "Research" Fun

Hope everyone enjoyed all the bing, bang, and boom of fireworks this past weekend. From what I’ve heard from various friends, outside picnic tables were groaning from all the food with lots of laughter and family fun.

My mom had a swimming/BBQ party on Saturday. My mom had 6 boys and 3 girls. All but three have children—at least two or more, except me, with one. My mom has eleven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Even a small family gathering, meaning not all her children, is a big thing. So we tend to do potluck and since we never know for sure who will bring friends—especially the younger generation—we tend to bring extra. We only had a small group; twenty but had enough food to have fed easily twice that amount. We Celts are big on family, food, music, and fun. We had all that as per usual. No fireworks, but plenty of everything else.

I had a ball in the pool with the littlest of our clan, my 7-month-old grandniece, Nikki, who thinks she’s part fish. *eyeroll. I spent most of the time trying to keep her face out of the water. Good luck with that. She wanted to do what big sissy, two and a half year old Joss was doing or she wanted to get to great grandma, or my son, Jake. Nikki watched him swim under water grab his aunt; Nikki’s grandmother and I saw that measuring look in her eyes. Ohhh no you don’t you little mer-baby. She wanted to though. Teach me to read aloud from Judi Fennell’s Mer books when she was a tiny thing.

My husband had planned to take our son and I to a big firework display, but my son opted to stay down with his cousins. They live within walking distance of Skyfire, one of the biggest firework shows in their county, held at the local airport. So we decided to stay home. Not that I missed out on fireworks. I may live in the middle of nowhere, or as I call it, out beyond the back forty, but I have neighbors within a mile radius that do some awesome fire power every year. All I have to do is go out in the yard, pull up a chair and watch the three pyro-neighbors try to outdo each other. At this rate, I’m going to start selling tickets, lol! My horses are not thrilled with all the noise, even as far away as the neighboring ranches are, and tend to stay up in the home pasture. Poor babies.

Writing? Pffft. Not this weekend, but I’m jumping into it the rest of the week.

  • So, how was your weekend? C’mon, share some stories. :-)

Help me ease my conscience so I can pass off all the activities, more than listed here, as research. Yeah, that’s what it was, a research weekend.

Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. :-D

Thank you for the Award, Hawk!

  • This week: Will be announcing winners of Kathryne Kennedy's, Fire Lord's Lover.
See my Review of Wild Irish Sea by Loucinda McGary.
  • I have a friend I'll be interviewing with regard promotion styled contests.

  • Friday, I have Debut erotic romance author, Kilt Kilpatrick. He should be fun.