December 13, 2010

Waywords with Morgan Locklear and his wife Jenn, the author/beta team of Bella Voce and Brutte Parole

Earlier this year, Morgan Locklear and his wife and beta, Jenn interviewed each other for the blog and everyone loved the interview. Well, they promised to come back for a part two just in time for Christmas and here it is.

I wrote Bella Voce for the Twilight fandom with my wife, Jennifer, as my beta. We are about to begin publishing the sequel, Brutte Parole. We interviewed each other once before for The Wayward Pushers blog and had so much fun, we agreed to a Part Two:

the wonderful blinkie is by the fabulous bettigefecht

MOG: Jennifer, are you going to anything different this time as you beta?

JENN: Bella Voce was my crash course in beta work. I only had an inkling of what to do when you began posting the story and the job was initially very daunting. Now that we've completed that fic, I've had the opportunity to work with other authors on other projects and have also learned a thing or five along the way from authors and betas in the fandom. My hope is that this experience will help Brutte Parole be an even better story than BV.
From what you've shared, it is certainly going to be a more complicated tale than Bella Voce so I know I have a challenge in front of me. Having already completed a beta on the Bella Voce epilogue and the Brutte Parole prologue and first chapter, I have been asking you more questions about the finer details. We're also working with a new pre-reader this time around and I'm sure that will provide a different dynamic in ways I have yet to understand.

What, if anything, will you change in the way you write Brutte Parole?

MOG: Almost everything about my approach will be different. Instead of pounding out a chapter in two monster days, I write a little each day. About a thousand words if I'm lucky. This, of course, is due to me getting an iPad. I don't have to bend over the computer any more, which is great. It forces me to type a little slower but I choose to see this as a blessing because, like you said, this is a more complex story. I have to take care not to lay tracks that I can't go back to, or worse yet, that lead nowhere.
Brutte Parole will push my boundaries as far as lemons, action, location and multiple story lines so I'm hoping that a new approach will support that. I was seriously worried that such a severe switch in my approach would mess up my mojo and I was about half way through the first chapter before I finally convinced myself that the change wasn't going to affect my writing.

JENN: Ever since I've known you, you have been involved in creative endeavors - acting, directing, and singing. Now that you are writing how does that compare to the other performing arts? Which of these have you enjoyed most and how does the creative process differ between them?

MOG: Good question, Babe. I think the biggest difference between writing fiction and all the other things I'm involved with is that the latter are all performing arts where writing is a very solitary (and therefore clothing optional) endeavor.
I really enjoyed operating the Foley effects for the production of "A Christmas Story" last year and I will always love creating a new song in the studio or sharing it onstage, but I found an immersion and an emotion with Bella Voce that was uniquely profound. I firmly believe that I will continue to pursue the hobby of writing but not at the breakneck pace we are about to undertake.

How are you going to keep up with the demands put on you from me and your other authors?

JENN: (shakes head but chuckles at the clothing optional comment)
Well, I've been a co-beta on Lethal to Virtue by TheBondGirls for months now. And, so far, the two projects haven't really had to compete for my time. Things have always worked out. I've also helped to beta several one shots which don't require an ongoing time commitment. There is another new fic that I've agreed to help beta but I've decided not to take on any new projects in order to have the time I'll need for Brutte Parole. I do think it is important to work with other authors and I do enjoy being a beta, but there are only so many hours in the day. Once Brutte Parole is complete, I can re-evaluate the situation and see what opportunities arise within the fandom.

Here's a question I've been asked by others but I don't think I have ever asked you about it. How do you think our relationship is affected by the writing experience? When we're in work mode does the fact that your beta is also your wife make things easier or more complicated?

MOG: Huh, I could ask you the same question. I think back to our resident manager days at college. We worked for the same company but each had tough tasks to complete. In the end we learned that we could trust each other to buckle down and get any hard job done. Being parents together is also similar to that job (in many, many ways) and we have learned to work for the same goals. Since I trust your motives as well as your instincts as a result of our relationship, then I would have to say that it helps.

What about you? Do you spare me because you love me or do you beat me with a mop handle until I cry aunt AND uncle?

JENN: I'm choosing to ignore your mop handle comment (but will keep that in mind for the future).
I think because I do know you so well I actually ask more of you as an author than I have with others I've worked with. In some respects it's unfair to you because I feel confident enough in our relationship to push certain boundaries. On the other hand, it can be unfair to the other authors I beta for because maybe I'm not quite as comfortable asking certain questions or offering certain ideas. I'm striving to find that perfect balance so I can be an effective beta no matter who I'm dealing with.

You and I are used to addressing the fact that you are a male writer in a female dominated fandom but recently someone asked me if you ever felt you are treated differently by the fandom because you are a man. What do you think?

MOG: I think I have been met with warmth and curiosity, but with a group of men it's usually okay to say you are good at something and not be perceived as arrogant, just confident. Here amongst mostly ladies I have found that some find my frankness too boastful and I regret that. I have had several comments misunderstood or taken out of context so I just have to remember to keep the same philosophy I had when I first started - Let the story speak for itself. If it's consistently compelling and intriguing as well as romantic and entertaining then I will have accomplished my goal. I guess its proof that I am not being treated very different if the drama fairy poops on me too.

Since we've spent time in New York City, is there anything you are looking forward to seeing in the new book?

JENN: Yes, definitely. There is one thing in particular I'm really excited to read about but I don't want spoil anything for the story by mentioning it here. You did such a wonderful job describing Paris in Bella Voce, I am curious to learn more about turn of the century New York City. Your NYC won't be the same city that I am familiar with so I'm interested in learning more about that.

You incorporated original music into Bella Voce. What are plans for music and Brutte Parole? And does the writing of the fic inspire the music or has music inspired the writing?

MOG: A little bit of both actually. I wrote Bella Voce around two of my existing songs and then wrote three more specifically for the story. I've written two songs for Brute Parole already and recorded one of them with Betti Gefecht.
Jasper and Alice have a duet in the future and Edward will write a song that I playfully refer to as Confessions of a Clown. It's one of the best I've written in my life but I haven't recorded it yet because I want to get two songs from Bella Voce in the can first. (Jacob's Jig and Mon Petit Chou.)

What is the most common thing you have to correct in my stories?

JENN: I can't think of anything specifically that is a consistent error on your part. I guess that I do find myself asking you to rearrange your thoughts on occasion. Sometimes a sentence shift here and there makes a huge difference in scene development or conversation.

I know you are also working a new side project. Do you have plans to write and post two stories at once?

MOG: Ah, yes. I will most likely do just that. The Blurry Adventures of Blindward will make its debut soon, maybe even before the January 1st launch of Brutte Parole. I have lots of ideas for this story (with your help) and it will be a fun collection of semi-autobiographical stories (except that I get to look like Edward.)
I think that they will have no consistent posting schedule but that I will have several episodes out by the time we wrap up the new story.

You act as my promoter as well as a beta. I know that you take that part of your job very seriously but what do you see as the most vital aspect of your contribution to our fandom partnership? It is the advice and editing of the story itself or the social networking that accompanies it?

JENN: Honestly, I've never viewed the social aspect of the fandom as networking. I have really enjoyed getting to know so many people this past year and have a lot of fun interacting with everyone online. We have a common interest, after all, so I find it much easier to chat openly with people within the fandom than I do in real life.
The beta aspect is what I consider to be true work. It's a commitment that takes me away from reading updates and chatting on twitter or the threads. I seem to remember a time (or two) when I’ve gotten in trouble with the boss for "goofing off" when I was supposed to be in beta mode.

Now that people know about you and your story do you think you will feel more pressure writing Brutte Parole than you did with Bella Voce? Or do you think introducing yourself to the fandom and drawing an audience was a more difficult thing to achieve?

MOG: Good question. I think getting readers is harder than keeping them so I would have to say that my introduction was more difficult. I feel pressure in the sense that I have a deadline to meet every Saturday but not the pressure to perform. I already know this book will be better than the last because it's my second one and (presumably) I know what I'm doing this time. For instance, this story actually has an outline.

You published a guest review for IndieFicPimp recently and it was a well thought out and crafted recommendation...Are you suuuuuuuuuure you don't want to write a story?

JENN: Never say never but right now I'm perfectly happy with being a beta. And I'd like to be able to read more. That's one of the big reasons why I joined the blog as a reviewer. There is so much talent within the fandom and I know I have barely scratched the surface there. I'm always happy to be swept away by someone else's story.

If I did decide to write, would you be my beta? Is that something that interests you?

MOG: For you? Of course, but I'd make a lousy beta. I've done a couple of pre-reads and right now I'm judging the final ten entries in the Cherry Exchange contest. I'm enjoying myself but will have to really focus on the marathon ahead for us. We have 30 weeks of posting in 2011 and I write longer chapters now.

JENN: Ok. I'll keep you in mind as a pre-reader then. *smiles*

MOG: What is your preferred chapter length? Do you like a nice long experience or are you into the fic quickie?

JENN: I don't think I could state a universal number for chapter lengths. If I love a particular story, I'm always disappointed when I reach the end of the update. Other times, even though I'm enjoying a certain story, I'm perfectly ok with shorter chapter lengths. There's really no good way for me to answer that. It's very subjective.

Are you ready for the marathon? Have you missed the fandom in your time off?

MOG: Oh yes, there are lots of friends on Twitter, of course, but there are so many that I only know through FF reviews. I like to reply and strike up conversations so I have made some good friends there.
As to the marathon, I wanted to be two chapters further ahead by now and have the 'back book' already done, but I'm having more fun than ever so I'm not worried about it.
January 1st can't get here soon enough.

Many thanks to The Wayward Pushers blog for posting the interview.
Be sure to check out both Bella Voce and Brutte Parole, two turn of the century vampire stories with love, laughs and lemons.
The epilogue of Bella Voce and the prologue and first chapter of Brutte Parole will post on FanFiction on New Year’s Day 2011.


  1. You two are adorable. I am excited about catching up on BV so that I'm ready for Brutte Parole.

    Thanks for posting this!


  2. Always fun to watch you to banter away. Looking forward to the new stories!


  3. I really enjoyed this interview! I love to watch you two interact with each other because you can clearly feel the love and respect you have for each other. Thank you for this!


  4. I enjoyed this interview, now I'll go and read Bella Voce and look forward the sequel.


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