Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guest Blog and Giveaway: LJ LaBarthe

Gooood morning to y'all.  Today I have the priviledge of having LJ LaBarthe come for a visit at mah Place to talk about her oddest places she's gotten her inspiration from. Aaaand, to play giveaway! W00T!

heehee, guest bloggers ROCK!

Giveaway drill, same as always, leave a comment, include your email, and check out the fine details at the bottom.  We'll run this goody until Sunday night, July 17th, closing at 9:00pm PST/12:00 EST and I'll announce not one, but two winners on Monday. Two winners, W00T! W00T!

I shall stop my ramblings now, and turn the blog over to LJ.

Welcome to mah Place LJ.  Thank you sooo much for coming!!

Hi there!

I'm LJ LaBarthe, an Australian writer and owned by one cat, and I'm guest blogging here today, thanks to the lovely Amara for having me here!

Today, I'll be talking about the oddest places I've gotten my inspiration from. It's true I dream scenes or snatches of dialogue that I end up then scribbling down frantically and hoping desperately that I will be able to read my sleep-scrawl the following morning. It's also true that listening to very loud music puts me in the 'zone' and the story flows from there. But the main place I get my inspiration from is the bathroom, aka, the Room of Wisdom, aka, RoW.

Yes, the bathroom. You read that right. The bathroom is indeed the Room of Wisdom. I thought it was just me, but it turns out that no, others have experimented with the mystical power of the RoW and found that yes, it does have certain powers that we cannot hope to understand.

Seriously, though, I don't know what it is about the bathroom. It's gotten to the point now that if I am truly, utterly, irrevocably stuck, so bogged down in writer's block that I want to cry, I will go and stand in the bathroom and a solution will present itself. I don't even have to be doing anything, just standing in it seems to do the trick.

I know, it does sound very weird, very strange. Believe me, if I were someone else, I would be side-eyeing me and saying, "Ooohkay then, strange person with a bathroom of mystical powers," but hey, it works, and I'm not going to knock it. My bathroom isn't particularly beautiful, either, it's just a standard Australian rented apartment bathroom – a shower, a sink, a mirror, a vanity unit and a toilet. The tiles are a maroon, tan and cream; the porcelain of the toilet and sink is lavender. The tiling in the shower recess is a pale salmon pink. The walls are standard rental cream, and the towel rack is chrome.

There are two towels on the rack, one dark green, one red. A light blue towel is thrown haphazardly over the glass siding of the shower. My shower curtain is, amusingly, a Hogwarts Houses Crests shower curtain, bought for me by a good friend several years ago. The toilet roll holder is chrome, like the towel rack.

There's also a kitty litter tray, for my resident beastie, Castiel, kitty of the Lord. It's a dull red plastic, and there's always bits of litter on the tiles because Castiel seems determined to dig his way to China via the kitty litter. And continuing the kitty motif, there's a purple and white canvas bag with Hello Kitty on it hanging on the back of the door – it holds such exciting things as clothes peg, litter tray liners and a cat brush.

In short – nothing special. And yet, when there's a block or I need inspiration and nothing else is coming to me, the power of the bathroom, the Room of Wisdom, is my last, best hope for writing.

I can honestly say that the two current releases I have did benefit from the Room of Wisdom. However, the main inspirations were different for each one. And if either of these summaries tickle your interest, I'm giving away a free pdf format copy of each to two lucky readers. So if you would like to win one or the other, leave a comment with the name of the book you'd like. (Or, if you'd like to try for both books, leave the names of both books in your comment!)

Amara will draw the winners and contact me with their email addresses so I can get their books to them. Easy! Oh yeah, this giveaway is open worldwide.

First up: Life and Nothing But, published by Noble Romance and available to buy over here: https://www.nobleromance.com/Books/273

Summary: When Michael Lee takes a job as a tutor to Lord Henilworth's children, the last thing he expects to find is the love of his life. However, from the moment he first meets Nick, the gardener of Castle Henilworth, he cannot deny the attraction. Believing it to be one-sided, Michael tries to bury himself in his work, but living in the same village and working in the same place make it impossible to completely avoid Nick. Gradually, Michael overcomes his shyness, and, when Nick makes his own interest clear, everything seems to be going Michael's way. However, ghosts of the past and a racist attack threaten the fragile happiness Michael has found. Will Nick's love really be enough?

Life and Nothing But is a contemporary story set in the UK. I was influenced greatly by the film, Remains of the Day, particularly how life within the estate was so separate and so unreal in comparison with life in the outside world. The film is a beautiful, quiet love story between two servants on a grand estate in the English countryside, the housekeeper who falls in love with the butler who is bound by his unfaltering loyalty to the lord of the house... who has Nazi sympathies. Set post World War One, the possibility of love and his lordship's politics make the veneer of Utopia that the butler lives in waver and crack.

The film was released in 1993 and stars Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. It has stayed with me all these years and was very much the inspiration for Life and Nothing But. I wanted to create that same sense of Utopian idealism – unrealism if you will – in the boundaries of the estate that Michael and Nick, the two would-be lovers in my e-book, live in and the contrasts between there and the outside world.

My second current release is a historical e-book, a short story released by Dreamspinner Press called City of Gold and available  here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=55_116&products_id=2350

Summary: Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, 1131 AD.
Gallienus has spent his life in service of his country, and now his scarred body is no longer up for the fight. Assigned to work the gates of Constantinople, he is charged with examining the cargo brought into the city from all over the world. Misahuen is part of the merchant train bringing wares from the Silk Road to trade, but it’s not Misahuen’s cargo that interests the wounded soldier. Gallienus thought his heart was too battered to love anything but his country. Does he have the courage to dream of a future beyond service to the City of Gold?

City of Gold is set in Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire in the year 1131AD. I picked that year specifically because I wanted a year of relative peace for the Empire – the First and Second Crusades were over and the Third Crusade wasn't due to begin for another few years. There was a healthy trade between nations going on, due to the Silk Road, and Constantinople was an extremely cosmopolitan city.

Plus, I love the Byzantine Empire and the twelfth-thirteenth centuries are my favourites in history. I have always been fascinated with the Varangian Guards, the elite forces employed by the Emperors of the later Byzantine Empire and initially, I thought about writing a story of two lovers who served in the Varangian Guards. My ideas changed enormously, however, after watching the fabulous documentary series, Cities of the Underworld. In one episode, they went beneath current day Istanbul to explore the archaeological remains of the Byzantine Empire. I was so fascinated by this episode and what they showed of the wall of the old city of Constantinople, the hippodrome, the palace of Justinian and the aqueducts to name but a few things, that I decided that I would write about regular soldiers.

And then I watched Little Big Soldier, a Chinese medieval martial-arts movie and changed my mind a second time. Due in large part to the time period the film is set in and to the supporting actor, Steve Yoo. This time, I decided I would write a love story between two men from very different worlds, a Greek Byzantine soldier retired from battle due to a war injury, now working as a gate guard for the city and a member of a trader's train, a Korean man. Everything fell into place and the story almost wrote itself.

So much so, that I am working on a novel length sequel.

Well, I think that's enough of my ramblings about some of my inspirations and waxing eloquent about my less than exciting bathroom! I hope you enjoyed my stint as guest blogger here today and good luck to everyone who enters to win a copy of either Life and Nothing But or City of Gold.

Thanks again for having me, Amara, it's been a blast!

Where to find me on the web:
Twitter: @brbsiberia

The fine details...
  •  Giveaway for ebooks.
  • Contest closes 9:00PM PST, July 17th, 2011
  • To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me you’d like to be entered in the giveaway.
  • Please include a valid email address or I won’t know where to contact you.
  • Winners will be selected at random using Random.org
  • If the chosen winners do not respond to my email within 48 hours, another winner will be selected.
  • Contest is open worldwide.  
  • Must be 18 yrs. old or older.


  1. Nice to see you again, L.J.!
    It always fascinates me to learn more about my fellow writers and where they get their inspiration. I have to say, though, that the RoW is a new one on me ;) I usually go there to ESCAPE writing for a few minutes! Of course, then I'm reading, so... yeah.
    There is no escape! :D

  2. Hi JS! Lovely to see you! I don't know what it is about the RoW, but it never fails. Even when I want to escape, the ideas hit me, like a brick to the brain, sometimes!

  3. LOL! Never would have thought of the bathroom as a source of inspiration but whatever works :-) Both of your books sound good so would love to win either "City of Gold" or "Life and Nothing But." Thanks for the giveaway!

    smaccall AT comcast.net

  4. lol! I love it! One of my editor/writer friends told me that she takes a shower when she needs inspiration so I guess it's true! :)


  5. Wow, these both look great. I'll be adding them to my lists, but would love to win either of them.


  6. Sounds like a good book and I love reading how you came up with ideas for the setting/characters. Best fo luck with this release and with the following book(s)!

  7. @Bookwyrm369 - Neither would I! I thought at first it was just a strange coincidence, but it's happened too many times to be just that! Good luck with the giveaway!

    @Jason - That's fantastic! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who finds the bathroom useful for more than what it's made for.

    @Melanie mcsc2008 - Thank you, Melanie, good luck with the giveaway!

    @June M - Thank you, June, I'm enjoying working on the follow up to 'City of Gold.' Good luck with the giveaway!

  8. It's great to read how writers get inspired. I did read somewhere that lots of people get inspired in the bathroom. Me too. And the bedroom, kitchen, etc etc lol.

    I want City of Gold. I have a thing about historical romances at the moment. :o))


  9. @Kiru ooh, a reader after my own heart. I'm such a sucker for a good historical - especially if it's set in the 12th century. Good luck with the giveaway!

  10. @JS: *waves* Hi JS!

    @LJ: Thanks so much m'dear for coming to play blog with me. :D

    @Bookwyrm, Jason, Melanie, June, and Kiru, thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you are all having a wonderful week! :D

  11. Thank you for having me, Amara. I really enjoyed it. :)

  12. Wow, these both look great. I'll be adding them to my lists, but would love to win either of them.


  13. As a reader it is nice to get some insight into what inspires an author to write a particular story. And both of these are so different and both interesting.

    Life And Nothing But and City Of Gold, I'd like to read.


  14. @Roro - Thank you! Good luck with the giveaway.

    @Leni - Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed my post. :) Good luck with the giveaway!

  15. ~ CLOSED ~

    Congrats to Jason & Roro

    Thanks for playing giveaway everyone!



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