I’d like to welcome Ethan Jones, author of Arctic Wargame. It’s now available on Amazon.
Bio: Ethan Jones is a lawyer by trade and the author of Arctic Wargame, a spy thriller available on Amazon as an e-book and paperback. He has also published two short stories: Carved in Memory, a prequel to Arctic Wargame, and The Last Confession, both available on Amazon as e-books. His second spy thriller, Tripoli’s Target, will be released in fall 2012. Ethan lives in Canada with his wife and his son.
Canadian Intelligence Service Agent Justin Hall—combat-hardened in operations throughout Northern Africa—has been demoted after a botched mission in Libya.
When two foreign icebreakers appear in Canadian Arctic waters, Justin volunteers for the reconnaissance mission, eager to return to the field. His team discovers a foreign weapons cache deep in the Arctic, but they are not aware that a spy has infiltrated the Department of National Defence.
The team begins to unravel a treasonous plan against Canada, but they fall under attack from one of their own. Disarmed and stripped of their survival gear, they are stranded in a remote location. Now the team must survive the deadly Arctic not only to save themselves, but their country.
Q: Tell us about your most recent book.
Arctic Wargame is my debut spy thriller and the first one in Justin Hall series. It explores a situation when Canada’s security comes under threat from an Arctic power through its northern borders. Two foreign icebreakers appear in Canadian Arctic waters. Justin Hall, a Canadian Intelligence Service agent, is dispatched with a reconnaissance team. They discover a large stash of foreign weapons and fall into a trap set up by one of their own. Left for dead in a remote area of the Arctic, Justin and his time must survive the elements and fight back for their country.
Q: Do you have any writing projects you are currently working on?
I’m working on revising Tripoli’s Target, which is the second book in Justin Hall series. This time, Justin and his partner, Carrie O’Connor, return to North Africa to meet with one of the masterminds of a terrorist network. The man in question has promised them high-value intelligence, related to an assassination plot against the US President during her visit to a G-20 summit in Tripoli, Libya. The US Secret Service is informed about this plot, and they take all necessary measures to protect the President. However, new intelligence points at a large flaw in Justin’s and Carrie’s plan. Now, they must scramble to avoid the disaster. Tripoli’s Target will come out in fall 2012.
I’m also working on Fog of War, the third book in Justin Hall series. Justin infiltrates Iran to help extract a defector, a nuclear scientist who can provide information on Iran’s uranium enrichment program and its plans to build a nuclear bomb. Easier said than done. The release of Fog of War is tentatively planned for spring 2013.
Q: How do you go about creating villains?
I try to make villains real and multi-dimensional. Their actions are justifiable in their own logic. The villains are just the dark copies of the hero, the main protagonist of the story. They have feelings, they reason, they act logically, only their goals are completely opposite to those of the hero. My villains are usually very powerful people, invincible at first sight, but my heroes are too stubborn and do not take ‘no’ as an answer.
Q: Are your characters ever based on people you know?
I avoid doing that, since I don’t like defamation or slander lawsuits (being a lawyer, I know about such things). However, some of my acquaintances or friends may find their name or a similar name in my books. Some of their favourite expressions or their gestures or one of their pet peeves may also appear in the personality of a character.
Q: What are some of the things that inspire your storylines?
My spy thrillers are in a sense inspired by current events. Not a dramatized version of true stories, but an imaginary development of a ‘what-if’ scenario. What if an Arctic power decided to take some unilateral military action in that sensitive area of the world? What if an assassination plot happens while the US President visits one of the rogue states of the world?
Another driver of my storylines is the desire to entertain the reader, to take them away from the ordinary and into an imaginary world where they can follow a great story and take a break from their daily routine. If I have accomplished that, my job is done.
Q: How much research do you do (if any)?
I do extensive research, since that’s necessary for the spy thrillers. The setting of the locals needs to be true and factual. The same about weaponry, gadgets and other equipment used by the characters. I learn about the geo-politics of a certain region, the main players and the relations between the different countries. I explore the background of current and past developments in that area, so that the storylines I create do not appear in a vacuum and do not come across as contrived.
Q: What was the most interesting trip you have ever taken? Why?
I was blessed with a great trip to Belize a few years back and it was wonderful. My wife and my son visited the Great Barrier Reef, snorkeled with stingrays, turtles and sharks, and enjoy the sun, the sea and the great beauties of this peaceful (and English-speaking Caribbean country. For Canadians, burdened by five months of snow, a break to the warm climate in the winter is a much-needed escape.
Q: If you had a million dollars how would you spend it?
I would give a large chunk to charity. I would invest some of the rest in writing full-time and hiring people to do most of the things that I have to do now, like publicity, marketing, and so on. Take another trip to Belize and stay for a longer period of time. Do some landscaping around my house.
Q: Are you a spring, summer, fall or winter person? Explain why.
I’m a Canadian, so we don’t really get a spring or a fall. I like winter, because I can dress in layers and get warm. I can turn up the heat in my home and feel comfortable in a t-shirt. I don’t like snow shoveling that much, but then, it’s great to have a son who does that.
Q: Sitting alone in a field, staring up at the stars, what do you feel?
I feel how blessed we are to have what our Creator has given us. A great beauty, a wonderful gift.
Exclusive Excerpt from Chapter Four
Pond Inlet, Canada
April 11, 11:25 p.m.
“The pilot was shaking so hard, I thought he was gonna die.” Kiawak raised his voice in order to overpower the shouting of his drinking mates. One of them, a skinny man who seemed to be losing his balance, slammed his beer jug on the table, splashing his buddies. They cursed and shoved him, and he cursed and shoved them back.
“So, you were… were you… man, you wanted to kill the pilot, ha, ha…” the skinny man pointed his empty jug at Kiawak and raised it to his thick lips. Disappointed that no happy portion flew down his throat, he yelled at the bartender for another beer.
“No, no,” Kiawak replied, the only one sober in the wild bunch. “I wanted to put him to sleep for a few hours, so we could clean his wounds. He was allergic to the drugs or something.”
Their chuckles echoed again throughout the small but crowded bar. Kiawak was telling some old hunting adventure, which became more entertaining when embellished with exaggerated details over a few drinks.
Qauins Bar and Hotel, at the southern edge of Pond Inlet, provided the overnight lodging for Justin’s team. In the bar, Kiawak grilled his unsuspecting friends for information on anything out of the ordinary in and around town. With a little more than twelve hundred people, everybody knew the affairs of everybody.
Three tables down from Kiawak’s, Justin kept an eye on the rest of the thin crowd. Earlier in the day, interviews with some of the residents and the courtesy visit to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment produced no results. About two hours earlier, Kiawak had moved to Plan B: the Bar Operation. In vino veritas. Justin remembered the Latin expression he learned while attending McGill University. Vine, or whisky and beer in this case, the saying went, always brings out the truth, even in the best of people.
The wooden door of the bar squeaked as Anna rushed in. The little man at Kiawak’s table ogled her figure, although she was wrapped in a thick Gore-Tex jacket and a black balaclava.
“It’s… it’s so… bloody, freezing cold out there.” Anna sat at Justin’s table, still shivering. She wiped the snow off her gloves and the hood of her jacket. Her nose was strawberry red, and tiny icicles adorned her thin eyelashes.
“Well, yeah. With the wind chill, it probably feels like minus twenty five out there.”
“More like minus one hundred.” She placed her balaclava on the table and straightened her hair. “The inside of my noise is frozen solid. I can’t feel my nostrils any more. All this happened while I was out for no more than five minutes. Oh, I need some hot coffee to warm up.”
“It’s almost midnight. Will you be able to sleep?”
“I know I won’t be able to sleep without warming up.”
Justin called the waitress and ordered coffee. He noticed Kiawak gobbling a whisky shot, his last one. Five drinks and two hours were the agreed terms of the Bar Operation. Kiawak was getting close to his endgame.
“Where did Carrie and Alisha go?” Anna asked.
“Alisha whined about a terrible headache and left at about the same time you took off. Carrie wanted to get a good night sleep before tomorrow’s long day. Did they know anything at the co-op?”
Anna blew carefully on the hot cup of coffee the waitress brought her and took a small sip.
“No, nothing useful. They wanted to talk to me about everyone and everything, but they knew nothing about icebreakers. The food prices were so crazy. I wanted to buy a can of pop and it was five dollars. Five freaking dollars.”
“Well, do you think your coffee will be less? Everything is very expensive here, since most of the year they have to fly in the food.”
The barman, a bald, middle-aged man, approached Kiawak’s table and exchanged a few words with its patrons. Some loud cursing followed, and Kiawak picked up the tab. He escorted his buddies to the bar door and exchanged a bear hug with each of them.
“You’re gonna lock up, Kiawak?” shouted the barman after he had cleared the rest of the bar from its drinkers, with Justin and Anna the only remaining customers.
“No, he will.” Kiawak pointed to Justin, while meandering toward their table. “I’ve got to hit the sack right away.”
“All right.” The barman flipped a switch behind the counter, turning off the main ceiling lights. The bar sank into half-darkness. Justin’s and Anna’s shadows danced under the flickering lights of two floor lamps at the far end corner, near stairs leading to the hotel rooms on the second floor. Another faint blue light glowed behind the bar counter.
“Oh, Justin, always the unrepentant romantic,” Kiawak said as he dropped in an empty chair next to Justin. Kiawak rested his hands on the table. They were now the only three people in the bar. “Enjoying some female companionship, eh?”
Justin chuckled. “Anything good come out of all that drinking, beside your sarcasm?”
“Nothing. Well, almost nothing.”
“What is it?” Anna asked.
“This guy from Grise Fiord, a well-known con, is trying to fence some guns. Big guns.”
“What caliber?” Justin asked.
“They didn’t know. This guy and his partner, well, girlfriend, buy or steal weapons in the south and sell them here, all over the place. Usually, it’s handguns and the occasional semi. This time, according to Mike, the little guy, it’s large cal.”
Thank you, Helene, for having me here on your blog today. I’m turning this post over to a character in my novel The Mall Fairies: Exile. Grace is feeling guilty and I’ll let her tell you why. And she shares one of my favorite recipes, yum!
Who could have possibly have known? And if I’d known, how could I have believed a word? I mean, really, those little birds and bats we spotted flying around in our shopping mall are fairies? Really? REALLY? Turns out, yes, really. And even if Grandma MacDougall is the wonderful woman who raised me—she does drink a bit. Okay more than a bit … So I never did believe my tipsy grandmother when she talked about a one-winged fairy (not only fairies, but one-winged too? I mean, come on) riding around on the huge music box Christmas carousel. You know—the one that sits in the display window of our shop in the mall, Christmas Fairyland. I wonder if I should apologize—naw, I think I’ll just bake our favorite cake, that way Grandma and I can both have some delicious fun—without those silly fairies mucking up our lives. They do that just by showing up. And if they do show up, well …
MOLASSES CAKE, THE BASIC RECIPE (This is one you can play with a lot, very forgiving.)
1/2 c. molasses (light or dark, your choice)
2/3 c. water
1/2 c. raisins (can be omitted, other dried fruits can be substituted, or added to raisins. Or nuts are also good.)
1/2 teas. cinnamon
1/2 teas. cloves
1/2 teas. baking soda (I use more, a teaspoon.)
1 and 3/4 c. white flour
Boil water, combine with molasses and raisins, boil 5 minutes (to soften dried fruit) let cool.
Combine other ingredients together, add mixture.
Spray 8″ by 8″ pan (or oil and flour) bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.
Plain, this makes a good breakfast cake.
GRANDMA MACDOUGALL’S VARIATION for Molasses Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Orange Frosting:
Use more of the spices listed above and you can add ginger and nutmeg, sometimes even a touch of chili powder. Add a half cup of chocolate bits and/or a half cup of nuts. This cake is a little dry and not terribly sweet, so sometimes I melt chocolate bits on the top for a quick frosting and sometimes I frost the cake, depending on mood.
Chocolate Orange Frosting:
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon vanilla
¼ to ½ teaspoon orange extract
In a large bowl, cream the butter and add the cocoa, vanilla and orange extract and then slowly beat in the sugar by half cupfuls until desired consistency is reached. Frost the cooled cake.
For more adventures of Grace and her, ahem, sorta, fairy friends, read The Mall Fairies: Exile, the first in Conda V. Douglas’ Mall Fairies trilogy.
Today I’m happy to welcome Jan Fischer-Wade, author of Veiled Virtues!
Thanks for having me on your site today Helene! I am having lots of fun with the Summer Teen Reading Party and I am so excited about this month long event! We’ve got lots of great books and authors there – many for $1.99 or less. I hope everyone visits! Make sure to read the rest of this post to find out how you can enter to win a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card!
I know a lot of teens out there are done with school until fall – yay!!!! I hope everyone enjoys this holiday weekend with fun in the sun! The thought of summer reading takes me back to when I was in high school. It seemed each summer I was hooked on a particular author or subject. After my junior year, I spent the summer months reading lots of Stephen King. If you’ve seen any of my other visits on other sites, you will have noticed I like books in many different genres – romance, true crime and mysteries! The first work I read of Stephen King was his book of short stories. I think “Thinner” was in there and some others. I recall reading them over and over, because when I got to the end of each story the first time, I was like, “Huh?” Yes, totally confused sometimes. So, I’d go back and read it again – usually with a much better understanding of what was going on. King’s work is just so creative and well written! He must let his mind get so twisted at times (which I totally admire by the way.)
What books is everyone out there excited to read this summer? As for me, I will be working on the finishing touches to the sequel to Veiled Virtues. It is entitled Latent Legacy and you can read more about it on my website listed below!
Here is a bit about my novel, Veiled Virtues:
When Paige Stewart left America to house-sit in England, her only thoughts were to get away from her controlling mother and to have fun. Little did she know that her working holiday would find her hearing eerie voices, experiencing alarming dreams and bleeding from old scars. Although Paige’s differences confuse and disgust her, she opens up to the shopkeeper of a strange metaphysical store in town, where she finds much more than tarot cards and crystals. Soon, Paige is stalked like prized game. Relentlessly pursued, her holiday takes a turn for the eerie and dangerous. Her only saving grace may be a modern-day English knight who sweeps her off her feet and recognizes the true virtues the American teen unknowingly possesses.
Veiled Virtues is available at the following sites: Amazon OmniLit Smashwords MuseItUp Publishing Diesel Kobo BookStrand AmazonUK
Coming soon to Barnes & Noble and iTunes!!!
About Jan’s giveaway:
Enter to win a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card!!! One lucky winner will be chosen from the commenters on her blog (including emails to her from non-Book Blogs members), “Likes” and “Shares” on Facebook and Tweets about her book, Veiled Virtues, or the Summer Reading Party site (include @veiledvirtues in your tweets!). It’s that easy!!! She will be having other giveaways during the month on her blog as well, so make sure to visit it!
Jan Fischer Wade can be found online at:
Author Bio: Kim Baccellia was a bilingual teacher in Los Angeles County for eight years and during that time she didn’t find many books for Latinas that were upbeat or dealt with their heritage. During the time she wrote this novel, she was learning about her own Mexican heritage and decided to write a novel that was set in a Mesoamerican world.
Kim has also written Crossed Out, a YA paranormal and her YA fantasy No Goddesses Allowed has a tentative release date of Fall 2012.
A current member of SCBWI, Kim is currently writing the sequel to Crossed Out and a YA multicultural Sci-Fi. She lives in Southern California with her husband and son.
- Blurb Fifteen-year-old Lupe Hernandez dismisses the legend about her Mexican grandmother’s magical earrings as a silly fairytale, despite recurring nightmares of human sacrifice. But when the earrings thrust her into the parallel world of Ixtumea, she must confront the very thing she shuns the most — her cultural heritage.
“How often do you hear a girl saves the world?” The melodic hush of Abuela’s voice downstairs in the kitchen woke Lupe. Darkness filled her room. She peered over at her alarm clock, six o’clock in the morning.
She pulled her pink blanket over her head and moaned. Oh, here we go again. Couldn’t Abuela let me sleep in? The blanket might cover her, but she couldn’t escape the sounds of her grandmother reciting yet another fable from the mystical land of Ixtumea. She’d been forced to listen to that stupid tale last night. And even worse, downstairs in their kitchen, listening and encouraging were Abuelita’s amigas.
Lupe stumbled out of bed, kicking aside a collection of navy-and-white uniform clothes on the floor. Throwing on a faded flannel robe, she cracked her bedroom door open. The voices grew louder.
“Si, tell us more!” The ting of spoons against the tiny teacups sounded like a battle cry. Didn’t those women know it was way too early? Jeez, no way am I going to sleep. I might as well see if they made some hot chocolate or tea. Maybe then I can stomach this whole nonsense of Ixtumea and Super-Girl before I go to school.
She had long outgrown the silly tales. Though she hated to admit it, the tale of the girl savior fascinated her. Never had she heard of a teen-aged Latina battling evil forces and saving her people, in a world not unlike the land of Lupe’s Mexican ancestors.
No, the only stories of teen heroes she’d heard starred thin beautiful blondes. Everything she wasn’t.
Still, Abuela’s voice cast a spell on her. Lupe knew she shouldn’t eavesdrop on the chismes, but she couldn’t help herself.
She crept down the stairs past the pictures of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Pope John Paul II, and one of the mysterious Mayan gods.
“Ay, too bad she couldn’t have come sooner,” Coco, their next-door neighbor, sighed. “Too many cosas modernas in our world. Now who believes? No one but us.”
Who are they talking about? Lupe wondered.
“Now that’s one story I’d like to hear,” an unfamiliar gravelly voice replied. “Not another pobrecita guera who steals the ranchero’s heart. How many poor blondes from Mexico do you ladies know?”
“You mean real ones or ones that appear with la magica of the bleach?” asked Esperanza, the acknowledged gossip of the apartment building.
Laughter filled the small condo. Lupe couldn’t help but smile. These ladies loved those telenovelas almost as much as Abuela’s tales. She thought it funny her grandmother got on her case about her Anglo pop idols. Maybe the ladies weren’t different from her, after all.
Lupe crouched down and hid behind one of the banisters. Ixchel, the spider goddess, smiled down on her from a painting on the wall. Red gems sparkled from Ixchel’s earlobes, similar to the earrings Lupe’s grandmother had tried to give Lupe last night.
From this position Lupe saw the usual group of amigas sitting around the Formica table, sipping café de leche or manzanilla—chamomile—tea in delicate small cups. Vivid crimson, yellow, and orange housecoats brightened the kitchen. The women sounded like a flock of lively parrots.
Next to the stove, Abuela worked her magic. She pinched off a bit of dough, rolled the soft masa into the size of a golf ball, and flattened the dough between her earth-colored hands. Quickly she threw the pancake-shaped masa onto a sizzling black pan.
The other women helped. Esperanza scrambled eggs, the vivid red housedress she wore fluttering over her round figure. Esperanza’s large gold hoop earrings bounced with every movement.
Coco stood in the far corner, one large embroidered rose peeking out of her simple rebozo. She cut the tortillas into thin strips to mix in with the eggs, chorizo, and cheese. “Oye, espera un momento. Tell me more about this niña who’ll save Ixtumea.”
“Here, let me finish.” The scrape of a metal chair dragged across the wooden floor and one of the women took over cooking the tortillas.
“Ay, where was I?” Lupe’s abuela asked as she settled down in one of the chairs. She wiped her hands on her apron, sealing in the roasted scent of tortillas.
“The prophecy. How does it go, again?”
“Oh, yes.” Abuelita took a deep breath. Then she began.
“She will come,
Descending through the sacred web,
To vanquish the great deceiver.
Many will be her name:
“Cipriana, do we know this niña?”someone asked.
Lupe leaned down closer to the stair, curious to find out if her grandmother would reveal the name of the person. Wouldn’t it be a real hoot if it were someone she knew?
“Let me guess.” Esperanza turned off the stove. “She’s tall, thin, and has blonde hair.”
“You sound as bad as my Lupita. Nadie está contento con su suerte. Always dreaming the other side is better.” Her grandmother let out a deep sigh. “If only she’d listen and take the earrings…”
“So she hasn’t taken them?” Coco asked. “Does she not know how importante they are?”
“You know the young. Never listen.” Her grandmother let out another sigh.
“If I was her, I’d be dying to use them…wait, maybe, your Lupita is this niña!” Esperanza laughed so hard she snorted. “Wouldn’t that be something?”
Startled at hearing her name, Lupe leaned back against the wall. An old picture of her mother wearing those same earrings shifted above her.
Lupe felt a strange foreboding. The tips of her ears burned. What was wrong with her?
She got up and went back to her room. Quietly she closed the door to block out the voices. A prickly sensation covered her body, along with a sick feeling, maybe Esperanza was right. She thought back to last night and her grandmother’s attempt to give her a pair of earrings, identical to the ones in all the pictures in their apartment. She’d started up again with the legend and refused to let Lupe leave the room. “No, this is muy importante,” she said. She talked about a web between the worlds fraying and the time of the fulfillment of the prophecy was now. How Lupe needed to be prepared.
Author Bio: When Stephanie’s not writing, she works full-time as a Corporate Educator and Curriculum Designer. She also works as a freelance instructional and graphic designer, along with her husband of ten years. My most important job of all, however, is being a mom to two little boys under the age of six. When she’d not working, mothering someone, or writing, she is an avid reader. Naturally, her favorite genre is Fantasy, but she’ll read just about anything given the chance! Stephanie holds a Master’s degree in Education with a specialization in Instructional Technology from Duquesne University and a B.S. in Management Information Systems from Robert Morris University. She is a classically trained clarinetist, but also plays the saxophone and sings. Stephanie’s first novel, The Star Child, willl be released in September 2012 by Inkspell Publishing. She is now currently at work on the second book in the trilogy, The Fallen Stars.
- Blurb: Kellen St. James is just your average seventeen-year-old prodigy, but with a Yale degree, a photographic memory, and an addiction to everything 80s. But what’s not so average about Kellen is the girl who’s been haunting his dreams for the last eleven years. When the sudden death of his grandmother takes him from the East Coast to the Irish Coast, he finds himself face to face with his own personal ghost and finds out that she’s just as real as he is. Plus she’s come spinning a tale about an ancient prophecy in which Kellen plays a key role. Together they will travel through an underworld of faeries and demons, angels and gods, not to mention a really ticked off pack of wild dogs, all in order to save the world from darkness. But will they make it in time?
Stephanie is a featured author on http://www.loveahappyending.com. You can visit her at http://www.stephaniekeyes.com
Q: What are some other current projects you have going (or are planning to work on)?
My current work is the sequel to The Star Child, The Fallen Stars. I am current knee deep in the project and have given myself a very strict deadline to adhere to. So right now, no one is allowed to talk to me, during my scheduled writing time. It’s head down, all the time!
Q: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part has been finding the time. My schedule has been a challenge. I work in a corporate environment, which requires me to travel around the company, teaching and facilitating. The role is also deadline-driven, which sometimes requires late nights. Since I try and impact my family as little as possible, I usually stay up late or get up early to meet work deadlines. It’s about to get easier, however, as I will soon be leaving my job to work as a freelance graphic designer. So this may no longer be a challenge!
Q: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think the most important thing that I learned from writing The Star Child was to just enjoy it and have fun with the characters. When I was writing the TSC, I was working about sixty hours per week and had my first child, a one-year-old. So I had very little time that I could devote to writing. As a result, I tried to get as much done during the weekends as possible, always cramming it in. I don’t know that I enjoyed writing it nearly as much as I could have. Now, with The Fallen Stars, it’s like walking back into a room of old friends and just picking up where I left off. I’m having a blast with it.
Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
The best advice that I can give is one, to be as educated as possible. Join a group that supports writers, like The World Literary Cafe, or something similar. Attend conferences if you can, they are all over the country, and often in your own backyard. Two is to try to make as many connections as possible. I attended a conference in New York and I’ve kept in touch with those writers, asked them questions when I needed input. There is something to be said for meeting people that are going through the same things that you are, that understand writing as a lifestyle, so to speak. Building relationships and doing research have both been invaluable to me.
Q: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes! There are so many wonderful authors and books out there. So to all of you who’ve stopped by to read this post, thank you for your time.
Q: Are you a morning or a night person?
I am a middle of the day person. I cannot function in public well until after 10am and I start shutting down at 9pm. I’m really good at faking it and making people think I’m awake, however it takes alot of coffee for me to keep up the ruse!
Q: Does Prince Charming exist?
Yes, I’m married to him! Sorry ladies, I know you were hoping to meet him, but I snapped him up. I think there is more than one Prince Charming out there. Mine is my Prince Charming because he does things like make me a cup of coffee in the morning and take care of the laundry on the weekends. I think that Price Charming is a guy that doesn’t ask you to be anyone other than yourself, doesn’t ask for more than you’re willing to give, and is proud of you, no matter what. That’s what Prince Charming looks like in real-life and he’s totally cool.
List five adjectives to describe yourself. Creative, quirky, energetic, humorous, passionate
Q: What is your favourite quote?
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt When I was in elementary school, I was at the bus stop with a girl who would pick on me, call me names, try to bring me down. One day she tried it and i responded with “I don’t talk to teenagers”. I have no idea where that came from and I was convinced that I was going to be beaten up. However, nothing happened, she didn’t bother me because I stood up to her. I realized then that the only one who has the power to make me feel bad about me, is, well, me! Life’s too short to do that to yourself.
Today I’m pleased to welcome Kate Fuentes, author of the Elements series.
In a nutshell, what is your most recent book about?
ELEMENTS: Veil of Darkness follows the first book in the ELEMENTS series, The Beginning. The sequel focuses on the challenges the twins must face and how they struggle to put their family back together after the untimely separation that created a vast wedge in their tight circle. Veil of Darkness teeters between the fantasy realm and the realistic earth realm and introduces new characters both pleasant and villainous. Their elemental abilities of fire and water are a main focus and can be a curse as well as a gift throughout the story as they learn to harness the supernatural characteristics.
The third book in the series, Kingdom of Aqueous, is scheduled for release the beginning of summer 2012 and continues the saga with a new whimsical land and fantastical characters.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a published author?
Stay true to yourself and write what you believe in, not what you think will sell. An author must have a hard exterior and the willingness to lay it all on the line, even though it seems vulnerable. Diligence and determination area must have, most of the time you are your own cheeleader, marketing strategist, literary agent, bookseller, and public relations guru. Follow through with your dreams even if it seems like a dead end, the next answer might be a ‘yes’.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think any subject could be turned into a great story. The fine line between a good story and a great story is the way the author portrays the subject. For instance, any headline in a local newspaper could be turned into a novel, it just depends on the creativty and imagination that is poured into the pages. Key elements: intrigue, mystery, love, good vs. evil, heartache, challenges, adventure, truth… these qualities draw me in.
Do you believe in outlining?
I have several author friends who I talk with on a regular basis and we like to chat about the differences in our writing styles and the similarities we share. One thing that always differs is how we construct the novels themselves. Personally, I am one who is diligent with outlining on paper prior to logging on the computer. This may sound ‘old school’ to some, but it works for me. I jot down notes in a book, on scraps of paper, on my laptop and a journal. Either way, it ends up in the computer at the end of the day…
What was your favorite book as a child?
I didn’t have one particular book that was my favorite, but several. I can remember reading Ferdinand the Bull, Black Beauty, Ann of Green Gables, amongst others, but my true passion came when I started reading Greek Mythology. I loved the legendary heroes, the fantastic adventures, the animalistic creatures and people, the stark contrast of gladiator brutality versus admiration and love. It was a harsh world without mercy, but a world where a mere mortal could flourish triumphantly. These are the stories that inspired me to write my own series, to continue the legacy with a modern twist.
If you had to compare yourself to an animal, which one would it be? Why?
A dolphin… I like to have fun, but I also enjoy solving complex situations and finding a resolution. I like to work with others in a group setting, but I can hold my own if the occasion arises. I’m an advocate for those without a voice and will defend those who are in need. I like to travel and I’m extremely loyal to my family. To me, that is what a dolphin encompasses.
Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?
I am quite passionate about photography and take several pictures throughout the week. I’m not a fan of ‘posey-posey’ shots. I look for the unintentional picture of person who is unaware or the naturalistic photo of mother nature. I prefer black and white because its classic and beautiful and shows the simplistic allure of shadows.
Name one piece of clothing that describes you and explain why.
SHOES…. I am crazy about shoes! Shoes can be comfortable and sensible, sweet and sassy, flirty and feminine, heavy and somber, classy and sophisticated, traditional and safe, colorful and vibrant, sharp and confined, drab and uneventful, sleek and modern… depending on the day, I think this describes my different moods as well as some of my shoe collection.
Author Bio: Kate Fuentes
My name is Kate Fuentes, author of a young adult fantasy series called Elements. I modeled the characters after my two sons and created the fantasy realm as a story to read to my children at night. I’m fascinated at the enormity of endless imagination that we humans are capable of having, and enjoy being able to write fiction for others to appreciate as well.
My series includes: Book one, Elements: The Beginning, Book two, Elements: Veil of Darkness, and soon to be released in the summer of 2012, Book three, Elements: Kingdom of Aqueous. I plan to continue the installments and have not decided how many books will complete the series. I, like so many of my author counterparts, aspire to create more books and characters for my readers to enjoy. I have two projects currently in the beginning phases of conception and will release details in the fall of 2012 on my webpage KateFuentes.com
I attended college in Arizona and transferred to California where I finished my studies in business marketing and advertising while progressively composing short stories in the foreground. Research and development is one of my favorite aspects of writing along with the actual creation of the story from imagination to the novel itself.
I am quite passionate about writing but also enjoy helping those that are underprivileged, forgotten, and oppressed by working in a global reach department during the week in the hopes that I may bring attention to the causes which will, in effect, inspire others to volunteer or champion for those less fortunate both locally and around the world.
On a personal note, I am happily married to my junior high sweetheart and we have two glorious children. We appreciate our time spent with one another and always make sure we set aside a day for family fun night.
To contact the author, Kate Fuentes, visit the following social media sites:
Kate Fuentes , Twitter , Sired Scribblings , Facebook , Pinterest
Elements: The Beginning, Book One
AMAZON BARNES&NOBLE GOODREADS SMASHWORDS
Elements: Veil of Darkness, Book Two
AMAZON BARNES&NOBLE GOODREADS SMASHWORDS
Elements: Kingdom of Aqueous, Book Three
Helene, thank you for the wonderful opportunity to answer some questions and be a guest on your blog. I am grateful to be a part of the May Summer Teen Reading Party and look forward to seeing all the other authors participate!
Elements Series, YA fiction
Today I’m pleased to welcome Barbara Ehrentreu, author of If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. Barbara is doing a giveaway of her book, so please leave a comment for a chance to win!
Q. What are some other current projects you have going (or are planning to work on)?
Currently I am polishing a manuscript I wrote for NanoWriMo called When My Life Changed, about a 15 year old girl whose life changes completely when her father has a heart attack and needs to have triple bypass surgery. It deals with the changes to her family, to her and her friendships and to her outlook on life. It is based on a true story about what happened to me and my family when the same thing happened to my husband. I am planning on sending it out very soon.
Also, I have five poems in an anthology called: Beyond the Dark Room, which is a collaboration of 21 poets and will be published soon by Really Love Your Book Publishers. We are donating all proceedings from this book to Doctors Without Borders.
Q: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Yes. I was in third grade and my teacher had us write poems about Spring. Mine was chosen to be in the school district’s newsletter. As I got older I wrote only for myself and showed my poetry to my friends. I did not start writing prose until I was at a Writers’ Workshop at Manhattanville and my memoir was chosen by the group to be read. I read it to an audience that included several published authors and afterward they came up to me to congratulate me on my writing. I knew I wanted to be an author at that moment, because it all felt so right.
Q: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here is a little bit of the first chapter. Remember this is still not ready for publication:
Excerpt from When My Life Changed:
The phone rang as the ball left the pitcher’s glove and in a second as I saw Mom’s tears, I forgot all about the game. My life changed while the TV blurred and turned into a nightmare kaleidoscope. The moment was indelibly pressed in my thoughts.
My sister, Diane, was upstairs hunched over her computer as usual. She’s not a baseball fan at all. But I lived and breathed for the Mets that Fall. They had such a great chance of getting the pennant and maybe even winning the World Series. I obsessed about the Mets and of course, Joey.
Joey, my best friend from kindergarten, was always there for me. It’s hard to imagine a recess without him by my side. He’s bigger than me and always looked a little older than he was. Mom liked Joey, because he reassured her he would obey her rules. So, she let me and Joey stay alone, even though she never let me do that with any of my other friends. She’s always worried we’ll get into the liquor or find a way to watch porn on TV. She’s got that block on the TV, but my friends know how to get around it. But with Joey she had this confidence based on things I couldn’t name. It might be Joey and his way of getting parents to trust him. Maybe it’s his easy smile or his clear gray eyes.
But all that was pre-phone call. Pre-pc my deepest thoughts centered on the Mets and finding the sweet spot for the ball in my new baseball glove. Pre-pc my world was worrying about homework getting done and wondering what lunch would be like on Monday.
Let me go back and tell a little bit about myself. First of all you might be thinking I’m a boy, but you’re wrong. My name is Lauren. I’m 15, and my sister is 17 and I’m one hundred percent female. We learned about stereotypes in social studies and thinking sports can be only a boy’s thing is one of those. The teacher used blondes and how people think they’re dumb or playing dumb. We had to come up with a few stereotypes of our own as our ticket to leave that day. It was then I realized that my own parents thought in stereotypes.
I go against the stereotype for girls. I’ve always loved baseball and Joey loves it even more than me.
Our friendship goes against the stereotypes too. He and I clicked in kindergarten when on the first day Joey and I sat together and didn’t stop talking the whole morning. My parents told me when the teacher tried to separate us we both put our feet on the ground and refused to be moved. She let us sit together for the rest of the year. But the next year the teachers were onto us and separated Joey and me for the whole year in different classes. We’d see each other in the hallway and wave. Sometimes I’d have a little tear in my eye when I saw Joey and it didn’t go away for a long time.
Q: Who designed the cover?
The cover for my only published book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, was designed by Kaytalin Platt. People really like it and it has won an award.
Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
My only advice for other writers is to keep writing about what you love. When you write from your heart people will want to read it. Also, never give up trying to get your work published. There is going to be someone who will love it as much as you do.
Q: If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
Barbara Ehrentreu: The Girl From Brooklyn Who Never Gave Up!
Q: If you were a type of food, what would you be?
I would be an Almond Joy bar. Soft and yummy outside with a hard nut inside.
Q: If you won $20 million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with the money?
First of all I would pay all of my debts to everyone and also I would pay my children’s debts and my husband’s debts. Then I would buy a house for my husband and I and one for my both of my daughters. I would give money to all my favorite charities and political campaigns. Then I would invest some of it. Probably I would take a trip around the world with my husband, since we both love travel and bring along our doctors and of course, my hairdresser. My guess is we would do it on our private jet. Then we would just go back home and enjoy our life without any pressures at all.
Q: What kind of people do you dislike?
I don’t like people who lie or are hypocritical.
Q: What makes you angry?
I don’t get angry easily. Anyone who knows me, knows it takes a lot to really make me angry. But lying to me or doing something that is unjust will make me very angry. Not listening to me makes me very angry too.:)
Q: Are you a morning or a night person?
I am most definitely a night person. I love the quiet and peace of being totally alone and many times I write the best at night. I do love seeing the dawn, though, but I like sleeping late. So I see it before I go to sleep sometimes.
Q: What is your favourite quote?
My favorite quote comes from a Roy Lichtenstein painting: (please link)
“That’s the way it should have begun, but it’s hopeless.”
We had that print our walls since we were married.
Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages
Today I’m pleased to welcome Rebecca Ryals Russell, author of several fantasy novels for children. Rebecca is doing a giveaway, so please read to find out what you need to do to win a copy of one of her books.
Blurbs of the books from Seraphym Wars YA series and Stardust Warriors MG series
Rebecca Ryals Russell is a prolific writer with four books currently out by MuseItUp Publishing. At the moment she is editing two more—Harpies, Book Two of the Seraphym Wars YA series and Laman in the Stardust Warriors MG series. There are two more in the Stardust Warriors series due out later this year as well. In addition, she is writing the next Seraphym Wars book, Majikals, Book Three and a YA dystopian romance. She also has several picture books written and in search of a good home. To top it all off she has an early MG Chapter Book series she has begun writing. It is called Masquerade the Scaredy Cat. Here are blurbs about each of her books in the Seraphym Wars and Stardust Warriors serieses:
Jeremiah, Prequel: Stardust Warriors MG Series
For centuries upon centuries Reverend Jeremiah Holyfield, a member of the Conscientia who volunteered to spend eternity on Dracwald, guarded the Prophecy in a small village church at the base of the Lucimons Mountains wherein dwell Narciss and his Legio of evil demon-dragons. But now, after centuries of peace, the dragons burned the village and church to the ground. Jeremiah must run and hide, taking the precious document, the Prophecy of Solsyl, with him. Accompanied by eleven-year-old protégé Abram, the two journey across Dracwald. Hunted by the dragons in their search for a safe new home in the distant Solimon Mountains, they encounter Majikals and monsters, natural disasters and discover new friends.
Zarena, Book One Stardust Warriors MG Series
14-year old Zarena spends time with a Holy Order of Clerics on their hidden world of Revrum Natura, while she receives training in Martial Arts, Herbology, Astronomy, Weaponry and Mental Telemetry. Destined to become the leader of the Vigorios, child warriors, who will assist the Seraphym in the war against the demon-dragons of Dracwald, Zarena grows up in a hurry. Lonely and homesick, she meets a Mermaid who encourages her to talk about her training. Is this new friend too good to be true? Zarena learns a valuable lesson about trust and betrayal—a lesson that will serve her well as leader of the Vigorios.
Laman, Book Two Stardust Warriors MG Series (due out March 2012)
After another fight with his mother, 14-year-old Laman stalks out of the house for a walk on the beach in order to calm down. But when he wakes on a strange beach the next morning, after being struck by lightning the night before, he and his sister are startled by a tiny fairy riding a hummingbird. She then leads them on a journey across a dangerous world called Dracwald—ruled by demon-dragons. Joined by a fiery-tempered 8-year-old who discovers he can start fires just by thinking about them, the trio struggles to make sense of Laman’s new visions and feelings, coupled with his ability to pull lightning from the sky and growing strength. Confused about the dragon-demons hunting them, they face crossing an uncrossable sea littered with sea dragons. Compelled to continue, Laman only knows they will meet the final member of their party in order to finish the journey.
Prophecy, Prequel: Seraphym Wars YA Series
For centuries the residents of Solsyl lived in peace and harmony with the planet. Then the dragon-demons arrived, causing the Great Shuddering. Majikals from everywhere scurried to find shelter from the evil while humans hid. Laud regretted his rash decision of exiling the demons on Solsyl and asked one of his advisors, a member of The Conscientia, to protect his people. Jeremiah Holyfield agreed to leave the peaceful world of Revrum Natura for a life of constant strife and fear on the newly renamed planet of Dracwald. But Narciss, ruler of Tartarus and King of the demons, desperately wants what Jeremiah has sworn to protect—a Prophecy predicting Narciss’s doom. And Narciss refuses to take no for an answer. But Jeremiah discovers allies along his path and even true love, which he never dreamed possible.
But forever is a long time to protect something without ever letting down one’s guard.
Odessa, Book 1: Seraphym Wars YA Series
17-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from an attack when she was 15, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets sweet and sensitive Michael, who explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island. He accompanies her on the quest, but harbors a secret past that ironically would destroy all the faith she has placed in him. A handsomely roguish Scientist with suspect motives haunts her dreams and makes sudden appearances in unlikely places, while a sensual dragon warrior defends her against her will.
Can love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?
Harpies, Book 2: Seraphym Wars YA Series (out soon)
Harpies, Book 2 in the Seraphym Wars Series, follows fifteen-year-old Griffen as he discovers why he has been transported from his home on the Outer Banks of South Carolina on Earth to a desolate beach somewhere on a foreign planet. Accompanied by a talking bird, Griffen begins a quest to fulfill his role in a prophecy and find his way home. Joined by twelve-year-old Seth, a strange fire-bug, and fourteen-year-old Mercy, a runaway with Empathic skills, Griffen learns to control his new ability to pull lightning from the sky at will—especially while battling demon-dragons and sea monsters who want them all dead. Following mere intuition, the three, accompanied by an oddball Burrowing Elf, transport downriver toward an island Griffen keeps seeing in visions. Narciss has other plans for the three intrepid Vigorios, however, and Griffen discovers a brave side he never suspected he had—unless he was playing video games. But this turns out to be no game.
Here are the links and topics detailing where I’ll be all month. Check them out and win PRIZES.
Seraphym Wars Series Summary May 2
Seraphym Wars and Stardust Warriors Series Blurbs May 10
Who are the Vigorios? May 4
The Prophecy of the Vigorios May 7
EXCERPTS AVAILABLE TO READ:
Harpies Chapter One May 12
Harpies Chapter Two May 15
Harpies Chapter Three May 16
Prophecy Chapter One May 23
Prophecy Chapter Two May 25
Prophecy Chapter Three May 28
Odessa Chapter One May 29
Odessa Chapter Two May 30
Odessa Chapter Three May 31
Comment on EACH of my postings (listed above with links) showing you read the posting. Commenters will acquire ONE point per comment. At the end, fill out the form on my blog, Under the Hat.
The prize? This lovely Phoenix medallion and a bag of swag including Odessa notepad, Seraphym Wars pen, Mind the Signs bookmark, coverart Postcards for each book in both series AND an eBook copy of my newest release: Harpies, Book Two Seraphym Wars Series.
Catch Rebecca at any of these links:
Under the Hat
Tween Word Quest
Teen Word Factory
Barnes and Noble http://tinyurl.com/rebeccaryalsrussell-B-N
Rebecca Ryals Russell writes MG and YA Dark Fantasy while living with her family in a Victorian house on five acres of North Florida countryside. She also runs a Vacation Rental Log House on the property: Florida Black Bear Cabin.
She is a fourth generation Floridian having lived all over the state. The daughter of an Elementary-school principal and school secretary, she always knew she was bound for the classroom and for fourteen years she taught Middle Grades, preferring English and Creative Writing. She had several students’ works published in anthologies as well as her own poetry, photography and stories.
Her main interests are her four teenaged and young adult children and Irish hubby of many years. She enjoys spending her time writing, drawing, going to movies, reading, discussing philosophy and politics with her college-aged son.
Over the course of the next few years she has several books being published.
Be sure to check out the special interactive Middle Grade Reader website Tween Word Quest for tons of information about Stardust Warriors as well as the other projects Rebecca has in the works and Under the Hat for all of her other works.
Today I’m pleased to welcome Emerald Barnes, author of Read Me Dead. Emerald is doing a giveaway, so leave a comment for a chance to win her book!
Tell us about your most recent work.
I recently self-published a YA Romantic Suspense titled, Read Me Dead. It’s told in the view point of my main character, Alexia “Alex” Wheaton. Seven years ago, she witnessed her parents’ murder, but no one knew the secret she held involving it. When this secret is revealed in the local newspaper, her world is turned upside down, and now she’s worried about the murderer finding his next victim – her. She just wants to be normal and worry about which boy she most wants to date, but nothing is normal about her life. She’s catapulted into a race against time to save her life and bring her parents’ murderer to justice.
What are some other current projects you have going (or are planning to work on)?
I am doing something new for me! I’m working on a YA paranormal trilogy titled Knight’s Academy. It follows a young girl, Myka, in a search to understand her true heritage and as she has to fight to protect humans from the creatures who want to use them or kill them.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I have debated this question many times! Part of me wishes I would’ve something huge from happening in my book Read Me Dead. But then the other part of me knows that it had to happen in order for the book to work. I can’t really go into much more detail than that, but if you read it, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about.
How do you go about creating villains?
I think about how truly evil they need to be before I start writing about them. Some of them I give redeeming qualities to, while I think that some of them don’t even need that redeeming quality. But mostly, I try to get in my mind how truly villain-ish I want them to be and go from there. They tend to develop from there.
What are some of the things that inspire your storylines?
Dreams mostly. I’ll see these snippets of really cool ideas in my dreams that I take and write about. But, sometimes, it’s the simplest of things that inspire me: songs, a street lamp, my dog.
If you could live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose and why?
Hands down, this one. So far, it’s been completely amazing! I started dating my wonderful boyfriend. I’m self-publishing my newest novel. I started working with an amazing group of people at the World Literary Café. And, God is putting everything in order for me.
How many handbags do you own?
More than I can count. I literally have 2 huge storage containers full! I would guess near 50.
You win a million dollars, but you have to give half to a charity. Which charity do you pick? What do you do with the rest of the money?
I would give half to St. Jude’s. The work they do for kids is so amazing, and those kids deserve a long, healthy life. But as far as the other half went, I would probably put some in savings and buy a car.
What is your favorite dessert?
ANYTHING CHOCOLATE! However, I’m quite fond of cheesecakes!
Read Me Dead: http://www.amazon.com/Read-Me-Dead-ebook/dp/B007WMQK3A/
Google + : https://plus.google.com/101744242812023382698/posts
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Emerald-Barnes/e/B004PL38QS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Today I’m pleased to welcome Natalie Wright, author of Emily’s House. Welcome, Natalie! Natalie is giving away a signed paperback copy of her book, as well as a copy of her ebook, so please leave a comment for a chance to win!
Natalie Wright spent her formative years growing up on a farm in Ohio. It was a fertile environment for an active imagination and inquisitive mind. She is, however, a city girl at heart and now finds inspiration in her travels and in the desert environment of her home in Tucson, Arizona, where she lives with her husband, daughter and her dog Molly.
From Kirkus Reviews: With her two best friends by her side and her mother’s memory in her heart, a teenager undertakes a journey to save the world from an ancient evil.
Emily Adams has always known she’s special. Throughout her whole life she’s had visions of things that haven’t happened yet and she could always read her mother’s mind. At least, she could until her mother died. Emily thinks her abilities are just about gone, but the arrival of a strange creature in her backyard one night proves otherwise. Emily discovers she is the last of the Order of Brighid, an ancient society of women sworn to protect the portal to the Netherworld. Now, with the portal under attack, it’s up to Emily and her two loyal, wisecracking friends to stop a villainous man before his actions destroy the world.
The whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of that infernal machine. Its bellows pumping up and down as black, tarry goo is sucked up the tube and into the holding tank.
She’s lying there on the bed like a robot corpse, tubes and lines going in and out of her body. Her once rosy lips now pale, tinged slightly green. Her once vibrant emerald green eyes are closed, sunken slightly into the sockets. Her once strong body lies still and shrunken. Only her hair looks the same, flowing like a red wave across the white shore of the pillow.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
I’m standing at the door, gingerly peeking in. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to see this. I don’t want the putrid odor of people dying stuck in my nostrils.
I don’t want to go in but I’m sucked into the room anyway, my legs powerless against the invisible force urging me in. I feel myself flailing with my arms and trying hard to command my body to obey – to allow me to turn and run from this horrid scene.
But I’m in the room anyway, drawing ever closer to the bed.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
What is that tarry black stuff? Is it being sucked out of her body? Or put in?
I’m now close enough to touch her, but I don’t want to. The last time I touched her I saw a vision of her taking her last breath. The last time I touched her, I saw her die. I don’t want that to come true. And I don’t want to see her die again. The first time I saw her die I ran and ran, trying to escape the vision. I don’t want to touch anyone ever again.
But my hand reaches anyway, a mind of its own. I’m powerless to stop it. I feel my mouth opening to scream but nothing comes out, my lips locked in a soundless “O.”
My hand quivers as it reaches, in slow motion, toward the sleeping body that bears a minor resemblance to my mother. Is she still in there? Or has the cancer stolen the last of her?
My fingertips shake now as they touch her hand.
Her eyes pop open in a look of terror. Her mouth is open in a scream but instead of a human scream it’s the loud whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of that tar-sucking machine.
Suddenly, she sits up. The long, wavy red hair flying about her head is the same but the face is no longer my mother. It looks at me with large, solid black eyes, devoid of light or emotion, staring out of a bare skull. Her hand is now skeleton and grips me hard.
I pull and pull to get free of this monster, but it has me. I’m caught in its grip.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
I finally wake, dripping in sweat, my mouth still open in an “O,” the scream still caught in my throat.
I awake once again from the same bad dream I’ve had for the last seven years, only to find myself in a house of nightmares.
Q: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing as a child. Up until about the age of eleven or so, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I continued to write stories and poetry all through high school and college. But when I entered law school, I stopped doing creative things for a long time.
When my daughter was born in 2002, my creative energy soared. I began to paint and draw again, and then about five years ago I began writing again. It felt so good! If you are a creative person, it’s like a little death to deprive yourself of a creative outlet. I am so happy I found my way back to what I wanted to do from the beginning.
Q: How did you come up with the title?
I had at least three different working titles for my first novel, Emily’s House. And to be honest, I’m not sure exactly where the final title came from. But in the final revision stage, I saw that Emily’s house played prominently in the story. In the first chapter she’s walking into her house with dread. During her time in the Netherworld she visits her house twice. Then she walks back into her house in the final scene. The title popped into my head and I liked it because it refers not only to her actual house, but to her metaphorical inner house. Once I had that title, Emily’s House, the titles for the next two books in the series came to me as well – Emily’s Trial (Book 2) and Emily’s Heart (Book 3). And strangely, with those two books, the title came before the story!
Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
First and foremost, I try my best to write a fun and engaging story. So if a reader doesn’t see a theme or “message,” that’s okay.
But in Emily’s House, during Emily’s time in the Netherworld, I set out to write a primer on how to do “real” magic. This idea was partly in response to other works, Star Wars in particular, where writers reference things like “the force” and the characters perform magic, but there is never any “how to” included. I thought, “What if magic is real?” (hint: It is.) And how would a character learn about “real” magic?
In Emily’s House, I planted cues about how a person can set about creating a life filled with real magic. What is real magic? When we are able to manifest in our lives our intentions – get what we want – in my view, that’s magic. And it is so much fun!
Q: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Emily’s House is not based on my own life or any specific experiences I’ve had or people I know. However, I do draw on my life experiences when I write. This is not a conscious thing that I do. But when I’m revising and re-writing, that’s where I’ll see how what came out on the page relates to things I’ve seen or experienced. For instance in Emily’s House, Emily’s mother died when she was seven. I didn’t lose my mother – she’s still very much alive! But Emily’s grief over the death of her mother and her desire to be with her again – that part of the book was informed by my own relationship with my daughter. My daughter and I have such a close connection. I imagined what it would have been like for her to lose me, especially at a young age. I drew on my own experience of motherhood when writing Emily’s House. It’s not a specific experience necessarily that inspires the writing, but I draw from the well of all that I am.
Q: Do you make your bed in the morning, or do you not see much point?
I love these questions! I do not make my bed. There, I admitted it in public! And I do like getting into a made bed, so I do see the point. But I’d rather spend more time in the shower than making my bed, so the bed is not made. Please don’t tell my mother on me.
Q: Do you go out of your way to kill bugs? Are there any that make you screech and hide?
I live in the Sonoran desert so we have some nasty creepy-crawlies that make their home here. I don’t squash most bugs. We have an active critter relocation program in our house. Our home is intended for people, dogs and cats, so everything else gets sent back to the outdoors where they belong.
But I cannot abide a scorpion. This is a true story.
Not long after buying my first house in Arizona, I found my cat hunkered down in the bathroom looking at something. I realized she had a scorpion cornered. Fearful that it may sting her and cause serious damage (she was a very small cat), I got her out, closed the door and went for my husband. Hubby sprayed the scorpion with Raid. It laughed in his face and did one of those creepy rearing up on its back legs things that they do. Hubby then went to find a hiking boot and proceeded to whack the snot out of it. The scorpion shook his head, went “Bwahaha” and began to crawl away. My husband, determined not to let a scorpion less than two inches long best him, went to the kitchen and got my long, butcher’s knife. He went back to the bathroom, closed the door (perhaps to protect my eyes from the slaughter about to happen), and emerged victorious, a smug smile of satisfaction on his face.
Thereafter, the butcher knife became his weapon of choice in his fight against the occasional scorpion that tries to invade our peaceful home.
What is your favorite drink?
I love full-sugar regular Coca Cola. I stopped buying soda a few months ago so I don’t drink it often anymore. But I love to drink a coke with pizza or a burger (sigh!).
Q: How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate, feisty and free