Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











UtopYA

It’s Friday! Yay yay yay!  Let me tell you, this week has been rough for me, but I’ve got a fun post for y’all to make your Friday even better!!  The ever talented Victoria Faye of Whit&Ware is here to answer some interview questions and talk about her upcoming workshop—Book Branding Blueprint —at utopYA Con 2015. If you don’t have your ticket yet, you need to get one soon! There are only 98 days until the event, and you don’t want to miss out on all the epicness that is utopYA 2015!  Scoop up your ticket here (hint: you can purchase a ticket to Victoria Faye’s Whit&Ware workshop here and find out more about it).

In addition to the amazing information you’ll get this month from the official bloggers, be sure and write down the partial phrase you’ll find on each blog. We’re giving away Saturday signing space, and you’ll need the whole phrase in order to enter.

So without further ado, here’s my interview with Victoria Faye of Whit&Ware:

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Where did you go to school to gain your mad design and marketing skills?

While I did go to school and get a degree in Media Technology and Graphic Design in Northern CA (Hartnell, Monterey County) I’m largely self taught. Most of my learning actually happened on the job, I got an internship at Marketing company almost right out of a high school, and they put me on every job possible as the assistant inhouse designer. I was there for a few years, then I had the luck of having friends who worked in entertainment, specifically in set design and fashion styling, I was able to learn lot from them about branding individuals and styling/designing concepts. That experience helped me land a job as a visual artist and merchandiser at Forever 21, Urban Outfitters and Macys before I started doing freelance design. I got to design floor displays and store graphics and create style directives for womens/juniors fashion. After that I worked for a video production/manufacturer as a marketing coordinator for 5 years designing branding and marketing campaigns while building my design business, so its mostly been 15 years of on the job training, I also try to get into professional workshops and study for certifications every year to help me stay updated on all the software and practices I’m constantly learning!

 What kind of degree(s) do you hold in these fields?

I have a degree in Graphic Design, and currently working towards a BA degree in New Media Marketing.

What part of the workshop are you looking forward to presenting most and why?

I really want to break down what branding and marketing is and how they are both easy to do at any scale. Indie authors wear so many hats, and sometimes the final piece of the puzzle, the marketing, gets convoluted because there’s no clear brand identity, nor is there a clear plan other than just to sell a book once its done. I want to share how authors can create longevity over their indie careers and grow as indie publishing grows so they can stay relevant.

What’s your biggest success story with an author?

Hmm…its a bit of a tough question…My measure of success is this: if I’ve stayed true to an author vision and a books story, then I have succeeded, lol. I don’t keep track of peoples book sales, though I know several have been in amazon bestseller lists. However, I do have a few books in mind that I had to pay special attention when creating the graphics and “brand” for I felt these were especially successful:

Tammy Blackwell THE TIMBER WOLVES TRILOGY

I rebranded Tammy’s first book, DESTINY BINDS and after that I was blessed that she chose me to do the rest she wanted her covers to be mysterious and unique so we worked together to create silhouette styled covers that weren’t photography based.

Heather Lyons THE COLLECTORS SOCIETY

Heather has an existing marketing plan that she was working on with her publicist so from her covers to her trailer, I needed to make sure I stayed within the guidelines of a something that felt magical and paid homage to fairytales, but was still easily recognizable as more adult. I designed the fonts and the series logo for her as well as the additional artwork I knew she would need for promotions.

Ty Drago THE UNDERTAKERS REBRAND

The Undertakers series moved to a new publisher so they needed the title branding and supplemental art to be updated, yet still similar to the original release of the series. I designed the title art and the jacket design to stay reminiscent of the original books, but still look fresh.

Currently Im doing a branding case study with Eva Pohler. Alongside Indievisible.com, I am rebranding all her books and working on a new campaign that will enhance the amazing marketing that Eva already has in place. You can follow along on Eva’s blog or on the Indie-visible Blog on how I use the elements I’ll be sharing the the workshop to update her branding and streamline her marketing efforts its a long term branding project that I’m excited about because people will actually get to see how it works in real time.

Real measurable success happens overtime, while tweaking the branding and the marketing methods. Its not instantaneous. First having a plan of action and then revising accordingly is essential, and authors get overwhelmed and frustrated with figuring out how to do that. My workshop is specifically aimed at teaching authors how to execute a marketing plan and keep their branding consistent.

What does the Dream Like a Boss package include?

The DREAM LIKE A BOSS Giveaway (opening March 20) includes a full length trailer, book branding for up to 3 books, a 6 month marketing plan with all graphics included, An author logo Author website and consultations through out. It includes a planner that will itemize marketing goals, track progress and tasks, creating a design/plan for merchandising and so much more!

Why should authors take advantage of the workshop?

Consultations and packages for branding and marketing can get fairly expensive. Into the thousands of dollars range. Over several books you can’t afford to keep hiring someone or taking blind guesses. I designed the workshop to teach authors (In two hours) how to produce practical results like increased readership, visual consistency and yes, even better sales. The workshop basically offers indie authors a crash-course/guide that explicitly outlines what to, when to and how to market/brand each book release they have I’ve spent a year specifically designing the Indie Book Branding Blueprint and included FREE resources so that authors can feel like they are still in control of their whole publishing process and budget I’m just so excited to pass on what I know and what I’ve learned from working in marketing the workshop packs in so much in so little time, I think authors should take advantage of the fact they don’t have spend hours or even weeks hunting for all the answers!

So, so awesome!!!  Special thanks to Victoria for answering these questions!  Excited?

The workshop is available for just $80.00! The 2-Hour Intensive condenses 3 weeks of information from Whit&Ware’s Book Branding Blueprint Program (reg. $225).Purchasing the workshop also qualifies you for a %25 discount from the regular Blueprint program should you choose to enroll after UtopyaCon.

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Victoria Faye

More about Victoria Faye:

When I first imagined my brand and design company, Whit&Ware, I knew I wanted to partner with my clients to help them define and chase even their smallest dreams because I value the importance of having someone on your side who believes in you and can help bring those dreams to life through solid branding, marketing and design.

In my 10+ years as a designer and marketing professional, I have learned that when dreams are defined, they clearly communicate who you are, they attract believers in you and your brand, and ultimately, they help you thrive and inspire others.

As Whit&Ware, I am committed to helping every client define their dream for those purposes exactly. It’s why I so often ask – how do you want to dream out loud today?

For more information on Whit & Ware’s Book Branding Blueprint, please visit: http://main.whitandware.com/bookbrandingblueprintworkshop/ or http://main.whitandware.com/main/blog/

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Phrase part two: make the most

AND don’t forget to visit the other official utopYA bloggers this month for information on the other workshops, and the special event going on Friday evening.

Here’s the schedule:

Week 1 – Jo Michael’s Blog hosts C.J. Redwine’s discussion on her Query Letter Workshop
Week 3 – The Paisley Reader hosts Regina Wamba’s discussion on her workshop for graphic designers and photographers
Week 4 – Book Junkie: Not so Anonymous  will be talking about the special Friday night event, will have a list of Saturday signing authors, and will be giving away a spot at the signing

Special thanks to Jo Michael’s for coming up with such awesome questions for Victoria!

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So. I was tagged by Mafs Crazy Book Life, along with the rest of the No Blog Left Behind Crew, to complete The Taylor Swift Book Tag—a series of questions about books based on Swift’s song titles.

Truthfully, I don’t really listen to music unless it happens to be on the radio as I drive to and from work, so I can’t say that I’m a huge Swift fan, or a fan of any music artists, really, but I am a fan of all things books, and this is a book tag… so I’m all in!

I’m also tagging Val and Jess of Stuck In Books to do it, too–and all my readers are more than welcome to scoop up the questions and create your own blog/vlog post.  Make sure you tag me back so I can read/watch your posts, too!

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QUESTIONS:

Ghosting1. Red: Pick a book with a RED cover.

This was hard because I feel like there aren’t a ton of red covered books—at least, not ones I’ve read. However, I did recently read Ghosting by Edith Pattou, and as you can see, that’s definitely a RED cover. Truthfully, I think the cover itself is actually kind of bland—there isn’t much to look at aside from the glaring red and the origami bird… but the story inside makes up for the cover tenfold. If you like poetic-like stories, then this free-verse novel is for you. It’s jarring because it’s so vastly different in style, but it’s a great read if you stick with it.

Synopsis:

On a hot summer night in a Midwestern town, a high school teenage prank goes horrifically awry. Alcohol, guns, and a dare. Within minutes, as events collide, innocents becomes victims—with tragic outcomes altering lives forever, a grisly and unfortunate scenario all too familiar from current real-life headlines. But victims can also become survivors, and as we come to know each character through his/her own distinctive voice and their interactions with one another, we see how, despite pain and guilt, they can reach out to one another, find a new equilibrium, and survive.

Told through multiple points of view in naturalistic free verse and stream of consciousness, this is an unforgettable, haunting tale.

 Read my review 4.5 star HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Looking for Alaska2. The Best Day: Pick a book that makes you feel nostalgic.

Looking for Alaska by John Green is definitely my nostalgic read. This story is a mashup of my highschool/college years. Many of the situations, thoughts, and feelings of the characters are spot on with events that happened in my life between ninth grade and my sophomore year of college, and every time I read this novel, it rips me apart, but also reminds me of everything good that happened in-between the struggles of love and loss.

Synopsis:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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White Hot Kiss3. Love Story: Pick a book with forbidden love.

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This novel actually has two forbidden loves—one due to Layla’s deadly kiss—she can never be with Zayne, the gargoyle boy she grew up loving, and one due to intense evil—she cannot fall in love with Roth, the prince of the demons, the very enemy she’s sworn to fight against. (Stay tuned to the blog—November 1 I’ll have a giveaway for a signed copy and lots of swag.)

Synopsis:

One kiss could be the last

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne …it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

 Read my 5 star review HERE.

 

 Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Wuthering Heights4. I Knew You Were Trouble: Pick a book with a bad character you couldn’t help but love.

My character, Heathcliff, comes from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I read this story long ago as a high school student, and I fell in love with Heathcliff almost instantaneously. He’s the underdog, treated like crap by his adopted relatives, but he betters himself and, using deceit and stealth, comes out on top. His adopted family hurt him irreparably emotionally, and while he’s technically a psychopath, I suppose, I understand where he’s coming from and I just adore him.

Synopsis:

Emily Brontë’s only novel, Wuthering Heights remains one of literature’s most disturbing explorations into the dark side of romantic passion. Heathcliff and Cathy believe they’re destined to love each other forever, but when cruelty and snobbery separate them, their untamed emotions literally consume them.

Set amid the wild and stormy Yorkshire moors, Wuthering Heights, an unpolished and devastating epic of childhood playmates who grow into soul mates, is widely regarded as the most original tale of thwarted desire and heartbreak in the English language.

 Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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MockingJay5. Innocent: Pick a book that someone ruined the ending for.

Well, that would have to be Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins. But the ending wasn’t ruined for me. Who ruined the ending, then? Well, I did. I ruined it for all my students last month when we were having a psychological discussion about characters and their motivations in novels. One of my students was saying that Gale was a stand up character morally, while Katniss and Peeta had ulterior motives and were less than honest… I called Gale a baby killer for what he ultimately does to Primrose, and the whole class gasped and freaked out. My bad. I thought they knew the ending—they started it. #notmyfault

Synopsis:

My name is Katniss Everdeen.
Why am I not dead?
I should be dead.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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The Tyrant's Daughter6. Everything Has Changed: Pick a character from a book who goes through extensive character development.

Laila, the main character in The Tyrants Daughter, by J.C. Carleson, goes from complete ignorance about her father’s dictatorship and her country’s wars to seeing it from the perspective of the rest of the world. It’s just amazing; it made me really stop and think about how we see our own surrounding world and how others see something completely different.

Synopsis:

THERE: In an unnamed Middle Eastern country, fifteen-year-old Laila has always lived like royalty. Her father is a dictator of sorts, though she knows him as King—just as his father was, and just as her little brother Bastien will be one day. Then everything changes: Laila’s father is killed in a coup.

HERE: As war surges, Laila flees to a life of exile in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Overnight she becomes a nobody. Even as she adjusts to a new school and new friends, she is haunted by the past. Was her father really a dictator like the American newspapers say? What was the cost of her family’s privilege?

Far from feeling guilty, her mother is determined to regain their position of power. So she’s engineering a power play—conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to gain a foothold to the throne. Laila can’t bear to stand still as yet another international crisis takes shape around her. But how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

Read my 5 star review HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Scare Crow7. You Belong With Me: Pick your most anticipated book release.

Scare Crow by Julie Hockley. It took years for this sequel to Crow’s Row to release, but I was so in love with Cam and Emily’s story that I never forgot them, and reading the sequel felt like I’d never had down time in between the two stories. For many sequels, I have a hard time remembering all the details and I have to go back and re-read the first installment in order to remember everyone, but Hockley’s novels were seamless for me. It was just so beautiful when it finally did release. Now I’m waiting on book three.

Synopsis:

Nineteen-year-old Emily Sheppard is losing her sanity.

Ever since her mob king boyfriend, Cameron Hillard, abandoned her for her own good, Emmy has been attempting to move on with her charmed college student life as if nothing happened.

Now rejected from the underworld and left grieving over Cameron’s alleged death, Emmy realizes she belongs nowhere.

Worse yet, she is now keeping a dangerous secret.

After just a short time with Emily, Cameron has lost control over his world.

As he miserably attempts to return to what is left of his life and unravel the mess he has made of the underworld, Emily’s hate turns to desperation. She needs to kill the kingpins responsible for Cameron’s death before they come looking for her.

As Cameron secretly observes Emily, he has no idea of the danger he has placed her in—or that it may already be too late for him to save her.

Scare Crow is a tale of revenge, terror, and love as Emmy and Cameron embark on separate journeys to face enemies, correct past mistakes, and…………..

find their way to their destinies.

Read my 5 star review HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Return of the Ascendant8. Forever and Always: Pick your favorite book couple.

That would have to be Kyra and TaeDane from Return of the Ascendant by Raine Thomas. Kyra and Tae are absolutely AMAZING and swoonworthy and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them!!! The third book is going to release soon enough, and I just can’t wait! This has been an extremely amazing series and I just adore Kyra and Tae. Mmm.

Synopsis:

Expecting to enjoy another typical college night at a frat party with friends, Kyra Vaughn’s plans derail when she’s almost killed…twice. Her savior, a tall, sexy stranger who calls himself TaeDane, claims that he’s the personal bodyguard for the Ascendant of Alametria. She’s convinced he’s crazy.

Especially when he insists that she’s the Ascendant.

With dark enemies hunting her down, Kyra has no choice but to trust her supposed bodyguard. Ty vows to help her remember her past and return her safely to Alametria, but someone seems intent on interfering, challenging his abilities at every turn.

As Kyra’s memories emerge, she remembers that Ty is more to her than he’s let on…much more than he’s allowed to be. She’ll also discover that there are many things about her planet and herself that she’d rather forget. In the end, she’ll have to make a choice: cling to the life she knows, or risk it all to become the person she’s destined to be. 

Read my 5 star review HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Alienated9. Come Back, Be Here: Pick the book you would least like to lend out, for fear of missing it too much.

Alienated by Melissa Landers. This “out of this world” novel swept me away from the very beginning. It is so so so very good, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. February is too far away. I gushed about it was weeks to my students after I read it, and now I’m the proud owner of a personalized, signed copy that my friends picked up for me during RT this past year.

Synopsis:

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

Read my 5 star review HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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River in the Sea10. Teardrops On My Guitar: Pick a book that made you cry a lot.

River in the Sea by Tine Boscha. I mean, wow. This novel is intense and absolutely amazing. I don’t think words can do it justice. You just have to read it, and make sure tissues are on hand.

Synopsis:

At fifteen, Leen De Graaf likes everything she shouldn’t: smoking cigarettes, wearing red lipstick, driving illegally, and working in the fields. It seems the only thing she shares with her fellow Dutchmen is a fear of the German soldiers stationed nearby and a frantic wish for the war to end.

When a soldier’s dog runs in front of Leen’s truck, her split-second reaction sets off a storm of events that pitches her family against the German forces when they are most desperate – and fierce. Leen tries to hold her family together, but despite her efforts, bit by bit everything falls apart, and just when Leen experiences a horrific loss, she must make a decision that could forever brand her a traitor, yet finally allows her to live as her heart desires.

Inspired by the life of the author’s mother, River in the Sea is a powerful and moving account of one girl reaching adulthood when everything she believes about family, friendship, and loyalty is questioned by war.

Read my 5 star review HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Twilight11. Shake It Off: Pick a book that you love so much, you just shake off the haters

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers. This is the series that got me back into reading way back when… I also feel like it really was the turning point for YA literature—they’re the books that got my students interested in reading again. Since then, so many amazing novels have released, and I love it!

Synopsis:

About three things I was absolutely positive:

First, Edward was a vampire.

Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be – that thirsted for my blood.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

When Bella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret.

What Bella doesn’t realize is the closer she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those around her at risk. And it might be too late to turn back…

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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Under Different Stars12. Out Of The Woods: Pick a book couple that is so frustrating because you just need them to be together already!

Definitely Kricket and Trey from Under Different Stars by Amy Bartol.  I was frustrated with theie “relationship” in the beginning.  Though Trey was kind of a jerk in the beginning, I just knew that they needed to be together–to throw off their pretentious dislike of one another, so I was beyond happy when they finally did. Dying for book two!

Synopsis:

All she wants is a home, but can she find one…UNDER DIFFERENT STARS

Kricket Hollowell is normally not one to wish upon stars; she believes they’re rarely in her favor. Well versed at dodging caseworkers from Chicago’s foster care system, the past few years on her own have made Kricket an expert at the art of survival and blending in. With her 18th birthday fast approaching, she dreams of the day when she can stop running and find what her heart needs most: a home.

Trey Allairis hates Earth and doubts that anyone from his world can thrive here. What he’s learning of Kricket and her existence away from her true home only confirms his theory. But, when he and Kricket lie together under the stars of Ethar, counting them all may be easier than letting her go.

Kyon Ensin’s secrets number the stars; he knows more about Kricket’s gifts than anyone and plans to possess her because of them. He also knows she’s more valuable than any fire in the night sky. He’ll move the heavens and align them all in order to make her his own.

When everything in their world can be broken, will Kricket rely upon love to save her under different stars?

Read my 5 star review HERE.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

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You guys!  Michelle N. Files writes this awesome post called #ShareTheLove every now and again, in which she features a reader, author, blogger, cover designer, or publicist, and then posts it online with a giveaway; a few days later, a follow-up post about why Michelle loves that person goes live too, and it’s just too cool!  And you know what?  Michelle interviewed ME!  I am so excited!  Check it out and make sure you enter to win the giveaway!

 

shana-a-book-vacation

You could Win:

*Any e-book version of MY favorite 2014 reads* (that are currently available for purchase/pre-order) — and you can see all 37 of my top reads in Michelle’s post

*Signed Paperback of Soul Survivor by Michelle Files*

*Random swag pack of awesomeness*(includes UTOPYA swag Michelle collected and swag from RT 2014!)

Make sure you hop on over to Michelle’s Blog and check it all out!



unnamedReview:

BreakableFrom Goodreads: He was lost and alone. Then he found her. And the future seemed more fragile than ever.

As a child, Landon Lucas Maxfield believed his life was perfect and looked forward to a future filled with promise — until tragedy tore his family apart and made him doubt everything he ever believed.

All he wanted was to leave the past behind. When he met Jacqueline Wallace, his desire to be everything she needed came so easy…

As easy as it could be for a man who learned that the soul is breakable and that everything you hoped for could be ripped away in a heartbeat.

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This second novel in the Contours of the Heart series, by Tammara Webber, focuses on that of heartthrob Lucas, the young man who stole my heart in Easy, and who continues to draw my love in Breakable.  If you’ve read Easy, then you already have the foundation for Breakable, but whether you have that foundation or not, Webber’s latest novel stands all on its own, telling the story from the masculine perspective, which is just as much fun as its predecessor, and all the more captivating as Lucas takes readers on an in-depth journey to his soul.

Webber is a master storyteller, and her characters are implicitly real.  It’s as if they walk right off the page and into your life as you read, and I absolutely adore her writing style.  The story itself is poignant and raw, and it’s impossible not to feel for Lucas as he works through the loss of his mother and his feelings for Jacqueline.  While this novel does follow the storyline of Easy, readers are given an in-depth analysis of Lucas, and the narrative jumps between past and present as the novel unfolds, giving us glimpses into this past experiences in school, with girls, and with his family as he slowly begins on the road to recovery after the night that forever stole his mother from him.

The juxtaposition of past and present is one of my favorite narrative styles, as it that of duel perspectives, and Webber has done a superb job not only bringing to life her characters, but also creating a believable scenario that entices readers to keep turning the pages. I read this beautiful novel in one sitting, and I absolutely adore it–Lucas will melt your heart and stay with you long after the final page!

I highly suggest lovers of NA novels pick up this enticing read as it depicts life on a college campus, the ups and downs it encompasses, and the intensity of finding your soul mate.  Five stars.

 

5 stars

In exchange for an honest review, I received an ARC of this awesome novel from the publisher.

Amazon | Kindle (only $5.12) | Barnes and Noble

and don’t forget to pick up your copy of Easy today!

Easy 2

Amazon | Kindle (only $5.12) | Barnes and Noble

(Read my 5 star review of Easy HERE)

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Interview with the amazing Tammara Webber:

What was your inspiration for your novels Easy and Breakable?

Though there are some deeply personal issues in these books, the stories aren’t autobiographical. I am an acquaintance rape survivor (friend/classmate), but I never intended to write about that experience. It took me several years to even tell anyone because I was so ashamed of my bad judgment. I thought I should have been more careful, or I should have known that guy was untrustworthy. I finally confessed what happened to a friend, and began the healing process. Years after that, I woke up with Jacqueline’s story in my head, and she insisted on it being told. Lucas’s story stems from a particular fear of mine, based on a news story I heard years ago. When my husband left town on business trips, particularly when my kids were small, I was often so terrified that it was hard to sleep. I took the emotions from those real-life experiences and deep-seated fears and gave them to my characters.

How difficult/easy was it to write Lucas’ point-of-view in Breakable, and what made you decide to tell his story?

It was the most difficult thing I’ve written, from a technical standpoint. I didn’t think I’d ever write Lucas’s story, because he didn’t “talk” to me much when I wrote Easy. I knew the facts before she did, but I saw him through Jacqueline’s eyes – I didn’t always see or completely understand his emotions or reasoning, especially when it wasn’t logical. It was months after publishing Easy before he started speaking to me. Once he did, I had to write it. There would have been no way to integrate the stories. His would have overshadowed hers – and I felt (and probably always will feel) that her story was the most important thing I’ll ever write.

Will there be more to the Contours of the Heart series, or is this a two book series?

I’m finished with Lucas and Jacqueline, but there are possible spinoff stand-alones for other characters in my head. We’ll see what emerges.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

I wrote three shelf novels and notebooks full of poems and short stories before I wrote Between the Lines. Easy was the seventh novel I wrote. You’ve probably heard this before – that often, people thought to be overnight successes are people who’ve been working at their particular craft for a long time. There is absolutely a place for right-place-right-time (which I credit for some of my success) and who-you-know (I didn’t have a single friend who wrote – I had to seek out strangers on the internet to find critique partners and reviewers. As an introvert, that was completely outside my comfort zone!). But working continually to become better at what you do is as important – more important – to a career as an author. If I hadn’t kept working, I might not have had a book ready when the digital book + self-publishing revolution took off. I allowed myself to be knocked off kilter by the craziness that went along with moving from being a wholly self-published to a traditionally-published author, and I know I lost some momentum. For me, that’s water under the bridge. For an aspiring author, it’s a lesson – always be working on the next thing. Seek to become better and better at what you do. Allow projects to come to completion so you can move on to the next thing. I’ve seen many authors get stuck in the writing, revising, querying or marketing (if self-pub) stage – of one book – sometimes for years. Nothing will ever be perfect. Do your best work and move to the next thing. The more you write, the better you’ll write.

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tammara webberAbout Tammara Webber:

Tammara Webber is author of the New York Times bestselling New Adult novel Easy, the first novel in her Contours of the Heart series, and the Between the Lines series.  She is a hopeful romantic who adores novels with happy endings, because there are enough sad endings in real life.  Before writing full-time, she was an undergraduate academic advisor, economics tutor, planetarium office manager, radiology call center rep, and the palest person to ever work at a tanning salon.  She married her high school sweetheart, and is a mom to three adult kids and four very immature cats.

Connect with her online at tammarawebber.blogspot.com, twitter.com/tammarawebber, and www.facebook.com/TammaraWebberAuthor.

 

 



I’m really excited to say that Heather Hildenbrand’s characters from the Dirty Blood Series, Wes and Alex, were able to stop by the blog today and give us a little insight concerning what they think about each other… and boy is it interesting!  Check it out below:

Wes says: Okay, here’s the thing. I’m gonna’ say some stuff about Alex. I mean, I have a strong opinion on this subject, and I’m not gonna lie about it today, even though I try to hold back as much as I can when Tara’s around. Hell, even when she’s not around I hold back. But the thing is he saved her life. Twice. Damn … twice. I forgot about that second time. You know, with those rogue wolves when she was supposedly meeting Miles so he could make her his hybrid concubine? *rolls eyes* Don’t get me started on that asinine plan. This is Tara we’re talking about. Have you met her? If there’s danger, she’ll find it. If there isn’t, she’ll create it just so she can jump into it.

So, Alex. He saved her. Twice. And I can’t discount that, much as I want to. I bite my tongue a lot. Nod and smile, you know? Because aside from saving her ass, there’s the fact that she cares about him. God knows why. He’s horrible for her. Always letting her rush into dangerous situations, never putting her safety first. He’s careless. Even if he saved her, there’s the fact that he let it get to the point where she needed saving. He should’ve been more careful.

As for his feelings for her, I don’t know. He probably thinks he loves her, but he’s a kid. Sure he’s only a year younger than me but he’s still a kid as far as I’m concerned. He’s never led anything. And he’s not worthy of Tara. It’s my own fault, really. You think I don’t know that? I left her alone at that school. I should’ve been there, but I had responsibilities back home. To Jack. To Fee. To all of them. Still, I should’ve been there. I can see that now, can see where I screwed it up. If I could go back … well, I can’t. I can only keep trying to make it right.

If she were to choose him? *runs hand through hair* I know the right answer would be to let him have her, to bow out gracefully and all that mess, but if we’re being honest—and I promised I would be—if she chose him … I’d kill him in his sleep. And I wouldn’t feel bad about it later.

I love Tara Godfrey. *growls* She’s mine.

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 Alex says: You want to know what I think of Wesley St. John, huh? I think if it weren’t for a certain brown-eyed girl we could be friends. *smirks* Not! I’d probably have killed him by now. *shrugs.* But that’s my job, nothing personal.

Now it’s personal, though. Because of her. Hell, why did she have to be so, so … amazing? I think it makes it worse she doesn’t even know it. *shakes head*

Right. Wes. We’re talking about him. You want my honest opinion? The guy’s insecure. He’s always trying to control her or tell her what to do. He’s scared to let her be her own person. Especially when it comes to anything remotely dangerous. Tara’s a tough girl. I should know. I trained with her every day at Wood Point, and she can handle herself better than he thinks. He doesn’t give her any credit for that stuff—or let her make her own decisions. If he would loosen up … well, hopefully, he doesn’t, because that would mean I have a shot. He’s risking everything by not backing her up, not letting her run her own life. I can see it in her. She’s not going to take much more of that. And when she’s had enough, I’ll be here … waiting.

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Dying for more?  Check out my review of Blood Bond, the third amazing book in the series, and enter to win a ecopy of this fantastic novel!

To enter you must:

-Be 13 years or older (or have parent/guardian permission)

-Fill in the form with your name and email (extra entries optional)

This contest is open internationally and will end at 12:01am EST on September 17th. Please only enter once. The winner will be announced later on September 17th, and will receive email notification! Please read my giveaway policy and leave me a comment!

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About Heather Hildenbrand:

Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in northern Virginia where she was homeschooled through high school. She now lives in coastal VA, a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, with her husband and two adorable children. She works from home, part time, as a property manager and when she’s not furiously pounding at the keyboard, or staring off into space whilst plotting a new story, she’s helping her husband with DIY projects in their home (he woodworks – she paints) or she’s lying on the beach, soaking in those delicious, pre-cancerous rays.

Heather loves Mexican food, hates socks with sandals, and if her house was on fire, the one thing she’d grab is her DVR player.

You can find out more about her and her books at http://heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com/

Or stalk her here:

Facebook

Facebook Fan Page

Twitter

Goodreads

Newsletter

Heather is a co-founder of Accendo Press, a publishing group she operates with fellow authors: Angeline Kace and Jennifer Sommersby. Accendo (a-CH-endo), A Latin word, means “to kindle, illuminate, inflame, or set fire.” This is something Accendo strives to do inside a reader’s imagination with every title released. For a complete list of titles and author bios, visit www.accendopress.com.



Today we have a real treat on the blog, an audio conversation/interview between R.J. Sullivan, the author of Haunting Blue and Haunting Obsession, and Bonnie Wasson, the creator of the cover art and illustrations for his Rebecca Burton novels/novellas!  Check out what R.J. had to say about the interview:

“My Artist. She Rocks.

Today on the Haunting Obsession Blog Tour I’m interviewing an All-Star player on Team R.J., Bonnie Wasson, staff artist at Seventh Star Press and now attached to the Rebecca Burton Series and the Adventures of Blue Shaefer. Thanks to A Book Vacation for hosting this entry of the tour.

Needless to say, I’m almost unreasonably happy with the results of this first collaboration. Who wouldn’t want their name and title attached to an awesome cover like that? And there’s even more amazing stuff inside the book. Take a listen to our interview held Saturday afternoon, August 25, as we talk about our experiences collaborating so far. I hope you enjoy learning more about Bonnie as I did.”

Also Link:

Bonnie’s page on Seventh Star Press

http://www.seventhstarpress.com/bonnie-wasson

Check out the audio below:

R.J. Sullivan and Bonnie Wasson

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Author Bio:

R. J. Sullivan resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. His first novel, Haunting Blue, is an edgy paranormal thriller about punk girl loner Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. R.J. is hard at work on the next chapter in Fiona’s story, Virtual Blue, coming soon from Seventh Star Press.  R.J. is a member of the Indiana Horror Writers. Learn all about R.J. at www.rjsullivanfiction.com.

Website: http://www.rjsullivanfiction.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/R.J.SullivanAuthor

Twitter: @RJSullivanAuthr

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Haunting Obsession Synopsis:

“She wants to be loved by you…alone!”

Daryl Beasley collects all things Maxine Marie, whose famous curves and fast lifestyle made her a Hollywood icon for decades after her tragic death. Daryl’s girlfriend, Loretta Stevens, knew about his geeky lifestyle when they started dating, but she loves him, quirks and all.

Then one day Daryl chooses to buy a particularly tacky piece of memorabilia instead of Loretta’s birthday present. Daryl ends up in the doghouse, not only with Loretta, but with Maxine Marie herself. The legendary blonde returns from the dead to give Daryl a piece of her mind—and a haunting obsession he’ll never forge.



Stephen Zimmer has been so gracious to stop by the blog and answer some questions about the new Singles he’s writing, and that his publisher, Seventh Star Press, is promoting among their authors. Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker, whose literary works include the epic urban fantasy series The Rising Dawn Saga as well as the epic medieval fantasy Fires in Eden Series. So, without further ado, I give you Stephen Zimmer:

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Seventh Star Press has recently announced that they will soon be releasing their Seventh Star Singles, an eBook series where each short story is setwithin the world that their authors write in.  What gave you the idea of creating the Seventh Star Singles?

Initially, it was just having a ton of background material developed for the two series I have, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, and the epic-scale urban fantasy Rising Dawn Saga.  They’ve been building up since the mid 1990’s, and I’ve created full histories, geographies, and more for the worlds that the books are set in. There are so many things that can be expanded into stories that won’t necessarily make it into the novels. 

I thought that it would be great to have an outlet for such stories, and thought that a concept like this would be viable for the other SSP authors.  It gives readers of my series a lot more content to enjoy, and adds more depth to their experience, and it also creates fully independent stories that new readers can try out. 

Ebooks are perfectly suited for this kind of approach, as the cost of doing something like this in print would be far too much.  Fortunately, there was a lot of enthusiasm for this idea within the SSP family.

You currently have three new singles set in your world of Ave, the primary setting in the Fires in Eden series.  Could you tell us a little bit about them and how they relate to the series?

Land of Shadow, Lion Heart, and Into Glory Ride are the first three stories in the Chronicles of Ave, the short story collection set in the world that the Fires in Eden series is based in. 

In the Fires in Eden series, a brawny warrior race with dog-like (thick-jawed, like pit bulls) faces called the Trogens are introduced, fighting on the side of a figure called the Unifier.  It is explained that one reason they are serving in the Unifier’s forces is due to some promised help in a long-standing conflict in their homelands with an Elven race. 

My Elves are closer to the Norse/Germanic myths of Elves, much darker edged than you find in a lot of fantasy series.  Into Glory Ride is the tale of a young Trogen warrior who sights the approach of an Elven raid nearing his homeland.  He happens to be among the first group of sky riders among the Trogens (there are races of flying steeds in this series), and the approaching raid presents him with a momentous decision. 

It is a story heavy with action, and it is a great look into the Trogen world that explains a great deal about their conflict with the Elves.  For readers of the series, this story will explain quite a bit, but for those who have not read the series, it is a fast-paced, action-driven tale that will give them a taste of what Ave is like, as well as some of its more unique occupants.

Land of Shadow takes the reader into the depths of the Shadowlands, which have only been mentioned in a few places within the novel series so far.  A woodland hunter/warrior named Gunther, who is one of the main characters in the Fires in Eden series, has a pack of robust, large creatures called Jaghuns that he raised from a pair of young ones he found in the Shadowlands.  Yet only a few references and inferences are given to the reader in the novel series.

In Land of Shadow, a band of Avanoran mercenaries are followed as they seek out a propitious site to build a fortress. The dangers and formidable races dwelling in the Shadowlands are explored along the way, giving readers of the novel series a deeper appreciation of the Shadowlands’ nature, and perhaps leaving some hints about what will be coming in the novel series.  As with Into Glory Ride, it will give new readers a tale filled with action that gives a good look into the world of Ave.

Lion Heart reveals a never-before introduced area of Ave, far to the northwestern region of the Sun Lands.  A people called the Amazu, who are heavily inspired by the Zulu Nation of our own world, are described.  Sigananda, who later becomes a legendary warrior among the Amazu, is shown in his earlier years, soon after gaining full warrior status among his people.  He is sent on a quest when it is discovered that a pair of malevolent Wizards named Gibini and Enundu have used their arts to create something that could destroy the entire Amazu realm.  This particular story is interesting because most everything about it is brand new for readers of the series, as well as new readers.   Those reading the novels have not even heard of the Amazu people yet, so this one should be a great deal of fun for them!  (and I have some more such lands just ahead in the short story series)

Will the Singles you, and other authors of Seventh Star Press, write be stand alone stories, or ones that flesh out current novels, adding more information to certain events within the novels?

The Seventh Star Singles can all be read as stand alone stories, but they do provide more content for fans of the series they are affiliated with.  Steven Shrewsbury’s new Gorias stories give those who have read the novel Thrall more insights into Gorias La Gaul’s character, and his experiences.  Michael’s stories are connected to a specific place, Harmony Indiana, which is a root of a number of his horror stories.  The Chronicles of Ave will be giving quite a bit out about the history of Ave, but I can see a few short stories being set in a time concurrent with the events of the novel series.  The same thing is true for my Annals of the Rising Dawn, which will contain short stories ranging from the pre-Flood period all the way up to the time where most of the events in the novels are located. They will all be stand alone tales, but certain ones will undoubtedly have connections with, and additional material related to, the events portrayed in our novel series.

Do Singles need to be read in conjunction with the novels in the series, or could a reader pick up the Single and follow the story without having read anything else by the author?

They can be read entirely on a stand alone basis, and we hope readers will give these a try, as they are a nice way to sample the various SSP authors.  There is absolutely no need for the reader to be familiar with the various series or novels in order to enjoy these stories. 

What is the difference between these Singles and novellas that authors sometimes write in-between their full-length novels?  Will there be a page length limit for the Singles?

They are generally going to be short stories ranging in size from 2,500 words to 10,000 words.  Novellas could appear at some point, but most likely would get their own treatment, as the Seventh Star Singles are designed to be a steadily growing short story collection. 

Are you planning on writing Singles to accompany both of your series?

There will be many more if all goes well.  I am almost finished with a couple of more, in fact.  There’s a good chance that some of my horror fiction may see light in the context of this series as well.  Definitely expect much more to come.

What else can you tell us about the Seventh Star Singles that readers should know?

They’re very inexpensive at 99 cents apiece, and they do not require a huge time commitment, so I hope that readers will give a few of these a try.  If readers enjoy any of our stories, I encourage them to check out the novels related to them, and please do not hesitate to write up a GoodReads review, Amazon review, or other online activity like that.  These types of things are highly helpful to authors such as myself, Michael, and Steven. 

Stay tuned to Seventh Star Press, as I have a hunch that some of the other authors will be coming aboard this series soon enough.

Thank you very much Shana, for interviewing me and introducing the new series!  I really hope you enjoy these short stories as much as I love writing them.

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Thank you Stephen!  It’s been a pleasure having you on the blog today!

And NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!!  Seventh Star Press is giving away all EIGHT of their ebook Singles to three lucky winners!

What the three winners will win:

  1. Goodnight by Michael West
  2. For the River is Wide and the Gods are Hungry by Michael West

Click the links above to see the synopsis and cover information for the first six titles.  Michael West’s Singles are not yet updated on the Seventh Press Website as they are that new!

All you have to do is enter your name and email in order to win, but there are extra entry options if you’re interested!

To enter you must:

  • Be 13 years or older (or have parent/guardian permission)
  • Fill in the required information on the form below (extra entries optional)


Click this ENTRY FORM to enter!

This contest is open INTERNATIONALLY (as long as you can read the EBook) and will end January 18 at 11:59 EST. Please only enter once. The winners will be announced in a separate post on January 19, and will receive email notification! Please read my giveaway policy and leave a comment!

 



Taryn Browning has been extremely gracious to stop by the blog to answer some questions about her books, as well as offer a giveaway!  So, without further ado, here’s Taryn Browning:

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I really enjoyed reading your novella Dark Beauty. What led you to write it?

Thank you. I was excited to take two characters from Dark Seeker (Isabelle & Abram) and write about how they first met and their history as Seekers. Dark Beauty takes place during the time when Daychildren (vampire-demon hybrid) were first created and Seekers were first learning how to defeat them.

What were your inspirations for Dark Beauty, if any, and what made you choose vampires and vampire hunters as the characters for your novel?

I’ve always loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I guess you could say that Buffy was my inspiration for writing Dark Seeker and Dark Beauty. I also love strong female heroines, so I wanted Isabelle to be tough. She leads a much different life than most girls her age. Sometimes she comes off somewhat abrasive, but she’s learning. The only people Isabelle has in her life to rely on are her mother and her new mentor. Isabelle’s father left her at a very early age because of the Seeker lifestyle, so this adds to her distrust in men and her hesitancy to let others in.

I enjoyed the characters, the twists and turns, the suspense… What do you hope readers take away from your novella?

I wanted readers to enjoy a fast-paced story that keeps them on the edge of their seats to the very end. I also wanted to provide an escape for readers. I read paranormal romance and urban fantasy for this purpose (and because I love reading), so I wanted to do the same for my readers–provide a fun, interesting read with great characters and a new hybrid vampire.

What is the writing process like for you? Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

I usually write at my desk in my office with my headphones on. I always create a playlist before I start a novel because I enjoy listening to music while I write. Sometimes I’ll hear a song that speaks to me and add it to my playlist. One reason I use headphones is for when I place a song on repeat. I don’t want to drive everyone in my house crazy. During the writing process, I’m a pantster. I come up with an idea and run with it. After my first draft is complete I edit, edit, edit and then send it off to my critique partner.

Why did you choose YA literature as a starting point?  Did you always want to write for this age group, or did it just happen?

I love YA literature. Most of the books I read are YA, so I’ve always felt comfortable writing it. I think it’s really important to write what you love.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors in terms of self-publishing and spreading the word about their writing?

With social networking, the wonderful blogging community, and sites like Goodreads and Amazon, it is much easier for authors to get their work out to readers. Even though I have an agent who is currently shopping my manuscripts, I am ecstatic to get my name out as a writer and most importantly share my work. I recommend aspiring authors do the same. The only caution would be not to self publish your first novel. I suggest putting it away and writing another story. As you write and learn the craft you will get better and better — I know I did. After you have a few stories under your belt, I would send them out to beta readers or find a critique partner to work with. And finally, make sure to have your novel edited professionally before you publish it.

Do you have a playlist in mind for your novel? If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

My playlist for Dark Seeker & Dark Beauty consisted of Paramore, Anberlin, Daughtry, Lifehouse, Lesley Roy and others. I guess you could say mostly rock and alternative.

Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read? What are you reading right now?

I love the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. Sorry, I know that’s more than one, but there are so many fabulous novels to choose from. Currently I’m reading The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa and I am loving the series. Team Ash!!

You’ve recently released the first book in the series that Dark Beauty prequels.  What can fans expect from this novel?  How does Dark Beauty fit into it all?

The novel, Dark Seeker, takes place years later, after Isabelle and Abram are no longer seeking. In Dark Seeker, humans aren’t the only ones targeted by Daychildren. The vampire community has their own issues with them. I don’t want to give too much away, but Isabelle and Abram are definitely in Dark Seeker and connected to the main characters.

Taryn Browning
www.tarynbrowning.com

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 Thank you Taryn!  It’s been a pleasure having you on the blog today!


T.S. Welti has been extremely gracious to stop by the blog and answer some questions concerning her debut novel, The Fifth Specter, and her writing process.  So, without further ado:

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The Fifth Specter, the first novel in the series, is a really cool debut novel.  What led you to write this novel?  What were your inspirations for the novel, if any?

I’ve been writing stories since the age of eight. Before I began writing The Fifth Specter in 2005, I’d written dozens of unfinished manuscripts and screenplays. I never followed through with any of those other story ideas because of lack of confidence. I even stopped writing altogether from age 25-28. A few days after my 28th birthday, and a few weeks after the death of my boss, I was sitting in my car awaiting a call from the office when Parker’s name popped into my head. Luckily, I had a pen and paper with me and I soon had the bones for the entire first book written down. The following week, the idea for the entire series formed in my mind. I believe the combination of not having written anything for three years and going through the sudden death of my boss is what inspired me to stick with this story idea.

Did you find it difficult to write The Fifth Specter?

Yes. I was, and still am, a single mom. Working full-time and being a full-time single mom meant I had very little time to myself. I had to sneak in snippets of writing time here and there. It wasn’t until I was laid off in November of 2010 that I was finally able to finish The Fifth Specter. Aside from time constraints, the task of building a new fictional world and plotting out a five-book series is definitely difficult.

What character do you identify with the most in The Fifth Specter?  Why?

I think I identify with all my characters, as they were all born in my mind. However, the character I identify with the most would probably be Norah. She’s a bit cynical yet she’s still quite sensitive. She has a power that many would kill for yet she sees it as a curse. She’s also pretty smart, but she doesn’t do well in Chemistry, which gets her in a bit of a pickle in book two.

Are any of your characters or stories based on aspects of your own life?

There’s a lot of me in The Fifth Specter, particularly in the first few chapters. The enormous elm tree in Parker’s neighbor’s yard is inspired by the enormous elm trees in my own backyard. Jacqueline’s obsession with her weight and her strained relationship with her father is inspired by my relationship with my father as a teenager. Parker’s trek through the forest when he runs away is inspired by my experience hiking through the woods in Northern California. Overall, Parker’s story arc is inspired by my journey coming into my own as an adolescent.

What do you hope readers take away from your novel?

I hope children and adults alike will take away the idea of letting go. There are people and events in our past’s that have the power to hold us back, but only if we let them.

Why did you choose YA literature as a starting point?  Did you always want to write for this age group, or did it just happen? 

As I said before, before writing The Fifth Specter I had written multiple manuscripts. Most of those were books for kids and teens. I look back on the books I love the most and those are the books that changed me in some way. It’s rare for a book to change you once you reach adulthood. It’s usually the books we read as children or young adults that have the most impact on our lives.

What is the writing process like for you?  Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

Well, right now I’m answering your interview questions from a table in a café. I prefer writing in cafés because there are less distractions here. I do have an office at home, but I have trouble locking the door and shutting the world out. I have ADD, so I’m very easily distracted. You would probably cry if you saw the surface of my desk.

Do you have a playlist in mind for your novel?  If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

Well, it took so many years to write The Fifth Specter that I listened to hundreds of albums in the process. However, there are two particular albums that always make me feel wistful when I hear them, as I had them on repeat for many writing sessions. Those are X & Y by Coldplay and the Jurassic Park soundtrack by John Williams. My fifteen-year-old daughter once told me that every time she hears “A Message” by Coldplay she thinks of Parker.

Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read?  What are you reading right now?

I highly recommend 1984 by George Orwell and The Giver by Lois Lowry. They are both quite similar in theme, but they are very different stories. They both hold a special place in my top ten favorite novels. As for what I’m reading now, I always have a stack of four or five books on my nightstand or in my Kindle queue. Right now I’m reading a few novels by author friends and I’m also reading One Day by David Nicholls.

As The Fifth Specter is the first in a series, what can readers expect from the next novel and the remaining books in the series?

In book two, readers will see Parker and his friends using their powers much more often now that they are sophomores. Readers will also see Parker get a bit of a crush on someone. In addition to more superpowers and a possible romance, the attempts to break Asteroth out of prison are intensifying.

Do you have any plans for a new series at this time?

I have another series I’m planning after the Parker Chance series. The new series will center around a 17-year-old boy and his eight-year-old sister who are separated from their father during a natural disaster. They are taken in by a community of street people who are not what they seem.

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And now for the GIVEAWAY!

To read my review of The Fifth Specter, click HERE.

All you have to do is enter your name and email to win, but there are extra entries options if you’re interested!

To enter you must:

-Be 13 years or older (or have parent/guardian permission)
-Fill in the form with your name and email (extra entries optional)

Click this ENTRY FORM to enter!

This contest is open internationally and will end at 11:59pm EST on October 10th. Please only enter once. The winner will be announced on this page on the 11th of October, and will receive email notification! Please read my giveaway policy and leave me a comment!

 



Christina Daley, author of Seranfyll, has been extremely gracious to stop by the blog for an interview AND to offer a SIGNED PAPERBACK of her novel, which is too kind!  So, without further ado, I give you Christina!

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Seranfyll, the first novel in the Seranfyll series, is an awesome debut novel.  What led you to write this novel?  What were your inspirations for the novel, if any?

Thank you for having me, and I’m glad that you liked it! I can’t rightly recall from where I got the idea. I had a slave girl who was just bought and freed by a handsome, but very drunk, nobleman. I didn’t know anything about these two, so I tried to find out by writing about 20 pages in early 2009. I then ran out of ideas and put it aside to write a different book.

Sometime later, I happened across a biography on William Wilberforce, the 18th century MP who spearheaded the movement to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire. He was such a fascinating and eccentric individual, and he ended up being a great base model for the nobleman in my story (but I decided to make Domrey Seranfyll younger, a bit more handsome, and much more immature). I returned to the 20 pages in early 2010 and completed the first draft in about three months.

Was Seranfyll hard to write?

Yes, which was strange because writing is not normally hard for me. Having a first draft in three months wasn’t so bad, but to give you an idea, the book I had written in between was 75,000 words, and it took about three weeks (and I do have a full time job and family and friends whom take precedence over writing). Others that I’ve written at about the same length have taken about a month or two, although one that I wrote in my first year of college took nearly year. With Seranfyll, I think it was mostly the editing with which I struggled, and that took about six months.

What character do you identify with the most in Seranfyll?  Why?

It’s hard to chose one, because each have a little of me. I think like Rain does, in the sense that she tends to make mental connections quickly. But I’m pretty impatient like Coal, and I like shoes like Domrey. Each character also has qualities I desire, like Rain’s nearly endless capacity for compassion, Coal’s noble sense of loyalty, Domrey’s carefree nature, Lady Sophia’s wisdom, Spirit’s energy, Quill’s fondness for housework, Snow’s beauty, and even Morgrav’s ambition. The ones that I bare no resemblance or sympathy to are Snevil and his brutes.

Are any of your characters or stories based on aspects of your own life?

While I was editing Seranfyll, I was going through some things (I think I might have had a small quarter-life crisis), and I had a lot of questions. And sometimes, when moments like that happen, I’ll write out a story and hand the situation over to some characters and let them hash it out on the page until a satisfactory answer percolates to the top.

I did that a lot with Seranfyll–maybe not the same experiences, but certainly similar emotions. Of course, I did jazz much of it up with the magic and other fun stuff, because I was personally getting bored without it.

What do you hope readers take away from your novel?

In a word: hope.

I wrote Seranfyll to be entertaining, but I have a note in the back of the book asking readers to be hope for someone else and take some sort of action against slavery and human trafficking. Both are revolting modern practices that stem from the greed of a few, the indifference of many, and the ignorance of nearly everyone else. I didn’t even know that slavery was still around until a couple years ago.

I don’t say what to do (because people can be so amazingly creative!), nor do I endorse any particular organization. But there are some good troops on the ground in the form of law enforcement and humanitarian aid workers, and they need our support and some of our talents to help free our brothers and sisters in bondage. No effort is too small. After all, Wilberforce had the help of a lot of influential friends and the hopes of many slaves backing him. An army by definition is not made of one person.

Why did you choose YA literature as a starting point?  Did you always want to write for this age group, or did it just happen?

I don’t read many adult books myself, and I like the adventure of discovery that children go through. Being an adult certainly has its own adventures, but approaching them with that child-like sense of wonder makes them more fascinating, in my opinion. So, that’s how I like to write, and I think the most receptive audience would be younger readers.

What is the writing process like for you?  Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

Not really. I don’t write everyday, and when I do, it’s mostly at home in the late evenings. I start with a hand written rough synopsis of the story and some notes, along with maybe the first few chapters. I wrote almost half of Seranfyll by hand before I took it to the computer.

Do you have a playlist in mind for your novel?  If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

Not really. I don’t always listen to music when I write because I’m usually so into that I don’t hear much else. I currently have some Lifehouse, OneRepublic (I fantasize that if Seranfyll were ever made into a movie, “Secrets” would be Domrey’s theme song), Switchfoot, and a few others on my playlist. But those are what I listen to regardless of writing.

I’ll occasionally listen to classical music. In fact, I’ll let you in on something. If you get the chance, listen to the majestic flowing melody about three minutes into Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter.” Then you’ll know what the song that Rain sings in Chapter 27 sounds like.

Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read?  What are you reading right now?

My favorite book is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, but I’m pretty sure every avid reader has read that at one point or another. I’m a slow reader, and my taste in books is rather narrow, so I’m sure whatever I recommend has already been read and re-read.

At the moment, I’m reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I plan on going through the rest of the trilogy in time for the movie next year. And I have a lot of ebooks that I picked up during the Smashwords sale in July, so I’ll be going through those as well.

As Seranfyll is the first in a series, what can readers expect from the next novel and the remaining books in the series?

I wonder that, too, actually. Lol!

I have an idea of how things are supposed to go, but everything in the middle and bits of the end are up in the air. I don’t have it all in my head, which I know sounds odd. Like I mentioned before, I didn’t know anything about Rain or Domrey, not even their names, until I started writing about them. This is an adventure for me as much as it is for the reader.

But I can say that in the second book, Rain is fifteen. She’s not a child anymore, but she’s not yet an adult, and there are a lot of things she’s having to figure out. Domrey, Coal, and many others are back as well. But we’ll also get to meet some fun new characters–like Domrey’s business partners in the spice trade (one of whom has an even more obnoxious wardrobe than he does), a small and loud mage from another country (who thinks that Domrey’s her destined husband), a doctor with an interesting physical trait, and a mysterious people with some very cool talents. There may or may not be a voyage across the sea involved.

For the rest of the books, we’ll all just have to wait and see. :)

Do you have any plans for a new series at this time?

I’ve glanced at some of my previous writings, and I may or may not publish them. I have three and a half books in a sci-fi series that I wrote when I was in college, and they will need some epic re-vamping before I’m confident enough to put them out. They would actually make some pretty cool graphic novels, but unfortunately, I’m not much of an artist.

The book I wrote in between the start and finish of Seranfyll could be cataloged as a paranormal romance, though it has no vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, fairies, goblins, trolls, mermaids, ghosts, etc. It does have series potential (I think I may have part of the sequel to it somewhere). But I’ve only ever read two or three romances, and I’m not very good at them. That one did receive some interest from agents and editors back in 2009, but no one picked it up. I question whether it’s good enough, and I’m unsure if I want to add it to that heavily saturated genre.

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Thank you, Christina, for stopping by the blog and answering some questions about your novel and writing process! 

For more information about Christina, visit her blog, facebook, twitter, or goodreads account!

 

Synopsis of Seranfyll

From Goodreads: For the first time in her life, Rain has a choice to make. The thirteen-year-old slave girl lives in the country of Yoan, where slaves aren’t allowed proper names, let alone anything else. After being sold by a gambler and bought by a thief, she’s freed by an eccentric young noble, about whom many rumors abound. Some say his manor is haunted, his horse can fly, and that he’s actually a devil.

Now that she’s free, Rain must decide what she will do with that new freedom. Her choices will lead her to new friends and many adventures, none of which she could have possibly expected.

Fans of Harry Potter and Howl’s Moving Castle will enjoy this magical tale about choices, consequences, and what it really means to be free.

To read my review of Seranfyll, click HERE.

 

And now for the GIVEAWAY!

We’re offering ONE SIGNED COPY of this awesome novel–which will be sent out by Christina Daley at the conclusion of this giveaway! All you have to do is enter your name and email in order to win, but there are extra entry options if you’re interested!

To enter you must:

  • Be 13 years or older (or have parent/guardian permission)
  • Fill in the required information on the form below (extra entries optional)

Click this ENTRY FORM to enter!

This contest is open INTERNATIONALLY (as long as USPS can send to you), and will end September 20th at 11:59 EST. Please only enter once. The winner will be announced on this page on September 21st, and will receive email notification! Please read my giveaway policy and leave a comment!

Winner: TBA on 9/21



Beth Barany has been gracious enough to stop by the blog and answer a few questions concerning her novel, Henrietta the Dragon Slayer, and her writing style.  So, without further ado, I give you Beth:

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Henrietta the Dragon Slayer is a great fast-paced adventure novel!  What led you to write it?  What were your inspirations, if any?

Thanks Shana! I love writing fast-paced adventure novels, and reading them too! I was led to write Henrietta the Dragon Slayer because I wanted to read an adventure story about a strong young woman. I was fascinated by fairy tales and folk tales as a kid but was frustrated that they were always about boys. I wanted to go on adventures like Jack did. Where was Jane?! So, when I could I started an adventure tale about a young woman who kicks butt as good as any male, and has flair, too!

Is there a particular character within the series that you identify with the most in Henrietta the Dragon Slayer?  Why?

That’s got to be a trick question, right? I love all my characters equally. I do identify the most with Henrietta though. She’s the one I wrote about first. I do have to say that Paulette wanted to take over the story; I had to work hard not to let her. I will be writing about her more in Book 3 of The Five Kingdoms series, The Volcano Witch.

Are any of your characters or situations based on aspects of your own life?

Not directly. I’ve never been a dragon slayer, LOL. I do have three other siblings that I grew up with. My sister wondered if I’d based Paulette on her. I told her I hadn’t, at least not consciously. I have had the experience of leaving everything familiar to me for a new life; I’ve lived abroad three times–twice in Paris, France, and once in Quebec, Canada. I love to travel so have my characters do a lot of traveling. I also love medieval cities so my cities are based on places I’ve visited and lived in. Henrietta’s drive and passion could be said to be modeled off my own, at least that’s what my friends say. :-)

I also changed schools a lot as a kid. Would you believe I went to three different kindergartens, three grade schools and three high schools?

There are many wonderful themes running throughout your novel.  Which theme means the most to you as the author?

I think that would be the theme of friendship. Henrietta learns how to go from being a loner, and running away from the world, to learning how to rely on friends and care again. I don’t know about others, but I had to decide to be more engaged in the world, and lean on my friends when I needed them, instead of acting like I could do it all myself.

 What do you hope readers take away from your novel?

 Well, I hope they will have a great time reading the book, and want to hang out more with Henrietta and her friends. I know I do!

 What is the writing process like for you—is it difficult to come up ideas for novels, does it just come to you?

Ideas come fast and furious, but not every idea is worthy of a novel. I tend to latch on to one idea and mull it over for a while before I dive into writing. I’m currently working on the sequel for Henrietta The Dragon Slayer. But while I was on a break from this series I was working on a contemporary paranormal romance. I can only work deeply on one novel at a time.  

 Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

This is one of my favorite topics. I like to listen to classical music while I draft. Or sometimes I like to write outside in the sun by hand. But I haven’t done that in a while. Mostly, all I need to do is decide I’ll write, and plan that it will be a for a set time and I can write anywhere, anytime. The hardest part for me is to plan to make it happen. I’m so busy with running my business that I have to set firm boundaries around it and writing, my other business!

Do you have a playlist in mind for your novel?  If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

As I mentioned above I like to listen to classical music, specifically, baroque. My favorite album is Simply Baroque 2 with Yo-Yo Ma and Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra. Baroque is known to help us learn. I know that it helps me focus and be calm, and day dream. Love it!

In contrast, though, when I’m editing, I sometimes listen to music that captures the warrior spirit of Henrietta. Then I listen to Evanescence, or dance music like Step Up 3, or strong women vocalists like Florence & the Machine, Christina Perri, and Lady Gaga.

Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read?  What are you reading right now? 

I always recommend Diane Duane, Elizabeth Moon and Sharon Shinn. Right now, I’m taking a break from reading fiction as I’m writing fiction. (Although my husband reads aloud to us at night a mystery or thriller. I love going to sleep to the sound of his voice.) Which leads us right to you next question!

You left the novel open at the end for a sequel.  Will there be a sequel—and if so, what can readers expect from the next novel and the remaining books in the series? 

Yes, there will be a sequel, called, The Dragon Stone. It picks up very close to where Henrietta The Dragon Slayer ends. In The Dragon Stone, Henrietta only wants to return home to heal her mentor but must come to terms with the magic that starts to flow through her from the dragon’s stone, the Dracontias. And she’s always been suspicious of magic. She discovers she must somehow use the magic stone to save a kingdom under attack by a powerful and evil wizard who steals people’s souls and covet the Dracontias for himself. How can she protect herself and her loved ones when the wizard comes after her through the people closest to her? And how can she save her kingdom from being overrun by the hordes from the North?

In the following books (I plan a total of five), Henrietta and her friends must confront the evil wizard by bringing together the five kingdoms against the powerful and evil wizard who wants all the kingdoms for himself.

Thanks for having me here, Shana! And thanks for your review.

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Thanks for stopping by the blog, Beth!!!

Site: http://author.bethbarany.com

 

To read my review of Henrietta the Dragon Slayer, click HERE.

This novel can be purchased at:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Nook

Smashwords

 



Lauren Carr has been so gracious to answer some questions for me concerning her newest mystery series, her writing process, and some information about what we can expect from the rest of the series. So, without further ado, I give you Lauren Carr:

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The Mac Faraday mystery series is extremely well written and captivating.  What led you to write this series?  What were your inspirations, if any?

The premise rose from an incident that happened to a friend of mine. As a teenager, she had given birth to a baby, which was put up for adoption. Years later, this baby found her mother. It was a happy reunion and they’re still close. My writer’s mind thought, Suppose the mother had gone on to become a big famous mystery writer, and her daughter had grown up to become a detective just like the fictional detective that her birth mother wrote about?

Because I prefer writing male protagonists, I changed the daughter to a son and the birth mother passed away, but left her fortune to her son. With Mac reading her journal, it makes her almost a ghost lurking in the background while he finds out more about her during the course of the series. We also have him resembling Mickey Forsythe, his mother’s protagonist in her books, which suggests a mother-child connection even though they had been separated. 

Why did you choose mysteries as a starting point?  Did you always want to write these types of novels, or did it just happen?

I have always loved mysteries. My mother used to read Perry Mason to me at bedtime. From the time I could read I would choose mysteries: Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie, Perry Mason, Elizabeth George.

I believe it’s rooted to a passion for puzzles, but not the jigsaw type. When something breaks in the house, I’m the fix it lady. I love the challenge of tearing things apart to see how they work. That’s how I approach a mystery. I have the murder and tear it apart to scatter the pieces throughout the book and challenge the reader to find all the pieces to put it together.

Is there a particular character within the series that you identify with the most in either It’s Murder, My Son or Old Loves Die Hard?  Why?

Archie. Definitely. Even though she’s Mac’s romantic interest and part of the story, she’s on the sidelines. Gnarly and David are more of Mac’s sidekicks than she is. When he needs help with a background check, she’s Johnny-on-the-Spot for him, and looking gorgeous while she’s doing it. She gets to enjoy being on the inside without getting her hands dirty or breaking a sweat.

Isn’t that what writers are? We’re on the inside but at the sidelines with all the information both at the same time.

Are any of your characters or stories based on aspects of your own life?

Writers don’t live in a vacuum, so we’re all inspired by everyone and everything around us. In It’s Murder, My Son, Mac’s half-brother David is betrayed by Travis, a childhood friend, and ends up getting fired.  When I had started writing It’s Murder, My Son, I was betrayed by a co-worker who I considered a very good friend. A week later, she ended up with a promotion that I had been up for.

As for the character of Gnarly, he’s based on my Australian shepherd Ziggy. When my son was seven years old, he was playing football. During half-time, a woman came up to him with this little puppy in her arms and asked, “Would you like to hold my puppy?” I thought, What harm can come from holding a puppy? As soon as he was in Tristan’s arms, she said, “You can keep him. He’s free.” Then she was gone.

I’m a farm girl. I’ve had dogs my whole life, but I never had one like Ziggy. That dog got into trouble all the time. It was like he was looking for trouble. I’d try one thing to train him, and as soon as he knew the drill, he’d change the rules. Finally, I called in a dog trainer, who said that Ziggy was extremely intelligent, and because he’s so very smart, he’s easily bored, which is why he gets into so much trouble, which is what the dog trainer tells Mac about Gnarly in It’s Murder, My Son.

Many of Gnarly’s antics are based on things Ziggy has done. But, as more readers are reading about Gnarly, I am collecting more storylines for him. So stay tuned.

What do you hope readers take away from your novels?

A fun escape. I write mysteries because I love mysteries and have fun writing them. I’ve created main characters that I would call my friends and want to spend time with. That’s what I want for my readers while they read my books – a thrilling good time. 

What is the writing process like for you—is it difficult to come up with the twists and turns that keep readers guessing?

It all starts with the murder. Then, I come up with the characters and each one’s connection to the victim. Before I start writing, I know who did it and how the book is going to end.

Because my books are character driven, then the storyline gets taken in different directions by the characters, who each have their own agenda. But, as writer, I’m the boss and I throw up roadblocks for the suspects to get them where they need to go while staying true to their character. That’s where you get the twists and turns.

It’s a lot of fun.

Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

Anywhere I want. I have a writer’s studio in the top floor of our home that has a fabulous view across the valley here in West Virginia. I write up there during the day. Then, I’ll take my laptop to bed to write after dinner.

Do you have a playlist in mind for your novels?  If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

Celine Dion songs for the romantic scenes between Mac and Archie. Otherwise, I don’t have any particular playlist that comes to mind.

Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read?  What are you reading right now? 

Agatha Christie with her detective Hercule Poirot. I just finished The Mystery of the Blue Train. I was really surprised when I found that at a library. I thought I had read all of her books but this one I hadn’t. It was a delightful discovery.

The first two books in the series are out–what can readers expect from the next novel and the remaining books in the series?

Color of Murder will be released early next year. In his third mystery on Deep Creek Lake, Mac investigates the murder of a famous painter after Gnarly’s antics cause him to accidentally purchase her long lost painting at an auction.

Do you have any plans for a new series at this time?  What are you currently working on?

I’m always on the lookout for a new series to start. But right now I have my hands full with two: the Mac Faraday Mysteries and the Joshua Thornton Mysteries, my earlier series. A widowed father of five, Joshua Thornton is a county prosecuting attorney in Hancock County, West Virginia. I have brought him into the Color of Murder to work with Mac in his investigation. Afterwards, I’m looking to resurrect that series.
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Thank you, Lauren, for stopping by and answering some questions about your writing! 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Jenn Sommersby has been so gracious to answer some questions for me concerning her wonderful novel Sleight: Book One of the AVRA-K, her writing process, and some information about what we can expect from the rest of the series.  So, without further ado, I give you Jenn Sommersby:

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I love your debut novel, Sleight.  I was captivated from the very first page.  What led you to write it? 

Thanks, Shana. I love you for saying such nice things about my book. In 2007 I’d written a short story for a workshop through the Writers Studio. My fellow workshoppers read a very different piece than what Sleight is today, and the overwhelming feedback was that my main character (then named Frankie) was “too old for her age,” which made sense. Frankie was only 13 in that story. I sort of abandoned it for a while, a long while, until I was having a convo with a young magician friend of mine. He was at the house doing a birthday party for my son, and during a break, we got to talking about the history of magic, how it used to be a healing art and not a hocus-pocus thing. Then the wheels in my head started to grind, and I threw myself into researching magic and witchcraft dating back to the earliest days of recorded history. Once I discovered the word avrakedavra was actually an ancient healing spell, the story began to fall into place. And I had a vehicle for Frankie, who eventually morphed into 17-year-old Gemma.

What were your inspirations for Sleight, if any, and what made you pick the circus as the setting for your novel?

In terms of tangible inspiration, if there is such a thing, it was my daughter’s best friend. I had been farting around writing stuff I’d lose interest in and not finish, until my daughter’s best friend Alysha finished her first novel two weeks before her fifteenth birthday. I’d spent so much time studying about writing, and practicing and talking about writing without actually producing anything I could show people (other than the nonfiction stuff I’d done), I knew it was time to sh*t or get off the pot. So I did.

I was trying to find a venue that hadn’t been done in YA, at least not recently or that I was aware of, something that was enough different from what was out there as to make it saleable. The circus is one of those things that is rather romantic in theory, because few of us ever see the behind-the-scenes—the difficult living conditions, the back-breaking working environment, the stress of continuous performances. And smaller traveling circuses have all but gone the way of the dodo. It’s an important part of history that sadly, for the most part, has not survived the inflexible economic realities of the last twenty-five years or so. The circus is all about the business of show, of making people smile and forget their lives for an hour or two. Look at the crazy success of Cirque du Soleil, and it is an organization that, although it has fixed venues, also travels about.

As the short story seed for Sleight was written in ’07, it was before I’d heard of the HBO miniseries Carnivale; I only heard about Water for Elephants after my short story was done. There. In one sentence, I’ve quieted the naysayers who say I was looking to capitalize on WFE success. So…short question, long answer. I just liked the circus. Who hasn’t dreamed about running away with one?

I loved the characters (especially Henry), the twists and turns, the suspense, the shades (the dead)… What do you hope readers take away from your awesome novel?

Well, you are very generous to call it awesome in the first place. Hmmm…what I’d want people to take away… I want them to feel like they’ve made some new friends in my characters. I want them to feel connected to Gemma and Henry, and even Ash, so that they find themselves wanting to know more about what is to come for these poor souls. I want readers to feel as though they haven’t wasted their time but instead have just witnessed a grand adventure that is still unfolding. Oh—and because it needs to be said—I did not copy JK Rowling with the word avrakedavra. I haven’t read Harry Potter especially for that reason; I did not want to be accused of lifting anything from her stories. It’s important for readers to understand that Sleight and the AVRA-K series deal with magic from its historical roots of healing and ritual practice, and not from the magic wand/poof-it’s-a-bunny evolution. The word avrakedavra is very, very old (dates back to Mesopotamia, and is either Aramaic or Hebrew, depending on your source), and was used as a healing spell. Even Rowling addressed this in an interview, that she came across the word avrakedavra and modified it to suit her needs (the avada kedavra death curse)—it is precisely the opposite meaning of its original incarnation.

What is the writing process like for you? Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

The writing process…it’s a love/hate thing, like anything else that’s worth doing. Sometimes it rocks and makes me feel euphoric, high as a kite; other times, I rot in a vat of despair and wonder if the new WalMart near my house is still hiring. I have concentration issues, so I need NO INTERNET and total quiet when I’m writing, although soundtracks and certain playlists I’ve put together can really move me along, as well—plus I end up making copious notes about research points for when I do get back to the ’puter. I do my best work in the car. Alone. At night, away from my house and my kids (one of them refuses to go to bed at a decent hour and another still gets up 32 times a night), parked in the lot at my favorite coffee shop. Oh, and with a pen and paper. I don’t take my laptop because I don’t want to get robbed, plus writing the first draft by hand means the second draft happens when I transfer paper to screen. THAT makes me giddy as I see the changes happening. Also, when I’m away from the house writing, I have to stay awake, or else a cop will knock on my window with his flashlight and scare me so bad, I might pee, or a bad guy will try to break into my car, or at the very least, bug me for spare change. The constant need to be vigilant about my surroundings helps keep me awake. Also helps that I’m remarkably paranoid…

Why did you choose YA literature as a starting point?  Did you always want to write for this age group, or did it just happen?

Never saw myself writing YA. It sort of just happened. I tend to write very dark fiction—along the lines of Chuck Palahniuk and even some of Flannery O’Connor’s work. I don’t like happy endings, and I don’t like it when everyone gets what they want. For a while, my work was based on my need to shock people. Plus, a lot of my characters were too much like me, which was super boring. After a while, dwelling in this endless sea of unhappiness can get very depressing and tiresome. I needed something different, something fresh to focus on. When the discussion about the ancient history of magic happened, it was like breathing in after a long time under water. It was exactly what I needed to get excited about writing again.

Sleight has hovered in the Top 20 on Amazon’s Top Rated lists for YA/Children’s Lit (#17 in Love/Romance at last check). Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors in terms of self-publishing and spreading the word about their writing?

Write a good story. Do your best work. Don’t rush it—this is not a race. And when you think it’s done, rewrite it again. Save your pennies and hire an editor. Please. Find someone to do a line edit, someone who can give you feedback on what is and isn’t working, both in terms of detail and on a more global, big-picture scale. And by all means, get a decent proofreader to look it over before hitting “publish.” That is one thing self-pub/indies just cannot get past—the errors. If you think readers don’t care, that your story will be so amazing that throngs of readers will look beyond your silly typos, you’re dead wrong. Just recently, I saw a comment on the Kindle Facebook page written by a reader who said she didn’t like buying the self-published books because they were usually crappy and filled with errors. Do you want that to be YOUR book? I didn’t think so.

Lastly, make friends with the book bloggers. They’re the lifeline between the writers and readers. If you are good to them—sincere and not nice only for the time that they are available to service you—they will be good to you in return. Like Shana! I’ve made some fantastic friends through the blogging world.

Do you have a playlist in mind for your novel? If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

I actually included a playlist at the end of Sleight. It includes some of my favorites—Imogen Heap, Mumford & Sons, Metric, Regina Spektor, Muse—but I’m big into classical music and, of course, movie soundtracks. Hans Zimmer, John Debney, Howard Shore, James Newton Howard… I’m sort of lame when it comes to discovering music, so I rely heavily on my music-head husband and friends to send me new bands and good movie scores. I’m building the playlist right now for Stratagem and am hoping to get some new music from little-known artists on it. The music just has to speak to me, and to the scene. It has to relate somehow to the vibe I’m trying to create—that’s why soundtracks are so amazing. I am in awe of composers and musicians. In awe. Talk about talent…

Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read? What are you reading right now?

I am always reading a whack of books. I have Delirium on the go, as well as The Maze Runner. I get a few pages through The Bourne Identity now and again, simply because the action scenes are really well done. When I want to giggle, I read Janet Evanovich; when I want romance, I read Marian Keyes; when I want excellent fantasy, I read Terry Brooks; when I want killer thriller/crime drama, I read Mark Billingham. I’m a huge fan of the young Hannah Moskowitz (Break, Invincible Summer)—she writes WAY beyond her years and experience. A few favorites lately include Trevor Shane’s Children of Paranoia (a thriller) and Blake Crouch’s Run, if you’re into horror. Oh, and people have to read The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson. Phenomenal book. I’m a genre hopper, i.e., I read a ton of different things. I don’t read exclusively from YA (although I’ve read most of the heavy hitters) because it gets tedious, and I crave a different set of words when I’m reading for leisure. I’m a huge Chuck Palahniuk fan. I have a non-YA WIP I’ve been kicking words into over the last few years, very much inspired by Palahniuk’s work. Dark, not for the weak at heart. It’s delicious. (Remember: I love villains.)

How you do feel about eReaders? Do you think they enhance or detract from the reading experience? What’s your personal preference?

How could I not like ereaders, given that I published for Kindle? I was very resistant to them at first, writing smug Facebook and blog posts about how dumb they were and how an electronic screen will never feel as good in my hands as a book and how my paper book will never run out of batteries (which is still totally true). And yet, I have joined the dark side. I have a Kobo and a Kindle, both gifts from loving family members (Sleight is loaded onto both). There is something fantastic about finding a book you want and clicking “buy now.” When it is wirelessly downloaded onto your device and you are cozied up with your blankie, a cup of coffee, and your favorite cat, reading within mere minutes, it is strangely seductive. There has been a lot of buzz about how ereaders will end print books (or as some call, “dead tree books”), but I still go to the bookstore on date night. I still spend hours fondling spines and reading blurbs. And almost always, I walk out having paid my $22.95+ (books in Canada are expensive!), just so I can have the feel of a hardback book in my hands.

You’re currently working on the second book in the series, Stratagem.  What can fans expect from this second installment in the series?

Carnage. Lots and lots of carnage. Stratagem is a lot busier than Sleight. The action has been ramped up as Gemma is on the run across foreign territory. I was worried at first that people would find the amount of travel unbelievable, but after watching shows like The Amazing Race, anything is possible. When I was a kid, Around the World in Eighty Days was one of my favorite stories—if Phileas Fogg can do it without the help of private jets, then Gemma can hit four countries in five days, no sweat.

Stratagem doesn’t have the set-up that Sleight did, for obvious reasons. We know the main players now; we know their individual challenges and dirty secrets. But there are more secrets to be revealed, and more malfeasance. And then there’s always the issue of what Lucian will do to make things more interesting—well, he and his minions. Oh, how I love that man…

There is more magic, which is actually more witchcraft-like than anything, and more sleight-of-being (when someone isn’t necessarily who you think they are). As much as I tried to keep the essence of Sleight as firmly planted in reality as possible (beyond the obvious fantastical elements), Stratagem relies more heavily on fantasy than Sleight does. But it’s all groundwork for the third book, which will lean more toward a dystopian atmosphere. Maybe…it all depends on Lucian and what he decides to do in the next little while. He’s in charge. I’m just his lowly secretary.

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Thank you SO much Jenn!! I absolutely LOVE Sleight and CANNOT wait for Stratagem–it sounds so wonderful!

This Giveaway is now CLOSED.

Winners:

EBook: Amanda

Print Books: 1. Savanna Ucinski    2. Tee


Tim O’Rourke has been to gracious to stop by the blog to answer some questions for my in regards to his three novels AND to also offer a giveaway!!! So without further ado, I give you Tim O’Rourke!
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You’ve written three really amazing novels: Black Hill Farm (Book 1), Black Hill Farm: Andy’s Diary (Book 2), and Zachary Black and the Doorways to Endra. What led you to write these novels? What were your inspirations, if any?

With Black Hill Farm book 1, I wanted to write a paranormal romance but without vampires or werewolves. I thought this had already been done in so many other books. So I needed something else. I wanted something creepy without there being monsters. As so often in real life the monsters are people and I liked that idea. People often make better monsters as they are real. I wanted the same in Black Hill Farm book 2, but wanted to explore this idea further – so I made my monsters people in authority – those that in everyday life we should be able to trust. For me that is scarier than any vampire or werewolf. Those that exploit their positions of authority are the scariest monsters of all. So that was the premise of my idea and I built the stories around it. I also wanted to write some strong and feisty female leads, which weren’t always looking up to and seeking protection from the guy in their life. I tried to do this with Andy. I wanted her to be the strong character and have the mystery surrounding her. It’s Andy that is the fighter – the survivor – the one that takes charge and comes up with the plan to save her and Ben.

This is also true of Neanna in Zachary Black. She is as strong as Zach and this is seen during the battle at the end of the book. Again it is Neanna who saves Zach from his Uncle as they escape from the hospital. Zach’s sister Anna is also as strong as she escapes from her uncle. Willow, the female werewolf in Zach Black, is also the one chosen to go into Earth to find the league of doorways.

Zachary Black was written for my two teenage sons. They were always complaining that they didn’t really find books exciting and the draw of the PS3 was just too great. So I decided to write a real swashbuckling adventure and I tried to fit in as much adventure and action as possible. But I really got the idea while watching Monsters Inc. with my three year-old son Zachary. I just loved the idea of all those doorways leading to different rooms and each door was unique. As a teenager, I loved watching Clint Eastwood’s westerns. I couldn’t think of any books written today for young adults that were in part set in the Wild West so I wanted to incorporate some of that into my story and bring that genre back for YA. And that was really the spark of the idea that led to Zachary Black & The Doorways To Endra.

The Black Hill Farm series are psychological thrillers that blew me away, especially all the twists and turns and the interactions between Andy and her cousin Ben. Was it difficult to create all the twists and turns, keeping the reader in so much suspense?

Like Detective John Taylor in the book – I viewed the whole thing as a magic trick. Bit by bit revealing the trick along the way.  Letting the reader get closer and closer to the action and not revealing how the trick was done until the very end. I knew the ending of the story, but what was difficult was just revealing enough so as not to give too much away but give enough to keep the reader hooked.  Believe it or not one of the biggest twists in the book, I was actually going to write out, but was persuaded by my wife to keep in. I worried that the reader wouldn’t go for it – but it’s the one that seems to catch everyone out the most – so I’m glad that I kept it.

The story for me only worked if each piece of the story was revealed bit by bit and there were several layers to this.Walkerwas revealing what he already knew about the case to Ben in small slices. Ben was slowly revealing what he knew and Andy was doing the same to Ben. But as each piece came together at the end of the book – the jigsaw was complete for the reader and I hoped that as they finished the last page they looked back and could see each piece and how they’d been there all the time. I wanted the reader to say “Ah yes – I see it now. The clues were there all along!”

It was hard to manage all that – but I hope for the reader it seems seamless and they are unaware of the planning and thought that went into it. Like a good magic trick –it seems slick and simple and that’s what amazes the audience.

Black Hill Farm: Andy’s Diary (Book 2) provides the “other side” of the story in regards to Black Hill Farm (Book 1).  Why did you decide to write the second book this way?

 After finishing Book 1, I noticed that the reader had a downer on Andy and they believed that she was bad. I don’t think people are born bad – I think they get turned bad, and characters in books that are purely evil just for evil’s sake are never very interesting. They are much more fun if we get under their skin and see the situation from their point of view. Therefore I wanted to show the reasons why Andy was the way she was. Like John Walker said, she was like jelly and ice cream that somebody had poured gravy on. They had taken something that should have been nice and sweet and ruined it. I wanted to show the reader who had ruined her and why. I also wanted to show how Andy felt about the dinner party with Parker, how she felt about spending all that time locked in the room with her dad’s corpse. I knew the reader would have come to their own conclusions from book one, but I wanted to give Andy the chance to tell her side of the story.

I really enjoy the way your Black Hill Farm novels are written—as police transcripts of interviews.  Was this a difficult style of writing to master?  Did you have to do much research in regard to police transcripts in order to “get it right”?

I used this style for two reasons. Firstly, I love dialogue, it helps to get to know the characters and I like quick fire dialogue. I think it speeds things along and can be dramatic.  Secondly, it’s a style that I’m used to as I’m a police sergeant in the real world. This is something that I don’t often talk about as I don’t believe it to be relevant to my writing – but in this case I think it has some bearing.  I have used the exact same format that I use during the course of my duties, except obviously everything in BHF 1 & 2 has no bearing on any case that I’ve worked on or come across. But as I was writing a book that was made up of police interviews it was definitely a help to have that experience and knowledge to draw upon. 

Is there a specific character that you identify with in the Black Hill Farm series, or your novel Zachary Black and the Doorways to Endra?  Who/Why?

From the Black Hill Farm books, I guess that I identify mostly with the Detective John Walker. Apart from the obvious fact we are both police officers, I like the way that he is only interested in facts and won’t open his mind to the possibility that there might be something else out there. I think he is quite a sensitive guy and always wants to follow the rules. Except in his personal life he hasn’t kept to the rules and his secret is revealed at the end of the book. I like the conflict that he is struggling with.

From the Zachary Black book, I think I identify with William the most. Apart from being incredibly hairy as a teenager and having to start shaving way before any of my friends, I like the way that he is desperate to do the right thing by his family and friends although he gets this wrong. William has a strong moral compass although he sometimes goes about things the wrong way.

Are any of your characters or stories based on aspects of your own life?

My knowledge of police procedure, custody blocks, etc., are all areas that I draw upon to make my stories believable but the stories are all made up in my head. I guess if I’m to be honest, there are bits of me in John Walker although the character is older than me. The farm in is a real place although the name is different in real life. It’s a place that I used to stay on family holidays as a boy. The town is real but I changed the name to Beechers Hope.

Zachary Black and the Doorway to Endra juxtaposes two worlds that mirror each other.  As the characters move from one world to another, they automatically change clothes, and sometimes form—which was an ingenious and interesting aspect of the story.  Was it difficult to write these juxtapositions and keep the story flowing?

In many ways, writing Zachary Black was harder to write than BHF. There aren’t as many twists, but writing about supernatural characters that change form, etc., is difficult. I didn’t want them to be cartoon characters but have real feelings and emotions that the reader could identify with. That’s why I had William (Werewolf) having to make amends to his father and seek his forgiveness – we all want forgiveness at some time or another in our lives. Neanna (Vampire) wanted revenge for the murder and betrayal of her race. Tanner was not only a police officer in Earth but a peacekeeper in Endra who was in search of his lost love Meadda.  Even Fandel was haunted by the bullying he suffered at the hands of his tormentors at school and university.

Apart from having to give all these characters some emotional depth, the world of Endra had to be real as well. It wasn’t good enough to have different kinds of fruit and animals – Endra had to have some history like it had been there for centuries. That’s why there are references to things like the Battle of Nef that had happened hundreds of years before, the cathedral Knights being hundreds of years old etc. All of this I hope would make Endra seem as real as Earth.

All of this had to be revealed subtly and it was hard to do. I didn’t want to draw big signs to it as if saying to the reader “Hey look how different this place is to Earth” – if that makes sense.

Is there anything specific you hope readers take away from your novels?

I hope readers will take from Black Hill Farm the sense of passion that you feel the first time you fall in love.  How you feel that it is the most real feeling in the world. I’d also like the reader to think about how far they would go for the person they love most in their life. Would they go as far as Ben did for Andy – so he could stay with her? Would they give up their freedom like Andy did to stay and help her dad on the farm? Would they stand back and watch the cruelty that Andy’s mum went through? Even Walker who spent his life following a set of rules broke them for his wife. All of the characters in BHF lost out one way or another.

The same can be said for Zach Black – he goes on a dangerous journey to save his sister. William will go to the end of two worlds to seek his father’s forgiveness and approval, and Neanna puts her life constantly at risk to seek revenge for her race of people.

Which one of your novels was the most difficult to write?  Which one was the easiest?

Zach Black was the hardest book to write. I had to create a whole new world with creatures, different races, games, foods and everything else that went into it to make it believable. Nothing was already there – it all had to be created in my mind.

 Black Hill Farm was the easiest – despite all the twists, I had a wealth of experience to draw upon.

What’s the writing process like for you?  Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

I write in the kitchen usually with my three year old son tugging at my arm to go and watch cartoons with him on the T.V.  It is difficult to find time to write as well as holding down a demanding job and spending time with my family. I tend to write in blocks – so when I’m working on a book, any free time that I get I spend writing. Once the book is finished, I then put the laptop away for a few weeks and concentrate solely on the family.

When I am working on a project, I go full at it. I try and write 2,500 words per sitting. This is usually when I get home from work or before I go to work – depending what my shifts are. On my days off I try and write between 5,000 to 7,500 words in one sitting.  BHF 1 took me twenty days to write. But that doesn’t include the time spent editing. I usually do three drafts. Anything more than that and I think the work loses some of its spontaneity and can go stale. There are still mistakes though and they drive me mad. It’s almost that you become blind to them because you’ve read the work too much.

I keep note books with future ideas for stories. I also do sketches of characters and sometimes I sculpt the figures so I have a three dimensional image of them. This often helps if I’m writing about a particular monster or creature. It works as a visual reference. My house is littered with note books, sketches and weird looking creatures that I’ve sculpted.

Do you have a playlist in mind for your novels?  If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

 BHF 1:

 “Chasing cars” Snow Patrol :: “You’re amazing” Bruno Mars :: “Somewhere over the rainbow” Israel Kamakawiwoole :: “With or without you” U2 :: “Wonderwall” Oasis :: “Patience” Take That :: “Someone like you” Adele :: “See you” Depeche Mode :: “Souvenir” OMD :: “Only You”Yazoo :: “Why” Annie Lennox :: “One love” U2

 BHF 2:

“Riders on the storm” The Doors :: “Everybody Hurts” REM :: “Fast Cars” Tracey Chapman :: “Greatest Day” Take That :: “Somewhere over the rainbow” Israel Kamakawiwoole :: “Night Swimming” REM :: “You have been loved” George Michael :: “Just can’t get enough” Depeche Mode :: “Nobody’s diary”Yazoo :: “Stay” Shakespeare’s Sister

Zachary Black & The Doorways To Endra:

“Hero’s” David Bowie: : “Sweet Dreams (Are made of this)” Eurythmics :: “Hungry Like a Wolf” Duran Duran :: “Two Tribes” Frankie Goes ToHollywood :: “Everybody wants to rule the world” Tears for fears :: “Love song for a Vampire” Annie Lennox :: “Where the streets have no name” U2

How did you decide to become a writer?  Did you always want to write, or did it just happen?  

As a kid I really struggled with reading and writing. In fact if it didn’t involve painting, drawing or making things with my hands, I wasn’t very good at it. The problem was my head was always filled with ideas and stories. I would always be telling my friends and family my stories, but I was frustrated as I couldn’t write them down.

I was in remedial for English and struggled to put even the basic of sentences together. So I would express myself through drawing and painting but it was never enough – I wanted to write my own stories!

Then one summer – I was about thirteen I think – I went with my family on holiday to that cottage as described in Black Hill Farm. It was about a 400 mile drive; so on the way we made plenty of stops at service stations along the way. My brother who was younger than me by three years was a confident reader and he was bought a book to read on the journey. I pestered for one but was told no as it would be a waste of money. In the end I got my own way and was bought one of those Fighting-Fantasy role-playing books. It was made up of nice neat sections which weren’t too long and it was more of a game than a book. Anyway, I read that book during the holiday. I then pestered for another which I read, then another and so on. Suddenly reading had clicked with me and I couldn’t stop. Once I had mastered the reading the writing followed and at long last I started to write my own stories. The freedom I felt was truly amazing. Every spare minute was spent either reading or writing my own stories and I started to improve at school. I got moved out of remedial and by the time I had left school I had passed my English exams and then went on to college to study English Literature, Drama and Art.

It was really like reading and writing had saved me. I had this wonderful English teacher and if the weather was nice she would take the class up onto the school fields and read my stories out loud for my friends to hear. I found this embarrassing but secretly enjoyed it too. I was lucky as I had a friend of the family who would spend hours going over my stories with me, helping me with my spelling and grammar etc. Once I got to college, I wrote some plays which were performed by the drama department and that was magic too. So I guess, by the age of thirteen, I knew that I wanted to spend as much of my life as possible writing about all those characters and places that I could see inside my head.

Do you have a favourite author or novel that you recommend your fans read?  What are you reading right now? 

This is a difficult question as my reading tastes are so broad. I love anything from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Dr Seuss. I read anything from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte to George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roal Dahl. 

It’s really hard for me to pick a favourite author but if I was pushed I would have to say Conan Doyle. I love Sherlock Holmes and think he is one of the best fictional characters ever dreamt up.  

If I had to recommend a book, give Momo by Michael Ende a go. It’s not a very well known book, but it’s amazing.

Also read Skellig by David Almond – that book is incredible.

And if you want some fun, read Horton hears a Who by Dr Seuss.

What am I reading right now?  The Lair by James Herbert.

What are you currently working on in terms of novels?  What can readers expect in the Zachary Black series? 

I’m currently working on a YA dark romance called The Rugged Shore. It’s darker than the Black Hill Farm books and is about two sixteen year olds (Samantha & Tom) who find the body of a boy in a lake and how this affects the rest of their lives. Unlike BHF, this book follows the two main characters into adulthood, up to the age of twenty-six. Again there are plenty of twists and both characters make decisions that have a profound effect on them and those around them.  I’m hoping to have the book available by the end of June/early July.

As far as the Zachary Black Trilogy goes, I’m starting work on the second book as soon as The Rugged Shore is finished. I have it written in note form, but needs fleshing out. It should be available in the autumn and the final part early in 2012.  What can you expect from the rest of the series? Zach and Neanna fall in love – but does it last? Zach finds out what really happened to his parents. There is a traitor amongst them and their identity is revealed. There is a race of mechanical men yet to come and more and more modern technology keeps turning up in Endra. But why? And how? But some of the biggest surprises will be discovering where and what Endra really is and the biggest surprise in the Zachary Black books will be finding out what Caroline Hughes from BHF was doing out on the road that night when she got hit by the car.

This is a bit of a spoiler so skip this bit if you don’t want to know, but there is a link between BHF and Zachary Black.  Some clues: Constable Moody is in both of them. In BHF2 he talks about being suspended from the police because he failed to investigate the disappearance of a boy that ran away from his uncle. In Zachary Black, Fandel goes to Constable Moody to report Zach missing. Both books mention ‘The Great Wasteland Railroad Station’ in the desert. Anna finds it deserted after fleeing her Uncle Fandel and Detective Walker ends up there. In the very last line of BHF 2 Walker says that before stepping through the doorway he looks back to see Caroline one last time. And all the main characters have the surname Black!

There are other subtle clues to look out for – such as both series of books are set in a desolate cottage/farmhouse near the edge of a cliff face. Both are set in Cornwalland a lot of the characters from both books make references to “doors” or “doorways”. For example, Detective John Walker tells Richard Jones that he should read Andy’s diary as it will open all sorts of doorways for him. There are others but it will be fun to find them yourself.

As I said earlier in the interview, all the clues are there and I hope by the end of the Zachary Black trilogy you have one of those moments when you say “Oh my god! How come I didn’t see that coming?’

 That’s it; I won’t say anything else as I don’t want to spoil it for you. But I hope it will be worth the wait. Ha!

 Thanks Shana for the interview. I’ve really enjoyed it.

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Thank you Tim!!! I am excited to have you on the blog and have really enjoyed getting to know more about you and your wonderful books!!
 
This giveaway is now CLOSED.

Winners: 

Kaylish – Winner of Zachary Black (1) and The Delf (4)
 
Trixia Y. — Winner of Fandel Black (2) and William (3)


I’m really excited to have Michelle Franklin on the blog today answering some questions about her Haanta book series!  So without further ado: 

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You’ve written the Haanta Series, currently 21 novels long, which is a huge feat!  What led you to write this series?  What were your inspirations for the many novels?

I hadn’t written for six months due to work. When I was laid off, my editor suggested I write something new. I had previously written another epic fantasy series that was quite a few books long but I didn’t feel it was written well enough to go anywhere. I already had a world to write in so I began writing short stories about a commander and a giant. In six months, I wrote a few hundred of them and started putting them online. Many people seemed to enjoy the stories so I began writing the novels beginning with how Rautu and Boudicca met. I don’t really think about how long something is. When I finished book 4, I said “I think that’s it”, and then I wrote books 5-10, and again I said “I think that’s it.” And then a few of the stand alone books and books 11-14 came. Now, I don’t put a limit on the story. It’s however long it’s going to be. As for the inspiration, I’m really inspired by everything, even something as simple as a change in season.

You have created avery interesting setting for your novels. Was it difficult to create this alternate world in your writing? Is there any particular reason you chose to portray giants as opposed to othermythical creatures? 

The world of the Two Continents is a place I’ve known for a long time. There are always new details that enter my mind when we go and visit a capital city, for example, but I feel more like I’m touring a world that already exists. I see things the way the characters see things, so if it’s new for them, it’s new for me.  It’s always been giants for me. When I was in high school and writing historical fantasy, there were even giants on Ellis Island. I always had the notion of a small female lead and a giant male at her side. Families of giants, giant companions, half-giants while playing D&D- I always loved them. I always wanted more stories about giants when I was younger. Now I have them.

There are many, many characters within your novels.  Which character do you identify with the most in the series?  Why?

There are quite a few characters. There are about 5-10 new characters in each book. Not so many when comparing to War and Peace. Not every character is in every novel, but they all return to play their roles.  Boudicca is my Frewyn counterpart. She’s clever, sarcastic, plain-looking, has terrible hair, and is a hard working farmer turned fearless warrior. She’s the heroine I always wanted to be, even with the bad hair. 

Are any of your characters or stories based on aspects of your own life?

Yes, very much so.

What do you hope readers take away from your series?

I just hope they enjoy it. 

What is the writing process like for you?  Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you gothrough before/during the writing process?

I write everywhere: in cafes, is hospital waiting rooms, but my place of peace is my desk. There, I have the original artwork from the series made by Twisk to bolster me, Villars chocolate bars and my Jane Austen collection. I have no rituals other than making breakfast.

Do you have a playlist in mind for your novels?  If so,what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

I do have a playlist. Certain characters and places have certain songs attached to them. I usually listen to Jennie Muskett, Martin Phipps, Two Steps from Hell, Bear McCreary, Dead Can Dance, Faun, Mytery of Bulgarian Voices Choir, Origa, Kow Otani, Kunihiko Ryo, Shigeru Umebayashi, Yoko Kanno, Takanashi Yasuharu, Dervish, Thomas Bergersen. There are many more, but these artists and composers make up the chief of my main playlist. As for reading, I cannot listen to music while reading. However, I do listen to audiobooks, all of them read by Juliet Stevenson and Olivia Williams. 

How did you decide to become a writer?  Did you always want to write, or did it just happen?  

I didn’t decide really. I’ve always been writing- not everything has always been of decent quality, but I always had an inclination that I must write.

Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read?  What are you reading right now? 

If you haven’t read Jane Austen’s Persuasion, what are you waiting for?  Now, I’m reading the Liar by Stephen Fry and Sandition by Jane Austen. 

How many more novels do you foresee in the Haanta series?  What can readers expect as they read this series?

I cannot answer that question only because I do not know the answer myself. As people read the series, they’ll be introduced to more and more of the world, different races, different languages, different types of magic, etc. I try not to introduce too much in one volume.

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Thank you Michelle!!! I am excited to have you on the blog, and I’ve highly enjoyed getting to know you better!

This giveaway is now CLOSED.

Winners:

The Commander and the Den Asaan: Lissette Martinez

 Tales from Frewyn: EVK



I’m extremely excited to have Jeremy Rodden with us today on the blog, answering some of my questions in regards to his debut Toonopolis: Gemini!  So, without further ado:

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Your debut novel, Toonopolis: Gemini, is a completely original, unique piece.  What led you to write this novel?  What were your inspirations, if any?

Two of my favorite authors are Lewis Carroll and CS Lewis.  Both of them were able to create unique fantasy worlds that were linked with the “Real World” and appeal to readers of all ages.  One of my biggest goals in writing a novel was to write something that could share that classification.  I pulled pieces of my world-building from tons of sources: cartoons, comics, movies, books, and video games.  I’m a big geek.

As a former high school English teacher, one of the things I always tried to do with my students was link new material with prior knowledge.  I hope that anyone who reads this book will find a sense of familiarity and connect their own forms of nostalgia to the story that would make them connect to my world in their own way.

The idea of a cartoon world based on human thoughts, in juxtaposition with the human world, was a really ingenious idea!  Was it difficult to create the cartoon world? Is there any particular reason you chose to portray cartoons as your main characters?

I wouldn’t say that it was ‘difficult’ per se.  I have had ideas floating in my head about Toonopolis since I was 18.  I created it originally as an interactive fiction game with some friends.  The game only lasted a few years, but I continued growing and building the world in my head and in my trusty black-and-white copybook whenever I had new ideas.  I also have had some great friends who would ask me questions, “What would happen if…?”  “Does this work in the Tooniverse?” etc.  They helped me question rules just by having to come up with answers to their questions.

I chose cartoons because it is a universe that has no real limitations other than those within one’s imagination.  I really enjoyed the human-cartoon interactions in movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Cool World but didn’t like that the cartoon worlds existed independent of humans.  Combining these ideas with a concept from The NeverEnding Story (Fantasia being a metaphorical representation of the hopes and dreams of humans) led to the more direct linking of the Tooniverse and the Universe.

Is there a specific character that you identify with in your novel?  Who/Why?

Jimbob the Talking Eggplant is the one that would probably most often be the character to “say what I would say,” so to speak, in any given situation.  Much to the chagrin of friends and family, I am known for snarky one-liners and snappy responses that are sometimes funny/sometimes annoying/sometimes painful.

Are any of your characters or stories based on aspects of your own life (explain)?

In a way.  Some of Gemini’s teen angst and father issues stem from my own.  Having been raised by a single mother, I identify a lot with Gemini’s father abandonment problems that are brought up early in the book.

Is there anything specific you hope readers take away from your novel?

I just hope that they have a few laughs and enjoy themselves.  Unlike The Chronicles of Narnia or His Dark Materials, two wonderful series, Toonopolis Files do not have any underlying agenda or religious allegory to them.  In the vein of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I wrote this book as entertainment, pure and simple.  Many people try to read into Lewis Carroll’s writings for hidden meanings and other such nonsense, not realizing that the entire point of Alice was simply that: nonsense.

There is a lot of humor in Toonopolis: Gemini that caused me to laugh aloud.  Was writing the humor into the novel difficult, or just something that comes natural for you?

I write what I think is funny.  I would say it comes natural, I suppose, but I don’t want to sound haughty.  I think explaining the humor in the story the way my wife explains it to people is probably best.  When they compliment the humor of Toonopolis to her, she often responds, “Yeah, to you it’s original and funny.  To me, it’s the same stuff I’ve been hearing for twelve years!”  There’s a reason the dedication to the book refers to my wife as “the unfortunate test subject of many bad jokes.”

What’s the writing process like for you?  Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

As a stay-at-home dad to two boys (6 and 1), I write when I find time.  Ideally, I like to be in a comfortable place with my boys asleep.  The most important to me is having my writing playlist going while writing.  I can’t write in silence.  My writing playlist consists of mostly instrumental stuff: movie scores, video game soundtracks, instrumental rock, classical, or non-English lyrics.  The only music on my playlist that has lyrics is music to awaken the nostalgia in me that I try to awaken in others (primarily rock music from my teens).

Do you have a playlist in mind for your novels?  If so,what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

Video Game music is one of the best soundtracks.  Heavy on the Mega Man and Final Fantasy, predominantly.  There is one band that I want to tap if I ever decide to have music commissioned specifically for Toonopolis, such as in an animated show or film: The Coconut Monkeyrocket. It’s a single guy who layers music in a kind of a progressive/silly jam style that really captures the essence of ToonopolisMartinibomb is another similar type of artist.

How did you decide to become a writer?  Did you always want to write, or did it just happen?

I have wanted to be a writer since grade school.  I was very engrossed with Beverly Cleary as a kid and one of my favorite books was Dear Mr. Hensaw.  It was an epistolary novel about a kid writing to his favorite author.  If I had to pick one book that inspired me to become an author, I’d have to go with that one.

Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read?  What are you reading right now?

Well, I am on Goodreads if anyone wants to compare reading lists.  Right now I am finishing up the latest Artemis Fowl book and also reading a non-fiction book called Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World by Jane McGonigal.  I have a lot of reading to catch up on since I spent the last few months editing and publishing Toonopolis: Gemini.  It’s hard to read for enjoyment when in “editor/publisher” mode.  Upcoming books on the shelf: Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero and the two Kane Chronicles books, a few Neil Gaimain books that have been begging for me to read them, and some independent author works, like Doodling by Jonathan Gould.

How many more novels do you foresee in the Toonopolis series?  What can readers expect as they read this series?

There are two already announced to follow up to Gemini.  Chi Lin should be out in the late fall of this year.  Zephyr will be out, hopefully, early summer of 2012.  These three books will act as a trilogy, tying together one over-arching storyline involving Special Agent Mimic being heavily involved.  Each book has a different main character, but there will be a lot of overlapping with characters and locales that people will, I think, enjoy.  Minor characters in one book will be major characters in another.

What can readers expect?  More of what they got in Gemini. Plenty of laughs (or at least pained groans), silliness, and slapstickiness.  Lots of new sections of Toonopolis.  More exploration into the rules that govern the Tooniverse and how it is linked to beings in the universe-proper.

I also have a number of Toonopolis Shorts that will be short stories about some of the minor characters seen in the three books.  I am planning on releasing them in eBook form as I complete them and compiling them into a collection for print once I have several complete.

The last currently planned series is a new dual-trilogy that will be co-authored by a friend.  This will be a new trilogy that will bring back a lot of characters from the first three books and introduce a world of new ones.  I won’t explain right now what I mean by a dual-trilogy, but it’s a work-in-progress concept that my friend and I are developing that I think will be very cool and unique if we pull it off.

-Jeremy Rodden
Author of the Toonopolis Files: www.toonopolis.com

Facebook Fanpage: www.facebook.com/toonopolisfiles/

On Twitter: @toonopolis

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Thank you Jeremy!!! I really enjoyed having you on the blog today and cannot wait for the next book in the Toonopolis Series!  

This contest is now closed:

Winners:

Harpreet Singh from Books for Teens

Z (A Voracious Reader)

Heysoulsister



Jason Beymer has been so gracious as to stop by the blog and answer some questions about his novels and writing style. So, without further ado:
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You’ve written two very humorous, off kilter novels, Rogue’s Curse and Nether. What led you to write these novels? What were your inspirations for the novels, if any?

Both of these novels spawned from scene ideas. I knew I wanted to write comedies (and comedies that would make beverages explode out a reader’s nostrils). But the books took on a life of their own once I put pen to paper. In my stories, the characters do the writing for me. They dictate the twists and turns with their actions.

With Rogue’s Curse, I knew I wanted to pay tribute to my favorite show of all time, To Catch a Predator, and I wanted to show a screwed up monarchy with a king who ruled entirely with the tip of his penis. I wanted to make my own race of monsters–something akin to ogres or orcs, but unique. This spawned the race of clovorts, and the characters of Oompus and Barbus. The idea of setting the story in our world 2000 years after the Rapture came in later drafts. What would our Bible look like 2000 years from now? What books would survive? How would the stories change? Most importantly, could I add a new chapter to the Bible and add my own biblical prophet? The answer turned out to be Yes. Yes I could.

With Nether, I paid tribute to my dachshund. Beyond that, I wanted to up the ante from Rogue’s Curse. I incorporated different themes: shapeshifters, talking dogs, zombies, teenage demons…even a jaunt through the afterlife. I took risks with this book, and I hope they paid off.

What character do you identify with the most in Rogue’s Curse and Nether? Why?

Sadly, I most relate to Burklin from Nether. We’re equally paranoid. Like him, I have an opinionated dachshund that won’t shut up. It wasn’t difficult to climb into Burklin’s neurotic head and know how he would react to every situation.

In Rogue’s Curse I identify with Doban on a carnal level–sort of that “dark side” we refuse to show others. Though, I would never lock anyone inside a tomb and leave them to die (unless they deserved it).

Are any of your characters or stories based on aspects of your own life?

Uh…um….hmm. Definitely not? Well, so I own the same dog from Nether, and I’m paranoid like most of my characters. Do I own a harem with 365 women? Can I shapeshift? Does my dog talk? Have I ever bathed a zombie? Okay, yes to all of these; I’ve led an unusual life.

What do you hope readers take away from your novels?

First I want readers to laugh. For Rogue’s Curse, I want them to come away with a vision of the world I’ve created, and with visuals they can’t get out of their head (like Lady Mumford’s pockmarked body naked. Yum!). For Nether I want them to think about society, and about parenthood in general. Themes of parenthood are prevalent throughout Nether. This was purposeful, as I’m a stay-at-home dad, and the father of an adopted girl from China. If you tear away the layers of comedy and absurdness, what you have is a story about different types of parents: good and bad. But mostly bad.

What is the writing process like for you? Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

I wake up at 5:00 am every morning, shower, dress (that’s the important part), then drive to Starbucks by 5:30 am when it opens. I sit in the comfy red chair, put on my headphones and write until about 7:30 am. You’d be surprised how much writing fodder walks through those doors. Do you need help with a character? How about a selfish, belligerent mommy with three disrespectful sugared-up children? Just look up from your laptop. Then I go home and wake my kid, dress her (that’s the important part), feed her, and take her to school. I’m at my most creative in the morning. By noon, my creativity is shot.

Do you have a playlist in mind for your novels? If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

I listen to movie soundtracks and instrumentals when I write. I can’t listen to anything with words or I get too distracted. Below are my top three for both books (and yeah, throw these on you Kindle and listen to them while you’re reading–you won’t be disappointed):

1) Rogue’s Curse
        a) Indiana Jones stuff — Raiders of the Lost Ark: Desert Chase, and Last Crusade: Belly of the Steel Beast
        b) Explosions in the Sky’s Your Hand in Mine
        c) Lost – Oceanic 815 and Parting Words

2) Nether
        a) The Dark Knight soundtrack (all)
        b) Battlestar Galactica soundtrack (Bear McCreary is the man).
        c) Furious Angels album (Rob Dougan)

How did you decide to become a writer? Did you always want to write, or did it just happen?

I’ve been writing since I was a toddler. At three years old I was a felony plagiarist, stealing from Beatrix Potter and Mother Goose. I rewrote their stories a thousand times. I finished my first “real” book in high school. It was terrible, but I was a high school punk who thought research, listening to anyone over the age of 20, and editing were for suckers. The book was about two rogue CIA agents trying to kill each other in Los Angeles. Why wouldn’t Hollywood want to make a movie out of that? Now I hope it never sees the light of day.

Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read? What are you reading right now?

Top of my head: Anything by Ray Bradbury, especially Fahrenheit 451. The prose is beautiful, and the message rocks. For other chilling messages, Huxley’s Brave New World is incredible. I love Connie Willis (especially Passages), everything by Philip K. Dick, 1970’s Stephen King novels, Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, Stephen Crane’s Maggie and his short stories about New York (and The Monster–awesome), Shute’s On the Beach (incredible apocalyptic stuff), Gaiman’s Sandman, Good Omens, American Gods. I could go on and on here. Right now I’m reading Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Are there any other novels in the works at this time? What can readers expect from the next novel?

The print version of Rogue’s Curse will be available in the next week or two. I’m excited about this, since the novel has been ebook only until now. It should be up on Amazon shortly.

Also, I’m working on the sequel to Rogue’s Curse. It’s nearly ready for beta-reading. It begins six months after the events of the first book. You’ll see what happens to a rogue after six months of drinking, eating and complacency. Hint: it ain’t pretty. Beyond that I’m helping to promote other authors, and trying to inspire people to write. If any of your readers would like to guest post or be interviewed on my blog, I’d love to host them.

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Here’s a little more about Rogue’s Curse: 

Rogue’s Curse is a dark comedy set 2000 years after the Rapture. A rogue named Doban discovers the talisman responsible for the Rapture and it embeds itself to his skin. Now the entire kingdom is after him. Doban must turn to the only woman who ever loved him—a woman he once left to die in a tomb—for help. Rogue’s Curse has tons of sex, monsters, palace politics, romance, humor and adventure.

But mainly the focus is on the relationship between Mona and Doban. What has happened in the two years since he left her to die in the tomb? How did she survive and escape? And most importantly, can they set aside their differences long enough to stop a second Rapture? At its heart, Rogue’s Curse is about second chances, and whether or not we repeat past mistakes when presented the opportunity.

2000 years after the Rapture, the world still sucks.

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Here’s a little more about Nether.

One suburban night. One stubborn corpse. One golden opportunity.

Burklin had it all: a spacious two-story house, a shapeshifting wife, a wide open future. That is, until his father ripped out his soul and trapped it inside an opinionated dachshund. Now he’s lost everything, leaving him a slave on mop-up duty for a homicidal teenage demon. His father is sleeping with his ex, the possessed dachshund won’t stop talking, and the cleanup jobs keep getting messier. Burklin would give anything to have his life back–even if it means turning against his manipulative father and destroying their chance of winning the Nether’s Demon Lord Sweepstakes.

Opportunity knocks with a dead woman’s hand. When the demon’s latest victim won’t stay dead, the rules of life and death change. Freedom lies within Burklin’s reach, but to get it he’ll have to defy his father, the ex-wife he still loves, and the Nether itself.

Just how far is he willing to go?

Bio: A permanent fixture at his local coffeehouse, Jason Beymer hunches over his laptop in a caffeine-induced frenzy, jowls slick with muse. He injects comedy into the urban and traditional fantasy genres like a squeeze of lemon into ice water: tart, yet refreshing. When not pounding on his keyboard, Jason worships at the feet of Ray Bradbury, and engages in an unhealthy obsession with Grace Park and Tricia Helfer.

Nether and Rogue’s Curse are both ebooks, and available through Lyrical Press.

Links:

Nether: http://www.beerandtv.com/nether
Rogue’s Curse: http://www.beerandtv.com/rogues-curse
Website: http://www.beerandtv.com
Twitter: @beerandtv
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jasonbeymer
Email: jason@beerandtv.com

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Thank you Jason!!! I am excited to have you on the blog, and I’ve highly enjoyed your novels as well!

To read my review of Rogue’s Curse, click HERE.

To read my review of Nether, click HERE.



S.M. Reine has been so gracious to stop by the blog and answer a few questions for me in regards to her writing and her debut novel Six Moon Summer! So, without further ado:

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Six Moon Summer, the first novel in the Seasons of the Moon series, is an awesome debut novel.  What led you to write this novel?  What were your inspirations for the novel, if any?

Thanks! Books are such massive, sprawling creatures that it’s hard to pinpoint which little seeds grew into the story. Six Moon Summer was one of those things I tried and failed to write for years until it finally clicked in my head. I guess all my embarrassing experiences at Girl Scout camp have to have contributed! But let’s not talk about that.

You have added a lot of personal touches to traditional werewolf folklore in your novel.  Where did your ideas stem from—was it hard to write?

No, this book was pretty easy to write. Now that you mention it, I recall that the concept of the incremental transformation was the main inspiration for the entire story. Although I’m a fantasy writer these days, I’m a horror girl at heart, and the idea of slowly turning into a monster sounded so much worse than simply becoming one. Seeing the horrible end coming and being helpless to stop it is way scarier.

What character do you identify with the most in Six Moon Summer?  Why?

Cassidy. I was the weird girl who drew on her arms in high school. I was much friendlier, though.

Are any of your characters or stories based on aspects of your own life?

Yes and no. I don’t consciously pull from my experiences, but when I go back and look at old manuscripts, they feel autobiographical. I bet my therapist would love to read my books. Ha!

What do you hope readers take away from your novel?

I hope the ending leaves them feeling a little bittersweet and that they’ve enjoyed the ride. Such a ridiculously small people enter the realms of classic literature that I don’t really aspire to that kind of greatness. I just want everyone to have an awesome couple of hours (or days) reading my book where they can forget about life.

Why did you choose YA literature as a starting point?  Did you always want to write for this age group, or did it just happen?

YA lit tends to be more brief than adult literature (or at least, it was until Harry Potter came around; it’s trending longer these days) and I love how writing short books forces you to boil a book down to its critical parts. No room for fluff. I wanted to write something short and pulpy like Christopher Pike or Tamora Pierce’s books.

What is the writing process like for you?  Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

I used to have a process involving several glasses of wine and music, but now that I’m a mom, I don’t have the time! Writing has to be snuck in any time I can distract the baby for a half second. Even while I answer these questions, the baby is whining in his Jumperoo and wondering why the heck I’m paying more attention to the laptop than him. I wager I have about five seconds to finish this before he needs me!

Do you have a playlist in mind for your novel?  If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

Everything I write should be read while listening to Depeche Mode. Totally.

Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read?  What are you reading right now?

Right this second, I’m reading “Christine” by Stephen King, but I just finished “The Mumbo Jumbo Circus” by Jane George. It had that sense of wonder I adore in a great YA book and really colorful characters. I highly recommend it.

As Six Moon Summer is the first in a series, what can readers expect from the next novel and the remaining books in the series?

They can expect things to keep getting worse for Rylie. Ha!

Do you have any plans for a new series at this time?

Actually, yes. I’m developing a platform for an adult urban fantasy series I’m thinking of starting to release in spring 2012. I don’t want to talk about it too much yet, though! It’s still in the foetal stage.

Thank you Sara, for stopping by the blog!!!  I’ve enjoyed having you here today!!!


I’m really excited to announce that Tammara Webber has graciously stopped by the blog to answer some questions for me in regards to her most wonderful debut novel, Between the Lines, and is also offering an eBook GIVEAWAY to FIVE lucky winners!  Here’s the synopsis of her wonderful novel:

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When Hollywood It Boy, Reid Alexander, arrives on location to shoot his next movie, his goals are the same as always-film another blockbuster hit and enjoy his celebrity status to the fullest while doing so. His costar is a virtual unknown with whom he had blazing hot chemistry during her auditions. The universe is lining up nicely to grant whatever he wants, as usual, until he’s confronted with unexpected obstacles on location like a bitter ex-girlfriend and a rival for the first girl to spark his genuine interest in years.

Emma Pierce just got her big break after more than a decade of filming commercials for grape juice, department stores and tampons, and more recently, bit parts in made-for-TV movies. Nailing the lead role in a wide-release film sent her agent, father and stepmother into raptures, and should have done the same for her. The Problem? Emma is experiencing a building desire to be normal, and starring in a silly, modernized adaptation of one of her favorite novels-opposite the very hot Reid Alexander-isn’t going to advance that aspiration.

Graham Douglas doesn’t fear playing the part of a nerdy dimwit; when it comes to choosing film roles, if it pays, he’ll do it. Besides, his friend Brooke Cameron snatched up the role of the bitchy hot girl and could use his help as a buffer, because her ex is the star. Graham has no problem keeping a handle on the situation, until he finds himself attracted to Reid’s costar, Emma, the girl Reid is pursuing full-throttle with his standard arsenal of charm, good looks and arrogance.

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 I absolutely loved this novel, and you will too; Tammara is a truly gifted writer, so without further ado, I give you Tammara Webber:

What led you to write your debut novel, Between the Lines?  What were your inspirations for the novel, if any??

When I started writing it, my oldest son was studying drama at NYU. I watched the way the media and fans get so into the lives of celebrities now – there’s no such thing as privacy. People are assumed to be hooking up or cheating or breaking up and once the assumption is there it spreads like wildfire. My original idea was how that affects the people – especially young people – who really want nothing more than to be the artists they are, but suddenly every single thing they do (and even stuff they don’t do) is public knowledge. Some of them must wish, occasionally, to just be a normal private person, while others revel in the whole celebrity thing.


You have many wonderful characters in Between the Lines.  Is there a particular character that you identify with more than others?  Why?

My kids say I’m a cross between Emily (Emma’s BFF) and her mom. They’re both supportive and snarky. Reid was the easiest voice to write; I have no idea why. He let me into his head, no holds barred, and I guess for that reason I’d have to say Reid.

Your novel is set up in a wonderful back and forth style narrative, giving both viewpoints of Emma and Reid.  What made you decide to write your novel in this style?

I actually wrote the whole thing from Emma’s POV, and it just felt not quite there. I began writing the sequel, which flowed dual POV naturally. After a few chapters I thought, “Oh NO. I need to rewrite the first book. It’s got to have Reid’s voice.” I dreaded an overhaul like that, but the moment I started doing it, I knew it was the right move. Reid from the outside is too good at pretending to be sweet. I had to get in his head to show the real guy.


What do you hope readers take away from your novel??

Oh, man. Well, the importance of friendship, of following your instincts, of speaking up for what you want instead of expecting people to read your mind. Communication is crucial to any relationship. The lack of it is what causes people to begin making assumptions. For high school readers, because a teacher I never expected to say this said this to me — whatever intolerable situation might be going on at home now, you’re about to be on your own. Not everything can or will be resolved—but it doesn’t need to be. Some relationships just need distance, and parent/child relationships, particularly when seeing eye-to-eye isn’t possible, benefit from the “child” reaching an age of autonomy and getting some separation. Take that independence by the horns and show it who’s boss. Most parents can’t help but respect that.


Why did you choose YA literature as a starting point?  Did you always want to write for this age group, or did it just happen??

When my oldest was old enough to check out the YA section, I was amazed at what was there. I took a YA lit course in college (I went back to school late), and that’s the point I first started thinking about writing YA. The book that clinched the deal was The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. It was just perfect and lovely. I wanted to do that. With steamier scenes and the F-word.


What is the writing process like for you?  Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

I recently set up an extra bedroom as a writing room. The book A Room of Her Own, by Virginia Woolf, inspired me to take this space for myself, and it’s made a huge difference for me in output. My rituals include a lot of staring (out the window, at a cat, at the wall) and attempting to avoid clicking open facebook, twitter, email, etc. I actually benefitted from writing one novel and revising another at the same time, which is probably weird. I went by what mood I was in. Logical and analytical? Editing. Creative? Writing. Writer’s block? Reading (I have a comfortable loveseat in the room as well).


Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read?  What are you reading right now??

I think readers have a greater ability now to find authors they can connect with than they ever have before. My favorite YA author is Jennifer Echols. She is masterful at writing hot guys and complications and plucky heroines and I always laugh out loud while reading her books. I also love Courtney Summers, queen of the misunderstood, imperfect heroine. My current WIP was very influenced by her. I also love Maggie Stiefvater, Sarah Dessen, Melina Marchetta, Kristen Cashore… heck, just friend me on goodreads.com and you can see who I love. Right this moment I’m reading Let’s Get Lost by English author Sarra Manning. Loving it so far.


As Between the Lines is the first in a series, what can your fans expect from the next novel?  Do you have any plans for a new series at this time?

I did not expect Between the Lines to become a series when I was writing it. I don’t outline, though I do begin with an idea of where I’d like to end up. However—I create characters and then I set them loose, and often they do stuff I don’t expect. I was won over towards the end by a couple of characters. I had to give them another shot. So, a sequel, and maybe one more. Absolutely no more than three  total. The sequel could stand alone, just as Between the Lines could. The third, if it works out, will relate back to the other two. I have ideas for another story, which I’m trying to hold back while I finish editing book two and writing book three! The plan is for it to be a stand-alone with a whole new cast of characters. (I’d better stop before the characters get the idea I want them to start talking to me. Being a writer is a little bit schizophrenic.)


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Thank you Tammara!!! I am excited to have you on the blog and have really enjoyed getting to know you!
 
Between the Lines is available from the following sites–so go pick up your copy today!

 
Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

To read my review of Between the Lines, click HERE.
 
This Giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to all who entered!

 

Winners: 

Stephanie from Steph Likes Books

Nicci @ Paper Dreams from Paper Dreams

Tara T. from Taming the Bookshelf

Jamella Medrano

Claudine S.



Jackie Gamber was kind enough to answer some questions for me in regards to her awesome novel Redheart. So, without further ado:

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Redheart, book one of the Leland Dragon Series, is a very interesting and thought provoking YA novel. What led you to write this debut novel? What were your inspirations for the novel, if any? 

I’m so glad you think it’s thought-provoking; I did hope to create that sort of work. I was led to write it out of a promise to myself to take my writing seriously, and to learn, learn, learn all I could about how to tell a story—and to finish one!
 

What character do you identify with the most in Redheart? Why?

I’m sure all the characters have a bit of me in them, somewhere, or chunks of other people I’ve come across. But I’d have to say I identify pretty closely with Kallon Redheart, my main character. He and I share a lot of fears.


You picked a very interesting setting and time period for your series. Was it difficult to create this alternate world in your writing? Is there any particular reason you chose dragons as opposed to other mythical creatures?

I chose dragons for my story because that’s the way Kallon presented himself to me. It did take me a while to pull the world together. I had to come up with reasons for Kallon’s choices, the sort of culture that would make him have to choose, that sort of thing. The world filled in from there.


Are any of your characters or stories based on aspects of your own life?

There are definite snippets of experiences that my characters represent. Although I don’t often consciously write in my personal feelings or beliefs, I can usually spot them afterward.


What do you hope readers take away from your novel?

I have deep-seated convictions surrounding despair, and letting fear drive people into their “caves.” But dreams can be wings. Don’t give in, even when it seems the only option left. Fight to believe. Believing is flying.


Why did you choose YA literature as a starting point? Did you always want to write for this age group, or did it just happen?

I don’t feel as though I chose YA, exactly. But much of my work is themed with self-discovery and fortitude in the face of fear. What my characters battle within themselves, especially in Redheart, are closely identified with the challenges of a YA readership.


What is the writing process like for you? Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?

Some days my writing process is as natural as breathing, and the words come without having to wrestle them to the ground. Other days, oh, not so much. Lots of wrestling.

I must have tea. I like the scent of it, the warmth of it, the reminder with each sip that “this is my zone.” Where I choose to write has to adapt with my unpredictable days, but I do have a studio near the Historic Cooper-Young district in Memphis where I go as much as I can. I really do my best work there.


Do you have a playlist in mind for your novel? If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?

I don’t have a particular playlist in mind, but while I’m writing, I have my Pandora going with my radio station called “Deuter Radio,” which is ambient, gentle music without lyrics. Since I write to that kind of play list, it might be a good choice for reading, as well!


Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read? What are you reading right now?

My favorite authors and novels! My goodness, I could take up another whole blog article. I love Dickens, Bradbury, Wyndham, Wells…but if I picked a starting place for a lover of characters with depth and the ultimate in thought-provoking, haunting stories, I’d recommend Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s so much more than the movies make it out to be. The novel is startling, wrenching, and utterly a masterpiece.


As Redheart is the first in a series, what can readers expect from the next novel, Sela, and the remaining books in the series?

With Sela, we’ll find more tension between dragons and humans as the next generation takes their place in the story. And in the final book, our dragon hunter, Jastin Armitage, comes to find himself hunted.

Do you have any plans for a new series at this time?

I don’t have any other series in the works, but I definitely have more novels! I’ve recently finished my historical time-travel tale with Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire. And I have a few science fiction/romantic novel crossovers; one set in the American ‘60s, as well as modern day.

And of course I’m still BookTasting, which is matching up a custom-chosen tea companion to sip while reading a particular novel, to enhance the experience of both! It’s all about making reading a delicious vacation. I love taking my BookTastings on the road to conventions, book stores, and tea shops, but you can also read all about them on my website—including the perfect tea to read along with Redheart! It’s great fun.

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Jackie Gamber is an award-winning freelance editor, as well as award-winning author of the fantasy novel Redheart, available now through Seventh Star Press(www.seventhstarpress.com) and ebook at a special rate of $1.99!

A veteran of the USAF, she is now, among other things, a rosarian, a professional BookTaster, and an avid believer in imagination. Visit Jackie and her BookTastings on the world wide web at www.jackiegamber.com

Thank you Jackie!!! I am excited to have you on the blog and have really enjoyed getting to know more about you and your writing!

To read my review of Redheart, click HERE.

 


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