Sunday, September 30, 2012

Talking With Tricia Drammeh





Hello, and welcome to TriciaPalooza! Tricia Drammeh’s debut  novel, a young adult paranormal romance called The Claiming Words, will launch on October 6 in St. Charles Missouri. If you’re in the area, stop by Main Street Books from one to three o’clock next Saturday for the official launch. If you can’t make it, watch this blog all week for a new TriciaPalooza post every day! And if you leave a comment each day, you'll be eligible for the giveaway of a Kindle version of The Claiming Words. We’ll have book excerpts, character interviews, and a review. First, a little about the book:



"Welcome back, Tricia. I’m so excited about your launch. The Claiming Words is a very intriguing title. Where did you get
the idea for it?


The idea started with a random idea for a love triangle. The characters Alisa, Jace, and Bryce emerged first, and Rachel appeared once I began writing. The story didn’t exactly follow along my original train of thought, but that’s how it started.

The Claiming Words is a paranormal romance written for the young adult audience. Do you have any plans to write in any other genres?

I’ve dabbled in other genres. The Fifth Circle is geared toward an older YA market and there’s not a trace of fantasy or romance. It’s in first draft form and waiting for my attention. I’m also working on a chick-lit novel, a zombie book for an adult audience, and another paranormal YA novel.

You are prolific! What do you like best about writing?

My favorite thing about writing is having that ‘aha’ moment when everything comes together.

Aha! Sorry. Couldn't resist. What’s your least favorite thing?

My least favorite thing is writer’s block.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

I came up with the title for The Claiming Words when I was at work one day. The book was originally called “The Watchers,” but I wasn’t very fond of the title. I was doing a little brainstorming while entering Accounts Payable, and The Claiming Words just popped into my number-saturated brain.

I love it when the title of the book becomes clear in the story, and this scene is so good because Mordecai is so bad: “Bryce’s little brother will never choose you, and if the Alexanders were honest, you would have known that. The male of our species craves the magic of the female—power you do not possess. He will never whisper The Claiming Words in your ear. Perhaps you should run along now and find someone of your own kind.”

Which came first: the title or that scene with Mordecai?
The title came first. I was in the middle of a massive rewrite when I came up with the new title, and the scene with Mordecai was an add-on.

You have some real bad guys—and girls—in this story. What was the inspiration for them?

My bad girl, Becky, is just your typical snotty high school cheerleader. I went to school with a few Beckys. As for the bad guys, obviously the Demons are just stone cold evil, so they are figments of my imagination. I love the bad guys in my book, probably more than I love the good ones.

How did you create the plot for this book?

I am ashamed to tell you my book had no plot for probably the first five revisions. There was a lot of stuff going on, but I didn’t really form a coherent plot until much, much later. Needless to say, I ended up scrapping more than half the book and rewriting it.

I love your cover art. Did you have any say in it?
I couldn’t figure out what I wanted for a cover. My publisher had a view ideas that he passed on to a brilliant artist, Catherine LaPointe. She worked up a few sketches, and we chose one we really liked.

What do you think of it?

I was so impressed because her rendering of my characters is exactly how I envisioned them.

Tell us about the artist.

Catherine is a New York artist who does illustrations, book covers, shoes (how cool is that?) and just about anything else. She’s amazing. If you want to check out her work, here’s a link to her website: http://catherinelapointe.com/

There are a lot of characters in this novel. When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

I usually have a main character or two in mind and work around that.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

My favorite scene is when Alisa gets fed up with Bryce and challenges him to a battle in the sparring ring. She doesn’t defeat him, but manages to best him a few times and wipe the smug grin off his face. Like they always say, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

I love that scene! Why did you let Bryce eventually beat her? I would have loved for her to wipe the floor with him as she did with Jace.
There’s no way Alisa could ever defeat Bryce. He’s been professionally trained, unlike Jace who is still learning. I love that scene too.

What song would you pick to go with your book?


"You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift.

Who are your favorite authors?

J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Tad Williams, Nora Roberts, Maeve Binchy, and Marian Keyes to name a few.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I’m reading an Advance Review Copy of First Frost by Liz DeJesus. I’m also reading Heroes & Lovers by Wayne Zurl in paperback format.   


The reviews have been great for The Claiming Words, but criticism is part of the package for a writer. How do you handle criticism of your work?


It hurts when someone doesn’t like something you’ve put your heart and soul into. I try to remember that everyone has a different opinion and preferences. In nearly every negative critique, there’s at least a grain of truth. Sometimes the truth hurts.

You live in St Charles, Missouri. Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where your town.
I live right down the road from the historic district. One weird thing...last year St Charles was in national news because the Sugar Plum Fairy got fired.


Oh no!

One nice thing about St Charles is Historic Main Street. It’s right by the Missouri River and has the most wonderful, interesting shops imaginable, including Main Street Books where my book launch is being held.

I’ve been there, and you aren’t exaggerating.

There are a dozen different festivals at the Riverfront, but I love Main Street even on a deserted Sunday night. One historical fact about St Charles is that it was the first state capital of Missouri.

Writer’s block is inevitable. What do you do when it happens?

I am well acquainted with writer’s block. I get writer’s block every time I get to the middle of a manuscript. I usually solve it by starting a new project. Maybe that’s why I have six unfinished novels in various stages of incompletion.

Is there anything in particular that you do to help the writing flow? Music? Acting out the scene? Long showers?

Music helps. Acting out the scene? I’ve never done that, but I have been known to talk to my characters while I was alone in my car. Is that weird?

No comment. What’s one of your favorite quotes?

"There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein.

I just finished reading The Claiming Words, and I'm ready for another Tricia Drammeh book. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a rewrite of The First Protector, which is a prequel to The Claiming Words.

Can you tell us a little bit about The First Protector? Will we see more of Jace, Rachel, Alisa, and Bryce?

Yes, we'll see Jace, Rachel, Alisa, and Bryce in The First Protector. The book takes a look at the story before The Claiming Words. It's written from the point of view of Jace & Bryce's father, Abe. It explains why the Demon Nevare has set his sites on destroying their family. The First Protector currently covers some of the territory explored in The Claiming Words, but delves more deeply into certain aspects of the Demon's vendetta against Abe.



Cool. Thanks for being here, Tricia. We'll talk to you more later in the week. 

About the author:


Tricia Drammeh is a wife and a mother of four children. Although she currently lives in Missouri, she has called many places home, including Georgia, Ohio, and California. She’s worked in retail, customer service, sales, and accounting, but writing has always been her dream career. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, drinking vast amounts of coffee, and spending time with her family and the multitude of animals who have taken over her home. Tricia is currently working on her sixth novel.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Author Interview with Diana Nixon

">The story begins with a strange dream, which has been torturing Eileen for nights. Trying to find out its hidden meaning she leans on her best friend Amanda for help. The two of them go to a fortune-teller, who predicts changes in Eileen’s life.
Eileen and Amanda, whose family is one of the seven founders of the university, Dever, go there to start a new life and get an education. Coming to the university, Eileen meets Christian, Amanda’s brother, whom she falls in love with from the very first sight. But, as it turns out later, Christian is in love with her too.
They couldn’t even imagine that many years ago their lives were bound by magical spells. But now they have to find out why…

Hi Diana, you have one published book and another about to be published. How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for a year and a month:) Yes, I do remember the exact day when I started writing my first book. It was July 1, and my debut fantasy novel, named Love lines was ready in 30 days. It was originally written in Russian, but some time later it was translated into English and published in the US on March 29. Almost five months have passed since that day, and now I’m working on my second book, named Songs of the wind, which is the second book of the Love lines series. I’m planning to publish it this fall.

Thirty days? WOW. That's incredible! What do you like best about writing?
The most pleasurable thing about writing is the opportunity to take a dive into the midst of events of another world that is completely different from our everyday life. And my favorite genre—fantasy--is the best choice to create magical illusions that don’t exist in reality. I enjoy writing, creating imaginary characters and events that would make my readers smile, or cry, or even start writing too.

What’s your least favorite thing?
The only thing I don’t like about my work is proofreading, of course. It takes so much time, that when the book is finally ready it feels like you know the text by heart.

I agree totally. How did you create the plot for this book?
First of all, I wanted to create a magical world that would be different from most of the stories of the same kind. That’s why, besides from magic itself, my characters possess other supernatural talents such as seeing futures, reading auras, dream interpreting, healing people, and possessing the powers of nature elements. Secondly, my book was supposed to show how beautiful and sincere true love can be, how strong friendship can be, how supportive and understanding friends can be, and how important family ties are. The plot of my story is built on emotional background. So I hope that every reader would be able to feel everything I tried to show with every word of the book.

What a beautiful premise. Your book sounds very inspirational. Your cover art is beautiful too. Did you have any say in it?
The original cover of Love Lines, the black & white version, was my creation. I’m very proud of myself for drawing it. It mirrors the main idea of the plot, and I hope it also attracts the readers’ attention. The cover of the gift edition was created by Jennifer Avey, a very talented designer. It’s colorful and beautiful, and magical. In other words – it has everything that I would love to see on Love Lines cover.

You should be proud of your cover. I’m impressed you did the black and white version yourself. Okay, let's talk names. I’m constantly on the lookout for new ones. How do you name your characters?
When I was thinking about the main characters’ names I read different books, interpreting the meaning of every name. So I chose those that I thought were best and had something special in themselves that I would use later in the plot.
What would your main character say about you?
That she really hates me for making her go through so many trials:) I can almost hear her saying: “Why on earth wouldn’t she make everything so much easier?!”
I think our main characters have something in common! Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
My favorite scene is the moment when Eileen and Christian see their tattoos for the first time. In my imagination it looks fantastic with the lacy lines shining on their backs and their first kiss. Though I like all the scenes of my book, of course:)

What song would you pick to go with your book?
That would definitely be Richard Marx’s “Right here waiting.” 




Readers make good authors. What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I just finished “Pushing The Limits,” by Katie McGarry, and I enjoyed every page of it. It was an e-book.

Reviews come with the territory. How do you handle criticism of your work?
People are free to say whatever they think should be said about my books. I can’t make them all like my works, it’s simply impossible. Everyone has his own opinion, and I appreciate honest reviews.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have a little daughter, and most of my free time I spend with her, my beloved husband and our cat:) They all suffer from sharing me so often with my heroes, so every time they see me not staring at my notebook, they do all their best to get my attention.

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would choose Brazil and Australia. I want to see the annual February carnival and kangaroos:) 

Cool. I’m available in February if you need a travel buddy! Seriously, thank you for being here and answering my questions. I hope you’ll come back when your second book in the series is published. Thanks, Diana!


Author bio:
Diana Nixon was born in Minsk, Belarus, where she still lives and works on her series. Before becoming a writer, she received a Master of Law degree from Belorussian state University. She has always liked reading fantasy novels, so when she came up with the idea of writing a book, she already knew what genre to choose. At the moment Diana is working on her Love Lines series.

Find Diana:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Christine Rice Answers Eight With Amy

I am happy to welcome the first non-fiction writer to my blog today. Christine Rice is the author of Freelance Writing Guide: What to Expect in Your First Year as a Freelance Writer.


About the book:


Freelance Writing Guide is a resourceful book that informs readers what they can expect during the first year of a freelance writing career. The information is presented honestly and directly, and covers everything the author experienced in her first year as a freelance writer in an informational and insightful manner.

The book covers ghostwriting, article writing, book writing, book reviewing, self-publishing, traditional publishing, business and finance topics for freelance writers, the lifestyle of a freelance writer, freelance writing income and types of pay, and many other topics. This is an informative book from an experienced freelance writer, written for writers who wish to start a freelance writing career.




And now, Eight with Amy

Your book sounds great, Christine. You’re a writer and an editor. What do you like best about writing?

My favorite thing about writing is being able to communicate clearly and descriptively. Along with that comes editing, which I enjoy. I like using writing to express my thoughts, to network with my friends and colleagues, to share my experiences, to relax, and for enjoyment. There is nothing that I dislike about writing or my career as a writer. I have truly found my dream job.


How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)

Freelance Writing Guide: informative & resourceful guide that educates people on what 2 expect in the 1st yr of a freelance writing career.


For people who keep track—and I do—that’s 139 characters. Woohoo! Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?
It depends. For the poetry that I wrote in my book, Poetry for the Heart, I sat down and just started typing my thoughts. For articles and essays, like the ones in Essays for the Soul, I start by writing the introduction paragraph and the topics - or in some cases the subheadings - I want to include, and then I fill in the rest. For my autobiography, My Not-So-Ordinary Life, I wrote about my experiences in chronological order, from the beginning of my life up until age 28, and I didn’t use an outline. But, for my latest book, Freelance Writing Guide, I created a thorough and detailed outline of the parts, chapter titles, topics, and main ideas. It was invaluable to my completing the book and including more information in it, than if I hadn’t done an outline beforehand.


What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I am reading ’59 by Anthony Sunderland in ebook format. It is a science-fiction novel that starts in the year 2059. Donald Lewis, a mission commander, goes on a space quest but doesn’t return as planned. His daughter, Janine, believes he’s still alive. That’s as far as I’ve read in the book so far. It is an interesting and entertaining story.


My laptop is permanently attached to me. Well, almost. Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I prefer to write at my desktop computer in my office. I have a widescreen monitor and a wireless mouse, a spacious desk - with all of my supplies and paperwork on it or nearby - and a printer within arm’s reach. All of these things help me with my writing. I’ve recently gotten into an earlier schedule, but I still usually write at night. Sometimes I write in the afternoon, but never in the morning, because that is when I go through and answer my emails and network online.
 

Where’s home for you?

I live in a two-bedroom, third story apartment in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts USA with my husband and our cat. I am very content here. It is nice that everything is so close by and most of what we need is within walking distance.


Sounds wonderful. I love Massachusetts. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I dream about living in the country, because I would have more peace and quiet for my writing and work. I don’t have a specific place in the country picked out, but I envision living in the mountains, maybe in New Hampshire where I grew up, where there are lots of trees, open land, and a stream or brook nearby. I enjoy hiking, so living in the mountains would give me a good opportunity to do it.


You’ve already published four books. What are you working on now?

I am working on three manuscripts at the moment:


Chronicles of a Troubled Girl - A memoir of my journal entries from age 9 to age 30 that reveals my emotional struggles and bad decisions during adolescence and adulthood. (November 2012)

Articles for the Mind - A compilation of all of the articles I published online in 2011. There is a large variety of different article topics. (December 2012)

Freedom from Fat - A memoir about my setbacks and success with trying to lose weight, and how I finally reach my goal weight. It is a collection of journal entries and blog posts from 2010-present (will go up to 2013.) (May 2013)

They all sound like great projects. And that’s eight questions. Thank you so much for being here. Best of luck with all of your works in progress. Please come back when your next book comes out.



About the author:


Christine Rice is a freelance writer, an editor, and an author. She has been publishing books since 2007. She is the author of four books - Poetry for the Heart, Essays for the Soul, My Not-So-Ordinary Life, and Freelance Writing Guide - and plans to publish two more books by the end of 2012. She has been a freelance writer and an editor since 2011.



Find Christine:
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Excerpt: Secrets Clad In Light

Excerpt from Secrets Clad in Light by Kyra Gregory


A petite shadow cast over them shortly. When he glanced up he saw the earlier person standing there in the water, shoulders low as it struggled in holding a medium sized trunk. “It sounds like you’ve made a decision.”

“How much good does it do? It only hurts more.” With this decision his heart felt heavier, sickness settling into his stomach. He glanced back up and then dropped his gaze to the trunk, “What is that?”

“Reinforcement.” A boot peaked out from beneath the long coat as it stepped up, approaching slowly before chucking the trunk on the bed. The weight of the trunk caused it to bounce on the poor mattress. “Do you need more of my help or do you think you can do it?”

“Who are you?” He couldn’t help asking. The figure reached up and grabbed at the hood, lowering it so that finally Henry could see the gentle face of a young woman.

Her face was what was tender but otherwise her gaze was rather hard and cold. Her voice hadn’t given in to her femininity as she was so cold, or perhaps he had been so distracted by Seth that he hadn’t noticed.

The woman knelt down onto the bed, reaching out to touch the man’s cheek with her gloved fingers before she snatched the scarf from around his neck and took a look at the wound. From then on her movements were rather prompt as she opened up the small trunk and placed a hand over his chest, feeling for his heart. “The choice is really yours. He can’t decide anything at this point.”

Henry shifted uncomfortably and glanced at the man’s constant fighting. He lowered his head, shoulders beginning to shake with emotion. “Please save him.”

The damage was as extensive as he had dreaded. It was a difficult procedure with what the woman murmured to be sub-humane medical conditions. Henry only watched and assisted where he could, attempting as much as possible to make the area sterile by making use of some alcohol on each instrument that the woman intended to use.

He watched her actions very carefully, not knowing what type of person she truly was but not so wary that he was inclined to stop her from trying to save Seth. Other than watch her he could only follow her sporadic and rather unfeeling orders, hold the man’s hand and comb back his soaking hair.

Occasionally he could feel the woman’s eyes wandering up to examine him as scrupulously as she did the gaping wound. He wasn’t too surprised by the reaction. The sight was certainly one to see and he would have been staring too had he been in her position.

She exhaled heavily, wiping her damp cheek and forehead in her shoulder, “He’s probably not going to be thanking you for any of this if he lives.”

“How high are the chances that he’ll live?” Henry’s response came quickly with no real response in mind to her statement.

“They’re not too bad.” She seated herself rather unlady-like on the dusty mattress, holding up a needle and thread to the dim lighting of the roaring fire.

Henry winced sharply at the sight of the pointed object; the thought alone of the woman stitching the man’s tender skin made him sick with unease. “I’m sure he’ll be angry at me at first. Maybe for a little while.” Her earlier statement finally sunk in and a response left his lips before he could really give it much thought. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“How well do you know him?” She enquired, eyes shooting to glance at Henry. She didn’t hold that gaze for very long, quickly beginning to stitch up the wound.

Henry clenched Seth’s hand tightly in his as though he were trying to comfort him, unsure about whether he was in a lot of pain or not.

“There’s a lot of damage here.” She pointed out. “If he ever wakes up I don’t think he’s going to be very pleased with the state he’ll be in.”

“I’ll tend to him for however long necessary.” Henry whispered, lifting the man’s hand in his own clasped ones. “I’m sure he’ll get better. He…he’s still breathing. He’s…survived a lot already.”

“Only so much.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

The young woman appeared to smirk meekly, no doubt satisfied that she had jerked a response out of him. “It means, my dear friend, that he’s most likely not going to be thanking you when he wakes up. He won’t berate you either. Or say much of anything else.”

Henry wasn’t sure what had happened but he suddenly couldn’t tell the difference between his own body and Seth’s. Both were ice cold. “I don’t understand… Are you…” 


Come back on October 10th for an interview with Henry. For more on Kyra Gregory, scroll down for an interview with the author.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Kyra Gregory Answers Eight With Amy

About the book:

London, 1888. Henry decides to abandon all social conventions and rescue his lover, Seth, from an abusive household. He has replayed the moment in his head and has always known it wouldn't be easy. He has never thought that it would be Seth who would cut his time too short. With Seth barely breathing, Henry must make the hardest decision of his life: try to save Seth, possibly condemning him to a life of suffering, or let him pass on in peace. But the arrival of a young stranger forces Henry's hand, doing little to ease his qualms of uncertainty as everything he thought he knew changes.

Caught between self-doubt and his own selfish desires, Henry learns to fight it all, using this stranger as a light to shine on what he hopes is the right path... All the while aware that there is still so much he doesn't yet know...

And now...

Eight Questions with Amy:

Welcome, Kyra. Thank you for being here all the way from Malta! How did you come up with Secrets Clad in Light as the title of your book?

I thought about it for a long time; it was called 'untitled' throughout the writing process and well into the second round of editing. I was going to simply call it 'Secrets' but felt like it didn't quite suit the story. I wanted a title that made one aware of the secrecy throughout the story but also to know from the start that a secret can be seen as something positive to some people. Light is what scares away the darkness, the negativity, and this is how Henry sees this young stranger; however little he knows this person is the light in the darkness he's been plunged into. 



Sounds mysterious. How did you create the plot for this book? 

I first came up with the idea for this story when I was completing Lady in Red; there were two characters in that novel that I wondered how they would have developed had the circumstances been a little bit different. I wanted to try writing 19th Century London again, having failed a few times, and once I developed the new circumstances for Henry, things went on from there. Henry became a very different character from what I first had in mind. There was little intention for the story to become as mysterious as it did though.



I love it when characters begin to write the story. How do you develop your characters?

They usually develop all by themselves actually. I usually have a few qualities in mind for them or at least have their role in part of the story decided, but they end up fleshing themselves out with time. Most end up being entirely out of my control very quickly; they decide what they need and when, and they won't let me do anything in the plot unless they're ready or agree with it. I love that about them though. 



Me too! When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

Absolutely not. A character in Secrets Clad in Light was introduced when I felt like things would be best explained with their introduction.



Reviews go with the territory. How do you handle criticism of your work?

I think it's important as a writer to know where your limitations are in your skill of writing and storytelling. It's tough to accept criticism of portions of your work that you felt satisfied with, and you begin to question that skill. I try to keep an open mind when reading people's criticism of my work; I know where my limitations are and can accept it. Regardless, I try to think a bit about what people said and question whether I could have done something better or differently. There will be times I agree with the person after some thought, but there are still some I'll disagree with. I don't approach anyone with my thoughts though.



Do you (or I should say, your characters) outline or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I outline because it takes me so long to get to a story that I wouldn't want to forget certain scenes and developments that I'd been thinking about. It also speeds up the writing process somewhat. I don't put a lot of priority on outlining though since, as I said, the characters tend to do things against my initial intentions.



Do you and your imaginary friends have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon or morning?

I'll write at any time I can but find myself writing most efficiently at night. I often write until about 7 a.m. before deciding it's about time to go to sleep. I wouldn't say I have a particular routine for writing though.



Where's home for you?
Home is where your heart is; the place you feel comfortable; where you can be yourself. I have trouble finding that place at this point in my life, but I want to work hard at the things I love in order to find that place for myself.



What are you working on now?

I'm finishing up a romance novel that very much has a summer feel to it. I think it's really sweet and had plenty of fun writing. I will soon be moving on to re-writing and expanding a series that I had started a few years ago. I'm really looking forward to it!



Sounds great. I hope you’ll come back when those projects are ready to be published. Thank you for talking about yourself and your book. 

Next up is an excerpt from Secrets Clad In Light. Don’t miss it!

About the author:

Kyra Gregory is a young author from the tiny island of Malta. In those rare moments when she isn't writing or even thinking about writing, she's furthering her education. Writing novels from a very young age, she began self-publishing in June 2011.


Find Kyra at:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Not Your Typical Aviation Book

>I am excited to have author Timothy Klein here today, talking about his new novel, The Saga of the Ellen Jane, Inventing a Legend, a romantic adventure of WWII. Tim is an engineer in Colorado. As his website says, this is not your typical aviation book or romance novel. Buckle your seat belts and prepare to be entertained.


About the book:
As WWII is heating up in Europe, so are things in the jungle of Brazil.
She came to Brazil on a mission: find the man who ruined her mother's life. Then kill him. Things were moving smoothly for Jeni, a French doll with a nice face, a nice body, and a not-so-nice reputation. That is, until she met Mark. And they both could see the storm clouds of Nazi Germany rolling toward the continent. 
Together, along with a prudish missionary girl and a German double-agent, they form a secret resistance organization. Their mission? Convince the Germans that starting an insurrection in Brazil won't be easy. It's a game of high stakes propaganda poker. Unfortunately, the only cards they have in their hand are an unwanted passenger plane, an airstrip hidden in the jungle, and a guy who makes really good pancakes.
So the team's eclectic engineer cobbles together a machine gun turret, adds some bomb racks, and the Ellen Jane is born. Soon her .30 caliber machine guns and small bomb load are all that stand between Hitler's minions and the coast of Brazil.
But Jeni quickly learns that fighting the Nazis won't be the only challenge.

Welcome to A Blue Million Books blog, Tim. How long have you been writing and how did you start?

About two years ago, while skimming the romance novel that my wife was reading, I proclaimed, "I can write better junk than this."  She told me, “Go ahead.” So I did.  
This wasn't completely out of character for me. My mother and grandmother were both English teachers, and so are both sisters.  I had written several short stories while in high school and was "published" in a Sci-Fi "fanzine" back in the '70s.  (I think it had around 400 Trekie subscribers.) I also started on some non-fiction several years ago.  I had been too busy to really think about writing until my wife issued the challenge.
Behind every great man is a woman telling him what to do… 
Yeah, but we usually succeed anyway. 
Hey!
Anyway, my office is in an aircraft hangar. Hence, airplanes were going to play a major role in the story line. However, most aviation literature is ALL about airplanes. I wanted to come up with a story that both pilots and non-pilots would enjoy.  
I found that it was remarkably therapeutic. I started in Sept of 2010 and soon realized that the story was going to be at least three volumes long.  My wife also told me that Volume I had to be under the tree on Christmas Eve. It just barely made it.

I like a man who puts his money where his mouth is. And it sounds like you’re passionate about your subject matter. Passionate. Romance novel. Get it? Ahem. Anyway, what do you like best about writing?
What I like best is the freedom to create without limits! If I tell a character to design and build a machine gun turret in three weeks, he’ll get it done. I don’t have to worry about him slipping the schedule or going over budget. Another major plus: in my stories, the women do exactly what I want them to do! (Well, except for Jeni. She doesn’t always listen to me.)
Women. What are ya gonna do? Besides putting up with pushy characters, what’s your least favorite thing about writing?
My least favorite thing is spelling. I’m a terrible speller and will often misspell so badly that the spellchecker gives up. Then I waste time trying to guess at it. Who invented these stupid spelling rules anyway?
Uh…I think spelling’s been around since at least the 1440’s, Tim. Oh, You were being facetious. Sorry. Let’s see how you are at brevity. How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)

All that stands between the Nazis and the coast of Brazil is a homemade bomber and a French Babe in a red skirt. And that’s only 112 characters!
Indeed it is. Good for you. What about imagination? How did you create the plot for this book?

One of my rules for writing is don't follow the same formula everyone else does.  The typical romance goes something like: girl meets a boy she hates but has to marry because her dad owes his dad money and he drags her off and they kiss once and then she's kidnapped but realizes that she loves him and he rescues her while wearing just a kilt and they discover she's pregnant.  (That sentence didn't deserve any commas.)
Well..that’s not quite what all of them are like, but I take your point. Continue, please.
A lot of readers, my wife included, enjoy that plot, but I’m too eclectic to follow the pattern. So I decided to feature an airplane as one of the characters. Not in the paranormal sense but more as a focal point.
First, I had to choose the airplane. I wanted something different and discovered the AT-11 Kansan. A modified Beech 18 that was used as an Advanced Trainer for bombardiers and navigators. It was perfect. It was unique but not weird and could easily fulfill the propaganda mission that I had in mind.
One minor issue, the premise of the story is only plausible from 1939, just after German and England declare war, and ends when the U.S. enters the conflict in 1941. Unfortunately, Beech Aircraft didn’t produce the AT-11 until 1942.
Just a teeninesy issue. So what did you do to get around that tiny problem?
I had the team “invent” the AT-11. The tricky part was balancing the technical details that the pilots want included, while keeping the story moving. You’ll have to decide how well I did.
It was soon obvious that I needed a detailed timeline, and I ended up outlining the entire series.  I won’t go into details, but the German invasion of France and other historical events had to be accounted for.
The strangest thing to me was how Jeni took over the entire plot. Frankly, I had planned on Mark being the main character, but she just pushed him out of the way!
Dang those pushy girls. But I have to admit I think that’s the best kind of story—one the characters write. What about your cover art? Did you have any say in it? Or was Jeni in charge of that too?
One major advantage of working with an indie-press is control over such details.  On the other hand, it might be nice to blame the cover on someone else.
Anyway, we did an extensive marketing survey and hosted a focus group. (That’s a fancy way of saying that my wife and I went to a major retailer, looked at all the romance covers and then went out for dinner.) 
I love your idea of a focus group. I volunteer my services any time.
Our research determined that, apparently, the cover of a romance novel must have at least one of the following:
1.    A buff guy, who can’t afford a shirt.
2.    A woman whose dress doesn't fit very well.
3.    Some part of the female anatomy, often a pair of legs.
Yes, that pretty much covers it. Pun intended. Ba-dum-dum.
We went with the woman's legs since the heroine, Jeni, in the book is known for wearing a red skirt. So I guess Jeni was in charge of that too.
Excellent choice. I love your cover. And I’ve seen the cover for Volume II, and I have to say it’s just as good, if not better. When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

Of course, and I usually get some of them right!

(Laughing) I know what you mean. Tell me which character you most enjoyed writing.

Absolutely no question about it: Jeni!  She is smart, cunning, and sexy, everything that’s scary to men.  She’s always surprising me, and I invented her!

She’s great. With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?

Trick question! You’re expecting me to pick one of the babes! Either Jeni with her wild French hussy reputation or Sarah with her girl next-door look. (Haven’t thought of it before, but it reminds me of Ginger and Mary Ann. There aren’t going to be five other people on this island, are there?)

Nope, totally deserted.

Anyway, you’re just trying to get me in trouble with my wife!

I do what I can. But Jeni told me to do it.

Being pragmatic, and wanting to keep the peace—

Chicken!

--I’d choose Sven, the engineering genius who designed the Ellen Jane. With our combined talents, we’d have indoor plumbing, hot/cold running water, a hydroelectric generator, and micro brew pub going in less than a month.

Hey! You do have the Professor on that island. No fair!

Then we’d build a signal tower, hail a passing ship, and have them send for my wife. Who, by the way, is a perfect blend of Jeni and Sarah (and no, I won’t elaborate on that.)

Well clearly now you’re just sucking up. Did Jeni get you into a bit of trouble with your wife?

Actually, probably the opposite. She really enjoyed Jeni’s character.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
I can’t, it would spoil the surprise, but I’ll bet you’ll figure it out when you get to it.
Tease. Okay, last question. Probably. Maybe. If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Don’t worry about the money. Your publisher is paying. 
When we got married, I promised my wife a trip to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary, and now our 19th is fast approaching. However, I'd rather go to Brazil and see the locale where the story takes place and do more research. She'd probably accept that in lieu of Hawaii as long as there's a warm beach and the kids stay home. Which, at the rate we're going, they'll soon be old enough to do!

I’ll tell your publisher to get on that. What are you working on now? 
I am supposed to be re-editing Volume II of the Saga. I gave my wife the unedited draft last Christmas. We want to publish it by Thanksgiving and need to get a polished copy to our editors.

However, the CEO of Stearman Press has informed me that Volume III must be under the tree by Christmas of this year. 
Why do I have the feeling the CEO is your wife?
Unfortunately, I've gotten re-interested in the sci-fi series that I started years ago and have been playing with that when she isn't looking. 
I won’t say a word. Provided you’ll come back when Volume II is published. But you’d better put a gag on Jeni. That girl can cause trouble.
And that’s it, Tim. The end of the interview. You survived! Congratulations. And congrats on your book. May it be wildly popular, and may Jeni continue to get you in trouble. Thanks for being here. Please return your seats to their upright positions, and thank you for being with A Blue Million Books.

About the author:
Timothy Klein was blessed, (though he didn't always see it that way at the time), with a mother and a grandmother that were English teachers (and two sisters who taught English.)
Even though literature was a major component of his early life, he rebelled against the Grammar Police and pursued aviation, earning his pilot's license while in high school.
(Skip forward several decades that included a bachelors degree, a stint in the USAF, Grad school, working for several major companies, a Citabria, getting married, a Cessna Cardinal, a son, moving to Colorado, two daughters, another Citabria, starting his own business and other mundane details.)
Anyway, several years ago, while skimming the romance novel his wife was reading, he remarked, "I can write better stuff than this!" "Well," she replied, "go do it."
So he did. That simple dare rekindled a long simmering passion. The result is a series of action/adventure/romance novels.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book excerpt: Accountable To None by Ashley Fontainne


Preface
5 Years Ago

She pulled herself smaller and smaller into a tiny little ball as she hugged her legs so tightly with her thin, waif-like arms that her lower legs became completely numb. Her broken nails dug into the soft flesh of her bruised thighs, which caused fresh blood to trickle down and mingle with the old. Jammed up against the wall in her dark office, rocking slowly back and forth, she stared out the window at the city’s almost non-existent skyline and beyond to the darkened South Mountain Range and mumbled softly to herself.

Twenty stories up, she had a panoramic view of the vibrant lights below, which up until tonight had always given her a sense of pride at her accomplishment for making the rank of partner and attaining the much sought after “corner office” at the tender age of 33. Her shattered thoughts wandered to all the ridiculously long and grueling hours it had taken her to get there and how much she had lost in the process of her corporate ladder climb; James had left her six months ago after her miscarriage and subsequent post-partum depression; her parents barely spoke to her after the countless family events she had missed during the last three years due to her rigorous travel schedule; and lifelong friends had drifted away due to unreturned phone calls and missed special events.

And now this.

She sighed heavily as she stared at the twinkling lights below. What was once her major source of personal gratification now only brought her disgust and anger, for she realized that all of her hard work to attain this coveted space was just part of some sick joke perpetrated by the twisted hierarchy at her firm. She’d learned tonight that what her boss had really wanted was not the hard earned, well-educated knowledge between her ears that she had worked so hard to attain, but rather, power over the space between her legs.

Her mindset shifted as she regressed into that small place held over from nature where animalistic instincts still resided. She hugged herself even tighter as she fought the urge to strike out and kill the thing that had caused her so much incredible pain, and she struggled to keep her carnal instincts from taking over. This internal seismic activity was how she had come to be crouched in the corner, literally holding herself together with every fiber of her being, as she labored to keep a tight rein on her slippery sanity. Earlier, right after the attack, she had been overwhelmed with visions of bloody retribution, standing over her kill as he lay bleeding all over his expensive, gaudy rug as a result of her retaliatory onslaught. Those thoughts were so foreign to her Ivy-League educated mind that they frightened her almost as much as the attack had.

Almost.

Two hours had passed since her rape and the blood on her legs and arms had long since congealed, and now resembled rust colored glue that sealed her torn, costly clothes to her delicate skin. She recalled how much she had worried and stressed over what she should wear to the meeting to discuss her promotion to equity partner, only to have her clothes yanked and torn to shreds at the hands of a vile monster. Her suit was now covered in dried blood and completely ruined, just as her personal views on hard work and ethical behavior were. The stench of him, fused together with the rusty odor of her blood, finally broke through her shocked stupor and she realized she was going to vomit. Quickly, she uncurled her sore limbs and lunged for the bathroom, barely making it in time. The violent purging may have emptied her stomach, but it left an odd sense of what she was going to do now circulating through her head: purge and expose.

She stood up, inhaled deeply and faced herself in the mirror, half expecting to fall apart when she finally scrutinized the damage for the first time. She had to cock her head slightly since her right eye was almost completely swollen shut and already had turned a dark mixture of blue and black; both her upper and lower lips were split and covered in dried blood; and several of her artificial nails had been snapped off down past the quick as she had attempted to fight him off.   She knew she needed to survey the rest of her body, so she turned and limped out of the bathroom and grabbed her gym bag that sat in the corner by her desk. As she passed by her door, she compulsively checked once again to make sure it was locked before she headed back to the bathroom and the unforgiving glare of the fluorescent lights.

A sick, warped grin slid across her swollen lips when she realized that her meticulous planning had actually paid off. Reaching into the side pocket of the bag she found a large plastic storage bag that she had stuck there a few days ago so she could put her dirty gym clothes in it after working out and seal them up, thus keeping the smell from adhering to the remaining contents of the bag. Well, it had an even better use now.

As she carefully shed her ruined clothes piece by piece, she gently folded each one and placed it in the bag. Once finished, she sealed it tight and shoved it back in the bag. Summoning up courage from deep within, she turned to the mirror and stared at the myriad of bruises on her breasts, upper arms and thighs. Dear God, he had even left teeth marks on her left breast!  As much as she abhorred the idea of doing so, she picked up her cell phone and began snapping pictures of her battered body. She consoled herself with the thought that at least some stranger at a hospital wasn’t doing this.

Based on the pain she felt whenever she moved, she knew she needed to check out down below, but she couldn’t bear to think about what he had done in that area, so she decided to wait until she got home and began to painfully dress herself in her gym clothes. She leaned over the sink and filled the basin with enough cool water to wash off the dried blood on her face so she could leave the building without being stopped and questioned by the Maricopa County deputy rejects that served as security guards downstairs. While tenderly patting her face dry, she leaned in as close as she could to the mirror and began to truly grasp that the damage was worse than she thought and would most likely take weeks to heal. For once, she was glad that she happened to have a heavy mane of long hair that she could sweep across her horribly swollen eye.

She knew she should be in a state of hysteria at the moment, or at the very least catatonic as she had been earlier, but oddly, instead of feeling victimized, she realized her battered, bloody and bruised body was a trophy of her survival, and the fuel to the plan that had begun to form in her mind. She refused to shed a tear over what that bastard had done to her, so she shoved her traumatized emotions down into the deepest crevice in her soul to be dealt with another day, and only allowed one emotion to remain unchecked: anger. She felt it pulsate through her like a drug, numbing everything else.

As she continued to stare at her injured face, she couldn’t stop the playback of the words he had said after he had finally climbed off of her and began to buckle his pants: “Ah, thank you Audra!  That was good for me, but you look a little less than satisfied, which, as a gentlemen, I find rather disturbing. How about I make up for my lack of–shall we say, decorum?– and just go ahead with your promotion to equity partner? My treat, of course, as a reward for your troubles?

He had been so cavalier, almost chivalrous in his mannerisms as he stood there over her while her petite body was racked with pain and uncontrollable trembling in response to the violent beating and rape she had just suffered. And to top it off, he had offered to throw money and a promotion at her to make it better!

It was at that incongruous moment that she had made the decision not to involve the police, nor file any report or have any discussion with anyone about this evening, not even her attacker. A small snicker left her swollen lips and she winced in pain as she realized that all the rumors and office gossip she had overheard for years, yet brushed aside as the ramblings of less than devoted slackers or money-hungry high-heeled leeches, had actually been true. She had just been so embedded in her work and her determination to be noticed, she had failed to give any credence to them. Ironic that it took her being injected with venom by the snake before she even realized one had been in the room with her the entire time.

She decided that the entire firm, this filthy place that had destroyed so many lives over the years, including that of her unborn son, would pay; this nasty, blood sucking reptile that lured people into its lair with promises of gold, only to suck them bone dry and toss their empty carcasses aside when they were no longer interesting. She would make sure they were held accountable, and would not stop until every last one of them felt the same shame and humiliation she had experienced tonight.

Her eyes widened as she felt a strange sensation deep inside her core, and she noticed that the eyes that looked back at her from the mirror were those of someone else, a stranger she didn’t recognize. Even through the intense swelling of her right eye, she saw that they were no longer the na├»ve, innocent eyes from before; the ones that had viewed the world as a place where hard work and ethical behavior prevailed and were followed accordingly by just rewards.   Those had been replaced with eyes full of smoldering anger which now skewed her once lofty view of the world and had turned them deep emerald green.

Her mind crossed over into territory unfamiliar to her and her thoughts became dark and sinister as she began to mull over her new purpose in life. Never had the snake been exposed for all to see, for its secrets were buried deep beneath its lair under countless piles of blood money, just like the pile that had been offered to her tonight. Those piles of money had bought the silence of its victims for so long that accountability was not in its vocabulary. She would change all that, no matter how long it took. She wasn’t quite sure yet how she would do it, but she would change every single one of them from being accountable to none to accountable to all.