Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I was tagged by Author James Moushon to participate in The Next Big Thing blog hop. James's next big thing is Game of Fire. The Next Big Thing hops from blog to blog where authors share their current works in progress. Each author answers a few questions about their next book and then tags more authors. James was tagged by Katherine Logan, whose WIP is The Last Macklenna. I hope you will check out their blogs and their work.

The Next Big Thing from Amy Metz 

What is the working title of your next book?

Heroes & Hooligans In Goose Pimple Junction

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My head. I wanted to write a second book in the Goose Pimple Junction series, and this one came straight out of my head.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a mystery, but you could also classify it as a cozy mystery or even chick lit (just don't tell the men who have read it and liked it).

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Well, the main characters in Heroes & Hooligans are Johnny Butterfield and Martha Maye Applewhite. I think Patrick Warburton would be great as Johnny even though he’s a little older than the character, I think he could pull it off. Maybe Sandra Bullock for Martha Maye? Betty White would be great for Louetta’s sister, Ima Jean. Maybe Kathy Bates would be a good Louetta, and
Walton Goggins would be perfect for Lenny.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction
is a humorous southern mystery.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m not sure yet.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? 
I have no idea! Maybe a year or so?

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Well, some of my favorites are:
Murder On The First Day of Christmas by Billie Thomas
Buried by Buttercups (Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries) by Joyce Lavene
My Heart May Be Broken, but My Hair Still Looks Great by Dixie Cash
For more, check out my Listmania! list on

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My imaginary friends inspired me to write this second book in a series.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

Heroes & Hooligans picks up four months after the murder and mayhem of the first book. Now the zany town is troubled by a serial thief, a stalker, and a murderer, making the new police chief busier than a set of jumper cables at a redneck picnic. The same old gang from the first book will be back, and they’re joined by some new folks too: Louetta’s sister, Ima Jean, comes to live with her. She’s just had a stroke and frequently talks in commercial slogans. Honey Winchester is a friend, co-worker, and neighbor of Martha Maye’s, as well as the town flirt. And Lenny Applewhite is Martha Maye’s estranged husband and the town tomcat.

Type to me/like me/follow me!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

I'm tagging the following authors:

Billie Thomas: Chloe Gets A Clue
Leti Del Mar: Words With Leti Del Mar

Tricia Drammeh: Tricia Drammeh's Blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Featured Author: Katrina Jack

I'm happy to have Katrina Jack here today to talk about her novel, Land of Midnight Days, a YA urban fantasy.

About the book:

Your book blurb: What would you do if your life was filled with fear: hide, run away - or would you fight back? In a city at war with itself, Jeremiah Tully already knows how to survive, now he must learn how to live. Mute from birth, of mixed race heritage and his only possession a charmed flute, Jeremiah tries to discover where his remarkable talent as a musician will take him.

Interview with Katrina Jack:

Welcome, Kate. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I started way back when I was fourteen. Somebody gave me an old leather bound diary. I filled it with short stories and drawings. I stuck to writing short stories and magazine articles for a few years, before joining a writing group and from there expanding my writing ambitions into novels.

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favorite thing?

I love the creative process of developing characters and building worlds. I hate having to “kill” off characters that simply don’t work, or have served their purpose.

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

I wanted a title that depicted the world the characters inhabited and gave the prospective reader a hint of the darkness of the story. Originally it was simply called “Midnight Days,” until I discovered that Neil Gaiman, renowned fantasy writer, had already published a book under the same title.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes, I work full time as an office clerk.

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

YA dystopian fantasy, with a touch of faerie, a soupcon of horror, and a measure of romance thrown into the mix.

112 characters. I'm impressed! How did you create the plot for this book?

The inspiration came from a number of sources. The first strike came when I was at work. I was staring out of the window at the Littlewoods building on Edge Lane in Liverpool. It has a rather elegant art deco tower, and I thought what a wonderful location it would make for a story. That sewed the germ of an idea. The next came from St Luke’s bombed out church, in Liverpool City Centre. Over the next few months, more and more locations inspired me and then the final piece of the jigsaw slotted into place, when I was listening to a CD of 70’s rock band, Jethro Tull, whose lead singer plays the flute.  Ideas came thick and fast after that and so the plot of Land of Midnight Days was born.

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

I used to write by the seat of my pants, but found I was constantly had to backtrack and rectify inconsistencies. So now I plot from start to finish, but when I actually begin to write the story, I sometimes find the characters steer me in completely different directions.

What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, particularly those featuring my favourite, Sam Vimes. I’ve read Guards, guards!, Jingo, Snuff and many more, over and over. I also love Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series and have read it several times. 

What do you do to market your book?

Since I have a zero budget for advertising, I post on Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon and my blog. My publisher, Ecanus Publishing, is also going to be marketing the book in the near future.

Wow, that's great. How do you get to know your characters?

I hold “conversations” with them in my head. I know it sounds crazy, but it enables me to form their personalities, idiosyncrasies, likes and dislikes.

Do you have a favorite of your characters?

Yes, I’m afraid I do. It’s the main protagonist, Jeremiah Tully. Why? Because there’s quite a bit of me in him.

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

Not always. I usually have an idea of who the first four or five characters will be, but as the story progresses more can and do appear.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?


Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

It’s in the opening chapter, where Jeremiah is fleeing for his life from a group of “wannabes,” my name for yobs or hooligans. I’ve tried to make it fast paced, breathless, almost, so that it sweeps the reader along in its wake.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix me? I mean, him. Or her.

Hah! Nice try. I think I’d invite Terry Pratchett, because he’d make me laugh. I’d try and find out first what he’d like to eat and then get someone who can cook to prepare it.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I’m currently reading in paperback, White Mountain, The Darkling Chronicles, by Sophie E Tallis. It’s a wonderful blend of high fantasy and contemporary fiction.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I used to get quite upset by negative criticism, and it still stings. But once I’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff, and subdued my outraged ego, I’ve come to appreciate the genuinely helpful feedback. I’ve also forced myself to realize that not everyone is going to like my work, and I just have to accept that.

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

Because I work full time, 5 days a week, I tend to get up early, 5:15 am, and write for about an hour, before going to work. Then again for a few hours in the evening.

Where’s home for you?

The great city of Liverpool.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

"Without hard work, talent is not enough." ~ Henri Matisse

About the author: 

My name is Katrina Jack, and I write YA urban fantasy. I began writing many years ago, but Land of Midnight Days is my first published work. A few years back I had a bit of a windfall and invested some of it in obtaining a degree in creative writing at Liverpool John Moores University.

Although I primarily write urban fantasy, I also enjoy other genres, such as murder mysteries, romance and biographies. My favourite authors, in the fantasy genre are: Robin Hobb, Jim Butcher, David Gemmell, Jack Vance and many more.

I was born in October 1956, in the wonderful city of Liverpool, at the now demolished hospital known as Sefton General, which was so ill-equipped in those days, that my poor mother's drip was hung from an old broom pole! Talk about the lap of luxury, eh?

I still live in Liverpool, in an area rich in public gardens and parks, plus a cemetery and a crematorium - great for inspiration, believe it or not. Included in some of the wonderful historical buildings in the area, is the mansion house known as Allerton Hall, former home of Richard Lathom, who fought as a Royalist during the civil war and is a grade II listed building. It makes a guest appearance in my novel, under a different guise of course.

Blog /Facebook page / Goodreads / Twitter / Amazon UK / Kindle UK / Amazon US

Monday, February 25, 2013

Featured Book: River of Love

River of Love {Book 3 ~ Savage Destiny Series}

Zeke Monroe will do anything to protect his Abbie and make sure she is happy, which is why he opts to settle into ranching and build his Abbie-girl a home of her own where they can begin raising a family on the plains of Colorado along the Arkansas River. But the encroachment of white settlers and its affect on Zeke’s Cheyenne brothers begins to threaten his and his family’s safety, and the paradise he and Abbie find is short-lived.  Still, nothing can kill the devotion these two share toward each other, and it’s love that holds them together through heartbreaking adversity outside their private world.


“Come back to bed, Zeke,” Abbie told him softly. “You know how I hate storms. Come and hold me.”

The rain started pelting the roof then, and he came back beside her. Both were naked, for that was the way they always slept. 

She pulled the buffalo robe over them, snuggling close to him, finding perfect shelter from the storm that frightened her. She was afraid of nothing when Zeke was beside her.  He was like a rock, indestructible, strong, hard, never afraid. She lifted her face to his. Then his lips covered hers and she had no defense against the way he had of enticing her, as if his manliness and his touch were not enough.

About Roseanne Bittner

I've been writing for nearly thirty years and to date have had 57 novels published, all about the American West of the 1800's and Native Americans. I write romance, but not the typical bodice-ripping adventures. My stories are deep love stories, often family sagas told as a series. It is the hero and heroine's love that holds them together through the trials and tribulations of settling America's western frontiers. I absolutely love the Rockies, the Tetons, the Sierras, and the wide-open plains, prairies and desert land west of the Mississippi. In my books, I strive to tell the truth about the settling of the West and how it affected our American Indians, as well as the gritty depth of what our brave pioneers suffered in their search for free land and a better life. 

I am a member of the Nebraska and Oklahoma Historical Societies, my local southwest Michigan historical society, Women Writing the West, Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America (treasurer) and the national RWA, and a local charity group called the Coloma Lioness Club. I help run a family business and love doing things with my three young grandsons. If you visit my web site, where all my titles are listed as well as a page that lists all my many writing awards; or you can visit me on Facebook. At either site you will learn news of new books to come as well as reprints of many of my past titles soon to be published in trade paperback and as e-books! I also have an author site at

Rosanne's Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | GoodreadsAmazon

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Love Lines Series Blog Tour

I'm happy to welcome Diana Nixon back to A Blue Million Books as she makes a stop on her Love Lines Blog Tour. Diana first talked about Love Lines here last September, and I invite you to read her interview here. She's back today to tell us about the Love Lines series.

The Love Lines series

by Diana Nixon

The traces of supernatural powers have always been crossing the world of human beings. Many people know about the existence of healers, mind readers, oneiromancers, and wizards. But for centuries their lives have been kept secret and no one has ever heard about one special place, where those gifted people studied.

Neither has Eileen Clark, whose life has never been different from the one other teenagers have.

But one day everything changes. Eileen finds out that she belongs to the mysterious world of unnatural and the destiny leads her to Dever – a closed university for the people like her.

Nothing will ever be the same again...

New life, new friends, new enemies...

But the true love will never let her down. It will help to go through everything...

Love lines

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 Dever, go there to start new life and get 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…

Songs of the wind

Losing Christian hasn’t been easy for Eileen. But she’s not going to give up. Now she has to find a way to bring him back from the magical dream, where he was taken by Eric Lanster. Together with her friend Evan, Eileen goes to France – Meridin’s motherland, where she hopes to find out the mysteries of the dream’s magic. In a small town named Fontainebleau they meet a wizard, who turns out to know a lot of their secrets…
Determined to help Eileen, Evan agrees to complete some special dream piercing training. But he can’t even imagine what he has put himself into. The magic of dreams keeps a lot of secrets. The spells are dangerous and their consequences no one is able to predict.
Friends can become enemies…
The ones they used to call their family can become traitors…
But the ones they love will always be there to help...

From scratch, Evan Murray’s story

Our lives are a cascade of events that pass faster than we would like them to. Time changes everything. Our habits, our views, our circle of friends. But there is one thing that remains the same over the years.
Our memories.
Through them we cherish the most unforgettable moments of our history. And they also retain some things that can't be forgotten….
But one day you realize that yesterday should be left in the past. Because tomorrow your new life begins, and you go back to the drawing board.
A love story of Evan Murray and Tara Mackenzie.
A story that should last forever….
But no one knows when forever ends….

Diamond Sky is new book of the Love Lines series that Diana is working on at the moment. Read the description and a teaser from this book:

A new page of the Love Lines story that will reveal new secrets and mysteries buried in the walls of Dever. Eileen, Christian and Evan need to find an old spell to protect themselves and those they love from being killed. There is only one problem – no one knows where the spell is hidden...

A mysterious student comes to Dever. A boy whose eyes are always watching. Who is he? What secrets are hidden behind his smiles? Is he a friend or an enemy...

When they thought they knew everything about the super powers they possessed, they could have never imagined that in reality they didn’t know a thing. The wind can turn into the worst hurricane they have ever seen. The water can destroy everything. The earth can swallow them alive. And the fire can burn them to ashes...

The illusions - the only thing they tried to run away from, will come back to ruin the world they live in, taking away everything they ever cherished and loved.

When you think you are so close to getting what you want, think twice about your every step. Because what you think is the right thing to do may take away your life...

A teaser:

When the night absorbs the daylight
Covering the earth with a blanket of stars,
You hear the wind, singing in the silence
A song of a lost and lonely heart.
You close your eyes and you hear the whisper,
“Don’t leave me alone, please don’t go,”
And when you start crying with tears of crystals,
It says softly, “Don’t cry, my beautiful angel, my soul.”
You feel a palm on your shoulder and a smile appears on your lips,
But the touch is too cold to bear, and the air’s too hot to breath.
And you feel like something’s missing, and your heart is beating too fast,
But the wind keeps singing, taking away your worries, healing your burning scars.
And though you know you’re still dreaming, and nothing is perfect about your past,
You still want the familiar embrace to hold you, you still want the magical song to last.
Because you know that tomorrow is coming, bringing new pain and regrets,
And you will have to wake up and face it, meeting new challenges and paying the debts...

If you want to know more about Diana’s books click the following links:

Official page / Buying books / Facebook / Twitter

Friday, February 22, 2013

Featured Author: James Robinson, Jr.

James Robinson Jr. is here on his Orangeberry blog tour to talk about Fighting The Effects Of Gravity, his memoir about life

Interview with James

Welcome, James, tell us a little bit about your family.

I had a very interesting home life—so interesting in fact that I chose to include large amounts of it in my book: Fighting the Effects of Gravity. I am an only child. Both of my parents are still living. My father is 85 and my mother is 83. Both are now retired. My mother was an educator who went on to start her own after school in 1972 and later opened a pre-school in 1984. My father was the famous one of the family—-so famous in fact that my young cousin—-when he was about ten years old—-said: “Uncle James, you’re famous” and began referring to him simply as “famous.” My father was a great athlete who was the first black to play football for the University of Pittsburgh in the mid-forties. He went on to become a Presbyterian minister who was very active in the Civil Rights Movement in Pittsburgh the 60’s. He met Martin Luther King at one point who—-when he ran in to him again—-didn’t call him famous like my young cousin did—-but did refer to him as “Pittsburgh.” My parents opened a charter school on the northside of Pittsburgh ten years ago for grades K-8, which will solidify their legacy.

My grandmother and grandfather on my mother’s side were probably two of the nicest people I ever met—-the fact that they were related to me notwithstanding. My father—-who claims he pretty much disowned a large portion of his family due to their dysfunctional ways-—adored my grandparents. When I began writing Fighting the Effects of Gravity and relating anecdotes and it became as much a memoir as a treatise on midlife, I realized that my grandparents and my parents—especially my mother—and later my wife had the most profound effect on my life.

When did you first know you could be a writer?

I realized that I could be a writer when I started writing Fighting the Effects of Gravity and something clicked for me; I discovered a style of writing that I didn’t know I had. Writing non-fiction and writing about my own life gave me a new insight on writing. I realized that maybe non-fiction was a better fit for me because of my sense of humor and style.

Have you ever had writer’s block?

There is no such thing as writer’s block, just writers who don’t feel like writing for the time being.

How did you come up with your title?

It’s been so long since I undertook this project that I can’t really remember exactly how I came up with the title. I remember I was working with a gentleman who runs a local Pittsburgh publishing company who was the first to publish the book. The two of us came up with the definitive title.

Why did you choose to write this particular book?

It seemed like a natural. I was reaching middle age and the story about my ill-fitting jeans came to me and seemed like I could center the book around that idea. Everything grew from there.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

I have always liked the quote from the Indian warrior Crazy Horse who, before the battle of the Little Big Horn, was heard to say: “It’s a good day to live, it’s a good day to die. Brave hearts to the front. Cowards and weak hearts to the rear.” I like the quote because I think it speaks to the courage to take life as it comes and to live life on your own terms. In the book, I have an entire chapter devoted to death and state that the hope that—when I’m confronted with death—-I will make Crazy Horse proud, that I will put my life in God’s hands and accept my fate with grace and bravery. At the end of the chapter I recommend—tongue in cheek-—that a drill sergeant wake us up every day and drum into us the fact that every day is a blessing and that we should live every day as if it were our last.

Who designed the cover?

Jennifer at Hot Damn Designs along with her associate Kim Killion designed the cover. I originally had a cover that most of my friends and associates thought was a bit juvenile for the mature level of my subject matter so I decided to make a change. I gave Jennifer a photo and she actually found another photo that looked a little more suitable. I simply made suggestions and corrections as we went along and she did the rest.

Who is your publisher?

I published my softcover book through Create Space which is Amazon’s publishing arm. I actually went through iUniverse first which was fairly inexpensive and their editors and staff provided me with sound advice but, ultimately, I couldn’t get the control that I needed to promote the book. But on the other hand, it was iUniverse who provided me with the final edit of the book—the version that is available for sale now. While I thought that the version that I presented to them was good enough they suggested an exhaustive, thorough edit, which would make the book as good as it could be. I agreed and—though the edit was expensive—it was the best thing I ever did in terms of writing. The edit literally changed my life in terms of writing style, grammar, and punctuation. I didn’t do a total re-write of the book but entire sections were removed, and I wrote five new chapters. Short, undeveloped points that I made from the old introduction became new chapters and I created a whole new intro.

What are your goals as a writer?

Like the Army motto, I want to be the best writer I can be. I want to continue to hone my style and branch out into other genres. For me, writing is hard work and I want to keep writing and stay viable and fresh. My immediate goal is to get my sales up and to get more reviews—more reviews will eventually lead to more sales.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a novella which is a totally different genre for me altogether. This book—-called The Airport—-will deal with a family who confronts their problems and their demons during an airport layover. The book can best be described as a romance and will, hopefully, bring a whole new audience to my writing.

What inspired me to write my book

by James Robinson Jr.

In 1994, I was not writing anything meaningful and I promised myself that I would begin writing a page a day—a modest goal. Because I was beginning to feel the effects of middle age at the time I thought that midlife might be a suitable topic. When I started to write I realized that talking about my own issues and using a non-fiction platform was the best style for me. Unfortunately, it took years to develop my style and to learn to flesh out my writing by adding my personal stories (anecdotes) to the mix
Fighting the Effects of Gravity is an Indie Excellence Award Finalist and recipient of a Readers Favorite 5 Star Review.

About the author:

James Robinson, Jr. had it all: three beautiful children, a loving wife, a new home, a good job. But at age 36, the bottom would literally fall out of his life. He would watch his once firm deriere fall overnight never to rise again–-succumbing to the evil forces of gravity.

Fighting the Effects of Gravity is a humorous, midlife, memoir full of anecdotes and life lessons. You’ll find yourself laughing out loud at the author’s experiences and how much they relate to your own. Life is short; don’t let gravity get you down.

Connect with James Robinson Jr.
Twitter / Amazon

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Featured author: Paul Anthony

I'm happy to welcome the very accomplished author, Paul Anthony, to A Blue Million Books. He is the author of Moonlight Shadows, which one Amazon reviewer described as a "Wonderfully twisty mix of crime and spy thriller with great characters."

About the book:

When Conor is betrayed, he spends the night hidden in the bracken surrounded by security forces hunting him down. As moonlight shadows flicker, he realises who is responsible. With his unit destroyed, Conor sets out for revenge.

But dark unspoken forces are at work and the track goes cold.

A decade later, Pegasus, a discredited British Intelligence Agent, produces a mysterious piece of computer software and demands reinstatement. The enigmatic software, carried in a memory stick, threatens to destabilise the world’s economy should it fall into the wrong hands.

Assured of peace, desperate to be home to be near her loved ones, Pegasus returns only to find herself plunged into a world where he who holds the software holds the future of the world in their hands.

A breathtaking international chase involving terrorists, spies, and criminals ensues with greed, corruption, dishonesty and mistrust, uncovered in the most powerful of places as the need to secure an enigmatic memory stick dominates proceedings, twists, and conspires to destroy the human relationships that so many take for granted. Only Davies King, a chess playing, barfly of a detective, and his trusty team, seem capable of bringing sanity to the lawless corruption threatening the very fabric of a cyberspace driven society.

But all the men and women of power can be trusted with such responsibilities, can’t they? Or is one of their number a traitor to his country, a traitor to his calling..... A traitor of the worst kind. And there’s only one traitor.... Isn’t there?

From Pauline Livingstone, Editor and Book Critic:

Paul Anthony builds tension into every page. His characters are so real you will feel as if you know them, and believe me, some you will never want to know... A cracking read... 

Interview with Paul Anthony:

Paul, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I began writing poetry when I was 16 years old and have hundreds of poems dotted around the house. Some years ago I consolidated some of them into my book ‘Sunset’ and I plan to do similar in the future. I wrote my first book in 1994 - The Fragile Peace -  and this was published in print only in 1996. It was a best seller for the publisher (and myself) reaching 25,000 copies before I escaped the contract in 2012 and recently updated and Kindled it. After the first, I got a commission for the second - BUSHFIRE - but the company went bust 6,000 sales later and not one penny received, Oh dear, I turned to television and screenplays with some success and then decided to concentrate on books. So I’ve been writing pretty much solidly since 1994.

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

The title Moonlight Shadows came to me early in the writing since the ‘baddie’ hides in the bracken all night enduring the moonlight shadows all around him. But the words also turn out to be the code for a piece of missing software that is central to the plot and threatens to destroy the world’s economy.

How did you create the plot for this book?

I created the plot sitting by the pool in Corralejo thinking things through and working out the characters and the plan of action.

What do you do to market your book?

I market via social media, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Goodreads, and I’m a member of both the Independent Authors Network and the Writers Circle. But I also run a book club locally and do regular talks to a wide variety of organisations, book clubs, library groups, history groups, and community groups. I talk about my life in the police service, working with various national agencies, and the publishing process. I also have an extensive email library and contacts that I have built up over the years and are part of the marketing strategy. I’m hoping this will work one day and I will sell a book!!

I know authors aren't supposed to, but do you have a favorite character?

Yes, a character by the name of Claudia Jones. She is a civilian administration officer in all three Davies King books and a dominant figure in all three stories as her character just fits into everything that is going on during the investigations.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

One of my favourite scenes in Moonlight Shadows is a chase through the centre of Amsterdam, where many a gunshot is fired in anger. But I’m not going to spoil it by giving details of the chase other than to say it ‘rocks.’

Okay, I believe you! Who are your favourite authors?

Gerald Seymour, Terrence Strong, Jack Higgins, and a dozen more.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

No, I’ve never really suffered from it. When I get tired I just close the computer down and watch TV, read or have a snooze. I tend to spend a lot of time plotting out the book and the characters in my head. I write notes and run a chronology through the chapter headings and then ‘just write it.’ I stop, return to the start, write a bit more, stop, return to the start - and continue. Then I use my own team to edit before a final polish. Once I’m sitting writing, that’s it. Do not disturb.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like to keep physically fit doing kettlebells, jogging, swimming and pilates. I go to the gym four or five times a week. I play guitar badly and not enough and enjoy walking in the Lake District.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Carvoeiro, Portugal or Corralejo, Fuerteventura.

What are you working on now?

Behead the Serpent. This one consolidates Moonlight Shadows and contains the same characters. I’ve really enjoyed both researching and writing it. This is the draft blurb on the book cover: Disturbing photographs discovered in a vacant office in central London are not immediately connected to a ferocious attack on Davies King. But when the campaign against the chief of detectives and his closest friends turns to blackmail, it becomes personal. A series of horrendous bomb attacks and brutal shootings convince Davies to discharge himself from hospital and confront the two ‘most wanted’ criminals in the United Kingdom. Disillusioned with an unreliable temporary chief constable, and anxious to relieve a stressed out bomb disposal officer, the chess playing detective joins forces with British Intelligence to challenge the megalomaniacs who are holding the nation to ransom. Her Majesty’s Government announce a Tier One threat level as the lights across the south of England are extinguished and parts of Europe and North America face the reality of the first stages of society’s breakdown - Dystopia. It’s a simple question for the obstinate detective to answer. Does the country pay the ransom or do the lights go out?
It’s not rocket science, but who makes the decision, and why?

Paul, good luck with Moonlight Shadows, and please come back soon and tell us more about Behead the Serpent.

About the author:

Paul Anthony is a retired British detective who has served extensively throughout the U.K and elsewhere. He is a former winner of the Independent Authors Network Featured Author Contest and was a Featured  Author at the 'Books without Borders' Event in Yonkers, New York, 2012. He has been published by a vanity house and a traditional house. He is currently self-publishing under his own imprint Paul Anthony Associates. Over the years, Paul has also written both television and screenplays / film.  He is currently working on the third Davies King novel - Behead the Serpent which he expects to publish in February, 2013. 

Website / Blog / Facebook page / Goodreads / Twitter / Amazon / KOBO

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Featured Author: Dorothy K. Morris

Dorothy K. Morris accepted my Dirty Dozen challenge and is here today with Fulani, her main character in her historical fiction novel, Dirty Rice. Before we talk to Dorothy, I'll let her tell you a little bit about Fulani.

About Fulani:

Fulani was a servant to a village of rice growers on the island of Baki on the west coast of Africa. She had been traded to them by wandering herdsmen when she was a child for four bags of rice. Her friend and companion was Edriam, the chief’s favorite daughter. While gathering reeds near the shore, for making baskets, they were captured by sailors and taken aboard a ship, which was sailing for Antigua. The ship was hit by a severe storm and all aboard were lost, except for the two girls, who had been locked in a compartment below deck. They were rescued by another ship and taken to Carolina Colony where they were placed in the care of an aristocratic lady, on a rice plantation. Now Fulani is a free woman, but still serving in a household while she tries to learn the language and adjust to living among strangers for the second time in her life.

Interview with Fulani:

Fulani, can you tell us how you met Dorothy? Want to dish about her?

I first met my writer while she was doing research for this book. She saw a pair of earrings made by the beautiful Fulani people of West Africa, and I was born.
I do not choose to dish about her. She is an honest writer, and she cares for me deeply. She has offered me the adventure of a lifetime, one I thought I would never get since I was merely a servant girl in an African village, with little hope of a happy future.
I never thought my life would end up in a book. I thought my life would continue on its treadmill way. I worked in the house of the village chief. I worked in the rice fields. I could only hope for an old man or an ugly man for a husband because I have no dowry, and no man will pay bride price for me.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

My favorite scene in this book is where I get to tell Edriam what a weakling she is being. She is our chief’s daughter and should be brave, but she is whining and crying because her life has changed so much. She, who patronized me as her servant, is now a servant herself, even though I am now as free as she was.

Did you have a hard time convincing Dorothy to write any particular scene?

I did not have a hard time convincing my author to write any particular scene for me.  We understand each other and like each other. She writes good scenes for me, and in the next book, she will give me even better scenes.

What do you like to do when you are not actively being read somewhere?

I like to hide in the shadows and watch people. I like to know their secret activities because knowing gives one power. I also like to hide and watch Upton because he has good face...he pretty to watch.

If you could rewrite anything in the book, what would it be?

I would make Upton want to make love to me instead of making love to the Lady Agnes.

Do you get along with all of your fellow characters?

I like some of my fellow characters, but there are some that I don’t like at all. I do not like Sir John Grenville. He is a mean man and does hurt to the Lady Corina. Captain Fredrick is kind and so is Ben. Edriam is lucky that Ben likes her. Lady Agnes is tricky, and I do not like the way she treats Upton. Upton is special. He is handsome. I don’t like the way that Edriam is always whining and crying because she finds herself away from our village and families. I try to get her to be brave.

Do you have any secret aspirations Dorothy doesn't know about?

My author knows all about my aspirations. She knows that I want to be Reginald Upton’s lover now that Lady Agnes is gone, and she knows that I want to have a son.

What would you do if you had a totally free day?

I would walk along the river and maybe go fishing with Hunter.

What do people think when they first meet you?

When people first meet me they see only a light-skinned African girl who is rather attractive. When they get to know me they see that I have a brain and that I have ambitions.

What's the worst thing that has ever happened to you?

I thought the worst thing that happened to me was being stolen from our village in Africa, but what I learned is that it was the beginning of the best part of life. I learned that some good things start by being bad.

Tell us about your best friend.

My best friend in the village was Edriam, the chief’s daughter. She is about my age and was a kind companion. But when we were captured I saw how spoiled and frightened she was. I had to be the strong one to help her. Then I met Lady Corina and she became my best friend. She made sure that we remained free and vowed to take care of us until we could be on our own. She even pays us a wage to be house servants. The village chief only gave me food and a grass mat to sleep on and one garment to wear.

What scares you the most?

I am most afraid of Lady Agnes coming back and taking Reginald Upton again. Then I am afraid that I will not find the right man to give me a son.

What's the best trait your author has given you?

A good mind.

What's the worst?

The worst is that since I am now a free woman, I don’t ever want not to be free again, so I will not marry. But I want a son.

What do you like best about Dorothy?

I like my author’s effort to be honest and to see people as human beings, no matter their color or gender or age. She sees the good and bad in all of us.

Who would you like to play you in a movie version of the book?

If my story were a movie, Logan Browning or someone like her and a bit younger would play my part, because I am of mixed race. I am part Semitic and part African.

What's an average day like for you?

An average day for me is to get up very early; fetch water for the kitchen and for Lady Corina and Lady Agnes. Sometimes I bring breakfast to Lady Corina if she is ill. After that, I tidy her room and maybe help Roundale and Edriam in the kitchen. In the afternoon I work in the kitchen garden with Amayo and Finda. I help with lunch and dinner and then to tuck Lady Corina in at night. Sometimes we spend an hour in the afternoon together while she teaches me to write letters and to speak the language.

Will you try to convince Dorothy to write a sequel?

Oh yes, I will ask her to write a sequel. I still want my chance to capture Reginald Upton’s heart and to have a son.

Wonderful. Thank you for talking with us, Fulani. It's been nice chatting with you.

About the book:


DIRTY RICE, a novel set in the early 18th Century in the Low-Country of the early South Carolina Colony, tells of love, passion, adventure and cruelty with totally believable characters. It is the first prequel to the four books of the Mockingbird Hill Series.

The early 18th Century saw vast expansion into the New World from England, the European Continent, and from Africa, and the establishment of rice plantations in the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. Set against this background, Dirty Rice sweeps us away to a bygone era of adventure, romance, and brutal reality.

This is the story of African rice and African people, their knowledge, expertise, and their forced labor that made the Carolina Colony the wealthiest colony in colonial America. It takes us from the plush parlors of aristocratic English absentee land owners, who set policy in the Colony to maximize profit, to the swampy shores of Carolina amid the mud and muck of rice fields, where people kidnapped from West Africa because of their knowledge and expertise in the growing of rice, were forced to work to fill the coffers of the landowners with wealth. It is a story of exploitation by some and compassion from others. In this, as in her four previous novels, Morris’ emphasis is on the people who lived and were forced to cope with what life sent their way. These characters will continue into the next novel, Tally's Nook.

Dorothy's Dirty Dozen

1.    Name one thing you couldn’t live without.  Books

2.    If you could only keep one book, what would it be? The Eighth Evil

3.    Your last meal would be…Fried Chicken, rice, and butter beans.

4.    Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore? Library

5.    You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy? A horse.

6.    Would you rather be stranded on a deserted island or the North Pole? A deserted
      island because I could build things.

7.    You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do? Ride
      the horse I bought with the lottery money.

8.    You’re driven to a private plane and told it will take you anywhere your want to go.
      Where would it be?  Thailand

9.    You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be? Lady Agnes

10.   Where would your dream office be?  In Tucson, Arizona

11.   If you could do only one, would you rather read or write?  Write

12.   One of your main characters has to die. Which one would you kill off?
      Sir John Grenville

About the author:

Dorothy K Morris was born in Charleston, SC, a city her forefathers from England, France, New England and Barbados helped to establish in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She grew up in the Low-Country of South Carolina, steeped in the tradition and pain still felt from the residue of slavery, the Civil War and its aftermath. Much traveled, she adopted the West as her home and has remained for many years, living in Arizona, California and currently in South Central Washington. She lives on a small ranch in Kennewick. In addition to writing novels, Dorothy is an accomplished equestrienne and competition coach for Combined Training. She also schools horses and rides dressage. Morris enjoys genealogy and obtains many of the elements of her plots from her extensive family history. She is a member of National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, is listed in Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who of American Women.

Connect with Dorothy:
Website / Facebook / Amazon

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Margo Karasek Guest Post & Book Excerpt

Margo Karasek is the author of Work For Hire. She's making a stop here on her CLP blog tour to talk about writing and to give us a peek at her chick lit novel. Welcome, Margo!

Guest Post

Hello. My name is Margo, and I have a confession to make: I used to be the world’s laziest writer.

Yup. Before marriage and kids and part-time jobs and other pesky “adult” responsibilities—-when, theoretically, I had all the time in the world to write—-I couldn’t do it . . . because I was lazy. And I’m not just talking about the “delay the inevitable as long as possible” kind of lazy. We’re talking full-blown “find any excuse in the world not to write” kind of sloth. I mean, I’d clean my house and cook a four-course meal before I’d make myself sit down in front of a computer. And I hate cleaning and cooking. Really, “idle” should have been my middle name. I’d go for days—-weeks even—-without writing a single word. It’s amazing that I managed to produce anything.

Back then, my typical day looked something like this: Get up. Have coffee. Eye the computer. Decide to eat breakfast (you know, because thinking and writing usually goes better on a full stomach). Turn on the computer. Notice new dust next to computer. Decide to “tidy up.” Move the computer out of the way. Notice it’s time for lunch. Turn off the computer. Repeat process after lunch then dinner, filling in a different excuse as necessary. Rarely did I manage to actually sit in front of the computer. But on those rare occasions when I actually did, when even I ran out of excuses, I’d bend the proverbial stick the other way; then I’d go on a writing binge: I’d sit glued to my seat-—spitting out thousands of words—-unmoving, for hours. I wouldn’t eat or drink. Heck, the house could’ve burned down around me and I wouldn’t have noticed. All I wanted—-no needed—-to do was write. After twenty-four hours, I would collapse from exhaustion and sleep the whole of the next day.     

Of course, all this changed when I had kids. When my daughter was born, she pulled the rug out from underneath my old, trusty writing “routine.” Excuses? I didn’t need to come up with any because my screaming newborn provided plenty of legitimate reasons to avoid the writing chair. And writing binges? Please . . . no self-respecting infant would ever permit her parent twenty-four hours of uninterrupted me time in front of a computer screen. Suddenly, writing became a luxury, a rare commodity, that my sleep deprived brain craved like never before. I desperately wanted to catch moments where I could jot something down. I needed to be constantly writing, like I had never needed before. So I got myself a little journal with a pen attached and carried it everywhere I went.

I created my own writing opportunities: Napping infant. I instantly had a pen in hand. Taking a shower. I was writing in my head. Brushing teeth with a toddler hanging off my leg. Yup. You guessed it. The pen and journal were in my semi-free hand. And when my daughter, and then son, finally went down for the night, I got to transcribe all my little pearls of creativity. It was amazing, because with far less free time I managed to produce so much more work!

I started writing Work for Hire as a carefree single girl figuring herself out in the world. I finished the largest chunk of the book as an overworked, and often overwhelmed, mother of two. Now I’m readily tackling larger writing projects that I never imagined would be possible. So please, let me reintroduce myself. Hello, my name is Margo and I am finally a very busy, and productive, writer.             

Excerpt from Work For Hire:

The telephone screamed. 

At nine am. On a Saturday. 

What the hell…? 

I burrowed my head in a pillow. 

My mother. It had to be. Checking up on me after my night of partying. Calling to say she didn’t approve of sleeping late, even on weekends. She wasn’t going to mention that no well-bred young woman should be out until four in the morning, especially if she’s single and studying to be a lawyer.  

Well too bad, Mom, I yawned. I wasn’t going to answer. She could talk to the machine. Her monologue didn’t require my participation anyway.  

The phone rang again. Its cry seeped into my brain and made me painfully aware of an oncoming headache. 

God, for what sins are You punishing me with my mother’s early morning dose of parental concern?            

Of course, if I didn’t pick up soon my mother could possibly assume something horrible had happened to me on my one night out in more than a month, just as she’d predicted. Then she would spring into action, determined to find her baby. She would call my suitemate Lauren and drag her out of bed to come check on me. 

That wouldn’t be good. Lauren got in later than I had, and would probably be pissed upon getting a wake-up call from someone else’s mother. And that’s assuming she even answered. If she didn’t, my mother probably would call the campus police to come and check on both of us. Then she would hightail it into Manhattan after me. And I would have to live that embarrassment down for the rest of my law school career. I could just imagine the comments from my section mates.

“Hey, Tekla, how old are you that your mommy has to know your every move?”

Oh Lord, I groaned as I imagined their sneering faces—law students could be so vicious. I bolted up in bed despite the headache—it had arrived—and lunged for the phone, trying to avert social catastrophe. 

Too late. The room went momentarily silent. Then the machine clicked to life. I stood suspended over it, uncertain what to do, my hand on the phone’s receiver as a female voice filled the quiet.   

“Tekla? Tekla, this is Lisa.”

My hand dropped.

Thank you, God. 

It wasn’t my mother. I contemplated returning to bed. It was early, and I had no classes. No work either. I could nap at least two more hours. And my feet were cold. Actually, now that I noticed, goose bumps dotted my entire body. Clearly, the tank top and shorts I had worn to bed were inappropriate for the cool New York fall weather. 

My bed looked so warmly inviting. But the short sprint, and the possibility of my mother, had me wide-awake, so I stayed where I was. 

“You know, Lisa Williams, Mr. Lamont’s assistant.”

I ran my tongue around my mouth. I needed a toothbrush. Bad. But later. Because I sure as hell knew Lisa. She was my employer’s current personal assistant, his children’s former nanny, and probably his current mistress. She had managed to land a job at Mr. Lamont’s billion-dollar firm by first taking care of his two children while his wife trotted around the globe snapping pictures for glossy fashion magazines and schmoozing with celebrities. 
Lisa was one of my least favorite people. Ever since I started working at the Lamont household as the children’s tutor she made my few hours there miserable with her nitpicking. So why the hell was she calling me at nine on a Saturday?

“Listen, you have to call me back as soon as possible. It’s very important. Gemma is missing and no one can find her.”

I frowned. How could Gemma, my student, be missing when I just saw her this Friday? I had worked on her biology homework while she told me all about her plans to go to her friend’s birthday party that night. Where would she be, if not at said friend’s house? And how could no one find a fourteen-year-old glued to her cell phone? I shook my head. All you have to do, stupid, is call her instead of me. 

“Call me back at the house. Please. Steven and I are really worried.” 

That’s “Mr. Lamont” to you, missy.

I walked away from the telephone, towards the bathroom. If I couldn’t sleep, I could at least enjoy a long, hot shower. Still, I left the door open to hear the rest of the message. I might not have liked Lisa, but Gemma was okay. 
“Monique’s on a shoot in Paris, but she’ll be flying to New York if we don’t find her soon.”

And wouldn’t that mess up your weekend plans: the wife coming home sooner than expected.

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and examined the night’s damage. Dark circles made me look as if I had lost a round to a street brawler. Not that I hadn’t looked worse before. Law students weren’t known for their rested complexions. I turned away from the mirror and headed for the toilet. My bladder demanded immediate attention.   

“Look, I’m embarrassed to say this, but it seems no one has Gemma’s new cell phone number. We were hoping maybe you do.”

I stopped dead in my tracks. She had to be kidding. Gemma had had that phone for more than a week; her father had given it to her in apology for spoiling her mother-daughter night out the one weekend in months that Monique Lamont had managed to find her way back to New York and her children. It had to be registered in Mr. Lamont’s name then; why wouldn’t he have access to the number? 

Still, I abandoned my shower and walked back to the phone, picking up my day planner along the way. Gemma’s cell number was prominently scrolled in her teenage script on the last page. She had insisted on writing it there herself.   

“Please call and let us know if you do. Thanks.”

The machine clicked off. I stared at it. Gemma was missing, and her own father didn’t know her number. 

The rich never ceased to amaze.

About the author:

Margo Karasek decided to be a writer the instant she finished reading her first novel as a kid. She loved the possibilities and freedom in observing and writing about everyday people, whose experiences--through her words--could make a lasting impact. This passion led her to NYU, where she earned a journalism and anthropology degree, with the highest honors. But since she couldn't figure out how writers made a decent living, Margo went on to law school--where she had a blast. Unfortunately, actually practicing law was nowhere near as fun as learning about it in school, so Margo took the ultimate plunge: she quit her cushy law firm job to become a full-time novelist. And, to help make ends meet throughout the process, Margo also began tutoring for some of the wealthiest, best known families in New York as a side-gig. The latter job gave her some powerful ideas for her first novel. Margo currently lives in Queens, New York with her husband and their two children, and is busy working on her next book.

Buy the Book!
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Monday, February 18, 2013

Featured Author: Margo Karasek

I'm happy to welcome Margo Karasek here as a stop on her blog tour with CLP Blog Tours. Margo is the author of the book, Work For Hire, a chick lit novel. Tomorrow she'll be back with a guest post and an excerpt from her book.

About the book:

Tekla’s law school career couldn’t be any better. She has top grades. She’s on Law Review. She’s a frontrunner in a mock oral argument with a sweet prize: a judicial clerkship. One problem, though: Tekla has no more money to pay for school. She needs a part-time job. Fast.

Luckily, her roommate has just the solution: help two uber-wealthy prep school teens, the twin son and daughter of a billionaire Wall Street short-seller and a world-renowned model turned fashion photographer, with their schoolwork, and earn $150 an hour. Plus, enjoy an additional perk on the job, in the form of a gorgeous photo assistant who happens to have his eye on Tekla.

Easy money.

Well, not so much. Within days, Tekla’s job begins to unravel. In a world of super-wealth and high fashion, Tekla finds herself surrounded by a peculiar cast of players: two teens whose self-destructive behavior becomes ever more erratic, a father whose ambitions for his son constantly test Tekla’s notions of what is fair and ethical and what is cheating, a mother whose emotional negligence borders on abuse, and a gorgeous man who may or may not be what he appears.

As Tekla struggles to hold onto a job that takes more time and energy than she ever anticipated, her own school life begins to suffer. She makes an enemy of a professor who seems to want nothing more than to bring her down. And he’s succeeding. Soon Tekla’s life is a paradox: without her high paying part-time job, she can’t afford law school; but with it, she’ll surely flunk out of school.

Interview with Margo

Margo, ow did you come up with Work For Hire as the title of your book?
Finding the title for the book was hard. The book was called “untitled” for pretty much most of its writing process. It wasn’t until the very end that I forced myself to think about possible titles. I looked for lines in poetry and song lyrics. I asked for advice and suggestions from others, but nothing really stuck; nothing felt right, if you know what I mean. Then I put the whole title search on hold and decided to read the book one more time. By that point, I hadn’t read through the completed manuscript in a couple of months, so I approached the process more as a reader and not the book’s author. And that’s when it struck me: the phrase “Work for Hire” was pivotal to the plot, both figuratively (the main character needs to find work for hire) and literally (she has to argue the Work for Hire doctrine in her mock legal case). It’s like a light bulb went off.     

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

I never outline on paper, but I do have to have the main characters and the major plot points straight in my head before I begin writing. Same goes for the ending. I need to have it figured out before I commit to anything on paper. So I guess you could say I sort of outline in my head—-and I rarely deviate from that outline. However, I leave plenty of room for my characters to grow and develop as the story unfolds, and they very much dictate what I write from chapter to chapter.   

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.

My cover was designed by Scarlett Rugers, and she is an absolutely fabulous artist! She read the manuscript and asked me to show her examples of covers that I liked. Then she pitched a few concepts for me. I absolutely loved the very first one she suggested. Within days, she created a cover that I absolutely fell in love with because it represented the book—-the feel of the book, really—-in such a subtle, sophisticated way. Scarlett gave me exactly what I was looking for without my having to articulate it. Creating the cover art was great fun.  

I’m constantly on the lookout for new names. How do you name your characters?

Wow. Naming characters. That’s a tough one. Some of the characters (like Gemma and Xander) were easy for me to name because I sort of had the name in mind before I developed the character. Tekla’s name took way more effort. As the main character, I had to get her name right before I could go forward with the book. I also had to keep in mind her background; she’s of Polish descent so the name had to work in both languages. Plus, I wanted it to be unique. So I went to all the trusty baby naming books and websites—-both in English and Polish. I think I spent as much time coming up with Tekla’s name as I did with my own kids’ names. But hands down, the hardest character to name was Julian. For most of the book’s writing, I used a “place holder.” I’m embarrassed to admit that I initially called him Niko. But that name didn’t sit right and none of the others I came up with from my baby books worked any better. In the end, I referenced people that I knew in the past and chose the name of the person whose character traits best resembled Julian’s. 

Are any of your characters inspired by real people? 

Pretty much all of my characters are inspired by real people. The rub is that I like to morph a couple of people into one character and then add my own, imaginary, spin to the mix. So, for instance, Professor Johnson is a representation of the numerous law professors I encountered while in law school, but some of his features and character traits are heightened for dramatic effect. Gemma and Xander, too, do not reflect any one person, but I’m sure a few of my former tutoring students can probably recognize parts of themselves in the characters. I really like to observe people, and it’s hard for those observations not to filter into my fiction.  

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?

Hands down, it would have to be Markus. He’s just so organized and capable, I know he would take care of all those pesky details, like building shelter and getting food. He would never complain and would go out of his way to make sure I was happy. He’d always put my needs above his own. 

What are your favorite books or favorite authors?

As a child, I loved reading the Anne of Green Gables series. Lucy Maud Montgomery was my idol, so much so that I drafted a few stories in her style. You could say that Ms. Montgomery inspired me to take up writing.
As a teenager, I challenged myself to finish the 1000+ pages of Gone With the Wind, and I became obsessed with Scarlett.
As an adult, I really discovered Jane Austen. I never got all the hype surrounding the Bronte sisters, but Jane Austen rocked my world, especially when I read Pride and Prejudice and Emma (did I mention that I named my daughter after Emma?). I also love Old Man and the Sea and am a huge fan of George Orwell.

Is there anything in particular that you do to help the writing flow?

Music helps me out a lot when I write, especially when I’m stuck with something. If I need to work out a tricky plot point or get passed some writer’s block, I slip on the headphones and blast Mozart at full volume. I love his pieces because they can be melancholy or full of energy, depending on my particular mood. Other music works well, as long as it does not have lyrics. I get too distracted by lyrics. I guess they clash with the words I’m forming in my head. I also sometimes like to walk away from writing and focus on mundane tasks like house chores, to let the brain relax and just let the thoughts flow at their own pace. You’d be amazed how many great writing ideas I’ve had while brushing my teeth. 

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

The following quote from Kate Chopin’s The Awakening really struck a chord with me: “To be an artist includes much; one must possess many gifts—-absolute gifts—-which have not been acquired by one’s own effort. And, moreover, to succeed, the artist must possess the courageous soul.”

I like that. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I absolutely love to read. I average about a book or two per week (law school taught me speed reading—-to my eternal gratitude). I also do a lot of walking with my dog. In the past, I trained in ballet, and I still love to dance. My favorite time of day is that hour before my kids go down for the night. I pump up the volume on our stereo, and we all bust out with our improvised dance moves. Recently, I’ve also taken up learning how to play the piano. Instruments intimidated me when I was younger, and now I take great joy in learning to play. I love the repetition of practice. It’s my personal form of meditation.   

About the author:

Margo Karasek decided to be a writer the instant she finished reading her first novel as a kid. She loved the possibilities and freedom in observing and writing about everyday people, whose experiences--through her words--could make a lasting impact. This passion led her to NYU, where she earned a journalism and anthropology degree, with the highest honors. But since she couldn't figure out how writers made a decent living, Margo went on to law school--where she had a blast. Unfortunately, actually practicing law was nowhere near as fun as learning about it in school, so Margo took the ultimate plunge: she quit her cushy law firm job to become a full-time novelist. And, to help make ends meet throughout the process, Margo also began tutoring for some of the wealthiest, best known families in New York as a side-gig. The latter job gave her some powerful ideas for her first novel. Margo currently lives in Queens, New York with her husband and their two children, and is busy working on her next book.

Buy the book:

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Double Feature: Kathleen Shoop and Alex Akira

Guest Post
How to Avoid the Rejection Blues

by Kathleen Shoop 

How to Avoid the Rejection Blues—well, once you decide to go indie, you find the type of rejection shifts from agent/editor rejection to reader rejection. It’s hard when readers don’t like your work—actually that’s not as hard as the blanket, “I hate this, it’s the worst, most depressing thing I’ve ever read...” It’s so important to recognize everyone will not like or love or even tolerate your work. That’s what makes all this work. There’s something out there for every reader and dealing with the negatives is just part of the job. Again, I can’t say how glad I am to be able to participate. That’s what matters to me.

Why Book Covers are So Important—A book cover draws readers in, gives them a feel for what the book is about even if the image isn’t a literal representation of the content. A good cover is everything!

Practical Advice for Beginning Fiction (or other genre) Writers—Just write. Don’t worry about it being fantastic. It won’t be—the first draft won’t be. But you have to have a draft in order to mold and shape it. The first draft is akin to an artist formulating her own special clay to shape. Your first draft is your clay—the recipe is complete—after you have your clay you need to actually sculpt, shape, mold...for me that’s the hard part. Just start.

Five Mistakes Writers Make When Querying Publishers

Booksigning Tips to Sell That Book—Pull a theme from your book and create an event around that theme. Yes, you’ll be signing books and that’s great, but make the day enjoyable for readers. With my first book The Last Letter, the tagline was “for every daughter who thought she knew her mother’s story...” And we had a pre-mother’s day signing complete with sets of books, stationery, letter boxes, mother/daughter stuff, relaxation baskets both for sale and for raffle. Find a theme and exploit it!

How I Made My First Sale—I put an ad in Mary Jane’s Magazine, and I got an email from a woman who couldn’t wait to read it. She did and she loved it, and she became my northeast territory sales person! She gave my book away, asked indie book stores to carry it and was just incredible to me. It was like something straight out of a movie. I will never forget that.

What Inspired Me to Write My Book—

My Publishing Journey or How I Became a Published Author
Why Blogging is Important—I’m not sure blogging itself is important. There are fabulous, wonderful, powerful bloggers who land book deals. But there are many more fabulous writers who stink or are unable to focus energy on blogging. There was a time I thought having a strong blog was important (and it can be for many, many people) but with Facebook and Twitter, I don’t feel the need to spend a lot of time blogging. I LOVE twitter because it’s not a mini-article that I have to proof and suffer over. It’s just fun. I’m probably wrong about this though, because I am not a marketing pro at all, in the least!!!

What Makes the Perfect Book Blog—one that is funny and reveals the true personality of the author...some authors have fantastic reader blogs and they converse with readers about all manner of topics and issues as well as their books. Others have sites more oriented toward writing and they draw an powerful following as well. For me, my blog is used to offer news, invite other writers for interviews, and to be a landing pad for everything related to my work. I don’t use my blog the way awesome bloggers do, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having other writers and bloggers to my blog to talk.

How to be a Good Guest Blogger—Guest blogging is fun. You are exposed to new readers and often can entice them to pick up your work or follow you on Twitter, etc. Be sure to be gracious and have the owner of the blog guide you in what she wants to see in your post. However, if she invited you to her blog she probably understands your perspective, writing style and topics of interest for you.

Why Mentors Are Important I have too many mentors to count—writing mentors, marketing, pr, networking mentors. Even people in other fields who have started their own businesses are my mentors. Just like there’s never a shortage of material to inspire my writing, there’s never a shortage of people I can learn from. And, I return the favor. If someone needs help with any component of publishing I do my best to help them or find the person who can if I can’t. Mentors and mentoring is vital to being successful, I think.

Inside the Mind of the Author—it’s crowded, noisy, crazy...I hate the inside of my head and wish I was more organized and methodical in my writing. The only thing I can say is that I am exceptionally methodical in my dedication to the craft—I just wish the work came out in a packaged, neat form instead of the mess it does!!!

About the author:

Thank you for reading about me here and for purchasing my novel! I'm married with two children. I've been seriously writing for almost a decade although I dabbled much earlier than that! I've had short stories published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul books, am a regular contributor to a local magazine, Pittsburgh Parent, and have had essays in local newspapers as well.

I have a PhD in Reading Education and have worked in schools for over twenty years. I work with teachers and their students in grades k-8 and am lucky to learn something new from them every time I walk through their doors. This experience was a huge help in writing LOVE AND OTHER SUBJECTS--a quirky, post-college coming of age story.

My first novel, The Last Letter (2011 IPPY Gold Medal--Regional Fiction, Midwest, 2011 Indie Excellence Finalist Award for Historical Fiction and Regional Fiction, 2011 International Book Awards Finalist for Historical Fiction and Best New Fiction), was a fascinating trip through history, punctuated with fictional characters and events. The idea for the story grew from my great-great grandmother's letters (see My Dear Frank for the complete set of letters!) written during the year of her engagement to Frank Arthur. The beautiful letters are the inspiration for the novel, the seed from which The Last Letter's characters and their voices grew.

I've also written women's fiction--Love And Other Subjects--and have written another historical fiction novel, After The Fog, set in 1948 in a town not far from Oakmont, Pennsylvania. After The Fog is also an award winning book--silver IPPY and WINNER in the literary category of the National Indie Excellence Awards.

Right now, I'm finishing up a 20,000-word short love story for an anthology and am also using my characters and setting from The Last Letter as per reader request to show what happened between the two timelines in the original book! I hope readers will enjoy the fact I write about varied eras and places and that they will love each book for its unique setting and time.

About the book:

For every woman who wonders if she chose the right career...
In Love and Other Subjects Carolyn Jenkins strives for two things—to be the greatest teacher ever and to find true love. She’s as skilled at both as an infant trying to eat with a fork. Carolyn’s suburban upbringing and genuine compassion for people who don’t fit effortlessly into society are no match for weapon-wielding, struggling students, drug-using colleagues, and a wicked principal.

Meanwhile, her budding relationship with a mystery man is thwarted by his gaggle of eccentric sisters. Carolyn depends on her friends to get her through the hard times, but with poverty-stricken children at her feet and a wealthy man at her side, she must define who she is. The reality of life after college can be daunting, the road to full-fledged adulthood long and unscripted. Can Carolyn take control and craft the life she’s always wanted?

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Guest Post

A Day In The Life of Alex Akira

by Alex A. Akira

Well, I’m  a creature of habit, so at least four days of my week go like this:
I rise at four o’clock in the AM (yes you read that correctly) throw on some workout clothes and either run on my treadmill for thirty minutes or do warm-up calisthenics, followed by some light free weight work. I then go out to the dojo and do some bag work, generally punches. Then I kick the  heavy bag around some. If my partner is up (about three days out of seven) we do a little sparring, sometimes he drills me on a new or a particular skill. For those of you who don’t know this, my partner is my Sensei.

By six o’clock I’m in the shower wondering if the stuff I wrote the previous evening is any good. By six-thirty, I’m dressed, grab the bowl of oatmeal that my guy microwaved for me and seat myself before my iMac and check said stuff, out. Generally I’m surprised, it’s not as bad as I thought, but the errors are glaringly obvious.

After I munch down the oatmeal I start to make the changes as my partner tells me information relative (not) to my day...the weather, world disasters, what Obama catch the drift. By now I’ve got my Thesaurus up and I’m probably on Wiki researching some information that I want to use in my story. Shortly after, I’m checking my email, answering it and if possible sending out a Tweet or checking FB.

During this process I am also rigging my iPod to my person. I have to be at my real life job between seven-thirty and eight o’clock. Okay I’m supposed to be in at seven-thirty, but I’m head of the design team, so they don’t really care if I’m late. Generally by seven-fifteen I’m saving whatever changes I made in my writing, shrugging into my scarf, grabbing my supplements and a protein bar to hold me over until I return home. After kissing my partner, I jump in the Jetta, crank up my music and drive the short four miles to the design studio.

Once I enter the studio, I turn on my iPod, make myself a hot drink, (coffee or tea) suck down my supplements and check out what design work I’ve got lined up. I design giftware, accessories, jewelry and other stuff for a long-standing firm that sells in the UK and America. It’s not rocket science, so generally I’m on automatic and am working out some feature in the story I am writing. The music coming though the iPod helps me isolate. Although no one is supposed to wear earbuds at the studio, when I was hired I made it a point in my iPod, no Alex. Plus everyone knows to “leave Alex alone.” They get better designs if they don’t interrupt me.

By two o’clock the protein bar I ate at noon is waning and I’m readying myself to go home. Two thirty is my official quitting time, but if I’m done, I’m done. I get in my Jetta, switch off the earbuds, switch on the cd player and return home.

Once home, I strip, throw on something more comfortable and if I didn’t have a coffee, I make  a cup. If not then it’s tea and some kind of snack like banana chips, both of which I take over to my iMac. I’m home alone in one of two ways, either my lover is sleeping because he’s working the night shift or he’s already left and I’ll see him after eleven.
So, this two-thirty and on time, is when I get most of my writing done. After bringing up iTunes or Pandora, I put my other headset on. Then I grab all the little Post-it notes I’ve scribbled on all day, sort them and add the prevalent information to my outline, timeline or appropriate place. I’ll generally take a quick look at what I worked on in the AM, maybe make some additional changes and then I’m checking my outline to see what passage(s) I think I can work on. I select the appropriate music for which character or scene I’ll be working on and lose myself in the story.

I’ll work until about five thirty, then take a break and fix something to eat. Generally steamed veggies or yogurt and fruit and sometimes soup. While I eat this I check my email, Twitter, and maybe send in that book review that is due. Afterwards I’ll wash the dishes and then bundle up, pod up and go out for a walk-about or sometimes jog-about. This clears my head and since I live in a college neighborhood, I re-energize as I walk/run among the students on campus.

By seven or seven-thirty I’m back at my keyboard, either writing or researching.  Sometimes I go into Photoshop and work on a cover illustration or a book trailer image. If I’m researching, I’ll put up another window and watch some MMA fights while I research for a couple of hours. If I get inspired, I’ll take a break, try some moves, do sit ups or some type of movement for a half hour, before sitting back down to resume writing/researching/drawing.

At about ten-thirty or eleven, I hit the shower, grab my Kindle and retire to the bedroom, where I’ll read to review whatever books are on my list. I keep my notebook nearby, because I am still fine-tuning my WIP, if anything comes to me, I make a note. I generally fall off  between twelve-thirty and one-thirty, depending on if my partner comes home and we make happy.

So that’s pretty much it, a winter day in the life of Alex A. Akira.

About the author:

Alex A. Akira spend a number of years traveling internationally as a jack of all trades dabbling in wide array of creative fields, theatre, martial arts, metaphysics, yoga, weightlifting, and accessories, jewelry and giftware design to name a few, before deciding to put pen to paper and later finger to keyboard, to craft various tales of young males struggling with emotional turmoil and internal conflict as they try to navigate their way through love and life in general. Why, yaoi, boy's love and m/m romance tales, you ask? ... well you do what you know. Alex is the author of Dojo Boys: The Italian Connection.

About the book:

This swiftly-paced two-volume romantic Yaoi love story tells the tale of the multi-talented thief/dancer Philippe Michael Ponty. First introduced in Dojo Boys: Dragon & Crow Volume II, the now twenty-two-year-old platinum haired petite Adonis struggles to make a home for himself in America.

Volume I finds Philip settling in Connecticut in disguise, as he doesn’t want to draw too much attention to his true line of work. Despite his caution, he meets and befriends a local rock musician, Tommy Sear, who despairs of ever having his band make it.
Quickly smitten by the dark-haired, shy Asian male that is Philip, Tommy seeks to make the young man his, but Philip doesn’t believe in love; besides, he has a very real problem. He can’t seem to get the victim of his last burglary, a green-eyed, virile Italian male...out of his mind.
With Philip’s encouragement, Tommy renews his efforts to get his band, Sear, a record deal. He makes a demo and shortly after a scout contacts him, from Italy no less. The Italian scout is coming to America hear them play in the hopes of signing Sear to the much sought-after label, Romano Studios.
But Tommy has a secret and he’s afraid that without Philip’s help, they may not get the deal.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains sexual content, explicit language and situations that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices.