Sunday, June 30, 2013

Featured Author: Trey Copeland

I'm happy to be talking to Trey Copeland, the author of Known Afterlife, Volume 1 of The Provider Trilogy, a  Speculative Fiction novel with equal parts sci-fi & fantasy.

About the book:

Stalling and Steffor inhabit different worlds, yet they are connected. With the fate of both realities in the balance, they each navigate knife-edged paths between utter darkness and universal salvation, paths that bring them to the same mind-bending dilemma. Do we have a moral obligation to pursue enlightenment at any cost? 

Antium is a world ruled by an ancient and merciless theocracy. The pervasive grip of stratification and elitism paralyze man's ability to grow, to dream, to aspire for a better existence. Armed with the motive, the technology and the capital means, Stalling Alterian stands ready to impose transcendence upon a stagnant society. Can Stalling and his cadre of gifted conspirators complete a technological miracle before the noose pulls tight? 

Meanwhile, Steffor wages an all together different battle to save his utopian world- an arboreal planet known as The Provider. As a Guardian of The Provider’s Citizens, Steffor exists to protect against an ancient and once believed vanquished enemy. With the very nature of reality at stake, can he salvage the bedrock mysticism that defines him? 

The two adrenaline-fueled narratives form the parallel tracks of a roller coaster that tosses the reader back and forth from a futuristic world of nearly recognizable technology and timeless corruption to an exotic fantasyland of magic, mythical beasts and romance beset by world-changing events, all while racing towards an inevitable if unimaginable collision.

Interview with Trey Copeland:

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

I have been writing fiction for about five years now. For me, the decision to write was less about conscious choice and more about imposed call to adventure. Prior to that juncture, I had relegated my muse to a means of combating insomnia: imagining worlds, characters and stories until sleep finally conquered an over-active mind. A string of dramatic events occurred in my life over a short time period that motivated me to capture these ideas on paper. Despite this new-found compulsion, my confidence as a writer was far from high. So, in tandem with my nightly ritual of dumping ideas onto paper, I read several “how to” books (Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and On Teaching and Writing Fiction by Wallace Stegner being two of my favorites). Soon after, I found the courage to start writing and set out upon my new journey with mule-like determination. Outline soon emerged from brain-dump, sentences formed into paragraphs, paragraphs became chapters. One piece at a time, the giant puzzle took shape.

What do you like best about writing?

Writing does not come easy for me, it is a true labor of love. Storytelling, by comparison, comes natural. The best part about writing is when I have tapped into that vein of imagination, mined the story therein, and made it come alive on the page.

What’s your least favorite thing?

My least favorite aspect of writing is whenever I have to wage battle with my inner critic. Writing can be a lonely occupation and my inner critic never seems to miss an opportunity to instill doubt.

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

The title for the book did not emerge until well after completing the first draft of the manuscript but, in hindsight, choosing the title was one of the easiest steps in the process. The title captures the essence of the book’s spiritual themes, directly addressing the open-ended question that started it all: “If the mysteries of the divine Universe were revealed and quantified for all to see and experience, how would our world change as we know it?”

How did you create the plot for this book?

Personal frustration with and a genuine desire to eradicate human ignorance created the plot for Known Afterlife. Not ignorance in and of itself, our journey almost ensures all of us remain ignorant relative to our growth. No, ignorance imposed and propagated by a narrow yet influential few spawned the plot of Known Afterlife. What happens when a technological miracle wipes out mass ignorance overnight and in doing so, destroys the primary tool leveraged for thousands of years to rule and oppress the masses?

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

I am big outliner. Before writing the first sentence, I had all three books mapped out in an outline consisting of 75,000+ words. The writing software I use enables me to break the outline from overview, to ideas, events, locations, characters, references, etc to the eventual transition of chapters and overarching trilogy. I’d be lost without it.

Tell us a book you’re an evangelist for.

If I were ever evangelical about a book, it would be Journey of Souls, by Michael Newton.  For a myriad of reasons, this book was a personal game-changer. That prefaced, I do not recommend it to everyone; the subject matter of life between lives and reincarnation does not resonate with everyone. 

Are any of your characters inspired by real people? Who?

Typically, my characters reflect strong personality traits of people in my life, be it family, friends, co-workers, or business partners. I am drawn towards people strong in their convictions, whether I share them or not. Good or bad, our convictions define us and reveal ones true character.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

Great question, one I have pondered many times. Every time, despite having an intimate connection with so many different scenes, I come back to the scene of Steffor’s father retelling the story of the maiden trek across the Constunkeen Prairie Bough. The scene practically mugged my imagination, demanding its birth. It was the first piece of writing to silence my inner critic, if only for a moment. More importantly, the scene became a key pivot point towards the climax and in many ways the book’s foundation.  

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

A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson, in hardback.

Is there anything in particular that you do to help the writing flow?
Meditation prior to writing is a tried and true practice for me. In addition, I listen to a variety of entrainment programs while writing that aid in the creative process. 

11.    What are you working on now?
Volume 2 of the Provider Trilogy (the title is a work in progress). I am pleased with my progress and anticipate completing the first draft soon.

Excerpt from Known Afterlife
(from Chapter 11):

A strapping ten year old, already bigger and stronger than many young adults, Steffor's station in life remained undetermined.

The kuwani season was at its peak and yet another long day of harvesting the exotic fruit had ended. The fruit's sweet aroma mixed with pungent sweat, each steeped into weathered smocks and worn breeches, hung thick in the air, trapped by the canopy of colossal leaves overhead.

Steffor and his father wended a narrow branch as thoughts of a warm meal and peaceful sleep crept in, motivating weary bodies to forge toward home. Dozens of harvest Shifters—their family, neighbors and closest friends—each worn to the bone and exhausted from the day's labor, joined their commute along adjacent leafstalks; gratification with the day's work was displayed on every face and bent back.

By nightfall, the multitude of stalks had merged into one branch, herding them together to form a loose line, two to six abreast. The deep canopy thinned to reveal the sky full of early evening stars and the rise of Ginllats. The day's harvest hovered a few hundred feet above, packed into a large freight car suspended by thick haulage vines. The cylindrical satellite, its silhouette accentuated by the moon's bright green illumination, trudged along in silence, casting a long shadow over their trail.

Having left for home prior to the car, it had finally caught up with them and was slowly pulling ahead. The young Steffor watched the car pass by, making its way toward Razum City. He visualized the burly vine Shifters, their naked trunks glistening from the coordinated and strenuous movements, tirelessly shifting the elongated vines over miles of prairie bough. Hours of labor later, they would deliver the car filled with thousands of kuwani to market that would in turn disperse it around the world.

They watched the car whisper by overhead, shameless pride displayed across his father's weathered face, Steffor, grimed head to toe and reeking, content with the day but restless in the spirit.

"Why did you and mother choose to settle Maseriah?" Steffor asked as he turned his attention back toward the trail.

"Maseriah chose us, not the other way around." The ardent glint in his father's eyes, so familiar whenever he spoke of higher powers, stifled Steffor's chortle at the thought of a place having the ability to choose anything, much less a Citizen. Instead, he nodded as if understanding and arched his brow with respect, imploring his father to elaborate.

Taking a long moment to ensure his son devoted all his attention to what he said next, his father continued his story. "Your mother and I had been partnered for less than a year. We were contributing as novice Shifters, our raw skills relegated to the mundane but important: I, maintenance of Razum's plethora of decks, stairways and ramps; your mother, her budding gift for food put to use as preservative Shifter at the Market. We were active, honing our craft and staying patient. When the call of the Provider came, we were prepared to follow without hesitation."

"The sign came from the Mysticnet when our minds were flooded with the images of a young Guardian named Maseriah, safely returning home after being lost and presumed dead for over six months. His disappearance was big news and his return even bigger. Your mother and I were instantly mesmerized by his tale."

"Maseriah had discovered an uncharted branch while surveying the Constunkeen prairie bough, the very branch we travel today." His father spread his arms wide, turning side to side, to emphasize the novelty. "The branch had avoided detection over the years due to how it jutted strait down before spreading outward to mingle just below the bifurcated branches located at the bough's end. His keen Guardian eye followed the camouflaged branch for miles and was elated to discover a thriving complex of unique flora. Being the young and confident Guardian he was, and a fine Dive competitor to boot, Maseriah chose his path and leaped toward history."

"Looking back at it, he admits to not giving much thought to how he would return. The impulse to explore had overwhelmed him and he was now acting on instinct. Nor did he give much thought to the perilous act of getting down to the secluded branch." By the tone of his voice and spark in his eye, Steffor sensed his father admired the young Guardian's temerity. "Maseriah's point of entry was a low cliff found midway in the expansive fork and the path he chose was no less intricate or harrowing than a championship dive chute."
"Starting with a thousand foot free fall into a copse of stalks and leaves, Maseriah punched his way through leaf and stem, forming a Source sphere at the last second on a stalk not a half mile from where we stand, no wider then you are long." Steffor had seen the images and from his young point of view, the success of Maseriah's dive was nothing short of a miracle.

"Safely on the branch, Maseriah set to exploring. True, our branch displayed many unique and unseen growth patterns and foliage but after several days, fear began to grip the young Guardian as his search for food, water and a means to return to the prairie bough came up short. By the twenty-eighth day, exhausted, his provisions gone for over a week, Maseriah lay sprawled on his stomach, lost in the catacomb of stalks and began to prepare himself to join the Provider."

Somaht, their village Mystic, had shown this story to Steffor dozens of times, both with and separate of Maseriah's in-person narration. His father knew this, sitting in on most of the communal recitations, and yet told the story as if for the first time. Out of respect and partially because he had learned to be patient whenever he asked his father a question, he chose not to point out this obvious fact.

About the author:
Born in 1969, Trey Copeland was hooked on science fiction the moment he watched his first Star Trek episode (a rerun of "The Enemy Within"). Trey folded in a love for fantasy upon discovering Dungeons & Dragons during his early teen years. Since, he has stoked his passion for speculative fiction with the greats: J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Douglas Adams, Frank Herbert, Tad Williams, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, L. Ron Hubbard, C.S. Lewis, Piers Anthony, Terry Goodkind and many more. The works Trey admires most entertain while sharing a vision.

The primary inspiration for Trey's writing comes from the belief that the purpose to life is to learn and grow from individual and shared experiences. If he can communicate that deceptively simple pillar of faith while entertaining, if he can move a reader to "what if?" explorations of their own than he has achieved his aim as an author.

Born in Central Virginia, Trey currently resides in North Carolina with his loving, supportive and patient wife, where they both do their best to prioritize raising their three boys.

Website | Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Amazon

Book Blast: I'm Not Crazy, I'm On Lupron

According to CDC, infertility effects 11% of women in the US. Author Stacey Rourke shares her own journey in her new book, I'm Not Crazy, I'm on Lupron. This book is very personal for me, as I am a contributor to the "Morsels of Hope" section.

Basal body temperatures. Hormone injections. Invasive procedures - that leave no room for modesty. Tips on “effective positions” from well-meaning grandparents. 

When the natural way fails to work these are all added to the so called “fun” process of making a baby. Walk this rocky path to motherhood with author Stacey Rourke as she openly and honestly shares every good, bad, and awkward step of her three-year long journey. Using humor to break through the perils of infertility, she gives the lowdown on all the strange, embarrassing, and heartbreaking aspects. Stacey guides us through an unforgettable path that ends with a kid on each hip and hope for all those suffering with infertility. 

BONUS MATERIAL: “Morsels of Hope”
Success Stories from Infertility Survivors
Buy I'm Not Crazy, I'm on Lupron: A Journey Through Infertility at Amazon and B&N

If you are facing your own struggles, Stacey wants you to know you aren't alone.

Chat with Stacey Rourke
Wednesday, July 3 at 11:00 am eastern
Twitter: #Infertility

Enter the giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information about infertility visit these sites:
Resolve: The National Infertility Association -
International Council on Infertility Information –
American Fertility Assoc. -

Disclosure: A GWR Publicity event paid for by Anchor Group Publishing. Giveaway is sponsored by the author who is responsible for the delivery of prizes. A Blue Million Books received no compensation for this post.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Featured Author: Suzie Tullett

Little White Lies and Butterflies is Suzie Tullett's contemporary romance novel, published by Safkhet Publishing, due to be released on August 1. She's here to tell us about the book and give us a sneak peek.

About the book:

A child of the nineties, Lydia Livingston is different. The last thing she’s ever wanted is to be superwoman; she knows first-hand that ‘having it all’ isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. As far as she’s concerned, when it comes to job versus family, it’s a definite case of one or the other. And whilst most women her age have spent years climbing the corporate ladder, she’s made a career out of bagging her perfect man. At almost thirty and still single, Lydia wonders if she’d made the right choice all those years ago. And realising the time has come to take stock, she goes against her family’s wishes and banishes herself off to a distant land—all in the hope of finding a new direction.

At least that’s the plan.

But Lydia Livingston isn’t just different, she’s misunderstood. A fact she knows all too well. So when the totally unsuitable Sam comes along, she decides to tell a little white lie, re- inventing herself as a professional chef – not exactly the best new identity to come up with for a woman who can’t even cook. Of course, the last thing she expects is for him to find out the truth and start blackmailing her. Let alone find herself roped into catering for a local wedding. But with things going from bad to worse, her madder than mad family also turn up in something of a surprise visit, intent on celebrating a birthday she’s no intentions of celebrating!

Interview with Suzie Tullett:

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

I started writing years ago when I did a Master’s Degree in Television & Radio Scriptwriting. Through this, I was lucky enough to be chosen by the BBC for their New Writers’ Initiative, which led to opportunity to write for their drama series Doctors. But because I’ve always loved prose, it seemed only natural that one day I’d move into novel writing too. So here I am, doing exactly that.

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

When Lydia Livingston tells a little white lie events start to snowball. Suddenly she’s in way over her head & forced to deal with the ensuing hilarious consequences.

Or for those who prefer their tweets short and sweet:       
When you’re digging yourself into a hole, stop digging!

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

Writing by the seat of my pants would be way too scary, so I always outline. That’s not to say I rigidly stick to any plan though; characters very often have a way of surprising their authors by wanting to go off in a different direction. So outlines do tend to change.

Tell us a book you’re an evangelist for.

Dead Run by Erica Spindler. I wouldn’t normally read thrillers, but I’d run out of books whilst on holiday one year and this one was left lying around. I was gripped from the very first page right through to the last and I’ve been recommending it to anyone who’ll listen ever since.

Have you ever bought any books just for the cover?

A cover is definitely what first attracts me to a book; it’s what makes me pick it up in the first place. But I can’t say I’d buy simply because of the images on the cover alone. I always look at the blurb too, to see if the story is something I’d actually enjoy reading.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Ooh, that’s a hard question to answer. Lydia was fantastic to write. Because of her personality, every time she finds herself in yet another dilemma, instead of getting herself out of it she just keeps making things worse. And I love how Sam is able to use these predicaments to his own advantage – the relationship between the two of them is hilarious. Then there’s Lydia’s family, plus the Fatolitis...Of course, when you read the book, you’ll understand why I’m finding it hard to choose.

What would your main character say about you?

I’m not sure what they’d say ‘about’ me, but I’d like to think they’d thank me for telling their story.

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

All of them for one reason or another!

What five real people would you most like to be stuck on an island with?

That’s easy – my husband, two sons, daughter-in-law and soon to come along grandson. Everyone’s so busy we don’t get as much time together as I’d like, so for us all to be marooned together would be fantastic.

Where’s home for you?

Up until recently I’d been spending a lot of time out in Greece. The landscape there is absolutely stunning and the culture and history of the place fascinating. It provided a great setting for Little White Lies and Butterflies, and when I wasn’t writing, I have to say my down time wasn’t half bad either. I’ve since learned I’m going to be a grandmother though (I know, I’m way too young!) so for now I’m back in the UK until little Elijah Gabriel makes his appearance. As much as I love Greece, it’s a little too far away now our family is growing.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

When it comes to all things literary, I can be an absolute chatterbox. I love talking to readers, not just about my books but about any book. I couldn’t do this in a library because I’d have to keep quiet. So I’d definitely rather work in a bookstore.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“I think therefore I am.”

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? (Don’t worry about the money. A publisher is paying.)

If a publisher is paying I’d book myself on a round the world trip and go everywhere! All in the name of research, of course.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on my next novel - another laugh out loud, romantic comedy.

Excerpt from
Little White Lies and Butterflies:

Following the incident at the beach, I had been hoping to avoid any future
contact with Sam the Climber, yet here he was, larger than life. Not that I
was sure which had bothered me the most-the football in the face, or the
slightly unnerving eye contact. Neither of which I wanted to experience ever
again and I wondered if I should just get up and leave while the going was
good. But my drink still hadn't arrived and the last thing I wanted to do
was look rude in of front Efthimeos. I had to think of something else and

Grabbing my book from my bag, I opened it up and used it to shield my face.
This should do it! However, just to make sure I began sinking lower and
lower into my seat, until I was horizontal to the point I was almost on the
floor. Now he'll never notice me.

I wondered if I should take a peek just to check on his whereabouts. But
before I got the chance, a drink landing on the table in front of me caught
my eye instead. It wasn't the simple glass of Coke I'd originally ordered, I
further noticed, but some fancy, fandangle cocktail.

I stared at the umbrellas, the tinsel and the cherries on sticks, not even
daring to look up.

Please let it be Efthimeos. Please let it be Efthimeos. I thought, finally
plucking up the courage. Lifting my gaze I realised that unless my host had
undergone some sort of superfast extreme makeover in the last few minutes,
the game was up.

'There you go,' said Sam, indicating to the heavily adorned concoction. 'Not
just my apology, but as requested, the most expensive drink on the menu.'

I put my book down and began the difficult task of hauling myself up into a
more vertical alignment. 'I didn't request it,' I replied ungratefully. 'In
fact, if I remember rightly, I said such a purchase wasn't necessary.'

My unwanted guest just carried on standing there, for some reason refusing
to see this as his cue to leave-choosing instead to raise an eyebrow. He
nodded to the drink. 'Well,' he asked. 'Aren't you going to at least try

I considered his request for a moment, deciding it was a small price to pay
if it meant getting rid of the man. And, duly picking up the glass and
locating the straw from among all the flora and fauna, I took a long hard
draw. 'Jesus, Mary and Joseph!' I spluttered, all at once choking and
coughing. 'What the hell's in it? Meths?'

Sam laughed. 'A bit of everything,' he said. He plonked his beer down on the
table and took a seat, uninvited.

'Well excuse me if I don't share your amusement,' I replied, realising that
was the second time that day he'd tried to kill me. 'And I don't remember
asking you to join me either.'

There was something of a twinkle in his eye and thanks to his air of
confidence I could see that he was one of those men used to getting his own
way when it came to members of the opposite sex. However, I'd met his type
before and knew there was no way he'd ever come across the likes of me. Such
a sparkle might've been enough to make any other girl go weak at the knees,
but unlike theirs, my kneecaps were made of sterner stuff.

About the author:

Born and raised in Lancashire, Suzie Tullett has worn many hats in life: from office work to teaching, from managing an advice center to being an outreach worker for Women’s Aid. She’s achieved a Bachelor’s and a Master’s and works with the BBC as a scriptwriter—all while raising her family. Ultimately, she wants to leave scriptwriting behind and write full-time. She says “it’s fair to say my working life has given me the chance to get to know all kinds of people, from all kinds of backgrounds; a definite asset for anyone looking to write for a living.”

Connect with Suzie:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cover Reveal for White Lies and Butterflies

I'm happy to join Safkhet Publishing and author Suzie Tullett in the cover reveal for Suzie's laugh out loud contemporary romance, Little White Lies and Butterflies, to be released August 1. Drum roll please...

About the book:

A child of the nineties, Lydia Livingston is different. The last thing she’s ever wanted is to be superwoman; she knows first-hand that ‘having it all’ isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. As far as she’s concerned, when it comes to job versus family, it’s a definite case of one or the other. And whilst most women her age have spent years climbing the corporate ladder, she’s made a career out of bagging her perfect man. At almost thirty and still single, Lydia wonders if she’d made the right choice all those years ago. And realising the time has come to take stock, she goes against her family’s wishes and banishes herself off to a distant land—all in the hope of finding a new direction.
At least that’s the plan.

But Lydia Livingston isn’t just different, she’s misunderstood. A fact she knows all too well. So when the totally unsuitable Sam comes along, she decides to tell a little white lie, re-inventing herself as a professional chef – not exactly the best new identity to come up with for a woman who can’t even cook. Of course, the last thing she expects is for him to find out the truth and start blackmailing her. Let alone find herself roped into catering for a local wedding. But with things going from bad to worse, her madder than mad family also turn up in something of a surprise visit, intent on celebrating a birthday she’s no intentions of celebrating!

What reviewers are saying:

"A fun holiday read."
"Strong, down to earth, identifiable characters."
"Unique aspects – unlike most books in this genre, the 
characters here don’t live in cities like London or work 
in advertising ."
"Controversy – some might say Lydia is going against 
the modern day feminist grain, but one could also argue she’s asserting her feminist right to choose."

About the author:

Born and raised in Lancashire, Suzie Tullett has worn many hats in life: from office work to teaching, from managing an advice center to being an outreach worker for Women’s Aid. She’s achieved a Bachelor’s and a Master’s and works with the BBC as a scriptwriter—all while raising her family. Ultimately, she wants to leave scriptwriting behind and write full-time. She says “it’s fair to say my working life has given me the chance to get to know all kinds of people, from all kinds of backgrounds; a definite asset for anyone looking to write for a living.”

Check back on June 29 for an interview with Suzie.

Connect with Suzie:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter |Goodreads | Amazon

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Featured Author: Erin Cawood

Erin Cawood is here today with Chick Lit Blog Tours to give us a peek at her contemporary women's fiction novel, Tainted Love. And don't miss the Giveaway at the end of the post.

About the book:

Is it possible for a heart to survive twenty five years of abuse on the most intimate level?

For anyone in a relationship, the words 'we need to talk' can only mean one thing. In the last twenty-two years, the McKenzies have been through it, survived it, learned by it, and grown stronger from it, because life didn't stop for breath when they needed it. Amongst the tears and the tragedies, the hopes and happiness, they've built something amazing: a happy family, a luxury lifestyle and a booming empire. Don't they deserve to have it all?

But for the perfect wife, those four sinister words mean something entirely different. They're a summons into a private world where what happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors.

Faith has no doubt in Calvin's undying love for her. It's what kept her sane in the darkest hours. If only she could figure out what it is she does wrong...because it's rapidly becoming apparent their tainted love is running out of time.

Tainted Love is an intimate look at a side of marriage many people never see.

Excerpt from Tainted Love

I still remember that day like it was just this morning. The aroma of fresh bread and sandwich meat in the air. I still hear the sounds of senior boys laughing with junior high school girls as they learned flirting and practiced flicking their hair. You were all so patient with Georgia and her friends, even though you were six years older.

I remember telling you to stay out in the front, stay off the drive and to stay out of the workmen’s way. It was the year we had a super hot summer and Cal decided we needed a pool. It was the same year we bought Caleb his new bike. It was black with racing car red flames at the wheels and he loved it. He had just turned nine and really started to spread his little wings. It was getting to the point where I’d only see you guys when you were hungry.

Caleb had taken off on his bike to James’ house early that morning. You and Georgia were out front with your friends, and I was in the kitchen feeding what seemed like thousands of kids when it happened — the screech of tires, then a crash and a bang.

Then all I heard was screaming. My heart stopped. I flew out the door. Everyone was running in one direction. But not me. I froze at the porch. My eyes scanned the street. Where were you? I was looking for the most important three kids. No, two, because Caleb wasn’t there.

So far, I could only see Georgia. I saw the tears were pouring from her eyes. My heart dropped into my stomach. The fear, it lodged in my throat like a ball. “Darryl!”

I shot to the edge of the garden. The street was a war zone of twisted metal and tilting poles. Streets lights were held up by cables and solider like old oak trees.

“Someone call 911!” I yelled and pushed my way through the crowd. I dreaded what I’d find there. Some combination of you mangled with a car.

“Darryl!” I yelled again as I burst through the front line. I felt sweet relief. You were crouched by the rear of that blue sedan. You were perfectly fine. My heart started beating again. That’s when I saw the red flames. They were underneath the car’s back wheel.

“Oh, God.” There was no blood thumping through my eardrums. There was nothing else in the world at all. Just those red flames and that car tire. I think that’s when I sunk to the ground. “Oh, God, no.” It wasn’t happening. My baby. Caleb. My little man. “No.”

“It’s really uncomfortable D, but I’m really okay.”

His voice was sweet music to my ears. I just sat back on my heels for a second and took a deep breath. He was awake, he was talking, and he said he was okay.

“I know, buddy,” you said. “But it’s just until the EMT gets here. They need to say you’re okay, and then you can get up.”

The bike’s front wheel was under one wheel but the rest of the bike lay untouched underneath the vehicle and Caleb’s legs were still straddled around the frame. I sent prayers of thanks to the man above, because considering the street and how lucky Caleb had been, someone had performed one hell of a miracle.

“Hey, little man.” My voice was shaking as I crawled towards you. “Darryl, can you update Georgia and call Cal?” You nodded and went to move. “Then come back.” You met my eyes. I think you knew Caleb wanted you there. “Little man, I need to check your heart rate, okay?” Caleb nodded. I reached for his wrist and found his pulse, then looked at the seconds on my watch. I trembled inside and my own heart rate hadn’t stopped racing and I had to recount twice. “I think it’s okay.” I couldn’t be sure. My head was second guessing what I recalled from a lifetime ago. “Do you hurt anywhere?”

“I think I grazed my knee.”

“Oh.” That couldn’t be all. He was virtually trapped under a car! “Can you live with that?” I asked as you returned to my side. “Or do we need to chop it off?”

He giggled and shook his head. The laughter came to an abrupt stop. He looked at his tee. “Is that blood?”

I stared at the dark mark on his white t-shirt. It didn’t look like blood to me.
“No, buddy,” you said. “It’s oil.”

“What’s it doing on my shirt?”

I’m so glad you were there. My eyes were too focused on finding where it had come from to reply. But your attention was only on keeping Caleb calm. You simply said, “Didn’t your Mom and Dad tell you? You’re a robot.”


About the author:

Erin Cawood is a commercial women’s fiction author, with a taste for dramatic storylines and a passion for strong lead characters she really gets behind, cheering on right to the very end of their story. Her focus? Taking romance into the darker, edgier side of contemporary fiction.

Erin lives in Leeds, UK, with her partner of thirteen years and their fourteen-year-old cat. She spends her days somewhere between the fiction world and the student world. Fascinated by web design and digital communication, Erin is studying a BA (hons) in New Media at the University of Leeds. Before returning to full time education two years ago, Erin worked at a theme park, a convenience store, a public house/restaurant both in the kitchen and waitressing, as an insurance agent and currently works part time in a customer contact centre.

Connect with Erin!
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Featured Author: Graham Austin-King

Just a few days ago I featured a children's book for the first time on this blog, and I'm happy to have another one today. 
Written by Graham Austin-King and illustrated by Sarah Heseltine, Liam and The Grump
 is the highly rated book about a little boy with a temper.

About the book:

When Liam's father tells him to control his temper Liam goes one step further and pulls it right out of him. Unfortunately Liam's temper doesn't want to be controlled and would rather have fun. Follow Liam and the Grump through the mayhem as he tries to get it back under control. A fun story for all ages showing how we all can struggle to control our temper.

Interview with Graham Austin-King:

Tell us about Liam and the Grump. 

Liam and The Grump is a fun book for kids aged roughly 4-8 that deals with the topic of learning to control your temper. More than that though, it teaches that everyone has to control their feelings - not just kids. 

Where did you get the idea for this book?

My son was beginning to develop a rather nasty temper, and one day I told him to throw his temper in the bin...

Do you have an inner grump?

Doesn't everyone? Mine can be quelled with enough coffee... well most of the time.

How did you come up with the title Liam and The Grump?

Liam is my six-year-old son.

Will this be a series?

It wasn't going to be originally, but it seems to be heading that way. I've had a few requests for more Grump stories.

I'm guessing your inspiration is your son?

In this case it was my son, but really it's the voices in my head.

Sarah Heseltine did the illustrations for the book. How did you find her?

I actually placed an ad on the Internet. Sarah was one of the many who responded, but her sample art was wonderful.

How do you market your books?

It's a bit of a challenge as I am not in bookshops yet, and so it's not as if I can go and do signings. I am spending a lot of time on social media, but I have also sent out a few press releases, and I am doing a series of readings at a local school.

This is your first published book. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I've been writing since I was about 16. I have a whole host of truly terrible scratchings locked away.

From Liam And the Grump:

“Oof!” said Liam as three jumpers and a cuddly giraffe landed on his tummy. Liam threw his pillow back and let out a giggle.

Five minutes later after they had emptied the wardrobe and run out of toys to throw in the air, the Grump pounced on Liam and started tickling. Liam giggled and screamed.

Who are your favorite authors? 

Patrick Rothfuss, Peter V Brett, Robert Munsch, Carl Sagan, John Grisham, I am pretty eclectic.

That's a good bunch! 
Where’s home for you?

I live in a sleepy part of Kent in the southeast of England. It's a very green place but only about 45 minutes from London. We've only been here about 2 years, and I am still getting used to it. I'm an urbanite at heart.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

A Kindle doesn't count right? Hmm...I think The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Neil Gaiman said, “Picking five favorite books is like picking five body parts you'd most like not to lose.” So...what are your five favorite books and your five body parts 
you’d most like not to lose?  

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Contact Carl Sagan
The Beach by Alex Garland

Skallagrigg by Willam Horwood

Pawn of Prophecy David Eddings

My head - it's hard to see what I am writing without one

My right hand - hard to type

My left hand - the right hand would be lonely

My left foot - it's my favourite
My right foot - it's my backup

Your last meal would be...


Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

A bookshop.

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

My house

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?

Spend the day with my wife.

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

Aslan and then I'd go to the zoo and freak people out.

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

Chasing my kids, reading, cooking, martial arts. 

Do you plan to write in any other genres?

I think so. I have a number of kids stories I want to get finished, but then I would like to try turning my hand to something more substantial.

What are you working on now? 

Naomi and the Lost Smile
, and Captain Pegleg and the Greatest Treasure in the World.

I'd love to hear more about them! Please come back when they're published.

From Liam and The Grump:

"I...I...I don't know," said Liam. "I didn't do it!"

"Well I don't see anyone else sleeping in here so you can clean it up!" said Liam's daddy looking rather cross.

"When you've finished, you can come downstairs for breakfast." He walked out the door and stomped down the stairs.

Grump slithered on top of the bed and got a little bigger with that funny burbling noise and giggled gain. Liam grumbled at it and started to tidy up as the Grump sat watching with a big grin.

About the author:

Graham lives in Kent with his wife Gillian and their three children. He is a voracious reader and has been writing from an early age (just not publishing). Liam and the Grump is his first published work (now available in both paperback and Ebook format).

Website | 
Goodreads | Amazon

Monday, June 17, 2013

Featured Author: Amy Beth Arkawy

I'm happy to feature another great cozy mystery today. Dead Silent: An Eliza Gordon Mystery is by Amy Beth Arkawy, published by Cozy Cat Press.

About the book:

It’s summertime, and in Goodship, New York, the living is anything but easy. Controversial radio shock jock Paul Hackett is found strangled to death with his headphone cord around his neck in the studio of local radio station WSHP. There’s little evidence beyond the initials V.O.S. scrawled across the studio window in red lipstick and a list of suspects that could easily fill the Goodship phone book. And that’s not all. Eliza Gordon, former soap star turned local soup aficionado and amateur sleuth and her pal and unwitting snooping partner radio DJ Midge Sumner must contend with in Dead Silent, the second in author Amy Beth Arkawy’s Eliza Gordon Mystery series. The locals are also on edge thanks to the rumors rolling across The Goodship Grapevine, a new toxic gossip site, and bemused by flyers heeding folks to follow an enigmatic cult known as “The Quiet.” Eliza’s instincts have her searching for clues and connecting the mysteries together, but they also put a strain on her burgeoning romance with Tom Santini, Goodship’s dishy police chief (who also happens to be her late husband’s best friend). The sudden reappearance of her elusive playboy brother-in-law, Jonas Gordon, sparks unexpected feelings in Eliza and may hold the key to connecting the mysteries and solving Hackett’s murder. Join Eliza Gordon and sidekick Midge Sumner as they embark on this intriguing and dangerous sleuthing escapade. Will they solve the mystery or wind up Dead Silent?

Interview with Amy Beth Arkawy:

Amy Beth, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been telling stories since I could talk. And actually wrote my first 2 (very  short) books at around 8 from a kit my mom bestowed upon me.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

For years my day (and sometimes night job) was in radio, as a DJ and talk show host. Now, in addition to writing I work as a creativity coach and writing instructor, helping others conquer artistic blocks and find their voices. I also recently got back behind the microphone hosting a popular Internet radio show featuring compelling conversations with authors and other storytellers. 

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

Radio can be murder! Will Eliza & Midge solve mystery or wind up #DeadSilent

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

I have a basic idea of the plot lines, but the characters often take me on unexpected detours.

Did you have any say in your cover art?

Yes. The publisher sent me an array of designs and the designer was open to my suggestions. It took a while, but together we came up with an eye-catching cover.

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

Drunk with Love (and almost anything) by Ellen Gilchrist is a great collection of stories that I often revisit.

What do you do to market your book?

I’m immersed in social media: Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, etc. All very helpful tools, but very time consuming. I’m also grateful to bloggers and readers who help spread the word and fellow radio hosts who have interviewed me. Oh, and I have a nifty trailer.

How do you get to know your characters?

While I don’t know where they come from, I get to know my characters as I do real people. They reveal themselves over time and as their stories unfold.

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

I have most of the characters in mind. But, as in real life, unexpected people some time appear on the scene.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Oh, I can’t answer that. I enjoy them all. And if I dared choose, I’’m sure a few would make my life miserable.

What would your main character say about you?

Eliza on Amy Beth: I wish she’d stop complicating my love life!

What song would you pick to go with your book?

“I Heard it Through the Grapevine”

Who are your favorite authors?

Ellen Gilchrist, Michael Cunningham, Virginia Woolf, myriad mystery authors...too many to name (and you never want to get a mystery writer mad at you!)

What are your favorite books from childhood to adult?

I think I went from Amelia Bedilia and Harriet the Spy to Agatha Christie and Virginia Woolf.

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

I just started reading Sharp Objects. It’s the first book by Gillian Flynn, the author of the bestselling thriller Gone Girl. I’m reading it in paperback. I do have a Kindle, but I’m still partial to the feel (and smell) of a ‘real’ book.

Do you have a routine for writing?

I write all my first drafts in long hand, often in Starbucks. There’s something about that pen-to-paper soul connection that I find essential to my process. This practice, which a lot of people find arcane, also prompts me to get on the computer quickly for the second draft since I need a Rosetta Stone to read my own handwriting.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I used to write in the late afternoon/early evening, but lately I’ve started writing early mornings. This lets the Muse (and all my characters) grab my attention early before I have time to get distracted with everything else in my life.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

A blank notebook. I’m assuming I’ll have a stash of pens.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

Bookstore. Libraries are too quiet.

Where would your dream office be?

In a cottage overlooking the beach on Cape Cod or the coast of Maine. Cape Cod’s a better bet, I guess, since I don’t want Stephen King sneaking up on me in the middle of the night.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

You know I don’t think I ever had writer’s block. But I do often suffer from ‘idea overload.’ That’s when I have so many ideas or stories clamoring around my head. Then I have to wait and see which story emerges, which character demands to be heard. That’s the one I know will be next.

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

It won’t shock my readers to learn there’s almost always music playing when I write as my books come with a soundtrack built in. As a playwright I am accustomed to reading my work aloud to listen for natural dialogue, and I often use that practice with fiction, too. It helps to hear the rhythm or musicality of the work.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“We all shine on. Like the moon and the stars and the sun.” John Lennon

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

Ah, tricky question. Because when I’m not actually writing I often talk about writing with other writers in coaching sessions, workshops or on the radio, but I’m also an avid movie fan. And in the summer I am (probably too) pre-occupied with the fate of my beloved, beleaguered New York Mets.

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? (Don’t worry about the money. A publisher is paying.)

I don’t write science fiction. But I’d love to go to Ireland.

What are you working on now?

I am in the very early stages of a psychological thriller and Eliza & Midge are starting to rumble around my head again, so the third in the series will be in the offing soon.

About the author:

Amy Beth Arkawy is the author of the Eliza Gordon Mystery series: Killing Time (Hen House Press)and Dead Silent (Cozy Cat Press) as well as several plays including: Psychic Chicken Soup;( MacLaren Comedy Award nominee) Full Moon, Saturday Night; Listening to Insomnia: Rage Amongst Yourselves; and The Postman Always Writes Twice. Her work has been produced in New York City and across the country and featured in several anthologies. She is also a creativity coach/writing teacher, radio talk show host and freelance journalist. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, and former MFA Fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Amy Beth also has a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University. She is at work on a psychological thriller and the third Eliza Gordon mystery.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter |

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Cozy Cat Press

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Featured Author: Niamh Clune

And now for something completely different...I haven't featured a children's book before, but today I'm happy to be talking to Niamh Clune about her children's book series PA Dug & Rosie In The Garden: Rosie Wears Her Wellingtons, Wollee The Worm, and Biddle The Bee, published by Plum Tree Books.

About the book:

Everything in the garden serves a purpose including Wollee The Worm who brings food to our table!

Interview with Niamh Clune:

Niamh, you're CEO & Founder at Plum Tree Books and Art. Tell us about Plum Tree Books.

Plum Tree Books is committed to finding rare and exciting new talents in the fields of art, literature, and poetry and combining these mediums in new, exciting ways. We are focusing on children's books with a message, poetry, and a few exceptional, quirky novels. We also offer services to help others bring their e-books to fruition.

Think of us as an on-line group of modern-day Bohemians ~ artists inspiring, nurturing, supporting and promoting each other and raising the barre. Our poetry is often subversive, and I will be publishing some very exciting new poets soon. Such creative gatherings have always existed as breeding grounds for excellence and inspiration. In fact, movements are born from them. Ours is a virtual gathering. What's essential is a genuine sincerity, and a real appreciation of each other's genius.

Where did you get the idea for the Pa Dug & Rosie In The Garden series?

These little books were inspired by my granddaughter, Siolfor Rose (old English spelling for Silver). She is inquisitive, funny, spirited, very intelligent and very mischievous. Siolfor-Rose was two when I began this project. She is three now and has grown with the books, as they have evolved to keep pace with her!

Tell us about the books.

At the time, I was working with artist and author Marta Pelrine Bacon doing various projects for Plum Tree Books. I asked her if she would do the drawings in her inimitable black and white style. I wanted only one element on the page to have a colour. I felt this would help stimulate a child's memory. Children remember a red bow or a yellow watering can or pink or red wellies (Wellington Boots). In fact, these details seem very important to a small child ~ the beginnings of how s/he constructs a psychological sense of personhood: "I like this, I don't like this or that. I choose this, I don't choose that!"

I am a Doctor of Psychotherapy specialising in The Imaginal Mind, but I have always been a writer. I began writing poetry when I was 12 to escape the horror of my own childhood. I have been writing since ~ everything from novels, Orange Petals in a Storm, to The Coming Of The Feminine Christ, which is about awakening the heart! It isn't religious, but a spiritual psychology.

As I entered nana land, I was amazed at how delighted I was to be led and guided by my beautiful granddaughter. I ventured back into the world of faeries, magic and the pure delight of minute-by-minute discovery. These days, I write about the magic of very ordinary things ~ wellies, worms, bees, sunshine, rain, emotions!

I have a special relationship with Siolfor- Rose. She is very much like me: strong-willed and determined. My Rosie character is based on her.

I wrote the books all in rhyme as it is so much fun. I find that teaching and learning something is always more effective if it is a light and happy experience. These little books deliver a message about the importance of nature and how amazing it is. Rhyme helps children develop a freedom with language. It stimulates an enjoyment of words. Children love onomatopoeia.

I decided on two series in particular. The first is the Rosie series - how everything in the garden serves a purpose. I think it important for children to be aware of nature. My Siolfor-Rose loves going into the garden with her Papa Doug. Doug is Canadian and loves everything to do with nature. His background is in agriculture, so he knows soil science. I decided this would be a great combination: rhyme, story-telling about the magic of the ordinary, coupled with beautiful art and basic garden science. What a learning experience for a small child!

In the first of the Rosie series, we are introduced to Rosie and Papa Dug, and we realise that even when it is raining, everything is a celebration. Wearing wellies solves all problems to do with splashing in the mud and having fun whilst being able to help Pa Dug work in the garden. Wellingtons serve a very good purpose!

In the second story, we meet Wollee The Worm and learn how the worm brings food to the table. Rosie doesn't believe Papa Dug at first:

But standing firm, she shook her head, 
“Worm’s cannot do what you’ve just said. 
Mummy brings the food to table. 
Mummy, not the worm, is able.”

Rosie soon discovers that the worm serves a very good purpose too, as it does help Mummy bring food to the table!

The next in the series is Biddle The Bee, coming soon!

In another series, I am tackling the subject of helping children with their emotions. I have two more books on their way and will let you know when they are ready too!

The books can be bought directly from our website. They are not yet available from Amazon.

Where’s home for you?

I am Irish, originally from Co. Clare in Ireland, but I live just outside London.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

I live beside Hampton Court Palace. It was built by Cardinal Wolsey in 1514. But when he fell foul of dear old Henry V111, Henry gave the palace to Ann Boleyn. We all know what happened to both Wolsey and to Ann. Her ghost is said to roam the ancient corridors of Hampton Court. Many tourists have claimed to have seen her, and of course, the Palace makes much of this as a tourist attraction. When I take my granddaughter for a walk, we pass the palace almost daily. She always asks about whether the princess still lives there or not. The architecture alone is enough to stimulate the imagination, let alone its bloody history saturated in political intrigue. These days, it is a very friendly place with beautiful extensive grounds bordering on a huge deer park and situated on the banks of the River Thames ~ such a great location for the royal party to hunt and travel to by barge.

It sounds lovely, as does your series. Please come back and tell us more!

About the author:

Niamh is the author of the Skyla McFee series: Orange Petals in a Storm and Exaltation of a Rose, which is soon to be released. She also penned The Coming of the Feminine Christ ~ an in depth spiritual/ psychological journey into ancient mythology, prophecy and personal experience. Dr. Niamh Clune worked in Africa for Oxfam and UNICEF in her career as a psychotherapist. She is the founder of Plum Tree Books, an award-winning social entrepreneur, an environmental campaigner, and a singer/songwriter.

Website | Blog | Facebook--for poetry and comment | for news about products on facebook  |
for Niamh Clune on Facebook | Twitter Niamh, Plum Tree Books

Buy links:
Plum Tree Books | Amazon link for Niamh Clune: Orange Petals In A Storm

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Featured Author: Sarah Mallery

One reviewer called Sarah Mallery's historical romance novel, Unexpected Gifts, "A history lesson with a surprise ending." I'm happy to welcome her here today to tell us about her debut novel, published by Mockingbird Lane Press.

About the book:

Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives behaviors help mold our own? In Unexpected Gifts, that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, weaving yesteryear with modern life until finally, she gains enough clarity to make the right choices.

Praise for Unexpected Gifts:

“…a rich and involving book, the author has written a gem.” (Dorothy Salisbury Davis, author);  “…an impressive, wonderfully thought out and well-told first novel.” (Carla Davidson, former Sr. Editor, American Heritage);  “…In S. R. Mallery’s fine first novel, a dozen vibrant, real characters leap out…as the author adroitly rewinds and replays the greatest hits of American history…” (Dan Vining, author)

Interview with Sarah Mallery:

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

I didn’t become a writer early like a lot of authors. At the time ‘It Happened’(about ten years ago), I was already a matured wife and mother. I remember hoping two very significant people in my life would become professional writers––basically, so I could stand back and live vicariously through them. But neither one of them complied, so before I knew it, I had sat myself down one day and taken a stab at it. It was like a drug and I have never stopped since.

What do you like best about writing?

I love having the ability to get lost in a separate world and to say to myself that it’s okay to read a book for research or enjoyment in the middle of the day because this is a part of my profession. I also enjoy the editing process a lot. It’s my way of getting a second, third, fourth, or even firth chance to make it better.

What’s your least favorite thing?

My least favorite thing is waiting for that special click in my head, when I know it’s an Ah-Ha moment, and when that doesn’t come readily, being tempted to eat out of frustration or futz with something that doesn’t need futzing. Also, getting too swept up in the social media game and ignoring my writing and my historical research.

Oh my, is that easy to do, or what?! Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes. I am an adult English As a Second Language Teacher and an essay-writing teacher. And I have to say, they are the most wonderful students in the world!

How did you create the plot for this book?

Many moons ago, while I was lying in bed with my daughter who was three at the time, I was reading a short story my mother had written years before that. As I looked down at my sleeping child, I suddenly thought, ‘There are three generations in this bed tonight.’  That thought stuck with me somehow and years later, when I decided to write a book, I thought about that special night and how powerful it had been for me. I also realized it could be a great vehicle for getting different U.S. time periods in.

Your book sounds fascinating. Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

Probably from being a quilter for so many years, when I started preparing for my novel, I put any ideas, character developments, traits, etc onto little slips of paper then tossed them in a large folder. I also read a LOT of historical books, underlining, and notating in them like crazy, then jotting down specific pages numbers on little paper pieces as well before placing them in The Folder. Once I had a lot of slips piling up, I took them all out, and started sorting them––some for basic historic events, some for characters, some for objects that the characters left behind. I started little envelopes with each character’s name, and for historical events. The more I did this method, the more the basic plot was developing in my head.

From there I made a very, very broad outline. Then, as I divvied everything up into chapters, I would outline each chapter, based on those little slips of papers, with scene ideas, where to get authentic details, etc. 

Did you have any say in your covert art? 

The cover art person is Jamie Johnson. She is a vital part of Mockingbird Lane Press and is a joy to work with. She read the book to get the flavor of its various components, and after listening to me suggest that maybe it should involve an attic and a trunk, came up with the basic artwork. We went back and forth for quite a while ironing everything out, with her trying to please me at every step of the way. I consider myself very fortunate because I had read how some publishers really don’t give the author much choice in the matter.

What is your favorite line from a book?

The opening line from Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I really enjoyed writing the chapter involving my heroine’s great grandmother, Daria from Ireland. I enjoyed reading all about Ireland (those DK Eye Witness travel books are fantastic!), and learning the Irish grammar. In fact, as I invented her and her experiences, I was constantly saying the words out loud with an Irish lilt, and I believe because of that, the character really stayed in me.

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

I have a couple of ways: 1) I mostly use Google to look up names from whatever time period I’m working on. I get a lot of good sites on that. 2) I picked up a little book at CVS called, Baby Names by Bruce Lansky. It has 15,000 names with their origins. 

How do you handle criticism of your work?

The truth? Inwardly, not well. Outwardly, much better. I ruminate about it for a while, then as I gradually calm down, I start to sort out what is probably true and what is their opinion only. It is a process. 

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

I notice I tend to be more alert in the early morning, but sometimes I do write at night.  Basically, whenever I can fit it in.

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

Definitely music! When I worked on Unexpected Gifts, I compiled CD’s of the various time periods. That helped me so much. As I listened, I would jot down ideas about scenes, character motivations, traits, plots.

And funny you should mention the shower. That seems to be a place where as I lather up, I suddenly think of something that happens to one of my characters, or the fact that a character wouldn’t say this or that. I guess I’m in good company––I remember reading that Agatha Christie claimed she got her best ideas while doing the dishes...

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

I like to teach ESL, but I also love watching films on Netflix and TV––classics, new films, Indie films, BBC series, American series, you name it! I get a lot of ideas for my books by watching the plots and character development.

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you
go? (Don’t worry about the money.  Your publisher is paying).

I would love to spend a long summer in the British Isles with my husband, going from one cottage to another in England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Sounds wonderful. Can I go too? What are you working on now?

I am slowly doing historical research for a Civil War mystery.

I'm looking forward to hearing more about it!

Book Trailer

Excerpt from Unexpected Gifts:

Chapter 1: Discoveries

    “….[at her parents’ house] Sonia stood over her father. Once her hero, she looked down at him now, thinking how old and fragile he seemed.  Just a mass of angry words….She glanced past him to his hospital bedside table and saw what he must have been reading earlier, before the outrage and drink overtook him.  The Agent Orange Aftermath was about two and a half inches thick, bloated from dog-eared and alcohol-stained pages….”

    “….Sonia stirred her tea. “Here’s the thing. I think I’m––I’m lost.”

    “…She watched her mom scrunch up her face….“Maybe you should…explore other things… There are quite a lot of old family diaries and objects up in the attic...Who knows?  They might even give you some answers…..”

    “…there was an old steamer trunk at the far end of the room, rusty, threadbare, and artistically draped with a cobweb or two over its corner edges.….”

    “…when Sam’s [Sonia’s father] box was exposed, Sonia gasped.  A cornucopia of the Vietnam experience flooded her senses and…left a slight dread.  Did she really want to unleash all their secrets?”

From the author: 

I have worn various hats in my life. Starting out as a classical/pop singer/composer, I worked in small clubs/churches and composed for educational filmstrips. From there, I moved on to having my own calligraphy company, a twenty-year quilting and craft business, and teaching ESL/Reading. Finally, I tried my hand at fiction writing and it was like an all-consuming drug. I’ve been happily writing ever since.

I have had eleven short fiction pieces published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In The Dirt. Several of my stories have appeared in different anthologies through Scars Publications. Before that, I had articles published in Traditional Quiltworks by Chitra Publications, and Quilt World by House of White Birches when I was a professional quilt designer/quilt teacher.

Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Amazon 
| Kindle

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Featured Author: Andrea Baker

Tess is back today to talk to Leah Clinton from Andrea Baker's paranormal romance, Worlds Apart: Leah, published by Taylor Street Books.   

About the book:

Nightmares are just dreams, aren’t they? They cannot hurt you. They are just your mind playing tricks...

Or are they?

Leah knows that her mother died in a car accident when Leah was small and that her father, who used to be the gentlest dad in the world, has  become increasingly controlling and occasionally violent.

She also knows  that her recurring dreams are telling her something more about how and why her  mother died, and why her dad turned nasty, but they are becoming progressively more disturbing and confusing.

When Leah meets Ben, she is excited to  have a friend she can confide in and have fun with, but is he what he  seems?

The voice of Leah’s mother repeatedly tells her to rely on her instincts, but when Leah is run over in a freak accident and Ben’s family take over her welfare, are they protecting her or using her?

And why would anyone, good or evil, bother with an ordinary girl just about to go to university?

About the character:

Leah’s mother died when she was just fourteen, in a horrendous car accident. Since then her father has become more and more possessive over her, being paranoid about any boyfriends and, most recently, moving them both to Kenilworth so that she can stay at home rather than going away to University. Leah resents this a little, because she had always planned to go away to university with her best friend, Jen.

Leah doesn’t have much self-confidence; her father’s bizarre behavior and bad temper, plus a bad experience with a boyfriend have knocked that even further, so she is quite vulnerable and tends to keep to herself in order to avoid being made to look a fool.  Highly intelligent, she spends her time reading, listening to music, chatting to Jen over the Internet, and exploring the ruined castle in her new hometown.

There’s a lot more to Leah than we see in this first book, but she needs to experience what happens in order to make her the person she becomes. To a certain extent, because of having lost her mother at such a young age, she’s a little na├»ve when it comes to life, but that soon disappears as the series unfolds!

Tess talks to Leah Clinton:

Leah, how did you first meet Andrea?

I’ve known her for a few years now, although it took me a while to get her to recognize me and really listen. I think she thought she was going mad to start with, listening to my voice in her head all the time – but then again, she might be right...

Want to dish about her?

That wouldn’t be fair, because I still need her to finish my story...oh, go on then... (“DON’T YOU DARE!” shouts Andrea from the kitchen.) She’s pretty normal really, with a wicked sense of humor when you really know her. She’s quite shy though, and REALLY busy all the time!

Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

No, not really, and it’s odd to think that people can read all about me, and think they know me simply because of what they have read so far.

Your life is like an open book, right? LOL. Ahem. Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

My favorite scene – that has to be some of the ones with Ben, and it’s hard to pick just one...

Did you have a hard time convincing Andrea to write any particular scenes for you?

Yes, when she was writing about my nightmares. Not so much the writing of them, but asking me about them, and trying to get them right. I think she was worried she’d upset me. Now that I know what they really were though, they don’t affect me like they did back then.

What do you like to do when you're not entertaining a reader?

I go back and tell Andrea a little more. This last few months, since the book came out, it’s been harder to find the time to tell her the rest – matching my time with hers has been a bit of a problem, but we’re almost through the second book now, thankfully. 

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

I’d like to go into more depth at the end, but then that all appears in book two, so would it have spoiled it? That’s a really hard question to be honest – I think my readers need to know the rest of the story, but it was too long for a single book, so knowing where to end one, and start the other was hard.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?

I don’t think anyone needs me to describe how I feel about Ben, so let’s leave that one to the side, shall we?
Well, if you insist...
Mr. and Mrs. Edwards, Ben’s parents. I know they looked after me after the crash, and Eloise helped me find the truth, but I really struggle with the way they treated Ben and I, and acted as though we were doing something wrong. I still don’t think I’ve seen the true them, only what they want me to see, and I can’t stand people that hide behind things.

Me either. The stories I could tell you about...oh. Sorry. This is your interview. Please continue!
As for the others, well I could get Andrea to write another book on that front, so I’ll leave it there for now.

Do have any secret aspirations that Andrea doesn’t know about?

Oh yes, there are a few things that Andrea doesn’t yet know, and I think they might just surprise everyone. If I let them slip though, the story won’t come out right, so I’m keeping her in suspense!

And us too! Hmmm...I'm thinking you're very mysterious. What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?

People think I’m a bit strange I suppose – I’m quite quiet, and after a bad experience in Clifford, where I grew up, I tend to avoid large crowds so that I can’t make a fool of myself. So it’s hard to get to know people really.

How about after they've known you for a while?

Once they know me, and I trust them, they usually quite like me  -  I’ve got a wicked sense of humor, although it’s hard for people to see that in this story, and I like all the things that most girls my age like. I’m quite intelligent though, and sometimes people don’t like that.

What's the worst thing that's happened in your life?

That’s got to be Mom dying, going out on a normal day, being cross with her because I couldn’t get what I wanted, just a normal day, at first...

Tell us about your best friend.

Jen’s fantastic – she’s everything I’m not. Lively, bubbly, and outgoing, you can always rely on her to know what it going on, and who is involved. She’s also beautiful – long chestnut brown hair that seems to shimmer in the sunlight, and the most beautiful blue-green eyes, her appearance masks how smart she is though.

How do you feel about your life right now?

My life is...interesting right now.

What, if anything, would you like to change?

I love interacting with my readers, and seeing what they make of my story, how they see things as they read what Andrea has written. There’s a lot of other stuff going on though, that if I told you, would both ruin the story for you in future, but also you probably wouldn’t believe!

What do you like best about Andrea's writing style do you like best?
I love how she understands me – how she’s written the book almost as though I were telling her direct, and she gets how I was feeling at that time.

If your story were a movie, who would play you?

That’s a really hard question, as they’re all so much prettier than me! It needs to be someone around my own age, so she’d need to be under 25, really. I’m only 19 at the start of the book, but that was a couple of years ago now. If it were an English actress, the first one that springs to mind that fits would be Emma Watson, but I’m probably too boring for her to be interested in playing me!

Describe the town where you live.

Kenilworth is quaintly British – it’s quite an old town in many ways, and there’s the Castle at one end (with all the magic that goes with it), and Abbey fields, with the swimming pool, tennis courts and remains of the old Abbey at the other. There’s a lot of history there, and not too much to do for anyone our age, but my university is only a couple of miles away, so you don’t have to go too far!

So you and Andrea are writing a sequel?

I think I’ve already given that one away! Yes, we’re working on a sequel as we speak, and I’m trying to convince her to write more – but I guess that depends on how my surprises work out...

Good luck, then, and let me know when the next book is out!

About the author:

I am pretty ordinary really - daughter, wife, and mother to a wonderful little girl. I am fortunate to live in the beautiful English county of Warwickshire, where my first book is based.

Worlds Apart is a series of romantic fantasy books, the first of which, entitled Leah, was released on October 11th 2012.

The first thirty thousand words were written within a matter of weeks. The idea for Leah had been running around my mind for several months, in pieces, but I couldn't find a way of bringing them together. Then one day I was driving home from work through the lovely little town of Kenilworth, in Warwickshire, England. It was stormy, and as I drove down Castle Road, lightning lit up the Castle. It was a tremendous sight, and suddenly all the pieces fell together.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

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