The Write Stuff – Monday, September 22 – Interview With Patricia Reding

I am using the last several weeks of the year to feature a select group of authors in what promises to be a truly exciting series. Several have earned one or more Readers Favorite book awards this year. Two will be of very special interest. I begin this series with Patricia Reding.

DSC07942_3Patricia Reding leads a double life. By day, she practices law. By night, she reads, reviews a wide variety of works, and writes fantasy. She lives on an island on the Mississippi with her husband and daughters (her son having already flown the nest), Coconut (a Westie) and Flynn Rider (an English Cream Golden Retriever), from whence she seeks to create a world in which she can be in two places at once. She took up Oathtaker as a challenge and discovered along the way, the joy of storytelling. Currently, Patricia is working on Select, the first sequel to Oathtaker.

Oathtaker’s description is as follows:

An Oath Sworn. A Struggle Engaged. A Sacrifice Required.

When Mara, a trained Oathtaker, is drawn by the scent of the Select to battle underworld beasts summoned by the powers of evil to destroy the guardians of life, she swears a life oath for the protection of her charge.

Armed with a unique weapon and her attendant magic, and with the assistance of her Oathtaker cohorts, two ancients and a spymaster, Mara seeks safety for her charge from one who would end Oosa’s rightful line of rule and from assassins who endeavor to bring ruin to the land.

As Mara puzzles to decipher ancient prophecy concerning her charge, as she is haunted with memories of her own past failings, she discovers the price her oath will exact.

To renounce her word would be treasonous; to fail, ruinous; to persevere, tortuous. Abiding by an oath requires sacrifice.

Patricia, I’ve had a chance to glimpse Oathtaker’s opening pages and found it hard to step back out into the “real” world. It’s a captivating read. Further, your readers rave about what a wonderful story it is, but I’m wondering if there is a story behind the story.

I will age myself here and probably open a wider window into my soul than I might intend, but the inspiration for Oathtaker was my longing to return to the world as I saw it as a child. Perhaps it is just that my parents sheltered me more than I thought, but I recall a world in which people said what they meant and meant what they said. People entered into agreements with a handshake. Children knew that if a parent said “no,” it didn’t mean “no” only until the child overcame the parent with begging. People in relationships worked hard to walk through the difficult times together. Their behavior, their choices, came with consequences. I longed for that world because today it seems so easy to go back on your word. This is true across the board—of parents, teachers, politicians, and more. I think that our young people in particular, suffer as a result. They crave continuity and truth and something they can count on to be and to remain true. In many ways I think society has failed our youth in this regard, and I wanted to help to make up for that failure.

With all that in mind, I sought to create a world in which one’s word mattered, and in particular, to examine what someone might do if she found something that, or someone who, pulled her from her path—if she found her love—a moment after swearing a life-oath that forbid her from attaching herself to him. Thus, Mara came to be. Her situation is made more difficult by the fact that in Oathtaker, the man she comes to love, Dixon, is released from his vow only moments before Mara swears her oath. From that premise, Oathtaker was born.

Why have you chosen your particular genre?

There are two main reasons I write fantasy. The first is that I think it is the hardest. You see, I read a fantasy series some years ago that I found utterly genius. I sought to know how the author accomplished what he did. After reading it, I then went through a period when, notwithstanding the many, many wonderful works out there, I struggled to find stories that engaged, entertained, uplifted and challenged me. I had to see for myself what the process included. I had to know more. Thus, I started this writing venture as a challenge to myself—and writing fantasy was the greatest challenge I could conceive of. It requires the creation of a new world and a magic system. Such features must make sense to the story and must be internally consistent. Those are not easy tasks. Along the way, I discovered the joy of storytelling. I also discovered that writing a story that is new and different is very difficult. Perhaps of most importance, I developed a strong understanding of and for other authors. I am much more forgiving of mistakes than I once was.

The second reason I chose fantasy was because I wanted to explore a concept that I felt might seem “preachy” if I approached and discussed it through a story set in our modern world. Specifically, I wanted to present a story in which the main character was faced with choosing between honoring her word and following the path her heart begged her to pursue.

Your Readers Favorite award sets you apart from the herd, but in your words, why is your writing different from other authors in this genre?

Actually, this question makes me laugh. You see, I’ve discovered that there are many who would consider themselves “fantasy aficionados.” These are people who, it seems to me, have preconceived notions of what a fantasy story should do, how it should be told, that all the names should be unpronounceable and include apostrophes, and so forth. For example, some think a fantasy author can only teach about his world and how it works by having the main protagonist begin the venture in some kind of training. In this way, the reader learns along with the character. Some think that the world has to include so many “made up” things (that bear some loose resemblance to things in our world) that the reader has to learn an entirely new vocabulary in order to follow the story or constantly refer to the back-of-the-book glossary. Sometimes I read about how a fantasy work is “set” into some time period in our world (such as medieval, for example). But it makes no sense to me to say that because some features of a fantasy world are “medieval,” that as a result some other features or things can or cannot exist or happen. For me, that is the whole idea behind a fantasy world—it is made up. It can be anything. Thus, I am willing to give the writer the freedom to include or not to include anything in that author’s world that he or she chooses. This includes language used, gadgets in existence, and so forth.

Of course, people can have whatever thoughts they like about the fantasy genre, but I think having preconceived ideas about how a fantasy should be told, is a bit short-sighted. If all authors followed that train of thought, new ways would never come about. For example, where did steampunk come from, but that someone decided to do something different? What about gaslamp fantasy? I found a great list of fantasy subgenres to which I refer from time to time. The titles are intriguing. Consider, for example, the following: hard, gritty, dark, urban, dying earth, new weird, and so on. See: http://bestfantasybooks.com/fantasy-genre.php. A reader with preconceived notions might be disappointed when they encounter these works. By contrast, I appreciate a writer doing what has not been done before. I’ve read of wizards and elves and fairies. I want something new.

With those ideas in mind, I decided I would create the world I wanted—regardless of what someone else thought it ought be. My world does not fit any particular era in our own world history. The names do not begin with “de” or include apostrophes—and they are pronounceable. In most cases, I chose names because of the meanings behind them or, where I wanted to avoid drawing any connection to a meaning, I made them up. Several readers have told me that they’ve never been able to get into fantasy before—but that they enjoyed my work. Perhaps this is because, as one reviewer of my work suggested, I wrote Oathtaker “from the outside looking in” (see http://joshuagrasso.booklikes.com). I believe he was on to something . . .

Why should someone buy your book?

Oathtaker is a story that is challenging and uplifting. It offers heroes, secrets, magic, and an adventure. It is appropriate for readers 13 and older.

Tell us about the awards you’ve won.

To date, I’ve only entered one contest and that was the Readers’ Favorite 2014 International Book Award Contest. The winners were announced September 1, 2014. I was delighted to be awarded with an Honorable Mention Award in the Young Adult Fantasy category. This is quite something for a “first work.” I note that while my story may not be a standard “young adult” tale, in that it includes significant characters of a wide range of ages (and does not include “insta-love” or a love-triangle), it certainly poses a challenge to young readers and it speaks to issues important to them. Best of all—young readers have enjoyed it.

The Readers’ Favorite contest also includes a connection with WindDancer Films (at http://www.winddancer.com), the production company behind such movies as “What Women Want” and such television series as “Home Improvement.” Of the thousands of entrants in the contest, Oathtaker was chosen as one of ten works about which WindDancer Films would like to learn more.

What is your day job?

Goodness, where does one begin? In addition to being a wife and mother of three (two of whom are still “at home”) I also practice law. My main practice area is Intellectual Property. Intellectual Property includes assets of value that cannot be touched—trademarks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and so forth. In particular, I handle trademark matters, including registrations and infringement, domain name infringement, and so forth. (Have you ever received a cease and desist letter from me?)

I think the practice of law makes for good training for writing fantasy—a genre that requires that the author keep numerous balls in the air at the same time. My experience with questioning people, collecting facts, looking for alternative ways to resolve matters, negotiating, drafting, and counseling, serves me well when it comes to writing.

Alright then, would you tell us about your dream job?

More than anything, I would like to teach. I would enjoy mashing some first year law students’ brains, as was done with my own, but even more, I think I would like to teach political science at the undergraduate level.

My undergraduate degree was in Political Science, with a minor in Philosophy. I concentrated on studies relating to what was then the Soviet Union, including history and philosophy courses pertaining to the USSR. Today, I am a 24-7 political news junkie. (The funniest stories my children tell me are of their bringing their teachers, unaware of details about which my children are well-versed, up to speed.) There are so many issues, aside from simple civics details, that would be great fun to explore with young minds. Some themes I know I would concentrate on would be how to be good consumers of information, how to “read between the lines,” how to identify when someone is not answering the question asked, how to spot an ideological bent, and so on.

If I spoke to your closest friend about you, what would she or he would tell me?

She would probably tell you that I have a knack for asking questions—questions that will unearth issues not previously considered and/or that will move you from problem to conclusion. She might also tell you that I truly do believe that “chocolate” is one of the four basic food groups, that I salt things way too much (because “salt” is another of the four basic food groups), and that I am bilingual—sarcasm is my second language.

Do you have a favorite quote?

There are so many. In particular, I love Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain quotes. But with a philosophy background, I find myself thinking of this, from John Stuart Mills: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” In many ways, these words seem to sum up life and the state of the world at any given time.

What are your favorite authors?

I adore Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I think it is the most beautiful thing ever written. It is more than a story—it is poetry. I am also a big Charles Dickens fan. It took me some time to catch his rhythm, but I now find him positively hilarious. Once, I sat and read aloud to my then middle-grade daughters, the opening chapters of Great Expectations. Honestly, we laughed until tears ran. I love his descriptions of everything from people, to dead and scattered bugs on the floor. As to more contemporary works and/or those in my own genre, I am a big fan of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of the Truth series.

It’s time for the Lightning Round. Brief answers please!

The one thing I cannot do without is:

music. I especially enjoy movie soundtracks, Celtic works, and Broadway shows (in particular, Wicked, The Pirate Queen, Phantom and Aida). My family and I have also performed for almost 20 years now, in a Christmas musical, Two From Galilee, so I love participating as well as listening.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Committed. Serious.

Hard copy or ebook?

Preferably hard copy. I love the feel of the book in my hands.

Vice? Virtue?

Vice: Louis Vuitton handbags. If I ever go broke, I will have to auction mine off. Virtue: Can I think about this for a while?

Hah! Favorite book:

Les Miserables

Favorite movie:

Oh . . . this is so hard. I love the Lord of the Rings movies, but probably not for the same reasons as many others. Truthfully, I find the story a bit difficult to follow. My favorite parts are the background music and the lighting—which in some scenes is true genius.

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Don’t limit yourself—and don’t allow anyone else to do so either.

So true.

I asked Patricia to provide an excerpt from Oathtaker. This is the gem she provided:

PastedGraphic-4Upon touching the woman, Dixon’s eyes turned quickly from the soft glance he had given her to a kind of madness. He jumped up and glared. “What have you done?” he hissed.

“What have I done?” Mara crouched down, pulled away the blanket that covered Rowena, then carefully took into her arms first Reigna, then Eden. She stood up, holding herself as tall as she could. She glared. “What have I done? Oh, nothing! Oh, well that is, except—ahhh . . . well . . . let me think here—.”

She hesitated, playacting. “Oh, yes, I remember now. I took down a full pack of grut, helped Rowena birth these beautiful children, accepted them as my charge, saw to it that she released her power with her dying breath, comforted her in her last moments—. Shall I go on?” She took a deep breath. “What have I done? Who are you to accuse me of anything? I have done my duty!”

“I am her Oathtaker. That’s who I am!”

“Were,” Mara snapped. “You were her Oathtaker. She’s dead. Or did I forget to mention that? So I might ask—what have you done? Where were you when she so clearly needed you? The truth is, if I hadn’t arrived when I did, I expect we would have lost them all!” Her eyes remained fixed on him.

After some seconds, he looked away. “Dead.”

She could not tell if he was stating the fact or asking if it was true. Considering the shock he must be feeling, she decided that arguing with him would not be in anyone’s best interests. She recalled that above all, she must get the girls to safety quickly.

“I’m sorry. I did all I could. Rowena had lost too much blood before I arrived. She . . . she was a fighter, I know.”

He did not take his eyes from his former charge. He dropped to his knees at her side. Taking her hand into his own, he lifted it to his cheek and closed his eyes. His breathing slowed. His jaw set. Mara sensed he fought back tears. Slowly, he leaned forward to stroke the woman’s cheek, then her hair. Finally, he bowed his head and audibly exhaled.

Mara watched his easy touch, saw his shoulders sag and his eyes pressed closed. She knew that look.

“You loved her.” She had not intended to speak the words out loud, but there they were—hanging in the air.

“Well,” he said, clearing his throat, obviously restraining himself, “of course I cared deeply for her. She was my charge. She’s been my charge for . . . for some time now. I’ve forgotten what life is without her.”

“No, that’s not all. You . . . you loved her. I can see it in your eyes, in your touch, in—”

“She was my charge!” He held Mara’s gaze, as though daring her to challenge him further.

She said nothing. Perhaps he was trying to convince himself, but she wondered.

“You do understand the significance of the oath you just swore?” he asked, scornfully.

Of course she did. An Oathtaker’s vow came with commitments. Mara hadn’t given it much thought earlier, but when she swore her oath, she had sealed the deal. Her word bound her to the twins for so long as they lived. She could no longer follow another path.

In the moment she took her vow, Ehyeh bestowed gifts upon her, attendant magic and continued youth. She would not physically age until the death of her charge. Only then could she begin her life anew, follow other dreams. The same had been true for Dixon while his charge had lived. But what did his denial mean? What was he trying to imply? That because he’d sworn to accept Rowena as his charge, he had not still been vulnerable to his own feelings, longings, desires? Had he been one who had fallen into the state of pain that came with loving someone while subject to his oath?

“Of course I do,” she confirmed.

 

If you’d like to read more, or learn more about the author, here are some links to help you:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Oathtaker-Book-1-Patricia-Reding-ebook/dp/B00K32MW6U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409924611&sr=8-1&keywords=oathtaker

CreateSpace:  https://www.createspace.com/4767727

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/oathtaker-patricia-reding/1114778887?ean=2940149813094

Links to website, blog and online social accounts:

Website and blog:  http://www.oathtaker.com

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6983212.Patricia_Reding

BookLikes:  http://patriciareding.booklikes.com

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Reding/e/B00BQUN18G/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1409925157&sr=8-1

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaRedingAuthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Oathtakers

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/oathtakers/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/102507278936219521448/102507278936219521448/posts

 

 

The Write Stuff – Monday, September 8 – Interview With Leisl Kaberry

This week’s guest is award-winning fantasy writer, Leisl Kaberry. I first met Leisl online. She’s a member of Facebook’s Fantasy Sci-fi Network, a group of amazing writers and readers you might wish to consider taking part in. I’ve found this multi-talented Aussie-turned-Canadian a real delight as I’ve gotten to know her. In turn, I thought you would also enjoy meeting her. Leisl writes fantasy adventures. Here’s what she has to say about herself:

Leisl 086‘I was never going to be a writer… seriously.’ Somehow despite Leisl’s lifelong love for making up and telling stories, she had no desire to become an author. However, after a creative urge spurred her on to write an idea for a scene, the world of Titania was born and she hasn’t looked back since. Born and raised in Australia she has lived in a variety places, including the Australian outback and Montreal, Canada. She currently resides in Kitimat, Northern British Columbia with her husband and four children; she is studying a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, is an amateur theatre actor and enjoys snowboarding during the winter.

Will you tell us about your award, Leisl?

Recently I won the RomCon Readers Crown 2014 for Fantasy. I was just thrilled to become a finalist, so to actually win… I was over the moon. Our local library in Kitimat has hung all the framed artwork from the book on the wall there. 11 pieces in total… I consider that a great honour, for me and my artist.

With the degree of competitiveness in today’s writing community, I can assure our visitors this is no small achievement. Since just getting published is also a major achievement, will you please share your experience?

I took the really long road on the first. When I started writing Journey of Destiny, I knew I needed to see it through and have it published, but writing for me (over ten years ago) was nothing more than a hobby and I would sit down to write whenever I had a creative urge. Fast forward to when we moved to Montreal Canada and I was stuck indoors while it was freezing cold outside, I barely knew anyone and I was struggling to learn the language. I found myself sitting down to write on a regular basis, when I could get some quiet time away from the kids. Within a year I was finished writing, I bought myself the book Self-Publishing for Dummies (no, really) and I set to work editing for the next three years. I did multiple edits myself between having others edit for me and in that time I rewrote and wrote a whole lot more. I found an artist through a mutual friend and we talked about her doing the cover for me and that turned into a whole lot of other artwork inside the book also… this dragged things on while I learnt how to format and prepare my book for publishing. Just over 11 years from conception to fruition. A worthwhile journey though… I learnt a stack in that time about writing, developed as a person, had some amazing experiences and lived in some very different places… all of which was fodder for my imagination.

That path suggests real discipline. I’m wondering if you ever get stuck. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I don’t know that I’ve ever really had writers block, for me when I find I can’t write it’s usually just a function of being uninspired which leads to can’t be bothered and the manuscript not being worked on. I tend to find a good brainstorming session will get me past any issues though.

When I’m stuck on a problem the best thing I can do is leave the computer and give it some serious thought. Lying on the couch, sitting in the hot tub or going for a walk by myself can help me relax and just let my mind play with imagination. All answers seem to come after a serious brainstorm and usually with added excitement and clarity. All I want to do then is sit down and write feeling freshly inspired.

What life experiences have enriched your writing?

I guess the biggest inspiration through life experiences has been travel and living in different locations. Traveling to different parts of the world has opened me up to new and exciting scenery that I was able to experience in ways that you can’t through a picture alone. The smells, the people and even the ambient temperature all add to the experience and give inspiration to my world. In the book I’m working on at the moment, a good part of the story takes place in a country that was inspired by a trip to Iceland. Iceland’s terrain is so different and unusual that it is frequently used for filming sci-fi and fantasy movies including Batman Begins, Oblivion, Prometheus and my favourite, Stardust. I loved it and the very experience being there gave me so much feed for my imagination.

Having lived in very different locations has also given me a wealth of inspiration for growing and enriching my world. Living at the top of Australia in the tropics certainly inspired the first book.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m a hard a work editing the second book of the Titanian Chronicles. It’s fully written and it will soon be passed on to others for further editing. My aim is to get it out by Christmas. While the first book sets our heroes out on a journey of discovery beyond the elvin borders where they have spent the entirety of their lives, the second book sees them five years on, at a time where the armies of the Warlord Moorlan are gathering and the mysterious Dark One is in search of furthering his power. I have seen this book in my mind since the beginning of my own journey writing the first book, there is a lot of exciting plot development in this one and it was so inspiring to write.

What is your typical day like?

A typical day for me starts at 6am with exercise… it’s the greatest thing to wake me up and get me going for the day. Then after I shower, the next hour is all about getting my kids ready for school and off to the bus stop. When I get back with the dog I finally sit down to breakfast and I work through my emails and social media. After that there’s housework and I study. In the early afternoon I sit down to work on my book and most days I can get few hours in before all the kids come bursting in the door from school. Once they are home its pens down for me and it becomes all about them. I help with homework and taxi the kids around to after school activities. I sometimes get a bit more writing done after the kids go to bed but then I also hang out and relax with my husband and maybe get some reading in. Then we go to bed around midnight and get up again at six the next day to start it all again. It doesn’t sound exciting but any day I get to work on my book is a good day for me and I find that exciting.

How do you overcome adversity?

I tend to be a pretty optimistic person anyway and try to see things in a positive light but it doesn’t always work straight away. I tend to find a good sleep does wonders… things always look better in the morning. ‘The sun will come out tomorrow…’ and all that, it really works!

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~ Dr Seuss. I love this quote… the Dr knew too well. See!? This totally reflects my positive point of view.

It does! And I like your take charge attitude. So then I have to ask, if you could change your circumstances and live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live?

Hawaii… haha, and I say that without ever having been there. I’m a beach girl, I just live for it. The roar of the waves, the salty smell in the air, the refreshing water and soft white sands is alluring to me. I would be happy just living in a shack on the beach and Hawaii has a wonderful and rich culture too that I imagine would also inspire me.

Now comes the Lightning Round. In a few words, answer the following:

The one thing I cannot do without is…

My family… I tend to think of my laptop as family too… it carries my characters and the story they tell.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Happy go lucky – Oops three words.

Hard copy or ebook?

Although I think ebooks are great and so, so convenient, I still love hard copies of books and where I love a book or series, I will have to have it on my shelf.

Vice? Virtue?

Virtue for me and vice for my characters

Favorite book:

Daniella (played by Drew Barrymore) in Everafter is asked to pick a book, any book and she says “I could no sooner choose a favourite star in the heavens.” I feel this way.

Favorite movie:

Stardust

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Not really, but I would like to say thanks Raymond for the interview, I appreciate you taking the time.

Thank you for joining us.

I asked Leisl to provide a synopsis and an excerpt fromTitanian Chronicles – Journey of Destiny. She provided the following:

Journey of Destiny - Leisl KaberrySynopsis

Afeclin walked nervously to the entry of the cottage. He held his breath as he passed over the threshold.

A little cradle was the only piece of furniture left in the building.
Afeclin touched the cradle delicately with one finger.
All of a sudden he fell backward onto the floor as an image of the fire burst into his mind…
He had seen a horrified face that screamed amongst red hot flames.

Found beyond the Elvin borders, Afeclin, a human child, is taken in and raised by an Elvin King. Now grown and longing to learn about the mystic arts, he embarks on a journey back into a land now unfamiliar. Accompanied by his elvin friend, Wolflang, they leave their homes to seek out their destiny. Unbeknown to Afeclin and Wolflang however, the warlord, Moorlan and his confederate, a dark mage, are preparing to bring war to the peaceful Land of Marrapassa, putting their lives and those they care about, in danger.

Excerpt

The ground had been a lot colder and harder to sleep on than it had first appeared. Wolflang had found himself sleeping on rock and although the rock was covered in fresh fallen leaves and moss it provided little comfort for the elf.

Adding to the problem, the day’s events had kept playing over and over again in his mind.

In the early hours of the morning, exhaustion overcame him and Wolflang, tired and achy, fell into a deep sleep.

It was during this sleep, while his body was relaxed and free from the tension built up in him from the previous day, he saw a familiar being.

A human man, wearing a leather cloak, stood before him and beckoned for Wolflang to follow. His face was shadowed by the cloak’s hood apart from his jaw and cheekbones covered in thick, greying stubble. Deep wrinkles around his mouth and down his neck showed that the man was aged and his weathered hands were old but strong.

‘You’re the hooded man I saw at the celebrations the other night.’

The man nodded and once again beckoned for Wolflang to come with him.

Wolflang, while curious, felt at ease with the old man despite his mysterious nature. He began to walk towards the hooded figure, stepping with lightness on the ground.

The older man led Wolflang to the edge of a cliff. There he beckoned the elf with an open hand to cast his eyes over.

Wolflang came and stood beside the hooded man, looking down into a deep valley beset by mountains.

He beheld a frightening scene before his eyes. For there in the valley a mighty battle raged. Heavy men clad in black armour, not unlike the pig-faced trolls they had seen the day before, surrounded a small multi-raced army.

Wolflang could hear the clang of swords clashing and shouts of anger and fear as men fought for their lives, giving everything they had. Blood flooded the terrain as one by one, the smaller army’s men fell to the ground dead.

The men in black, having been victorious, waved their swords in the air and cheered in celebration of their slaughter. It was a sickening sight.

‘What is this?’ Wolflang asked shaking his head.

The hooded man spoke at last, ‘It is a vision of an event that is to come.’

Wolflang felt sick to his stomach. He stared at the strange man with an incredulous frown. ‘Why do you show me this?’

‘In this moment of time lies a part of your destiny,’ the hooded man said as he faded away before Wolflang’s eyes.

‘What do you mean? I am to die down there?’ Wolflang shouted at the already faded figure.

Wolflang’s mind raced as he tried hard to comprehend what he had just witnessed. He buried his head in his hands in sorrow and slumped down to the ground.

If you’d like to buy Leisl’s book, or learn more about her, please click on the following links:

Book links:

http://www.amazon.com/Titanian-Chronicles-Journey-destiny-Volume-ebook/dp/B00F3UYKZS

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/422214

Social links:

Blog http://titanianchronicles.blogspot.ca

Twitter https://twitter.com/Lawfabex

Facebook www.facebook.com/titanianchronicles

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/leisl78/

The Write Stuff – Monday, August 25 – Interview With Author Deborah Blake

I first met this week’s author, Deborah Blake, in 2011, when we joined with several other authors to form the now defunct writers’ blog collective, Black Ink, White Paper. Although we were a varied group, Deborah stood out from the rest of us because she is, you see, a self-proclaimed witch. I mean that in the esoteric sense. In fact, I was a student of the white arts in my younger days, so I was as pleased when she joined as I was disappointed when her other obligations forced her to depart from our company. You can imagine, then, how pleased I am that she has agreed to grace my website with her presence.

IMG_3250 edit #2Deborah Blake has published seven books on modern witchcraft with Llewellyn Worldwide and has an ongoing column in Witches & Pagans Magazine. When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker, tarot reader, and energy healer. She lives in a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magical and mundane.

Her latest title, WICKEDLY DANGEROUS – book 1 in the Baba Yaga series, is a paranormal romance. Look for its release on September 2, just one week and one day after this interview launches.

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…

Wow! That’s quite an intriguing premise, Deborah, and it compels me to ask if there is a story behind the story.

I suppose there are two stories: the original Russian and Slavic fairy tale that the character is based on, and my story of how I came to write this particular book. The Baba Yaga is a classic Russian fairy tale which featured a witch (of the typical ugly old crone variety) who was sometimes depicted as evil and scary, but other times could be petitioned for aid by a worthy seeker. She lived in a wooden hut in the woods, and the hut ran about on huge chicken legs (so it was rarely in the same place), and often turned its back to the visitor. Baba Yaga flew in a large mortar steered by a pestle, and used her broom to sweep away her tracks. She was sometimes found in the company of a mystical dragon named Chudo-Yudo, and there were some versions where there was more than one Baba Yaga (she often referred to her “sisters”).

When I decided I wanted to write an updated fairy tale, I didn’t want to use any of the better-known stories, such as Beauty and the Beast or Sleeping Beauty, which many authors had already crafted stories about more than once. So I chose to use Baba Yaga, who was more obscure, but whose name was still familiar to many people, and update her for the modern world. (Plus, of course, make her a cool and powerful kickass protagonist.)

For all of us writers, one story always leads to another. What are you working on now?

My current work in progress is a complete change of pace. Instead of being a paranormal romance, it is a humorous contemporary romance. I’m having a lot of fun writing it. I always use some humor in my writing, but intentionally writing a book that is supposed to be funny is giving me a much greater scope for snark. And shockingly, there is nary a witch to be seen. Also, I have a fabulous Sekrit Project for Llewellyn, the publishers of my nonfiction work, which I can’t talk about just yet.

Why have you chosen your particular genre?

I’ve always loved fantastical stories. I grew up devouring fantasy, fairy tales, science fiction, and anything else that created different worlds or showed a secret side of the so-called real world. Plus, as a practicing witch who also writes about modern witchcraft, it made sense for me to write about witches!

Would you tell us why your writing is different from other authors in this genre?

I’ve found that there has been a trend for some time for paranormal romances to be very gritty and very sexy. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I like to read a few of those too. But for people who prefer their paranormal with a slightly lighter touch and a little less naked, I tried to offer something a bit different. Also, of course, there is a very cool dragon disguised as a giant white pit bull. You don’t see a lot of that.

You began your career as a published author before many of us did, before the publishing world changed. Will you tell us a bit about your path to publication?

It was damned long J. I wrote my first nonfiction book for Llewellyn back in 2005 (it came out in 2007), and started working on fiction about that time. I wrote my first novel—about a witch, of course—and spent a couple of years polishing it. I entered a number of contests, got some great feedback and a lot of enthusiasm, and started sending it out to agents. Wherein I got 67 rejections. Yes, you are reading that number right. Mind you, many of those were rejections of partials and fulls, so the manuscript was making it a lot further down the line than just an initial rejection. And a number of the agents said, “Not this one, but I’d look at another.” So I wrote another, and got some more rejections. I looked at all the feedback I’d gotten over the two years or so of writing, revising, re-revising, and re-re-revising (plus some amazingly generous advice from agents along the way) and set out to make my third book a lot better. By that time, I’d narrowed down my agent “wish list” to five names. I sent the third book out to three of those people. One said he wasn’t taking on any new writers. Another said she didn’t like the voice. The third said she’d just sold a book too much like it, and couldn’t take it on—BUT she loved it. That was Lucienne Diver, and she passed the manuscript on to another agent at The Knight Agency, Elaine Spencer, who read it on a Friday/Saturday and called on Monday night to offer representation. Then we didn’t sell that book. Or the one after it. This novel is the seventh one I’ve written, and the third we sent out. Never say die. At least not in publishing.

Amen! Since you are an experienced hand at this craft, do you have a writing routine?

I try to write every day (although in reality, it is more like 5-6 days a week). Since I have a day job, although thankfully not one that is 40 hours a week, I usually write in the evening, from about 6:30 until 9:30 or 10. Once I’m in the zone on a book, I often do two stints on Saturdays and Sundays. I probably average about 1,000 words a day, although on a good day, I can manage 3,000 or more. I have a whiteboard that I use to track my daily word and page count, and monitor my progress. It can either inspire or depress me, depending on how things are going, but it gives me a nice concrete way to watch the book slowly growing.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I manage an artists’ cooperative shop with 50 local and regional artists; a potter friend and I started it about 15 years ago. I also make gemstone jewelry that I sell at the shop, and do some professional tarot reading and energy healing on the side.

Would you care to share something about your home life?

I live in a 120 year old farmhouse with a large garden, five cats, and a sacred circle out behind the barn. I’m perilously close to being a witchy cliché. But I really value the relative calm and quiet of being in the country, since I find it hard to write when it is noisy. And working in the garden is good therapy, especially when coming home from juggling the needs and various quirky personalities of 50 artists.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Humor, har.” (From Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer) Or anything from The Princess Bride movie. “Bye bye, boys. Have fun stormin’ the castle.” “Will it work?” “It would take a miracle.” “Wuv, tru wuv.” Jeez, don’t get me started. Oh, wait, you probably wanted something inspiring and intellectual. In that case, Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Hah! I LOVE your sense of humor. I need to move on to something else, or you’re apt to get me started. You must forgive me, then, if I turn us to something more serious. What is your greatest life lesson?

Being positive is always better than being negative. When faced with a tough situation, I would rather laugh than cry, rather assume the best possible outcome, rather be a force for growth and change than for stagnation and destruction. When life kicks you in the teeth (and it will), pick yourself up, give it the finger, and keep on going. (If necessary, judiciously apply chocolate and wine as needed to make this possible.)

What are a few of your favorite authors?

How long do you have? Jennifer Crusie, Lani Diane Rich, Trisha Ashley, Katie Fforde (all humorous contemporary romance, the last two are Brits). C.E. Murphy, Carol Berg, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Patricia McKillip, Alex Bledsoe, Jim C. Hines, Maria V. Snyder and Lisa DiDio (she’s my CP—not published yet, but pretty soon everyone will know her name!)

For the uninitiated, Lisa was also part of Black Ink, White Paper. OK. Lightning Round.

The one thing I cannot do without is:

Books

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Loyalty and dependability

Hard copy or ebook?

Hard copy

Vice? Virtue?

Yes please.

Hah! You’re doing it again. Favorite book:

Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

Favorite movie:

The Princess Bride

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Writing is a gift that authors share with their readers. Reading is the gift that is given to us in return. Amazing how well that works out for everyone.

Before I close, here is an excerpt from WICKEDLY DANGEROUS, followed by the links you will need to follow Deborah and purchase her books:

WickedlyDangerous_hiresPlopping his hat on over his dark blonde hair, Liam strode up to the door of the Airstream—or at least, where he could have sworn the door was a couple of minutes ago. Now there was just a blank wall. He pushed the hair out of his eyes again and walked around to the other side. Shiny silver metal, but no door. So he walked back around to where he started, and there was the entrance, right where it belonged.

“I need to get more sleep,” he muttered to himself. He would almost have said the Airstream was laughing at him, but that was impossible. “More sleep and more coffee.”

He knocked. Waited a minute, and knocked again, louder. Checked his watch. It was six AM; hard to believe that whoever the trailer belonged to was already out and about, but it was always possible. An avid fisherman, maybe, eager to get the first trout of the day. Cautiously, Liam put one hand on the door handle and almost jumped out of his boots when it emitted a loud, ferocious blast of noise.

He snatched his hand away, then laughed at himself as he saw a large, blunt snout pressed against the nearest window. For a second there, he’d almost thought the trailer itself was barking. Man, did he need more coffee.

At the sound of an engine, Liam turned and walked back toward his car. A motorcycle came into view; its rider masked by head-to-toe black leather, a black helmet, and mirrored sunglasses that matched the ones Liam himself wore. The bike itself was a beautiful royal blue classic BMW that made Liam want to drool. And get a better paying job. The melodic throb of its motor cut through the morning silence until it purred to a stop about a foot away from him. The rider swung a leg over the top of the cycle and dismounted gracefully.

“Nice bike,” Liam said in a conversational tone. “Is that a sixty-eight?”

“Sixty-nine,” the rider replied. Gloved hands reached up and removed the helmet, and a cloud of long black hair came pouring out, tumbling waves of ebony silk. The faint aroma of orange blossom drifted across the meadow, although none grew there.

A tenor voice, sounding slightly amused, said, “Is there a problem, officer?”

Liam started, aware that he’d been staring rudely. He told himself it was just the surprise of her gender, not the startling Amazonian beauty of the woman herself, all angles and curves and leather.

“Sheriff,” he corrected out of habit. “Sheriff Liam McClellan.” He held out one hand, then dropped it back to his side when the woman ignored it. “And you are?”

“Not looking for trouble,” she said, a slight accent of unidentifiable origin coloring her words. Her eyes were still hidden behind the dark glasses, so he couldn’t quite make out if she was joking or not. “My name is Barbara Yager. People call me Baba.” One corner of her mouth edged up so briefly, he almost missed it.

“Welcome to Clearwater County,” Liam said. “Would you like to tell me what you’re doing parked out here?” He waved one hand at the Airstream. “I assume this belongs to you?”

She nodded, expressionless. “It does. Or I belong to it. Hard to tell which, sometimes.”

Liam smiled gamely, wondering if his caffeine deficit was making her sound odder than she really was. “Sure. I feel that way about my mortgage sometimes. So, you were going to tell me what you’re doing here.”

“Was I? Somehow I doubt it.” Again, that tiny smile, barely more than a twitch of the lips. “I’m a botanist with a specialty in herbalism; I’m on sabbatical from UC Davis. You have some unusual botanical varieties growing in this area, so I’m here to collect samples for my research.”

Liam’s cop instincts told him that her answer sounded too pat, almost rehearsed. Something about her story was a lie, he was sure of it. But why bother to lie about something he could so easily check?

“Do you have some kind of ID?” he asked. “Your vehicle didn’t turn up in the database and my dispatcher couldn’t find any record of a permit for you to be here. This is county property, you know.” He put on his best “stern cop” expression. The woman with the cloud hair didn’t seem at all fazed.

Book links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Wickedly-Dangerous-Baba-Yaga-Novel-ebook/dp/B00IOE3PAQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407544464&sr=8-1&keywords=Wickedly+Dangerous+Deborah+Blake

Penguin: http://www.penguin.com/book/wickedly-dangerous-by-deborah-blake/9780425272923

B&N:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wickedly-dangerous-deborah-blake/1118662987?cm_mmc=affiliates-_-linkshare-_-ev0de4uoclu-_-10%3a1&ean=9780425272923&isbn=9780425272923&r=1

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780425272923?aff=PenguinGroupUS

Social links:

Website: http://deborahblakeauthor.com

Blog: http://deborahblake.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/deborahblake

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deborah.blake

The Write Stuff – Monday, August 11 – Interview With Author Robin Lythgoe

I delight in authors who exhibit a command of the language, who can convey an idea or express a sentiment with one word that would require a paragraph from others. Donna Tartt, Dean Koontz, Martin Cruz Smith and George R. R. Martin are fully fledged masters. Every now and then, however, I stumble on a new author who evidences such a talent emerging. It was Robin Lythgoe’s vocabulary that drew me in from her opening page.

It has taken me half a year to persuade Robin to allow me to interview her, so I was pleased when she finally relented. Even though she has only produced one novel to date, there are passages within it that hint of her ultimate potential. I hope she will grace us with another some time soon.

This is how Robin describes herself:

Robin_0123_pp_300I was born into a family of bookworms who happily introduced me to all kinds of books—and then I had terrific teachers who encouraged me not only to read, but to write. Books opened up entire new worlds for me, and when I was growing up (still working on that) I would rather read than do anything in the world. The Summer of Reading happened when our television broke and there was a family reading marathon. The best summer EVER. I read historical and modern romances, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, historical fiction, and the occasional horror. Fantasy, with its wonderful worlds and creatures and magic, captured my heart. My love of words developed naturally into a desire to put my own on paper. I started with (bad) poetry, then leaped into novel-writing. There were quite a few unfinished beginnings lying around before raising a family distracted me. Writing took a back seat, but reading never stopped. Finishing my first (unpublished) novel proved to me that I could really do it and… here I am! I am published—and I have several more books in progress.

As the Crow Flies was the work that introduced me to you. How would you describe it to our visitors?

Meet Crow, an engaging but self-serving thief. He has spent his life perfecting the talents given to him by the gods, sharpening his razor wit, and planning for a comfortable future with the woman of his dreams.

And then there’s Tanris, dauntless servant of the empire, dedicated lawman. It’s a feather in his cap when he finally captures the miserable, thieving bird that’s been flitting about the Bahsyr Empire as if he owned it.

Neither man is prepared to become a cat’s paw for a wizard with even bigger plans.

In this tale of thieves and dragons, author Robin Lythgoe ventures into a world where the master thief Crow and the lawman Tanris must learn to weather each other as well as survive dangerous lands, a haunted cave, and a temple guarded by blade, sorcery—and a vengeful dragon. Their goal? Simple: take a journey across inhospitable land to fetch an incredible, mythical prize. Escape the dragon. Return before time runs out …

What are you working on now?

While I’m entertaining ideas for another story about Crow, I am juggling a series which has actually been in the works since before As the Crow Flies was published. In a nutshell, “An unwitting pawn in a contest where the prize is an empire must rely on the very magic used to alter him in order to escape slavery and prevent the mage who would be his master from gaining control of the throne.”

Why have you chosen this particular genre?

It is the genre that most excites me! I love the balance of creativity and reality involved in creating a fantasy story. It is a fantastic (pardon the pun!) exercise in imagination for both reader and writer. The writer weaves an entire new world, and the reader gets to interpret it with his or her own experience and imagination. What a wonderful partnership!

There are numerous works of fantasy on the market. Why should someone buy Crow?

As the Crow Flies delivers a particular stamp of adventure and humor (one that’s found in my short story, Dragonlace, as well). It’s fast-paced, but not too fast for some creative world-building. I have it on good authority that the novel can be read in one day, if you’re willing to let chores fall by the wayside on your day off. The characters are relatable and they grow. People care about them, and it’s great when readers choose one character as their favorite and fiercely defend their choice. My current project is more serious than As the Crow Flies, but it still maintains the solid core that readers so enjoyed with Crow: style and rhythm, characterization, adventure, world-building. And, in spite of my original intention to write Crow’s story as a single, stand-alone novel, I’ve also got another story for Crow simmering—thanks to the enthusiastic prompting and prodding of fans.

What else have you written?

I have two published short stories: In the Mirror, and Dragon Lace—as well as the afore-mentioned “first” novel (Which will probably never see the light of day!) Dragonlace once appeared in an online ezine.

Are there any awards or honors you’d like to share?

While they are modest, I am tickled pink that As the Crow Flies has been named a Five-Star Reader’s Favorite, a semi-finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Kindle Book Awards, and is currently floating in Wattpad’s Write Awards 2014. Indie Book of the Day also spotlighted my book as an award winner.

Writing can tax the imagination, even cause a proven writer to doubt his/her ability. How do you overcome writer’s block?

Taking a leaf from the fictional Richard Castle’s writing:

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. I believe in writer’s embarrassment. That’s when you’re so embarrassed by the horrendous drivel you’re writing that you can’t bear to see it on the page. After all, you can always write something. I’ve discovered that giving yourself permission to write poorly is the gateway to writing well. It may not be good, it may not make sense, but that’s okay. After enough pages of meaningless drivel, your brain will uncover something interesting, and before you know it, you’re off and writing again.”

That said, I have struggled with the drivel—to the point that I avoided doing any writing at all, but that made me feel frustrated and ever-further behind in my goals. There is nothing like having new bills to pay to inspire one! I’m also really lucky to have a fantastic writing partner who has enough patience to help me hose down the drivel to expose the gems lying beneath.

I’m still slogging through a lot of muck, and I get impatient. I don’t want muck, I want instant perfection! Patience and persistence are two qualities I need to rely on heavily. They should be perfected any time now…

To give us a peek at the person behind the book, I frequently ask the following questions:

Where would you live, if you could live anywhere?

I would love to live somewhere by the water—preferably a beach, but a lake or a stream would do nicely. (I often wonder what I’m doing in the desert…)

What is your dream job?

I’ve got it! I have dreamed about being an author since I was a little girl. It is fantastic to actually be in this place, in this time, doing exactly that.

What motivates or inspires you (not necessarily as regards your writing)?

I love listening to music, examining artwork, and admiring photography. In fact, I gave in to the siren call of Pinterest, and now I have a wonderful, easily accessible place to collect the things that inspire me. It amazes me how beautiful or formidable our world can be—and the countless unique ways the vision of it is interpreted.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Writers write what they know best,

their passions, fears and dreams.

Writers never write about

what others call their ‘themes.’”

–       Charles Ghigna

Do you have any pet projects?

I do! I really enjoy doing Family History. If I’m not careful, I can get sucked into research and discovery for weeks before I remember I have other things to do! I don’t just like finding out the names and places, although that is awesome; I think it’s important—and educational—to learn about the places and cultures our ancestors lived in. It makes the people more real to me (and it doesn’t hurt my history education or my writing at all!)

What are a few of your favorite authors?

I am not a dyed-in-the-wool, stalker-type fan of any particular author, but I have most enjoyed (and learned from) Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, C.J. Cherryh, Stephen Lawhead, Terry Goodkind, R.A. MacAvoy, Lindsay Buroker, and A.E. Marling.

Alright, Robin. Lightning Round.

The one thing I cannot do without is:

Chocolate

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Imaginative…ly stubborn.

Hard copy or ebook?

Yes. I like my options! 😉

Vice? Virtue?

Vice in fiction, virtue in life.

Favorite book:

Only one? That is cruel. That’s like asking a mother which is her favorite child.

Hah! Favorite movie:

Ladyhawk. Or maybe Wolverine. Showboat? (I’m versatile AND indecisive! Which leads me to another quote: Indecision! It’s the key to flexibility!)

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

First, I want to thank you for inviting me to visit you virtually. It is a pleasure—I so enjoy your humor and intelligence. The company and support of other authors like you is aMAZing—and so are the wonderful readers who take the time to support us and share their thoughts and pictures and ideas with us. You all make the journey more doable, more exciting. Thank you!

Alright. Since I’ve already told everybody how much I enjoyed your book, will you please grace us with a chapter from As the Crow Flies?

AsTheCrowFlies_480x640web

CHAPTER 8

I had scarcely stepped out into the street with my handsome new acquisition when I was abruptly and rudely accosted. Two hulking pieces of manhood caught me by either arm, and I nearly lost both my hat and the burlap sack of supplies I carried. Lifting me right off my feet didn’t trouble either of them, and while they whisked me off down the street, I took a moment to recover my breath, my composure—more or less—and to study their identities. “Do I know the two of you?” I inquired politely while they plowed through puddles I would have chosen to go around. The first splash caught me rather by surprise, but I had the forethought to lift my feet for the second. No sense getting wetter when there was an alternative.

“Raza wants to have a chat with you,” the bruiser on my right informed me.

“Jolly for him. Would you be so good as to put me down? I think I remember how to walk.”

“We’ll help.”

“You’re too kind. Really.” I looked from one to the other, but they showed no sign of responding to gentle persuasion and we were making good speed down the street in a direction I had no desire to go. So I held on tight to my belongings and stuck my foot between the legs of the less chatty fellow on the left. He went down in a heap, and I went with him, rolling half onto him. The other man swore and scrambled, trying not to fall, too. I helped him out as best I could by swinging my sack at his head. There were a pair of grappling hooks in there, a climbing rope, metal cleats, and other sorts of paraphernalia a thief might find handy on the job. It knocked him backside over teakettle, which was rather satisfying and alarming at the same time.

Both my delight and my worry at the damage a hook might have caused were arrested by an arm around my throat.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of As the Crow Flies, here are a few links to help you:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/As-the-Crow-Flies-ebook/dp/B00AM1ZGUQ

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/as-the-crow-flies-robin-lythgoe/1114302256?ean=2940044229471

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/263933

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/as-the-crow-flies/id595567889?mt=11&uo=4

If you’d like to acquaint yourself better with Robin, you may do so here:

Blog: http://robinlythgoe.blogspot.com/

Website: http://www.robinlythgoe.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobinLythgoeAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobinLythgoe

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5114039.Robin_Lythgoe

Google+: google.com/+RobinLythgoe

The Write Stuff – Monday, July 28 – Interview With Author C. L. Hoang

I am always looking for the unique writer, someone who intrigues the imagination, who either wins or is in the running for significant awards, and whose subject matter either inspires, or tugs at the heart. I’m sure you’ll agree this sort is not very common, so when a writer such as C. L. Hoang appears on my radar, I sit up and take notice. I hope you will too.

IFMale authors rarely write love stories. Engineers even less frequently. But when I learned this man’s debut novel was selected as the Fiction Grand Prize Winner of the 2014 annual book contest sponsored by LuckyCinda Publishing in Palm Desert, California, I decided to delve deeper. Here’s what he tells us about himself:

I was born and raised in South Vietnam during the war and came to America in the 1970s. Although an engineer by trade, I am a writer at heart and have dabbled in short stories and poetry. Once upon a Mulberry Field, a love story during the Vietnam War, is my first novel, a project from the heart that took six years to complete. So one could say that my “specialty” is a mix between historical fiction (20th Century) and multicultural fiction.

His book, published on Valentine’s Day—February 14 of this year, is classed as both Historical Fiction (20th Century) and Multicultural Fiction and its premise is as follows:

As Roger Connors, a widower with no children, ponders whether to pursue aggressive treatment for his cancer, a cryptic note arrives from a long-lost USAF buddy announcing the visit of an acquaintance from Vietnam. The startling news resurrects ghosts of fallen comrades and haunting memories of the great love he once knew.

Shocking revelations from his visitor uncover a missing part of Roger’s life he never dreamed possible. Peeling back one layer at a time, he delves into a decades-old secret in search of answers and traces of a passion unfulfilled.

From the jungles of Vietnam through the minefields of the heart, Once upon a Mulberry Field follows one man’s journey to self-discovery, fraught with disillusionment and despair but ultimately redeemed by the power of love.

Mr. Hoang, apart from its plot, is there another story behind the book?

It started out as a nostalgia project for my father, who was up in years and ailing, when I began to scour the Internet for old photographs and articles about our former hometown—Saigon in the 1950s, ’60s, and early ’70s. Before I knew it, a bygone world had reopened its door and pulled me in.

As my dad and I reminisced about that forgotten place and time we had once shared and the people, events, and stories that had defined it for us, it occurred to me that I should write down those recollections. First, as a legacy of family history for upcoming generations. And second, as my way of bearing witness to the period of upheaval that had seen our family transplanted to a new continent.

Subsequently, those initial writings went through more mutations to include some oral history and perspectives from American veterans who had served in Vietnam, material that I came across while doing my research to insure historical accuracy.

It is the marriage of those two distinct yet complementary accounts of the war—one from the native people, and the other from the participants from a distant land—that gave birth to the book we are talking about today.

That was a compelling and emotionally wrenching period for both our nations. As if that is not enough reason for someone to pick up your work, in your own words, tell us why you believe someone should buy it.

Because of that unique blend of insider’s view and American perspective, readers get a more complete picture of this most controversial war in U.S. history, as well as gain exposure to the historical and cultural background of Vietnam as a country.

But rather than being just another war or history book, Once upon a Mulberry Field is first and foremost a love story—an ode to the old and the new homelands, and a celebration of the human spirit and the redemptive power of love across the chasm of warring cultures.

Those are the things that set this book apart from all other Vietnam War novels.

Will you share with us your path to publication?

Early on, I opted for self-publishing because of the artistic freedom it would give me in every aspect concerning the book, from material contents to cover art to interior layout. I enlisted the professional help of editors, graphic designer, and page layout designer, taking all their inputs into consideration while striving to stay close to my own vision. For on-demand printing service, I chose CretateSpace because of the simplicity to set up, and also to benefit from the extensive experience of a vast and very helpful community of users there.

Aside from the Grand Prize I mentioned at the beginning of our talk, are there any other awards or honors you’d like to share?

In 2102, the first-draft manuscript of Once upon a Mulberry Field was selected as a finalist in the San Diego Book Awards in the Unpublished Novel category. It came as a wonderful surprise, and it gave me tremendous encouragement. Then in May this year, I received word that my published book had been designated a finalist in the 2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards in the Historical Fiction category. It was a great honor for me.

All these honors indicate you may have a promising career unfolding. As you well know, these do not come about by accident, but rather by a serious marketing effort. Will you share your strategy with us?

It’s true that most writers would much rather write than do marketing. But for me, one big reason why I write is to share with other people, so I’m making every effort to introduce my book to readers out there via my own personal network (email and telephone campaigns), social media including a website and a blog, other writer friends’ platforms, and my book publicist’s professional network. Immediate results are really hard to estimate, but I believe it’s the cumulative effect over time that will make a difference.

Few, if any,  successful writers work in a vacuum. Please tell us about your writing community.

I belong to a couple of local writers/publishers organizations that hold monthly meetings to exchange ideas and/or listen to invited guest speakers discuss the latest trends in the publishing industry. Through social media, I also made connections with other readers/writers, either individually or within various groups.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I used to write while trying to hold on to my day job as an engineer. But I ended up doing poorly at both, so I finally decided to take a sabbatical from work to devote myself to writing full time.

Since you have managed to avoid workforce tedium, I then have to ask where would you live, if you could live anywhere?

Somewhere close to the ocean where I could fall asleep to the sound of the waves.

I already suspect I know the answer to this, but I still have to ask what is your dream job?

Writing full time without the pressure of a schedule or the burden of self-promotion.

As it is for all writers I know. What is your greatest life lesson?

Don’t keep putting off what you really want to do because you may never get another chance to do it.

That is the only way to begin a career writing. Setting the serious aside for a moment, what makes you laugh?

Little children .

Not what I expected, but you’re right. They make all of us laugh. A few quick questions now:

What are your favorite authors?

W. Somerset Maugham, John Cheever, James Michener

The one thing I cannot do without is:

A word processor

What is your defining trait?

Detail-oriented

Hard copy or ebook?

Hardcopy at home, and ebook on the road.

Vice? Virtue?

Writing/writing

Hah! Now that made me laugh. Favorite book:

Of Mice and Men

Favorite movie:

Gone with the Wind

As always, I asked C. L. Hoang for an excerpt from his book. Here it is, for your enjoyment:

Mulberry 4x6“We are close to the flower market,” Liên said, pointing ahead in the direction of the river. “It is on this same street—Nguyễn-Huệ, or Rue Charner in the old days—just on the other side of Lê-Lợi Street. It has been a Tết tradition for as long as I remember, and it only opens for a short time. From two weeks before Tết until New Year’s Eve. Come. Let us walk.”

We had barely crossed Lê-Lợi Street behind the giant Marines Statues when I beheld, out in the center of Nguyễn-Huệ Boulevard, on the sunny median island, a mirage of explosive colors—a tropical garden floating serenely amid swirling traffic. The visual effect was startling.

“Wait until we get inside the market,” Liên giggled, reading my reaction. “You will forget everything else except New Year’s celebration. When I was a kid, every year we children would get so excited when the flower market opened. It was the sign that Tết was near, which meant no school for two whole weeks, and lots of candies and lì-xì money from the grownups.” She smiled at the memory. “We knew nothing about our parents’ financial worries. It was all innocent fun to us.”

We gingerly picked our path through oncoming traffic, half running, half dodging, and laughing all the way to the oasis in the middle of the boulevard. Greeting us was a kaleidoscope of colors and motion, sounds and smells, all enhanced by the intense afternoon heat. I recognized but a few of the flowers that proliferated along the narrow walkway, some in decorative pots, the rest in fresh bouquets: mums, daisies, marigolds, sunflowers, lilies, orchids, and many exotic unknowns, in countless varieties and shades. Competing with the flowers were miniature kumquat and tangerine trees loaded with luscious fruits the size of golf balls, ornamental plants sculpted in the shapes of mythical birds or rare animals, skeletal branches of spring buds stuck in antique vases, not to mention a vast selection of bonsai in porcelain planters.

I whistled. “I’d buy them all. I wouldn’t know what to choose. Are you finding something you like?”

Liên was admiring a green shoot of daffodil in a small ceramic bowl, with half-opened white-and-yellow buds on it. “This is hoa thủy-tiên―water fairy―which grows from a bulb,” she explained. “There is an art, almost lost to us young kids, in how to prepare the bulb for planting so that it blooms exactly on the First Day of Tết, or New Year’s Day. My father practiced it for years and had amazing success. But he cannot this year, after the stroke. I will get this for him before we go.”

I followed her to the next stall, which displayed long stems of fresh-cut gladiolas. “Tết is a sacred time for us,” she continued. “The whole family gathers to remember our ancestors and pay respect to their memory. Every home sets up an altar for the ancestors during the holidays. My mother loves to use these glaїeul, the red ones especially, to decorate ours. The French brought these new plants to Việt-Nam a century ago. It’s funny that they have become very popular but we still call them by their French name only.”

She bent down to pick up a bouquet of elongated spikes of white flowers that reminded me of Mexican tuberoses. “These, Roger, are called hoa huệ. In Buddhist families like mine, we place offerings of these on Buddha’s altar. Look how pure, how lovely they are. And very nice fragrance, even sweeter at nighttime. Like lotus flowers, they symbolize spirituality.”

Dodging around long strips of red firecrackers that dangled across the stall entrance, she spoke as if making a mental note to herself. “I also need to buy a couple of these strings for my father. He always went out and got them himself in years past.” Then turning to me, “Have you ever heard firecrackers this size explode? They scare me half to death, like real gunfire.” She laughed. “They must be loud enough to chase away evil spirits. The past few years, for security reasons, we are allowed to set them off only on New Year’s Eve and on the First Day of Tết, during the cease-fire. That’s plenty for me.”

She was excited and happy, flitting like a butterfly from one stall to the next, touching and admiring everything in sight. Watching her, I imagined the wide-eyed little girl who had held her mother’s hand during annual trips to the flower market in preparation for Tết and for a lifetime of familial duties. Just like that, her turn had now come. To play grownup herself.

 

The following are links to his book:

Amazon:                    http://www.amazon.com/Once-upon-Mulberry-Field-Hoang/dp/0989975673/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1401291897&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble:       http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/once-upon-a-mulberry-field-c-l-hoang/1118713576?ean=9780989975674

iTunes/iBooks:         https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/once-upon-a-mulberry-field/id840069201?mt=11

Smashwords:             http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/410849

Kobo:                          http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/once-upon-a-mulberry-field

 

If you would like to get to know Mr. Hoang a little better, you can connect with him through the following links:

Website/Blog:            www.mulberryfieldsforever.com

Facebook:                  www.facebook.com/CLHoangAuthor

Twitter:                      www.twitter.com/CLHoang

Goodreads:                www.goodreads.com/CLHoang

Google+:                    https://plus.google.com/109835251328316290376/posts

LinkedIn:                   www.linkedin.com/in/CLHoang

The Write Stuff – Monday, July 14 – Interview With Author Eden Baylee

This week, I am interviewing my long-time friend, Canadian author, Eden Baylee. Back in 2012, Eden and I were part of the writers’ blog, Black Ink, White Paper. It was a collaborative effort of a dozen or so authors wherein we shared all the experiences that influenced our work—not just the literary stuff, but our day trips, food, family life and all the other parts of our everyday existence. I always enjoyed our chemistry, so when I learned Eden was releasing her first full-length novel, I knew I had to bring her on board.

ebEden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to become a full-time writer. She incorporates many of her favorite things into her writing such as travel, humor, music, poetry, art and much more.

Stranger at Sunset is her first mystery novel, on the heels of several books of erotic anthologies and short stories. She writes in multiple genres.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop, surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often!

To stay apprised of Eden’s book-related news, please add your name to her mailing list.

Welcome, Eden! I am so excited to have you join us. I thoroughly expect Stranger at Sunset to carry the flavor of your previous works. Can you summarize it for us?

A vacation can be a killer. 

Dr. Kate Hampton, a respected psychiatrist, gathers with a group of strangers at her favorite travel spot, Sunset Villa in Jamaica. Included in the mix are friends of the owners, a businessman with dubious credentials, and a couple who won the trip from a TV game show.

It is January 2013, following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The luxury resort is struggling, not from the storm, but due to a scathing review from caustic travel writer, Matthew Kane. The owners have invited him back with hopes he will pen a more favorable review to restore their reputation.

Even though she is haunted by her own demons, Kate feels compelled to help. She sets out to discover the motivation behind Kane’s vitriol. Used to getting what he wants, has the reviewer met his match in Kate? Or has she met hers?

Stranger at Sunset is a slow-burning mystery/thriller as seen through the eyes of different narrators, each with their own murky sense of justice. As Kate’s own psychological past begins to unravel, a mysterious stranger at Sunset may be the only one who can save her.

I can already tell this book is a hot one. Aside from the plot, is there a story behind your book?

The book is all about the interaction of strangers, and the word ‘stranger’ has multiple meanings throughout the story. As adults, we are not usually forced into situations with people we do not like, so I wanted to explore a tense atmosphere with strangers, and to do it in a Jamaican resort which, by all accounts, should be a place of paradise and happiness.

The desires and motivations of the strangers in the story are not always clear, not even to themselves. In many ways, it reflects how I feel about people in real life. Sometimes we are strangers to ourselves.

We certainly are. The one thing I do know about you is that you’re never idle. What are you working on now?

I’m working on A Fragile Truce, which is the book that follows Stranger at Sunset and features the same protagonist, Dr. Kate Hampton. There is an excerpt of it at the end of my book.

That’s an indication of how far along you are. I must say, mysteries like these are departures from your previous work. Why have you chosen this particular genre?

I enjoy reading the mystery and thriller genres. There are many nuances contained in them and different ways to tell a story. I’m not a ‘blood and guts’ storyteller, so I don’t have the talent to write police procedurals or crime novels. Where my interest lies is in the motivations of people. That is why I classify my book as a psychological mystery/thriller, because much of it is based on intellectual mind games.

If someone were to ask why they should buy your book, what would you tell them?

The quick and dirty answer is: Buying my book is for entertainment and escapism. Though I was inspired to write it based on my own experiences and views of the world, there are no great life lessons in it.

I’ve read The Austrian and the Asian and enjoyed it very much. That says a lot about your skill as a writer, since not many men read or enjoy erotica. Will you touch on what else you have written?

Prior to Stranger at Sunset, I’ve written short stories, novellas, and flash fiction. They have all been in the erotica genre for the most part. This novel marks my venture into a new genre. It was a huge challenge for me, but I’m proud I pushed myself to do it.

As you should be. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone is a challenge for many of us. I should also tell our visitors how well-developed and layered your writing is. What life experiences or careers inspire or enrich your writing?

I was a banker for twenty years before I took up writing full time. Believe it or not, there are many stories from that period of my life. I just haven’t put them together in my head to create a book.

Music, people, and travel are the biggest inspirations for me.

As a writer, I find even the most mundane of life’s experiences fascinating, as often I need to incorporate those moments into my writing, and to do it in a way that interests the reader. Life, after all, is not always a fast-moving thriller. My book moves at a smoldering pace because I want to pull the reader in slowly.

Because I love the mystery and serendipity of life, I wanted to highlight both these elements in my fiction.

That’s smoldering, as in slow burn, as opposed to blistering. Let’s take a minute to look at your “other life”—your life outside writing. Where would you live, if you could live anywhere?

Thailand—for many reasons, but mainly because of the heat, the beaches, and the people. One of the most personal stories I’ve ever written, called “The Lottery” takes place in Thailand. If you read that book, you will understand why I have a special place in my heart for the Thai people, especially the women.

What is your dream job?

I’m doing it now. To be able to use my imagination to create stories that connect me to others … it’s remarkable.

Hah! That’s every author’s dream. If I spoke to your closest friend about you, what would he or she tell me?

Eden is whacky, creative, and directionally challenged. I hate when she gives me directions in a car because I’ll end up making three or four U-turns in one trip. The only reason we are still friends is because I now have GPS.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Life is a series of short stories pretending to be a novel” – Anonymous.

What makes you laugh?

Fart jokes. I don’t care how old you are, fart jokes are damn funny.

Now that is something I never would have guessed. OK. Lightning Round.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Curious and tolerant, or perhaps curiously tolerant. (And I can’t count. Sorry, Ray! )

Hard copy or ebook?

Both, depends on my mood.

Vice? Virtue?

Vice in fiction, virtue in real life.

Favorite book:

50 Shades of … NOT! Too many to name, I’m afraid.

Whew! I’m glad you didn’t go there. Favorite movie:

Anything with Anthony Hopkins in it.

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

First and foremost, thank you Ray, for your time and energy. It’s lovely of you to interview me given your own busy schedule. I truly appreciate the exposure and look forward to meeting one day for a scotch. You’re buying of course, right?

Uh… er… Would you care to share a little of your book, Eden? (Notice how deftly I changed the subject.)

Sas_KindleThe body plummeted two and a half stories into the sea. It bobbed between crests before foamy waves swept in and yanked it under the surface. The tide rushed out dragging its new possession deep into the ocean’s dark belly. Swells curled and collapsed against the shore. The evening breeze whistled an eerie tune.

Despite how tightly his fingers gripped the large barrels, the binoculars trembled in the man’s hands. He now wished he had bought the more powerful Porro-prism model. This less expensive design darkened the image, especially against a pale orange sky reflecting the chopped glass of the water. While adjusting the diopter ring behind his right eyepiece, he bit down on his lower lip.

A silhouette met his lens, haloed by the glow of the setting sun. With his breath thickening the atmosphere, he pressed the eyepiece harder against his face to stop from shaking.

The woman stood naked with her hair pinned up, loose strands trailing down the nape of her slender neck. Her palms rested on the metal railing of the balcony. As she stared out at the churning sea, he zoomed in on her face, then moved his binoculars downward to her breasts, lingering there longer than he should have. Slowly, he lowered his gaze to her flat stomach. Firm thighs extended off the arc of round buttocks. A dancer’s body—willowy and muscular, but not too muscular, she was beauty and grace, and yet, what she just did …

A hint of dark pubic hair blurred past his lens. While he re-calibrated the magnification, she drifted out of focus. When he brought her back in view, her contemplative mood had changed. She moved a chair to the corner of the terrace. Gathering up a pile of bed sheets, she crossed the threshold into the room and scurried out of view.

He dared not avert his eyes. The light was fading fast, and night would soon fall upon the villa like a magician’s cape. With his elbows pressed to his sides, he loosened his grip on the binoculars and tried to flex his aching fingers.

She had to come back, right?

The doors leading to the patio were still wide open. Secluded in his dark corner of the island, he spied the room as if ogling a dollhouse with its front wall sheared off, scaled down to about the same size too.

The naked woman strolled back into his field of vision as a cramp sneaked up on him. A painful twitch stabbed his wrist, reminded him of old wounds. He dropped the binoculars secured by a strap around his neck to shake out both his hands. By the time he brought the lens to his face again, she had disappeared, no … wait, she popped up from behind the bed carrying two pillows. With an unhurried pace, she stepped out on the balcony and propped the cushions on the chair, even fluffed them before re-entering the suite. She closed the wooden French doors behind her.

The light in her room replaced the sun’s blush, a poor substitute given a set of floor-to-ceiling jalousies bracketed his view. He waited to see what she would do next. His breathing deafened his ears as if he were wheezing through a mask; adrenaline pumped in his veins. She moved in front of the window facing him. With hands on her hips, legs spread apart, she stood full frontal and stared straight at him. He shrank back and jostled her image.

Could she see him?

 

If you would like to read more from Stranger at Sunset, or learn more about the author, please check out the following links:

 

Amazon:         http://authl.it/B00L7BVDFM

Website:          http://www.edenbayleebooks.com/

Blog:                http://edenbaylee.com/

Twitter:           https://twitter.com/edenbaylee

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/edenbaylee

Goodreads:      https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4563150.Eden_Baylee

Linkedin:         http://bit.ly/edlinkedin

Google+:         https://plus.google.com/108816906889719718910/posts

Pinterest:         http://www.pinterest.com/edenbaylee/

The Write Stuff – Monday, June 30 – Interview With Author Lisa Alber

I first encountered this week’s guest, Lisa Alber, when I was looking for authors to join me for a signing at this year’s NW Book Festival in Portland, Oregon. (See this site’s Events page for the place, date and time). Her debut mystery novel, KILMOON, caught my attention right away. It’s been gathering high praise. I was delighted, then, when she consented to be interviewed. I think you will be, too.

?????????????????Lisa Alber’s County Clare mysteries feature Merrit Chase, a recent transplant from California, and Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern. KILMOON, has been called “moody,” “utterly poetic,” and a “stirring debut.” She received an Elizabeth George Foundation writing grant based on KILMOON. Ever distractible, you may find Lisa staring out windows, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging round out her distractions.

 

 

 

“Brooding, gothic overtones haunt Lisa Alber’s polished, atmospheric debut. Romance, mysticism, and the verdant Irish countryside all contribute to making KILMOON a marvelous, suspenseful read.”

—Julia Spencer-Fleming,
New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of Through the Evil Days

 

Welcome to The Write Stuff, Lisa. I’m so glad you could join us. You write about some very scary stuff. Why have you chosen your particular genre?

I’m a private, perhaps even secretive, person, and I love psychology — the dark side of what makes us human. I’m fascinated by what we hide. We’re all supposed to present well-adjusted facades to the world, but, man, what lurks inside even a “normal” (hmm…some might argue…) person like me would shock some people. So, if I have lots of dark stuff within me, what about those of us who actually don’t have a moral compass? What about the sociopaths? Most of all, what about the people who are basically good but are compelled by extreme stress to kill another person? Crime fiction is the perfect vehicle for delving into our humanity.

Brrrr! Gives me the shivers. That makes me ask, aside from your book’s plot, is there a story behind your book?

Sure is. Two places in Lisdoonvarna village, County Clare, Ireland, initially sparked my imagination: The Matchmaker Bar and an early Christian ruin called Kilmoon Church. The Matchmaker Bar represents the village’s annual matchmaking festival and Kilmoon Church represents secrets long buried. Together they grounded me in place and set my thoughts churning about a matchmaker with a dark past.

My dad’s death also inspired this story. I was grieving his passing (from cancer), and it was only later that I realized I was processing our relationship through the father-daughter themes that run through the novel. Of course, in the novel they’re far darker than anything from my life. Thank goodness!

Thank goodness, indeed! Now that Kilmoon is finally released, are you working on anything else?

I’m revising the second draft of the next novel in the County Clare mystery series. I’m calling it GREY MAN. I have a feeling the title will change, as titles do. I have two primary series protagonists: Merrit and Danny. KILMOON was Merrit’s story. GREY MAN is Danny’s story. He’s a detective sergeant. In this novel, Danny’s investigation into the death of a teenage boy leads to tragedy within his own family. I’m having fun deepening Danny’s character. I kind of have a crush on him!

I enjoy the revision process as well. It’s like polishing a stone.

Your novel’s setting is quite unique and unexpected. This leads me to believe your writing is unique as well.

My novels are traditional mysteries (but not cozy mysteries). I’d say the way they differ is that I concentrate on character rather than, say, the police procedural aspect of the plot. I use ensemble casts, and all the characters have their own narratives, whether they’re major arcs like Danny’s and Merrit’s arcs, or minor arcs. I’m attracted to secrets and the way the past impacts the present, so my stories tend to be layered. In fact, I’d say my novels are mainstream novels that revolve around several layers of mysteries.

Mysteries are complicated works and the complications involved can sometimes trip one up. When you get stuck, how do you get back in stride?

I find that consistency over the long run is the surest way to keep the writing flowing. This doesn’t mean perfection in our routines. We all have our off days or off weeks, times when life gets in the way because that’s what life does.

Just a simple consistency. Sitting down at your computer for an hour at the same time every (or nearly every) day signals to your subconscious that you’re in writing mode and it’s safe to come out and play. Not that you’re always going to have good writing days, but even on the bad writing days, sit quietly and write what you think is garbage for the hour. Most of the time your garbage won’t be as bad as all that.

Also, another trick is to tell yourself you only have to write, say, a page a day, or for 10 minutes a day. That’s not much; we can all do that, right? What happens is that most of the time you will write more or for longer. And on the days you don’t? You can be OK with yourself because you met your goal.

Some say marketing a book is more difficult than writing it. What is your marketing strategy?

The best piece of advice I received on marketing and self-promotion came from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth George. I saw her in March at a writers conference, and she told me to say “yes” to every opportunity that came my way. She said this is crucial for authors at the beginning of their careers. So I am saying “yes” to everything that comes my way.

My other strategy is not to stress about book touring right now. I don’t have the means to travel a lot write now, so, instead, I’m ensuring my online presence through guest blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. When you’re out there, participating in your online and local communities, it’s amazing what can come your way.

The other thing? Keep writing. We all need to get our next books out there so that sales from one book will increase sales for the others.

That’s marvelous advice, indeed. Since your book is too new to support you… yet, tell us about your day job.

By day, I work as a technical writer. I don’t mind this kind of writing, and I’m quite good at it, oddly enough, but I don’t fit well with corporate cultures. I’d rather be left alone to get my work done. I avoid meetings when I can, and I don’t hang with my colleagues in social settings. My job is a means to an end while I do my best to get my fiction career off the ground.

Assuming your writing career does take off and you could name where you live, where would you choose?

I’d be a nomad! This answer assumes I’m independently wealthy, of course. I’d keep a home on the west coast somewhere, either the Bay Area, where I grew up, or Portland, where I live now. I’d definitely have a place in Paris, another in New York. I’d just pick places and stay for months at time, writing, and then return to my home for a while before heading back out again.

Hah! I love that sort of ambition. That said, what is your dream job?

Novelist, no day job necessary!

Good for you! I agree. Getting bad to the darker side of life, how do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

This is going to sound odd, but one of the ways I pick myself up is to let myself fall. I wallow for a while. This seems to help me overcome the emotional part of the adversity quickly. It’s the emotional fallout that tends to affect me more than the actual adversity, say, job loss or death in the family. I deal with what needs dealing with, and then let myself read and nap a lot for a time. Talking to people helps too.

You are as unique as your writing. Before we delve into Kilmoon, here are a few Lightning Round questions:

The one thing I cannot do without is:

Reading for relaxation and comfort.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Independent wanderer.

Hard copy or ebook?

Hard copy.

Vice? Virtue?

Vice.

We won’t go into that. A favorite book:

REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier

A favorite movie:

Gosford Park

I loved that one. And I hope everyone’s interest is piqued by now. Here is a brief description of Kilmoon, followed by a short excerpt:

kilmoon_72dpi

Californian Merrit Chase travels to County Clare, Ireland, to meet her long-lost father, the famous Matchmaker of Lisfenora. Her simple, if fraught, quest turns complicated when she’s pulled into a murder investigation and she discovers that her father’s dark past is at the heart of the chaos. Murder, vengeance, betrayal, and family secrets—not the family reunion she was hoping for!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the alley, Merrit counted doors, passing her lodgings as she went. Fifth door down, this would be Internet Café’s back entrance.

The door was the tiniest bit ajar, which was odd even by Lisfenora’s safe standards. Merrit hesitated with fist raised against the shop’s door. No way was Lonnie at work this early in the morning. Ivan had to be up and about then. She nudged the door open to see a shabby storage area. Stacked packages of printer paper leaned against one another, covered in dust, and a bathroom exuded a musty funk. A yellow tabby sidled through an inner door that must lead to the storefront. The little fellow mewed and brushed her legs. Merrit picked him up.

She carried the purring cat through the storage area and into the shop. Perhaps she could relay a message through Ivan to Lonnie. Something along the lines of, Stop talking to Liam about me, or else.

Or else what? She wasn’t sure, but it was better than nothing at this point.

A squeal, or perhaps a moan, issued from Lonnie’s office. Merrit froze. A moment later the rat-a-tatting of computer keys ceased and oaths in Ivan’s native Russian took over. Merrit smiled. The minion up to no good in the boss’s office. Now he’d see how much he liked having his personal life threatened with exposure.

On tiptoes, she stepped past computers and around the service counter behind which Ivan usually sat. Thankfully, the window blinds were drawn. No one could see her as she stepped toward one of two doorways marked “For Employees Only,” only to freeze again, this time in the office doorway with the cat pressed against her chest. She knew death when she saw it. There was no mistaking its particular brand of stillness. Death had sucked the energy out of Lonnie’s body, leaving it as bereft of life as a hologram.

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Kilmoon-A-County-Clare-Mystery/dp/0989544605

Website: http://lisaalber.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LisaAlberAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisaAlber

Blog: http://lisaalber.wordpress.com/

The Write Stuff – Monday, June 16 – Interview With Author Kasper Beaumont

This week’s edition of The Write Stuff takes us to the Land Down Under, but with a twist… We’re replacing ’roos with dragons and Aussies with elves as author Kasper J. Beaumont takes time away from her already busy schedule to share her writing life with us. I first met Kaz through Facebook’s Fantasy Sci-Fi Network where she’s an active part of the group that connects readers with bloggers and authors who specialized in this genre.

041 Kasper J. Beaumont was born and raised in Australia and lives a quiet life with the family in a seaside town. Combining a love of fantasy and a penchant for travel in the Hunters of Reloria trilogy, Kasper started to write on the urging of friends and family and enjoys watching readers become immersed in the magical world of Reloria. Kasper is a pen name for a rather shy author who is happy to remain unnamed.

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Dragon crop The first two volumes of her trilogy, Elven Jewel and Hunters’ Quest, are already out. The concluding volume, Dragon’s Revenge, is expected to be released July of this year. Oh, yes. Before I forget, the Dragon’s Revenge art competition is underway. There are 11 prizes and anyone can enter.

http://huntersofreloria.weebly.com/dragons-revenge-art-competition.html

 

 

 

Here is some information about the first two installments:

Elven Jewel Cover 3x4 Elven Jewel

This fantasy adventure begins when the magical continent of Reloria is threatened by cruel, scaly invaders called Vergai from the wastelands of Vergash. These invaders are barbaric and are intent on destroying the protective elven forcefield and conquering peaceful Reloria. The Vergais’ plan is to steal the Elven Jewel which is the key to the Relorian defence system.

Halfling friends Randir and Fendi and their bond-fairies are the first to discover the invaders and they embark on a quest to save the Elven Jewel. They leave their peaceful farm village with their fairies and race against time to stop the invaders. They join forces with dwarves, elves, men and a mysterious dragon, and call themselves the Hunters of Reloria.

The quest is perilous, with numerous encounters with the ruthless Vergai, who are determined to fulfill their mission. The Elven Jewel is stolen and the quest becomes a race to the portal to retrieve the jewel before it can be taken to Vergash. A battle for Reloria ensues where the consequences for the Relorians is death, unless Vergai are stopped.

Hunters Quest 3x4 Hunters’ Quest

Magical Reloria is under siege by scaly Vergai invaders by portal who have captured the Elven Jewel which creates their protective forcefield. These Vergai live across the western sea, and have fled with the elven princess.
Halfling friends, Randir and Fendi and their bond-fairies are members of a group of brave hunters on a quest to recover the stolen Elven Jewel. They must search for a mage who can make a portal to rescue the princess. They thought they knew what the quest would entail, but with an unexpected member and new enemies, not everything goes the way they had planned.
Their journey takes them to strange new places including the centaur lands, the gnomish inventors, the Great Elven Heart and the home of the dragons.
This unlikely group of men, a dragon, dwarves, halflings, fairies and an elf are known as the Hunters of Reloria.

Kaz, what distinguishes your work from that of other fantasy authors?

I introduced the concept of fairies and halflings bonded together in a symbiotic relationship. The fairies use their magic to heal and regenerate the halflings. The halflings eat food which keeps the fairies strong. The fairy comes into being at the birth of the halfling and one will not outlive the other. They also have a distance limit of 10 metres, but as I don’t use measurements in the book, I just call it the limit of their bond. I like that their fairies have individual personalities. Some are like a little conscience and others such as Sienna-Li can be very cheeky and get himself into trouble.

I also use some mythical beasts in my books, which some reviewers call a ‘genre-mash.’

Intriguing. These are certainly unique stipulations. Will you give us an idea of what your writing routine is like?

I’m not sure that I have one. I do routinely wake at 5am, but I don’t tend to start writing straight away. I usually sort through the 100-odd emails I’ve received for the day and do writing later on, maybe when the kids go to school. I love to escape to the bath or cubbyhouse with my scrapbook and scribble away without distractions.

For some authors, writing occurs in fits and starts. How do you overcome writer’s block?

I don’t believe in it. I could write 18 hours a day if my life would let me. It’s like there’s a dam full of ideas in me and the sluice can be opened at any time for ideas to spill forth.

Hah! Good for you. I would say the same about myself. Since I suspect we will also agree writing doesn’t come out of nowhere, but rather springs from our experiences, what life experiences inspire or enrich your writing?

I would have to mention my family when talking about writing. My eldest son has two short stories published and has been my biggest supporter. He likes to come up with outrageous ideas such as Cyclops giants with laser beams and I fit them into the stories somehow.

My favourite thing to do is travel with the family and experience new lands and cultures. Not only is this fun, but you always learn something, whether you’re in the Louvre, or wandering a desolate countryside.

Aside from the Hunters of Reloria trilogy, what else have you written?

I’ve written a short story recently about the tragedy of Garass and Asher, which is the back-story to one of the Hunters of Reloria. They were two best friends who had the misfortune to fall in love with the same woman and it tore them all apart. I like this one, because I get to write more romance than in the previous books, but as you know, I do love my battles too. I just handed it over to my editor and hope to share it with you all soon. My poor editor is very busy at the moment.

A moment ago, you mentioned your family and how they influence your writing. What else would you care to share about life in the Beaumont household?

My chickens. I have 6 beautiful little hens who are so tame they eat out of our hands. Sometimes they get impatient and peck our toes to remind us to bring food. They each have a name and personality. It’s so nice to have fresh eggs every day and know that the hens are loved and well cared for.

That’s delightful! Sticking to your “other” life for a moment, do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes, I’m a healthcare worker and I do enjoy my job most of the time. It has its challenges and rewards. At the moment I’m working less hours there and spending more time on my writing, so I would have to call it the best of both worlds.

Here are a few of questions I ask most of my guests. Where would you live, if you could live anywhere?

I’d love to be on an island with a couple of hundred people. Somewhere that’s not too hot or cold and there’s a mango tree. My family and I would live in tree houses and go fishing for our supper. Perhaps we’d have a pet possum. No work, no school, no traffic. I’d still have my scrapbook, no doubt. No worries and no cares sounds heavenly to me. Oh-oh, I think I’ve watched too many episodes of Survivor LOL.

Sounds like Swiss—or rather, Aussie—Family Beaumont. How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

Keep calm and carry on. I’m not really one for theatrics. We’ve had some loss recently and it has brought my partner and I closer together. It has been great to have all the family rallying around us.

I agree. Having said that, what makes you laugh?

The Umbilical Brothers and Tim Minchin. They are seriously some funny guys. Also the Big Bang Theory is hilarious.

Alright, before I treat our visitors to an excerpt from your writing, here are a few Lightening Round Questions. Answer them in as few words as possible.

The one thing I cannot do without is:

Chocolate (I apologise to my partner, who runs a very close second!)

Favorite book:

The Belgariad series by David Eddings

Favorite movie:

Star Wars

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Try an Indie author for your next book. There are truly some gems to be found.

Raymond, thanks so much for having me on your blog today. It’s been heaps of fun, cheers, Kasper.

I’ve enjoyed having you. Thank you for coming.

Now, as I promised at the beginning of this interview, for your reading pleasure, here is an excerpt from Hunters’ Quest by Kasper Beaumont, Battle of the Western Outpost.

Halflings Fendi and Sienna and their bond fairies, could now discern what the elf and dragons’ keen eyes had already seen. The grasslands ahead were covered with thousands of Vergai, spread out in numerous camps across the West Lands, and beyond them, the outpost castle was just discernable in the early morning gloom. Bolts of lightning could be seen striking about the black fortress. As they sped closer, Fendi saw many giants surrounding the crackling portal.

Dark shadows above the portal caused the Dragon leader to pull up abruptly from his rapid flight. The dragons hovered high above the Vergai campfires.

The grey Dragon turned to the brown and growled, “There be some kind of sorcery here. See those large blobs suspended over the castle? They emit lightning at random intervals. To destroy the portal, we must avoid them and defeat the wizards on the far side.”

To the dragons’ surprise, a loud voice came from far above them, “Well, it’s about time you dragons joined the party. We have been here for hours, but can’t find a way past the lightning creatures and the giants. They keep pouring through the portal and we can’t get close to it.” It was Baja dwarf’s cheerful voice calling, but he sounded rather more serious than usual.

They all looked up to see Heikki’s gnomish flying machine suspended above them, with their companions straining to look over the sides of the basket.

The Dragon leader gave a regretful look at the Hunters of Reloria in the flying machine, before saying, “Lead them to the wizards, Varnon. If I fail, that is our last hope.”

With mighty beats of his enormous wings, the dragon set off towards the portal, leaving his companions behind. Fendi gave a cry of despair at seeing huntress Sienna valiantly clinging to the dragon’s spiked neck. The other dragons followed the leader closely, with Fendi riding the plucky brown, and Daeron upon the large black.

As they approached the castle, the halflings saw it was the same defensive design as the other outposts, but made of black rock. A fair distance in front of the castle was the portal, surrounded by giants and twelve strange lightning creatures. Fendi thought they looked a bit like large bloated toads, anchored to the ground in front of the portal by long thick ropes. Glowing antennae projecting from their foreheads were suspended before wide mouths. Every so often, one of the creatures burped and lightning crackled in all directions, striking the ground with a loud explosion. Fendi noticed that the giants stayed well clear of these lightning creatures and were positioned directly in front of the portal.

The Dragon leader carrying Sienna reached the portal first and circled high around it, noting the portal could only be seen from the eastern side with no guards to the west. He surmised that the portal could only be accessed from one direction and he banked around to see the other dragons, hydra and wyvern, waiting for his lead.

“Follow me, dragons, we’ll go straight down the middle and then peel off sideways just before the portal, while sending your strongest burst of flame into the mouth of the portal to break the connection. Let’s go.”

With wings beating strongly, the grey Dragon sped straight towards the lightning creatures, with the others bravely fanning out behind in a V formation.

If you’d like to learn more about Kasper Beaumont, or purchase her books, here are a few links to assist you.

Book links:

http://www.amazon.com/Kasper-Beaumont/e/B00DQ2JB22/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/KasperBeaumont

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/kasper-beaumont

Links to her website, blog and online social accounts:

http://www.huntersofreloria.weebly.com

http://www.huntersofreloria.weebly.com/ kaspers-ramblings.html

https://twitter.com/KasperBeaumont

https://www.facebook.com/huntersofreloria

The Write Stuff – Monday, June 2 – Interview With Author Andrea Buginsky

Summer is almost upon us and I thought a nice way to begin the season, as we all crawl out of our cubby holes, is to introduce you to YA author, Andrea Buginsky. Andrea and I made each other’s acquaintance this year through best-selling author, Melissa Foster’s author group on Facebook. Throughout winter’s darker months, through its chill and the snows it had brought, Andrea remained an upbeat online presence. This is something about her background:

My Headshot

Andrea Buginsky is a freelance writer living with a congenital heart defect. She has enjoyed writing since she was a kid. When she went to college, she decided to turn it into a career, and earned her BA in Journalism. She has been freelance writing for several years now.

Andrea has always wanted to write a book, and decided she wanted to write for children. She loves fantasy movies like “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter,” so she decided to try her hand at writing one of her own.

Andrea’s first publication is “The Chosen,” a middle-grade fantasy she worked on for about three years. It was published by Solstice Publishing on December 14, 2010. The second book in THE CHOSEN series, “Nature’s Unbalance,” was published on July 17, 2012.

Andrea is currently writing a new series, NEW AVALON, a YA fantasy. Book 1, DESTINY, is now available. She is currently writing the second, FATE.

Andrea has also published , “My Open Heart,” an autobiography about growing up with heart disease. Her hope is that it will give encouragement to young adults growing up with heart disease, or other chronic illnesses, as well as parents of children growing up with heart disease.

Andrea lives in the Kansas City, KS area. She grew up in Florida, but is originally from NJ.

What are you currently working on, Andrea?

Book 2 of the New Avalon series.

Why have you chosen your particular genre?

I love fantasy, and often live in a fantasy world myself. I love to have the ability to come up with things that are completely out of this world and have them work in my stories.

You are one of those authors who managed to get taken on by a traditional publisher, but you have since self-published. Can you tell us a bit about that journey?

When I started writing books, it took me some time to figure out that YA fantasy was my niche. My first book was The Chosen. I queried it to different publishers and agents, but got several rejections. During an online writing conference, I had the chance to pitch it to some smaller publishers, and one offered me a contract. It was my first home. When my contract expired, I decided to take it on my own and self-publish it. I had just self-published my fourth book, and wanted to do the same with my other three. Now I have three books available on Amazon, with a fourth, fifth and sixth on the way.

Destiny is book one in the New Avalon series and Fateis Book 2.  Have you written any others?

My first book is The Chosen, about a group of warriors sent off by the queen of their world to save it. I have since written two more books in the series, which will be published sometime this year, and am working on the fourth one. I’ve also written My Open Heart, my autobiography about growing up with heart disease.

While My Open Heart clearly targets a specific audience, there are hundreds, if not thousands of fantasy novels. Why should teenagers be drawn to your fantasy books?

Because they want to read about an unlikely hero that faces normal teenage problems like they do.

What life experiences or careers inspire or enrich your writing?

I think just life itself, and how hard it can be sometimes. But overcoming the hard parts is what makes the stories come to life. My heroes persevere, just like I do.

What is your dream job?

I have it, although I would love to have the energy to sit at my desk all day, every day, and carve out 100s of pages a day.

What motivates or inspires you (not necessarily as regards your writing)?

Seeing people do good things. We hear way too much bad news about school shootings and other horrible incidents in the world. I love it when I hear a great humanitarian story about someone doing something simply out of the kindness of their heart.

What is your greatest life lesson?

To never give up your dreams.

Who are a few of your favorite authors?

J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, Danielle Steel, Nicholas Sparks

Do you have a favorite quote?

“I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I saw the man who had no feet.”

It is often hard to realize how truly blessed we are and to accept our own circumstances. Before I share a bit of your writing with our visitors, let’s try a few Lightning Round questions.

The one thing I cannot do without is:

My TV

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Kindness

Hard copy or ebook?

ebook

Vice? Virtue?

Chocolate. Honesty.

Favorite book:

Harry Potter

Favorite movie:

Dirty Dancing

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Reach for the stars, and make your dreams come true.

For those of you who would like a taste of Andrea’s writing, here is the premise of Destiny: New Avalon, book 1 (September 9, 2013), followed by a very brief excerpt.

Destiny (2)

Constantly teased and taunted by the popular girls, Elena Baxter desperately wants to fit in. On her sweet sixteenth, she receives two shocking gifts: telekinesis and the surprising truth about her heritage. With high hopes that things will be different now, Elena returns to school to find that nothing has changed. Only this time her hurt feelings and frustration boil into something even she cannot understand.

When her powers explode, chaos ensues and she learns that her new ability is greater than she ever desired. As she learns to control her powers, Elena discovers there’s so much more to her heritage than she ever imagined.

Excerpt:

As she yelled, things around her felt funny, and she realized she heard screaming. She looked around, and was startled to see everyone staring at her, horrified. She took a deep breath, and realized what had happened. She let her emotions get away from her, and her powers erupted.

The only words she could think of to describe the scene around her were total chaosEvery locker had burst open, and the entire contents – books, folders, papers, pictures, mirrors, backpacks – had come flying out. The posters on the walls were scattered everywhere. Most of the students and teachers were picking themselves up off the floor. Elena knew her powers had gotten totally out of hand, and she made everything around her fly out of control, literally.

She heard footsteps walking toward her, the only sound in the hall. She looked up and saw her counselor, Mrs. Adams, walking toward her. She gently took Elena by the shoulder and guided her to her office. She looked back and saw Barb and the other Bimbettes staring at her, as well as everyone else in the hall.

To read more about Andrea, please visit her website.

Social Media Links

Fbook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/Andrea.Buginsky.Author

Twitter: @andreabuginsky

Google+ https://plus.google.com/#117234398007434496419/posts

Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/andipandi10/

Website/Blog: http://www.andreabuginsky.com/

The Write Stuff – Monday, May 19 – Interview With Author Massimo Marino

I feel especially privileged today to host the award-winning science fiction author, Massimo Marino. After reading DAIMONES, the first volume of his trilogy, I knew I wanted to share this author with you. Not only is his story’s premise original, but his writing is subtly compelling. He manages to draw the reader in with intrigue, rather than the violence and fast-paced action so characteristic of the genre. And while it is not unheard of for a scientist to write science fiction, Massimo manages to interweave paranormal and mythological events into his tale. I asked Mr. Marino to begin by telling us about himself.

MM

I’m Italian, and because even in Italy that means everything and nothing at all, I should say I am Sicilian. I was born in Palermo, and as it happened with countless Sicilians, I left it, back in 1986. I lived more years abroad than in my home country, and I have changed in many and different ways than my old friends there. It is always a pleasure to go back, but it is now 6 long years since my last visit. Saudade? Maybe, a little.

I lived in Switzerland, France, and the United States. I am a scientist as a background, and have spent over 17 years in fundamental research. Most of my writing are then academic stuff, and I always wonder at how much Google is able to find about everyone. I am sure one has to Google oneself so not to forget too much…

I worked for many years at CERN—an international lab for particle physics research near Geneva, Switzerland—then in the US at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Fantastic moments and memories from those years. In 2005 I moved to the private sector, worked with Apple Inc., and then for the World Economic Forum.

I wrote since I was a kid, short stories and novellas, but never had anyone read it. It was a personal thing. Then, work and life took their toll and I stopped. Slightly over a year ago, for various reasons, I started again with some burning inside that needed to come out. On the first weekend I got over 15000 words, then subscribed to critters.org for peer review, lurked a year keeping on writing and getting feedback.

On September 2012 my debut novel, DAIMONES, saw the light. It received the 2012 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award in Science Fiction. Last February it was awarded with the Hall of Fame – Best Science Fiction by Quality Reads UK, and received over 64% of the 1600+ readers votes. To the day, DAIMONES has sold over 4,000 copies. Both novels are available as digital and printed editions.

DaimonesFrontCover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sequel, ONCE HUMANS, was published last July and has sold more than 1,000 copies since. I’m writing Vol.3, THE RISE OF THE PHOENIX. Its Prelude (chapters 1-4) has been published last November and readers can have a taste of what’s coming in the trilogy.

OHFrontCoverLong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The novels have been optioned by an Independent Audiobook Publisher in the US, Sci-Fi Publishing LCC, and both DAIMONES and ONCE HUMANS are now available as audiobook, too. (From audible.com, Amazon and iTunes).

Rise of the Phoenix Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you have told us about DAIMONES’ debut is tantalizing. Would you please detail a bit more about your path to publication?

I started as many others with query letters to agents and publishers. A good number asked for reading a few chapters. I only had two kind of replies: total silence, or personal words of appreciation for the story, my background, my voice, the “lyric of the prose”, and encouragements with the caveat that the market is looking unfortunately for something else. After a while, because the market is made of readers, I decided to verify myself if the market was looking for something else. Thus, I became the publisher of my work. I have a team supporting me, beta-readers, proofreading services, a copy editor, and a graphic professional for the covers. I’ve sold over 6000 copies of my books and critiques and readers appreciation are close to 90%.

I believe it would be the same even after 6 million copies, the sample I have is convincing enough.

I received two offers — since I published — from small publishing companies but the current standard of contracts is laughable. I said thanks but no thanks in both cases.

As I intimated at the outset of our discussion, your premise is unusual. What is the story behind the story?

The animal deaths around the world. Those intrigued me, they still happen, unexplained, targeting one single race at the time and leaving all others undisturbed. Don’t look like natural events and yet I’m not aware of any serious scientific investigation on what’s happening there. Who knows, maybe the Daimones trilogy is nothing but a premonition?

One would suspect that a scientist would write about, shall we say, down to earth matters. What made you choose science fiction?

I grew up with brother and dad buried under sci-fi novels. Dad received Astounding Stories magazine and I wasn’t allowed to read those but I looked at the pictures and fantasized. Later on, I started reading sci-fi, too.

In your own words, why is your writing different from other sci-fi authors?

Sci-fi is considered by many a minor, less valuable genre, not good for good, discerning readers, full of crazy ideas with little ground on reality, shoddy characterization and the equivalent of a B-series, low budget Hollywood movie. I think sci-fi can be of the highest literature, allowing the author to stress the boundaries of the society and the universe where the characters interact to explore any and every major high literature themes. I look after Literary Science Fiction.

I agree. Will you tell us what you are working on now?

I’m working on the launch of Vol. 3 of the trilogy: THE RISE OF THE PHOENIX. At the times of posting this interview it might be already available as ebook and paperback from major retailers and the audiobook being produced.

When you’re not marketing your work, what is your writing day like?

When I write a new book, I write every day. I aim at 2500 words. Good or bad doesn’t matter. Inspiration has to find me while I write, not while I’m attending other stuff.

Are there any awards you’ve received you haven’t mentioned above?

The novels have received the PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award in Science Fiction and Best Science Fiction Series. They have been awarded the Awesome Indies Gold Seal of Approval and the Seal of Excellency in Writing by the IndiePENdents.org association. But the greatest honor is when the stories touch the heart and soul of readers and prompt them to share their feelings with a 4 and a 5 star review.

I’ll be more direct. Aside from these, why should someone buy your books?

To spend good time reading immersive novels, to be provoked and questions beliefs and certainties, to daydream together.

Excellent answer! Let’s leave writing behind. I know you live in wonderful places in Europe—France, Switzerland and Italy. Many would consider these ideal. What is your dream location?

In a villa overlooking the Ocean in Big Sur, California.

Not a bad choice at all. In view of your marvelous career to date, what would be your dream job?

Being able to earn enough royalties from my books every month to pay for all I and family need. And writing new novels for new readers – sharing the visions and gifting them with pleasant reading times, moments of evasion and fulfillment.

Would you care to share something about your home life?

I have two furry, rascal cats who are the reasons for my pauses during a writing day, otherwise I’d forget about lunch, physiological rests, and any other task requiring my attention at any moment. When I write, I’m no more there. My cats arrive, place their paws on my hands or walk over the keyboard and stare at me. They give me the look: “Time to take a break.”

Even though your life may seem ideal to many of those visiting today, no one’s is perfect. So I have to ask, how do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

Panting and huffing, and with the support of my family.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“’Tis the good reader that makes the good book; in every book he finds passages which seem to be confidences or sides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for his ear; the profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader; the profound thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you. That’s a new one for me. Before we bring this interview to a close, I have a few Lightening Round questions.

The one thing I cannot do without is:

My tool for writing and doing research: my Mac Book Air

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Compulsive, passionate

Hard copy or ebook?

Both. There are moments for both.

Vice? Virtue?

It’s no virtue to have no vice.

Favorite book:

The one I’m reading at the moment.

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

A note to readers: Sales are great, press releases, interviews, live radio guest appearances are exciting, climbing the ranks and entering the Top 100 Authors for my genre is exhilarating, but nothing beats the support of all readers and friends and fellow writers who share the thrill with me. You’re the best readers any writer could ever have. Without you giving my stories a chance, nothing would ever be possible.

Links:

http://Author.to/MassimoMarino

http://myBook.to/Daimones

http://myBook.to/OnceHumans

http://myBook.to/PhoenixPrelude

http://youtu.be/ROnM9qPRXJU

http://youtu.be/ty6oCzWx-o4

 

Press Releases:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/12/prweb11406686.htm

http://www.12newsnow.com/story/24050894/award-winning-post-apocalyptic-science-fiction-daimones-audiobook-now-available-on-amazon-itunes-and-audible

http://www.wireservice.ca/index.php?module=News&func=display&sid=9540

http://www.wireservice.ca/index.php?module=News&func=display&sid=10926

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/12/prweb11424216.htm