Friday, December 30, 2011

Dishing it up with Lisa Scott

Today I am dishing it up with Lisa Scott. Lisa is a writer and a voice actor that holds workshops that teaches parents and kids how to use character voices and sound effects to make reading more fun.


JET: Can you tell us about Flirts?

Lisa: I just started publishing my Flirts! collections this past summer. Each collection contains five short stories (8,000-12,000 words per story) that stand alone, but are also linked in the collection, with characters appearing in other stories. (my readers love that!) It all wraps up with a perfect happy ending. I’ve also published Beach Flirts! and Holiday Flirts! The plan is to release a new collection every few months. The stories are available as individual reads, or in the collection. Lots of new readers are discovering short stories, and are surprised how much they enjoy them. I have a group of ladies who read them on their lunch breaks. I’ve heard from mothers who enjoy them during their kids’ sports practices. Even some people who claim they don’t like short stories are enjoying them.

JET: What drew you to romance?

Lisa: I think any situation has the potential for a little romance, and I like the challenge of getting two people together under unlikely circumstances. I enjoy writing stories that make people smile, and I think my sweet, funny romances do that, so they’re always fun for me to create. I’m never at a loss for ideas.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Lisa: The frustrating agent/publisher search. Before indie publishing, that was your only shot—to submit to agents and publishers. I actually self-published before landing an agent and my book deal. Many times I thought of giving up. I’m so glad I didn’t.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Lisa: Submitting my romance novel to Belle Bridge Books this fall and getting an offer half an hour later. (Another romance publisher took 11 months to tell me no thanks. Half an hour for a yes was like a dream!)

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Lisa: I loved the Little House series growing up, and read every Nancy Drew available. I grew up out in the country without a ton of friends, so reading was a wonderful escape.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Lisa: I’ve always dabbled in writing, whether it was for the newspaper in high school, for the literary journal in college, or humorous essays for a parenting website. After college, I pursued a career in the TV news industry and knew someday when I left that field, I’d focus on publishing fiction.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Lisa: When I was working on the middle grade novel my agent has out on submission, I was sprinkling in facts from the summer of 1977, when the story takes place. It’s set in North Carolina, and in doing research I discovered there was a major drought there that year. I became so caught up in incorporating real life details into my story, that I asked the weather guy at the station where I was working if he’d contact weather officials in North Carolina to find out the exact rainfall amounts for the summer of 1977. (I’d been thinking I’d make the weather for each day accurate to what really happened that summer.) When even they couldn’t find that information, I figured I might be going a bit overboard. Yeah, just a bit.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

Lisa: No Foolin.’ That’s the romance novel Belle Bridge Books is publishing in November 2012. It’s the first in my Willowdale romance series. It’s a southern romantic comedy, but there are plenty of heart wrenching moments, too. Every time I re-read it, I laugh and cry. That’s always a good combination in a book. I love the characters, I love the journey and the heartache they face, and I love the resolution. I’ll be releasing related Willowdale Romance Short Stories on Amazon etc. preceding the release of the novel.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Lisa: You’re never going to please everyone. Don’t be discouraged if someone doesn’t like what you’ve written. However, if you keep hearing the same criticisms, you might want to see if there’s some truth behind it. But no matter how good your writing, there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t care for your style.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. Starting with…Paper or Plastic?

Lisa: Plastic (but I do recycle.)

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Lisa: Chicken?

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Lisa: Maui? Because it has both.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Lisa: Elvis, baby!

JET: Leather or Lace?

Lisa: Lace

JET: Angels or Demons?

Lisa: Angels

JET: Paper or Digital?

Lisa: Digital

JET: Twilight or True Blood?

Lisa: Twilight

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Lisa: Tea, hot or cold, all day long

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Lisa: I’m just finishing Fairy Tale Flirts! which will be out in early January. Modern day love stories inspired by classic fairy tales—and the only magic involved is the real-life kind.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Lisa Scott and her work at the following places:

http://twitter.com/?iid=am-167106996113238295867243099&nid=23+recipient&uid=334757844&utm_content=profile#!/ReadLisaScott

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Read-Lisa-Scott/227457993948941

http://readlisascott.com/


Thanks for joining us today and have a fun and safe New Year’s Eve!

See you next year!

Ciao

JET

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Christmas letter...

Hi folks!  Can you believe the holidays are already upon us?  My gosh this year went by in a blink. 
 
2011 has been crazy for weather here on the east coast!
Record-breaking snow in January.
A tornado in May.
Record heat in July.
A hurricane in September that knocked out power and closed schools. 
And a historic blizzard that knocked out power lines all over Connecticut just in time for Halloween.
And no sign of a white Christmas.  :-(


Not your average year by any means and along with these memorable weather events came some of our own family memories.

My daughter turned sixteen this year and had a hell of a birthday bash. She got a job at the local Friendly’s soon after her birthday in March and continues to work and dance and have a generally crazy schedule this school year. She hasn’t gotten her license yet because of her crazy schedule but we’re hoping she can fit the required classes in between now and the end of January and have her license before she turns seventeen.

My son has been just as busy as my daughter. Between basketball, baseball Jukido and guitar lessons, he's one busy boy. He earned a blue belt this year in Jukido this year and is looking forward to getting to the next level. He also asked me to write a book with him this year and what a blast to be able to get into my son's twelve-year-old mind!  He has some very intriguing ideas and I've had the joy of teaching him how to flush them out and create something fascinating.  We're hoping to get the first installment of The Death Chronicles out in 2012.
My husband has been having fun with his pool league and playing paint ball with the neighbors in the spring and fall when we aren’t making the trek to our summer place. During the summer we live for the weekends on the beach and it was a challenge this year with my daughter's work schedule, but we still had time to enjoy Maine. Now that the season is over, we’re focused on the holidays and trying not to get hung up with the mental countdown to opening day in May.  Our day jobs have kept us on our toes too and my husband got some well deserved accolades at work - he was honored with a service excellence award this year.  

As for me, it's been a busy year on the writing front. Beyond releasing three novels and two short story anthologies, I took the plunge into the publishing realm this year with a writing colleague of mine. Jason Halstead and I opened the doors to Novel Concept Publishing, LLC in May and we’ve been blessed with some stellar submissions. As of December 23, 2011, we have three published authors under our label with two more queued up for early in 2012. I can’t begin to tell you how fulfilling it is to help another author hone their book into a sharp captivating story and see it published. The only thing that has outshines that experience was hitting the number one spot on Amazon’s Horror/Occult list in November. Now we just need to get our authors to that acclaimed milestone…

On that note, I bid farewell to 2011 and want to wish you all a happy and healthy 2012!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest spotlight with Wilf Nussey

Today, I have a Wilf Nussey in the special guest spotlight. Wilf was a newspaperman for forty years, all but four of them in Africa. He was the foremost foreign correspondent for the Argus group of newspapers for many years spanning most of Africa’s transition to independence and its continuing upheavals. Before that he was a freelance correspondent in Kenya for British and North American media and lived and worked in Britain and Canada. Assignments have taken him to the Middle East, Far East, Europe and New Zealand. Five years after becoming editor of a small newspaper, he quit to live in the bush and write books and has produced four successful documentaries. Now he and his wife live a few metres from the sea at Simon’s Town in South Africa’s Cape.


JET: Can you tell us about Darts of Deceit?

WILF: It’s an adventure thriller inspired by my knowledge from experience of Southern Africa and the strange situation when white rule had collapsed in Rhodesia, apartheid was collapsing in South Africa, and the Soviet Union was collapsing – all in roughly the same time span. There were fears then of a hard-core backlash in Russia. This story is one scenario of how that might have happened: by triggering major violence in volatile parts of the world, including Southern Africa, to distract the world’s attention and give the Russian extremists a chance to reassert their strength. It also involves fairly typical American and British deviousness in exploiting such situations to their own advantage, and the involvement of the South African apartheid regime as the only real power in the region. The story unfolds around two main characters, one a former Rhodesian, the other a Mozambican, both veterans of the Rhodesian and Mozambique wars.

JET: What drew you to thrillers?

WILF: I enjoy thrillers (when they are well written) as escapist relaxation between reading historical books and novels based in history, specially naval history.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

WILF: Finding an agent and a publisher. Over more than a decade scores of agents have turned down this book, and others I have written, most summarily, some with nice comments about my chapters and synopses, plus a “but…”. Then I read about Rebel ePublishers and wrote direct because what attracted me was that they had been through the same mill of rejection so they were sympathetic.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

WILF: Getting accepted by Rebel. I had amusing experiences along the way, mostly from pompous people who turned up their noses as if I was offering porn.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

WILF: A whole fleet because since childhood I have read voraciously. Some in any old order are Rudyard Kipling, Rider Haggard, Percy Fitzpatrick, John Steinbeck, Patrick O’Brian, C S Forester, Jack London, Charles Dickens (of course), Richard Dawkins, Ed McBain, the list is long.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

WILF: I thought about it often while sitting in planes and airport lounges, or waiting in hotels, reading books to kill the time. I decided to tackle writing books when I became sated with the bureaucracy and trivia of newspaper administration – that

after a lifetime of reporting, most of it as a foreign correspondent. I wrote a couple of documentaries, then a collection of stories about small rural town which I thought was damned good but didn’t sell because the publisher did nothing to promote it.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

WILF: I did all the crazy things as part of my job as a foreign correspondent: going into war situations with troops, rooting around in the backyards of African dictators, grubbing about in the bush, experiencing the hypocrisy of politics and diplomacy, meeting a host of fascinating people. There were many most interesting facts. Years ago when I first came across an AK-47 I predicted it would replace the spear as the symbol of Africa. I was fascinated by the goodwill I found among ordinary people in Africa, those swamped by conflict and exploitation and politics who still somehow survived and, like me, merely wanted to live a good, safe life. I am still entranced by the huge, diverse beauty of Africa in spite of all its dangers and problems.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

WILF: Of novels, this, my first. Of stories, one I wrote in my collection about a small powderhorn picked up by an English farmer in Africa and claimed by a wizened old African witchdoctor. Both reflect Africa, the rough and the smooth and the mysterious.

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

WILF: Be thick-skinned, be tough, keep trying, do anything (within reason) to get yourself noticed.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten…starting with…Paper or Plastic?

WILF: Paper.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

WILF: Steak.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

WILF: Mountains.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

WILF: Rock-n-Roll.

JET: Leather or Lace?

WILF: Leather.

JET: Angels or Demons?

WILF: Demons.

JET: Paper or Digital?

WILF: Paper.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

WILF: Silent films.

JET: Twilight or True Blood?

WILF: Dunno.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

WILF: Tea.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

WILF: Been doing an autobiography for the family, a collection of anecdotes from many journalists about covering Africa, and working on another novel, probably around old African gold.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Wilf Nussey and his work at the following places:

Facebook url: facebook.com/wilf.nussey.

Website url: wilfnussey.co.za.

Thanks for joining us today.  Don't forget Todd Russell's on tap on Friday. 

Until then,
Ciao.
JET

Monday, December 19, 2011

Manic Monday - The Gift of "Now" by Caddy Rowland

The Gift of “Now” Is the Best Gift We Can Receive


I am an indie author/publisher. I can say that because of a gift that I finally “got”; one that we all have, but usually don’t open. Curious? Good!

In 2010, I went for my annual physical as usual. The routine blood tests all came back normal like usual, and I went on with my day. There was a gift waiting for me, one that had been there since I was born; but once again I failed to open it.

Then, my phone rang. I needed to come back in because my mammogram had something suspicious on it. After another mammogram and biopsy, I got another call. The call that finally got me to open my eyes…the call that finally got me to open the gift.

I had breast cancer. I could go on and on about my feelings, my fears, the surgery, the radiation, the healing, but that is not what this blog is about. This blog is about what getting cancer forces you to do. It forces you to finally open your eyes and see the gift that has been waiting for you from the moment you were born.

It is the gift of “now”.

I finally understood that anything that I wanted to accomplish in my life should not be put on a back burner for “someday”. Someday is not guaranteed. We all run out of “someday” sooner or later. But I did (and do) have “now”. Nothing brings this home to us like the threat of no longer existing.

And so, once I was done with all of the radiation, I committed to writing 5 days a week, at least an hour a day. No matter what. Why? Because “now” is all I had; all any of us have.

I had always wanted to write a novel. Had started a couple but never finished. This time, I knew that if I wanted it to happen, it was up to me to make sure that nothing stopped me. Not even “someday”.

Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream was born from that. I self-published for many reasons. I did not even try to go the traditional route. I wanted freedom. I did not want to wait (remember “now”?). I wanted to control my own destiny in regard to my writing. Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream came out for Kindle and NOOK on August 1, 2011. Paperback arrived shortly after.

I am releasing Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny the week of December 12th. If the formatting and downloading go without glitches, it should be “live” by the time this blog posts!

I am not going to use this blog to talk about the drama/romance series of Gastien. You will find links above at the end of my post. I hope you take a moment to read the descriptions and reviews from those. I simply want to share the gift of “now”.

I could never have imagined how exciting it would be to hold my own book in my hands! It is a feeling that I am glad I got to experience. Cancer did that for me. I had always heard there were blessing to cancer, but thought it was b.s. Not so. The gift of “now” is the greatest gift there is…and it is free and available to all of us.

The cancer is gone. It was caught very early and my doctor says to plan on eventually dying from something else. Yes, of course. No one gets out of here alive. That is why I am moving right into the third book in the Gastien series. It is time. Now!

I hope this holiday season each one of you reading this will accept the gift that has always sat there, waiting for you to open it. I can’t give it to you. Only you can. It is your gift of “now”. Open it. Please.

Caddy Rowland

http://caddyrowlandblog.blogspot.com/

caddyauthor@yahoo.com

twitter: http://www.twitter.com/#caddyorpims

Fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/Gastien.Beauchamp

Buy links (for Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream):

http://tinyurl.com/3ecu8ku For kindle readers

http://tinyurl.com/3ue4a7h For nook readers

http://tinyurl.com/3luddg7 To order paperback

As of the date I wrote this, Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny was in the process of being released. Please check the above sites to see if this book is now available by typing title of my name in the search. If not, it will be very soon!


Folks - thanks for swinging in today and I hope Caddy gave you the same rush of inspiration that she gave me when I read this post!

Later this week I've got Wilf Nussey and Todd Russell on tap - swing in and say hi if you get a chance.

Until next time,
Ciao.
JET

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dishing it up with VH Folland

Today, I have the pleasure of dishing it up with VH Folland. VH Folland is a British author with a lifelong interest in aviation and engineering. On a school trip to Kew Gardens most of the class were looking at the plants, and one small child was staring up at the planes on Heathrow approach. A career spanning IT, media, and engineering gave this interest plenty of time to grow. Along the way, an extra hour was found in the day for writing books.


JET: Can you tell us about Conflict of Interest?

VH: Conflict of Interest is a sequel to The Docks, continuing Harry's story. I'm hoping to complete a series of novellas and novellettes charting Harry's moral progress from a hardened crook to a vaguely grubby grey. The difficult part was making sure it works even if readers haven't read the first book, without giving continuing characters long introductions that slowed the story.

JET: What drew you to adventure fiction?

VH: I’ve always enjoyed it, from sci-fi as a child moving on to thrillers by authors like Alastair MacLean and Gavin Lyall as I grew up. I prefer the everyman heroes – normal people in extraordinary situations.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

VH: Confidence. Having the belief that your book is good enough to submit (and that you should stop making revisions and actually submit it) is a stumbling block for a lot of authors, and I'm no exception.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

VH: The first time I got a publication offer from a publisher. I was absolutely over the moon, because it was the first time it was confirmed that actually my books were good enough to be published. The close second was walking into Waterstones and seeing my books on the shelf. I did take a photo of the books, but luckily the staff are used to enthusiastic authors and didn't think me too strange.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

VH: Gavin Lyall, who I always enjoyed for the detail in his work and his rather unique gift of giving inanimate objects, notably aircraft, their own distinct characters. Also, Alastair Maclean for his mastery of the first person narrative (and the unreliable narrator)

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

VH: I started writing rather young, when I was still at school, and have a range of articles and non-fiction out under various pennames. I don't think I ever really stopped writing.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

VH: That would have been for Fire Season. Delving around the cockpit of a live nuclear bomber/maritime patrol aircraft definitely counts as the craziest. The most interesting fact would be how to rig a stationary unpowered aircraft up as a transmitter and radio station, although I had to omit most of the detail and set up for the sake of story pacing.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

VH: Difficult to say. Usually it is whichever one I'm working on right now, since I tend to get enthusiastic about my projects.

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

VH: Don’t quit. It is very easy to get discouraged, and there are a lot of rejections along the way, but if you quit you'll never get published. The second most important thing is not to be afraid to ask for help. There are a lot of people out there who can provide advice, assistance, and help if you ask.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten…starting with…Paper or Plastic?

VH: Paper – if you get an idea, it's harder to write on plastic.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

VH: Steak

JET: Beach or Mountains?

VH: Mountains, there are fewer tourists.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

VH: Rock (ok, metal)

JET: Top 10 best seller or Unknown Back Shelf Find?

VH: Back Shelf Find.

JET: Sword wielding ninja or Gun toting momma?

VH: Gun-toting momma – never mess with a mama bear with cubs.

JET: Paper or Digital?

VH: Paper. I know, I’m a luddite.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

VH: Cheesy Horror

JET: 2012 Mayan Prophecy Believer or Ain’t Gonna Happen?

VH: I believe their calendar reaches the end of a cycle, rolls over, and carries on, much as ours did in 2000 (although hopefully without the Y2K issues...).

JET: Coffee or Tea?

VH: Tea

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

VH: Two stand-alone novels. I am working on two more novellas in The Docks series to finish the story, one in note form, one mostly finished. I also have some short stories to follow Fire Season, which are in editing for a possible collection.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about V.H. Folland and his work at the following places:

http://www.vhfolland.com/

http://vhfolland.bogspot.com/


Thanks for joining us today! Next week we have Caddy Rowland and Todd Russell on tap, so swing by while you’re drinking that eggnog!

Until then,
Ciao.
JET

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Manic Monday Special Guest Ellis Hoff

Today in lieu of my normal Manic Monday post, I have a special guest - Author Ellis Hoff. Ellis lives in Medina, west of Minneapolis. Just over a decade ago, while trying to balance kids and a corporate job, it became evident that something had to give. That something was the job. And, although being a full-time mom wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, it offered enough flexibility for her to pursue her dream of writing. She wrote before everyone was up, and after they went down for the count. She wrote at the beach, at ball games and in the pick-up lane at school. She carted her kids to libraries and bookstores to pick the brains of published writers, and squeezed in some night classes.


With her kids now grown, Hoff’s undergone a transformation of her own, turning up the suspense aspect of her storytelling and diving into the thriller genre full force. Sins of the Mother, her debut thriller, is the book she always knew she’d write.

JET: Can you tell us a little more about Sins of the Mother?

Ellis: Sins covers a couple of days in a sleepy little county that's seen hard economic times and, recently, a possible child abduction. The story's protagonist, Maryanne Levine, is a deputy in the Lourie County Sheriff's Department, and bored silly with mundane tasks and thankless paperwork until the other shoe drops. A woman goes missing in Lourie, the mother of the missing girl, and she's handed a leading role in the investigation. As vulnerable as she is smart, Maryanne soon finds the case bigger and darker than she could have ever imagined. As she races the clock to find both mother and daughter, she's drawn into a web of secrets, betrayal and madness that just might be her own undoing.

JET: What drew you to thrillers?

Ellis: I guess it's a twisted fascination with “worst case scenario”. I think we'd all —although, I should probably just speak for myself — like to know how we'd manage under uncontrollable circumstances. Throw out the day-planner and the other comforts of ordinary, and try it on the fly. Race the clock. Walk on the wild side. See what, push come to shove, we're really made of. Writing suspense, and reading it, may be as close as I ever need to be, but who knows? Life is unpredictable.

Tattoos are the hot new accessory for a lot of my female friends (kind of like hair extensions a few years back), but I tell them, and they laugh, that I'm holding out on the off-chance that I may have to go on the run one day and don't need an identifying emblem blazed through several layers of my epidermis. The thing is, deep down, I'm not joking.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Ellis: Finding myself. Discovering what I really want to write. I had some success with romantic comedy, enjoyed, and still do, penning it immensely, but I think I've always known that there was another door I needed to unlock. Something a little edgier. I think being focused improves the quality of writing, so I'm here in thrillers and trying my best to take as many hostages as I can.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Ellis: The first time I typed “the end” on a manuscript. There are rewrites and edits, sure (not to mention the trials of trying to sell), but still...finishing an entire book was a very memorable moment. It's a feat that has lost little appeal over the years.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Ellis: This is a great question.

My mother was a huge reader. She read everything, and had a ten-to-twelve book stash in her nightstand at all times. She introduced me to Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart when I was about eleven or twelve. I loved those books, we both did. So, when I first started writing, at the tender age of about thirteen, I stole the English governess voice and it sounded...like a mid-western teenage girl trying to sound like an English governess. Painful to say the least. Then, one day, she handed me a book she'd just read by a new author. You might have heard of him.

Stephen King.

I was transfixed. So...you could just write the way you saw things? Have people talk the way they talk, think the way they think, no mandated rules of propriety? Excellent.

It changed my world. I nixed the virginal governess on the spot and started writing in my own voice. Funny thing about your own voice, it grows with you.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Ellis: Fourth grade, originally.

Ms. Michenski, my English teacher, gave us a writing assignment. We'd been reading short stories all month, so she asked us to write one of our own. Mine got me an A+ and my mother a scolding from Ms. M for doing my homework. My mom woke me up when she got home from conferences to tell me about it, more pleased than pissed, and that put me on course.

Although it would be years before I'd actually try my hand at becoming a professional writer, I remained committed on some level and have always written. I was in my thirties when I finally decided to put writing on the front burner, so to speak, and watch it cook.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Ellis: Most of what I've done, that turned out to be crazy, was neither intentional or sought. I'm the woman who gets cornered by the crazy uncle at a wedding reception who feels the need to share that he's being stalked by the US government, carries a crossbow in his trunk and asks if I'd like to see it.

I, not so long ago, visited a long-time girlfriend who'd gotten herself into a bit of trouble. I didn't realize how much until she abandoned me with her new roommate — in a desolate house where a scream would be lost — who wasted no time telling me about how he'd just gotten out of prison after seven years for aggravated assault. Oh, and that wasn't the worst of it. He went on to tell me about how, in a bar fight, knowing the cops had been called and that he'd probably being going back (back?) to prison, he came to life in his telling of how he chewed his opponent's finger off and kept it in his cheek until he was shoved into the back of a cop car. He seemed to think this was justified, humorous and clever. “Worth seven years?” I asked as if I were interviewing him (out of instinct, I probably was) and he considered before answering, “Probably not.” It was half an hour before my friend returned, but it seemed like an eternity. I did, however, between shudders I tried to conceal, sop up what I could of his mindset. This man was polite, couldn't have been a better host. Was I warm enough? Did I need a more comfortable chair? Would I like to wear his jacket? Smoke a little rock?

I don't know what it is, but I seem to inspire the oddest, sometimes alarming, confessions of virtual strangers. Especially now that I am a writer, and often introduced that way. It's true, I think, that everyone has a story. And some of them, true or not, are doozies. My husband's leery of some of the folks I've given a listen to, and I suppose with cause, but I've gotten some good character-creating tips firsthand over the course, and have made use of them.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite and why?

Ellis: The last is the one on my mind. It took me a while to get here. I really like Sins. I particularly like how Maryanne defies the stereotypical physical attributes of heroine status (lithe and pin-up pretty), but with a heart that won't let her roadblock what her head tells her is out of her reach. Her internal battle exemplifies her vulnerability and spirit.

I also feel that Reck, the lead male and Maryanne's composite opposite, is compelling, especially as we uncover his emotional liabilities.

And then there's the plot. I like a good twist, or two, myself.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Ellis: Yes.

Write. And keep on writing. Do not stop to do research unless it's absolutely necessary. There will be plenty of time for that later. With this big, wide world that comes into your house every day, invited or not, you know way more than you think you do. Go with your instincts and stay in the moment for as long as you can.

I've been in classes with writers far more eloquent and seasoned than I who keep submitting their first three chapters for review. Combing over them, perfecting them.

No one sells three chapters.

Also, let your characters face the situation you've created without coddling them too much. Sometimes it's hard not to be protective, but you've done your job, let them do theirs. It will only make them stronger. I don't know anyone who lives over a safety net, so let them loose and see what happens.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten…starting with Paper or Plastic?

Ellis: My own fiber-fused bags. In a pinch, paper.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Ellis: Steak.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Ellis: Beach.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Ellis: Rock-n-Roll.

JET: Leather or Lace?

Ellis: Leather.

JET: Angels or Demons?

Ellis: Angels.

JET: Paper or Digital?

Ellis: Digital.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Ellis: Cheesy B rated Horror.

JET: Twilight or True Blood?

Ellis: Totally with the True Blood. OMG, hooked!

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Ellis: Coffee.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Ellis: I'm writing “Sisters of Privilege” which puts Maryanne, of Sins, on the trail of her sister's missing son. It also brings her back to Lourie County, where some unfinished business awaits.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Ellis Hoff and Sins of the Mother at http://www.novelconceptpublishing.com/.

Thanks for joining us today!
Until next time,
Ciao
JET

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dishing it up with Jonathan DeCoteau

Today I have the pleasure of dishing it up with Jonathan DeCoteau, author of "The Storm World Series"


Jonathan, can you tell us about the Storm World books or about your most recent book?

My most recent title is The Fluent Sculpture of Time. It deals with the idea that science has conquered death and an aging grandfather must decide if he wishes to live forever or join his late wife in death.

The Storm World Trilogy is more of a Christian apocalyptic series following a teen who must fulfill a prophecy and face the storms sweeping the world if the world is to survive.

What drew you to YA fantasy?

I always loved reading books with supernatural twists, whether they were YA or otherwise. It only felt natural to write one.

What's been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

The road to publication itself. Presently, only one of my books has been published in trade paperback form by a small press. It's a hurdle I still face.

Which authors had the most influence on you growing up?

As a child, I loved Roald Dahl. When I was nine, I thought that the idea of basing a book on a chocolate factory was sheer genius. As an adult, I still find his short stories memorable.

When did you know you wanted to take the plunge in the writing world?

As soon as I started imagining the stories I read as vividly as if I was seeing them in real life.

What's the most interesting fact you uncovered?

When researching the idea of early Christian mummification for the Storm World books, I had to say that I wasn't aware that it even existed. It's still a strange, paradoxical world to me.

Of the novels you've written, which is your favorite?

The Storm World books, while not the best received, are the ones that are most personal to me.

Any advice for novices?

Actually, I still am one. If I had to give any advice, though, I'd say that if the rejections and reviews haven't stopped me (and maybe they should have!), then don't let anything stop you!

Favorites:

Paper or plastic?

I'm for reusable bags.

Steak or tofu?

There's no competition. Steak.

Beach or mountains?

Beach.

Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Rock-n-Roll—specifically, eighties synthpop.

Angels or demons?

Angels all the way.

Paper or digital?

Doesn't matter to me—it's the book that's important.

Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B-Rated Horror?

Whichever's funnier.

2012 Mayan Prophecy Believer or Ain't Gonna Happen?

We'll still be here in 2013, and the bills will still have to get paid.

Coffee or Tea?

Coffee—only if there's a lot of sugar and cream. Otherwise, soda.

What are you working on next?

Christmas shopping, actually. Everything else falls on the back burner until that wraps up.

Thanks for having me!



Folks, you can find out more about Jonathan DeCoteau and his books on Amazon.
Swing in next week when we have Laura Vosika, Ellis Hoff and V.H. Folland on tap.

Until then,
Ciao,
JET

Monday, December 5, 2011

Manic Monday with Piper Maitland...

Welcome to another Manic Monday. I’ve got Piper Maitland on tap today talking about her writing journey. Piper lives on a Tennessee farm with her family. She is the author of the vampire thriller, Acquainted With the Night (Berkley/November 2011). She is currently working on the sequel, A Requiem for Daylight. Piper has also written novels under the name Michael Lee West.

Without further adieu – here’s Piper…

When I was a tiny girl, I watched Dracula movies on the Late, Late Show, and I would get so frightened, I’d scream for my father to walk me back to my room. For years, until I discovered boys and lost my fear of the undead, I slept with a crucifix around my neck and garlic under my pillow.

I didn’t begin writing seriously until I was a junior in nursing school. I cobbled together horror stories in an airless closet under the staircase and pinned my rejection slips on the wall. We're talking floor-to-ceiling wallpaper here. Some of the slips had tiny indentions in the paper, as if the editor had stabbed them over and over with a sharp pencil, or maybe a butcher knife.

The free wallpaper continued for a decade. My family begged me to give up this crazy dream and go make cornbread. I made the cornbread, but kept writing, Lord knows why. I just like words and making up stuff. There's no telling how much weight I gained from stress eating--and corn bread was a favorite. It still is.

Despite setbacks and slammed doors, I kept writing. One Mother's Day, my eldest son wrote me a letter: To my Mom. I've never seen anybody work harder than you and get nowhere. But I love ya.

I didn't have a PhD in literature. I didn't know any writers. If I saw an infinitive, I gleefully split it. I thought a plot had something to do with gardening, as in a "plot" of land. But I kept going. I got up at dawn to write so my avocation wouldn't interfere with family life, and I stayed up late. I joined a writing group. The members were spread out all over the country, and we communicated via snail mail.

I continued to paper my walls with rejection slips. I wasn't published, but I was still a writer. It's easy to spot one. We have ink stains on our hands and clothes; and we can't go two seconds without thinking, "What if....?"

A long time ago, someone advised me to be a "bit like a weed." I embraced that advice. In 1988, I submitted a short story to a very fine literary journal. The editor in chief wrote me a two page rejection letter. It basically said, Dear Horrible Writer, You suck. Stop sending us stories or we shall cry. Etc, etc.

Somehow I persevered. My first novel was published in 1990. I was 38 years old. Like my mama says, I was the opposite of an overnight sensation. Now I'm 58. I no longer work in a closet, but I don't have an office. I roam around the house with my laptop. If the weather isn't too grim, I will sit outside with a legal pad.

After years of writing southern fried novels, I got the idea to write about vampires during the winter of 2008, while I drove to the grocery with my son. He’s a biochemist, and we began playing the “what if?” game. What if vampires weren’t allergic to garlic? What if they had a biological basis for their blood cravings?

I knew it would be a risk. But I’d started out writing horror fiction, and I was longing to write something different. So what if it wasn’t published? That’s not the point. The point is to have a rollicking good time while you’re writing. A writer writes because we love words and because we’ve a burning desire to put those words onto the page.

The character of Caroline Clifford took shape while I shopped in the Publix bakery, and by the time I’d made it to the check-out line, I was eager to get home and start writing.

I pulled from my science background to try and create an unusual strain of vampirism and to explore the physiology behind it. My fact checkers were "in house"--my husband, a physician, and my younger son, a biochemist. Jude Barrett, a main character in the novel, is a biochemist. I showed it to my agent, some writing friends, and my mother. My agent believed in the manuscript from the beginning. Friends were divided. My mother freaked. "Oh no," she cried. "Go back to writing unplotted Southern fiction."

I decided I loved tying my heroines to the train tracks. The experience of writing a paranormal novel infused a new joy in the writing process. But it wasn’t easy. I had a lot to learn about plotting and pacing. As a self-taught writer and die-hard pantster, I had to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Since I am overly fond of writing about food (and I love feeding my characters), I had to learn how to trim the fat and get the action moving. I plunged into workshops and writing classes. I’m still taking classes. I just finished a year-long mentorship with author Lori Wilde, and I’ve taken a steampunk workshop with author Theresa Meyers. The learning has just begun, but I’m having a blast.

Acquainted With the Night was published this November by Berkley. To be sure, I will be celebrating with cornbread.

You can find out more about Piper and her books at http://www.pipermaitland.com/

Thanks for swinging in today. Don’t forget to swing in on Friday when I’m dishing it up with Jonathan DeCoteau.

Until then,
Ciao
JET

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Special Guest Spotlight: Dishing with Marc Hamlet

Today I have the pleasure of talking with Marc Hamlet. Marc spent his formative years reading Robert Heinlein, Phillip K. Dick, Larry Niven and Samuel R. Delaney. He also misspent his youth playing bass and guitar in forgettable punk rock bands in the San Francisco Bay Area. For some unfathomable reason, he joined the Air Force Reserve where he served as both crew chief and flight engineer on the C-141B Starlifter. About twenty-one years ago, he forced his way into the Information Technology field and currently works for the UC Davis Health System designing financial and administrative applications.


Marc continues to play electric guitar for whomever will stop to listen, but—after rediscovering Charles Dickens—finds himself drawn into writing more than ever before. He lives in the Sacramento area with his wife of eighteen years and their two very clever sons. After a diagnosis of Stage Four colorectal cancer, Marc decided to sit his lazy ass down at the computer and write one of his story ideas. The Capable Man is the result.

JET: Can you tell us about your most recent book –The Capable Man?

Marc: Conceptually, the story is a moral mirror-image of Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit Will Travel. A young man, left to his own devices, must make choices counter to his moral upbringing. Physical courage comes easily to him, but moral courage is a different matter. Yet every time he chooses the immoral path, someone is there to reward him for doing it.

JET: What drew you to science fiction?

Marc: As a small boy, I was a fan of both “Star Trek” and “Lost In Space”. I fell into the literature because there was nothing on tv. The possibilities and dangers that lie in the future have always fascinated me.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Marc: Getting all my ducks in a row. I’m a terrible synopsis writer.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Marc: Well, there was the outlining phase when I saw that I had an entire story mapped out. And then, of course, when I finished the final chapter and typed THE END.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Marc: I’ve always been amazed by the army of odd characters Dickens produced. I liked the no-nonsense style of Hemmingway and Heinlein because they knew how to move the action along. I’ve always felt like I lost my innocence with Delaney’s Dahlgren (even though I was already sexually active at the time). And the hard-core hard science that Arthur Clarke put into his work always gripped me.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Marc: I’ve been a dilettante my entire adult life. The Capable Man wasn’t my first attempt, but I decided to see it through no matter what.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Marc: The craziest thing I’ve done aside from trusting Wikipedia? There was the time I held my breath until my lungs burned and my vision went wonky. Then after three breaths, I tried it again… and again. There was an action sequence I was working on.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Marc: Write the story you really want to write, and just keep at it.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten...starting with: Paper or Plastic?

Marc: Paper, but—you know—sometimes you’re left with nothing but plastic.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Marc: Steak with dry-rub seasoning.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Marc: Mountains. Who needs all that sand?

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Marc: Rock, mostly, but these days the lines are getting blurry.

JET: Angels or Demons?

Marc: That’s beyond my comprehension.

JET: Paper or Digital?

Marc: My family is transitioning to digital. As are most people I know.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Marc: Cheesy B-Rated Horror because they make me laugh.

JET: Salty or Sweet?

Marc: I swing both ways.

JET: Top 10 best seller or Unknown Back Shelf Find?

Marc: Back shelf. That’s how I discovered Philip K. Dick in ‘79.

JET: Star Trek or Star Wars?

Marc: Star Trek, I guess. It’s about looking forward.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Marc: I’ve been splitting my time between a Fantasy piece involving a teenage girl with a six-shooter and the sequel to The Capable Man (working title, A Tolerance For Pain).

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Marc Hamlet and his work at the following places: (send over any other links you want highlighted in the interview)

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marc.hamlet
Twitter: @MarcHamlet
Blog: http://marchamlet.com/
http://www.novelconceptpublishing.com/

Until next time,
Ciao
JET

Monday, November 28, 2011

Welcome to another Manic Monday!


Today, Michelle Scott is dishing about the things she’s thankful for. Michelle’s stories have appeared in such places as Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, All Possible Worlds and Realms. Her fantasy novel, The Dragons of Hazlett was nominated for a 2009 EPPIE Award. Her YA novels include the vampire romance, Blood Sisters, and the fantasy Uncommon Magic and An Anthem for the Battle Lands. Michelle’s latest release, Straight to Hell, is now available on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble. Michelle lives in southeast Michigan with her husband and three children.





Ten Things I’m Thankful For as an Indie Author

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It has delectable food, a sense of family and tradition, and plenty of festivity, yet I don’t associate it with the frenzy of Christmas (or any other over-commercialized holiday.) It might also have something to do with the fact that it is the one holiday I’m never obligated to host!

In any event, I’d like to honor the spirit of Thanksgiving by listing a few things that I, as an indie author, am grateful for.

• My family – every writer needs a support system, and I’m lucky to have a husband and children who not only encourage me to write, but who proudly tell people they know that I’m a writer.

• My readers –I’m so thankful to those who not read my book, but who also took the time to write a nice review or send me an encouraging e-mail.

• The community of indie authors – Connecting with other indie authors is so important! I appreciate the advice and support that other independent authors have provided me. And I love doing the same for them.

• Stories – And I mean all stories, not just mine. I’ve been reading books for over forty years, and I still marvel at how many amazing plots and characters I keep discovering. (Thanks to you, too, authors for your wonderfully imaginative minds!)

• Coffee, dark chocolate, wine, and biscotti – These are my writing comfort foods.

• An office of my own – Every writer needs a place where she can go and create her stories, and I’m blessed to have my own little garret above the garage. It may not look like much, but it’s quiet and comfortable.

• Music – I like to write with a soundtrack in mind. So I’m glad to have an iPod, iTunes, and three kids who keep introducing me to new music.

• Stephen King – I tell people that Stephen King taught me how to write. Not literally, of course, but I spent my teenage years reading and re-reading his books and through all of that, I learned a little bit about how to put words on the page.

• Distractions – Yes, I’m glad for distractions because I need them to remind me that there is more to life than writing.

• Successes and failures – I’m convinced that both of these things are necessary to a writer’s life. Failures make us stronger and give us the strength to push ourselves. Successes remind us that what we do is important and that, if we work hard, we can succeed.

Don't forget to swing in on Friday to hear about some fabulous December releases. 

Until Then,
Ciao
JET

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dishing it up with Martin Lake...

Today I have the pleasure of dishing it up with Martin Lake. Martin lives in the West Country of England with his wife, although he's moving to the south of France on at the beginning of December. After studying at the University of East Anglia he worked as a teacher, trainer and company director.


A strangely serious accident - he claims it was caused by cage-fighting but he actually slipped and fell - shattered his arm which meant he had to rein back his work. He decided to concentrate on writing and is now writing full-time. His main interests are historical fiction, short stories and fiction for young adults.

He has a series of novels set in the years following the Norman Invasion of England. The first two novels: 'The Lost King: Resistance' and 'Wasteland' are available on Kindle and other readers through Smashwords.

JET: Can you tell us about The Lost King: Resistance and Wasteland.

Martin: These are the first two novels of a planned series of four. They tell the long-suppressed story of the last native English King of England, Edgar Atheling. Although heir to the throne he is only 13 years old in 1066 so the experienced Harold Godwinson is given the crown. When Harold is killed at the Battle of Hastings, the Witan, the great council of England, proclaim Edgar King. He leads an army against William the Conqueror but is forced to submit. After a few years as William's captive Edgar flees to Scotland, agrees to his sister marrying Malcolm King of the Scots and joins an alliance with the Danes, the ancestral enemies of the English. The allied armies inflict the worst defeats the Normans suffer in the conquest but because of betrayal from the leader of the Danes, Edgar is forced to flee into the wilderness. Edgar suffers greatly but he remains defiant, determined to win back his kingdom. I am fascinated by the fact that Edgar spent much of his life fighting against William but was always forgiven. The relationship between them is intriguing.

JET: What drew you to historical fiction?

Martin: I woke up one Sunday and thought, 'I love writing, I love history. Why not combine the two and write historical fiction? At about this time I also discovered George Fraser MacDonald's 'Flashman' novels and was captivated by the opportunities that historical fiction gives to entertain readers while informing them about the past. I guess that my earlier reading also had an unconscious influence.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Martin: All of the countless submissions to publishers and agents. Rejections I could handle, especially when they gave constructive advice. It was the non-replies which were galling, even though I appreciate that people are too busy to answer.

Then, I discovered e-publishing and the hurdles became transformed to steps on the journey.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Martin: The elation of seeing my books in print. Actually, before that I won first prize in an international competition to write a sequel to The Wind in the Willows. My wife and I had been up all night (in England) watching the results of the 2008 presidential election. Just before we went to bed at 6.00 am I checked my email and saw that not only was I one of the winners of the competition but had come first. My wife's cry of excitement must have woken the neighbours. I was too stunned to speak.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Martin: When I was young most of the books could be loosely described as historical as our school could not afford many modern books. As well as this I was an early fan of historical writing, especially Henry Treece's Viking saga, Rosemary Sutcliff, the old warhorse G.A. Henty, Arthur Conan Doyle, Kenneth Grahame, Rider Haggard, Isaac Asimov and Tolkien.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Martin: When I was 12 or 13. I loved writing more than anything else.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Martin: I've walked along Hadrian's Wall to try to see a good place for Edgar to lead his army over. The most interesting fact I've found is that one of the villains of my books, Prince Olaf was given the name of Olaf Hunger when he became King of Denmark and may well have been sacrificed to placate the gods; even though Denmark was nominally Christian.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

Martin: I love The Lost King because I feel that I have sufficient information about Edgar's life to keep a tight grip on events. However, because so much of his story was suppressed by the Normans, I have ample opportunity to fill out the tale with incidents of my own creation. Having said this, I'm loving writing my current novel.

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

Martin: Keep writing. Read lots. Don't let people put you off your dreams. If you want to be read then self-publish your work as an e-book. And keep a log of how many words you write each day; it's a wonderful motivator.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with…Paper or Plastic?

Martin: Paper.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Martin: Steak if in a pie.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Martin: Beach.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Martin: Rock-n-Roll.

JET: Classics or Modern?

Martin: In music, classics. In fiction, I just like good books whenever they were written.

JET: Top 10 best seller or Unknown Back Shelf Find?

Martin: The Long-Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson.

JET: Paper or Digital?

Martin: Digital. Especially as we're moving to a small apartment on the French Riviera.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Martin: Silent Film classics.

JET: 2012 Mayan Prophecy Believer or Ain’t Gonna Happen?

Martin: Ask me again in 2013. I expect to be here to answer.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Martin: Tea.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Martin: I'm writing a novel called 'Artful'. It concerns the adventures of Jack Dawkins, the Artful Dodger, after he was sentenced to transportation. He's had a life of hard knocks but hasn't let himself be defeated or downhearted by this. In the course of his life he's developed a dubious moral code but he has a gift for friendship. Above all he is a great survivor. The novel is set in England and Australia. In it I explore how gifts can be used for good or evil and how the prevailing code can condemn the same talents when used in different circumstances. I guess it can be described as a black comedy.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Martin Lake and his work at the following places:

http://martinlakewriting.wordpress.com/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Martin-Lake/e/B004Z13HPA/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/61056

Join me next week when I’ve got Michelle Scott here for the Manic Monday series and a special guest, Marc Hamlet dishing it up on Wednesday and then I’ve got the first Friday of December blog. Yes, December. Can you believe it?

Swing in and say hi!

Until then,

Ciao

JET

Monday, November 21, 2011

Manic Monday with J.S. Dunn

Welcome to another Manic Monday. Today I have J.S. Dunn in the house.


J. S. Dunn lived in Ireland during the past decade and from there pursued the early Bronze Age in travel and research along the north Atlantic. Dunn is at work on a second novel set in the Bronze Age, primarily in ancient Eire.

The author’s website, www.jsdunnbooks.com, contains web links to find photos and interesting information about the objects and places depicted in Bending The Boyne. More on the new concepts about “Celts” and the early origin of the Gaelic language can be found in Celtic From The West (Cunliffe and Koch, editors, 2010, Oxford Press). See also www.newgrange.com.

Embrace Winter Solstice And The Reborn Sun by J.S. Dunn

Find your inner astronomer at Europe’s largest passage mounds. The Boyne mounds in Ireland are older than the Pyramids, and Stonehenge. In our era almost five thousand years later, winter solstice sunrise still penetrates into the central mound of Newgrange and lights the inner chamber. Thank you J.E. Taylor, for inviting a blog post on the astronomy behind Bending The Boyne.

For around ten sunrises in December, sunlight penetrates 60-plus feet into the central chamber, washing the carved stones in golden light. If you visit the Boyne, with the over 200,000 annual visitors, you can view the solstice event enacted. It’s an incredible sensation to stand inside the great mound in utter dark while light creeps the long passage then bursts dazzling and filling the inner chamber. (To experience the actual solstice sunrise one must enter a lottery, booked several years ahead.)

Solstice occurs when the earth tilts at a maximum away from the sun, for those in the northern hemisphere. There is little reason to depict the ancients viewing this with fear; in fact, over the millennia many cultures carefully charted solstice. At the Boyne then and now, the people watch with awe when the great mound functions as it should, showing the reborn sun that would bring spring’s bounty.

The Boyne astronomy culture had the action, it was the power center for the north Atlantic. Each mound had specific duties in the solar calendar. How did these great mounds fall into disuse? No doubt the solstice light show led to the myth that these mounds contained hidden gold. Bending The Boyne uses the latest concepts about the ancient Gaels (later called Celts by Greeks and Romans) in a tale of greed and gold when marauders arrive at the Boyne around 2200 BC.

Boann, the female protagonist, comes from the earliest Irish myths where she appears briefly in a tangled story that mentions the birth of her son Aengus. “...they made the sun stand still to the end of nine months / strange the tale...” Her son Aengus, born at winter solstice, symbolizes the astronomy practiced at the mounds.

Though modern “druids” gather here and at Stonehenge for the solstice, these sites were built thousands of years earlier and belong to a time before any mumbling druids or Iron Age beliefs and rituals...

Thanks for swinging in! Don’t forget, I’ve got Martin Lake on Friday. In the meantime – Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,
Ciao
JET

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dishing It Up with N.R. Wick

Today I have the pleasure of dishing it up with N.R. Wick. N.R. Wick writes horror and dark fantasy for young adults. She loves all things horrifying, magical, and supernatural. N.R. Wick currently lives in Southern California with her husband where she completed her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing


JET: Can you tell us about Land of No Angels?


NRW: Of course! When you get down to it, Land of No Angels (LoNA) is really about family, trust, and love. I know, how odd for a supposed horror/post apocalyptic novel. But, LoNA is about an older sister who's alone in a scary, dangerous world with her younger sister and the things she will do to fight to protect her. It's set in the very near future (as in, a year or two from now) after a demon apocalypse wiped out most of humanity. LoNA answers questions like what it means to be human and to be a good person in a world of bad. Here's the blurb:

Ever since the fall of mankind and the rise of demons, Rebecca Ashford and her younger sister, Errol, have remained hidden in their tornado bunker. When Errol is poisoned by demon, Rebecca must work with a mysterious survivor named Fox to find a cure. Together, they confront demons and other monsters while Rebecca struggles to learn magic that will help her find the ingredients needed to save her sister.

JET: What drew you to YA Horror?

NRW: Oooh, I've loved the horror genre my entire life. Not even kidding. My dad and I used to watch Nightmare on Elm Street when I was really little, and now I love to write it. As for YA, I've always been a fan of children's and teen's books. There's just a whimsy about them that I adore.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

NRW: Finishing the book. It sounds strange, but that was the biggest challenge. I have a hard time finishing things sometimes and was fortunate enough to earn my MFA in Creative Writing, which LoNA was my thesis project. Having to do it for school helped tremendously.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

NRW: My first non-family/friend sale. That was pretty awesome. Second to that, or maybe tied, would be how excited my sister was when I showed her that I dedicated the book to her. She squealed and jumped at me with a hug.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

NRW: Stephen King and R.L. Stine. I read them both as a child and still do as an adult. In later years, though, it became authors like J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Cornelia Funke.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

NRW: Well, I've written stories my entire life, but I didn't really decide to take it seriously as a career path or as something I find myself unable to live without until about two years ago.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

NRW: Craziest thing I've done... ooh, not anything too crazy, but a woman LOOKED at me crazy when I asked about it. LOL I was working in the Labor and Delivery area of a hospital and was asking the head nurse a bunch of things about problematic labours, and where women are taken for C-sections, and things of that nature.

The most interesting thing I've researched, seen, and learned was when I had to research how someone stitched a wound. It was awesome! It was also gross, but watching videos of basic wound stitching was pretty cool.

Oh! And second most interesting bit of information I found: A lot of old Leprechaun lore talks about Leprechauns wearing red rather than the green we are so used to seeing.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

NRW: Oooh, that's really tough. I don't think I have a favourite one yet.

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

NRW: I'm hardly one to be giving advice, but I have two pieces: Just keep writing, and listen andlearn from other's feedback.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

NRW: Paper, so I can doodle on it after.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

NRW: Steak! Mmmmm, so yummy.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

NRW: Ooh, tough. Can't I have mountains right on the shore of a beach? Hehe.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

NRW: Rock-n-Roll of course.

JET: Leather or Lace?

NRW: Lace, much more comfortable.

JET: Angels or Demons?

NRW: Angels?

JET: Paper or Digital?

NRW: Paper

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

NRW: B Horror all the way! I have amazing life memories with B horror movies (and C and F... I'm talking to YOU Scarecrow Gone Wild.)

JET: Twilight or True Blood?

NRW: *gags* Neither. I'm NOT a vampire lover.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

NRW: Tea! English Breakfast tea for me, please.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

NRW: Well, I have quite a few projects in the works, but right now I'm actively working on a Middle Grade book called Cora's Enchanted Pastries. It's been a blast researching, outlining, and writing it thus far, and I can't wait to show it to the world. Also, for those who liked LoNA, I've started working on the sequel, which is called Land of No Salvation.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about N.R. Wick and her work at the following places: http://www.nrwick.com./

http://www.amazon.com/N.R.-Wick/e/B004Y9O3OM

Next week, I’ve got J.S. Dunn and Martin Lake on tap.

Until then,
Ciao
JET

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Spotlight with John Blackport

Welcome to a special Wednesday Guest Blog. I’ve got John Blackport on tap today. John has been writing the Raingun stories for many years and is the ultimate non-pantser. He lives in New England with his family and several imaginary cats. He owns a tricorner hat --- he doesn't wear it very often, but by all accounts it looks great on him!



The Amazon sample can be read without a download here on Kindleboards: http://www.kindleboards.com/sample/?asin=B005HQ4JAO



WHAT MALE READERS WANT by John Blackport

Since men read as much as women do, but read a lot less fiction, some writers worry about whether they can entice male readers. From there, the question becomes: how can it be done?

Surprisingly, the answer isn’t directly related to sex. . . at least not in the way many people expect. In my experience, male readers like explicit sex in novels far LESS than theire female counterparts. I’ve heard a few theories about this from women, mostly not very flattering to men: something about us being so obsessed with visual stimulation, particularly porn, that we’re uncomfortable with anything sexual that requires imagination, or is less than 100% visual.

Some of the most vocal male supporters of "fade to black" pointed out examples where it was "done right". They showed me excerpts from some "boy books" where the hero bangs lots of women, who are rarely seen naked and never seen having sex --- they mostly lounge around in bathrobes and towels with their hair messed up. They hang all over the hero’s shoulders and compliment his technique.

This leads to another theory about why women seem to enjoy explicit sex scenes more: men don’t want to have sex vicariously through a hero. The vicarious experience they do want is the experience of being sexually irresistible. They want to read about the heroine internally drooling when she steals a glance at the hero’s physique.

Of course, you could say that the terms of “male reader” and “female reader” are also oversimplifications --- a person’s reading preferences probably has more to do with their sexual attitudes than their sexual equipment --- but we all have to start somewhere, so here is my own theory:

Men prefer external obstacles to internal ones.

The male perception of why “women’s entertainment is so dull” --- admittedly, not always a fair one --- springs from the worry that the struggle will always come down to a heroine trying to come to a decision, or work up the courage to do something. Men don’t mind this stuff merely existing in a novel, but they tire of it easily, and if they don’t see something more tangible going on, they’ll roll their eyes and dismiss the story’s conflict as endless dithering.

The most obvious way around this is a hostile enemy (or rival) who must be defeated or thwarted, whose moves must be met with countermoves. Taken to extremes, this results in stereotypical “men’s entertainment”, full of explosions, car chases, and women who are passive and clueless.

What intrigues me most about this prospect is that it explains why I know so many men who are closet fans of paranormal romance. There are more of them than you’d think, and I think they’re drawn to the ass-kicking heroines. They’re pickier than the female fans of the genre seem to be --- but the strongest common thread between their preferences seem to be a heroine who is active, not passive. Men have a lot more tolerance for passive heroines in a story where the hero is the main character, but it’s still not their “top pick”. And in the case of a female main character, their preference for active heroines is overwhelming. In my experience, the men who won’t read stories with a female protagonist largely do so from a preconceived notion that she will be too passive to be interesting.

In the absence of an enemy, men still want the protagonist to face obstacles with physical, objective manifestations. In the case of a man who wants a woman, this could take many forms: “I can’t have her until I mend the rift between our families,” “I have to smuggle her out of this war zone,” or “I have to find the cure to this disease before it kills her.”

If a conflict is internal --- existing entirely in characters’ minds and hearts --- men still want to see it as the accomplishment of a goal. So when the hero disappoints the heroine, most male readers don’t want to see the heroine agonize about whether or not to forgive him. They’ll dismiss such a heroine as an airhead. In such a case, they want to see the heroine be mad, so that all is lost unless the hero actively changes it. They want to see the hero struggle to earn her forgiveness by making it up to her --- and not with sweet talk and empty promises, either! With deeds. Even if the roles are reversed, and the heroine is the one who has disappointed the hero, they want to see the road to reconciliation to be an active attempt at redemption, not passive waiting.

Men don’t respect a hero who waits to see how things shake out --- and heroines who do so don’t fare much better. If the hero is forced into passivity, he should show he’s forced into it: ideally, by trying an active plan which fails, and he must be visibly enraged at its failure.

Of course, the best novels contain conflicts that have both internal and external components. How these perceptions are best acted upon is a question of narrative manner --- how you emphasize what’s going on. Some authors like to have the hero and the heroine sharing the spotlight --- this used to mean mixing internal and external conflicts throughout the book. Now, it means mixing internal and external conflicts through both the hero and the heroine, as individuals. It’s tricky but it’s worth it.


Thanks for swinging in!
Until next time,
Ciao.
JET

Monday, November 14, 2011

Manic Monday with Danielle Kazemi

Welcome to Manic Monday! Today, my guest blogger Danielle Kazemi is chatting it up about balance – healthy balance of action and non-action sequences in a novel. Danielle is the author of the Soldiers of Legend series (scifi adventure) and Dragon's Fire (urban fantasy). She spends what free time she has playing role playing games with her husband and wondering how she can convert it into her next book.


Her e-book can be found here on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B004ULVH3E


Healthy Balance of Action and Non-Action by Danielle Kazemi:

When writing fiction involving fighting such as an adventure book, try to keep a healthy balance between the action and the non-action. It is a very hard thing for people to understand when writing. Too little action and your book is a dull read. Too much and your audience becomes bored with the overkill of it. This is also seen in a lot of movies where the director adds in body upon body and the audience zones out after a while.

One thing I found that helps is to look at the different acts in your book. Most books have at least two, usually three acts. They are broken down into very simplistic terms so the audience can follow along. These usually happen without forcing it such as a solution found, change in plans, or even something as simple as moving to a new locale. Not all situations have to be solved in any of these acts. A few authors get away with leaving the readers on a cliffhanger at the end of the novel as a whole.

For those who are wondering what a basic breakdown would be of an act, it is basically non-action then action. The non-action area is filled with background, character development, and anything else an author can think of. The action section is of course filled with the gun fights, explosions, and all out brawls. This is where creativity really shines.

That is what you need to do when you are writing action. There must be a down period to learn more about the characters, if any changes have happened, even describe the scenery if they changed locales. You have to build something first for people to become attached to. Once the audience is comfortable with where things are then you can start destroying it.

Mix up the action as well. I write superhero fiction and it is so easy to have my characters blast each other with electricity and fireballs all day. Yet it would be an incredibly boring read. My readers would get annoyed that every situation calls for the superpowers to be used. Instead, I have them brawling with one another, using weapons, anything else the scene calls for. That way I don't get bored writing it and my readers stay entertained.

Another note is not to plow through nameless extras in your book. There is no body count award in books. It adds to the desensitization of your audience. I read one book lately, name I will not mention, which the main character plows through characters as though he didn't have a care in the world. That makes him unrealistic. I felt disconnected from him and in the end, I didn't care what happened. Too much violence for there to be an actual story hidden in there.

Keep your action reserved for scenes which need it. There is no reason walking down the street every time results in a brawl. Have your characters use their brains as well and see if they can get out of situations that way. It will add more depth to them. Pacing makes perfect.


Thanks for swinging in today! Join me later this week when I dish it up with N.R. Wick!

Until Then
Ciao
JET