Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Stylish Blogger Award
I want to thank a wonderful author and cyber-friend, Beverly Stowe McClure for awarding my blog with the Stylish Blogger Award.  I’ve known Beverly for a few years now, and I’ve always been impressed with her professionalism and talent for crafting wonderful stories.  Thank you Bev for thinking of me.  Now I need to share this award with seven others.  Of course, there are so many bloggers who should get this, and as the award passes from one blog to another, if you aren’t mentioned here, you may get tapped soon.

Part of the award is sharing something about myself.   Here are seven things you might want to know about me.

1.  I lived in Connecticut until I was in my early thirties and eventually ended up in Oregon.

2.  I met my husband in California in 1977, and we’ve been together ever since.

3.  I practiced and taught Hatha Yoga for many years.

4.  I’ve owned two motorcycles and ridden many others.

5.  I love animals, large and small, and we currently have two LhasaPoo dogs and three cats.

6.  I was a vegetarian for many years and still do not eat red meat.

7.  My favorite things to do when I have free time are read, garden, crochet and spend time with family and friends.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Interwith Muse author L.J. Holmes

Today my guest is L. J. Holmes, also known by many as Lin Holmes.  She's got a number of stories coming this year from both MuseItUp Publishing and MuseItHot Publishing.
  • Please tell us about yourself?
First I want to thank you Penny for inviting me to visit with you. It is always a thrill spending time with you and your followers.

My name is Lin Holmes, but I write using my initial L.J. Holmes at Muse Publishing, Inc.  I’m a Mom, which is actually my favorite role. My daughter, Kat Holmes, is also a Muse Publishing author, and since we live together, it can get crazy around our home. When you have so many new characters being added to your conversational world, sometimes you have to wonder if you are in your world or off mining icicles in Kat’s created world of Artica.

I started writing, secretly when I was a kid. (My parents frowned on egg-heady endeavors, and I, to their chagrin, was a natural born egg-head.) I did, however, have my maternal grandmother, herself a story-teller who understood and encouraged, behind the parents’ backs, my flights of fantasy.

I took time off to raise my precious offspring, weaving stories only for them at bed time, or to entertain when they were too sick to feel anything but relieved with Mom taking their minds off of the bugs dancing the evil Tango in their bellies. Their friends also became possessive of the story weaver in me as well, so becoming a teacher just seemed like the natural next step.  I earned my Masters Degree in Special Education and began teaching children born with Down Syndrome. What an appreciative audience for me and my flights of fantasy.

Now I’m here at Muse Publishing, Inc. creating flights of my fantasy for a whole new audience. It’s scary, so out of my comfort zone, but thrilling as well. 

Tell us your latest news?
My first full-length novel ECHOES FROM THE PAST is coming out next year in April. I always thought I was JUST a short story weaver. I doubted my inner voice, which I sometimes with affection, call Nudge, didn’t have the attention span to write anything lengthy. Finding out Nudge and I could weave a BIG story and actually get CONTRACTED, was like being handed all the Christmas Presents in the entire Universe. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
March 29, 2010 when I got my first contracted. Before then I was a story-teller only.

What inspired you to write your first book?
 My first contracted book? 

I must blame and thank my daughter, Kat Holmes.

She was already published and dared me to write something new for submission. SANTA IS A LADY is actually the second new manuscript I wrote. My first IN FROM THE COLD is a cougar story, but just as I was finishing it, the publisher Kat used to write for, closed that genre. Taking it as an omen that I should stick with the “story-telling” I was ready to go back to what I did best, but Kat wasn’t having any parts of that. She challenged me to write something in the genre’s still open. 

Bondage didn’t entice me nor did M/M. The only thing left was HOLIDAY theme. SANTA IS A LADY was the result, and before I finished it, we learned Muse was opening, and sent Muse Publishing SANTA and well…here I am.  IN FROM THE COLD is being released in June 2011, so both my new manuscripts are being published. May I just say WOW!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I have twelve contracts with Muse Publishing so far. Each of them has a message somewhere within the story. SANTA IS A LADY and my February 2011 release FOREVER WITH YOU, the message is about how much more lives within all of us beneath the shell the world sees.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?  (Has anyone ever realized it?)

The hero in SANTA IS A LADY is based on my brother, and yes, he knows it. Keeps telling me I should give him some of the royalties. He’s funny, intelligent, and a multi-decorated military hero that I was proud to fashion Angie’s hero after.

What books have most influenced your life most?
Glenn Kleier’s first book THE LAST DAY helped me get through cancer treatment. 

I found it on the shelves at my library and it so powerfully impacted me, I bought a hard cover and paperback copy…the hard cover because it’ll last….the paperback because I reread this story often. He has a new book coming out in July, THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL, and I am on the pre-order list for it. 

In high school our English teacher had us read GONE WITH THE WIND. That changed my attitude about saga stories and gave me a permanent love of richly presented stories.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Glenn Kleier. 

His writing made it possible for me to leave the reality of pain and nausea caused by chemo and radiation and step into a world that could enchant. I hope my writing can give that kind of a gift to others.  I was over-the-moon when Glenn Kleier reviewed my first book and said he thinks it should become a classic Christmas Movie. 

He LOVED my story…that meant so much to me, even more than taking fifth place in the Predators and Editors Poll in my genre less than two months after its release.  (I probably shouldn’t admit that, should I?)

What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?
I just finished reading J.D. Robb’s recent IN DEATH title TREACHERY IN DEATH. I love the Eve Dallas series and how Eve has evolved, but I don’t understand why she gets away with so much head-hopping. 

I also just finished reading Fern Michaels HOME FREE. I’m really worried about this, her Sisterhood Series. I don’t know how it’ll work having the sisterhood be replaced with ONLY the elderly members continuing on as the vigilantes.  I hope it works because I LOVED that entire series. What the sisters came up with to punish those who’d wronged them…loved it, loved it, loved it.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Chrystalla Thoma’s DIOSCURI captivated me.

 I love my daughter, Kat Holmes’ ARTICA LIGHTS SERIES, her first FROZEN  just came out this month. The world she created amazes me. 

I’m also pretty fond of her GODS AT WORK SERIES, the first WORKING UNDER COVERS is coming out in June. I love the idea that even the Gods on Olympus are feeling the financial crunch we are all enduring and must do something to continue supporting their existence on their OWN! So far she has given us Aphrodite, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, Apollo, and just finished Artemis. 

Delilah K. Stephans wrote a wonderful vampire book, THE ENVOY, and it was fantastic. I really hope there will be sequels to this book. Her GHOSTLY PASSIONS, her first MUSE title is also a keeper.

Krista D. Ball’s book HARVEST MOON is really good, but I hope there will be a sequel so we know if the miracle happens.
  • What are your current projects?
I have already subbed the first book, but am writing the sequel even though I have no idea if the first one is going to be contracted.  They’re called SUC-U and SUC-U TOO.
Our publisher asked us to write some more books for the HOT side of Muse Publishing…these two are my current results.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The one coming out in May, TWILIGHT COMES or the one just released in March, THE PENDULUM SWINGS? 

The one in May is a darker story with no HEA, but that’s what the story needs. It’s not a comfortable story, and a hard one for me to talk about, but there’s power in that story, and yes, a strong message, I hope.

The Pendulum Swings was fun to write, and I LOVED adding the amorous fireplace scene. So no, I don’t think I would change anything.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Sitting at my Grandmother’s feet listening to her tell her stories; although I don’t think I actually connected the story-telling aspect then to writing. My Grandmother told the best stories, and I was her willingly captivated audience.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
When Nudge tells us into a corner then doesn’t immediately have the solution so we can finish the story. I have a full length novel ¾ of the way done manuscript but I am stuck with how to get the hero and heroine to the point of actually doing the deed thanks to Nudge.

Do you ever have problems with writers block?  If so how do you get through it?
The above answer is my block, and I’ll let you know when I figure out how to get through it. How do you get a guy to do the deed with a woman he hasn’t even kissed when he is carrying the essence of her grandmother inside him yakking at him? He needs to pass granny into granddaughter for the upcoming battle with evil, but the only way to do that is for the hero and heroine to do IT! Having Granny talking inside him is not exactly conducive to getting all hot and bothered. 

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I assume writing includes the cover blogs I do for others too?

Kat and I have two kitties; both have managed to end up in our books, so we serve them like the royalty they are. 

On Sunday nights I watch ARMY WIVES, Tuesdays NCIS and THE GOOD WIFE, coming soon LAW AND ORDER CRIMINAL INTENT is bring Goren and Eames back and on Thursdays BONES.
I knit. My sister is a minister in Montana. I send about thirty pounds of winter scarves and hats out in all sizes for her to give to the needy. 

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Glenn Kleier. 

THE LAST DAY is based on the premise that Jesus has been returned to earth…this time as a woman Jeza. Will today’s population treat God’s messenger any better today than mankind did 2000 years ago?

Glenn  also placed the advent of this new Jesus around the turning of this century when the Y2K bug was the big threat the world was fearing.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The writing is easy. Editing and then promoting…THAT’S the hard part.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That I am not the best judge of my own writing voice. I think I write boring drivel…others are impressed and complimentary.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write, write, write.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
 Thank you for BEING my reader. I am honored.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?
I’m a retired teacher because I was in a car accident eleven days after 9/11. I am very active here on the Internet, but  limited beyond that.

  • Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
Muse Publishing, Inc. Both the Muse It Up Side and the Muse It Hot Side.

My daughter’s Editor, Carrie Ro submitted SANTA IS A LADY to Muse Publishing instead of my daughter’s previous publisher, and both Kat and I are grateful to Carrie for guiding us here.

  • How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

My e-mail address is Spatzdkat1212@yahoo.com
I have authors pages on both sides of the Muse Publishing House
Muse It Up Publishing   www.museituppublishing.com
Muse It Hot Publishing   www.museithotpublishing.com

Friday, May 27, 2011

Interview with author, Karina Fabian

Today, my guest is the multi-published and very talented author, Karina Fabian.  Karina is perhaps best known for her Dragon P.I. fantasy series.  Karina is here to talk about her eBook released in May, 2011 from MuseItUp Publishing, Perfect Ten.

1) Tell me a little about your book.

Perfect Ten is a humorous short story of fantasy romance:  When an insurance actuary lands a date with Coyote the Trickster, she discovers not every “Ten” is perfect.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?

Lea Schizas wanted to do an anthology about a dating service in Vegas, where she has a specific plot in mind and wanted variations.  I wrote "Perfect Ten" in my favorite universe, that of DragonEye, PI.    Unfortunately, the anthology didn't get sold, and she gave us the stories back.  I sent it around for a couple of years and when she started her own publishing company, MuseItUp, I figured it was the perfect home.  Fortunately, she did, too.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

Full time.  I try to keep it to while the kids are in school, and have the day split by sections to write, exercise, lunch, market, and write again.  Sometimes that's tossed out the window, like in September-October when I got hit with a novel rewrite and anthology edit, the MuseOnline Writers' Conference and two short story edits.  Of course, that's when some family and professional issues hit the pan, too.  I was asking for a lot of prayers those months, but it all worked out.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Somewhere around elementary school, though I didn't get serious until I had two toddlers at home and was out of the active duty Air Force and in the AF Reserves.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?

Laughter burns calories and reduces blood pressure, so I think they'll be healthier for having read my work!

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?

Science fiction and fantasy are my strengths, though I've also written a comedic horror novel.  I write a lot of comedy.  On the non-fiction side, I do self-helps, educational planners, and interviews.  My father and I just published our first devotional, Why God Matters, and we're talking about doing one about the lives of deacons.  It's absolutely cool that my daddy and I are writing buddies!

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?

Submitting my stuff.  Mostly, I'm just not good at seeking out markets. It's really a matter of willpower, so I jut make myself do it on a regular basis.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.

Not that I know of.  It's kind of a scary thought.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?

I can be like Sheila sometimes--I tend to prefer to stay home than go on adventures. However, I've lived in Italy, driven cross country, and had some interesting adventures on my own, so I'm not timid like she is.  Also, I may have been a math major, but I could never be an insurance actuary.

I don't really want to be like Coyote, though I can get silly.

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?

I looked up some of the legends of Coyote the Trickster.  What a loon this canine was!  There was one legend where he gave his privates to Raccoon to hold while he went dancing with the girls.  He'd pinch them and they called him "dirty grandmother."  I alluded to it in my story.  (Racoon, incidentally, went and had some fun with Coyote's "loaner."  That part is NOT in my story.)

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?

I can write them, but I don't, even when it means leaving a story behind.  I want to write stuff my kids can read and still look me in the eyes afterward.

12) What about your book makes it special?

This one is a short story, actually, but my writing is unique in the twists I make to the common clichés.  Did I say twist?  We're talking cliché yoga!

13) What is your marketing plan?

The usual:  reviews and virtual book tours, websites and social networks, some signings and appearances. I do most of my stuff online.  When the kids are in college, I'll feel freer about attending conventions and traveling.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?

www.fabianspace.com is where you can learn about all my books. I'm a pretty eclectic writer, so pick a genre off the menu, or look at all my books in the ABOUT section.

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?

Have fun. Find an interesting angle.  Meet people in the business.  Polish your craft.  And above all:  Do Not Take Rejection Personally. 

Karina, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit and share a look into your writing life.

BIO:  Karina Fabian’s mind is plagued by characters who insist on telling her their life stories. She writes them not only to share with others but to get them out of her brain!  The happy byproducts of these exorcisms are stories that make readers laugh, cry, and think. From dragon detectives to nuns in space to zombie exterminators, her tales amuse winners and win awards, including the 2010 INDIE for best fantasy.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Parnormal Romance Author, Carlie Angelus

Today, my guest is MuseItHot Publishing author, Carlie Angelus.  She's here to talk about her recent spicy release Nearly Wed and Newly Dead.

1.     Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?

I’m Carlie Angelus and I write mystical romance.  All of my books feature either an angel or a demon.  Let’s just say I’m divinely inspired!

2.     Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.

My current book is my first release with MuseItUp Publishing entitled Nearly Wed and Newly Dead.    It features a guardian angel on her first assignment to help a fireman cross over.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since childhood and have always been obsessed with “the great beyond”. 
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
I always watched scary movies and wanted to stay in haunted houses.  This series is inspired by my childhood love of all things paranormal.  

Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?

I’m mostly a “pantser” or someone who writes by the seat of their pants without much pre-writing plot work.  But with this book, I knew the entire story before I started writing.  It just came to me like that (insert snapping of fingers).

What comes first: the plot or the characters?
            This is a tough question because I usually create them simultaneously in my mind.  I might have the general story idea already but I always envision a certain character playing the role.  So mine go hand in hand, so to speak.
        What was the hardest part of writing your book?
T       The hardest part of this book is the same with most books for me.  Knowing when to stop the story.  As with most stories, you can always find a way to continue on the adventure just a little longer.  Knowing when to shut up is crucial to making your book most powerful.?

Describe your writing space.
            Anywhere I can find to sit with my laptop on my lap.  I write whenever I have a spare moment in the day.  I’m certainly not a desk space diva
What books or authors have influenced your writing?    
            I’m a huge fan of John Edward and his Crossing Over books and television show.  I’m just amazed by him and watching him never fails to elicit strong emotions from me.
1      What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?

I think that e-books are here to stay.  I don’t believe that they are the future as much as they’ve already become the present standard in publishing.  I believe that “traditional” print publishers will all eventually have to go this route to stay in business.

           What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Write what you love and what truly inspires you.  Don’t attempt to fit yourself or your work into some pre-conceived mold.  Write what you know and you’ll find an audience for your work.  And don’t give up—no matter how many rejections you get.

1    Where can people learn more about you and your work?

Please visit me at my new Wings & Fiends blog here: 

Name: Carlie Angelus
Book Title: Nearly Wed and Newly Dead
Genre: Paranromal Romance
Publisher: Muse It Up Publishing
When Shelby Lynch dies on her wedding day, her new life as a Minder begins. 

Now, 20 years later, she's been sent back to her hometown of Loch's Landing, Florida to guide fireman Brax Hennessey into the afterlife. 

But will this angel complete her mission or will her assignment be forgotten when things heat up between them?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Interview with Romance Author, Janice Seagraves

Today, my guest is multi-published author, Janice Seagraves, talking about her most recent release Windswept Shores.

Thank you, Penny, for having me on your blog today.
Hi everyone, my name is Janice Seagraves. And I write romance.

1)     Tell me a little about your book.
It’s a survivor’s love story. It’s about a couple who end up on the same small deserted island in the Bahamas.

Blurb: The sole survivor of a plane crash, Megan is alone on a deserted island in the Bahamas until she finds a nearly-drowned man washed up on shore. Another survivor, this time from a boat wreck. With only meager survival skills between them, will they survive and can they find love?

2)     What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I love survivor stories. In junior high I read Robinson Crusoe and watched The Swiss Family Robinson. I fell in love with the idea of being on a deserted island using on your wits to survive. Years later, I saw Castaway with Tom Hanks, and then got hooked on the show Survivors.
I kept thinking what if?
What if a couple ended up on the same island?
Could they survive?
And would they fall in love?

3)     Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
If you’re asking if my writing support me, I’d have to say no. Not at the present time. I’m lucky that my hubby has a great job and makes enough to support us. He’s also very proud that I’m a published writer and brags about me at work.
I do write every day single day, including birthdays and holidays.
I turn the computer on when I get up and write throughout the day. Sometimes I’m at it until the two or three in the morning. But I do take breaks to do household chores, spend a little time with my family and cook meals so we can all eat together.

4)     When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Oh, I’ve written off and on for years. I did have a seventh grade English teacher compliment me on a story I wrote, she also told my parents that I had a great imagination and could be a great writer.
But it was eleven years ago that I decided to start writing toward publication. That’s when I started to really learn the craft of writing.

5)     What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
That it’s never too late for second chances at love.

6)     Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I write mostly within the romance subgenres. Windswept is a contemporary story, set in the real world. But I have several science fiction romances in the works, a paranormal and a fantasy about a were-dragon.

7)     What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Editing is a necessary evil, so I just have to grit my teeth and get through it anyway I can.

8)     Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
My couple is basically camping out on their island. My dad was a fisherman and took us camping each summer to every lake within a hundred miles radios of our house. So a lot of the camping, living in a tent, cooking over an open fire scenes are from my own personal experience.

9)     How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Well, my heroine, Megan, is from California just like I am, but I have her in Anaheim which is a bit further south than where I live. But it made writing her dialoged easier, because she sounds just like I do. She’s also creative and like me makes things with her hands. I made Megan a basket weaver, which helps her survive on the island.

10)  What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
Oh, tons and tons of research. I did internet research of course, finding out interesting facts about the Bahamas. I also bought a few books about the Bahamas islands. I also had to learn about Australian slang since my hero, Seth, is an Aussie with a thick accent. So I did more research and bought a couple of books on Australian slang or strine as they like to call it.

11)  Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
If you’re asking about rape scenes or forced seductions, I’ll have to give a big NO, to that one. I do not get off on those types of scenes. They upset me a great deal.
My sex scenes are more sensual. For me it’s a person choice.

12)  What about your book makes it special?
The banter between the couple, and living on a deserted island using only their wits to survive, which makes my book special and fun to read.

13)  What is your marketing plan?
Promo, promo, promo. Lol, what else? I’m on several loops and I have my own website and blogs too. I also do guest blog post like this one today.

14)  Where can people learn more about you and your work?

15)  Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Yes, read a lot and write a lot. And not just in the genre you want to write in. Though that is important too.
Learn proper grammar and its usage, because you have no idea now important that is until you go through a professional edit.
And don’t just throw something out there and call it done. You’ll be wondering why you got rejected if you do.
Do the revisions, do the self-editing and once you are ready join a critique group to help you put the final polish on your work.
You want your work to shine!

Windswept Shores, now available from Pink petal books.
Windswept Shores by Janice Seagraves
Cover Contest Winner
erotic contemporary romance
novel (approx 50K)
price $4.95
Cover Art by Pink Petal Books with assistance from Winterheart Design
The sole survivor of a plane crash, Megan is alone on a deserted island in the Bahamas until she finds a nearly-drowned man washed up on shore. Another survivor, this time from a boat wreck. With only meager survival skills between them, will they survive and can they find love?
Excerpt: Megan’s first snorkel lesson interrupted by . . . something very large.
“Oh, good, I thought you would insist that I learn the whole thing all at once,” Megan said, relieved. Jonathan would have.
“You aren’t ready to learn it all at once,” Seth told her. “Just float on you tummy and watch the fishies.”
They floated side by side. The bright-colored tropical fish darted about, reminding her of an aquarium seen from above. Something puzzled her. What’s happened to the fish? There’s not as many as there was before.
She floated over the kelp, noting pieces of crab shells scattered about. With a start, she spotted a pair of eyes watching her. Megan grabbed Seth’s arm, pointing. Her heart hammered in her chest while her stomach clinched. What the hell is that thing? The urge to run hit her hard. Calm, calm, wait and see what Seth does.
Seth nodded and swam down.
Floating in place, only occasionally moving his hand or foot, he and the critter seemed to take each other’s measure. A long moment passed, with Megan watching, still holding her breath. He swam back up to the surface.
Seth pulled his goggles and mouth piece off, setting them on top of his head. “It’s a giant octopus, luv. It blends right into the kelp, so we didn’t notice him before.”
Megan yanked out her mouth piece and sputtered, “What do you mean, giant octopus?”
“I reckon there isn’t so much seaweed as octopus. I think it’s been feeding on the fishies and the crabs here.”
“Well, that explains what happened to the fish.”
“You want to stay, or do you want give the ocean a burl?”
“The ocean. This little lagoon doesn’t feel so safe with a hungry giant octopus hanging around, pretending to be plant life.”
“Orright, let’s go. I’ll get a spear gun and collecting bag.” He headed toward the shore.
Megan swam slowly after until she felt something brush against her, going from crotch to foot. She put more speed into her stroke and soon passed Seth, hitting the beach at a dead run. Turning, she stared back at the innocent-seeming pool. For a brief moment, the water appeared crystal clear, and she could clearly see the giant octopus as it seemed to wink at her, before pulling itself back into the kelp. The breeze picked up, obscuring the surface.
“What’s the matter, luv?” Seth asked as he took off his goggles.
“I think. No, I know that thing touched me.” She pointed at the lagoon with a shaking finger.
“A touch or a grab?” he asked, looking back at the pool.
“A touch,” she admitted.
“They’re intelligent creatures, luv. It might have had a bit of fun with you.” He grinned.
“You’re a fisherman. Go get it—kill it,” she demanded, glaring back at the water. “How do you like that, huh? Tentacles, it’s what’s for dinner!”
Now also available at SmashwordsDiesel, All Romance and for the kindle at Amazon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Interview with author, Christina Hamlett

Today, my guest is the multi-published author, Christina Hamlett discussing her release, The Spellbox.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
When American tourists Lucy McLaverty and Maxine Desmond see the sign "Thistleburn--Experience the Medieval"--they think of nothing more than finding a welcome respite from a fierce storm buffeting the Scottish Highlands. But when morning comes, more than the weather has changed. Though still in Scotland, they discover they’ve been transported 700 years into the past. With little more than their wits to protect them, Lucy and Max are immediately branded as witches and locked in the castle dungeon to await the judgment of the Laird of Thistleburn, Sir Evan Lyells. His timely return brings an end to the first plot to burn them at the stake but makes a dangerous enemy of the castle's cunning English priest, Adair Beath, who will stop at nothing to destroy them.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
A co-worker and I were vacationing for several weeks in the Scottish Highlands in October of 1994 and encountering a fair share of cold and wicked weather. After tucking ourselves one evening into a vintage bed and breakfast inn in Braemar (Aberdeenshire) as the winds howled outside, she casually remarked, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we woke up tomorrow morning and discovered that we’d been thrown back in time?” I must have dreamt the entire plot that night because I was ready to start writing it the very next day!  (This same trip, by the way, also inspired my decision to get married at Stirling Castle four years later.)

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write full-time and, to date, have authored 26 books, 135 stage plays, 5 optioned feature films and hundreds of articles and interviews for magazines, newspapers and newsletters. I’m also a ghostwriter and professional script consultant for the film industry (which means that I stop a lot of bad movies from coming to theaters near you).  Although a number of my production deadlines are set externally by my editors, publishers and clients, I’ve always had the discipline to write every day for at least six hours.  Were I not blessed with a wonderful husband and the world’s cutest dog – both of whom enjoy my company -  that number would likely be sixteen.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Seriously? I think I was born with a pencil in my hand. I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t writing. I’ve also always been a voracious reader. When I was in school, I used to check out the maximum number of books each week, hungrily devour them, and return the following week for a new batch.  I secretly like to think I was the model for Belle; had a Beast in a castle given me my own library as a present, I would have happily ditched my parents in a heartbeat.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I want them to laugh, to cry, to reminisce, to say “Wow! I didn’t see that coming”, and to stay up until 3 in the morning just to finish the story.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I enjoy humor, history and fantasy – all of which are consistent with my outlook on life.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Being constantly asked by people (usually aspiring screenwriters and novelists) if I could read their manuscripts in my “spare time” and give them advice. This, I think, is akin to asking a doctor if he can take out your spleen for free on his day off. I tell them that I’d be happy to offer comment on their first two pages and a synopsis. If they want more than that, they have to pay my professional fees.  This usually makes them go away.

8) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
The common denominator in all of my books is that the heroines are resilient, love dogs, have a sense of humor, are smart, and the majority are brunettes. (In my YA novel, Movie Girl, I even drew from my own angst-riddled memories of being 15 and madly in love with a hottie senior who didn’t know I existed.) In The Spellbox, my alter ego Lucy acts very much the way I would if I awakened in the 13th century; specifically, I’d explore, I’d learn the culture, and I’d attempt to fit in. Lucy’s friend Max was directly modeled after my former travel companion who would have imposed her bossy will, argued with everyone and tried to convert them into vegans.  She was also the inspiration for the character of Gwen in my contemporary reincarnation comedy, Heaven Only Knows. As for the question on how my protagonists are different from me, they have thinner thighs, practically never have bad-hair days, and can probably ice-skate backwards.

9) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I immersed myself in Scottish history, watched movies about Scotland, and listened to Celtic music while I worked to put myself in the right mindset.

10) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not? 
If they’re pertinent to the plot, I don’t mind writing them at all. I do feel, however, that “less is more” and that too much sex or violence quickly hits a diminishing point and becomes boring. If we look to movies as an example, it was the brief glimpse of skin, the steamy hint of innuendo and the closed door that set our pulses and imaginations racing. Once actors begin shedding all their clothes and showing in graphic detail what’s going on behind those closed doors – well, (yawn) what more can they do that we haven’t already seen? The same goes for blood and gore.  For me, it’s much more terrifying to see creepy shadows, horrified facial expressions, and hear squishy-splat noises and spine-tingling screams than it is to watch victims up close and personal getting dismembered with chainsaws.

11) What about your book makes it special?
One of my signature styles whenever I write books or plays set in an earlier era is to have my fictional characters cross paths and interact with historic luminaries. Because of the amount of research I do on who was where when and doing what, these tableaus are entirely plausible. An example of this is when the villainous Adair Beath (who could be played deliciously by Alan Rickman) determines that the most effective way to ingratiate himself to Longshanks is to stir dissension between two of the contenders for the Scottish throne.  His leverage is a contemporary road map of the U.K. that he stole from Lucy and Max and which he mistakenly believes to be a battle plan. In another scene, Lucy and Max are saved by no less than William Wallace and feel compelled to reciprocate the favor by using their knowledge of the future to warn him of the fate that awaits if he is captured by the English king. Wallace, however, is firmly reconciled to the belief that only by his own sacrifices can the clans of Scotland unite in the quest for freedom.

12) What is your marketing plan?
Not only am I a consummate raconteur  (which I’ve always thought had kind of a wicked sound to it) but I write articles, do blogs, teach workshops, and appear as a guest on podcasts, all of which are opportunities to promote my work. In addition to making my website address part of my email signature block, I use fantastic services like VistaPrint for my book cover postcards and brochures and am now branching out into the production of book trailers.

13) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I recommend a visit to my website at www.authorhamlett.com.

14) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
If you want to write themes about temporal phenomenon, the best place to start is with a visit to Andy’s Anachronisms (http://www.timetravelreviews.com). This website covers the full spectrum of time-travel theories, methods and anomalies found in movies, books, stage plays and short stories.  Spoiler alert: it’s addictive!