Thursday, June 28, 2007

Book Review - Fool Me Once by Jessica Joy

There are books out there that make me so glad I decided to schedule regular reading time into my work week. Jessica Joy's Fool Me Once is one of those books!

A romantic suspense novel that is heavy on both romance and suspense, this story kept me turning the pages from the first to the last.

Toni Greer wakes up in a hospital room not knowing who she is or how she got there...and she's not alone. Blair Kierstead and his friend, Drew, had been keeping her company since the car accident that stole her memories. All Blair can tell her is that she was coming to see him--but even he doesn't know why.

Blair convinces Toni to come home with him, neglecting to mention that Drew is and Blair used to be an undercover FBI agent whose team was led into an ambush two years ago and they believe Toni betrayed them and is responsible for the deaths of their teammates.

Toni struggles to recreate her past. Blair isn't much help and she's not sure why. The excuse that the doctor wants her memories to come back on their own doesn't hold water for her. There has to be more to it--but what?

Blair is having struggles of his own. He can't figure out why Toni is so different since the last time he saw her--she loves Christmas and cooking and her family. It doesn't help that he finds himself attracted to her. She's the monster who caused the deaths of his teammates and almost cost him his life as well. He shouldn't have romantic feelings for her.

But he does, and Toni feels the same way about him, no matter how many times they try to deny it.

As Toni's memories come back, she can't believe the life she used to live. It all seems so foreign to her. But once Toni and Blair give into their feelings for each other, things finally start to make sense.

And then the danger for Toni becomes even more real. Word on the street for weeks has been that Toni's ex-lover is out searching for her. Maybe he wants her dead because of what she knows about him and his operations.

Blair and Toni return to the scene of one of her most vivid and frightening memories to try and piece together what happened the night of the car accident and to figure out if someone is really trying to kill her.

This novel drew me in so quickly and deeply that I had to keep turning the pages. Each chapter ended with such a climax that all I wanted to do was continue reading until the last word was read. So carefully woven in was the backstory that it did not have a chance to dull the action. In only one spot did I know exactly what would come next, but even that could not take away from my desire to keep reading. I really wanted to know if these characters made it to their happily ever after.

Jessica Joy's Fool Me Once is sexy, gripping, and action packed. A true romantic suspense novel that will attract a wide audience and leave them clamoring for more.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Book review - The Madhatter's Guide to Chocolate by Rhett DeVane

What do you get when you combine a small town in Florida with a mental institution on its main drag, some truly memorable characters, and a bunch of scrumptious southern recipes whose main ingredient is chocolate?

One amazing book, which you must read!

Hattie Davis ran away from her hometown of Chattahoochee as fast as she could, leaving behind the memories of life in a small town, a difficult relationship with her brother, and an annoying ex-boyfriend.

But when Hattie returns to Chattahoochee for her mother's funeral, she finds her childhood friend, Jake Witherspoon has returned and made his home there. The memoir of an old family friend and Jake's idea of a great new business make Hattie and Jake partners, but neither one of them understands how dangerous their venture might be.

Jake's flamboyant homosexuality makes him the target of a hate crime. He is kidnapped and brutually beaten by two teenage boys with a secret. And once that secret is revealed, no one in Chattahoochee will ever be the same.

And amazingly for Hattie, Chattahoochee becomes the place where she finds love and the one corner of earth she can finally call home.

A touching and at times shocking tale of a small town's revival. Rhett DeVane's characters could easily be your next door neighbor, your favorite aunt, or the sibling you never quite got along with. DeVane wove these memorable characters together with an amazing plot and some down home recipes to create a novel which will leave you inspired by how much good can come from something bad.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Meet author Christopher Hoare


Joining me today is Christopher Hoare, author of Deadly Enterprise and The Wildcat’s Victory both from Double Dragon Publishing (http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/). Deadly Enterprise was released this month and The Wildcat’s Victory will be out in January 2008. Chris paid me a visit to chat about his new release, his writing process, and what’s coming next.

Welcome to my blog Chris! It’s great to have you here.

Thank you, I'm very pleased to be able to visit your blog.

Let’s start off by finding out more about you. Who is Chris Hoare? When did you start writing? Were you inspired by anyone to become a writer?

I'm a retired oilpatch surveyor, born in England and living in Alberta, Canada, on the edge of the Rocky Mountains. My first published works were a few articles that appeared in the “Sunday Ghibli” an English language weekly published in Tripoli, Libya. Back in the 60s I was working in the desert and the city readership were hungry for news and views from the interior. I then switched to fiction, aiming straight for the hardest of course, and never published another thing until I did some articles on GPS for the Waterton National Park paper in the 90s.

I guess I became hooked on the idea of writing novels when I was a teenager. My mother used to borrow books from the 'penny' library at a local newsagent (the same one I delivered papers for) and I started reading a series about a special investigator of the 1930s. Don't remember titles or author, but Norman Conquest and his Hispano-Suiza roadster – his sidekick and wife Pixie – set me dreaming about adventure and storytelling.

You write speculative fiction in various genres. What is speculative fiction exactly? Have you always concentrated on this aspect of writing?

I think all fiction is speculative to some degree, but I admit I tend to write about other worlds or other realities in ours. The first novel I completed was a historical novel set in the fifth century with the arrival of the Saxons in Roman Britain, but it had its speculative side. I introduced characters who could have been the progenitors of the more mythical characters and histories – Hengist, Horsa, Arthur – who are syntheses of many other individuals whose actual names and careers have been embellished.

Speculative fiction proper is accepted to mean fantasy, science fiction, and anything with a supernatural element. My Iskander series has a group of moderns in a 1700s type world – it has to be on an alternate Earth, because my moderns change the course of history. My fantasy novel takes place on a fantasy world, and has different takes on magic, religious fanaticism, and technology than most other works in the genre.

What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Is there a time of day you are more productive than others?

I finished writing my historical novel when I worked in an oil refinery. Much of it was written long hand in pencil in exercise books while I was on night and evening shifts. I sat at the control room desk, writing and living in the 5th century while glancing up periodically to watch for charts going out of range or alarm lights blinking. With that training I can easily adapt to any schedule.

Retired from my day job, I write most days, but I tend to put off new work until the evenings while my wife watches TV programs I'm not interested in. Physiologically, my best writing time is probably in the morning, but I run the dogs then. I tend to work out scenes and motivation while the dogs are doing their thing, and commit the details to memory for later.

Deadly Enterprise was released by Double Dragon Publishing this month. Where did you get the idea for this story?

Two main sources for the series. I have always been interested in history, military history, and the development of technology. The scenario for a group of modern technologists in an older world grew out of some what-if speculations around inventions and insights that are anachronistic, but could have changed the course of history in our world. Alternate timelines fascinate me.

The other impulse grew from reading and watching TV programs that had overly patronising attitudes toward female action characters. I think a British series on PBS about a young woman who was left a private detective agency in a will – it was called, I believe, “An Unsuitable Job for a Woman”, was the one that made me start writing. I wanted to create a female protagonist who could hold her own against anyone, and I think everyone who reads Gisel Matah's story through the three (at present) novels published or awaiting release dates will agree that she can handle anything that's thrown at her. If I met her in full cry, with those dark dark eyes flashing, she'd probably scare the sh*t out of me.

Deadly Enterprise is an action adventure story set in the 17th century on an alternate earth called Gaia. What kind of research—if any—did you need to do in order to create the world in which Gisel (your female lead), the Felgers, and the Emperor exists?

If any, seems to be applicable to most aspects of the stories and scenario because they grew out of a huge assortment of otherwise useless information in my head. But I still research specific details. Action in The Wildcat's Victory required me to check into the historical accounts of the effect of high velocity rifles on cavalry tactics – they effectively put horse cavalry out of business, but I needed to know the process over time and the troop levels at which the rifles made cavalry movement impossible. I found some websites that had historical accounts from the Franco-Prussian War and the French/Italian campaigns of Napoleon III. Then I exchanged e-mails with a military historian who had authored some of the material and he enlarged upon specific details for me.

Tell us about Gisel Matah. Who is she? Why will readers care about what happens to her?

Being somewhat of a rebel throughout my own life, I hope her combination of rebellion and compassion will strike a chord in readers. I have a detailed, two page bio on her, that I wouldn't attempt to paste here, but her ancestry is Anglo-Indian and Greek (which fits certain plot requirements), she has a stormy relationship with her father after the divorce of her parents, and until she meets the right man has had three tempestuous affairs. She steers a tight course between the somewhat arrogant attitude of her modern compatriots toward the 17th/18th century locals, and these people's often cruel and savage ways. I try to show her making good decisions when she's faced with moral dilemmas.

If people check out your website (http://www.christopherhoare.ca/) they will find a couple maps there. What can you tell us about these?

Being a surveyor, I suppose maps are a part of my writing. I like to know where everything is and how characters move around. Because some of my readers pre-publication have also wanted to know where things are, and because the map file cannot be downloaded with the e-book, I have the maps on the website where they can be accessed. The Philips map is actually one I copied and modified from my Mother's old school atlas – which is around 100 years old, and which the company was kind enough to let me use for free.

With Deadly Enterprise coming out this month and The Wildcat’s Victory due out in January of next year, it must be an exciting time for you. What has been the best part about the entire process of getting published? Is there anything you would change?

I think I'm beyond getting excited. In the 70s my historical novel almost reached publication; in the 80s the novel I wrote about workers trying to buy an oil refinery (based on a real attempt at the one I worked in) was accepted by a publisher who never raised the money to publish it; in the 80s I had a collection of funny stories from oil exploration close to acceptance until the senior editor figured he knew more about the industry than I did; in 2001 I had a novel accepted by an e-publisher who went out of business after 9/11. I think I'm playing this one cool – when it comes out I will set to work to see if it will let me make up all the ground I've lost.

What’s up next for you? Anything exciting we should know about?

I have a third novel in the series accepted by Double Dragon for release in 2008, as well as my fantasy novel to be released by Zumaya the same year. I'm just finishing a new short story for submission to the next Twisted Tales anthology from the Double Dragon authors – titled “Fear”. Haven't written short stories for years, or anything in the horror line before, but J felt the story I sent for Twisted Tales II was fit to be seen in company with the writings of the established Twisted Tales crew and I'm going to see if he thinks the same about this.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

I'm part way through a new novel that brings NASA spaceflight into the same world as the exotic arts of Tibetan Buddhism, with a protagonist who visits other worlds through the power of the mind. It's another of my speculative adventures into realities outside our usual paradigm. I'm still seeking the edges of our universe.

Thanks for chatting with me today Chris. It’s been a great pleasure to get to know more about you and your work. Congratulations on your books. I wish you much success.

I must thank you for letting me chunder on so much. It's been a pleasure to answer your well aimed enquiries.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

And the winner is...

Joyce Anthony is the First Place winner of our contest. Joyce gets a copy of Jamieson Wolf's Write Now! Exercises for the Aspiring Writer.

Thanks to all who participated. Look for more contests coming soon!!!

Cheryl

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Meet author Jamieson Wolf and find out why the wolf never sleeps


Today I have the distinct pleasure of chatting with Jamieson Wolf. I met Jamieson though the Muse Online Writers Conference (http://museonlineconference.tripod.com/) last year and I can’t believe all this guy does. He is truly an inspiration to his fellow writers. Jamieson has many books to his credit—fiction and non-fiction—and he maintains numerous blogs for his many novels, book reviews, author interviews, and so much more. He also has written several articles for The American Chronicle (http://www.americanchronicle.com/AMchronDefault.asp). With so much going on in his world, it was hard to decide what we should talk about, but I figured I would stick to the craft of writing and his wonderful eBook Write Now! Exercises for the Aspiring Writer. Stick with us to the end and you’ll find out about a great contest where you’ll have the chance to win one of Jamieson’s books.

Wow! After all that, welcome to my blog Jamieson. It’s great to have you here!

Thanks Cheryl! It’s great to be here. It’s funny you call me an inspiration when that is how I think of you! I’ve been looking forward to this chat for a while!

Let’s talk about you for a minute. What can you tell us about yourself? How long have you been writing? What inspired you to become a writer?

Well, what would you like to know? Personal stuff first, I guess. I just celebrated my one year wedding anniversary. I read constantly (sometimes two or three books at a time) and write all the time too. I love Harry Potter and am anxiously awaiting and dreading the last book.

As for writing, the simple answer is that I’ve always been a writer, I just didn’t know it. I was always filling journals with stories or notations. I just didn’t realize that I was writing, or planting the seeds of what was to come.

For years I thought I wanted to be an actor. Turns out I loved the acting but not the people. I have no tolerance for twofaced people and theatre is full of them. So I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for a while. I had trained my whole life to be an actor and now I was adrift.

To while away the time, I started writing short stories. It helped me deal with walking away from acting and gave me another creative outlet. It wasn’t until someone read some of my scribbles and told me they were good that the idea of writing popped into my head.

I had always thought of my writing poetry and short stories as a pastime, as a hobby. I remember that day well because it was the day that it occurred to me that I could make a living writing. It was a powerful moment.

What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Are you more productive during a certain time of the day?

You know, I usually ask this question in interviews too because I’m curious how it is for other people. I don’t tend to have a real writing process. Much like everything else I do, I’m kind of scattered all over the place.

I do write every single day. I don’t have any particular time of day where I’m more productive, but I tend to get great chunks of writing done on the weekends. I work full-time as well as doing all my writing and blogs, so I usually write early in the morning and after work during the week and then for most of Saturday.

But I can write any time, really. I always have a journal with me in my bag at all times because you never know when the Muses will strike you down with an idea. I hate when I have no paper when a line or a snippet of conversation pops into my head.

Having known you for a little while now, you always seem to have a million things in the hopper at one time. How do you juggle them all?

The simple answer to that is: I have no idea. I tend to focus on my blogs during the day and work on my current work in progress (right now I’m writing a memoir titled One Step at a Time for The Friday Project) during the evenings and weekends. But sometimes I just have to focus and push through to make sure I catch everything.

The blogs take up a lot of my time so there are some days where, if entries are piling up, I put aside my work in progress and just plow through. I find it’s all about balancing what needs to be done now with what can be done later.

Your eBook Write Now! Exercises for the Aspiring Writer(http://want-to-write-now.tripod.com/index.html) came out early this year and received rave reviews. What inspired you to write this book?

I would have to say that Stephen King inspired me to write it. I had read his memoir on the craft, ON WRITING, and it was fantastic. It was a very private look into where ideas for some of King’s work came from and his guidelines on how to write.

But I found it was lacking. There are tons of writing books out there that tell you how to write but they don’t SHOW you. I also find that most writing books place a large importance on grammar, punctuation, etc. While those are important elements, I find that it’s learning where to start that is most important.

I had written a book before WRITE NOW called THE MUSE: Learning to Write from Inspiration that talked about the Muses and how we are all inspired to write. The book was geared towards anyone who wrote or wanted to write and needed the inspiration to do so.

But it got me thinking. What if someone already had the inspiration to write, what if they already had that drive inside them, and didn’t know how? I wanted to write a book along the same lines as The Muse but a bit more simple and a lot more fun. I wanted to take the focus off of inspiration and look at the writing itself.

There are so many books out there about the craft of writing. What is unique about this one?

Like I said above, there are tons of writing books out there that tell you how to write but they don’t SHOW you. They always TELL you how to write, giving you detailed explanations about how a writer should do this, why a writer should do that. But then there are no examples.

I wanted WRITE NOW! to be different, so I resolved to use examples from my own writing so readers and writers would know they were on the right track and have a visual that they can refer to.

I felt it was important to use my own writing as examples because it’s one thing for me to tell people what to do but it’s a whole other kettle of fish if I SHOW them.

The Write Now! Website says this book includes everything a person would need to know to get her writing career started. You included chapters on description, setting, character, plot and more. How did you go about selecting which subjects you would cover?

This was actually a tricky process. I wanted to make sure that the book remained simple but would be a natural progression. I wanted it to have a starting point and then build from there so that writers would use what they learned in an earlier exercise in a later one.

It took some fiddling around but I got it shaved down to the bare basics. I needed WRITE NOW! to be simple and fun but I wanted it to have everything a writer could need to learn in order to write.

One particular topic caught my eye--fan fiction. It has been my experience that this type of writing is very controversial. Some writers think it’s great, while others think it’s a waste of time. Why did you feel the need to cover fan fiction?

Well, fan fiction is how I started writing stuff other than poetry. I figured it was easier to write something if I didn’t have to imagine everything (characters, setting, etc) when it was already there.

Later, I realized that fan fiction was limiting and I started creating my own worlds, my own characters. But it’s a great starting place for those who want to write but don’t know how to go about picking out a setting, characters, etc. It gets them writing, which is the most important thing, and they don’t have to worry about the other stuff.

While controversial, fan fiction is a great escape. It lets you play around in someone else’s playground. It’s great fun when you want to write but you’re experiencing writers block. It helps rev up the imagination and is just plain fun.

Now, of course, it’s better to write your own stuff, but fan fiction should be looked at as play writing. But it’s all about putting your pen to the paper, right?

So tell us, how can you order Write Now! Exercises for the Aspiring Writer?

Well, that’s simple! Head on over to http://want-to-write-now.tripod.com and read all about the book and you can order it from the web site!

I know you have many books out there for fans to read, but it looks like you’ve got a lot going on in the next few months too. What do your fans and fellow writers have to look forward to?

I sure do! I’ve got three more novels coming out later this year from Write Words Inc (a trilogy of novels called Hope Falls, Eagle Valley and Dragons Coe), as well as a memoir coming out in early 2008. Aside from that, I’m working on a book of articles, a book of essays on Stephen Kings Dark Tower Series as well as a book of short stories. No rest for the wicked, right?

Anything else you would like to share?

Just the most important piece of writing advice you’ll ever hear: Write every day and read everything you can. You can’t learn to write without practice and you can’t write well without reading.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today Jamieson. I loved being able to pick the brain of the master.

Master? LOL Hardly. I just love what I do. Thanks for having me here Cheryl, you’re always a pleasure to talk to!

Note: I really could have asked Jamieson at least a dozen more questions, but he’ll be back in July and August to talk to me about two more of his books The Ghost Mirror and HUNTED. So, here is your reward for reading the entire interview. Jamieson has agreed to give away free copies of three of his books. Just click on this link http://want-to-write-now.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/description.pdf and perform the exercise. Email your favorite description to me at cg20pm00@gmail.com. The deadline for entering is midnight on Sunday, June 24, 2007. Jamieson and I will select three winners. First Place will get a copy of Write Now!. Second Place receives a copy of The Ghost Mirror and the Third Place winner gets a copy of HUNTED. But to be honest, you’re all winners if you take the time perform that exercise because it might just be the first step you’ll take towards becoming a writer.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Meet author Vicki M. Taylor


Award-winning author Vicki M. Taylor joins me today to talk about her latest release, Trust in the Wind. This is just one stop on her month-long blog tour. Welcome Vicki. I’m glad you’re here.

Thanks for hosting me during my Virtual Book Tour. I'm happy to be here.

Q: Let’s start by finding out more about you. Who is Vicki M. Taylor? How long have you been writing? Do you focus on a certain genre?

I'm a mother of three grown children, with one grandson and I live with my husband, dog, and parrot in Tampa, Florida. I wrote for fifteen years as a technical writer before turning to fiction around 1999. I call myself a Women's Fiction author because I think my stories go a little deeper into real life than a typical romance. I've written about teenage drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, murder and more.

Q: I’ve read the reviews for Trust in the Wind, and I have to say, it seems like this is one book that every romance lover needs to read. What inspired you to write this novel?

Trust in the Wind developed from a dream. A very vivid dream. When I woke the next morning, I could recall everything clearly in my mind. I knew I had something special. I instantly grabbed pen and paper (which I always keep next to my bed for just such occasions) and started writing. Furiously. I didn’t want to lose any of the story before I could get it all out of my head and onto the paper. When I finished writing, I had an entire story. The whole synopsis of the book. Even now, I can still recall parts of that dream clearly in my mind; it was that dramatic.

Q: Trust in the Wind has a pregnant teen who has decided to go it alone after her family disowns her; an absent father who is not involved in the baby’s life; a widowed sheriff who has lost his wife and child and has since turned his back on love; and loads of well-meaning friends who try to keep the two main characters apart because of the difference in their ages. How do you jam that much conflict into one novel?

It's what real life is all about. Things aren't perfect. My characters don't have storybook lives. They show me what happens to them. I write it down. It's kind of fun to see how they're going to handle each situation and get through it.

Q: We meet Joanne (your female lead), in Chapter One, where she and a friend are accosted by a group of vulgar, drunken hooligans after leaving a community laundry room. Obviously, she isn’t living the high life. How did you go about creating the world in which Joanne lives? Did you do research? Did you take some pictures of a location similar to what you wanted to depict in your story? Or did you approach it some other way?

Joanne's world is a combination of places I've been and my imagination. I used my imagination to give it more of an unfortunate, run-down, poor side of town feel to it.

Q: Tell us a bit about Roy. He lost his wife and child during a burglary and he has sworn off love, but he finds himself attracted to Joanne, who is several years his junior. How did you create Roy? What do you like about him? Is there anything you dislike about him?

Ah, Roy. He looks like Ed Harris. Back when Ed Harris was in The Abyss. He's a bit of a loner and a risk taker. After his family was killed, he took all the dangerous jobs. He didn't consider his life important anymore. Roy needed to see there were still things in life worth saving. Including his own life. I like that he connected with Joey so quickly and they bonded. He has a bit of a temper. That's apparent when one of the other officers tries to make Joanne look like a prostitute.


Q: Trust in the Wind deals with what some might say is a sensitive issue—love between two people who are separated by nearly two decades. How do you get readers to concentrate more on the love story developing between two people, than on their chronological ages?

I think when people are reading Trust in the Wind, I think they forget about Joanne's and Roy's ages and just see two people falling in love. The story of their journey could happen to anyone, not just a younger woman and older man.

Q: This is what Georgia Richardson of http://www.queenjawjaw.com/ had to say about Trust in the Wind: “Strong characters, suspenseful, and a love scene that massaged my heart. This was one time where the romance was beautiful; a gift . . . in a sense. As I read parts of it, I found myself saying, "I want that kind of love!" Every scene, every exciting movement, and yes, even the kisses exchanged, were given to me in such a way that an artist could not have painted a better picture for my senses to enjoy.” How do you feel after such a fabulous review?

I'm thrilled with it. Georgia really got to the basics of the book, the senses, and saw what I was trying to communicate. I'm really glad she enjoyed it so much.

Q: Can you take a minute to tell us about some of the author and writing organizations you are a part of?

I'm a founding member and past president of the Florida Writers Association (http://www.floridawriters.net). I belong to the National Association of Women Writers (http://www.naww.org). I'm a member of Romance Writers of America, and of my local RWA chapter, Tampa Area Romance Authors. (http://www.tararwa.com/index.php) Also, the Short Mystery Fiction Society (http://www.shortmystery.net/)

Q: I’ll close here with one final question. What else would you like to tell us about yourself and your work? What’s up next?

I love to write. That's what it's all about, really. Loving what I do. Even when it's writing humorous personal essays about my husband's latest handyman effort. I'm currently working on a women's fiction novel about a 39 year old mother of five who wants to adopt a 14 year old pregnant teenager and the tragic consequences. Pretty dramatic stuff.

Thank you so much for spending time with us today. It was a great pleasure. I wish you continued success in all you do.

Thank you, I appreciate that. I enjoyed my visit. I had fun!

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Meet author Karen Magill


I have a special treat for you to help celebrate Flag Day. Joining me today is author Karen Magill, whose latest novel, Let Us Play, A Rock ‘n Roll Love Story is now available through Lulu.com http://www.lulu.com/karenmagill . Welcome to my blog, Karen. I’m thrilled to have the chance to interview you during your month-long Virtual Book Tour.

Thank you for inviting me. I consider it an honor to be here.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been writing?

Ever since I learned how to put words together, I have written. My paternal grandmother, Katherine Magill, was a published author. She helped support the family by writing articles as well has having two published books. I have always had a wild imagination and preferred living in a world of my own making rather than the real one. At 41, I’ll be 42 in June, I still be prefer my imaginary world. In 2000, I was diagnosed with MS and put on disability. Instead of looking at this as a negative, I instead focus on this as an opportunity to follow my lifelong dream of writing. In 2004 I independently published my first novel The Bond as an experiment. It went so well I published my second Let Us Play in 2006.

Let Us Play, is set in an uncertain time in the future where rock ‘n roll has been banned. Can you tell us what inspired you to write this story?

Rock n’ roll music has always been a scapegoat when young people have done things wrong. Never mind that millions of teens can listen to the same album without incident – a couple go bad and it is the music’s fault. Remember when it was the devil’s music? I don’t like all the music that’s out there but I don’t think it should be banned. Then in the nineties the United States had the PMRC. Tipper Gore’s efforts to help her husband get in the White House. My opinion. They helped a lot of musical artists get a lot of promotion. Not that that was their intention. And a lot of things over the years have combined to inspire me to come up with this idea.

Then, to make it different, I had to make sure that Kaya had the gift of second sight. She is facing a sadistic opponent in the government leader Judah Arnold. So she needs an extra edge.

Your main character, Kaya Moore, leads a group of rebels who are fighting to have everyone’s rights restored. What can you tell us about Kaya? Why will readers care about what happens to her?

Kaya is fighting PARR not only because she believes that everyone should have the right to choose – a factor I think that everyone will agree with – but because of the wrongs that they have done to her. I think the reader will feel for her. She is headstrong and passionate and driven and committed to what she believes in. LUPO is her world. Even when Kaya is stubborn and her passion can lead her to do things that are foolhardy, the reader may bite their tongue and shake their head, but they still empathize with what is driving Kaya.

Censorship can be a very challenging subject to handle in a novel. How did you approach it? Did you have any fears of addressing this issue in Let Us Play?

For Let Us Play I used the censorship of music and I used the extreme notion of total censorship – the music being entirely eliminated. When a person reads the novel they will see the methods that the government used to accomplish this.

I had no fears addressing this issue because it is fiction but as with all fiction, I intended for it to get people thinking. Could it really happen? I don’t know. Would the government ever do the things I say they do in the book? Who knows what power hungry, corrupt people are capable of?

With this novel I went over the top, I had fun with everything. From the characters to the situations. I let my imagination run wild and didn’t try to restrain myself at all. It was great.

When I read the synopsis of this novel and a review from The Book Pedler (http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2007/05/21/let-us-play-by-karen-magill/), I instantly thought your novel could be considered a larger scale, futuristic version of the movie Footloose. Do you see any connection between the two or am I just insane?

Thank you, what a compliment! The premise is the same but I guess the theory of censoring rock and roll music has been around since the birth of the music. You know, last year my apartment was broken into and all they took were my DVDs. One of the first ones I replaced was Footloose!

Yes, you could say there is a connection between Let Us Play and Footloose. As well as Let Us Play and Styx’s Kilroy Was Here. A funny story. The whole time I was writing Let Us Play, a line kept going through my head ‘it ain’t the music that’s in question. It’s called a freedom of expression.’ I had to fight not to put that in there because that is a line from a song on the Styx album. But that was playing in my head the whole time.

What’s up next in the world of Karen Magill?

I have to keep promoting this book and my first The Bond. I am working at learning how to change both books into screenplay format. I have to write my next book, which I am planning on being the sequel to Let Us Play. This one will focus on another character in Let Us Play. Keep learning all I can about this business.

Thanks for dropping in and sharing some insight into your last book. I wish you much success.

Thank you for having me, it’s been fun.

Check out Karen's next stop on her virtual tour, which will be tomorrow at The Romantic Fanatic - http://www.romanticfanatic.blogspot.com/

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Oh man! I guess I'm it.

Vicki M. Taylor, who is the author of the wonderful book Trust in the Wind (I reviewed this book here in May), tagged me, and now I have to come up with 8 unique things to tell you about myself. I'm not sure if these things will help you understand me or give you reasons to avoid me, but it's who I am.

1) I am a Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie (LHOP) fanatic. I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to books by and about Wilder and her family. I've reviewed books about and by her daughter Rose Wilder Lane here at my blog. I watched Michael Landon's adaptation of these books when it originally aired in the 1970's and 80's. It remains my all time favorite show. I own a Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder, LHOP) Yahoo Group, administrate a LHOP forum, and have written many LHOP fan fiction stories. I have two Laura Ingalls Wilder writing projects in mind if I ever find the time to put them together.

2) I taught catechism in the Catholic Church for ten years and ran the elementary age program for five years, which garnered me the Pope Pious X award.

3) I have a Christmas fetish. Christmas is my favorite time of year. Of course, around here it's almost an all year round event. I finally put my oldest daughter's tree down in the cellar tonight. From Thanksgiving until some time in January, I have 8 trees inside my home and 7 trees outside. My goal is to have every room of my house decorated during the season (even the bathrooms). I'm pretty close now, but my mother-in-law says she hopes she's gone home to meet her Maker before I achieve my goal.

4) I worked fourteen years in retail; I was a bank teller for two different credit unions; I worked as an office manager for a manufacturing firm, and was a data management analyst for a Fortune 100 company before I left the workforce in 2004 to stay home with my kids.

5) Speaking of my children, I have a son who turned 20 last month and two daughters who are 5 and 3. It is strange having a child in college and one in Kindergarten, but I figure it could make for some interesting story ideas.

6) I ran for public office in 2003. I lost, but I still got 40% of the vote against a person who had lived in town for over twenty years.

7) I danced for over nine years. I had dreams of touring with a ballet company. When my mother became ill, I quit. It is one of my biggest regrets.

8) I can spread my toes out so much that it looks like I have bird feet. I don't know how I discovered this trait, but I loved grossing out my middle sister with it when we were younger.

Now that you know more about me than you ever cared to, I'll tag the following people: Sadie, Amber, Candela, JoElle, Peg, Rhett, Karina, and Joyce.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Meet author Larraine Wills


Joining me today is fantasy, sci-fi, and romance author Larraine Wills. Welcome Larraine, it’s great to have you here!

Thank you, Cheryl, it’s a pleasure to be here.

Q: Let’s start by getting to know you better. Who is Larraine Wills? How long have you been writing?

Oh, gee, who am I? A wife, mother, grandmother who appreciates all of the afore mentioned. I’m one of the odd ones, been married to the same man through all of it, and have enjoyed the support of husband, children and grandchildren. Without them pushing me to do so, I may never have submitted anything. I have been writing for years, stacking the manuscripts away in drawers and closets until two years ago when I started submitting. With what little feedback I got with my rejections I learned some changes I needed to make, laid off for about six months while I did some massive editing and began again last April when my first re-vamped submission was accepted by a publisher (Swimming Kangaroo Books -http://www.swimmingkangaroo.com/). They accepted that one plus four more. I hide out in the high desert of Arizona with my hubby, Little Bit, who doesn’t know she’s a dog, and two cats.

Q: Can you tell us what your writing process is like? Is there a time of day that you are more productive than others?

When I said my family supported me I should have included tolerate. I’m one of those obsessive writers, first thing in the morning until last thing at night until the first draft at least is done with as few interruptions as I can manage. ‘Just a minute’ is my favorite phrase during those times. I find evening my most productive time, probably because of the least amount of distractions.

Q: How long did it take you to complete Looking Glass Portal?

A couple of months if you aren’t including the edits once it went into the publishing process. I give each edit at least a week of work, doing what the editor suggested, ideas that come out of those suggestions and hunting out typos, wrong words, that type of thing.

Q: In Looking Glass Portal, a modern day cowboy and his horse are abducted by aliens and taken aboard their ship. How did you come up with this fascinating story idea?

I have to chuckle a bit here, because I don’t remember what actually started this story off in my head. It could have been one scene or even just one line I saw or read. It could have been an incident I witnessed that caught my attention or I should say my imagination. Sometimes ideas seem to come from nothing at all, just rambling around in my thoughts until they settle. I can tell you that once that kernel is planted the story takes me forward and back from that beginning point, developing the characters and plot until the story is finished.

Q: How did you create the world in which the yantz, the Pig-man, and the Midradina exist?

They came into existence because they were needed to make the story go where I wanted it to go and the characters do what I wanted them to do. I know that’s a rather stiff answer, but where they come from is imagination and that’s something I can’t really explain. It just is.

Q: When the story begins, Garrett (the main character), has suffered with pain for the past twelve years and is contemplating suicide. Then he is abducted by aliens. How do you create a character who is sympathetic enough for the reader to care about, but who hasn’t had so many hardships that the reader thinks, ‘Alright already. Give the guy a break.’?

I kind of hope the readers are thinking that. That means they like him and are pulling for him, that they understand his outlook on life even why he would consider ending his own, his slightly off center sense of humor, that they recognize his strength and courage in contemplating suicide but not doing it so that they want him to be happy. If they don’t like him they aren’t going to keep reading about him, right?

Q: On your website (http://www.larriane.com/index.htm), there is a link to Café Press where fans can purchase t-shirts and other gifts with cover art from your books The Knowing and Looking Glass Portal. What a great promotional tool! How did you get involved in this aspect of promotion for your novels?

I can’t claim any credit for that, but I think it’s great. That was arranged by my publisher Dindy Robinson at Swimming Kangaroo Books.

Q: What’s up next for you? What other exciting projects do you have in the works for your fans?

I have three more books under contact and in the production process. Two are contemporary romances, one soft and one hot, and one historical soft romance. Thirteen Souls has a lot of ghosts, while the Mark of the Sire is ghost free. Mourning Meadow is the next to be released, (with some ghosts) slated for October. I do write all over the genre board and cross them over. As the next three are more main stream than fantasy or science fiction they’ll be published under my alter ego, Larion Wills. By the time those are released, I hope to have more under contract. Like I said I’ve been putting them in drawers and closets for years. My biggest draw back now is time. They all need to be typed into the computer and edited.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Yes, there is, a big broad thank you. I consider myself extremely fortunate in finding a publisher who took a chance on an unpublished author and takes the time to answer all my ‘dumb’ questions, an editor who tells me what my stories need to make them better but listens if I disagree, strangers on the loops who encourage and assist newbies, and strangers I meet at book signing events. One of the things that held me back from submitting (aside from the dread of receiving rejections) was I knew from things I had read that to make my books successful I had to go out into the public to promote them. That meant I had to shake myself out of my near hermit existence and face talking to people despite my hearing handicap. There has not been one person at any of the events or a book store manager I’ve talked to that was rude or impatient. I tell them I have a hearing problem, they say that’s okay and repeat things, some times over and over, with understanding and consideration until I can catch it all. I know it would be easier if I could hear better. I also know now that what is a handicap does not have to be a barrier that can’t be breached. Mourning Meadow is the only story I’ve written that addresses a hearing handicap. The story is fictional, but after people read it, I hope they have a better understanding of it means to a person who can hear, but can’t understand language clearly to eliminate those few who are rude and thoughtless. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to say these things.

Thanks again for stopping by my blog. It was great to have the chance to speak with you about your novels. Best wishes for the future!

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