Monthly Archives: August 2013

Awesome Authors–Judy Alter

Tophoto of authorday on Awesome Authors I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing mystery author, Judy Alter. I ‘met’ Judy after joining one of the best writing organizations around, Sisters In Crime (SINC), and its fabulous sub-group, the Guppies (short for the Great Unpublished).  SINC was formed in 1986 by mystery author Sara Paretsky to promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry, and is a must-join for both female and male authors in the genre. It’s a great group of people and I owe SINC a debt of gratitude for all the support and information they’ve offered over the years.

And now, on to Judy’s interview:

D: Hi Judy! Thanks for being here 🙂 Tell us a little about yourself and your latest release.

 J: Thanks for inviting me—I’m delighted to be here.

My latest book is the fourth Kelly O’Connell Mystery, Danger Comes Home. In this book realtor/renovator Kelly finds her daughter is hiding a runaway fifth grader, her good friend Joe seems to be going back to his gangsta ways and ignoring his lovely wife, Theresa, and a drug dealer has moved into her beloved historic Fairmount neighborhood in Fort Worth. cover for Danger Comes Home

 For variety, I threw in a former Hollywood diva (so she claims) who is now a recluse and wants Kelly to do her grocery shopping for her. Kelly’s husband, Mike Shandy, badly injured in an auto accident in the third book, has been transferred from the Central District station of the Fort Worth Police to the Narcotics Division, so he’s well aware of the danger Kelly is bringing home with her friendship with the young girl and her mother. It’s a wild ride, but Kelly manages to protect her daughters and not scare Mike too much.

D: Sounds like a fun read! Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

“…I take inspiration from experiences in my own life. One of my daughters says the first Kelly book is “highly autobiographical.”

J: The inspiration for the Kelly O’Connell books comes from the part of Fort Worth I live in, adjacent to Fairmount with its authentic Craftsman houses. The first book was Skeleton in a Dead Space, which came about partly because there’s a dead space in my kitchen and partly because, at a stop sign in Fairmount one day, I looked at a house and thought “There’s a skeleton in a dead space in that house.” It went from there.cover for Skeleton in a Dead Space

 The Blue Plate Mysteries (so far just Murder at the Blue Plate Café) are based on a café in a small East Texas town where I ate frequently, and I have another book on the back burner, called right now The Perfect Coed, that came about after I heard a rumor of doctors’ wives (I was one once) who “serviced” airline pilots while their husbands were at work. I substituted coeds for the doctors’ wives.

 I guess long story short I take inspiration from experiences in my own life. One of my daughters says the first Kelly book is “highly autobiographical.”

 D:  When did you realize you were a writer?

 J: By the time I was ten I was writing short stories, and I’ve been writing ever since. Always had jobs that involved writing, including directing a small academic press.

 D: What has your road to publication been like? Cover for Murderat the Blue Plate Cafe

J: Not as rocky as that of a lot of people. My first agent approached me. After that, though, I had a hard time finding agents and floundered for a while. Now I don’t have an agent but am published by a small press. It’s a great solution to the competitiveness of the quest for an agent.

“…I have something in common with the late Elmore Leonard—I left westerns because the western market left me.”

D: You’ve written both fiction and non-fiction for many years. What inspired you to transition from writing the Women of the American West series to cozy mysteries? Do you plan to write more YA fiction?

Cover for Sundance, Butch and MeJ: I have something in common with the late Elmore Leonard—I left westerns because the western market left me. Bantam stalled on the last manuscript I submitted and eventually discontinued their westerns. For several years I wrote YA non-fiction on assignment for companies that published for school libraries, but the yen to write a mystery was always there. I don’t plan to do any more young-adult books, either fiction or non-fiction, but you never know. These days, mysteries keep me busy.

D: What are you working on now?

J: I’m writing the fifth Kelly O’Connell mystery. It has no title yet but I think it will have the word “deception” in the title—maybe Deception in Strange Places. Kelly is of course the main character but the recluse from the fourth book is pivotal. In a way, this is her book.

 D: What is your process like? Do you write every day? Have a certain word count? Do you have a ritual that you enjoy doing before sitting down to write? cover for No Neighborhood for Old Women

 J: I wish I wrote every day but too much else goes on—I have some editing projects on my desk for my publisher and I keep my 2nd-grade grandson after school, which means homework. I also like to keep up with friends at lunch and dinner, so sometimes the day is gone before I even think about my WIP. This morning, for instance, by the time I did yoga, got the house underway (made beds, straightened the kitchen, watered the plants), answered email, cleared up some odds and ends, it was 10:30 before I actually got to work. But when I’m on a roll, I aim for a thousand words a day.

D: Do you find you work better with or without deadlines?

J: I’m fairly compulsive, so I get things in well before deadlines and don’t really need them. But they are there in the back of my mind.

“…Writing contemporary fiction doesn’t require as much [research] because I’m writing about a world I live in…”

D: How much research do you do when you write your books?

cover for LibbieJ: When I was writing historical fiction, I did tons of research—on the life of George Custer and his wife, for instance, for Libbie. Writing contemporary fiction doesn’t require as much because I’m writing about a world I live in. I did do research on the Craftsman movement for the Kelly books and a bit on East Texas for the Blue Plate Café books.

 D: In light of the huge changes in publishing, where do you think the industry is headed? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

J: Where I see myself in five years is a funny question. I’m seventy-five but I still see myself as writing at eighty. Who knows? The biggest decision for me is whether to try self-publishing or not. I’m tempted but hesitant to undertake the cash outlay to do it right, and I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. My publisher is growing and maturing as a business, and some of the changes I hope for may come about. Besides, I don’t want to learn new programs to self-publish, though I did format a couple of older titles and they’ve done well on Amazon. Mattie, a historical novel set in nineteenth-century Nebraska, does well every month; my short story collection, Sue Ellen Learns to Dance and Other Stories, not so well, though I like the stories and a couple won awards.cover for Mattie

“…I still see myself as writing at eighty…”

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

J: Read. And don’t be easily discouraged. Don’t expect to make a fortune. Write for the joy of it.

D: Great advice. If you could time travel, either to the past or into the future, where would you go?

J: Hard one. Life was tough in the two historical eras that interest me—Scotland at the time of The Clearances (mid-eighteenth century) and the late nineteenth-century American West. I’m not at all interested in futuristic writing. In fact, I’m not much interested in time travel—quite happy to be in the twenty-first century.

D: Good point, although I think the research angle would be invaluable. Thanks again for visiting today, Judy. Good luck on the new series!

 Here’s a taste of Judy’s latest mystery, Danger Comes Home:

EXCERPT:

So there I was at midnight, my thoughts whirling about Lorna McDavid and her crumbling house, when I heard those ever-so-soft beeping sounds that indicate someone has disabled the alarm system. Startled I lay for a moment listening, and then I heard the back door open and gently close. That was enough to make me crawl out of bed, barefoot, in a T-shirt and underpants. I didn’t think about how I would confront an intruder in that outfit. Nor did I stop to wake Mike or take my gun. Mike’s always after me to take the handgun he bought me but I loathe the thing, though I will say there was one instance where having it in my hand saved my life. But now all I could think of was my girls—had someone crept out the back door with one of them as hostage? Too many bad things had happened in the last few years, so my imagination sometimes gets away with me.

I raced down the bedroom hall, through the living room, dining room and kitchen, and came to a crashing halt at the back door. A soft light glowed in the guest house, as though someone had a flashlight. Shoot! I hadn’t even thought to find one. It would have taken me too long. Note to self: put a flashlight on my bedside table.

Creeping now, rather than racing, I eased open the back door, closed it quietly, and crossed the yard. Peering into a window, I saw Maggie handing a sandwich and an orange to a young girl—a very tired and scared young girl with stringy hair and wrinkled clothes. Maggie’s small mutt and constant companion, Gus, sat on the floor staring wistfully at the sandwich. Gently, I opened the door.

END EXCERPT

To find out more about Judy and her books, click on the links below:

Web page

Blogs: http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com; http://potluckwithjudy.blogspot.com

Facebook

Twitter: @judyalter

Amazon

Turquoise Morning Press

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

 Authorgraph: http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/JudyAlter


Indie Novels and Cheap Wine

Great post about cheap indie ebooks and wine…

Pete Morin

As I approach the second anniversary of the publication of Diary of a Small Fish, I’ve now had more than three years to observe and participate in the discussion about the distinctions between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Despite the monumental changes that have occurred in the fiction market, and the meteoric speed at which they’ve taken place, the arguments haven’t changed that much on either side. The evidence (pro and con) changes, new examples arise, success stories are one-a-week, it seems, on both sides. No matter how robust the indie market, trad pub still seems to be doing fine, if their numbers are right (if ANY numbers are right). Very smart people are discussing this at great length, I learn a lot from them, and I applaud them for their leadership in this industry. It’s fun to watch, and it’s fun to be a part of it all.

But…

View original post 657 more words


Interview on “Today’s Tease” Blog

I’m being interviewed today on Authors Tease Readings blog.  Stop by and find out where I’d go for a week and with whom if no one would find out…


AIA Grand Opening Party–Day 2

Awesome Indies Grand Opening Day 2

Who is the piano playing dog? Visit the Awesome Indies Grand Opening Party today to find out. Watch an amazing video and vote on the best explanation for who the dog is and what he’s doing.

Click here or on the banner above.

And don’t forget to check out the 99c sale.


Awesome Indies Grand Opening Party!

Banner for AIA grand opening party

The Awesome Indies Grand Opening Party; 26 top reads at just 99 cents each, plus 5 days of partying!

You’re invited to the Awesome Indies Grand Opening Party—a sale of 26 top reads at just 99 cents each, plus 5 days of fun. See the new website, meet the authors, join them for games, giveaways and giggles and beaia_button in the draw to win the latest generation Kindle.

 The Awesome Indies have found a way to take the risk out of buying indie. If it’s Awesome Indies Approved (AIA), a qualified publishing industry professional has determined that it’s as good as anything produced by the mainstream. Readers need no longer wonder if that book is really worth downloading. If a book is listed on the Awesome Indies, then it’s worth your time.

 Click on the banner, or this link, to visit the Awesome Indies to browse the huge 99c sale and learn what you have to do to be in the draw for a Kindle Paperwhite.


Awesome Authors–T.D. McKinnon

Today on Awesome Authors I’m thrilled to interview TD McKinnon,  author of multiple genres including speculative fiction, sci-fi and adventure-thrillers. Along with his eclectic writing interests, TD is a fellow Indies Unlimited contributor, an expert martial artist, and all around lovely human being.

Photo of TD McKinnon

TD McKinnon

(From his bio):

Born in Scotland in 1950 and raised in the coal mining communities of Scotland and England, T.D. McKinnon joined the British Parachute Regiment when he was just fifteen years old.  After spending five years in the British army he worked at a number of occupations, but for many years he was in high risk security.  A martial arts master in several forms he represented at national level, both in Scotland and Australia, and became a national referee.  Among many high-profile clients, his close personal protection company was responsible for the protection of a member of the Spanish royal family, and was also part of the local contingent, anti terrorist, security team for President George H W Bush’s Australian visit. 

Whilst at school, T.D. Mc Kinnon displayed a natural talent for writing, but it wasn’t until the 1980s, after moving to Australia, that he began writing again; submitting articles and short stories to various magazines, including Impact, Blitz and Combat, martial arts magazines, The Green Earth, an environmental newspaper, and  Cosmopolitan, to name a few.  However, it wasn’t until semi-retiring and moving to Tasmania in 2004 that he began writing seriously. Since then, writing prolifically, he has published five books, contributed to a children’s story book, has several projects currently in progress, and is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited.

D: Hi TD! Thanks for being here 🙂

T: It’s my pleasure entirely, DV.  Thank you for the opportunity.

D: Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

T: I’m originally from Scotland, and I now live in North West Tasmania with my wife, Zoë, where I moved in 2004 to concentrate on my writing.  Since then I have completed five books.

D: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

T: Many things can inspire me to write; usually it’s an idea that just won’t leave me alone.  My natural inclination has always been to write: to express myself, to work out a problem or look at an idea that has sprung to life in my head.  For instance, Surviving the Battleground of Childhood was something I had to get out of my system; it wasn’t until I wrote it that I was truly cured of my childhood devils.Cover for Surviving the Battleground of Childhood

 “…In my story I right the injustices that in reality weren’t necessarily rectified…”

Ideas come to me (sometimes in the dead of night) and, soon there after the characters speak to me, the story just cries out to be told.  It’s not like I have a choice.  I am quite an emotional person, and so I might be motivated by something that makes me angry, like injustice, for instance.  The outrageous injustice of a half buried, half told story about a chapter of Tasmania’s past inspired me to write Terra Nullius.

Injustice also inspired Utrinque Paratus; the story has a lot of truth wrapped up in it you see – some mine and some of several other people I know.  In my story I right the injustices that in reality weren’t necessarily rectified.

cover for Utrinque ParatusEach of my stories has enough truth in them for me to believe, to be involved and be totally invested in them.  Inspired by hope, Psychic Warrior is one of those stories that would wake me in the night; some might call it dreams but to me it’s a very personal story, containing a large portion of personal truth.  Lynne Cantwell said of Psychic Warrior:

I would put it squarely in the sci-fi quadrant of the speculative fiction roundhouse, except for a ‘whoa!’ twist at the very end that kind of made me wonder what McKinnon was on when he wrote it.  And I mean that in a good way.  And when you get to the last few pages of the book and go, ‘whoa!’ let me know what genre you think it ought to go into.”

D: Now, that’s an intriguing review! When did you realize you wanted to write?cover for Heathy Skye Wilson is the Psychic Warrior

T: I was seven years old and after coming first in my school year’s writing competition I was given pride of place at the school open-day.  After reading my story, Snowdrop the Polar Bear, the headmistress smilingly announced, “I do believe we have a budding author in our midst.”  Even though it would be fifty years before I published my first book; I knew from that moment that I was a writer.  By the way, I remember being motivated to write that story after first hearing about animals being killed for their skins.

D: What has your road to publication been like? What made you decide to ‘go indie’?

T: I couldn’t even begin to count the amount of rejections I received for my first book – firstly by the Big Six, and then by every major authors agent I could find to apply to; and that was at a time when most of them required hard copy submissions.  Eventually, my first book, Surviving the Battleground of Childhood, a memoir – the title gives a broad indication of the subject matter – was traditionally published by a small, UK publisher in 2008.  I traveled to the UK to do a four-week book signing tour at the Waterstones book stores, in and around the places I grew up; and although the tour went well, sales began stalling as soon as I returned to Australia.  Returning to Australia I did the same thing, with the same results.

cover for I was a Teenage Devil-But I'm alright Now!During all of that time, you can imagine there wasn’t much writing being done; having had enough of the getting published game, I went back to writing.  During the following three years I completed the sequel to Surviving: I was a Teenage Devil – But I’m Alright Now! which covers my time in the British Parachute Regiment (the infamous Red Devils).  I also wrote John Farrell is Utrinque Paratus, an adventure/thriller; Heather Skye Wilson is The Psychic Warrior, a speculative fiction; and Terra Nullius an historical fiction.  Along the way I was hearing more and more about the ePublishing scene and when I had five completed works, I finally decided to take the plunge.  That was at the beginning of 2012.

D: You write in several different genres: speculative fiction, memoir, historical fiction, action-thrillers. Which genre do you prefer?

T: Just as I don’t have a genre preference for reading, I don’t really have a genre preference for writing, and the best way I can answer that question is to say…  The one I am invested in at the time; if that makes any sense to you.

D: More than you know 🙂 What are you working on now?

T: I’m just finishing off a sci-fi novelette, which I’ve been going back and forward to for some time.  I am also in the process of writing an historical fiction based on the true story of the tragic events following the Battle of Culloden Moor (the last battle between the Scots and the English in the 18th century), which is redolent with history, mystery, deception and atrocities committed by the marauding English troops of the Duke of Cumberland; the real reason why, even to this day (just under the surface), the Scots despise the English.

D: I know of several friends who are interested in the Battle of Culloden Moor. Most are of Scottish ancestry. I’ll let them know when it’s released 🙂

What is your process like? Do you write every day? Have a certain word count? Do you have a ritual that you enjoy doing before sitting down to write?

T: After helping Zoë with the cats, I meditate and stretch most mornings, but truthfully, DV, I am not a very disciplined writer.  I can write up a storm when the mood, or rather the muse, takes me.  However, too often life gets in the way.  Unfortunately I still need to earn a crust doing things nonliterary, and along with one or two other commitments, as well as no longer being a young man, I am bound by certain physical limitations.

“…I believe the general consensus is, not so much ‘write what you know’ as, ‘know what you write.’  In other words, if you don’t know it, research it!”

D: Do you find you work better with or without deadlines?

T: I must admit that a deadline does make me perform; I don’t like them… but sometimes they might be necessary to make me shake a leg.

D: How much research do you do when you write your books?

T: That very much depends on what I’m writing; sometimes a lot of research is necessary, while at other times I need to do a damn sight more.  Seriously though, there is research to do no matter what the genre.  I have a good general knowledge in the areas I write, and we all have (what might be termed) specialist areas; I certainly utilise mine accordingly.  I also know my shortfalls (in terms of knowledge base) and do the applicable research.  This subject gets touched upon all the time at Indies Unlimited and I believe the general consensus is, not so much ‘write what you know’ as, ‘know what you write.’  In other words, ‘If you don’t know it, research it!’

D: In light of the huge changes in publishing, where do you think the industry is headed? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

T: For the industry: I see hard copy books always being there, but as a niche market.  I see the big publishers scrambling for a place in tomorrow’s (into the future) market.  I see the independents dominating for a while but, as will always happen in a capitalist, structured society, someone will find a way to take control, capitalise and profiteer.  Hopefully, it will still be a better environment for serious authors, than the one we are currently leaving behind and, hopefully, a discerning, reading public will be the ultimate decision makers.

 On a personal level: over the years, as I was (honouring my commitments) doing what I was able in respect of supporting and bringing up a family et cetera, I was squirreling away ideas, concepts, story outlines (I have more than fifty projects at various stages) and basically preparing to do what I really wanted to do; and that is to write stories until I shrug off this mortal coil.  In real terms I have only just begun, I have confidence in the quality of my writing and I am counting on that discerning, reading public I mentioned to continue to take me, more and more, to their hearts.  As far as career goals, if that’s what you’re talking about (five-year plan); I will continue to ePublish, and if someone taps me on the shoulder and offers to do hard copies I’ll consider it.  I will always be open to movie offers of course… ha ha.  For various reasons, since the ePublishing move, I’ve been a bit slack in terms of completing another writing project (publishing another book) but I see for the future, on average, one or two books per year.

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

cover for Terra NulliusT: Writers write; what I’m saying is, if you are a writer, new or otherwise, you really have no choice about whether you will write or not.  You can choose how much and what direction you might take.  I believe you should write what pleases you most, what gives you the most value fulfillment.  Learn your chops, of course, by whatever means is available, and give some thought about what you want to achieve from your writing.  I would also advise that your incentive not be money.  If you, by your writing, happen to make money that’s excellent, but if money is the motivation you could be looking at a whole lot of misery; you would be better advised to seek your fortune elsewhere.  There has never been a better time for writers to get their work to an audience; however, you will be competing for readers in a saturated marketplace.

D: If you could time travel, either to the past or into the future, where would you go?

T: Hmm… interesting question, DV, and I would answer with a definite, ‘it depends on the rules!’ I know, I know… as it is not technically possible to time travel, the rules are what you make them.  OK, I was a collaborating author on a time traveling children’s story book, A Tumble in Time, in which I wrote the concluding two chapters.  When you write about time travel there has to be rules, they can be loose or they can be tight, but there has to be rules.  This was a children’s book (aimed at primary school children) and so the principles had to be fairly simple: you could not time travel to a time/space coordinate where you already existed, so you could go forward to anywhere because once you disappeared from this time you weren’t anywhere in the future until you turned up there; however, going back, the fabric of time would not accept you between your birth and the moment you disappeared.  That makes sense, doesn’t it?

My personal beliefs concerning time are far more complex: there are an infinite number of probable moment points – in the present, past and future – and, hypothetically, we slip seamlessly from one to another in our present all the time, depending on the choices we make.  So, if I could time travel, there would be no restrictions except perhaps that I could only visit a recent probable past in which I wasn’t currently taking part.  Seriously though, the simple answer to your question would be that I wouldn’t mind a peek at one million years in the future; it would be interesting to see if the human race is still around; because if it is, it will have had to evolve somewhat, both ethically and psychically.  Of one thing I’m sure, should we survive, we will still be telling stories and writing books in some manner.

D: Great answer 🙂 Thank you again for being here today, TD, is there anything you’d like to add?

T: Just that, as an independent author, there is a vast amount of work involved outside of the writing part; that can be said to be (for a writer) the easy part.  There is so much more to do, and I know that some independent authors manage it all by themselves; however, the majority of us have a lot of support from various sources.  You need the support of people who care.  I am very fortunate in that my wife, Zoë Lake, is an extremely talented individual, who handles most of the tasks and responsibilities, outside of actually writing my books, including proof reading and editing everything I write, book cover designs and artwork.  Zoë designed and constructed my website: http://www.tdmckinnon.com/ and she is my strongest advocate, my harshest critic, and my inspiration.  She also produced, directed, wrote my introduction speech, and did the voice over, on my recent YouTube promotion for Terra Nullius:

 So, for any writers out there thinking of going the Indie route, there is a lot to consider.  A good support group of people in a similar position is a wise idea too: for ideas, tips, general guidance and just to know that you are not alone.  I’ve looked at a few and rejected most; I was extremely fortunate here also to stumble across the best bunch of online, fellow independents you could wish to meet: at Indies Unlimited.  Being an independent author is not an easy route, but it is a very liberating road.

Thank you again, DV, for the opportunity to be here today.

D: Here’s a short excerpt from TD’s adventure-thriller, John Farrel is Utrinque Paratus:

EXCERPT

Breakfasting with MacGreggor and Bell, while making our training arrangements for the day, I slip in a casual, “I wonder what makes winning a relatively unimportant, unofficial competition so important to your boss?” In my peripheral vision, I observe the effects of my apparently casual comment, while seemingly focussed on my steak, eggs and mushrooms.

Dinga Bell seems to be sneering, and I don’t get the impression it’s directed at me; Alec MacGreggor shoots me an anxious glance before bringing his demeanour under control. But it’s Bell who, after a moment, says, “Fuckin’ stupit, if y’ ask me!”

“Naibdy’s askin’ you!” snaps MacGreggor, “An’ A’ve telt ye afore… A bit o’ respect!”

“Fuck you!” snarls Bell, defiantly, giving MacGreggor a full blast of those malevolent, cold eyes.

What happens next takes me completely by surprise as MacGreggor, moving extremely fast for such a big man, knocks the breakfast table across the room with a sweep of one brawny arm while reaching for Bell with the other. Bell is on his feet in an instant, a bone handled, open bladed razor suddenly in his hand. Flashing twice, the wicked blade lops three fingers from MacGreggor’s reaching right hand and opens up his face in a diagonal slice, like a ripe melon, from the corner of his right eye to the left-hand corner of his big, lantern jaw!

Instinctively moving back from the mêlée, I observe with a vague feeling of detachment as MacGreggor, initially not realising the extent of the damage, attempts to say something, but of course his mouth won’t work. Then the bleeding starts and, stunned, he looks down at his hand.

Bell, showing no emotion at all, backs off a step, glances briefly at me and wipes his razor on the white tablecloth from the next table; folding and putting away his blade, he casually turns and walks out of the dining room.

Ten minutes later, the hotel staff assisting throughout, I have a tourniquet on MacGreggor’s right wrist, his fingers are in an ice bucket, and with the help of a tablecloth I’m making an effort to hold his face together until the ambulance arrives. Had we not reacted promptly MacGreggor would probably have died from loss of blood. It’s going to be touch and go as it is.

 It’s at this point Sandy Campbell walks in. Giving me a perfunctory nod, he sits down and puts a gentle hand on MacGreggor’s shoulder.

“Oh… Alec… I told you to be careful of that wee boy,” he says soothingly, and as MacGreggor tries to respond he adds. “Hush now… don’t try to speak, I’ll hear all about it from Mr. Farrell here, later. You just relax, the ambulance will be here any second now, and they’ll have you fixed up in no time.” As if on cue the double doors to the dining room burst open and the ambulance men come rushing in.

END EXCERPT

To find out more about TD, check out his links below:

http://www.tdmckinnon.com

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/author-bios/

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/t-d-mckinnon/29/80/14a

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5360776.T_D_McKinnon

Mobile site QR code or type this address: m.tdmckinnon.com

 qr code for TD's website

Amazon Kindle – Amazon UK
Smashwords

Lulu
iBookstores:
   UK       USA       Canada       France       Australia       Germany
KOBO
Barnes & Noble
Diesel
SONY eBookstore


Ode to a Library

I don’t know about you, but libraries will always have a special place in my heart. I remember my mother taking me to the town’s only library every week, and while she perused the art and mythology sections, I would ransack the children’s nook. If I didn’t find anything interesting there, I’d move on to more adult genres,books,boys,education,libraries,men,people,readings,research,shelves,students,studying,academic like mysteries and spy novels. When I got older, I devoured the biography section along with whatever caught my fancy, from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius to photojournalism to the French Revolution. Luckily, my mother spent countless hours there, so I was able to feed my overactive imagination without worrying about running out of time.

I haven’t been back in a long while, and I’m sure it’s not nearly as big a building as I remember. I don’t even know if the structure is still there. Several levels opened to the lobby, all boasting heavily polished floors and creaky wooden shelves, groaning under the weight of so many hard-bound tomes, giving it an old world, floor-to-ceiling bookstore feel. Early on I discovered an ancient circular stairwell behind the stacks and when I grew tired of searching for something new, I’d hide there, alone with the subject du jour, lost in another world of my choosing.

The lobby at SPL

2nd Floor Lobby at SPL

This past weekend my cousin Fieke, visiting from the Netherlands, suggested we visit the Seattle Public Library.  She works as a photographer in Eindhoven and was acquainted with the photographer who assisted the architect, also from the Netherlands. I’d been to SPL a couple of times before, but hadn’t been able to take the time to really discover the place.  If you haven’t had the chance to visit, put it on the list for whenever you’re in Seattle. It’s an amazing, mind-bending building dedicated to all things literature.

The structure is a honeycomb of concrete, gleaming steel, and glass. The natural light streaming in through the walls is impressive on a sunny day–and it’s a fabulous place to be in the middle of winter when the skies are the same steel-gray as the supports. Each floor is its own world and conveys a different feeling, from future-shock orderliness to saturated, mind-warping tomato reds and neon yellows. Nothing here is understated. Every nook and cranny demands that you pay attention.

Photo of the 4th floor of the Seattle Public Library

4th Floor Red

That Seattle voters chose to support the revitalization of the library system in such large numbers is a telling regional character trait. Folks who live in the Pacific Northwest, from Vancouver, BC to Portland, Oregon, are known as voracious readers. (Yes, we’re heavy caffeine abusers and like our wines and microbrews, but when it’s dull gray and bone-chilling wet outside, curling up with a good book, be it on our Kindle, Nook, iPad, or the printed page, is one of this area’s favorite pastimes.) The libraries in western Washington embraced eBooks early, and several offer a large selection of audio books for downloading. One of the benefits of living in a tech-heavy area (Amazon and Microsoft are based here, among several other tech organizations) is that early adopters drive innovation and concepts are introduced here long before other areas of the country.

Below are a few more of the photos I took of the interior. Do you have a library story?  I’d love to hear it 🙂

Happy Monday!

Photo of SPL

Looking down at the 2nd floor

Neon Yellow Escalator

SONY DSC

SONY DSC


Awesome Indies

Awesome Indies is a great site, and well worth perusing for quality reads by indie writers.

Tales from the Reading Room

For a while now, I’ve been speculating that what we need is a kind of sorting house for the wealth of self-published material that’s now available. There I was, wondering when someone would start one, and as chance would have it I happened to be put in touch with the Awesome Indies site when the thriller writer whose books I’ve been much admiring lately, T.V. LoCicero, asked me to stand as a guarantor for his work. So of course I was curious and rushed over to have a good look, and I have to say that Awesome Indies is pretty awesome and a properly exciting new development in the rapidly changing world of publishing. This is how they describe themselves:

awesome indies

We showcase quality independent fiction for the discerning reader. They have been evaluated by industry professionals against specific criteria for quality fiction & deemed to be of the same…

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Awesome Authors — Chris Karlsen

Today on Awesome Authors I have the pleasure of interviewing paranormal romance and romantic thriller author, Chris Karlsen. I met Chris at a Donald Maass workshop in Washington a few years back, and we’ve been critique partners ever since. A fellow Midwesterner, Chris worked as a policewoman in Chicago, later moving to the west coast to become a detective in southern California. Here’s Chris:

Author Chris Karlsen

Author Chris Karlsen

 

D: Hi Chris–thanks for joining us! Tell us a little about yourself and your writing:

C: I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively in my life. I grew up with a love of history. As a result, my stories are set in places I love. Once I choose the setting, I look into historical events and on occasion modern events to build a story around.

I was born and raised in Chicago. My father was a history professor and my mother was, and is, a voracious reader. I grew up with a love of history and books.

 “…I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.”

My parents also love traveling, a passion they passed onto me. I wanted to see the places I read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated me. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.

I am a retired police detective. I spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. My desire to write came in my early teens. After I retired, I decided to pursue that dream. I write two different series. My paranormal romance series is called Knights in Time. My romantic thriller series is Dangerous Waters.

D: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

C: I knew in high school but never pursued it. I waffled when I went to college, afraid to go after a writing career, afraid I couldn’t earn a living at it. So, I chose the “safe” path and got a degree in business.

D: Tell us about your new release in one sentence.KnightBlindness HighRes

C: A man, a knight, from the past must overcome what seems like insurmountable challenges if he’s to adjust to the modern world and find a measure of happiness.

D: What compelled you to write Knight Blindness?

C: Time travel was a common discussion at the dinner table in my house. It was a fascination for my parents and me. The many aspects of it were debated.

When I decided to write my own versions I went back in one story with my characters (Journey in Time). For the next, Knight Blindness, I wanted to do something very different with both my hero and the antagonist (who is not a villain though). I wanted to follow each man as he struggled to function in a world they had little context for.

D: You write in two different genres: time-travel romance and romantic thriller. What do you enjoy about each genre? Dislike? How much research goes into one of your books?

C: The characters for each series are similar in that they are ethical, honorable, intelligent, resourceful, and have a good sense of humor. What I enjoy and what keeps them “fresh” for me is they all have a specific way of looking at their circumstances and various views on how they can and should overcome obstacles and threats.

The characters have cultural differences that come into play, even the ones who are born and raised in EnglandHeroesLiveForever 500x750 (1). The heroes have all experienced life in another time. The heroines who have only known the modern world must learn to relate the past that still holds some influence over the men they love. In the thrillers, the heroine is American and the hero is Turkish. The melding of her bold American attitude and candidness and his far more reserved and traditional heritage has proven both interesting and fun.

Writing in different genres, for me, is a nice break. If I’ve spent a long time with a book and really the characters, like Knight Blindness, which took a year to write, it is refreshing to spend time with characters who are leading totally different lives.

I can’t really think of what I dislike about writing the various genres. If I found myself not liking it, I’d not continue with whatever genre was bothering me.

I do a tremendous amount of research for each series. I fill large binders with information, I interview experts, I collect DVDs on the subjects, read a huge number of books and tab them according to topic, I subscribe to magazines, visit websites of all kinds (but verify any info from a site before using the material).

D: Your time-travel romances deal with the fallout of time travel from the medieval era to present day and vice versa. Why did you choose to go in that direction with your characters? What were the challenges you faced?JourneyInTime 500x750

C: I love medieval history and English medieval history in particular. I have been to England many times and always knew if I ever pursued my writing ambition I’d set at least one book there. I had already read so much over the years on the history and events and real people of the time that putting the time travels in that period seemed a natural choice.

A real challenge, and on the surface you would think it wasn’t an issue, but I always had to keep the limitations of the time in mind. I couldn’t allow the characters who were back in time to have any environmental advantage. They were compelled to use the tools available. Intellectually, they could be clever and resourceful but even that modus operandi had restrictions when it came to the heroines. Women suffered many limitations in the period and to not abide by them could prove dangerous.

The challenge bringing the hero forward in time I mentioned earlier was unique. I had to constantly remind myself what he could put into context or figure out the meaning and purpose for and what was totally alien to him. Take one of us back and we’d pretty much be able to identify much of what we came into contact with. We’ve seen tools, “surgeon’s instruments,” farm equipment, kitchen utensils, and everyday life objects in books and/or museums etc. How extraordinary, confusing, and even scary are some things he’s seeing for the first time? How would he understand the concept/science behind a square box capturing the images of living beings, or a machine that can cook food in minutes without flame, or an immense vehicle that can leave the ground and fly through the air?

“…I used the beauty of traveling through the English countryside in the settings. I also used the damp, cold dark of some castles to enhance the fear in my heroine who is stuck in the middle ages and must face the king alone.”

D: Do you ever include your own life experiences in your plots?

C: Yes, I have and do. I used one of the two trips I made to the ruins of Troy as the basis for an event that happens to the heroine in my Dangerous Waters thrillers. I incorporated my time in Istanbul walking around the Old City and the Spice Market into those same books.

Same with the time travel romances. I used the beauty of traveling through the English countryside in the settings. I also used the damp, cold dark of some castles to enhance the fear in my heroine who is stuck in the middle ages and must face the king alone.

D: What are you currently working on?

C: I’m working on book one of what I hope will be a new series. It is set in Victorian England and is a romantic thriller/suspense. It’s early days yet so I’ll have to see how the story progresses.

D: Tell us about your road to publication. What words of wisdom would you like to impart to writers who are just starting out?

C: Study the craft. If you can take classes with some of the great instructors out there, then do. If you can’t afford them, then buy their books.

Expect to write several drafts. However good you believe your first or second draft to be, it is not. For me, I usually wind up doing 4-5. I submit the first to my critique partners who make suggestions. I rewrite keeping those in mind. Then rewrite again with just me as the editor. Then, I give it to a couple of writer friends who are generally a couple of my critique partners. Rewrite when I get it back then give it to my 2-3 Beta readers to go through for content and plot holes etc.

READ!! READ!! READ!! Learn from successful writers. If you love a scene, dissect it and try to see what they did that made you love it. It’s especially important to read the genre you want to write in so you have an idea what that reading audience expects.

“…Favorite authors who I always bought the hardback of, I now only buy the absolute keepers and either get the new one in e-format or wait until it’s out in paperback.”

D: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

C: I’d love to still have story ideas. I always worry I will run dry. Most of all, I’d love to have my books made into either a television series or tv movie.

D: Where do you see the publishing industry in 5 years?

C: I don’t know if anyone has a handle on that subject. I believe there will still be print books. I continue to buy print and hardbacks. I think hardbacks might go away as they’re simply getting too expensive. Favorite authors who I always bought the hardback of, I now only buy the absolute keepers and either get the new one in e-format or wait until it’s out in paperback.

Overall, I think e-books are going to dominate for a variety of reasons. I do believe there will be a slowdown in the amount of self-published works, which are a heavy force in the market. The time needed to promote a book and the cost of good promotion I believe will have a powerful effect on writers who aren’t committed.

D: If you could travel back in time (or forward) where would you go?

C: I’d like to go back to the medieval period and the Bronze Age. That said, I’d prefer to be either invisible or have the ability to snap my fingers and come home. Otherwise, I know my luck and I’ll wind up on the wrong end of a pile of kindling 🙂

Not sure about going into the future. Star Trek makes it look pretty nifty but it could just as easily be Planet of the Apes or like the original Time Machine by HG Wells with man-eating Morlocks 😦 I’m kind of a weenie when it comes to dealing with Morlocks.

D: Totally get that, Chris 🙂 Thanks for being with us today. Below is the description and an excerpt from Chris’ new book, Knight Blindness. As always, the links to her information is below. Enjoy!

KnightBlindness HighRes[KNIGHT BLINDNESS]
Ready for battle, Medieval English knight, Stephen Palmer, charges into the French enemy’s cavalry line. Heeding a warning given months before, he hesitates as he comes face-to-face with the knight in the warning. Struck down in the year 1356, he finds himself landing in the year 2013. Grievously wounded, he’s taken to a nearby hospital. Confused by the new world surrounding him, he attempts to convince the staff he’s from another time, only to find they think him mad.

Rescued by friends, who, to his surprise, have also come through time, he must find a way to function in this odd modern England. He is quickly enchanted by the kind Esme Crippen, the young woman hired to tutor him. She too is enchanted by him. Tempted to deepen the relationship, she hesitates thinking him adorable, but mad. He must discover the means for getting her to believe the truth, all the while, unknown to him, he didn’t come forward in time alone. The enemy knight has also traveled to 2013.

French noble, Roger Marchand, doesn’t question why the English knight who charged him hesitated. That fraction of a pause gave him the advantage needed and he brought his sword down upon the Englishman’s helmet hard, unhorsing the knight. He moved to finish the Englishman off when the world changed in a rush of sensations as he is ripped through time.

Seeking a reason for the terrible event, he enters a nearby chapel. There, thinking God has chosen him for a quest to turn French defeat that day in 1356 to victory, he sets out to find the English knight. The man he is convinced holds the key to time. If he returns to the day of the battle, he can warn his king of mistakes that snatched victory from them.

EXCERPT:

Stephen woke from the dreamless sleep groggy. Since the Frenchmen took him from the field, he’d lost all sense of time. Bits and pieces of events faded in and out of memory. He recalled at one point he’d tried to fight and they’d stuck him with a small spiked weapon. It hadn’t hurt, no more than a prick from a lady’s sewing needle. Then, he was floating and had the sense of angels lifting him.
Not angels but his captors.

The delicious scent brought him awake. He might’ve slept hours or days, he didn’t know. All he knew was the food smelled like fine fare and his stomach felt stuck to his backbone, he was so hungry.

“Is the food for me?” he’d asked, stomach rumbling.

A new man, one whose voice he’d never heard answered, “Yes.”

He attempted to rise but tethers kept him prone. His wrists and ankles were tied to the bed with padded cuffs instead of chains. A small but curious kindness.

“How am I to eat it tethered as I am? Smell alone will not get it to my stomach.”

“I’ll release you, but first you must promise not to fight or to touch your eye wrap.”

“Yes, yes, I promise.” He’d agree to most anything for a full belly.

Stephen sat up as soon as he was free.

The man put the tray of food on his lap and set cloth wrapped utensils into his palm.

“What is this?” Stephen poked the tined edge of a four-pronged eating tool to his fingertip.

“What is it? It’s a fork. You know—for sticking your food with and bringing pieces to your mouth.”

Seems silly. Why bother with cutting then sticking your food with the fork before bringing it to your mouth, an eating dagger is faster, more sensible? Stab and eat.

The aroma of meat and bread filled his nose and he put the fork aside. His head low to the tray, he shoveled the vegetables into his mouth with the spoon. A juicy, plump chicken breast nestled next to the vegetables. He tore the meat from the bone with his fingers, licking the buttery drippings from the tips as he devoured it. He last ate chicken in July and then it wasn’t a fat hen but a wiry, tough rooster. The captors brought two more plates and he finished those before he was finally full.

Stephen sensed someone enter the room as the man left with the last tray.

“Who is there?”

“I’m here to give you a sponge bath, if you like,” a female, young by the sound of her said.

“You wish to bathe me?”

The pass of his hand over his hair told him somebody had washed it. No dried blood was caked anywhere. He sniffed his forearms. They smelled of soap and had also been cleaned. He had no need of a bath. The woman offered something other than a wash.

He smiled with knowledge. It had been a long time since he’d enjoyed the services of a bawd. Tempting as the harlot’s offer was, he suspected enemy devilry and declined.

“Would you like to listen to music?” she asked.

The bawd traveled with minstrels. He wasn’t in the mood for her other services, but he’d welcome a cheerful tune. “I would.”

“What station do you wish,” she asked.

“I don’t understand.”

“I’ll turn it to a classical one.”

A tune different from any he ever heard came from across the room. “I’ll come back tomorrow,” the bawd said. Her light footfalls told him she left.

Classical station? Lovelier than any minstrel’s music, he dozed off still baffled by weird words and goings on of his captors. They’d woken him an unknown amount of time later and said it was the day and hour for his eye surgery. A man told him to make a fist. He said perfect when he found a vein and then stuck a needle into the crook of Stephen’s elbow. That was the last he remembered.

“Monsieur, monsieur,” a female voice said, patting his hand. “Wake up.”

Stephen yawned and propped himself up on an elbow. “Ugh.” His mouth tasted like sour milk and his tongue felt like it was wrapped in a mitten. “I’d like some water.”

“Here.” The woman slid a flexible spout between his lips. “Suck.”

He didn’t know what the spout was made of, nor did he care. The water tasted sweet to his parched mouth and he sucked the cup dry. “More.” When he’d sucked another cup dry, he asked. “What day is this?”

“September 22,” the woman said, taking the empty cup.

Three days had passed since the battle. Why had they let him live? There could be no good reason for it.

“This is Dr. Berger. Do you remember me speaking to you two days ago about your eye surgery?”

“Yes.”

“Dr. Monette is here too. We want to talk to you about the day they found you. The more we know about you, the more we can help.”

“Who is the woman?” She didn’t sound like the first woman, the one who smelled like a garden. This one carried no scent of any flower. Nor did she sound young as the bawd. What was this one’s purpose? The first, he suspected, had created the potion that put him to sleep. He knew a bawd’s.

“She is Nurse Cloutier.”

Probably Witch Cloutier. “Ask what you will.”

“What is your name?”

“Stephen Palmer.”

“What’s the last thing you remember before receiving your injury?”

“I am a knight in service to the Baron Guiscard. He rode to the aid of his friend. I saw your men surround the baron. They were trying to pull him from his mount. I was about to ride to his aid when one of your knights, his heraldic symbol was of a panther on a field of orange, challenged me.” Stephen thought again how Guy’s warning had made him falter. “I…I hesitated and your man struck with his sword.”

“Monsieur Palmer, your eye injury is serious. If this answer is an attempt at humor, then it is a poor time to engage in such a jest.”

“You asked what I remembered. I told you. I’m not in the habit of making jests with my enemies.”

“Monsieur Palmer, we are not your enemy. We are not at war.” A long moment passed and then Berger asked, “What year do you believe it to be?”

“The year of our Lord, 1356.”

Mon Dieu,” Cloutier said in the background.

“From what the paramedics told us you said when they arrived, and your answer today, I am convinced that you do believe this is 1356. Monsieur Palmer,” Berger covered Stephen’s hand with his own. “The year is 2013.”

END EXCERPT

Find out more about Chris Karlsen by visiting her website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Website: http://www.chriskarlsen.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chriskarlsenwriter
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/chriskarlsen/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard
Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/search/books?Keywords=chris%20karlsen
Twitter: http://twitter.com@chriskarlsen1

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords


Bad Traffick Shortlisted for Best Romance

In the, “I Didn’t See This One Coming” category: I just found out BAD TRAFFICK has been shortlisted at Orangebeob hall of fame finalistrry Book Tours Hall of Fame for Best Romance! To say that I’m surprised would be an understatement 🙂  Apparently, the folks at Quality Reads UK Book Club chose Leine Basso and Santiago Jensen’s romance as one of their favorites of the year. You can vote for it here: http://orangeberrybooktours.com/expo/2013/07/31/hall-of-fame-best-romance/

OB doesn’t require a sign up or your email, just click the button and vote. Very cool. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone did it that way?

From the bottom of my little writer’s heart, THANK YOU for the support.

Bad TraffickWish me luck!


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