Category Archives: Awesome Authors

Awesome Authors–K.S. Brooks

Today I am forced get to interview the curmudgeonly fabulous K.S. Brooks, multi-talented, multi-genre author and co-administrator of the global powerhouse that is Indies Unlimited. (Full disclosure: I am a contributing minion and I had to resort to extortion KS has graciously agreed to allow me an extra ration of gruel for posting this travesty interview.) What follows is the bio her hockey playing pool boy sent for me to use. I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you gentle readers that this insane concoction information could possibly be true–or not. Just remember, we’re talking about K.S. Brooks here. Consider yourself warned…

KS BrooksK.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist and photographer, author of twenty-two titles, and co-administrator of the multi-author, multi-national website IndiesUnlimited.com. She is the creator of the Mr. Pish educational children’s book series as well as the Agent Night suspense series. Brooks’ feature articles, poetry, and photography have appeared in magazines, newspapers, books, and other publications both in the U.S. and abroad. In November 2012, she founded Indie Authors for Hurricane Sandy Library Recovery which provides brand new books to libraries in need at no cost. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website or her Amazon.com Author Page.”

And, without further ado, heeeeere’s K.S.:

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

K: I’m an old, yet somewhat sexy (well, to people with bad eyesight), curmudgeonly hermit, who for the time being lives in the wilderness of northeastern Washington State. My first book was published in 2001. I came out here late in 2008 to write (and to get away from people – I told you I was a curmudgeonly hermit) and since then I’ve published 21 additional titles. (Technically, I started writing full-time in 2009.) My latest release of a novel is Triple Dog Dare, a humorous chicklit story I co-wrote with Evil Mastermind, Stephen Hise. The book was inspired by my dear, sweet, and somewhat mischievous Mr. Pish.cover for triple dog dare

D: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

K: I get this question so often (at least I did back in 2011 when I was doing a ton of interviews. I’ve pretty much stopped doing interviews because of how time-consuming they are and because I hate answering questions.) that I actually wrote a post about it: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2012/04/09/inspiration-phooey/

D: When did you realize you were a writer?

K: It might have been third grade. I’m not completely certain, but I do recall writing a ton of stories back then. I think when I saw that HG Wells had ripped off my story about the island of talking animals – well, that’s probably when it sank in.

“What the hell is this? is commonly heard in my home…”

cover for Mr. Pish Goes to the Farm

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

K: Well, that’s a long and complicated story, since I was literally – and quite accidentally – one of the first indie authors. The story of my bizarre journey was actually the first thing I ever wrote for Indies Unlimited – here – http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2011/10/25/my-strange-new-world-by-special-guest-author-k-s-brooks/

D: You are obviously a prolific writer. How hard is it to switch between writing children’s educational books, snark, and action/adventure?

Cover for Night UndoneK: I have ADHD, so it’s not difficult at all. In fact, I welcome the change in gears. It’s easy to burn out on a project. Having another one or two or ten in process simultaneously is very appeasing to my multiple personalities. The biggest problem I have, actually, is trying to figure out how to classify (by genre) what I’ve written once I’m done. Is it a romance? A mystery? A character-driven drama? I dunno. What the hell is this? is commonly heard in my home.

D: What are you working on now?

K: Now? If I told you, I’d have to kill you. Really. It’s top secret. Like really secret. Sorry. After the first of the year, however, I’ll be able to discuss the upcoming and long-awaited sequel to Lust for Danger, possibly a couple of comedies, a vampire book I have to write under a different name, a mystery, perhaps another Mr. Pish book, and if the Feds come through with my Witness Protection Program credentials, a seedy tell-all about some not-so-nice people.Author with Mr. Pish

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?

K: I don’t have a process. I do what needs to be done. Usually that means doing nothing for most of the year and then cramming and releasing three or four books in one month. Rinse, repeat. Next thing you know – 7 titles added to the backlist! That looks really impressive to people who don’t realize the rest of the year I sat around eating bon-bons, watching Oprah, and getting my feet rubbed by the Indies Unlimited chimp. Life is trying, isn’t it?

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

cover for IU SnarkopediaK: I always make my own deadlines. I like doing that because then I can use it as an excuse not to do things that other people ask me to do which I frankly don’t want to do.

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

K: Depends on how well I know the subject. I tend to over-research, which sometimes slows me down, but hardly ever is a waste of time. I’ve done research on everything from bomb detonators (why I’ve been on the FBI’s favorite people list since like 1991) to desert survival to marine life in the Falkland Islands. I’ve also taken a few punches, and gotten a concussion during the process. I wrote an article about some of my more extreme research “experiences” here: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2012/06/21/dont-try-this-at-home/

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?

K: I have no idea. The way things change, so rapidly, anything could happen. One thing I know will not happen, however, is I will not be growing a beard like Konrath. A hockey player once told me that I am by far the least hairy person he’d ever met.

 “I sat around eating bon-bons, watching Oprah, and getting my feet rubbed by the Indies Unlimited chimp…” 

cover for Lust for Danger

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

K: Seriously – do your homework. You wouldn’t start a company without doing market research, interviewing vendors, and doing credit checks. You wouldn’t let your company put a product to market without testing it or researching your distribution choices. Give your work the same amount of attention, if not more.

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

cover for A Year with Mr. PishK: I would like to go to France, in the mid-1800s and be the first person to taste a croissant as it was invented. It would be nice if Alexandre Dumas was there, as well, so I could smack him for stealing my musketeer story ideas. And I took French for 6 years in school, so at least I could say those six years weren’t a total waste of time.

D: Thanks for stopping by, K.S. I assume the purple llama is yours, right? Right. He left a present on the carpeting. Most generous.

Anyway, here’s the description and an excerpt from Brooks and Hise’s new release, Triple Dog Dare. To find out more about K.S. Brooks, please see the links at the bottom of the post.

Triple Dog Dare.

When wealthy champion dog breeder Stu Hockersmith presents prize pup Lord Louis to lovely Bianca Jameson, he hopes to win her heart. Things don’t always go as planned. Bianca, oblivious to Stu’s amorous intentions, takes the adorable pooch back to California where she goes on to become a celebrated author, writing books about little Lo-Lou.

Bianca thinks she’s living the good life with her Norse god of a fiancé, former fashion photographer Lars Lundgren. When she realizes Lars has spent all their money and committed her to a new book with a looming deadline, Bianca pulls out all the stops to get the job done. But she doesn’t know about all of Lars’ deals.

To make matters worse, Stu is informed that gifting Lord Louis broke the kennel club bylaws and he now must get the pup back before his father’s legal team takes action against the woman he still loves.

Stu needs Lo-Lou to satisfy his father. Bianca needs Lo-Lou to finish her book. Lars needs Lo-Lou to work out a secret deal with a movie producer. Lo-Lou can’t be in three places at the same time. Or can he?

Triple Dog Dare is available from Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

From Chapter 23:

Terri started to protest, but Bianca spoke first. “I’m sorry Stuart. You’re right. We haven’t been honest with you.” She glanced down at her lap as if mustering courage. “The truth is, I’m in trouble. I foolishly let Lars handle the money so I could concentrate on my writing. He got us – got me – way in over my head. Among other things, he bound us to a contract to do another book without telling me about it, and we are way past the original deadline and even the publisher’s legal, lawyer-type period.” She seemed uncertain how to word her last sentence and fumbled a bit before looking over to Terri who nodded nervously and fervently.

Bianca swallowed and took a deep breath. “Luckily I bumped into Terri and she talked to the publisher and got us another two weeks to get them a manuscript. Even if we can actually finish a book in two weeks, that will only solve one of my problems. So there is the ugly, embarrassing, and humiliating truth.” When she finished speaking, she drooped a bit and stared vacantly at the plate before her.

Terri reached over to place a hand on Bianca’s arm in consolation and said, “We were hoping you might help us, Stu. I know now we should have been honest with you. I’m sorry. It was my idea, not Bianca’s.”

Stu felt the weight of his own scheme pressing hard upon his better conscience. He tried to tell himself it was okay, because he was actually trying to help them while they, on the other hand, had been hoping to finagle money from him. But there was Bianca – so sad – and showing genuine remorse, as was Terri.

“I haven’t been completely honest with you either. You may as well know the Colonel has initiated legal proceedings to recover Lord – I mean Lo-Lou. Under the Oakwood Hills Charter, the dogs technically belong to the corporation. It’s something that is done to protect the bloodlines. The long and short of it is that I didn’t really have any right to give him to you in the first place.”

The expression on Bianca’s face changed from one of regret and guilt to one of shock and horror. Her mouth dropped open. “You came out here to take away my dog?” Her posture stiffened and she sat back away from the table. Tears welled in her eyes. “On top of everything else? Lo-Lou is the only thing I have left!”

Stu felt a near-panic surging up inside him at her reaction. “Oh, no. No, not that. No no no no no. Well, yes, but not exactly.” Bianca burst into tears as he heaped this final, large straw onto her already heavy burden. Terri leaned over to hold Bianca in a consoling embrace and shot Stu a harsh, narrow-eyed look.

END EXCERPT

www.ksbrooks.com (official website)

https://www.facebook.com/KSBrooksAuthorcover for Bad Book

https://twitter.com/AuthorKSBrooks

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3418971.K_S_Brooks

http://www.youtube.com/agentnight

More links at: http://ksbrooks.com/contact/links/

cover for Mr. Pish's Woodland AdventureMr. Pish:

www.MrPish.com (official website)

https://www.facebook.com/MrPish

https://twitter.com/MisterPish

http://www.youtube.com/mrpishvideos

More links at: http://mrpish.com/about-mr-pish/links/

Amazon Author Pagecover for Tutorials and Tools for Prospering in a Digital World

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Awesome Authors–Laurie Boris

Today on Awesome Authors I’m thrilled to interview talented novelist and editor extraordinaire, Laurie Boris. A fellow minion, Laurie’s an associate editor and staff contributor for Indies Unlimited, and, in my opinion one of the best writers self-publishing today.  Laurie injects her special brand of humor into everything she does, be it a blog post, an interview, or a full-length novel dealing with terminal illness. Her writing’s fresh and approachable, and she has a way of deftly handling touchy subjects with empathy and sensitivity.  Here’s more about Laurie (from her bio):

Author Laurie Boris

Author Laurie Boris

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of The Joke’s on Me, Drawing Breath, Don’t Tell Anyone, and Sliding Past Vertical, due out in September 2013. When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she enjoys baseball, cooking, reading, and helping aspiring novelists as a contributing writer and editor for IndiesUnlimited.com. She lives in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley.

D: Hi Laurie! It’s great to have you here. Please tell us something about yourself.

 L: Thank you for your hospitality, DV. I like what you’ve done with the place. Okay, I’ve been writing novels since my husband dared me to finish one. That was over twenty years and nine novels ago. I’ve worked in advertising, marketing, graphic design, printing, publishing, and did a very short stint as a street performer and office-cleaner, neither of which I’d recommend to anyone as a career move. The pay was lousy and I always needed a shower afterward.

 D: Haven’t tried street performer yet but did the office cleaning thing. Yep—lousy pay and dirty work 🙂 .

 Describe your upcoming release, Sliding Past Vertical.cover for Sliding Past Vertical

 L: Due out in September, this is a romantic suspense novel about the consequences of leaping before looking. Set in 1987, it circles around Sarah Cohen, a 29-year-old graphic artist and ex-diving protégé living in Boston. Sarah is a walking disaster area. She means well, but with each ill-considered decision, she causes more harm to herself and others. The one good, constant thing in her life has been Emerson, who still lives in Syracuse. That’s where they went to college together, survived a rocky freshman-year romance, and became friends. Except that Emerson, an aspiring author, is still in love with her. When everything in Boston starts going awry for Sarah all at once, she considers some old advice from her high school diving coach: that when you mess up a dive, wind it backward until you find where you made your error. So she backs up and takes the plunge…to Syracuse, and into a vacancy in Emerson’s rooming house. This leads to sometimes amusing and sometimes tragic consequences…and nobody is safe.

“These stories needed to be told and I keep hearing from people who have gone through these things with families and loved ones and appreciated feeling understood and less alone.”

 D: Sounds like another great read! Both of your recent books, Drawing Breath and Don’t Tell Anyone, deal with issues not normally tackled by novelists. What made you decide to explore these themes?cover for Drawing Breath

 L: In the beginning, I needed to write these novels for myself. The story behind Drawing Breath was that I’d lost a dear friend to cystic fibrosis. The way I saw some people reacting to him, as if he had the plague, made me angry. His chronic coughing scared off women and got him fired from a few jobs. Somehow I wanted to correct that injustice in fiction. But letting the other characters get that close to him had unintended consequences. With Don’t Tell Anyone, I was trying to reconcile why my mother-in-law concealed what turned out to be advanced breast cancer. I wanted to know how she could do that to her children when she had all the treatment options available to her. So again, I turned to fiction to see how another family would handle it. In both cases, the first drafts came tumbling out, so I felt like there was some passion in them, enough to risk the possible stigma involved with choosing “heavy” subjects for publication. I’m glad I went there. These stories needed to be told and I keep hearing from people who have gone through these things with families and loved ones and appreciated feeling understood and less alone.

 D: Who/what are some of your favorite authors and book genres?

 L: I like big books and I cannot lie… Seriously, I like to sink into big, fat novels, mainly literary and historical fiction and lately, epic fantasy. Just a few of my favorite authors are Joyce Carol Oates, TC Boyle, Ian McEwan, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler, and John Irving. And the Russians, of course: Lolita and Anna Karenina are two of my favorite classics.

 D: Gotta love big books and the Russians 🙂 What are you currently working on?

 L: I’m writing the first of what (I hope) will be a series of books linked through the same characters. It’s set in Boston, one of my favorite cities. I’ve been missing it, and after three novels set in the Hudson Valley, where I currently live, I’m ready to travel and take on new material. And that street performer experience? I’m using it. See, nothing is wasted.

 D: What’s the worst advice you received from someone about writing?

 cover for Don't Tell Anyone L: That I should never write in a man’s point of view. No disrespect meant to the writing teacher who insisted women writers should stay out of men’s heads; I just agreed to disagree. And although I can never truly know what it’s like to be a man, or a woman much older than myself, or someone from a different religious, ethnic, or cultural background, empathy and a good imagination go a long way, in my opinion.

 D: I heartily agree. Why did you choose to “go indie” rather than publish traditionally?

 L: I like a challenge, I like independence, I’m a Virgo, and I like to be in control: a perfect combination for self-publishing. Now that print-on-demand resources like CreateSpace are available, I don’t have to buy three thousand books and store them in my garage for the mice to eat. So it’s economically feasible, as well.

 “…If it’s a passion for you, don’t quit. You might hit a moment where you despair that you aren’t “good enough” to write the story you have in your head. Trust that if you keep writing and learning, you will be.”

 D: What do you do when you’re not writing?

 L: I edit and proofread for other authors, I’m a contributing author and associate editor for IndiesUnlimited.com. Three days a week you can find me working in the public relations department of a nearby community college. Other than that, I swim, watch baseball, and take long walks. Sometimes I even sleep.

D: Bacon cheeseburger, or hummus and carrot sticks?

 L: Both! About three times a year, I get wicked cravings for bacon, chorizo, or pepperoni. I’ll have a bacon cheeseburger or some pepperoni pizza, and I’m done. But mainly I stick with the veggies.Cover for The Joke's On Me

 D: Only three times a year? I wish 😮  If you could time-travel, where would you go and why?

 L: I’d like to go to Paris in the 1920s. It looked like a great time and place to be a writer. I want to meet James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Hemingway. My grandmother stopped in Paris around that time, on her way from Poland with her sister to join the rest of her family in New York. She was fourteen. She bought perfume and silk stockings. It just sounded like a fun place and time to be part of.

D: That’s one of my favorite places/times in history, too. Can you imagine what the creative energy must have been like then? Phenomenal!

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

 L: If it’s a passion for you, don’t quit. You might hit a moment where you despair that you aren’t “good enough” to write the story you have in your head. Trust that if you keep writing and learning, you will be.

D: Fabulous advice, Laurie! Thanks so much for being here.

Here’s a short excerpt of Don’t Tell Anyone. (More information about Laurie and her books is listed below). If you haven’t read Laurie’s work, you’re missing one of the best writers working today. Go buy one  all of her books 🙂

EXCERPT:

Estelle had found the first lump by accident on the morning of Adam’s wedding. The night before, Charlie had given her a pill and she’d overslept. She’d rushed through her makeup, painting on eyebrows and coloring her cheeks. She’d been zipping herself into her dress, but it didn’t sit right in the bosom. As she slipped it this way and that and adjusted her bra, she felt something hard and uneven in her right breast, like the end of a chicken bone. She thought about all those medical shows, the books she’d read, and the women she’d known who’d gone through such things. They compared the size of their tumors to food: a pea, an orange, a grapefruit. This lump was nothing that familiar and nothing that round. This was like a knuckle, a dagger, a hand grenade. She sat on the edge of the bed and smoked three cigarettes in a row. The phone rang twice and each time she just sat on her damask spread and smoked.

The first time the answering machine picked up, the caller didn’t leave a message. That was Adam. Adam didn’t leave messages.

The second time it was Charlie.

“Hi, Mom. Just seeing when you want me to pick you up.”

This is meshugge, she thought. People do this every day. People got married. Other people dressed up and traveled for hours to see the bride and groom recite their vows and step on the wine glass. They ate fancy food and slipped checks into the groom’s pockets. They smiled, wished them well, gossiped about the in-laws, and debated the couple’s chances in the car on the way home.

Estelle didn’t know about that Liza. There was something wrong with the way she was raised by her father, like a boy. Adam needed a woman. But she seemed like a smart girl, a practical girl. Estelle hoped to God Liza was smart enough to figure out how to make the marriage work.

The phone rang again. If she didn’t answer, the boys would think something was wrong and rush over. She couldn’t tell them, not on Adam’s wedding day. Whatever her opinions about Liza, Adam seemed happy. She wouldn’t make this the day he found out the time bomb went off.

It was Charlie, asking how she’d slept.

Fine. She’d slept fine. “Your father,” she said, “may he rest in peace, he couldn’t drop dead on the golf course like everybody else? He couldn’t go quietly in his sleep? No, he had to have a massive coronary in the middle of synagogue on Yom Kippur and make the newspapers and scar the entire community for life.”

“I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose, Mom. Although if you have to go, it might as well be memorable.”

“Adam could have gotten married anywhere. A catering hall. Or that beautiful park on the river. But no, he had to pick Temple Beth Make-the-rest-of-your-mother’s-hair-fall-out.”

“You need more Valium?”

Estelle lit another cigarette. “Bring the bottle.”

END EXCERPT

Buy links:

Amazon author’s page: http://www.amazon.com/author/laurieboris
Don’t Tell Anyone (US): http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Tell-Anyone-ebook/dp/B00AGPB3KA
Don’t Tell Anyone (UK): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Tell-Anyone-ebook/dp/B00AGPB3KA

To find out more about Laurie and her books, check out the links below:

Website/Blog: http://laurieboris.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/laurie.boris.author
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/laurie.boris.editor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LaurieBoris
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4824645.Laurie_Boris


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


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:
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KOBO
Barnes & Noble
Diesel
SONY eBookstore


Awesome Authors–Lynne Cantwell

My guest today on Awesome Authors is the inimitable Lynne Cantwell. Lynne’s a fellow minion from Indies Unlimited and writes urban fantasy. Her latest works are The Pipe Woman Chronicles 5-book series and I

Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell

have to say that even though urban fantasy isn’t my go-to genre, I thoroughly enjoyed Seized, the first book in the series. So much so that I’ve downloaded the rest and plan to read them soon. Here’s her bio:

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. In addition to writing fantasy, Lynne is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited. Her vast overeducation includes a journalism degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a paralegal certificate. She currently lives near Washington, DC.

D: Welcome, Lynne! Thanks for stopping by. Please tell us a little about yourself.

L: Thanks for having me, D.V.! Umm, let’s see, fun facts to know and tell: I’ve got two twentysomething daughters, one of whom writes fanfiction and has more fans than I do. Howard Dean once called me from a humvee in the middle of a Vermont ice storm. But my most recent claim to fame is that I’ve been to all 50 states in the U.S.; I nailed the last one, Alaska, in May.

D: That’s fantastic! Congratulations 🙂 You’ve just completed the Pipe Woman Chronicles. Could you tell us the idea behind this five-book series? Is there an underlying theme?

L: Maybe the underlying theme is respect. I have a lot of trouble personally with the knee-jerk Good vs. Evil dichotomy that is ingrained in Western thought. I think a lot of the world’s problems would be easier to solve if we didn’t keep demonizing people whose appearance and/or beliefs are different from our own. So I deliberately didn’t put any characters into the series who personify Evil; everybody’s got a credible reason for doing what they do. And there are no perfectly Good characters, either; sometimes even the gods screw up. Yet the gods, unlike humans, all respect one another.

Seized--Book 1

Seized–Book 1

D: Why did you decide to write urban fantasy?

L: Back in 2011, when I was casting about for a plot for National Novel Writing Month, a friend who was into urban fantasy began passing along her used paperbacks to me. After I read a number of books in the genre, I decided to try my hand at writing my own. Little did I know what I was getting myself into!

D: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

L: Hmm. Define “author.” I mean, I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. I wrote my first book when I was in the second grade (not that I’d advise anyone to read it!). And over the years, I tried, off and on, to get an agent or sell my short stories. But getting a novel published has always been on my bucket list.

D: Why did you choose indie publishing instead of going the traditional route?

L: My first novel, The Maidens’ War, was published in 2010 by a small press called Calderwood Books. When I had SwanSong ready to go, Calderwood had not yet started listing its books on Amazon, which was a marketplace I very much wanted to be in. So I figured out how to do it myself, and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve been an indie ever since.

D: What are you working on now?

L: I’m just starting to work on a trilogy that will be set in the same fictional universe as the Pipe Woman Chronicles. It will take place about ten years after the end of Annealed, mostly with new characters.

D: Another great set of books to read 🙂 Where do you see yourself (and indie publishing) in five years?

L: Last year, I put myself on a seven-year plan: I’ll be eligible for early retirement in 2019, but I can quit sooner if I get to the point where I’m supporting myself with my book sales. Fingers crossed!

As for the future of indie publishing, it’s hard to tell where we’re headed. The marketplace has such a Wild West feeling to it right now. I think big trad publishers are doing their best to implode, whether they realize it or not; the question is whether Amazon will continue to support indies, and whether someone else will come along to encourage them to keep doing it. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not an Amazon hater – not by a long shot. But it would be comforting to have another company that treats indies as well as Amazon does, both to give them some competition, and to give us somewhere else to go if the Zon decides to go in a different direction.

Fissured--Book 2

Fissured–Book 2

D: What’s your favorite genre to read?

L: Fantasy. I’m pretty much over the sword-and-sorcery and coming-of-age stuff, though. My favorite author is Stephen R. Donaldson, and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the tenth and final book in his Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever this fall. I also enjoyed Steven Erickson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series. And I love Graham Joyce, whose books seem to tread a fine line between fantasy and psychological horror.

Tapped--Book 3

Tapped–Book 3

D: If you could time-travel (backward or forward) where would you go and why?

L: I’ve always been intrigued by the medieval period and the Renaissance – everything from the clothing to the music. But I wouldn’t want to live there forever. With my luck, if I got stuck there, I’d be scrubbing pots in the scullery instead of sewing fine seams with the ladies.

D: What do you do when you’re not writing?

L: Other than the day job? I read, I knit, and I spend way too much time on Facebook. Sometimes I remember to go to bed.

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

Gravid--Book 4

Gravid–Book 4

L: Stick at it! Keep writing. Then let your work sit for a few weeks, and go back and edit it. When you think you’re ready to publish, get yourself an editor – or at least some beta readers who know something about grammar, spelling, and story development, and will be honest with you about your work. In other words, when your mother tells you your book is terrific, don’t just take her word for it. Oh, and visit Indies Unlimited, where you’ll find a wealth of good advice for indie authors. (I had to get the plug in, or the Evil Mastermind would short me on gruel. You know how he gets.)

D: LOL. Yes, yes I do. Thanks again for stopping by, Lynne.

(Lynne’s information and buy links for the books are below the excerpt.)


Excerpt from Seized: Book One of the Pipe Woman Chronicles by Lynne Cantwell:

Shannon lived in a triplex north of Sloan’s Lake, only ten minutes or so from my loft in LoDo (the nickname for Denver’s trendy, if I do say so myself, Lower Downtown neighborhood). It was a Wednesday night so traffic should have been light, but the bars were closing and the crowd was clogging up the streets. Working my ginger Nissan Cube free of LoDo at last, I pulled up behind a car that was sitting at a stop sign…and sitting…and sitting. No traffic was coming in either direction that I could see, and my earlier ebullient mood was evaporating by the second. Finally, in frustration, I cried out, “Just go, already!”

The car ahead leaped into the intersection. A horn blared as another car shot into my range of vision from the left, narrowly missing the first car. As the driver on the cross street flew by, still honking, the other driver rocked to a halt on the other side of the intersection and just sat there.

I realized my hand was covering my mouth. I pulled it away with an effort and sat for a moment, glancing between the flaring brake lights across the road and my hands trembling on the steering wheel. Finally, the other car’s brake lights went out and he, or she, drove away. Slowly and carefully, I did the same.

Shannon met me at the door, her grin dissolving into a look of concern. She snatched the cookies as if she was afraid I would drop them, then took my coat and steered me to the wicker loveseat. An opened novel sat, flipped over, on the coffee table, atop a pile of papers. She removed the aluminum foil covering the cookies and set chamomile teabags to steep in two mugs with a matching Navajo design. Then, finally, she said, “What happened?”

I told her. About the other driver, and about the settlements.

As I talked, my brain began clicking things into place. It wasn’t just that I was getting really good at my job – it was too easy. People were far too suggestible around me. The client had told Perry that I had a magic touch. That he couldn’t help agreeing with everything I said.

I could tell someone to get out of my way at an intersection, even if it put that person in danger.

“Something weird is going on,” I finished, rather lamely.

“Yes, it is,” Shannon agreed.

END EXCERPT

Purchase the Pipe Woman Chronicles:

Annealed--Book 5

Annealed–Book 5

Seized: http://www.amazon.com/Seized-Pipe-Woman-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B007MGRCBU
Fissured: http://www.amazon.com/Fissured-Pipe-Woman-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B008ZDE6JU
Tapped: http://www.amazon.com/Tapped-Pipe-Woman-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00AGPBOYK/
Gravid: http://www.amazon.com/Gravid-Pipe-Woman-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00BX4AO9E/
Annealed: http://www.amazon.com/Annealed-Pipe-Woman-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00CVZVHJ0/

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/lynnecantwell
Calderwood Books author page: http://www.calderwoodbooks.com/#/lynne-cantwell/4526227421
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/696603.Lynne_Cantwell
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynne-Cantwell/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LynneCantwell
Blog: http://hearth-myth.blogspot.com


Awesome Authors: Melissa Bowersock

Continuing with Awesome Authors, today I get to interview the multifaceted Melissa Bowersock. Another cool author I’ve had the good fortune to meet because of Indies Unlimited, Melissa has quite a resumé (from her bio):Melissa_Bowersock

Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning writer who turns her hand to any kind of story that moves her: contemporary, western, fantasy, romance, action/adventure, spiritual, satire or biography. She has written ten novels and one non-fiction and has been both traditionally published and self-published. She also writes under the name of Amber Flame, and she is a certified hypnotherapist. She thrives in the Sonoran desert of Southern Arizona with her husband and an Airedale terrier.

D: Hi Melissa! Thanks so much for being here. I’m curious: why did you decide to become a writer?

M: Actually I think you’ve got the question backward; I never chose to be a writer—writing chose me. I’ve been writing since I was five and there was never a question about should I/shouldn’t I, never a question about can I/can’t I. I just always have. I wrote my first novel at 12 (about a girl and a horse, kind of an equine Old Yeller), and had a sequel sketched out but never wrote that one. After graduating high school, dropping out of college and getting married, working and raising kids, THEN I got back to writing again and it’s been non-stop ever since. I have often thought that if anyone suggested I not write, it would be tantamount to suggesting I cut both arms off at the shoulders. Not gonna happen.

 D: Can you tell me a little bit about your latest book?

 M: My latest, Stone’s Ghost, is a contemporary ghost story about the friendship between a living man and a female ghost. Here’s the blurb:

 Bowersock_book_coverMatthew Stone doesn’t believe in ghosts … until he meets one.  He owns a successful business in Lake Havasu, Arizona, home to the famed London Bridge that was brought over stone by stone and rebuilt over the Colorado River. He has a gorgeous girlfriend, a doting mother, and more money than he needs, but no time for stories about the ghosts who were transplanted from England with the famed bridge. When a chance encounter with a female ghost leads to unexpected friendship, Matt and the ghost are forced to rely on each other as they confront the pasts that haunt them.

 D: Why did you choose to write a ghost story?

 M: Again, I have to say I didn’t choose this; it chose me. I’ve always loved the paranormal, the magical, the occult, the spiritual—anything that kicks a story up a notch from the normal and mundane. One evening when watching Arizona Highways on TV, I saw a short piece on the ghosts that haunt the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, and I thought it would be a kick to do a “fish-out-of-water” story about an English ghost having trouble adjusting to the modern Arizona desert. I envisioned it as a light, fluffy comedy, but the book and my characters had other ideas. I hadn’t written more than five or ten pages before I knew it was going to have a decidedly dark side to it and actually very little comedy. The more I wrote, the more profound the story became, and only toward the end did I realize the true core themes of the story: love and loss and friendship, mistakes and consequences and redemption. The really great news is that, even if I didn’t write the story I thought I was going to, I love this book.

If I try to micro-manage the story too much, it becomes too mechanical; I like to leave lots of wriggle-room for the creative process.

D: Who designs your covers?

 M: I generally do my own, so the design was mine. I have a habit of doing Google searches on images, grabbing the ones I like, then cobbling them together in my graphics program and playing around with layout and placement. When I got the cover just the way I wanted it, I sent my low-res Frankensteined image to Brenda Remlinger of http://www.coversbydesign.com. She then does the professional, hi-res (legal) version of it. She’s great to work with: fast and efficient.

D: Do you outline or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer? 

 M: I am definitely a seat-of-the-pants writer. I might have a list of 5 or so bullet points, just the pivotal action or main plot points, which I will add to as I go, but it’s more of a suggestion than a guideline. If I try to micro-manage the story too much, it becomes too mechanical; I like to leave lots of wriggle-room for the creative process. That’s when the magic happens and the story writes itself. Very often I have no clue what I’m going to write until it’s on the paper, and I’m often surprised by what comes out. The writing process for me is as much of a discovery as it is for the readers reading the story. We both wonder how it’s going to turn out!

D: What are you working on now?

M: At the moment, I’m completely occupied by the launch of Stone’s Ghost. I decided to have an online party to celebrate the new book, and it’s turning into quite a production. The party date is July 26, 2013, but I’ve already set up a Facebook event page called the Friendly Ghost Party (https://www.facebook.com/events/142948992566792/) where I’m asking folks to post any ghost-related pictures. We’ve already got several pics, some video, even cartoons, and this contest is open to anyone. On July 26, the pic with the most likes will win a prize package. At the same time, I’m posting all the information on my blog at www.mjb-wordlovers.blogspot.com and asking folks to post short ghost stories in the comments section. Again, on July 26, I will choose a random winner out of a hat for a prize package. In the meantime, several bloggers have agreed to co-host the party, and I’m working up a menu for a virtual buffet so party-goers can visit one blog for food, one for drinks, etc. All the food is ghost-related, and I’ll have links to the recipes (in case people are looking for ideas for Halloween!). I will also have a giveaway on Goodreads the week before, and finally I plan to lower the price for the Kindle version of the new book (and all the books on my back list) to 99 cents for that day only. I think it’s going to be quite a celebration! Everyone is welcome to drop by, post pics or stories for the contests and maybe win a prize.

I decided to have an online party to celebrate the new book, and it’s turning into quite a production.

 D: Sounds like fun! I’ll have to stop by 🙂 Where do you see yourself in five years?

 M: The plan is to be hunkered down in a small town in central Arizona, retired from my day job, writing and enjoying life with my husband. We’ve lived in Tucson for 25 years and are yearning for a smaller town, less traffic, less heat, and closer to the places we love: the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell. We have 12 acres near the Grand Canyon and love to park our little travel trailer up there for the summer, and we plan to get a boat so we can continue our explorations of Lake Powell. Beyond that, I’d like to do some gardening, more travel, and of course—more writing.

D: Love the Grand Canyon. I used to live in Phoenix and often camped on the south rim. Here’s another burning question: what made you decide to go indie rather than traditional publishing?

M: My first five books were traditionally published, two by a NY house and three by small presses. The experiences varied widely, but the most rewarding were the ones where I worked closely with the publisher and had input into the process (not always true). When my first two books went out of print, I began to investigate self-publishing simply to keep them viable, but I discovered how rewarding the process was, and that’s how I’ve published ever since. It’s a lot of work—writing, editing, formatting, designing the cover, uploading, and promoting—but it’s supremely satisfying. I love having total control, having my books turn out exactly as I have envisioned them. No more worrying about the title being changed, about what the cover will look like, about adding or cutting pages merely to satisfy some arbitrary idea of page count. I know when I hand my book to someone, it’s exactly the book I wrote, not someone else’s version of it.

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

M: Keep at it. Writing is not an activity that’s characterized by any overnight results. It takes time to write, time to edit, time to hone and polish, time to promote and time to build a readership. Anyone who’s looking for a get-rich-quick scheme should look elsewhere. But for those of us who can’t not write, it’s immensely satisfying to finally hold that book in our hands, to see and feel and touch that thing we’ve created. It may seem like it’s taking forever, but even if you only write one paragraph a day—one sentence, one word—you’re making progress. Keep chipping away at it and eventually you’ll get there.

 Thanks for taking the time to stop by today, Melissa! Here’s an excerpt from Melissa’s new book, Stone’s Ghost:

 The London Bridge, he decided as he drove up the approach, had to be the ultimate in kitsch. Leave it to an American to bring the storied stone bridge from England and plop it down over a spit of river in the southwest desert. Before that, Lake Havasu City was nothing but a trailer park beside the Colorado River; now it was known everywhere because it had THE BRIDGE. The aged span sported Union Jacks and ornate lamp posts at intervals, objects more at home with bone-chilling fog than the hot desert air that bleached out the colors and faded the metal. It was the ultimate incongruity—

Suddenly a dark form, blacker than the night sky and human-shaped, appeared directly in front of his car. He had no time to jam on the brakes or swerve, although he did both, but before the car could respond he had barreled directly over or through the thing standing in the road. Immediately hauling the sedan over to the side of the road, he set the brake and popped the car into neutral. Without even checking for traffic, he scrambled from the car and ran back to see what he had hit. He just prayed to God it wasn’t dead.

 Heart pounding, he searched the dark roadway. It was empty. No trace of anything wet on the pavement that might have been blood, not even a stain. Even his frantic braking had not left a mark. He glanced further down the road to see if a truck or a bus had preceded him, perhaps belching exhaust or smoke, but there were no other moving vehicles anywhere. He considered a low-hanging cloud but knew no cloud ever looked like that, black and almost solid. He scanned the lanes in both directions, searched the sidewalks on both sides. Nothing. He even glanced over the sides of the bridge, noting that the ripples in the water below reflected only the normal flow of the river, nothing like what he would expect if something had fallen or jumped from the bridge. There was no evidence that there had been anything there at all.

 Breathing deeply, still shaking, he shook his head as if to clear it. He wasn’t that loaded. He hadn’t even finished his second beer. How could he have imagined something so real? He hadn’t been nodding off; he wasn’t sleepy before and certainly was not now. There was no reason for him to see something that wasn’t there. He looked again westward down the roadway toward the island; nothing there at all, not even a leaf moved in the heavy air. It just didn’t make any sense.

 He walked uneasily back to the car and examined it. The front was unmarred and shiny, as clean as the day he washed it last week. There were no dents, no bits of fur or fabric caught in the grille. He remembered the fleeting sense of the dark shape coming at the windshield but when he examined it, there were no scratches, no marks. There was nothing to indicate he had encountered anything at all.

 “This is nuts,” he said to himself. Wiping his face with a still shaking hand, he pushed the shock of thick black hair off his forehead. His reaction, the way he felt, was completely at odds with the fact that there was nothing there. Obviously there was no reason to stay, no reason to search anymore, yet he felt leaving would be irresponsible somehow. He had an uneasy sense of incompletion, yet … what was there for him to do?

 “There’s nothing here,” he said out loud. His own voice ringing in the emptiness of the night irritated him. “Screw it,” he said finally and got back into the car. Checking his mirrors, looking around in all directions, he slid the gearshift into first and pulled slowly away from the curb. Gaining speed gradually, he continued to monitor his rear view mirror as he drove on across the bridge.

 He saw nothing else all the rest of the way home.

END OF EXCERPT

 To find out more about Melissa and her writing, click on the links below:

 Website: http://www.newmoonrising.net

Blog: http://mjb-wordlovers.blogspot.com

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Goodreads

LinkedIn

Amazon Author Page

Smashwords


Awesome Authors — Aron Joice

Now that Yucatan Dead’s up and running, I’m resuming the semi-bi-weekly Awesome Author interviews. Today’s guest is Aron Joice, fantasy author and animal rescuer extraordinaire. I came to know Ms. Joice through the indie network swirling around Indies Unlimited (www.indiesunlimited.com). If you have the chance, check out the informative blog–it has much to offer the indie writer, and the people who contribute and comment are some of the best folks around. So, without further fanfare, heeeeere’s Aron 🙂

photo of author Aron Joice

Aron Joice

D: Hi Aron! Thanks so much for being here. I’m curious: what made you decide to become a writer? Why did you choose fantasy as a genre?

A: I have written stories since grade school. I always had a vivid imagination, and told fantastic stories (mom called them fibs). I would get on a bus and pretend I was from France and couldn’t speak English, or I was a mysterious Indian princess. I believe I embarrassed her just a bit. She encouraged me to start writing my fantasies down and I did.

I absolutely love fantasy. My YA isn’t as sophisticated and adult as most. It really is for the younger person who loves magic worlds. Like many people I have faced some challenges where I didn’t think that I’d survive. It is a safe place for me. I have to say, I am also an avid mystery reader and devour cerebral thrillers. Fantasy is a place to escape.

D: Can youVanished tell me a little bit about your latest book? What was your favorite part about writing it?

A: Well, Vanished Book two in The Lost Children of Managrail series takes a turn from where Book one ended. The journey for the two young heirs continues and magic still abounds. Lila, heiress to the throne finally gets her act together and delivers. The entire trilogy is about complex male/female relationships. Throughout the story many have to make difficult choices realizing the end result could destroy someone they love. It is really about love and how it can heal and destroy.

I just love to write. I am a very visual person and when I write it is like there is a mini-me watching a movie of my thoughts. I even hear music. I immerse myself in the process. Yes, I’m certifiable.

D: Love your cover for The Rising. Who was the designer?TheRising

A: Thank you. She is the sorceress from the White Realm, and a real piece of work. Richard K Green handled the graphic design.

D: Do you outline or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?  How long does it take you to finish a novel?

A: I’m more by the seat of my pants. I know how it will begin and I always know my ending. I give the characters free reign during the middle. I oooh a lot! I’m a sucker for action, and even though it’s fantasy, I try to make it believable

The first draft flows right along. I have never had a block where I couldn’t continue. I can finish the first draft and two rewrites in about 2-3 months, if I don’t get distracted. I love to garden and the weather is nice right now, so I’m bouncing back and forth. I do have a deadline, although it is self-imposed I want to meet it.

“It is really about love and how it can heal and destroy.”

D: What are you working on now?

 A: Union Book three, the last in the trilogy. This will be a large book for me. I pray that I deliver what is floating around in my gray cells. I also have another book that I’m working on simultaneously which isn’t YA fantasy, but adult fiction based on current events. It is very different for me. I am excited about it, but it is real life and gritty. I will publish this under another name. My YA is very innocent and it will be a shocking difference in styles. I feel a responsibility to my young readers, and I want them to grow with my characters.

D: Give us a ‘day in the life’ of author Aron Joice.

A: Can you say BORING?  I rescue animals that are abandoned, mistreated, and otherwise suffer at man’s hand. Before I have a cup of coffee their needs come first. Then breakfast, and I sit down to check my emails, and write. I’m doing very little social networking since the two books take up a good part of the day. I end every day by reading. It is the last thing I do except to say thank you for all the wonderful people I have met on my journey.

D: Where do you see yourself in five years?

A: If I’m still this side of the grass, I’ll be writing. If the world calms down, I’d like to do some traveling. I was fortunate to have seen a good part of the world in my 20’s and 30’s. Somehow I ended up in many places where young men carried M-16s. As I said, “I like adventure.” It is scary out there, but I love learning from other cultures.

“I feel a responsibility to my young readers, and I want them to grow with my characters.”

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

A: Where is my crystal ball? You know things are changing daily. I keep up with most of it, but I’m not sure. There will probably be some fantastic digital improvements, maybe interactive e Books won’t cost as much to produce. I have been interested in that for quite a while. I hope we never lose bound books. It would break my heart; there still isn’t anything like holding a book and reading it, at least to me. Traditional publishing will be forced to change; in what manner I’m not sure. It is going to get very competitive. I believe the problem with most of the world is greed, straight across the board. It is in every walk of life, and big business? What can I say? There is more people writing, reading, and it is exciting. We have to cherish this gift and pay anything good forward. I interviewed a 12-year-old writer. I absolutely loved her. Her attitude and confidence put many an adult writer to shame. She is the future and if we can mentor the young writers, they will step it up.

D: What made you decide to go indie rather than traditional publishing?

A: I knew right out of the gate the chances of getting an agent or a traditional publishing deal were slim to none. I wanted to go through the motions, get feedback, learn, and keep moving forward. I gave myself six months to get an agent; if I weren’t successful I would approach the Indie Avenue. I was greener than green. I lucked out when I found some great blogs/sites and I am so grateful for what I gleaned from all of them. I’m still polishing, asking questions, and paying attention. I have so much respect for everyone over at Indies Unlimited; there couldn’t be a better family in which to belong. (Totally agree, Aron  🙂 )

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

Love what you do, or don’t do it. Believe in yourself, and be open to constructive criticism. Let the trolls roll off your back and pity them. Pay attention; know how important social networking is in the digital age. Find a family of writers who will treat you kindly, but be honest with you. If they can do that, the rest will follow.

The following excerpt is from Vanished: Book 2 of The Lost Children of Managrail:

PROLOGUE

He remembered their childhood in a series of flashes; even then she had the power to bend him to her will. On one hot summer day, she climbed higher up the mountainside, taunting him, laughing, beckoning him to follow, and he did. That was the way it always was and had been until now….

Standing at the water’s edge, Simian watched the longboats close in on Lila. It reminded him of a hawk circling a rabbit trapped in brambles. Escape for Lila was impossible, and he didn’t care to find a solution.

Managrail had fallen, destroyed by the Fergay. Whether it was by luck or providence, many survived. Now Dirth, a village by the sea, was home, and had brought new adversaries. Moments away from capture, Lila called upon the Light Bringers for help. The magical talismans answered and she vanished.

It is time for stories of old to be retold and a council of war to form. The White Realm and the sorceress have been waiting for one hundred years.

CHAPTER 1

Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around my body. The air around me cold and still, I thought if I breathed too hard the sky would break into a million shards. Blinded by the absence of color, I tried to grapple with the starkness of my surroundings. Am I dead? Am I in heaven? That would be surprising, based on my recent behavior. Something about this place seems familiar…. Have I been here before? I remembered what the sprites had said about the White Realm when they rescued me. “Evil lives here and evil hunts for the lost.”

Well, right now, I definitely fit into the “lost” category. The White Realm. Is that where I am? I closed my eyes, sucking in the air, and heard muttering from behind me. I turned and found myself facing the bedraggled longboat crew cowering in fear. “I can’t believe this!” Just moments ago, inches from their grasp, I had disappeared into blinding rays of light shooting toward the heavens.

Now facing me, one man whispered to another, “She must be a witch. May all the gods protect us. How else did we land in hell?”

“Well, well, look who decided to join me. Now remind me, you planned to do what with me? Sell me into slavery? Tut, tut, not nice.”

“Please, lady, if we hadn’t followed our captain’s orders, we’d have been flogged or worse—keelhauled. If you are agreeable, we can be on our way. Everything forgotten?”

“To where, the sea? Can you guess where you are? For now, you stay with me, but don’t get too close,” I said, pointing my finger like a weapon. My bravado fooled them, but deep inside, I was a little shaky. I had no idea what to do. I thought I would somehow try to find a way out of this predicament.

“Follow me.”

END EXCERPT

Here’s the book trailer for The Rising: Book 1 of the Lost Children of Managrail:

To find out more about Aron and her books, click through the links below:

Aron’s Website
Connect with Aron on Twitter
Facebook
Amazon Buy Link
Smashwords Buy Link


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