Friday, August 29, 2014

Guest post: "The Dark Inside: A Different Perspective," by Donna Galanti, author of the Amazon bestseller 'A Hidden Element'

After I published A Human Element, the story before A Hidden Element, I couldn’t let go of the characters. Readers wanted a sequel but I always felt it was a single tale to be told. And yet, the characters in the first book wouldn’t let me go.

And one morning I woke up with a vision for book 2, A Hidden Element, and I wrote that book.  And still, I couldn’t let these old and new characters go. I wanted to know more about what their dark lives were like before their stories in the books, and so I wrote a short story collection about them, appropriately called, The Dark Inside.

I’ve always been fascinated by the terrible things we humans can do, and what stops us from crossing that line. Many people don’t stop, but thankfully many more people do. Writing about characters that cross the line lets me feel what it might be like, in my imagination. How easy it would be to pick up a knife and stab someone? How easy it would be to jerk the car to the left and hit someone on the road? Of course, I never would! But I want to feel that passion to do it – for my character’s sake.

In A Hidden Element Laura Fieldstone, who fights to get her son back from an evil force, worries he will succumb to the dark side. “Light and dark reside side by side,” she says. Just like love and hate walk the same line, they both come from the same place. A place of passion.

To me, writing is all about passion – feeling the good and feeling the bad. And I want to feel it all. To explore the twin sides of our human nature: the good inside us, the dark inside us.


In A Hidden Element we begin with Caleb, the son of Adrian, forced against his will by his father to a new land. We watch, through his eyes, as his father wields his evil power over innocent folk and how he vows to never become like him. I originally wrote this scene from Adrian’s point of view, until I realized the story was Caleb’s story to tell. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is the author of books 1 and 2 in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, A Human Element and A Hidden Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road (Books 1 and 2, 2015). She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interview with Kim Boykin: 'I fly by the seat of my pants with no idea of where the story is going'



Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.
For More Information
About the Book:

June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Like many writer, I hear a voice in my head, usually a woman. She starts telling me her story and off we go. I’m what’s called a “pantser;” I fly by the seat of my pants with no idea of where the story is going. I just listen to the voice and then the other voices as they join the story.j

The idea came from wanting to write about a situation that happened to my older sister involving a shyster, a show poodle and postcards. But when Vada Hadley started telling me her story, she had a mind of her own. There is a postcard and a very brief but cute appearance of a black poodle puppy.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

The book is told from four POVs, which seemed daunting at first, but was actually quite liberating. Vada, the protagonist, is in first person, the others’ stories are told in third.

There are a gazillion how-to writing books out there, and for writers like me who are newcomers, they are frustrating. Most of what we do comes from those voices. Of course, the work has to be copyedited and polished, edited if possible. But trying to fit yourself into one of those boxes some of the how-to books suggest can make you feel less, different, when all you really want to do is tell a story.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I publish women’s fiction with Berkley Books and contemporary romance with Jane Porter’s Tule Publishing Group. I met Jane at a party and she asked me to write a novella for her company. I’m on my fifth one for her and love every minute of it.

Finding a home at Berkley wasn’t so easy. I finished my first novel, The Wisdom of Hair, and was lucky enough to get a big agent. I loved her she was like an older me and had this wonderful Julia Childs voice. After the first round of submissions, she found out the chronic backache she’d had for two years was cancer. She died a few weeks after her diagnosis, but before she passed, we talked a lot. She assured me her partner would sell my work, not that I cared at that point. She was really special.

To say I was the proverbial redheaded stepchild with the new agent was an understatement, but I had representation, right? After two years of hoping this woman would sell my work, I called her assistant and asked if she thought that would ever happen. I appreciated her honest answer and divorced my agent that day.

I’m horrible at rejection and floundered submitting on and off for, I don’t know, five years? Ten? They all kind of run together. Then I asked myself, “Who buys books?” The answer isn’t agents. So I found the NY Pitch Conference and pitched directly to four editors and got three who wanted to read my manuscript. One from Hyperion, two from Penguin-NAL and Berkely.

That was the first line of the 167 query letters I sent out. Within in the week, I had 40 who were reading part of the script, 20 reading the whole script. I ended up with 3 offers of representation, and then I got to do the choosing. And the Berkley editor who requested the script at the pitch conference bought the book.


Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Marketing is all consuming. Palmetto Moon launches August 5, and the whole month is looming like a tidal wave. I asked NYT bestselling author Wendy Wax if it’s always going to be this crazy and she told me she’s published eleven books. And last summer’s While We Were Watching Downton Abbey was the first book she DIDN’T feel like she had to kill herself to make it successful. Oy.


Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’ll continue to write contemporary romance novellas because they’re fun and I adore Jane Porter and her company, Tule. My next novel is set in 1952 and is called A Peach of A Pair. It’s the story of Nettie, a young woman who is betrayed by her sister and the two old maid sisters who teacher Nettie the meaning of sisterhood and forgiveness.


Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I’m an email junkie and I love Facebook. I was a great smartass in school and even better as a mom. I thought I’d be really good at Twitter, but I’m not.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Karen White said, “this book is guaranteed to entertain.” And to be honest, that’s all I want to do. But when Vada who I thought was just a fluffy blonde turns out to be a feminist in 1947 and Claire and Reggie enter into an extremely unconventional marriage, I think those voices are trying to teach lessons of their own.
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

NEVER give up. If I hadn’t stopped and started to publish my work so many times, it might not have taken twenty-five years.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Interview with Beckie Butcher, author of My Battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


ABOUT MY BATTLE WITH CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

Title: My Battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Genre: Health/Wellness
Author: Beckie Butcher
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 52
Language: English
Format: Ebook

 “As a former CFS sufferer and current healthcare practitioner, I feel Ms. Butcher provides an informative and interesting perspective on this disease and her road to recovery.” Kyrie Kleinfelter,D.C., Upper Cervical Chiropractor. “As a fellow sufferer of CFS, I was truly able to relate to Ms. Butchers’ experiences, thoughts and feelings. Her reference to the Word of God comforted my heart. Truly inspiring and honest.” Darla Canney, CFS Patient. Ms. Butcher shares her intense and emotional journey of how the autoimmune disease chronic fatigue syndrome impacted her life from her first symptoms to the progress of her treatment and physical, spiritual and emotional recovery. By sharing with others, she hopes to inspire others to seek help so they may lead better lives as well. She wants them to know there is hope.

iUniverse

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

It’s about my daily struggle with the serious, debilitating autoimmune disease Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I wrote it because a dear friend put it on my heart to share my story with others who suffer.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

Just telling my story. It was very painful reliving the scariest and darkest time in my life.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, although I am not sure when at this point.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing when I started this book. I wrote it because I wanted to reach out to others who suffer and to let them know they are not alone and there is hope!

What is your greatest strength as an author?

I think storytelling.

Did writing this book teach you anything?

Yes, it taught me the importance of sharing your story with others. Unbeknownst to me, I reached several people in my own community who were suffering with the same thing. It just goes to show you you never know who you will reach through a book.


ABOUT BECKIE BUTCHER

Ms. Butcher worked as a Lab Technician in various hospitals and laboratories. She is an avid cook when she feels up to it, and in 2005 she published a small cookbook. Ms. Butcher lives in her hometown of Elgin, Il.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Interview with Reverend Carol A. Hale, author of Baby to Senior Spiritual Life Years


 

ABOUT BABY TO SENIOR SPIRITUAL LIFE YEARS

Title: Baby to Senior Spiritual Life Years Genre: Religion/Spirituality
Author: Rev. Carol A Hale
Publisher: AuthorHouse
EBook: 112 pages
Release Date: April 29, 2011

 The spirit guides our life. It opens our life as a child and always stays with us. After each prayer our spirit will speak to your mind about God's decision and we will hear about he best task for life. The spirit and prayers always gives us comfort relaxations to the mind. When the body has been or is in a accident, is sick, having surgery, financial problems, and life events. My life has had several perfect body safety and healings i was six or seven months old. The spirit with God guided my jobs and acceptance of my birth as a lesbian.

AuthorHouse

 Can you tell us what your latest book is about?

My first book is called 'Baby to Senior Spiritual Life Years'. It is about my life and spirituality with God and Jesus from age 4 to my current age of 75.

How did you come up with the idea?

My spirit as always guided me and told me how to do things. My spirit always guides me on how to be with God at all times.

What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of the book?

I was a physical education teacher in sports with children in parks for over 30 years. I was told by God to be a Pastor when I went to my first MCC church in Gainesville, Florida. I was in a learning class in Jacksonville and a pastor was giving a lesson on how to be a pastor. He saw me and told me to get into his church as an assistant until I was a legal pastor. I moved over and worked in that church. I did not write my book until I retired from a pastor at the age of 63.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Interview with Natsuya Uesugi, author of grydscaen


ABOUT GRYDSCAEN

Title: grydscaen
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Author: Natsuya Uesugi
Publisher: Xlibris
EBook: 288 pages
Release Date: July 21, 2011

 Follow the lives of the main characters as they come together in the backstory to grydscaen:retribution, the first volume of the grydscaen saga. Faid is tired of life on the run in the Echelons, trying to keep his psychic power in check, he founds the Packrats establishing a safe haven for psychics. As a hacker he uses his jack to support his neurocyne habit. Lino is recruited by the Psi Faction and is sent on a mission to kidnap Faid. Riuho, Lino’s half brother becomes a prisoner of the Elite military and they experiment on him, train him and subject him to mind control, then send him out on a mission. On his return, Riuho is set on escaping and recruits Faid who hacks into the Psi Faction systems. They escape and return to the Packrats leading up to the start of grydscaen:retribution.

Xlibris

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

I wrote grydscaen to give voice to a few messages. Grydscaen is science fiction set in 2055 post nuclear war after the Atlantea Federation dropped a nuclear bomb on the Pacific Territories. The story is basically about hackers against the government and warring factions at a global level vying for control of nations. The lead character is Ameliano Dejarre otherwise known as Lino and he is the son of the Viceroy of the Pacific Territories and a clandestine psychic operative of the Psi Faction fighting to stop cyber terrorism caused by the Packrat hackers who are fighing against the government in the Echelons and the Zone. I wrote the book to shed light on LGBT youth homelessness, hacker’s rights, LGBT equality, stopping bullying and ending the stigma of mental illness. There are various themes throughout the grydscaen series which are weaved throughout the story line.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

The biggest challenge was keeping the world straight. Grydscaen is a multi book epic series and there are various nation states and political entities in the story. Keeping all that straight and sustaining it across multiple books was the challenge.

Do you plan subsequent books?

There are multiple books in the grydscaen series. Currently 4 books are published, grydscaen: utopia, grydscaen: beginnings, grydscaen: retribution and grydscaen: war. A fifth book grydscaen: alliance will be published this year.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing because I had a message I wanted to convey. This message drives me. Originally grydscaen was going to be one book but I found I had much more story to tell.

What is your greatest strength as an author?

I think my greatest strength as an author is creating a world and building three dimensional characters. I have had the grydscaen books reviewed and the reviews say that my characters are three dimensional and non stereotypical as well as courageous and heroic.

Did writing this book teach you anything?


I think writing this book taught me more about myself. I had to get in touch with myself to write a story of this depth and emotion. I think I know myself better now having written the book.

Interview with Melodie Campbell: 'Comedy is a good way to present serious ideas...'



Billed as Canada’s “Queen of Comedy" by the Toronto Sun (Jan. 5, 2014), Melodie Campbell achieved a personal best when Library Digest compared her to Janet Evanovich.

Winner of nine awards, including the 2014 Derringer (US) and the 2014 Arthur Ellis (Canada) for The Goddaughter’s Revenge (Orca Books), Melodie has over 200 publications, including 100 comedy credits, 40 short stories, and seven novels.

Melodie got her start writing stand-up.  In 1999, she opened the Canadian Humour Conference. Her fiction has been described by industry reviewers as "hilarious" and "laugh-out-loud funny."

Melodie has a commerce degree from Queen’s University, but it didn’t take well.  She has been a bank manager, college instructor, marketing director, comedy writer and possibly the worst runway model ever.  These days, Melodie is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.

Her latest book is the paranormal romance time travel, Rowena and the Viking Warlord.

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About the Book:

He was her enemy and her lover…

As Cedric fights battles down south, Rowena unwittingly rides into an enemy war camp and is taken prisoner by her old friend Lars, who is not what he seems. 

Yet Rowena is not helpless. After all, she is a hereditary half-witch with a whole lot of magic in her.  Too bad she doesn’t know how to use it. Escaping from the camp, she continues to botch up spell after spell. Soon Kendra joins her on the trek back to Huel, along with the latest magical mistake, a flame-burping dragon called Cinders.
 
When war comes to Land’s End, it brings the one man who threatens to conquer everything in Huel, including Rowena’s heart. Now she has to make the biggest decision of her life. Will she return through the wall to safety in Arizona? Or will she stay in Land’s End for good, and fight to save her people from the Viking Warlord?

For More Information

  • Rowena and the Viking Warlord is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I needed escape.  Oh Lordy, did I need escape.  My mother had been admitted 38 times to hospital, dying.  I sat at her side for seven weeks, as the news got worse and worse.  At one point I looked up at the wall in her room and thought, if I could walk through that wall into another world right now, I would.  That night I started writing the Land’s End trilogy.

I wrote the wildest fantasy I could imagine!  A world where emotions where heightened, and the adventure was rollicking.  “The Princess Bride with sex” as some reviewers have called it.  Complete escape from our world where I had to be stoic.

And that's what I hope to offer readers with Rowena and the Viking Warlord.  A complete escape for a few hours, into a book and world that is dangerous, fun and sexy. 
Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

I got my start writing comedy, and have over 100 comedy credits and 40 short story publications, so novel writing was not my first endeavor.  I think the best advice I can give is this:  Love Writing.  Not the anticipation of being an author, but the actual act of butt in chair, hands on keyboard, writing away the story that is pounding to get out of your head!  If you love to write, you will continue to write, get better and better, and eventually you will be published.  

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

Imajin Books is my publisher for the Land’s End humorous time travel series, and they are wonderful.  Smaller publishers are great at hand-holding!  They can give you individual attention, and that can make a big different for your first books.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Yes – how my idea of what success would mean has changed.  I used to think that success meant huge sales, or winning awards (I have 9.)

Then one reader emailed to tell me that my first book, Rowena Through the Wall, was her favorite book of all time.  I cried that night.  It changed the reason I write, forever.  I write for her, and readers like her.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

My 7th book, The Artful Goddaughter (a mob caper) will be out Sept. 1, from Orca books.
I’ve started a new humorous fantasy/space opera series, The Blue Angel Bar and Bolthole.  It has a female publican running a bar at the frontier end of the galaxy, who doubles as a PI.  It’s another rollicking adventure series.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I love Facebook and participate in a number of groups.  I love to respond to readers, and also connect with other writers.  You can find me on Goodreads as well.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I write to entertain, first and foremost.  Yet even then, there is a dark side to the Land’s End series.  What would happen in a world where women are scarce?  Would they be more valued and therefore have more power and freedom?  I explored that theme throughout and came to some disturbing conclusions.  

Most people see these books as comedies, and I’m glad of that.  But there is this underlying theme that some readers have picked up on.  Comedy is a good way to present serious ideas, don’t you think?

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

What I tell my writing students at college:  Writing is work, hard work. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like work, and those are the days we live for.

For me, Rowena and the Viking Warlord, was that book. I loved every minute of writing it.  Hopefully, readers will love it too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Interview with Bernadette Bland, author of Flights of Fancy


ABOUT FLIGHTS OF FANCY

Title: Flight of Fancy
Genre: Poetry/Prose/Short Story
Author: Bernadette Bland
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 64
Language: English
ISBN - 978-1-45028-453-0

Life is filled with emotional highs and lows. Riding the wave of this experience is part of living, but for poet Bernadette Bland, dreaming was even more important. No matter the attitude, mood, or circumstance, Ms. Bland has always believed in the beauty of life. Never to be deterred from her heart’s desire, she has ridden her own life wave with an eye to her dreams and an eye to the beauty of nature. In her new poetry collection, Flights of Fancy, Ms. Bland shares her imagery with the outside world. She delves into the lavish splendor of nature in “Drifting Grace: God’s Art Show.” She peers behind the protective mask of a weeping clown in “Behind the Mask.” She recalls watching her mother slowly grow old in the poignant “Mama.” In all her words, she reveals her deepest yearnings and fears with selfless honesty. Flights of Fancy is an example of an imagination set free. Ms. Bland fills her poetry with wonder and will leave you longing to step out into the sun. She is not afraid to depict the sometimes traumatic rollercoaster of life; yet she encourages us to move on, move up, and not look back. Within every word, she calls to the reader, challenging each one of us to never stop dreaming!

Purchase your copy:

iuniverse

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

I had to write this book. It was already in me and would not be satisfied until it saw the light of day. The content within came out as ideas which needed fulfillment. In particular, "Refelections" is a mix of ideas with similar goals depicting peace of mind and spirit.

I am nearest God when "I am meditating in a great, silent forest captivated by the harmonies of earth's nature symphonies", or "basking in the summer warmth and solitude of a secluded cove, lulled by the whisper of gentle waves nuzzling the shore" mesmerized by the lonesome echo of a distant train whistle passing in the evening sunset", or "intrigued by rocky shores and the mournful foghorns that cry out on misty nights ...".

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

My biggest challenges were the most effective use and placement of words and sometimes punctuation and grammar usage, (something I overcame as an adult). English Grammar was not my favorite course of study in school,.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I plan to continue writing, more books if possible, and perhaps of different genres. I would really love to write about my family activites as we grew up. Some were ideas my parents put forth and we all participated in and other things we did back then of our own intentions.

When and why did you begin writing?

As I mentioned earlier, praise for one's work and encourage me from the right sources, goes a long way toward helping someone, a youngster, toward deciding a future.Of course, your own desire to do such work is a must in that decision. First and foremost, you need to want to write and share what you have to share.

What is your greatest strength as an author?

My greatest strength as an author is my desire to write, many things. My desire as well as my ideas can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, so I continue to write (free write) which sometimes leads to the fulfillment of more ideas. I mostly write something at least every day to see what I can make of it.Then of course there is continual reading, diverse and purposeful.

Did writing this book teach you anything?

I learned a great deal from writing this book. This included revision, editing,updated langue skills and much more. I also learned much about publishing need's, more editing,marketing and even publicity. There is so much more to writing a book than just the writing of words and sentences. I suspect as I go along with other probable books there will still be more to learn.


ABOUT BERNADETTE BLAND

Bernadette Bland was born in Westerly, Rhode Island. A news reporter and photographer for many years, her poetry has been published by the National Library of Poetry, the Amherst Society, and the Iliad Press, among others. Ms. Bland lives with her husband in the Capital District of upstate New York.

Interview with Eliot Baker, author of 'The Last Ancient'



Eliot Baker lives in Finland. He teaches communications at a local college and runs an editing and translating business, but would be content singing for his heavy metal band and writing novels full-time. He grew up near Seattle, got his B.A. in World Literature at Pitzer College, and got his M.S. in Science Journalism from Boston University. He was an award-winning journalist at the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, and before that he wrote for the Harvard Health Letters. He spent four years pursuing a career in the sciences while at the Harvard Extension School, during which time he spun old people in NASA-designed rocket chairs and kept younger people awake for 86 hours at a time in a sleep deprivation study. He likes good books, all music, and bad movies, and believes music and literature snobs just need a hug.

His latest book is the supernatural thriller/historical mystery, The Last Ancient.


About the Book:


 Around Nantucket Island, brutal crime scenes are peppered with ancient coins, found by the one man who can unlock their meaning. But what do the coins have to do with the crimes? Or the sudden disease epidemic? Even the creature? And who--or what--left them?

The answer leads reporter Simon Stephenson on a journey through ancient mythology, numismatics, and the occult. Not to mention his own past, which turns out to be even darker than he'd realized; his murdered father was a feared arms dealer, after all. Along the way, Simon battles panic attacks and a host of nasty characters -- some natural, others less so -- while his heiress fiancee goes bridezilla, and a gorgeous rival TV reporter conceals her own intentions.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

It started with a simple story idea that was overwhelmed by inspiration. The idea: while hunting, a man finds a wounded mythological creature. I’d been meaning to get back to writing fantasy, and I intended for this to be a shorter piece, perhaps a novella. But then inspiration struck, and that idea germinated into an entire urban fantasy world that encompassed my personal and professional experience as an American emigrant and a science journalist.
My inspiration for The Last Ancient included two phases. It started off as something darker than the final product. Some people very close to me were having their lives ripped apart by addiction, and I began writing a parable about that downward spiral. As I travelled further down a creative rabbit hole myself, I found some incredible stuff, recorded it, and realized the story I needed to tell was a much more personal one than I’d intended. I’d just quit my job as a reporter on Nantucket and moved to Finland to raise a family with my Finnish wife. Having given up career and country to make the move, I felt stuck between two worlds, living in one but missing the other. Staring out my office window at the pale winter sunlight, I suddenly thought back to our former home on the island. I got homesick. I recalled one of my first field assignments as a reporter where I’d shadowed a deer hunter at sunrise, and how amidst a chorus of shotgun blasts the red island sun rose over the cold, windswept island. I remembered seeing truckloads of dead deer at the weigh-in station, and some illegally butchered carcasses discarded on pristine trails and beaches. Looking back down at my laptop, out of nowhere, I typed, “Shotguns crow across Nantucket.” The Finnish sunlight outside just seemed to turn golden. A gateway to this darkly fantastic Nantucket opened. It was a pivotal moment.


Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?


Remember how Keanu Reeves had to first decide which pill to take to enter the Matrix? And once he’d made that decision, he then had to learn how to fight and fly and teleport and choose the perfect black leather-and-sunglasses ensemble? Writing The Last Ancient was kind of like that: swallowing the pill was pretty easy. I was compelled to write the story that was unfolding before my eyes. But dealing with the consequences of swallowing that pill was really hard.

I knew my story required a complex conspiracy, but I’d never designed a mystery before, much less one involving mythology, peak resource theory, alchemy, and history. At times I felt like I was juggling flaming machetes. So much research, so many interlocking subplots and historical anecdotes. And yet the characters always spoke to me and the story always flowed. I rarely got burned or cut and never dropped the blades. How? First off, I believed in the story and committed to it. You have to believe in your story if you want it to have real depth.
Next, I found the sweet-spot between hard research and outlining, and creative release. You see, I’m a natural pantser who’s reformed himself into an outliner. I’d set aside days – sometimes weeks – for research and outlining, while dedicating other time blocks for hard-core writing, often in a secluded cabin away from all my soul-sucking electrical gadgetry. ClichĂ©, yes, but it worked. Fiction is like journalism in that once you’ve got your background research settled, you can let your writer’s brain take over.


Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?


I went the small press route with BURST Books, an imprint of Champagne Books out of Canada. I didn’t really consider self-publishing because I don’t have the social platform to pull it off, and because, honestly, I wanted the validation of traditional publishing and the security of getting a professional editor, which I received in Nikki Andrews. The large house option would have been nice, but I just didn’t see a good fit. I pitched my novel at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference in 2012, and got conditional interest from some New York agents. BURST Books was the one house who wanted my book as-is, without substantial changes, and they praised my writing and story right off. New York was worried the book was too long and combined too many genres, and recommended pretty invasive surgery. I went with the house that believed in me. And did they ever. I received 2013 Novel of the Year from the Champagne Book Group Annual Author Awards.



Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?


I was prepared for rejection, so the fact that I got three outright rejections and three very kind rejections before being accepted for publication was actually pretty solid for me. I didn’t bother cold querying. And the editing process was about as hard and rewarding as I’d thought it would be. But I have been amazed at how much time, effort, money, and skill it takes to market and promote your book effectively after it’s been published; at least when you’re a debut indie author with no real marketing budget from your publisher. There’s just so many indie and self-pub authors out there; reviewers and bookstores are inundated with review requests, so you have to be savvy about how to get out the word about your book.


Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?



I’m really excited about a YA horror/fantasy duology I’m finishing up called The Golden Crow. The starting point–not to get dark here, but—comes from when I was fourteen years old and my mother died of cancer. A month later, a golden crow winged into our backyard, taking residence for the duration of my high school years. I believe the albino-like pigment defect it had is called xanthrochroism, which is universally rare, and perhaps unique in crows. Can’t find another mention of it in the literature. Anyhow, The Golden Crow is, at its heart, a meditation on overcoming grief and finding meaning as a teen after losing a loved one. The Golden Crow also just happens to involve demons and a New Demon World Order conspiracy launched from a high school in a south Seattle suburb (where I grew up).


Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?


I usually make my way to my fantasy football team site to memorize statistics, and then I’ll flip through various science magazine sites before perusing Good Reads and then settling into Face Book.


Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?


I’m drawn to growth and transformation, be it for better or for worse, literal or metaphorical.  The Last Ancient became what it is once alchemy came into the picture. Alchemy is a three-thousand-year-old study into transforming base elements into precious ones, especially gold. It’s about finding immortality and godhood, via the Philosopher’s Stone. We’ve all read or seen Harry Potter. But have you read C.G. Jung’s work on alchemy and symbolism? Jun, was obsessed with how neatly alchemical processes and symbology aligned with his own theories on personal transformation. He believed people were trying to basically turn from lead to gold, to become gods. The process of transformation from religions across ages requires certain rites and rituals, from sacrifice and suffering, to love and sex. If this sounds familiar, you probably heard of it from dealings with the Stone Masons in Dan Brown novels. They really believe it. I’m not preaching anything literal like that in The Last Ancient, but I am drawing from such stuff
  

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?


You mean, before you light the fuse that leads to the TNT cannisters you strapped to my swivel chair? Well, how about, “I’m glad I got some words down on the page before the whole thing went kaboom.” And indeed, if you’re struggling with getting your book finished or published, do know that something will work out eventually if you just keep writing. And when it does work out, you’ll feel at peace with many things. Publishing a book you’re proud of is a singularly rewarding experience.








Monday, August 18, 2014

Interview with Cheryl Kaye Tardiff: 'I believe research is a key element with writing any book'



Cheryl Kaye Tardif is an award-winning, international bestselling Canadian suspense author. Her novels include Divine Sanctuary, Submerged, Divine Justice, Children of the Fog, The River, Divine Intervention, and Whale Song, which New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice calls "a compelling story of love and family and the mysteries of the human heart...a beautiful, haunting novel."

She is now working on her next thriller.

Cheryl also enjoys writing short stories inspired mainly by her author idol Stephen King, and this has resulted in Skeletons in the Closet & Other Creepy Stories (collection of shorts) and Remote Control (novelette eBook). In 2010 Cheryl detoured into the romance genre with her contemporary romantic suspense debut, Lancelot's Lady, written under the pen name of Cherish D'Angelo.

Booklist raves, "Tardif, already a big hit in Canada…a name to reckon with south of the border."

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About the Book:



There's no place like home…

In the Divine trilogy finale, the heat is tripled when CFBI Agent Jasi McLellan must rescue Emily, the ghost girl that haunts her dreams; expose her own mother's killer; and uncover a murderer that preys on the weak at Sanctuary, a controversial cult nestled in the woods near Mission, BC.

Something insidious lurks behind the safe haven of Sanctuary's wrought iron gates. Led by the charismatic Father Jeremiah, the cult's idyllic lifestyle seems perfect on the outside. But a lethal hunter is on the prowl, and in a carefully executed game of cat and mouse, the body count rises.

Along with Victim Empath Natassia Prushenko, Psychometric Empath Ben Roberts and Special Consultant Brandon Walsh, Jasi follows three trails of clues that lead to one terrifying conclusion: home is not always the safest place on earth.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us to the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

My latest novel, Divine Sanctuary, is book three in my Divine Trilogy, and it was born from my love of the paranormal/supernatural. I have always been fascinated by the idea of people with authentic psychic “gifts” and the possibility that they might assist law enforcement agencies with cold cases or high profile cases.

Three of the lead characters have different psychic abilities. Jasi is a Pyro-Psychic who can see through the eyes of a serial arsonist/killer when she smells smoke from his fire. Ben is a Psychometric Empath who can read items or people at a single touch. Natassia is a Victim Empath who can read victims, whether alive…or dead. And the fourth member, Brandon, is a fire chief who starts off as a skeptic but soon realizes that even the unexplainable can be possible.

In this trilogy, I’ve created a covert division of the CFBI (Canadian FBI), whose various psychic powers are instrumental in solving crime. The first book, Divine Intervention, explores themes of child abuse, abortion and the foster system. Book two, Divine Justice, delves into a conspiracy that is affecting government officials. And book three, Divine Sanctuary, takes readers behind the gates of a cult compound.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Writing Divine Sanctuary was much easier than the first two books because I knew that not only did I have to close the current case, I would finally get a chance to resolve two sub-plots—the ghost girl from Jasi’s closet and the mystery behind Jasi’s mother’s murder.

I believe research is a key element with writing any book. The more believable you can make the plot, the more it will be accepted. But even more important is adding emotion. I want my readers to care about my characters. I want them to yearn to know what happens to them and to cheer them on when they win, or when the bad guy is caught. I want these characters to seem real, 3-dimensional, vulnerable and flawed.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I have many publishers, and I am also self-published. I have self-published my English ebooks and paperbacks and one Spanish ebook. I also have multiple translation deals with traditional publishers in Turkish, Chinese and German. I recently signed a 4-book translation deal with a German publisher, only days after the release of Des Nebels Kinder, which was published by Amazon Crossing. And Audible has published two audiobooks.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

My first published novel was Whale Song, back in 2003. What surprised me was how expensive it was and how much I enjoyed book signings at that time. This was the perfect career for me, something I had dreamed about since I was a teen. And I could see the endless possibilities, even early on.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I am currently working on a paranormal horror/thriller that takes me back to my author idols, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I am hoping it will be published in 2015. I believe it will be my greatest success to date! I also have some other novels in the works; I am never short on story plots.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

Facebook, hands down, is my favorite haunt. I enjoy socializing with readers and other authors. So you’ll either find me on my profile page or my author page. I love meeting people from different countries.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Divine Sanctuary really is a novel about family and home, and what each of those words truly mean. We all have various definitions. This is why I wanted to explore the cult theme. Family isn’t always about your immediate family; often it can extend to best friends. And sometimes home isn’t the safest place to be, even though many will tell you “there’s no place like home.”
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I’d like to invite everyone to pick up a FREE copy of Divine Intervention. You’ll also find Divine Justice on sale for only $2.99, and Divine Sanctuary is now available. You’ll find them at your favorite online retailers.