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Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for I See London, I See France by Paulita Kincer. I’ll begin with my review of this beautifully written and engaging novel, and then we’ll hear from Paulita.

I see London cover

Review

“What have I done?” I silently asked. “I’m stepping off into this madhouse with my children.”

Which parent hasn’t asked themselves that at some point when they’ve taken drastic action of some sort? (I know I did during the early months after we moved to France!) This is the question Caroline poses herself when she decides to go to Europe with her three children after her marriage to Scott crumbles. She’d spent time in France as a young woman in Aix-en-Provence and Corsica and has interesting memories of the country, and especially of the attractive Jean-Marc, which are shared with us through the book. And so she is drawn back there, via London, Cornwall, Scotland and Paris.

The various settings are portrayed in wonderful detail – the scenery, the people, the sights and smells. The physical journey reflects Caroline emotional journey as she tries to decide what to do with her future, how to proceed from this point of marital breakdown. London is the businesslike, responsible Caro, whereas the wilds of Scotland, and the exotic Gustave, see her starting to shake off her inhibitions and worries. But it still seems her happiness prove to be as elusive and possibly fictional as the Loch Ness Monster. But then comes Paris, some self-realisation, and the next stop is Aix-en-Provence. She meets up with some people from her past, and at the same time finds her life is taking “a relaxing turn” and “is easier here”. And Jean-Marc reappears, and also Gustave.

And so briefly on to Italy and Scott…

The novel is absorbing, beautifully written and fabulously enjoyable. It also offers us a gentle reminder that relationships need working at. It’s too easy to take certain things for granted or get stuck in a behavioural rut. Teenage first crazy love is contrasted with married love and life, temptation with loyalty, self-indulgence with duty. There’s comedy, sadness, romance, bitterness, temptation, discipline – Paulita Kincer keeps us gripped. Caroline is a sympathetic heroine, honest and genuine, but most of all human. She’s not superwoman, although she comes fairly close at times in my opinion. She’s someone we can admire. Above all she’s warm and caring and real and we can see ourselves in her shoes.

Do read this touching, inspiring novel, available here from Amazon.com.

And Paulita’s website is here.

And now let’s hear from Paulita.

 

Interview with Paulita

Paulita Kincer

Stephanie, Thanks so much for inviting me to be on your blog today. I feel like I just dropped by your lovely gite for a mid-morning coffee klatch. I know, tea for you, but I’ll have a café crème without the spoon left in the cup.

 1.      What’s the story behind I See London, I See France? Why did you write it?

This book began long ago when my husband and I first traveled to France with the kids. They were 2, 4 and 6 years old. I wrote a “memoir” of sorts for us. Thinking of how difficult that trip was, I imagined what it would be like to handle three kids on your own in France and how desperate someone would be to try that. That’s what became the idea for I See London I See France. Also, marriage can be tricky. Everyone has down times and up times. It’s easy to start longing for that French love who got away during a down time.

2.      Please describe your novel in 100 words.

An unhappy American woman sells her minivan and uses the proceeds to escape to Europe with her three kids in tow. She’s searching for joy and thinks that a previous French love might be the answer. Along the way, she’s distracted by a handsome gypsy and the travails of motherhood, all in gorgeous vacation settings.

3.      How does the cover encapsulate your novel?

Originally, I’d pictured a book cover with a bicycle leaning against the front of a French country house. When I couldn’t find that, I went with the iconic Eiffel Tower. It definitely lets the readers know where the novel takes place. This picture is especially meaningful because my son Tucker took it on a class trip to France last year.

4.      Which do you prefer – London or Paris?

Definitely Paris – no offense to anyone who loves London. Most of the action takes place in France with just a brief touchdown in London, western England and Scotland.

The title for the book actually comes from an American childhood rhyme.

I See London

I See France

I See Stephi’s underpants

Since Caroline, the main character, is traveling with her children, I thought the rhyme would help readers make that link. I didn’t count on the rhyme not being universal though.

5.      Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?

I just finished your book, Stephanie, which I enjoyed. I like to read memoirs set in France, but I really love any kind of fiction, usually written by women. Last week I read After Her by Joyce Maynard. Marian Keyes is one of my favorite authors so I’m always on the lookout for something by her.

6.      When did you first realize you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I have notebooks full of pioneer stories that I wrote as a little girl. I used to take my notebook and a peanut butter sandwich and leave the house early in the morning to find adventures to write about.

7.      Tell us briefly about what book’s coming next.

I’m writing a novel called Paris Runaway. It’s about a divorced mom whose 17-year-old daughter disappears. The mother learns she’s followed a French exchange student from Florida to Paris. The mother goes after her and learns a lot about herself while in pursuit of her daughter.

8.      What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Keep writing. Don’t stop to admire your work after you’ve finished one novel. The next one awaits, and they usually just get better as you keep going.

9.      What does your family think about you being an author?

My daughter is 22 now and she is a great cheerleader for me. She tries to stay on top of my social media. My boys are 20 and 17, and they aren’t so interested in my books. My husband has to juggle his editor hat and his husband hat to offer me criticism and support. And my parents, well, it’s kind of embarrassing the way they are always trying to sell my books to people.

10.  OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favourite foods?

Chocolate, wine and cheese. Is that too cliché? Well, maybe that’s one of the reasons why I love France so much. Okay, how bout:

A nice flaky croissant with melted chocolate in the middle

Little squares of goat cheese on salad

A sweet dessert wine

 

Thanks so much for interviewing me for your blog and thanks to all of the readers who love reading about interesting characters who find adventures, whether within themselves or out in the world.

 

Thank you Paulita, and I wish you every success with your marvellous novel. 

 Click here to find out where else Paulita is visiting on her book tour and enter the giveaway here.

 

magnum equationYou’d be forgiven for thinking that a horse-trainer’s job would keep them more or less occupied, hoofing it from horse to horse. This isn’t so for Cat Enright, heroine of the Magnum Equation written by Lisa Wysocky, as our equine educator takes on the mantle of sleuth during a National All-Breed Horse Show, when a string of deaths of both people and prancers brings chaos crashing down.

The book itself is quite a delight to read; very easy-going with a relatable cast of characters and the authors’ omni-present light-hearted humour. Cat herself is no Miss Marple, and not just in age; she isn’t some razor-witted crime-solving automaton but a blunt yet spontaneous woman with a down-to-earth background hailing from Tennessee. Her associates just make the cast even more colourful, up to and including a self-confessed juvenile delinquent, an eccentric, spiky-blue haired woman “of a certain age” and a horse who may or may not be psychic!

Of course, it isn’t all light-hearted all the way through; this book boasts some truly unexpected plot twists, keeping Cat (and this reviewer!) guessing right up until the very end, whereupon it eventually crystallizes into a thrilling conclusion. The way Lisa Wysocky has dug into her mine of equine knowledge and produced these gems of intrigue, suspense and equicide is remarkable.

If that wasn’t enough, the book also boasts recipes, Cat’s tips on horses and horse care, a helpful cast guide, a map of horse shows, a glossary for non-horsey people and even fourteen questions for book clubs or even the reader to mull over.

In conclusion, it’s an enjoyable read, a story with a plot that bucks as much as a wild Mustang and characters that are down-to-earth and relatable. I would most definitely recommend reading it!

Having enjoyed Magnum Equation so much, I was keen to talk to Lisa and ask her some questions about the book and about writing in general.

 

First things first, can you tell us a bit about what happens in the Magnum Equation?

Sure, Cat Enright, who is a twenty-nine-year-old horse trainer just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, steps in when horses and people fall ill at a prestigious horse show. Her unusual supporting cast, which includes a juvenile delinquent, an eccentric client of a certain age with electric blue hair, a teenager with a trust fund, and a (possibly) psychic horse, help Cat solve murder and mayhem after a show-goer’s last hurrah is in the port-a-potty. A major secret is revealed, too, about Cat’s mysterious barn manager, Jon Gardner.

 

lisawWhich character do you find resembles you the most? It wouldn’t be Agnes, would it?!

Oh, no, not Agnes (who is in her seventies and tends to forget that she is no longer a high school cheerleader), However, I love Agnes dearly! It would have to be Cat. In many ways she is a younger version of myself, although she is shorter, thinner, and braver––and has much better hair, even if she doesn’t think so.

 

Where did your inspiration for the string of crimes which occurred in the All-National Horse show come from? They’re pretty unique, you haven’t had prior experience in dealing with horses and people that way… right?!

My goodness, no, I haven’t. And that’s a good thing because Cat is so much bolder and courageous than I am. The idea came from a casual conversation with a veterinarian while he was giving a few horses their annual exams. I did, however, do a lot of research, including taking a detailed tour of the venue where the book is set. I also lowered myself into a large, messy metal bin at night to see what that was like. You’ll have to read the book to understand what that is all about.

 

Do you have any problems with writer’s block during your writing, and if so, please please please tell us your secret for dealing with it?

I do a lot of thinking about the writing before I actually begin putting words down, so I rarely have issues with writers’ block. By the time I begin to write, the words usually flow pretty well. When I do get stuck, all I need to do is step away from my computer for a few minutes and take a short walk or start to clean a stall, and within minutes I am running back to the computer and the world of Cat Enright.

 

Okay, serious questions finished for now; wine or beer; Coke or Pepsi; Tea or Coffee?!

Definitely green tea––and if there is just a splash of fruit juice in it, then I am in heaven.

 

At any point, did you write any part of this story on horseback?

In a way! I actually think about plot points when I am riding. Of course, I have to stay focused when I am on a horse. The horses I ride need that leadership from me. But out on the trail, or cooling out, part of my brain always goes to Cat’s world. There is something about the movement of a horse that stimulates my creativity!

 

How, as a writer, so you stay sane during the more frustrating parts of writing and self-publishing?

Well, I don’t self publish, so I can’t address that. I am so fortunate to have the Cat Enright series published by Cool Titles, as they are extremely innovative and supportive. But I think most authors and publishers have the same difficulties in getting books on the shelves of stores, and in finding readers. That’s why I am so appreciative of a forum such as this, so I can let people know more about Cat and her interesting crew. And, I love reader feedback, either in the form of email (lisainfo@comcast.net) or a review on one of the many online sites.

 

And back to the book – will Cat’s luck in love ever improve somewhat?

Oh, I hope so!

 

Can you tell us anything, anything at all about the next book in the Equation series?

Yes! The Fame Equation is set at Cat’s stable in Ashland City, Tennessee and brings Cat’s crush, Keith Carson, into the story, along with his beautiful, young duet partner. A church and a therapeutic riding program in Kingston Springs, a town just south of Ashland City, also come into play.

 

Finally, how soon until Sally Blue gets her own spin-off series as a psychic equine crime-fighter?!

Interesting that you ask. My publisher and I have been talking about a Hank and Sally book, something written from their viewpoint. As a dog, Hank is more mobile than Sally, and can pick up more information. Of course, it would be up to Sally to process it. And then there are things that Sally just knows, with no rational explanation as to why she knows. She is such a fun character to write! I am excited about the possibility of their own book (or series!), but think we are book or two away from that yet.

 

Thanks Lisa!

And finally, a few facts about this very interesting author. Lisa Wysocky is an author and motivational speaker who trains horses for and consults with therapeutic riding programs. Lisa is a PATH International instructor and has been chosen as one of the country’s Top 50 riding instructors by ARIA. As a speaker, Lisa motivates, and as an equine clinician she helps horses and humans connect in meaningful ways. In addition, her book Front of the Class (co-authored with Brad Cohen) has aired as a Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie. Lisa splits her time between Tennessee and Minnesota.

 

Find her at LisaWysocky.com, twitter.com/LisaWysocky, LisaWysocky.blogspot.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/powerofawhisper.

 

 

 

I’m chuffed to welcome indie author Nicholas A. Rose to Books Are Cool for a friendly interrogation. Nicholas writes fantasy and is two-thirds of the way through his second trilogy. Markan Throne, Markan Empire and Markan Sword make up the first, and Gifted Apprentice is being followed by Gifted Hunter in the second. I discovered Nicholas through the very enjoyable Gifted Apprentice so that’s the starting point for my questions to him.

 

1. Tell us briefly about Gifted Avenger

This novella continues Sallis ti Ath’s story. Sallis is a bounty-hunter with a strong belief in justice. He is also blessed with the Gift, which means he can “see” where a criminal he’s pursuing has passed. But murder sets Sallis on a path of vengeance and he’s forced to challenge his beliefs concerning justice and the Gift.

 

2. Who’s your favorite character?

In the novellas – Sallis ti Ath.

 

nick photo3. Which character is most like you?

In the Markan Empire Trilogy, there is a sylph scout named Neptarik. People who know me and have read these books assure me that he displays a lot of my own character traits. Basking in sunshine and a weakness for chocolate, to give two examples.

 

4. What makes Gifted Avenger stand out from the crowd?

That it is part of a trilogy linked to all the other trilogies that are, or will be, written by me. In many ways, the Gifted Trilogy is a prequel to the Markan Empire Trilogy, but is also completely independent from it.

 

5. Why did you choose to write fantasy, or did it choose you?

Probably because I read so much fantasy as a youngster. I loved being able to escape this world, and wonder what if? I suppose writing fantasy is just a natural progression from that.

 

gifted apprentice6. How did you come up with the cover design?

Joleene Naylor does all my covers. I just give her the rough outline of what I’m looking for and leave the rest up to her. I said I wanted Sallis on Glyder riding through a forest, pretty much what I’ve got. I leave the detail up to Joleene and she often surprises me with what she comes out with.

 

7. What are you working on now? Will it be out soon?

When people contact me about characters, the two they mention most are Sallis ti Ath and the ship’s sylph Cloudy. The next trilogy covers the ship Flying Cloud in her early days, how Cloudy came to be the ship’s sylph and some of her early adventures. I’m halfway through the first draft of The Ship And Her Sylph and finished the plotting and set pieces for the second in the trilogy, The Ship and Her Dolphin.

Fingers crossed, I’m hoping to have these two out in 2014.

I’m also (slowly) working on the next Markan Trilogy, following on from where the first left off. There may also be more Gifted books, if more plots present themselves.

 

8. What are you reading at the moment?

Factual books. The Ship (Landstrom), Seamanship (Harland), and The Age of the Galley (many contributors, published by Conway’s).

All dry stuff, all bought for research, but also fascinating (to me).

 

9. Do you write every day? Is it hard to find the time?

Every day, though I sometimes miss the odd day here and there. It can be hard to find the time, but more a matter of self-discipline and sacrificing other things I perhaps ought to be doing. One must keep the creative thoughts flowing!

 

10. What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Keep going, never give up. Learn from your mistakes. OK, that’s two.

 

11. What ereading device do you have? And why did you choose that one?

The ubiquitous Kindle. I bought that one because it was the only one available in the UK at the time. I also have an ipad.

 

12. Do you dress up or dress down to write? Or maybe you don’t dress at all?

I write in whatever I’m wearing at the time. Though I always am wearing something at the time. Jeans and t-shirt usually and often barefoot.

 

13. Where can we find your website? And other social media?

My website is at: http://www.ilvenworld.com/

My blog: http://ilvenworld.blogspot.com

On Twitter I’m Nicholas A. Rose

And I’m nickandyrose on Facebook

 

14. Anything else we need to know about you?

Happiest outdoors, where I’m free to think. Love mountains, the sea, good company and real ale.

 

15. Your favorite “knock knock” joke?

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Me.

Me who?

Seriously, me, I’m just telling a knock-knock joke!

 

chriscarrolliParanormal novels come in many shapes and forms. At one time they seemed to all be about vampires who found it hard to keep their clothes on, but the genre is maturing and diversifying now. There is still the chick lit/erotica escapist end of it, and always will be, but there is a deeper, darker, thought-provoking side too. It’s in this range of the spectrum that you’ll find Chris Carrolli’s books.

Chris has written two outstanding paranormal novels in his Paranormal Invesigator series. I reviewed the first of these, Pipeline, on this site a couple of months ago. I loved it. And The Listener is every bit of good. I’ll share my review of it in a moment, but first we need to hear from Chris. I talked to him about his writing.

Tell us briefly about Pipeline and The Listener.

Pipeline is the story of Tracy Kimball, a young nurse who survived a car accident that killed her fiancée. Now, she’s plagued by a series of paranormal incidents concerning him. She seeks out a team of paranormal investigators, who discover some surprising things about the nature of his ghostly contact. The story deals with a non-fictional paranormal phenomenon known to ghost hunters as “The Pipeline effect.” It is the term used for ghostly communication through means of technology.

The Listener begins where Pipeline ended. It doesn’t continue the story of Tracy Kimball, but the investigators, who have now taken center stage. An incident in Pipeline occurs that leads to the events in The Listener. In this book, I explore a form of telepathy known as clairaudience, or listening and speaking with the dead, as well as remote hearing.

 

What’s the story behind the stories? Why did you write the books?

Well, after a few strange occurrences in my own life and being fascinated with the “Pipeline effect,” the idea of Pipeline formed in my head. As I started writing it, I assumed it would be a short story, but after introducing my investigators, I realized I had a short novel on my hands. The Listener started off as what happened next, and I decided to write about another paranormal aspect that I was fascinated with, clairaudience.

 

pipelineWhat do you enjoy most about writing about the paranormal? Do you ever scare yourself?

There are unlimited aspects of paranormal to write about. It’s not hard to see why it’s a new and upcoming genre since so many of those aspects have rarely been written about or pondered before. What was once Taboo is now being written about freely, and I’m glad to be a part of that.

Yes, I have scared myself already writing the third book in the series, which makes me excited about it.

 

Which of the characters you’ve created are you most like?

Actually, I’ve given each of my characters some trait that belongs to me, whether it’s a candy bar addiction or having seen a ghost. So, they all have some aspect of me that I’ve incorporated. I doubt I could pick one.

 

Did you design your covers yourself? What was your aim in the designs?

No, not exactly. We as authors are encouraged to choose a photo that best represents our story and to mention any ideas that we have. I’ve been fortunate enough to find two pictures that really hit home. I mention things like colors or certain small details. But, the end result of my covers is the brilliant work of Melange Books’ Cover Artist, Caroline Andrus. She has an amazing history of excellent covers.

 

When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

I was a teenager. I knew after reading my idols, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Sidney Sheldon and many others.

 

What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Always remember to market your work. Look for publishers, agents, magazines, etc, that are requesting the genre or idea that you’ve written about. Don’t think there aren’t any; there are. And if you can’t find them in the Writer’s Handbook, you can find them on the internet.

 

listenerWhat books are you reading at the moment?

Right now, I’m reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. I’d read it some years ago, but it’s such a great work of true crime by Capote that I decided to pick it up again, especially after learning that it is the most rated book on Goodreads.

 

What books are you writing?

I’m wrapping up the third book in the Paranormal Investigator, titled, The Third Eye of Leah Leeds. In this book, paranormal investigator, Leah Leeds, returns to Cedar Manor to confront the memories that continue to haunt her many years later. It looks like a 2013 release, but I’m not sure what month yet.

 

How do you keep sane as an indie author?

I just stay writing as much as possible. There is more work involved as an Indie author because you alone are promoting your book. So, there is a great deal of extra time involved, but it’s all for the better.

 

Do you have any writing rituals?

I try not to keep rituals by the hour, since anything can happen. But, I write in the day, and then I write at night also.

 

And finally, anything else our readers need to know about you?

My readers are always free to share with me their personal paranormal experiences whether though facebook or my email that’s listed in the book. I am always interested in hearing about those experiences. It doesn’t mean I’ll use them, but hearing them helps me to know what people can and cannot relate to, what they think is real, and what they think is over the top.

My review

Here’s what I thought of The Listener.

The Listener by Chris Carrolli is the second in his Paranormal Investigator Series, following on from Pipeline. Sidney Pratt, a member of the investigating team, is found unconscious and taken to hospital. While he undergoes surgery he enters the realm of ‘white light’ and he travels into his subconscious and his past, revisiting some of his long dead relatives. He hears the voice of boy that had been buried within his memories. He needs to remember what he was told as this is the key to the team’s next mystery.  There is a kidnapping to solve and the menacing Roman to deal with, but he turns out to have a strong tie to the team which is going to complicate matters as they battle with the case.

All the characters develop further from the first story but if you’re meeting them for the first time, you can quickly get under their skins. You understand why they do what they do. Like Pipeline, this is an extremely exciting and well written book. The plot is intricate and ingenious. There’s tension, mystery and moments of horror. You quickly get drawn into the action and have to keep reading until you reach the unexpected ending. It’s not always a comfortable read as Carrolli doesn’t hesitate to shock us but he’s a master of entertainment and has us under his spell from the first word. Every bit as good as its predecessor, The Listener confirms that this series will be a truly breathtaking one.

 

girl clour lindaThe Girl Who Could Change Colour is the first in a super new series of YA paranormal fiction from exciting author Linda Dent Mitchell. Our heroine is teenager Lizzarda Lexx who is headstrong yet also very vulnerable, having been orphaned young and then sent into a string of homes and foster care. She’s a tough cookie but not as impervious to her own and other people’s feelings as she tries to make out.

She finds herself in the small town of Little-Riddell with the Swallow family in their aptly named house, Swallow’s Rest. Sally Swallow is a wonderful foster-mother, kind, understanding and patient. She already has two foster-children under her wing, Lulu and Nathan, the latter who doesn’t take to Lizzarda and has a few problems of his own.

Little-Riddell is dead boring as far as Lizzarda’s concerned, so when a group of ‘undesirables’ start appearing regularly in the park, they become a focus of her attention. At least they’re exciting. However, Lizzarda soon finds she’s out of her depth but fortunately her strange, new ability comes into play just in time. Linda can change colour to blend into her surroundings. However, this ability also causes problems, not least of which is to make her feel as though she’ll never fit in.

How will she cope with her uniqueness? Will she use it for good or sinister reasons? And what do other people really think of her? This novella, that touches on difficult issues such as fostering and underage drinking, sensitively explores this unusual teenager’s psyche and introduces us to a very complex yet likeable character. I look forward to her future adventures as there’s a lot more to Lizzarda than meets the eye.

Only a very interesting author could come up with such an interesting story, so I had to find out more about Linda. I asked her some questions about this book, her writing and herself.

Linda_MitchellWhat inspired you to write The Girl Who Could Change Colour?

I was inspired to write The Girl Who Could Change Colour because I was interested in how a troubled teenage girl might overcome her problems. As the story unfolds Lizzarda discovers how her ‘amazing powers’ can not only be used to her advantage, but also the advantage of others. The combination of these things, and the events which take place in the subsequent books change the way Lizzarda values herself and other people.

Was it an easy story to write? After all, you deal with some quite tough issues such as foster care and underage drinking.

I don’t think any story is easy to write – not for me anyway. The death of Lizzarda’s  parents, foster care and the underage drinking are issues that she struggles with. In time, her ‘amazing powers’, and the people she grows to trust help her to deal with these issues.

Did you design the cover yourself?

The book cover was a collaborative creation. I’m from an art background. I trained in textile design and worked in a design studio for thirteen years. I also taught art and design in schools having gained a BA, MA and a PhD. I work with a digital designer called Jacqueline Abromeit. I send her my ideas for the covers, she interprets them, sends them back, then we finalise the details. This is the fourth book cover she’s done for me and she gets it right every time!

Which character from the book are you most like? Lizzarda? Mrs Swallow? Hopefully not one of the Hoodies!?

I’m probably most like Lizzarda in that I have her independent streak. I looked similar to her when I was younger (but I didn’t have body piercings and multi-coloured hair. I’m from a different generation and those things weren’t as accepted as they are now).  That’s where the similarity ends because (fortunately) I came from a happy loving family and didn’t leave home until I was twenty five.

Who’s your favorite character and why?

As well as Lizzarda, I’m quite fond of Lulu Lang. She’s so bubbly, happy and friendly. Unlike Lizzarda she’s grateful for her new home at Swallows’ Rest – and for the care her new foster parents are giving her.

What are you working on now? Will it be out soon?

I’m working on a few things: The second book in the Lizzarda trilogy, and the third book in my Oribliss castle series for 9-12 year olds. I’m working towards these two books being published this year. As I’m a very creative person, I have lots of notebooks on the go and other titles ‘in progress’.

Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?

I read all sorts of things. As well as children’s books I read lots adult books. I love mystery, suspense, fantasy, paranormal and murder mysteries. I also like ‘tongue in cheek’ humour. I love my new Kindle Fire! I think it’s a brilliant invention. It’s opened up a new world for readers and writers and I download lots of sample chapters to see what books are like. I generally have a few books on the go, then dependent on my mood I can switch from one to the other. I love to give new authors a try. I recently saw an ad in a national newspaper, a book for teens called Fugitive by Louise Miles, so I downloaded a sample, decided I liked it and bought it.

When did you first realise you wanted to be an author?

I never decided that I wanted to be an author. It sort of ‘came upon me’. My art and design background and my educational studies led me to it. I used to get lots of inspiration for my painting and drawing from literary themes, and then a few years ago I suddenly started writing. My biography is on my website www.ldmitchell.com which gives more details about myself and my books.

What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors, adults or children?

If I was to give advice to self published authors it would be similar to that given to me by my PhD supervisors: KEEP GOING. A true professional never gives up. Don’t cut corners! You need a good book cover, a good story, and a punchy website – and the work MUST be professionally edited and proof-read. Use social networking sites, respond to emails and interview requests, advertise in your local area. You need to be visible – if you’re not no one will know your work exists. The hardest part is marketing your work independently, this is one of the disadvantages of self-publishing. I’d also keep trying to get a mainstream publisher, but if you’re lucky someone might find you.

OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are the three favorite things in your wardrobe?

zebraNow that’s a hard one! My wardrobe is overloaded (so is my jewellery box) as I’m a bit of a hoarder. So I’ll say what my favourites are at the moment: The first is my all-in-one that I wear in the evenings. It’s a zebra with a hood and pink ears (no – it doesn’t have a tail) You may smile, but with all this extremely cold weather, and living in a two-hundred-year-old cottage with fluctuating heating, it’s a garment that I look forward to wearing. The second are a pair of black leather shoes that a bought from Dune. There’s something very witchy about them. They’re very plain, with a tiny heel, laces, and a little pointed toe. I’m struggling on my third…but I do like my green tourmaline and diamond ring…

What food can’t you resist?

Easy – a cool glass of wine at the end of the day. White or rose are my favourites. I also like chocolate. I’m veggie so I like fresh fruit, salads, pasta and rice dishes.

Describe your perfect day out

This is another one that’s easy for me to answer. I love a day out by myself – no Kindle – no telephones. I like market towns and cultural cities. I enjoy wandering round streets, window shopping and going for lunch. My daughter lives in Leeds so I love to meet up with her. We always have a restaurant booked in advance – and because I don’t drive on those days I can have a glass of wine…or two!

 

I recently worked with Don Rush on his delightful and very unusual children’s books which wife Cathy has been involved with too. Robby’s Quest for Seed and Robby’s Quest: Ocean Bound are about a group of courageous birds. We have Robins, Sparrows, Mourning Doves and a Blackbird making up a small loyal flock who find themselves facing very big adventures for such little birds. They face long journeys, nasty cats, lost children and natural disasters. But this tight-knit band of feathery friends overcomes adversity through sticking together and using their ingenuity. Kids will learn a little about birds without realising as they read these lovely adventures.

I talked to Don about his stories.

robbyquestTell us briefly about Robby’s Quest for Seed and Robby’s Quest: Ocean Bound

Robby’s Quest for Seed is a story about a close-knit group of birds that decide to migrate south from Ohio for the winter. Everyone in the group has a role; Robby is the leader and Benny makes sure none of the little birds fall out of the formation. They are diligent about performing their responsibilities. The birds vote on most of the important issues they must decide.  During the trip, Joy is lost and nearly becomes lunch for a cat names Hershey. Ultimately, the searchers save her. Later when the birds arrive in Florida, they find that a hurricane has destroyed the entire area. The birds get some advice from a Dalmatian and they head west. After some drama on the way, they finally arrive in Arizona, safe and sound. Ricky steps up his role and becomes a leader.

Robby’s Quest: Ocean Bound is about the same flock with a couple additions, Ruby and Josie. Ruby is Ricky’s new girlfriend and Josie is Joy’s new best friend. This time Ruby suggests the flock fly to San Diego because the Arizona summer is too hot. Again, they have their roles and a specific formation. They arrive in San Diego and split up to investigate their new home. Ricky and Ruby fly to Coronado Island, the Doves fly to the pier and Jay and Josie fly to the beach. Later Joy and Josie fly out to a cruise ship where they fall asleep and end up lost at sea. They get some help from Wanda the Whale and eventually are found in Mexico.

What’s the story behind these stories? Why did you write these books?

I tried a couple times writing books about management styles but the words escaped me. I’m medically retired and on disability. I had too much time on my hands. My wife and I would sit outside in Arizona and watch the birds. We put up a birdfeeder and the little birds would kick the food to the ground so the bigger birds could eat. The other birds would sit on the block wall and patiently wait their turns. We really enjoyed watching them and one day decided to write a story. We finished the first book the day Riley, our grandson in Minnesota, was born.

Were they easy stories to write?

Once we began writing the books things went fairly well. My wife and I would kick around ideas about the birds and what they might do on a trip like this. Once the characters had a personality it seemed to go pretty well. We tried to come up scenarios that a child would enjoy reading about. We modeled the birds and the other characters in the book from people and household pets. We had a blast writing the books.  I published the first story on Amazon KDP. Several people suggested they wanted a paperback so I self-published on Createspace. We learned some hard lessons like don’t ever publish a book until you are ready. I’m not a patient person and that’s probably why I have health issues. I wanted to publish the books to leave something behind for our kids and their kids. After getting some help from yourself editing these books and building new covers we re-published a nicer looking product than previously.

robbyoceanWhich character are you most like? Robby? Benny? Naughty Joy? Hershey the cat?

I’m more like Robby because I always liked being the manager or leader.  and our daughter in her younger years was like Joy, high-maintenance. Benny was created after my real brother Benny, somewhat grumpy but actually friendly once you get to know him. The cats Hershey and Nomi are our household pets. Hershey actually is a big, fast and strong cat with a mischievous streak. The Dalmatian Sammy was my daughter’s favorite pet.

The covers are fun. Tell us about them.

I was looking for an illustrator on the internet and found Kaui on Craigslist. She actually only lives about an hour from me so I liked the idea of having a local do the drawings. Kaui made some sketches and we agreed on the appearance. She came up with the idea of the U.S. map in the background with Robby and the others on the cover. We were talking about a picture with the maple tree and bird feeder but this cover seemed appropriate. The illustration was actually the front cover of the first book until I learned how to make a cover. Then I inserted the illustration in the cover so it looked more professional. I really liked the covers especially the watermark on the back cover. Our thought is to have a different color cover on every book we publish.

What are you working on now? Will it be out soon?

We are writing Robby’s Quest: Return of the Cat. Hershey and his family decided to move to Nevada. At the same time, the birds are traveling to Las Vegas for a few days. At Lake Mead near Vegas, they run into Hershey once again. After they escape (a near miss once again) the birds fly to Vegas and meet a Pink Flamingo named Penelope or Penny for short. Joy wants to see the world and Penny tells the birds where to see the sights like the Eiffel Tower, pyramids of Egypt, skyline of New York with the Statue of Liberty, all right down the street. Joy is excited to be able to visit all these wonders of the world all in one town.

We are not doing very well marketing tour books and with the illustrator, book reviews, editing, promotions, the cost is making publishing the third book more difficult. I’m trying for spring 2013. I already have a sketch for the third cover from another artist. I think she captures the Lake Mead scene very well.

Why do you think there are so few books with birds as their characters?

I’m not really sure. I never paid much attention to birds until I had the time to admire them. I’m hoping to change that if I can get our product in front of the kids.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

I don’t think I’m an author just yet. To me an author is someone that can write a novel. I like Stephen King and I really liked the style of Capotes “In Cold Blood”. I can see myself writing crime novels someday. I love CSI, Criminal Minds and other similar shows. I think my books are mainly just short stories for children. Personally, I think my vocabulary is somewhat limited. Even though I took three semesters of English in college, I still struggle with my words. Over the years, I thought about writing a story but never felt I had the ability. I wanted to prove myself wrong. If nothing else, I managed to publish something and I’m proud of that effort.

What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

I think self-publishing is the way to go. I hate the thought of sending my work to a publisher. These people live in their own little worlds. They are unresponsive and generally difficult people to get in with. A publisher won’t read your work without submission from a literary agent and literary agents won’t even call you back.

OK, I’m stepping off my soapbox. The new author should make sure their product is ready, edited properly and looks appealing. Then get the social media thing going like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Goodreads, etc. Building a website is critical. The website serves as the hub to everything. Once you have the hub you can direct traffic to it and the reader can learn where to buy the books or what you are working on, all at one site.

OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favorite bloke’s gadgets and why?

I like my cell phone, especially since I learned how to send texts and pictures. I’m like a kid in the candy store.

rushpicI’ve always been partial to computers. Cathy and I use to build computers back in the day. We ran a bulletin board from our computer called the Dawg Pound where people could call into our computer, leave messages to each other, play games or download files. We learned a lot about computers as a result. We had three phone lines and would take 50 to 100 calls a day. This was all before the internet. We just bought a new computer with Windows 8. I hate learning new software!

We love our car. We bought a 2012 Chrysler 200 and it’s awesome.

Can’t forget our pets. Hershey crawls up on my lap and lies across my chest. He is a cool cat.

What food can’t you resist? Probably not seed I imagine!

I like popcorn and that starts as a seed! I really like shredded beef tacos and steak with hashbrowns. I am a diabetic so I have to watch what I eat. I love pie and cake but don’t touch them anymore.

Please describe your perfect day away from writing.

I enjoy taking day trips and driving to San Diego for a couple days is my favorite. I love the area. I use to live there back in the early 80’s. I certainly couldn’t afford to live there anymore but I love the ocean. Coronado Island is probably my favorite stretch of beach in the world. I can watch the ocean for hours and forget everything going on in my life at the time. We use to enjoy driving to Laughlin, Nevada to spend a day or two but gambling just isn’t much fun anymore. It’s very difficult to win anything.

And finally, anything else our readers need to know about you?

I never expected to make a million writing and selling our books. I would be happy if we could cover expenses. I really enjoy doing this and it fills my day. I told my wife that even if we won the lottery I would still write and market these books because it’s been so much fun and I feel good about leaving something for the kids. Our books can stay on the market forever and hopefully our children and their children will keep these titles up and running.

Where to find Don, Cathy and their books:

His website is here.

 

Here’s his Smashwords page.

Twitter: @dcrushbooks

And you can buy Robby’s Quest for Seed here:

And Ocean Bound here:

It’s party time! Today Karie Hendon is celebrating the launch of her historical romance Keeper of my Heart. Set in the kindgom of Greenwood, Josian, the village seamstress, has caught King Tobias’s eye. After a few months of visiting her for unnecessary clothing repairs and alterations, he comes clean and tells her he wants to hand fast with her – become engaged. Naturally he thinks Josian will be thrilled to be his chosen one, but she isn’t that impressed. She’s a strong-willed young woman and doesn’t take to being told what to do, even by her king. Tobias’s Captain of the Guard, Avery, warns Tobias he’s got his hands full taking on Josian.

And he has. Josian hangs on to her independence when she first moves into the castle. She finds a wonderful friend in her Lady in Waiting Cecily, but she also makes some enemies. Josian is in for a hard time but luckily she has Tobias to watch out for her. Gradually she learns to see beyond his apparent arrogance but he still might not be enough to keep her safe…

This is a thoughtfully and beautifully written story with an amazing amount of attention to detail and light, humorous touches here and there. There is so much going on in the story. We meet Josian’s family and face their hardships, we quickly dislike Josian’s seamstress rival, Elizabeth, and we find out the truth about Andrew la Barre, Tobias’ uncle. The plot never lets up, but there are moments of tenderness and reflection amongst all the action. Karie is a very clever writer and keeps her readers thoroughly charmed and entertained.

I also happen to know she’s a really lovely person and I asked her a few questions. She was kind enough to find time to answer them, in the middle of launching her new book and just after coming home from honeymoon. She’s one energetic author!

Here’s the link to Keeper of my Heart on Amazon.

And now, let’s hear from Karie.

What inspired you to write Keeper of my Heart?

I love romance, and history. So I thought why not combine the two? I will say paranormal romance is my favorite genre, I wanted something different, but still had the swoon worthy male character. What can be more swoony worthy, but a strong and handsome, and I have to say cocky, king?

Which character from the book are you most like – Josian? Tobias? Cecily? I hope not Elizabeth!

*laughing* No, definitely not Elizabeth. I think I have a good mixture of Josian and Tobias. I share the temper with Tobias and the willingness to help and care for others, like Josian. However they are both stubborn, and I completely share that trait as well!

The Keeper of my Heart has a great cover. How did you come up with that design?

Oh my cover! One of my fave things about my book. I knew I wanted a picture of a girl that matched Josian’s description. I also knew I wanted her to stand in front of the castle, but everything else was done by my wonderful designer and fellow author Stephanie Nelson.

Would you like to have lived in the period your historic novel is set in? Which modern convenience do  you think you’d have missed the most?

I think I might have liked the 16th century. There were certain things that were being discovered and being tested. For instance, I have a stethoscope in my book. In that time, only specific physicians had them. I think it would be exciting to be around when those kinds of things happened. The modern convenience, would definitely be air conditioning. I do not like to be hot.

Which of your personal qualities help you as an author? Which ones don’t help?

I think my emotions are the answer to both of the questions. I can have a bad day at work, and come home in a bad mood and start to write, and it will either help or hinder me. You can imagine how hard it can be to write a celebratory scene when you’re angry.

What are you writing now?

Right now I am working on two separate projects. I am working on the sequel to Keeper of my Heart, but I am also working on a new book, that I hope will be the start of a new series. This one will be paranormal romance. I have put a different twist on some familiar things. I’m really excited about both of them.

Are book reviews important to authors, in your opinion?

Oh my gosh, yes! Book reviews are so important, not only for us new authors but also for the ones that have been around for forever. Before I started really writing, I would do reviews for the books I’ve read. At the time, it was more because if it was able to hold my attention (by the way, can be very hard to do) then I want to let people know. But now seeing how it can affect the author, I’m even more for it. It helps the readers know not only the majority opinions of the book, but it helps support the author. A lot of people base reviews off of whether they are going to purchase that particular book, which in turn helps the sales for that author. If it’s a new author, it helps get their name out there, so others will get the chance to read what the writer has put their heart and soul into.

Do you have any strange or quirky writing habits?

Well I do have habits. I will not write unless I’m in my pajamas. Lol. I want to be in my most comfortable state, physically. Anytime I sit down to write, I turn on one specific song. Every time this song comes on, it’s like my brain says, “ok, let’s do this” and I just take off. Then, if I feel like I need to write more, and things are slowing down. I go back and turn that song on again. Lol. I don’t know how it works, but it does. I cannot write on a desktop  computer. If I don’t have access to a laptop at the time, I use a specific spiral, that I have set aside for my writing. I need to be able to move around. I may start off writing in the living room, and end up in my bedroom.

When did you first realise you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?

When I was 16. I always enjoyed writing. My teachers would always tell me how good my writing was, so that helped. Then one day, in my English class, we had an assignment to write a poem. Now to this day I have no idea what this poem was about. Lol. So I did the assignment and turned it in, and the next day, my teacher asked me if she could publish it in our school newspaper. That’s when I knew.

What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

My advice, is don’t let anyone stray you from what you want to do. Write what you feel, and don’t let anyone try to change that. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I was lucky enough to be blessed to meet four wonderful women. From the beginning, they have been more than willing to help me with anything. I am so grateful for them!

OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favourite foods?

Hmm, I’ll be honest I love food. So this question is a little hard for me. Lol. I do love Cajun food. Anytime I go visit my parents, I beg my dad to cook. He makes a mean jambalaya. I love ice cream of course. I LOVE Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked! Sushi. Lord have mercy, I love sushi! Lol.

And finally, what would you not be seen dead wearing?!

I would NOT be seen wearing plaid pants! Yuck! Even when they were in style, I still thought they were awful! Lol.


I’m delighted to welcome Jeno Marz to my blog today. Jeno has recently self-published her first book Falaha’s Journey: Descent, which is book one of a sci-fi trilogy. It has a very unusual heroine – a five-year-old alien girl, Falaha. Here’s what one reviewer on Amazon has said about the book: This is not for the kiddies. The main character is smart and interesting and gives the bad guys a run for their money. Even though the main characer precocious, she still has moments of being a child, which adds to the believability. I loved the twists and turns of the plot and the relationships between the characters. If you like “Ender’s Game” then give this one a try.

I totally agree; it’s an excellent book.

Now, over to my interview with Jeno.

Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Stephanie.

1.    What inspired you to write Falaha’s Journey: Descent?

This tiny story has quite a huge story behind it. I’ve been writing fiction since high school. The universe Falaha’s Journey is set in was “officially” born in summer 2001, right after I graduated from high school. I was an avid reader as a teenager (adult books, of course) and this was when I decided to write a novel. (I mean, everyone’s doing it, right?) The invented world had a lot of transformations since then – the biggest was its genre: from Fantasy to Science Fiction (education does impact how you see things and this was when I died as a Fantasy reader.)

So, for 10 years I’ve been trying to write a novel. I was also studying in the University and working full time during that time until I graduated, and continued to work full time until autumn 2008. The progress was very slow. But even during the hardest times I never abandoned the work on the novel, even if it was one word before I fell asleep. Sleep deprivation was my usual state of mind.

After I quit my job, becoming a full time freeloader (occasionally doing some ‘serious’ and ‘respected’ work for cash) and marrying the guy I’ve been ‘dating’ since kindergarten (sounds familiar?), I reworked everything I’ve created, so instead of one novel, there are now two in progress (I will tell about them later). But something didn’t add up in these two books. By this time the Danna already thrived in my head. Yet something was missing.

And then, one day somewhere in November 2011, I was reading a book about aliens (Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials by Michael A.G. Michaud.) And for some reason I though what if an alien kid sent us a message in reply to something she had received? And what if that kid is freely allowed to do it and has access to high tech? And what would that message be?

That’s how a character named Falaha was born. She was the one who would send us humans a message, and our world would never be the same again (in good way or bad way, who knows – might be devastating consequences.) Kind of makes her a villain.

I published that little story on my old blog and forgot about it… For two months. (You can still read it  on my new website, I’ve kept that pilot relic.) Then I noticed such thing as blog serials. I discussed this with my good friend, and we decided to do a blog series – I write, she checks my English to make it human-readible. I’m not a native English speaker, and my grammar was really not so good and still isn’t. She said my writing has improved a lot in the half a year. Episode One came out at the end of January 2012, and the last episode (Baro’s Bane) came out in July 2012. (This is what a revised and edited Descent is now, 34 episodes. And it is the reason it is and the novellas will remain being told in “episodes”.)

No outline, no character sketches, nothing. In January I had a 5-year-old girl, some extensive worldbuilding for my novels, and a nameless spacecraft. And it just happened on its own.

Thanks to this story I’ve learned two things about myself and my writing method: I’m a pantser, detailed outlining was killing my stories for years; awesome things happen when a writer drops a character into a situation and lets her figure it out, logically and emotionally – you just have to listen to her voice and write.

2.    How is your book different from the sci-fi that’s already out there?

First, there are no humans in it. They exist (and the Danna know about them), because the story takes place in the Milky Way some 3600 Earth years into the future from now, but they are not the part of this thing at all. The Earth is not the center of the Universe.

Second, it’s a girl’s story. It’s a girl’s journey on many levels to become a strong woman. Not a butt-kicking, gun-wielding sort, but a strong, accomplished person, a competent leader with a head and a heart. It’s a journey which starts in the early childhood. Everyone is welcome to read it, but I think it will be more appealing to women (a sci-fi for women, which is not a romance, though romantic notions present, or a space fantasy; it has an extra dimension if you get all the scientific and logical clues!) It’s a seemingly simple story, but it has layers. Many things were unintentional, it was a free-write after all; but even now when I think about it, I find more and more hidden themes there. Ok, I’m not that much of a philosopher. 😀

One notable thing that my husband pointed out was the scene with a ‘safe journey’ sign in episode 31:

Personal matters settled, I gave Eyuran the list of requested parts and materials.

“The bloodless guy is all yours,” I said and sprouted my helmet on. Eyuran did the same.

“Be careful.” He raised his hand, palm open towards me in the ‘safe journey’ sign as I walked away.

Then he shows me this and says, is this it? I’m like “Well, yes… Wow, for real!” And then we laughed that if the Danna ever found that plaque, from this picture they would think the Earth wished them a ‘safe journey’. Thanks, humans, what a nice ‘card’. Have fun staying on your rock.

3.    Falaha’s Journey: Descent has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?

Yes. I have experience in graphic design and illustration, so I wouldn’t let anyone design my own covers. I always wanted to design a book series. Now I had my chance! But I’m saving the prettiest cover I drew for the complete trilogy set. It has a stubborn redhead on it.

4.    Which character from the book are you most like? Falaha? Eyuran? Baro?

Every character I’ve ever written has something from me since they are the products of my mind. But I tend to resemble my male characters more, maybe because I love writing male characters. Falaha is an exception, since I’m writing her in the first person.

5.    Once you’ve finished the Falaha’s Journey trilogy, what’s next?

I’m going to finish the novels, a two-book series. Each of these is quite big, epic size.

The first one is called Rjg. It tells a story of the war between the two dominating species on Dannan (Falaha’s homeworld), that took place long ago, the story of the emergence of the powerful civilization, and feature Falaha’s most prominent ancestors as protagonists. Can be read as a stand-alone novel.

The second one has no name yet, but it tells the story of THE Ancestor, who is present here as the MC and the protagonist; the large conflict, foreshadowed in Falaha’s Journey, and the reaction event chain triggered by Falaha’s actions in the trilogy will be examined in more detail and resolved in this book. I’m sure the readers will meet Falaha and her family here as well, but as the supporting/episodic cast.

After that I will write something else. I will think about it when I finish these two.

6.    Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?

I’ve finished reading Courtship Rite by Donald Kingsbury, a really interesting science fiction tale. And I’ve briefly swept through my dose of fiction I had downloaded for free on Amazon, so I’m waiting for the two new paperback books I ordered this week to arrive. These are Thin Air: Encounters in the Himalaya by Greg Child and The Death Zone: Climbing Everest Through the Killer Storm by Matt Dickinson. I’m really into this stuff.

7.    When did you first realise you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?

As a tiny shrimp of a kid. No, seriously. Leaving aside my desire to be an astronaut and a rock climber at the age four, for me it was always a very serious thing, to write stories. My first alien race (I think it was alien, I don’t really remember what they were) I wrote stories about was designed at the age of three and a half. They were mostly picture stories, but I already could write at that age. But then I was distracted by real life, growing up and all. I came to full realization in high school.

8.    What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Write. Write as your life depends on it and get better. Never quit. I doubt there is anything else to consider. You grow when you practice all the time.

9.    What’s the one best thing and the one worst thing about self-publishing, in your experience?

The best thing is the total control of the process; the worst thing is that the promotion might get expensive, especially if you are from a non-English-speaking country and have to rely on internet only. Very exhausting and time-consuming as well.

10.    OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favourite foods?

Tempura or battered butterfly shrimps with dark soy sauce; chicken cutlets (personal recipe); homemade Olivier salad (family recipe). I love to cook for special occasions; my hub is a self-proclaimed kitchen god and cooks every day; the cat approves.

I have enough pictures of me like this to write a book series titled Fifty Shades of Meat.

11.    What would you not be seen dead wearing?

Skirts. They are the abomination of women’s wear. Utterly uncomfortable. While I admit there are pretty ones and many women look good in them – I have some in my wardrobe, of course – but nope. Over my dead body.

12.    And finally, please describe your perfect day away from the computer and writing!

That would be any day away from writing AND reading, but not necessarily away from the computer.

Plan A) would be sleeping, especially on rainy days. Snoring the hell out of this house and the whole neighborhood!

But it never happens as I plan it – I wake up in the middle of the night to write a few sentences into the notepad in my phone; I write every day, even if these are a few sentences or paragraphs, if not on the computer, then on my phone or paper notepad.

Plan B) would be doing things with my husband. I’m a geek, but I need breaks from it sometimes. Occasional outdoor sports/tours are good, games, both computer and tabletop, are good, team cooking, team anything is good. In winters we have to clean our yard from all the snow, so the day can be perfectly spent on a snowball fight and fortress building.

I’m also an avid watcher of anime and a reader of manga. I can spend the whole day watching/reading something alone or with my hub and the cat.

Plan C) would be nature stuff: taking pictures somewhere in the woods, exploring old castles’ ruins, going to the beach to take some more pictures…

Plan D) Well, this is not really a plan; it is when relatives remember you exist. The day can be anything, but it is perfectly wasted from a writer’s perspective.

Plan E) I receive a call starting with “My computer isn’t booting…” or something. Occasionally I want to reply “Yes, this is cat speaking” but then I remember I’m getting seriously paid here. The greedy “I’m finally going to buy me a…” switches on. Writer? She’s absent today.

I’ve just read Chrissie’s first novel, Living Sensitive, and I loved it. I enjoy paranormal romance and this is a particularly original and fun book of this genre. And great news! There are more books to come in this series.

Here’s my ‘official’ review:

Delia Rhodes is a feisty and fascinating heroine who shares her flat with a ghost. She works at a waitress at Katzenjammer’s bar (German for hangover!) alongside humans, pixies, vampires and hybrids. She’s fun, strong and sensitive. A sensitive, in fact. She can sense people’s emotions and from touching, relive experiences they have gone through, a gift which she doesn’t always appreciate but others do. She also does a little shapeshifting on the side. From being single for a long while, suddenly two men enter her life – Seamus, long-time friend and sexy Irish vampire-human hybrid, and Draven, another drop-dead gorgeous hybrid, new employee at Katz. Delia now finds herself torn between two lovers who between them drag her into a dangerous situation. Draven has chosen to fight in the Cage as a sort of ritual and suddenly Delia finds she is forced to fight for her life. And how does this tie in with pixie kidnapping?

This book by an exciting young author is an interesting and entertaining take on the paranormal romance theme. Pixies certainly don’t crop up very often in this genre. The dialogue is modern and spirited, the characters are complex and credible and the settings and situations are intriguing and well thought out. It’s not just surface entertainment. The issues of loyalty and trust are strong subthemes. Good versus evil and tolerance versus discrimination are explored. There are a few sinister hints in little things like the way everyone is categorised at birth, with some sort of secret system reserved for vampires. And the characters face death. There is darkness to match the lightness of this novel. It’s a great read and an impressive start to a series. I thoroughly recommend it.

And now let’s meet Chrissie. She’s a busy mum and determined perfectionist, as you’ll see.

I asked her rather a lot questions about Living Sensitive, writing and herself and she was kind enough to take the time to answer them all.  Thanks Chrissie!

 1.      What inspired you to write Living Sensitive?
The idea for the story has been stuck in my head for awhile now. It’s actually based off of a dream I had a few years ago.

 2.      Which character from the book are you most like – Delia, Eli, Seamus or Jocelyn?
I think I’m most like Delia. We both have a pretty sassy attitude. I enjoy writing her and Eli the most.

3.      Living Sensitive has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?
Thank you. Yes, I designed it. I bought the background and tweaked it in Photoshop.

4.      Would you like to have supernatural powers? And if so, which ones?
I would love to have supernatural powers! I think I would want to be a vampire-human hybrid. I’d have super strength, speed and hearing but I wouldn’t have to give up the sun or coffee!

5.      Which of your personal qualities help you as an author? Which ones don’t help?
I have a lot of determination. Once I set my mind on something, I have to see it though. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, which helps and hinders my writing. I have deleted entire chapters before, multiple times because I wasn’t satisfied with how they turned out. The thing that helps the least is that I’m easily distracted. You might say I have the attention span of a squirrel. That makes it very difficult to write sometimes.

6.      You have two daughters. Is it easy finding time to write on top of being a Mom?
My girls definitely demand attention. They decide how I spend my days. I usually wait until they’re in bed before I sit down to write. I’m a night owl anyway so writing all night, in to the early morning, is pretty normal for me.

7.      What are you writing now?
Right now I am writing the second book in the Delia Rhodes series. She has a lot going on in the next book. I’m having a lot of fun writing it.

8.      Are book reviews important to authors, in your opinion?
I think they are very important. Unfortunately, they aren’t that easy to get. In my opinion, reviews can make or break your book. People are less likely to give your writing a chance if you have bad reviews, or no reviews at all.

9.      Do you have any strange or quirky writing habits?
I talk to myself when I’m writing. It helps me workout scenes I’m having trouble with. I’ve also used dolls to help me keep track of ‘what’s where’ when writing steamy scenes. The last thing you want, when you’re reading a sexy scene, is to end up confused about how certain things are happening or how they got there.

10.     When did you first realize you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?
I have been thinking up stories for as long as I can remember. It was just a matter of getting the confidence to share them with others. It’s a scary thing, putting your heart into something you love and then showing it to the world. One day it just clicked, I woke up and I had my mind set on making this happen.

11.     What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?
I would say to stay persistent. Don’t get discouraged if you hit a few bumps, just plow right through them and don’t give up. It’s not easy, and you will have your bad days, but if this is your dream It will be worth it.

12.     OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favourite foods?
Cheesecake, Brownies, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos…. and I know it’s not a food technically, but I can’t live without my coffee!

13.     And finally, what would you not be seen dead wearing?!
Crocs, hands down, ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen in my life. I hear they’re comfortable, but there is no amount of comfort on this planet, to convince me to wear them.

Chrissie has a website at www.cmrawdon.blogspot.com.

 

Paranormal romance is fast emerging as a very popular ebook genre. Some people consider it a subgenre of fantasy and others of romance. However, I think it deserves its own separate niche since it blends elements of not just these two previously distinct genres of fantasy and romance but also often science fiction and even horror. It grew up out of gothic fiction. Probably the most common feature is a romance between humans and ghosts, vampires, shapeshifters or other fantastic creatures. Also, psychic powers often come into play.

So you couldn’t wish for a better introduction to this exciting genre than a book by Hope Welsh. I have just read her book Linked, and it’s a brilliant read. It’s about Lana, a feisty young woman with psychic powers and a sad secret, and shapeshifter Cole, a private detective with special powers. There’s a third crucial character, The Evil One, who poses a terrifying threat and has a connection with Lana. The book is very well written. The hero and heroine are persuasive and likeable, and their relationship is neither predictable nor plastic, as can be the case with the romantic thread of a story sometimes. There are interesting twists and turns in the plot. I ended up reading the book in one go, leaving my youngest son dissolving in the bath (it’s OK, he’s 10 and he was quite happy to have an hour-long bath!) and the bedtime hot chocolate unmade. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did. And if you do, then please put up a review in all the usual places. Authors need reviews!

Hope kindly agreed to do an interview for me and so I’ll hand over to her now.

1. What inspired you to write Linked?

Linked was written for a contest, but I liked it so well, I decided to publish it instead. It was offered on by the first publisher that read it, but I decided to self-publish on Amazon instead.

2. Which character from the book are you most like – Lana, Cole or The Evil One?

Hmm… I’d have to say I’m most like Laura, Lana’s mother. Certainly not The Evil One! Unlike Lana, I’d love paranormal abilities.

3. Linked has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?

I knew what I wanted – to show the evil and time running out on the lovers – but my daughter did the design. She did an awesome job, didn’t she?

4. Would you like to be a shapeshifter? What animal would you turn into?

Oh, definitely a panther, I think. Sleek and beautiful. Although, I’m rather partial to tigers…

5. Is there a story behind the book? Why did it demand to be written?

It was a dream. Most of my stories start that way. My daughter worked on it with me, though. SHE did all The Evil One. It was written very fast – less than a month.  I was obsessed and wrote non-stop for days and days.

6. Please tell us a little about your other books, The Storm Within, Forbidden and Once Bitten.

The Storm Within is a romantic suspense. The heroine is running from a boyfriend that’s framed her for murder. I loved writing it – another of those that kind of just took off with a spark of an idea.

Forbidden & Once Bitten are a little more risqué. They are connecting stories with vampires, but not your traditional vampires.  One was a born vampire, and the other was created. I had a blast writing them, though. I can’t wait to get my rights to them back so I can put them up at a more reasonable price – and put up the third story in the series.

7. You’ve created a book review website http://books2lovereviews.blogspot.com. Can you tell us a bit about that please?

As an author, it’s very important to get reviews. As I’ve struggled for my own reviews, I decided to offer a site with honest reviews of books I’ve enjoyed.

8. Does reviewing books help your writing, do you think?

I don’t think reviewing helps my writing – but reading does. I read in many different genres. A good writer has got to be a voracious reader in my opinion. I’m lucky that I’m a very fast reader. I can easily read a book in two hours.

9. Are book reviews important to authors?

Book reviews are imperative for authors. It’s how we know that our work is enjoyed – and how we let others know about our books. They are also helpful in that we can learn; sometimes we just don’t hit the mark and we learn how to improve with future books.

10. Do you have any strange or quirky writing habits?

When I’m on a roll – I write sometimes up to 24 hours non-stop.  I’ve been known not to eat or sleep when I’m really in a story. I also tend to let my characters tell me the story. I rarely have an end in mind when I start. I have never plotted a book – I just write and see where it goes.

11. When did you first realise you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?

When I was eight. I wrote a play for school at age eight, and have been hooked ever since. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.

12. What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Read before you write.  Learn to promote your work and to take constructive criticism – and for goodness sake, please learn to format and edit! I’d also suggest a writer join either a critique group or a writers’ group. Beta Readers are very important as well.

13. OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favourite foods?

Chocolate, Butter Pecan Ice Cream–and steak.  Can I add Diet Coke?  Cannot survive without Diet Coke.

14. And finally, what would you not be seen dead wearing?

Leather – or a bikini, LOL.  My character in Once Bitten is wearing a leather number I affectionately call her “Sluts R Us” outfit in the book.  It’s actually similar to an outfit a friend bought my daughter when she was 18. I was less than enthused – though I must admit she made it look good.

Buy Linked here.