Q&A Lisa Mason of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series @lisaSmason

the_garden_of_abracadabra

 The Garden of Abracadabra

Lisa Mason

 “This is a very entertaining novel- sort of a down-to-earth Harry Potter with a modern adult woman in the lead. Even as Abby has to deal with mundane concerns like college and running the apartment complex she works at, she is surrounded by supernatural elements and mysteries that she is more than capable of taking on. Although this book is just the first in a series, it ties up the first “episode” while still leaving some story threads for upcoming books. I’m looking forward to finding out more. “-D. Pflaster about The Garden of Abracadabra

Author of numerous books spanning over a surprising amount of time, I was very excited to have our guest today. She accepted with such sincerity and kindness I was encouraged about the literary world. Meet . . .

Lisa Mason

lisa_mason 

 

 

RW: Where are you from?

LISA: The heart of the Midwest. But I’ve been living in the San Francisco Bay Area for so long, and love where I live so much, I consider myself a California native.

 

RW: Who are your favorite authors?

LISA: That has evolved over the years as my taste in fiction has evolved and broadened. While I was writing book reviews for Goodreads and skimming through works I’d previously read, I was struck at how some books and authors stand the test of time, while others aren’t as great as I’d remembered them.

E.B. White and P.L. Travers from my childhood reading remain fresh and delightful. Classical writers like Edith Wharton (domestic dramas), Margaret Mitchell (historical romance), and Raymond Chandler (hard-boiled 1940s detective mysteries) are always good for relaxation. In science fiction, Frank Herbert’s Dune still reads well, but Dan Simmons’ Hyperion isn’t quite as amazing as when I first read it.

In contemporary urban fantasy, I enjoy Jim Butcher and Charlaine Harris. In detective mysteries, I like the early Sue Graftons, not so much the later ones. In high fantasy, George R.R. Martin is of course the king, but I just don’t have time for 1,000 page books.

So there you have it. I like to read and write in different genres.

RW: What is your favorite beverage to drink, any kind?

LISA: Oh, like every red-blooded writer, coffee is essential in the morning. Later in the day, I enjoy chilled chardonnay. Throughout the day, I sip lots of cold spring water. I love water.

RW: What is your favorite word?

LISA: I like “murmur.” The word sounds just exactly like what it means. I like the symmetry of the spelling. “Susurrus” is a good one too, but not quite as usable as “murmur.”

RW: What is your background in writing, what makes you a writer?

LISA: My mother bought me lots of great books when I was a child. I loved reading and decided I wanted to be a writer. Stories and fantasies would pop into my head. I wrote my first book at age five. I’ve got it on my desk right now. It is 1¼ inches by 2 inches, hand-sewn, with two chapters lavishly illustrated by the author, and entitled, “Millie the Caterpillar.” Millie is despondent at being “a fat, green, hairy, little caterpillar.” Then spring comes, she breaks out of her cocoon, and “to her surprize, she found two beautiful red and black wings on her shoulders.” Happiness! The End.

I’ve thought ever since that surprise should be spelled with a z.

So you could say I got bit by the writing bug early on.

RW: What is the title of your book and why did you choose that name?

LISA: My latest novel-length work is The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series.

The title is a take on a classic memoir, The Garden of Allah, by Sheilah Graham, about a wild and crazy apartment complex in 1940s Hollywood (that no longer exists) where many famous actors lived before they hit big in the movies, as well as the “Round Table” New Yorker crowd of famous writers, who had come to Hollywood to write screenplays.

RW: What genre does your book fall into?

LISA: Urban fantasy.

RW: Why do you write in the genre that you do?

LISA: Urban fantasy is one of several genres I write in, and I like it for all the reasons I like to read and write in different genres.

I like the rich blend of fantasy tropes (magic and magicians, witches, wizards, vampires, shapeshifters, and demons) in a contemporary setting, often a city but not necessarily, and mystery tropes (detective work, murder and crime, police procedural), spiced up with dicey romance, troublesome relationship issues, and wit and whimsy interspersed with murder and mayhem.

RW: Tell us a little about your book.

LISA: At her mother’s urgent deathbed plea, Abby Teller enrolls at the Berkeley College of Magical Arts and Crafts to learn Real Magic. To support herself through school, she signs on as the superintendent of the Garden of Abracadabra, a mysterious, magical apartment building on campus.

She discovers that her tenants are witches, shapeshifters, vampires, and wizards and that each apartment is a fairyland or hell.

On her first day in Berkeley, she stumbles upon a supernatural multiple murder scene. One of the victims is a man she picked up hitchhiking the day before.

Compelled into a dangerous murder investigation, Abby will discover the first secrets of an ancient and ongoing war between humanity and demonic realms, uncover mysteries of her own troubled past, and learn that the lessons of Real Magic may spell the difference between her own life or death.

 RW: What inspired the book?

LISA: Often inspiration springs from something quotidian. You’re in the shower. Or shopping for groceries. Or, in this instance, searching for a parking place in Berkeley.

Berkeley is a small historic university town across the Bay from San Francisco. The town is so crowded these days, searching for a parking place on the street is something of a quixotic quest.

As my husband and I were cruising through unfamiliar neighborhoods looking for that elusive space, we passed by a spectacular 1920s Mediterranean apartment building and were both instantly struck by its beauty.

But more than that, the place had a powerful vibe. It was spooky!

The idea sprang instantly to my mind: what if you were the superintendent of a building and discovered that every tenant was some stripe of supernatural being and every apartment was a portal to a fantasy world? To a fairyland or a hell?

Setting the book and the Berkeley College of Magical Arts and Crafts in Berkeley itself was a natural fit. Berkeley is not only home to the University of California, but several other eminent colleges as well.

RW: Tell us about your main character(s) and what you think will them connect to readers.

LISA: Abby is an everywoman, but she’s got magical power, so she’s special. She’s chosen. She’s still discovering herself and her power as an adult. She’s still exploring with whom she wants to share her life and her love.

RW: Who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

LISA: That’s up to the casting director!

RW: What message do you think your book delivers to the reader?

LISA: That Magic exists all around us. The study of Real Magic is a powerful tool to help you in real life. And above all, Know Thyself! Think for yourself! We are bombarded from all sides by the media. It’s vital to keep your eyes, ears, and mind open to the truth.

RW: What did you learn about yourself from writing this book?

LISA: Life is an onward process of learning about yourself and the world. Never stop learning!

Describe your book in one word.

Magic!

RW: Where can we get your book now?

LISA: The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series,
is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Labyrinth of Illusions, Volume 2 of the Abracadabra Series, is forthcoming. With the publication of the second book, my publisher may produce print editions.

 

RW: What other books do you have to share with us and can you tell us a little about them?

LISA: My perennial bestseller is Summer of Love, originally published by Bantam, a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book. This is my Great American (Science Fiction) Novel, about a significant turning point in American history with both wonderful and terrible consequences. The book is also about a harrowing coming of age for a teenager, a friendship that ends in tragedy, and a love spanning centuries.

Summer Of Love on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. Summer of Love is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

I love reading short stories and have published two dozen in magazines and anthologies worldwide. In September 2014, I sold another story, “Tearsdrop” to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I’ll announce the publication date when I have it on my website.

I’ve long wanted a story collection and got one in 2013, Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, which has won five-star reviews from the San Francisco Review of Books, the Book Brothers Blog, and Amazon readers. As I mulled over my previously published short fiction, I found seven wildly different stories with one thing in common–a heroine totally unlike me. I’m the girl next door. I have no idea where these strange ladies came from.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo, and Sony. Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

RW: What are you working on right now?

LISA: Although I love urban fantasy—and authors who are fifteen books into their series are still selling well—my sense is that some readers, and certainly the publishers, are searching for fresh ground. Dystopian fiction, which interests me less, seems to have run its course, as well.

I’m continuing my urban fantasy, The Abracadabra Series, for at least two more books and will consider more after I’ve wrapped up that trilogy arc.

I’ve got several YA ideas in development, as well as a children’s series. Forthcoming also is an adaptation of my early cyberpunk novels, Arachne and Cyberweb, as a Young Adult or New Adult piece, The Quester Trilogy. I’ve got another backlist series published by Bantam, Pangaea I and II, on the slate sometime down the road.

My main focus now is on a science fantasy with—I hope!—a new fresh exciting concept. I can’t say more about it!

RW: What book are you reading at this time?

LISA: I’ve got a To-Read List a mile long, but since I’m really, really busy (see above!), I don’t know when I’ll get to it. I’d like to read Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, The Night Circus, maybe Gone Girl (though I’m not sure after reading the mixed reviews). I love reading short stories, so any of the Year’s Best in F&SF are always a good bet.

RW: What is your biggest tip for someone to getting published?

LISA: Read works you admire, write constantly (even notes and random ideas that you’ll never develop), study the craft of writing, and persevere.

Figure out your entry point into the marketplace—and make no mistake, it’s a marketplace. If, for example, you want to write another Gone With The Wind, but you’re more likely to break in with a simple romance, start with a simple romance.

If you’re writing science fiction and fantasy, selling short stories is a terrific (and time-honored) way to break in. No other genre offers as many opportunities to publish short fiction as F&SF. Even writers who now publish mostly mainstream works (Jonathan Lethem, Karen Joy Fowler), started out with stories in F&SF magazines.

That said, if you’re prepared to devote ten years to a masterpiece as your first book, be all means give it your best shot!

RW: What is your escape from writing when you are at that about to explode point?

LISA: I power-walk three-and-a-half miles a day, usually seven days a week unless I need to travel out of town. That keeps me on track on a daily basis.

I also enjoy reading, watching movies, researching on the Internet, (usually the book business and what other writers are publishing), cooking for my family, a bit of gardening, and local field trips (usually research for a piece I’m working on).

I think it was Voltaire who said (I’m paraphrasing), “Live a quiet, ordinary life so you can be outrageous in your writing.”

Unless you’re writing a tell-all memoir about your road trip with Miley Cyrus, that’s sound advice!

RW: List links to all websites you have and social networks such as Twitter.

LISA: Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson and the galleries where he’s presently showing work, worldwide Amazon.com links for Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 

Now you know a few things about Lisa you may not have. I want to thank her again for this chance to learn more and for her allowing us to take up some of her time to answer our questions. Buy the books and follow her on her various sites. I am still excited she said yes.

 

 

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MuchRespect

Ronovan

 

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She was never going back. #Book #Review of Deception by Eloise De Sousa @mello_elo

Title: Deceptiondeception_body_bag
Author: Eloise De Sousa
ISBN-10: 1291547955
ISBN-13: 978-1291547955
http://eloisedesousa.wordpress.com/
Pages: 234
Genre: Adult Crime-Romance

 

What’s it about?

Deception is a story about facing your past and learning to trust.

Amanda Glenson has a nice life working in a law firm in London while raising her 5 year old son Zachary. Unfortunately for her, a past that sent her fleeing from her home, her country on another continent, has finally caught up with her. There is no way around facing it; she must return home to Zimbabwe.

Enter Alex Edwards a lawyer brought in specifically to handle a situation in Zimbabwe for the law firm Amanda works for. Sparks fly between the two, only for Alex to discover he will be taken along for the ride into Amanda’s past, a coincidence that fate brings about. Two people with tainted pasts join together in a quest to find truth.

Highlights of the Book

236 pages of every kind of emotion keeps you reading.  The suspense makes you want to read it in one sitting. Who did what? How are Amanda and Alex connected? What is the Deception? And how does little Zachary play a role in the story?

De Sousa brings a realistic feel to the story and her imagery is perfect. She writes what she knows–London and Africa. Authentic in her knowledge of her environment, she carries you along on a tour of her image memories. This in part is what makes it a good, easy flowing read.

The deception title is all through the book in so many ways you have to keep guessing what is the deception. You won’t guess but you can try.

Romance, desire, heat, and all done well with taste and great imagery that gives you just enough to let you become part of the story, but not so much to drive you away from it. Very well done, classy.

Challenges of the Book

There are several interesting characters that could have greater depths in personality and add to the story. There were some opportunities for the male protagonist, Alex, to have done more on several levels. That being said some of the emotional aspects of the character were perfect.

What do you get from it?

Trust is a hard thing to do.

What would I change if anything?

I would have used Alex a little more and turned up either a bit more of the action or perhaps liked to have seen a little more intense dialogue exchanges to increase the tension that made the insides twist wanting more.

Who would I recommend this book to?

The book is classified as a Adult Crime Romance, but to me, it could also be classified as Suspense Drama. There are Romance elements in the book but are not driving points of the story. When Romance is part of the story, it is done very well.

Ratings:product_thumbnail.php4
Realistic Characterization: 5/5
Made Me Think: 3/5
Overall enjoyment: 3/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Ovearall Rating: 3.8

 

Buy it at:
 Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Paperback: 8.41 USD
Kindle: .99 USD
Alternate Purchsing:

Amazon U.K., Lulu.com

eloisedesousa.wordpress.com

Eloise De Sousa

 

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Q&A Olga Núñez Miret of Escaping Psychiatry @OlgaNM7

Escaping Psychiatry finalEscaping Psychiatry

Olga Núñez Miret

“All three stories offer a great insight into psychological work and naturally allow the wonderfully interesting characters to be explored with depth and analytical sharpness.
On the way the author manages to include deep thoughts aboout a variety of subjetcs, making this a thoughtful and enjoyable read.”-ChristopherFischerBooks

“Through the genuinely interesting characters in her book, Olga weaves a so quite spellbinding study into the dynamics of life. Once one begins reading, it really truly IS difficult to put down. “– Dr. Glen Hepker (author of “A Glimpse of Heaven: The Philosophy of True Health)

“Olga Nunez Miret writes with a fine eye for the minutiae of human motivations and interactions. I, for one, hope this is not the last we have seen of the author’s central character, the reluctant psychiatrist, Mary. She deserves more outings than a paltry three.”-Diogenes

When I first learned of my guest today and read about her I was truly amazed at all this lady was/is. I think I actually used the word fascinating when I first talked to her. Of course that put her on my list of musts to interview for the site. The fact that she agreed to an interview considering her busy life thrills me. You don’ t want to read any further form me. Meet . . .

Olga Núñez Miret

 

RW: Where are you from?

OLGA: I’m from Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain (so far. There are proposals for voting for independence but at the moment it’s still in Spain).

 

RW: Who are your favorite authors?

OLGA: There are a number of authors I love, some I’d been reading since I was quite young (like Louisa May Alcott. Little Women and the character Jo was a great influence in my love for writing. I’ve also liked Oscar Wilde since I was very young). I love horror stories and Stephen King’s books in particular. I also always try to read all of John Irving’s books. I’m from Barcelona and I read in Spanish and Catalan too and Mercé Rodoreda is one of my firm favourites, although I also love Isabel Allende and Gabriel García Márquez. I studied American Literature and discovered some of their classics (Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne…) and some more recent ones (F Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner…). I always try to read anything by Tony Morrison. In more recent years I’ve become quite interested in Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood… And since I started publishing I’ve got to know and love many independent writers, but there are too many to mention. I’ve always felt happy with a book in my hands, since I was very young and that’s never changed (although now I also use an e-reader that makes packing much easier!).

 

 

RW: What is your favorite beverage to drink, any kind?

OLGA: I’m not a drinker of tea or coffee, or hot drinks in general. Hot chocolate if it’s very cold, but Spanish hot chocolate is quite different to what we get in the UK and I’ve never quite got used to other versions. Freshly squeezed orange juice, water, and I must confess to being a fan of Pepsi Max and other low-calorie cola drinks. I don’t drink alcohol either. Matter of taste not of conviction.

 

 

RW: What is your favorite word?

OLGA: In Spanish probably susurro. In English….Not sure. Joy?

 

 

RW: What is your background in writing, what makes you a writer?

OLGA: I’ve always been a reader, and I started writing when I was quite young, although longer stories from my teenage years. I’ve always loved literature and I used to exchange stories with other friends who were as interested in stories as I was. Later on I studied Medicine and became a Psychiatrist but I’ve always carried on reading and writing. I’m not very good at settling for anything (only the old favourites) and studied a degree in American Literature and went on to do a PhD (nominally under the American Literature umbrella although I wrote about the films of David Mamet). Many of my stories have been lost in the midst of time and bad storage, but over the years I’ve also taken a couple of courses on creative writing and short-story writing and some of the books I’ve published have been a labour of many years. I guess what makes me a writer is that I love to write.

 

 

RW: What is your escape from writing when you are at that about to explode point?

OLGA: I love to exercise and do it most days but usually a nice walk is always inspiring and relaxing for me. I rarely have to escape from writing, although I do from things related to it (marketing, editing…). I also like to go to the cinema or the theatre but those work out more like organised escapes and sources of inspiration rather than real escape valves.

RW: What is the title of your book?

OLGA: Since I started publishing in October 201 2 I’ve published a number of books, longer and shorter. At the moment I have one novel (The Man Who Never Was), two shorter works of fiction (Twin Evils? and Family, Lust and Cameras), a romantic novel where the reader can choose between three endings (Click Me Happy!), and a collection of three stories Escaping Psychiatry. I will talk about this one in more detail. Ah, I have also published all of these books in Spanish.

RW: What genre does your book fall into?

OLGA: Escaping Psychiatry would fit into the psychological thriller genre.

RW: Tell us a little about your book.

OLGA: The book is a collection of three stories: Cannon Fodder, Teamwork, and Memory, with the same main protagonists.

RW: What inspired the book?

OLGA: I wrote Cannon Fodder many years back (in 1998-9) when I was studying at Mount Holyoke as part of my degree in American Literature. I had been reading and studying about American History and the Civil Rights Movement and due to my work as a psychiatrist I got an idea for a story that would combine the two. I showed it to several people I knew, including some of my lecturers, who liked it but commented it was too long for a short story (between 60 and 70 pages) but too short for a novel. One of them suggested that I might want to consider writing other stories with the same main character and publishing them together. I noted the comment but didn’t do much about it until 2 or 3 years ago, when I’d gone back to working in psychiatry and had finished a Masters in Criminology, and that left me a bit more time to go back to my writing. As I was working in forensic psychiatry, that combined with the topic of my recent studies made me go back to look at the story and think up of some others that could involve the same character.

RW: Tell us about your main character(s) and what you think will them connect to readers.

OLGA: Mary, a psychiatrist and writer, is the main character of the book. She’d love to dedicate herself fully to writing, but people she knows and circumstances conspire to keep bringing her back into her other professional arena. In ‘Cannon Fodder’ one of her best friends, Phil, a lawyer, asks her to provide a report on a young man , Cain, who’s been accused of causing public disturbance and inciting a riot. This man says he can hear God and God is black. In the process of assessing Cain, Mary not only discovers many secrets about the man’s family but opens herself up to discovering a few things about herself. The other two stories are more straight forward thrillers, but the psychological aspect is always pretty central to the plot.

Mary is very insightful in her professional life but cannot help getting personally involved in the cases she comes across. She tries to do right by everybody but in some occasions that comes at a high personal cost. Phil, her lawyer friend, also appears in the three stories, and a bit like Mary, we get to know more and more about him throughout the three stories.

The cases involve a variety of characters, but I think what helps them connect to readers is that things aren’t clear cut and characters are complex, not all good or bad. Also the fact that in the first two stories we see things from Mary’s point of view makes us share with her in the doubts and feelings that she might try very hard to keep from others and puts us in a privileged position.

RW: Who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

OLGA: I haven’t given it much thought. There are many great actresses around, but now that you make me think about it… the actress in the original Danish version of The Killing, Sofie Gråbøl, would be great.

RW: What message do you think your book delivers to the reader?

OLGA: If there is a message it would be that nobody is perfect and appearances can be deceptive, but that works both ways. Somebody who seems to be a pillar of society can in reality be anything but, but we also need to be weary of pigeonholing people due to their appearance, colour, religion, sexual preference, social class, or anything else, because we might well be projecting onto others our own fears and prejudices.

RW: Describe your book in one word.

OLGA: Engaging. Or thought-provoking.

RW: Where can we get your book now?

OLGA: It is available in all the usual suspects in e-format (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Foundry…) and also in paper through Amazon. There is also a wonderful audio version narrated by Emmy Award Winner writer, actor and director Alan Cooke (a.k.a. Wild Irish Poet) available in Amazon, Audible and i-Tunes.

RW: How do people connect with you through all forms of social media?

OLGA: I am in Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, have my own blog where I blog about writing, random things, but also about other authors and books, I have an author page in Amazon and Goodreads, have a website , I’m also in Tumbler, Google Plus and Stumble. I belong to a number of author groups and several readers and writers groups in Facebook and Goodreads. I have shared my e-mail in my website also. I’ve shared some videos in You Tube….If anybody tries to contact me and I don’t answer straight away I’m likely to be writing or translating.

RW: Do you currently have representation? If so who, and if not describe what qualities you would like in an agent and what you would bring to the relationship.

OLGA: No, I don’t. I guess I’d like my ideal agent to be a combination of a great PA, a good friend, somebody very adept at marketing, and a magician. I’d like to find somebody to bounce ideas on, who would be able to encourage me but also tell me when something was likely to go wrong, and somebody who would know the market and the publishing business inside out. And somebody who would love writing and books as much as I do.

RW: What are you working on right now?

OLGA: I am in the final stages of correcting a sweet romance, I Love Your Cupcakes, set in the world of TV cooking and baking competitions. I had the idea a while back and I felt it was time for something upbeat and cheerful. Once this is ready I want to finish writing a Young Adult series called Angelic Business, about a young girl’s involvement with celestial (and less so) beings. I’ve written the first two novels but I’ve decided to complete the third one and translate them all before publishing them at short intervals, so people won’t have to wait ages to get the full story.

RW: What book are you reading at this time?

OLGA: I’ve started reading Under the Tuscan Sun in French (Sous le soleil de Toscane) that I found at Père Lachaise cemetery with a note asking to read it and pass it on. As I had just visited Florence I had to take it (and it will also be good to practise French!). I’ve just finished reading a book by an author friend, Francis Molehorn, in Spanish La piel del pecado and I’m planning to start reading Waldek the translation of the best-seller book La búsqueda by fantastic writer Blanca Miosi. I review books for BTS e-Magazine and I’m waiting to receive the next book to review for them.

RW: What is your biggest tip for someone to getting published?

OLGA: Do not despair just because you think your book doesn’t fit into one of the best known genres or is not about the topics that make it into the best-selling list. If you really want to write about something, do it. With regards to getting published, explore all options. It is very difficult to approach the big publishing companies without much of a writing record or agent representation, but consider other options like small publishing companies (beware of what used to be called ‘vanity publishing’ and anybody who offers to publish for a fee…), and self-publishing. Even if you don’t feel confident on how to do some of the things, there are people who offer their specific services, lot of advice on line, and I’ve found other authors very generous in sharing their expertise and advice. Seek them out. Of course, write the best book you can, correct it, edit it but above all, never stop writing. And be prepared to keep going. Don’t expect immediate success. But if you really love it, do it.

 

RW: If you could have written any book that exists, other than your own, what would it be and why?

OLGA: Wow! That’s a question! Probably La Plaça del Diamant (The Time of the Doves or In Diamond Square depending on the translation) or Moby Dick.

 

I want to thank Olga for agreeing to an interview. Such an intelligent woman with a wide variety of literary offerings and no sign of settling on one genre. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with next.

Much Respect

Ronovan

 definitiu 5,5x8,5(13,97x21,59cm) ingportada2 anglèsF(lourdes vidal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome Jo Robinson to the LitWorldInterviews Team! @jorobinson176

Welcome Jo Robinson to the LitWorldInterviews Team!

Jo Robinson
Jo Robinson

 

As soon as I interviewed Jo I knew I needed her to join me on this adventure in helping authors be promoted and give her invaluable advice as a successful self published author. What makes someone a success? She is doing it and doing it and it’s her choice and she knows it inside and out. Her goal in may ways will be to help authors see how self publishing can be done by pointing them in the right direction while also giving her own tips on writing along the way. She brings a wealth of expertise in the self publishing arena as well as an author. I am blown away she said yes when asked to join up!

 

Thank you Jo for joining LitWorldInterviews!

 Make sure to check out Jo’s site and her books as well.

 

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The Rules

Jo Robinson
Jo Robinson

A lot of indie authors are pretty rigid with their writing rules. There’s nothing wrong with this when it’s your style, and self-imposed. You’ll have problems though if rigid rules don’t fit well with your character, and you’ve only inflicted them on yourself because a successful and well known writer said that that’s what you should be doing if you ever want to succeed. “Must” is often the word lurking behind procrastination in any field, and when it comes to creative souls, I believe it could shut down production pretty well.

The minute we’re told we must do something, our subconscious goes into overdrive, bombarding us with all the ways we could fail, and settles like a lump in your mind, effectively blocking all those wonderful sentences that had been champing at the bit to leap onto your pages. This fear can be good in small doses. When you have to do one particular finite job, it can goad you into stepping up to the plate and giving it your best shot, purely so that you can put it behind you and move on. But if it’s a rule that you see looming into your entire future career, it could very well be daunting enough for some to throw in the towel rather than risk failure.

If you are told that in order to be any sort of author worth your salt that you MUST write a minimum of X amount of words every single day, and you MUST avoid adverbs, and you must this or that or the other thing – and you believe it – even though your writing regime and style are miles away from that, you’re pretty much going to knobble yourself. If it is your own personal goal to churn out ten books a year, and your personal writing style is naturally succinct, then apply those rules to yourself without fear. On the other hand, if you like to toss in a couple of flowery or acrimonious adverbs now and then (as I do), and if forcing yourself to write thousands of words every day raises your cortisol levels to terrifying heights, then you really shouldn’t, because even if you do manage to get any words down they’re not likely to be the ones that you would have written under your own steam. Fine for businesslike articles, but not so much for creative fiction or non-fiction.

We have more than enough fear already as writers, whether previously published or not. Thoughts pop up that what we publish will be laughed under tables all over the place, or that readers will guess which bits of our fiction aren’t really fiction at all, and think that we’re just plain weirdoes, and so on, and so on. Write your own book at your own pace, and in whatever style is yours without worrying about what anyone will think, until you’ve written the very last word of it. Then you can worry about grammar while you’re doing your dreaded edits. And just because a particular way of writing is believed by many modern authors to be the most well received, that doesn’t mean that it’s true. There is nothing wrong with a couple of well placed adverbs in any story for instance. They can add feeling and depth to a sentence. We use them in our speech after all, so why should they be excluded from the written word?

So yes, read what other authors say about their own success stories. Read all the advice out there, but think it through first as it would apply to you, and follow your own heart and style when you write your own. Many of the most wildly successful books were written in styles and by writers who conformed to nobody but themselves, and broke so many of the rules that they wouldn’t have stood a chance if they had followed the pack.

Get Luccia Gray’s All Hallows at Eyre Hall for #Kindle for .99 NOW! @LucciaGray

 

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Luccia Gray-An Interview is coming soon!

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Q&A P.S. Bartlett-The Blue Diamond: THE RAZOR’S EDGE @PSBartlett

Reviewed by Michelle Stanley for Readers’ Favorite
“It’s not often I read stories about female pirates and I am impressed with The Blue Diamond (The Razor’s Edge Book One). P.S. Bartlett writes an entertaining novel that offers great action, adventure and witty dialogue. The personalities of Ivory and her cousins are complex, but I easily connected with them. These are independent, free spirited women with lusty appetites, especially Miranda. Their sense of humour shines through any situation they are placed in. I liked this romantic story which includes some historical data to make it appropriate for that era.”

*This Book Was Given To Me By The Author In Exchange For An Honest Review* Amanda Masters of Nerd Girl Reviews 5 out of 5 Stars
“Great Story! full of adventure and pirates! P.S. Bartlett is a wonderful storyteller and her characters are full of life and woe and they go from ship to ship plundering and pillaging. I found myself caught up more and more by their story as I got to know more about them and I can’t wait to read more! These are some of the mose interesting pirates I have come across in a long time!”
Kindle Ninja 5 out of 5 Stars
“There’s a feisty pirate at sea and she’s not to be messed with. Swashbuckling Ivory “Razor” Shepard, with three of her equally fearless female cousins, set sail to escape the manhunt, err femalehunt. Forget damsels in distress, you won’t find them in here. Instead, you’re treated to a rampaging story dressed up in the trappings of pirate lore.”
 ps-bartlett

 The Blue Diamond: THE RAZOR’S EDGE

 

History, adventure and a touch of romance. Is there any wonder why I wanted to interview my guest today? Veteran of several novels and a great conversationalist, I might add, P.S. Bartlett was a must as soon as I met her. So now without any more words, meet  . . .

Author_Photo

 

RW: Where does a Pirate Adventure Romance author live?

P.S.: I was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. I grew up in a corner row home in South Baltimore. Now they call it Federal Hill but when I was growing up there, Federal Hill was just a big hill overlooking the inner harbor where we rode our bikes and went sledding because the hills were awesome. It is also a national monument.

RW: Why do you write about Pirates?

P.S.: I love history. I love doing research and learning something with each book I write.

RW: Where did the title The Blue Diamond – The Razor’s Edge come from?

P.S.: The reason for choosing that name is simple; the book is about a big blue diamond. The Razor is the main character and the Razor’s Edge means…well, you’ll have to read it to figure that part out for yourself. 😉

RW: I did read it but I won’t give the reason away. Tell those that haven’t read the book what The Blue Diamond is about.

P.S.: The best way I’ve found to describe it in a simple way is: Charlie’s Angels meet the Pirates of the Caribbean. However, here is the blurb: Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.

RW: Ivory and her cousins were basically orphaned after a Spanish raid, that’s not giving away anything of the story, what happens next that ends up leading them to lives as pirates?

P.S.: Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.

Setting foot on that first pirate ship was nothing compared to the life of freedom and adventure awaiting them, once Ivory and the girls were through playing nice. Only one man believes he can stop her and he won’t need a ship full of guns to do it.

If it were only that easy…

RW: Is it ever that easy when romance is involved? Tell us what inspired the book?

P.S.: Who knows where my crazy ideas come from, right? I love pirates, adventure and stories about powerful women. I mushed them all together and this is what came out my head.

RW: Ivory and the man Maddox Carbonale are the main, I guess I will say love interests, protagonists in the book. In my review I referred to their relationship as similar to Rhett and Scarlett from Gone with the Wind. Two leaders, strong willed and strong minded who meet and fireworks begin, tell us about them and who else we’ll find in The Blue Diamond-The Razor’s Edge.

P.S.: Ivory is strong, proud and capable but she is also wounded deep inside. She’ll kill or die to protect her family—and has. Fortunately, she and her cousins are survivors. All four women are completely different but I believe they represent women of every century.

Cassandra: The voice of reason and logical thinking.

Miranda: Passionate, willful and loving—and perhaps a bit promiscuous.

Keara: Stern and matter of fact. She’s small but she’s a spitfire and true leader.

The male protagonist is Maddox Carbonale. He is a rival captain and an interesting man. He enjoys the finer things in life, even if he does steal them. He reads Shakespeare and isn’t the sort to engage in down and dirty deeds.

Alphonse Green is Maddox’s Quartermaster and best friend. He’s a native Jamaican and is both Maddox’s right hand and his conscience.

RW: Describe your book in one word.

P.S.: Fearless!

RW: The Blue Diamond-The Razor’s Edge is your first trip into Adventure, but you’ve written two other books, one that has actually won a few awards. Tell us about them.

P.S.: My first two novels: Fireflies and Hope From the Ocean are the first two books in a series about the Whelan family. They are an Irish immigrant family. Both stories take place in the 19th Century and have paranormal elements and tell quite a bit of the family saga.

RW: You failed to mention the Reader’s Favorite Awards for Fireflies. But I just did so we’ll let it go for now. So being a pirate lady, is your favorite beverage rum with gunpowder in it like Blackbeard?

P.S.: Coffee—the darker roast the better. No sugar but I love sugar free flavored creamers of pretty much any kind.

RW: What did you learn about yourself from writing this book?

P.S.: Besides the fact that I can write an awful lot, I suppose that I really am living out some great fantasies through my writing.

RW: What are you working on right now?

P.S.: I am currently writing book three in the Fireflies series and preparing to launch The Blue Diamond.

RW: Tell us about your publishing as it stands right now.

P.S.: I am currently with Ravenswood Publishing but down the road, I would hope an agent could be a possibility. Obviously I want to be a bestseller some day and I know someone is going to have to sell my books up the chain. Right now, I’m very happy with Ravenswood and the owner, Kitty Honeycutt. She’s been a fabulous advocate for my books.

RW: What is your biggest tip for someone to getting published?

P.S.: Write the BEST possible book you can. Learn as much as you can about the publishing industry so you can make the right choices for yourself.

RW: Sometimes our stories or our characters just don’t cooperate with us and we want to tear our hair out. What do you do to let that go?

P.S.: Playing with my three granddaughters or just hanging out chatting and having fun with my girlfriends watching a football game.

RW: What book are you reading at this time?

P.S.: I’m finishing up the first book in the Outlander series. I’m hoping to read book two by Christmas. When you work a full time job, write, have a family, grandchildren and husband, finding precious time to read is a blessing.

RW: Who are your favorite authors?

P.S.: If I’m going way, way back, I’d have to start with the master himself, Stephen king. I loved horror and after I read Carrie in middle school, I was hooked. I also love Anne Rice, Jane Austen and in high school, I was obsessed with William Shakespeare.

RW: If you could have written any book that exists, other than your own, what would it be and why?

P.S.: Gone with Wind. I don’t know why. I suppose because it is a masterpiece of historical fiction.

 

How to acquire P.S. Bartlett’s books at Amazon!

The Blue Diamond-The Razor’s Edge

Fireflies

Hope From the Ocean

 

Where to find P.S. Bartlett online:

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Self-Publishing is the Future-Guest Post by Author-Kimberly Castillo @K_A_Castillo

Self-Publishing is the Future

by Kimberly Castillo

Kimberly_Castillo

 

 

 

 

Author of The Convenience of Lies

 

Two separate small publishers offered me contracts to publish The Convenience of Lies. I turned both of them down because I didn’t like the terms they were offering. For both contracts I would receive minimal royalties (less than $0.25/copy sold), would be required to do all of my own publicity, and I would have to sign away the rights to my book. One publisher even required me to pay my own editor! At that point, it seemed like all the publishers were really providing for me was cover art and prestige, and for a very high price.

To be honest, I didn’t want to sell myself out like this. The Convenience of Lies is a project I started 10 years ago and I have truly invested my heart, time, money, and soul. While I was shopping my book around the traditional publishing world, it fell into the hands of an editorial reviewer, who gave me a glowing review of my work. Not only that, but my mom is a high school English teacher and she’s had boys in her class who don’t like to read complete it in one night, by choice. I was not about to let a traditional publisher take advantage of my creation.

At the same time as I was querying publishers, I was also researching self-publishing. I discovered that I could self-publish through Amazon’s CreateSpace and receive royalties of over $5.00/copy, which is more than a 20x increase from traditional publishing. Also, CreateSpace has a cover creator tool that I could use to generate the cover, and has a print on demand option. Meaning, when someone orders my book from Amazon, CreateSpace prints it, takes their cut of the profit, and sends me the royalties. There is no up-front cost for either party.

Not only is self-publishing arguably a better business decision, due to the internet it is now the choice of the future. We are in an era where we don’t need a publisher to reach our audience. The internet has cut out the middle man and made it so that artists can reach their audience directly. This applies not only to publishing your book, but also to promoting your book. Between tumblr, twitter, facebook, reddit, and the blogosphere, you can reach out directly to readers as I am doing now. Keep in mind that many traditional publishers require authors to do this promotional work. So, let me ask you, what is that traditional publisher really doing for its authors?

As ironic as it is for me to say as an author, the world of traditional publishing is ending. Artists can now affordably create professional works and also reach their audience as never before. Not only that (and a real cincher) the author can also keep possession of the rights to their works through self-publishing. The world of traditional publishing is simply taking too much from authors and not giving them enough in return. The internet has cut out the middle man with the connections and has given you direct access to those connections. As they say, it is simply up to you to seize this opportunity.

 

Kimberly Castillo  

http://www.kacastillo.blogspot.com/

Buy Convenience of Lies at Amazon

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The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of either ronovanwrites.wordpress.com or litworldinterviews.wordpress.com. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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Jo Robinson #Kindle #Books #Free & .99 #Amazon !!!! @jorobinson176

You can still get Fly Birdie and The Visitation each for .99! The other special prices have expired.

Jo Robinson,

Jo Robinson (2)

Blog

 

one of our interviewees, has marked her books at .99 for the first time and some are

FREE!

This will not last forever, so click it and get it . . .

NOW!

 

Fly Birdie

FREE!

Fly Birdie

The Visitation

FREE!

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Shadow People (The Finding Book 1)

For .99

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African Me & Satellite TV

For .99

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Q&A Jo Robinson African Me & Satellite TV @jorobinson176

AM Cover V1 - CopyAfrican Me & Satellite TV

Jo Robinson

“Even though this is not the type of story I would normally read, I enjoyed the other three different themed books by this author (Fly Birdie, The Visitation and Shadow People) so much that I decided to try this latest one – and I’m glad I did, because it let me see yet another aspect of her talent as a writer.”-Chris Graham

The author has done a masterful job describing a wide range of characters. The artistic Suzette, the rugged men who work the land, the cook, maid, and tragic gardner – all have distinct personalities that leapt off the page. Enter the villainous couple who I wanted the smack from the moment I met them.”-Mark Myers

There is never a dull moment in the Hertzog household, which consists of Suzette, her loving husband Herman, their cook, Precious, the gardener, Christopher and their dog and cat who are like their children.
The novel is set in today’s Zimbabwe and Suzette, the main character – a white woman of Afrikaner heritage – cares a lot about justice and despises prejudice of any sort. Her problem is that she doesn’t want to rock the boat, is scared of most things but especially public speaking.
When the Shermans move in next door, with their ugly, racist and mean attitude, Suzette is beginning to find it difficult to contain her rage.”-Carol Balawyder

 

I met my guest today through what I call Blog World, the land of blogdom. We followed each other and enjoyed each others posts. Then I discovered she was an author and . . . of course . . . I had to ask for an interview. I don’t ask everyone, but she’s an amazing lady and I find her posts enjoyable and I needed to find out more. So without any more from me, it’s time to meet . . .

Jo Robinson

Jo Robinson (2)

 

RW: Tell us where you’re from?

JO: I was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, but spent most of my childhood in Johannesburg and my

twenties in Cape Town.  After that I lived in Zimbabwe – out in the rural lands – until last year, when I

came back home to South Africa.  And very happy to be back, even though I’ll never forget the people

I met, the adventures I had, and the lessons that Zimbabwe taught me.

 

 

RW: And who would you say are your favorite authors?

JO: There aren’t many genres that I don’t like to read, so my favorite authors probably look a little mismatched.  I’ve always loved horror, with Stephen King at the top of that pile for me. 

Ever since I read Carpet People by Terry Pratchett when I was young, I’ve been madly in love with that man –I’ve read most of his books at least three times each. 

I’m a big sci-fi and fantasy fan too, so James Herbert, Asimov of course, Anne McCaffrey, and Piers Anthony are major faves. 

I also love Joanna Trollope’s gentle style of writing, and Philippa Gregory’s historical books.

 

RW: What is your favorite beverage to drink, any kind?

JO: I very seldom drink anything other than water during the day – boring, I know, I know, but I’m a big fan of wildly colored cocktails with umbrellas and swizzle sticks in them for now and then, and champagne and orange with breakfast now and then is not a bad thing at all.

 

 

RW: What is your favorite word?

JO: Goodness!  I never knew I had one, but the first word that pops up now is love.  It’s the answer to most questions and problems after all.

 

 

RW: What is your background in writing, what makes you a writer?

JO: I started writing quite abruptly a couple of years ago.  I never thought about it, or planned it.  It just happened.  I was sitting at the kitchen table writing out a shopping list, and it went something like: Milk – Bread – Bog Roll – and then the first few paragraphs of African Me & Satellite TV happened. I’ve never changed them either.  The way they are now in the book is the way that they came out then.  I’d actually forgotten until recently, that I had just started a new job as a reporter for a small town newspaper when I was eighteen, and I got to interview the junior Miss Bethal and write up the article just before my mother passed away.  It was published without any editing and I got a pat on the back for a job well done, but things got a bit crazy after that and writing never occurred to me again.

Reading on the other hand – I did that all the time.

 

 

RW: What is your escape from writing when you are at that about to explode point?

JO: I have quite a lot of loves, and fortunately these days my writing helps to bring them all together.  I paint, and cook, and garden, and just lately I’m trying my hand at photography and digital painting too.  The art and the photography aren’t guilty pleasures because those two things will hopefully help with future covers and book projects, but being out in the sun, or spending hours in a kitchen full of gorgeous aromas are pretty good explosion stoppers for me.

(I have to intrude, I now want to be in her kitchen.)

 

 

RW: What genre does African Me & Satellite TV fall into?

JO: Fictional Drama

 

 

RW: Tell us a little about your book.

JO: It’s about heartbreak caused by hatred and racism, and about healing with love and courage.

“For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in

it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens.

Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.

After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a chain of events that leads to devastating heartbreak. And then an unexpected hero changes everything.

Finally finding her voice, she speaks out, and her world explodes, culminating in the death of a very special man.

On her path to make amends, she discovers the story of his life, connects with the people of his past, and finds the chance to fully live her life once again if that’s what she chooses to.”

 

 

RW: What inspired the book?

JO: I saw a terrible verbal racist attack take place on a street in Zimbabwe.  White person screaming abuse – black person standing silently looking at the ground until the white person made an exit with screeching wheels bouncing off the pavement.  It sort of smacked me in the face then that we had all just stood and gaped.  Not a single one of us had uttered a word or stepped in, when somebody really, really should have.  The foulness of that incident stayed in the back of my mind for a long time, and eventually became the inspiration for African Me.

 

 

RW: Tell us about your main character(s) and what you think will them connect to readers.

JO: hey’re human, and they have flaws.  Suzette has quite a few to be honest, and until you get to know her you might want to give her a little shake or two.  Christopher has suffered a great deal in his life, and fallen at one of life’s hurdles, so he’s also flawed.  But they have strengths too.  I think that all of the characters in this story came to life with their own very distinctive traits – good, bad, or just plain odd, and I’m pretty fond of most of them, warts and all.

 

 

RW: Who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

JO: Funny you should ask that – it has occurred to me.  I suppose all of us scribblers consider that now and then.  I would go for Charlize Theron and Morgan Freeman – in fact they were made for these roles!  Hang on a bit – just off to email them…..

charlize_theron morgan_freeman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RW: What message do you think your book delivers to the reader?

JO: That all humans need to respect all other humans as equals, and treat them as such, because at the end of the day it is the truth.  And that when some who feel so terribly superior to others have hatred in their hearts, and act out on it, only sorrow and loss can result.

 

 

RW: Describe your book in one word.

JO: That’s a sneaky one!  I think it will have to be “Live”, as in – Live your life.

RW: Where can we get your book now?

JO: There are several options:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

 

 

RW: How do people connect with you through all forms of social media?

JO: Mainly through my blog, which is my favourite place to be online, and I have Contact Me pages there and also on my website.  Google+ is lovely and interactive, and Twitter is great for chats.  I don’t have much time to spend on Facebook these days, although I’m going to try and make some.  The problem with Facebook is that once you open it up, you fly through some sort of warped and twisted portal that turns what you think are minutes into hours. And of there is also Goodreads.

 

RW: Do you currently have representation? If so who, and if not describe what qualities you would like in an agent and what you would bring to the relationship.

JO: I’ve never looked for an agent or publisher, and the couple that offered didn’t look overly fantastic to me.  I’ve worked very hard to learn what I know now about independent publishing, so I would have to be offered a very good deal to hand over the reins to any of my work, and with my control issues I don’t think that I’d be easy to work with.  I wouldn’t like to work with me that way.  Apart from my short story with Springbok Publications I only represent myself.  Like it like that.

 

 

SP2 The Hunger - Version 1 2

 

RW: What are you working on right now?

JO: I’ve had a lot of major interruptions to my work this past year and things have piled up, so I’m working on polishing three books at the moment, and I’ll publish all of them within weeks of each other probably.  The Hunger is the second book in my Shadow People series.  Emmaline, which is the first in my Ghost Writer collection, and a third, which even though it does have a title, I probably won’t share that until I publish it.  Or maybe I will – just not yet.

 

RW: What book are you reading at this time?

JO: I have a large pile of indie published books that I’m reading my way through to review right now on my Kindle, but at the same time I’m slowly reading the paper version of Further Along The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck.  I loved the first book, and this one is also the kind of book that takes time to read in little bits, because of all the long pauses to stop and think a while.

 

 

RW: What is your biggest tip for someone to getting published?

JO: Write it and then do it.  For an indie published writer, my advice would definitely be not to publish the book that you’ve been slaving away on for years first.  Publish a shorter story to begin with to learn the ropes a little, figure out how things work, see how other authors are marketing their books, and then head on in with your novel.  Especially if you don’t already have much of an online presence -you’ll be to talking to the wall if there’s nobody in the room to buy your book.  Also, don’t be shy to ask for help with the technical bits.  Writers are kind souls, and they are mostly all willing to help you with your first time round.

 

 

RW: If you could have written any book that exists, other than your own, what would it be and why?

JO: I can think of a couple that I would have liked to have watched being written so I could get inside their authors heads, but I can’t think of any that I would have liked to have written myself – apart from Harry Potter because if I had I’d be rolling in dough and have all the time in the world to write my own stuff, and not have to worry about crusts of bread and so on.

 

~~~~

I would like to thank Jo for agreeing to the interview today and I am going to be begging for her to come back when it’s time for the release of her new books. I think when she described her book in one were she was describing what she does. I think we can all agree that Jo Robinson does live a life to its fullest.

 

GET HER BOOKS Starting Saturday September 20, 2014 for .99 and FREE for Kindle. See our other note about it.

Remember to buy her book at one of the following:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Follow her at

blog,

Contact Me

Google+ 

Twitter

Facebook 

Goodreads

I followed them all, so why not you, right?

Much Respect

Ronovan

 

 

2014 © Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com

Q&A w/Cyril Bussiere of The WorldMight @cyrilbussiere

new-cover-sept-2014-4

“The writing is utterly descriptive and sensory oriented and it really gets you to experience what the characters are going through.”-Dan

“This book is set in a fantasy land, and Bussiere does a fantastic job at painting a scene. You instantly fall in love with the characters, and the character development is phenomenal. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy fiction.”-Alyssa from Lubbock, TX

“Spell binding. I didn’t want the book to end. In The WorldMight Cyril Bussiere weaves together a world of fantasy and the deep, complex questions of life. The characters are wonderfully and fully drawn.”-V.C.

 ~~~

I’ve known Cyril Bussiere for some time now. He’s a guy with a great sense of humor but who is way to smart at times. Sometimes you just wish he could stop thinking, but you know it’s not going to happen. Cyril did an interview with me back when I first started doing them but now we have a new one about his book The WorldMight and of course a little about the man behind it.

Now it’s time for you to meet . . .

Cyril Bussiere

copyright_Cyril_Bussiere_All_Rights_Reserved@cyrilbussiere

RW: Tell everyone your interesting path to where you currently find yourself?

CYRIL: I was born in Avignon, France and spent my youth in Marseille, Provence by the Mediterranean Sea.

Cyril Journey

After high school and a brief stint in Med School, I left for the US. There I got my B.S. in Biology from the University of Utah and then my PhD in Microbiology from the University of Texas at Austin.

RW: Who are your favorite authors?

CYRIL: Tough one, among a good fifty, the ones that marked me the most are Kazantzakis, Nietzsche, Stephen King, and Emile Cioran.

 

RW: What is your favorite beverage to drink, any kind?

CYRIL: A light beer like a Shiner or a Blue Moon. But they don’t last long.

 

RW: What is your escape from writing when you are at that about to explode point of overload or writer’s block?

CYRIL: Something mindless. Right now I’m getting back into classical guitar after a five year hiatus, so I do a lot of that. I’m also involved with Big Brother Big Sister and my little lent me Grand Theft Auto V so I’m playing that too.

RW: What is your background in writing, what makes you a writer?

CYRIL: I was trained in microbiology and the last thing I wrote before getting into fiction was my Ph.D. thesis (you can find it here if you’re into that kind of stuff, or would enjoy a headache right about now). I wrote a lot as a youth, but  only poetry and some short plays.  Most people who knew me before I graduated from high school were surprised when I went into science rather than literature.

As far as being a writer, I instinctively shy away from labels, they always feel so reducing (as if we’re not stuffed into enough boxes already). So instead of calling myself a writer, I prefer saying that I write, the difference is probably more about how one feels about it than anything else, but that’s where I stand.

RW: What genre does The WorldMight fall into?

CYRIL: I’d say it’s a mystical fantasy imbued with romance. It contains a good dose of philosophy too and has spiritual stuff interwoven throughout the plot. At its core it is a drama in the classical sense where events long passed have far reaching consequences in the lives of people and there is not much they can do, knowing little or nothing about them, to change the flow of events they find themselves sucked in.

RW: Gives us your book jacket version of The WorldMight.

CYRIL: It is the end of fall in the kingdom of Alymphia. Princess Aria and Prince Hob are readying themselves for yet another Fall Passing Festival. But unbeknownst to them, change is coming to the kingdom. Change brought on by dark forces and events that occurred generations prior. And those changes will unfold over their lives like a flood that nothing can stop.

In another place and another time, a mysterious prince walks the world, trusted steel at his belt and a mystical stone imbued with magic at his neck. He is looking for a word that has never been said; a word that would save his love from the grip of an ancient beast.

RW: What inspired the book?

CYRIL: The idea came to me while driving a U-haul truck across Texas (I was helping my wife move from Austin to Lubbock). It was a simple thought, about a princess trapped in a sleeping beast and her prince trying to free her; and he needs a word that has never been said to wake the beast up and rescue her. That was it; like I said, simple. That idea stayed dormant for a year and a half. I finished my PhD, moved to Lubbock and one morning, in October 2011, out of the blue I started writing what became the prologue of The WorldMight. The strangest thing is that I didn’t stop writing. And from those first few paragraphs the rest of the novel came to life more or less of its own accord.

RW: Tell us about your main character(s) and what you think will make them connect to readers.

CYRIL: There are really four main characters. But one ends up being the most preeminent, so I’ll tell you about that one.

The prince is described in the first lines of the prologue as follow: “His father was no king and his mother was no queen, but he was a prince nonetheless.” He is a mysterious character who one mindedly searches the world for an equally mysterious word which would save his love. His whole quest is wrapped in mystery and learning more about who he is and what the word is is one of the drives pulling the reader along the pages.

He is the embodiment of devotion and perseverance; he relentlessly forges forward in his quest and faces off with many natural and none-natural obstacles and enemies, some coming from within. I think we’ve all gone above and beyond for someone we love, though probably nothing as epic as what the prince goes through, but we can relate to that feeling of going to the end of the world for someone we deeply cherish.

 

RW: Who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

CYRIL: Well, let’s see, he’s a young man, so without giving it to much thought, I’d pick Xavier Samuel

Xavier_Samuel

RW: What message do you think your book delivers to the reader?

CYRIL: I’d say there are many,  faith, governance, self-cognizance, but in the end it is the tragic story of the prince and his love, and the take-home message is that in the face of chance, of all the things that pre-determine who we are and where we stand in life (think genetics and environment – which are everything and are completely determined by chance, or randomly if you want to put it that way) there is little we can do within these tight and often insurmountable constraints but persevere forward toward our goals, however unreachable they might appear or actually be.

RW: What did you learn about yourself while writing The WorldMight?

CYRIL: First thing would be that I can write a novel. That was not something I was sure of until the epilogue was finished.

Second, that I don’t have much control over the writing process. It happens more than I make it happen. It’s both engrossing when it flows and utterly frustrating when it doesn’t.

Third, that I pour a lot of who I am in my characters. They might be very different from me, but there’s always a crucial aspect about them that is a reflection of an aspect of my own persona. Sometimes, I don’t see it right away and it’s only on the umpteenth reread that it jumps at me, but it’s always there.

RW: Describe your book in one word.

CYRIL: Introspection

RW: Where can we get your book now?

CYRIL: At this moment it’s available at Amazon for Kindle.

RW: How do people connect with you through all forms of social media?

CYRIL:

By email at: cyril.buissiere (at) gmail (dot) com

Also to follow:

cyrilbussiere.wordpress.com 

@cyrilbussiere

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RW: Do you currently have representation? If so who, and if not describe what qualities you would like in an agent and what you would bring to the relationship.

CYRIL: Since I enjoy writing in various styles and in different genres, flexibility would be important in an agent. Also, given my attachment to well written sentences, one who is ruthless when it comes to editing would be a definite plus. And of course someone who would know how to get my work in the right hands both publisher-wise and to reader-wise.

 

RW: What are you working on right now?

CYRIL: Right now, I am working on a novel, BLUR.

blur-logo

The story takes place in Austin, TX, and follows Barrett, a scientist and wannabe writer, and, Pete, the protagonist of Barrett’s first novel. In it I explore love, lust, and the effect childhood experiences have on intimate relationships. It’s a raw, sometimes graphic work, that’s very different from my first novel. I’m six chapters short of being done, so I hope to have it out by beginning 2015.

RW: What book are you reading at this time?

CYRIL: I’m between two books from authors new to me: American Gods by Neil Gaiman (a friend’s recommendation) and Death’s Hand by SM Reine (a random internet freebie find)

 

RW: What is your biggest tip for someone to getting published?

CYRIL: Hmmm, I’m self-published so that’s very different from being traditionally published but I think having a good story and a tight manuscript trimmed of all the excess fat and well edited is definitely a good starting point either way.

RW: If you could have written any book that exists, other than your own, what would it be and why?

CYRIL: Hands down Report to Greco (or Letter to Greco in French)  by Nikos Kazantzakis. An amazing book, beautifully written, deep and thought provoking. Ha! What a life that man lived, so much fire, unyielding in the face of the void, deeply spiritual in the most life-affirming way. One can only hope to live half a life such as his.

Thank you Cyril for this interview. I encourage all to get a copy of The WorldMight, as I have my own as well, and no I had it long after my first interview with Cyril. For that interview click here. It has much more detail about many things you might find interesting, including his original book cover art and book trailer. Also you can see Cyril with his guitar.

Again to purchase a copy of The WorldMight click here.

 

Much Respect

Ronovan

 

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Q&A with Alysha Kaye Author of The Waiting Room @alyshakaye7

Book Description

“Jude and Nina are the epitome of that whole raw, unflinching love thing that most people are jealous of. That is, until Jude dies and wakes up in The Waiting Room, surrounded by other souls who are all waiting to pass over into their next life. But unlike those souls, Jude’s name is never called by the mysterious “receptionist”. He waits, watching Nina out of giant windows. He’s waiting for her. What is this place? How long will he wait? And what will happen when and if Nina does join him? The Waiting Room is a story of not just love, but of faith, predestination, and philosophy, friendship and self-actualization, of waiting.”

 

Alysha Kaye Author of The Waiting Room Interview

 

Today I’m spotlighting newly published author Alysha Kaye. Her debut novel The Waiting Room was just released at the end of June and we are fortunate to be a part of her tour.

Alysha Kaye Author The Waiting Room

I immediately wanted to be involved with this tour when I saw not only the premise of Alysha’s novel but also the fact that she’s a teacher. This old man holds a fondness for the noble profession.

Alysha received her BA in Creative Writing from Texas State University and was accepted into Teach America ending up in of all places, Oahu, HI. I am still recovering from that piece of information.

But even Hawaii, where she received her Masters in Education from the University of Hawaii couldn’t keep her from the her home state where she now teaches 7th Grade in Austin.

 

 

Now for the interview!

Having read the summary of The Waiting Room, I just had to start off by asking;

RW: Where did the idea for the book come from? Was it some event or what that sparked the idea?

 

ALYSHA: I had a dream about waiting for my boyfriend after death. I was in a strange room that looked a lot like an airport terminal. I wound up writing him a (very cheesy) poem about it and somehow, that became an entire Cover of THE WAITING ROOM by Alysha Kayenovel! I just couldn’t get it out of my head.

 

RW: Alysha, I know from having been in the classroom that free time is rare, even at home. Many people don’t realize the time you have to put into teaching, unless you have a very good system in place. How do you balance teaching and writing, managing the other aspects of your life?

 

ALYSHA: It’s extremely hard! Teaching is exhausting, especially my lovely middle schoolers haha but I adore them. I try to get all of my lesson planning and grading done at school so that when I come home, my night is free for writing/blogging, and everything else in between.

 

RW:  I know from reading what I’ve written things surprise me in what I learn. What did you learn about yourself while writing this book?

 

ALYSHA: I definitely learned that I am much more of a philosopher than I ever realized! THE WAITING ROOM asks questions that we’ve all wondered–What happens after we die? Do our souls still exist in some way? Can we find our loved ones again? The novel is a romance, but it’s also so much more. It offers various perspectives on the afterlife and welcomes new discussion.

 

RW: I know I always seem to connect with one particular character the most when I write a novel. What character do you most identify with in your book and why?

 

ALYSHA: This is hard. I think a lot of myself went into Nina, who is also an English teacher. But Jude, her husband, is extremely sarcastic, which is what I live for!

 

RW: That makes a lot of sense. You’re the writer, the creator so you do often times end up channeling parts of yourself into the characters. Now for something I know my Friends want to learn. How did you go about being published?

 

ALYSHA: I decided to self-publish and the experience has been amazing (although difficult). I wanted to get it out as soon as possible since it had already been collecting dust on my laptop for 3 years. I also wanted creative control- which large publishing companies don’t really offer. I used Expert Subjects for editing, cover design, and website design. Then the novel is published through CreateSpace and Amazon.

 

RW: Alysha, you said the novel collected dust for 3 years. How long did it take you from idea to now for the project?

 

ALYSHA: I began writing THE WAITING ROOM while interning at Simon & Schuster Publishing in New York. I was so inspired, but also so young! I didn’t finish it until I was out of college, about three years ago. Ever since then, it’s just been sitting patiently in my laptop.

 

RW: Then it wasn’t an overnight thing. Being that you are an English teacher I just have to ask, are you an outliner or a seat of the pants kind of writer?

 

ALYSHA: Definitely seat of the pants (although I stress to my students the importance of outlining so shhh!). I loathe editing.

 

RW: I take gift certificates to all Mexican restaurants for staying quiet. Now I know writing and throwing yourself into a book can take a lot of your time, and the subject matter must have taken some emotional energy as well. How has your family and friends been as far as support during this time? How did they handle your devotion to the project and did they see any changes in you as far as the way you thought about subjects you discuss in the book?

 

ALYSHA: My family has always thought that I’m a little crazy, I think haha I’m a bit of a black sheep. When I decided to major in Creative Writing they reacted as most families do: “But…what…are you going to DO?” Now that I’ve published, my parents are realizing how serious I am about writing. I understand though–it’s hard to take someone else’s passions and hobbies seriously until they prove that they’re MORE than simply “passions and hobbies”.

 

RW: What project are you working on now or do you even have the time?

 

ALYSHA: My energy has been completely devoted to marketing this novel, now that it’s released. However, I hope to start the next one very soon!

 

RW: Finally, what were/are your go to munchy food and beverage while writing?

 

ALYSHA: One word and one word only: caffeine. No music, no food, no people…just caffeine of some delicious sort!

 

It was a great honor to be part of Alysha’s Book Tour. Much appreciation goes out to her for agreeing to let us be involved and answering questions I am sure she’s been asked a million times before. Make sure to watch the Book Trailer for The Waiting Room below.


 

Get The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye in print or for Kindle here at Amazon.

Be certain to Follow Alysha Kaye everywhere:

AlyshaKaye.com

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads


REVIEWS OF THE WAITING ROOM

A list of reviews of The Waiting Room can be found here. But I included two for you that I thought would really make you want to read Alysha Kaye’s novel.

“I love the whole afterlife concept that Alysha Kaye created, because it looks so ‘normal’ and so ‘human’. The Waiting Room is a light, fun reading that comes with great message behind it. I read it like one day. It totally answered my question about true love.”

Virna Aryanita-Indonesia

 

“I think my final comment is that The Waiting Room built characters that I cared about. I cared about not only Jude and Nina but supporting characters as well. I even cared about the Waiting Room itself and was glad to see how it changed and grew throughout the book. Fantasy lovers, romance lovers, lovers of a thoughtful story – all of these readers will enjoy The Waiting Room. I wish the book success and I hope to read more by Alysha Kaye in the future.”

Tara Olivero-Indiana

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One decision can be a life changer: Book Review of The Convenience of Lies by @KCastilloBooks

Title: The Convenience of Lies
Author: Kimberly Castillo
ISBN-13: 978-9527114476
ISBN-10: 9527114470
Website:  http://www.kacastillo.blogspot.com/
Pages: 242
Genre: Young Adult (YA) Romance/Suspense/Drama

It’s 2013 and Mackenzie begins a letter to her old friend Kira. It’s 10 years after the events that changed their lives. The book then begins with new girl in town, Mackenzie and local girl, Kira as best friends forever, and then there is Ramon, a crush and ex-boyfriend in a small California town. The three send us on a trip of real teen life and feelings mixed with some unexpected surprises along the way with a group of vandals and thieves thrown in who make their attacks personal. Who has it in for these three friends?  This story is told in an authentic teenage voice as Mackenzie Fairbanks recalls that particular summer before her senior year in high school.

The book flows well taking the reader  from one chapter to the next. It is an absorbing  read, well written not only in story but in structure and grammar as well. The author conveys vivid emotions and dialogue throughout the book, with captivating prose for example, scenes describing a character’s intoxication and the resulting actions that are spot on. I like the fact you don’t notice the writing. You are in the story and there are no odd moments where you wonder what is that word doing there.

The emotional content within the book is realistic and appropriate as scenes transition well.  The emotional jolt near the end is handled exactly right, as one would expect such a situation to be in real life. The emotional moments throughout the book are presented in an amazingly genuine teen/coming of age point of view.

The story keeps ones attention and you want to see what happens and to whom.

Was I surprised by events in the book? Not entirely as the author provided sufficient clues for the discerning reader to figure things out.

Just to let those who might purchase this as a gift without reading it first, there is some profanity used, but we are talking about teens. Some teens of certain environments grow up using certain language while others do it to be cool. I believe the author handled this well as she doesn’t have every character do it, an excellent job in my opinion. And to be honest, if there hadn’t been any profanity it would not have been an authentic book.

You are inside the main characters head a lot, but that’s to be expected in the type of story being told. This is a diary type of story. The only time I really had any problems with it was in the very beginning where things were being set up for us to know what is going on. Once past that first chapter or two of setting things up, the story takes off and you are ready to go.

Reading The Convenience of Lies shows you what is possible inside the life of teens. And I do mean what is truly possible. Having been a teacher and youth pastor I know what can happen. The reader will identify or recognize the struggles teenagers encounter in their world, how they perceive themselves, and that lessons have to be learned in their own time no matter how painful they may be or who they may hurt. Do you lose a best friend, a crush, a dream?

Read The Convenience of Lies by Kimberly Castillo and experience a slice of teenagers’ world through what happens to Mackenzie and her friends.

The elements about where McKenzie is as an adult and how she got to that point are things you need to think about as you read the book. The Convenience of Lies is more than you think if  you know what to look for going in.

If I were to categorize the book it would be difficult to say. Young Adult? Yes. Marital Issues? Yes. Although not a category. Domestic Abuse? Yes. That can be defined in many different ways so don’t jump to a conclusion there.

Ratings:

Realistic Characterization: 5K.A. Castillo/5

Made Me Think: 3.5/5

Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5

Readability: 4/5

Recommended: 4/5

Ovearall Rating: 4

Buy it at: Amazon

Format & Pricing:

Paperback: 10.46 USD

Kindle: 2.99 USD

Author Kimberly Castillo

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Q&A with Vashti Quiroz-Vega Author of The Basement @VashtiQV

THE BASEMENT

by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

 

Book Description

 Robbie is a meek boy in New York City who struggles with the desire to prove himself to his friends, his enemies, and himself. Robbie’s father is a stubborn man determined to teach his son through tough love. When he witnesses Robbie being bullied, he forces his son to face his fears. Robbie is sentenced to a frightening challenge––staying in the basement alone for a night. But what lies in the dark recesses of the basement? Will Robbie make it out alive and well? Will the urban legend about the terrifying creatures that hide in the dark basement prove to be true? And most importantly, will Robbie prove to his friends and his father that he is brave enough to take on the challenge? The Basement is a tale of angst, teamwork and solutions, treasure hunts and adventure, and facing fears. It focuses on the small world of one group of preteens and the very real and wondrous challenges they face.

I never expected a book like this from a lady like this. When I first approached Vashti, who I met through her blog, about an interview I wanted to learn more about the author behind The Basement. I still want to learn more but in truth, I want to know about this book and how it came to be and what else this author has planned for us. I’m going to get out of the way of this interview, simply ask the questions and let you meet . . .

VASHTI QUIROZ-VEGA

Ron Cover ShotRW: Vashti Quiroz-Vega. Love the name. Tell us a little about your ancestry. I am very into history. And your name spins all sorts of imagery through the echoes of my mind.  And is there a meaning behind your name?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: My first name, Vashti, is Persian in origin and has very little to do with my ancestry, I’m afraid. Vashti is the name of a queen in the old testament of the bible in the book of Esther.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Your book, The Basement available on Amazon,where did the idea come from?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: The Basement began as a short story I wrote in high school. I won an award for it and put it away in a box, along with a bunch of other stories. Years later, I came across it. After reading it again and with the encouragement of others, I decided to expand the short story into a novel.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: The book is about an 11-year-old boy and his troubles, how did you connect with the character?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: I have a brother and two sisters. I’m close to all my siblings, but I grew up especially close to my brother (maybe determined by the fact that I was a tomboy). The Basement is loosely based on memories I have from childhood. The main character, Robbie, was inspired by my brother and my nephew, Joshua.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: And the abuse parts?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: There has been no abuse in my household, but I did know a child growing up who was verbally and physically abused by a parent. The parent did not try to hide this from anyone. I saw and heard this child being abused on many occasions. This experience and the memory of this child have stayed with me till this day, which is why I tolerate no kind of bullying or abuse of any kind.

An ex-boyfriend once told me that I was a perfect mix of femininity and masculinity because I am feminine and very much a woman, but I am also assertive, straightforward and I love basketball, action movies, UFC and camping.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: What did it feel like writing the character of Robbie, the 11 year old boy in the book, as you had to basically become him for periods of time?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: When I wrote The Basement, I essentially became an 11-year-old boy. I felt vulnerable––like my life was not in my control. I guess I felt like a child in a scary world.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: For those reading who may not be familiar with you can you give an example of an author and perhaps a book that would give them an idea of what this book is like as far as feel and style?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: That’s a tough one. Some people have compared my storytelling to that of several other writers, including Stephen King and Anne Rice, who are two of my favorite writers and whose books I have been reading for years. So I don’t doubt that there is some of their influence in my writing, but I believe that I’m developing my own style. Not that I wouldn’t love to write as well as Stephen King and Anne Rice, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Are you a character in The Basement?MC_99732309_4

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: Let’s just say that several of the characters in The Basement have some of my personality traits.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Tell us about your writing process. You took a short story and turned it into a full-length novel. How did you go about that?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: As I re-read the story, I added, changed and rearranged sentences, and I replaced and deleted words. I had read so many books and learned so much since writing that story in high school that expanding it was not that difficult. Even now, I feel that I have learned so much since publishing The Basement. I guess that’s how it is with writers. We are constantly reading, learning and improving. I feel that my second book, Lilith, will be much better written than my first, and my third book, Dracul, will probably be better written than my second, and so on. That doesn’t mean any of my books are badly written. It just means that as I learn and gain experience, my work will reflect that. I have noticed this when I compare Stephen King’s earlier books with the books he’s written in the last couple of years. But I have always enjoyed all of his books.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Can you walk us through how you went from complete and satisfied manuscript to now available for purchase? Many will be reading this who haven’t gone through it yet, and since you have on a number of occasions, I know I would personally like to hear it from a pro like you.

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASTHI: Wow! You flatter me, Ron. 😉 I’ve actually gone through the entire process only once with my book The Basement. The best advice I can offer anyone who has finished writing a story is to give the finished manuscript to several trusted people and ask for their honest opinions. Then after revisions (if any), hire a professional editor.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Ah, I get the impression you have published several because of how professional everything seems. What other works do you have available and what are you working on presently?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: I have written a variety of short stories, from horror and dark fantasy to sci-fi and romance. You can check them out on my blog.

I’m in the final stages of editing my book Lilith. This is a dark fantasy about angels aimed at a young adult/ adult audience. I’m hoping to have it available in early 2015.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Is there a lot of romance in your work or sensuality?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: There’s always a little romance because I believe that’s part of life and reality. There’s also some sensuality in my work-in-progress because that’s part of who I am, and that part of my personality comes through in the story.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: How understanding are your friends and family when the writing mania takes hold of you?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: Some are very understanding, especially other writers because they’ve been there. Others––not so much.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: What would be your ideal agent be like to sign with?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: I would love an agent who truly enjoys my story. The editor that’s working with me on my second book ‘Lilith’ truly loves the book. It is obvious by her enthusiasm, the comments she’s made and the questions that she’s asked me. It makes a difference when the agent loves the genre and story. Also, an agent that is hardworking and self motivated is great. One that will stop at nothing to get you the best deal possible for your book. I would love to get into one of the big publishing houses.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Now for a few fun and trivial questions. What’s your go to beverage while writing?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: Water. I know you’re thinking, “boring,” but I prefer to be sharp and focused when I write. Being well-hydrated does that for me. I don’t drink much coffee, beer makes me bloat like a blowfish, wine puts me to sleep, margaritas and rum are fun, but put me in the wrong frame of mind, and I get distracted easily. So while I’m writing, it’s water for me.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: What is your escape from writing when you need that break before burnout happens?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: Reading, cooking, baking, hiking, kayaking, getting together with family and friends, watching one of my favorite shows on TV (Criminal Minds, Law and Order, Castle, Modern Family . . .) or going to the cinema, playing with my dog, and other things I shouldn’t mention––not necessarily in that order.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: And finally, as a writer, what is your favorite word and why?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: Wow! There are several words I love, but the first word that comes to mind is “Dulcet.” Why? Because it’s a beautiful word, I enjoy pronouncing it and writing it down. Meaning: 1: sweet to the taste 2: pleasing to the ear 3: generally pleasing or agreeable.

Thank you, Ronovan, for inviting me as a guest author to your awesome blog. I appreciate you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I want to thank Vashti for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. And I hope she comes back when her next book is due out.

Her various contact information appeared in some links throughout the interview but I am putting them all here together so you can follow her everywhere. Also here are some some fan art of her and one of her characters from The Basement, Natasha. Don’t worry, she won’t mind, I already do and if she will let me follower her she’ll let you too. And we are all about supporting each other here, right?

 

ScaredGirlFinal FanArt
Fan Art of ‘Natasha’ from The Basement.
Vashti5
Fan Art of Vashti

Website

Author Site

The Basement Fan Site

Goodreads

Twitter

Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q&A with Amira Makansi of THE SOWING. How a dream became a novel. @AKMakansi

Have you ever wanted to know how a book goes from idea to the hands of a reader? I have someone who can tell you that, not only as an author but as part of a family in the book publishing business. She used to be one of the people that read the Author submissions. Meet . . .

 

Amira Makansi

Co-Author of The Sowing

A Writing InterviewAuthors Photo

 She’s the one in the middle.

(Be still my heart if I were ever in the same room with all three for an interview.)

THE SOWING - Book One of the SEEDS TRILOGYTheSeedsTrilogy.com

RW: Amira, you have a book out now, with another one closing in on completion of the process, tell us about your book, The Sowing.

 

AMIRA: The Sowing is, at its most basic, a story about two people coming to terms with each other and the world around them. In the future society of the Okarian Sector, Okariascience rules all, and the food you eat has the power to change who you are. Sector ‘Dieticians’ program certain individuals for specific roles using genetically modified seeds and chemically-altered food; some are programmed for success, others for servitude. The majority of the Sector is kept in the dark about the true extent of the manipulation taking place, but some have learned the truth and are fighting back. The Resistance, a small, underground group of guerrilla fighters, has sworn to stop the Sector’s oppression of its citizens. Remy Alexander is one such fighter; when her sister was killed in a classroom massacre, her parents fled, taking their surviving daughter underground to join the fight against the Sector. But now, Valerian Orlean, who once loved Remy and has never forgotten her, is put in charge of a military operation to hunt and destroy the Resistance. The two are set on a collision course that could bring everyone together – or tear everything apart. 

 

RW: I think I may have a few friends who would like you to write their book jackets for them. You are a co-author, who are the other authors of THE SOWING?

 

AMIRA: Two of my favorite people in the world: My mom, Kristina, and my sister, Elena. 

Authors Photo

 

 RW: I can’t imagine working on such a creative project with family and not wanting to perhaps do some type of bodily harm one another but we can get to that later. Real quick, where can my Friends purchase your book, THE SOWING?

 

AMIRA: You can get it in print or get an e-book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. (Thanks in advance!) 

 

RW: I want to focus on your writing process during our time today because we’ve discussed you coming back for an interview for when your next book is set for publication. With that being said let’s get into your writing process, and please use THE SOWING, which I have a copy of, (And no, it was not a gift.) as an example so we can see the process in real action.

First, what is your background as far as education, degrees? What brings you to the writing arena?

 

AMIRA: I have a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Chicago. UChicago is a grueling place with a strong emphasis on academia. I wrote countless papers in college, which, I think, honed my ability to write from a structural and grammatical perspective. Studying history is also where I really found my love of storytelling, and therefore, writing. History is just the assembled story of hundreds of thousands of lives, and studying history, at its most basic, is nothing more than discovering, analyzing, and retelling those stories. 

 

RW: As a Historian myself, degree thereof, bravo. (I have never actually written the word bravo before. You must try it. Fascinating.) Now we know about your background to be a writer, let’s take this step by step: how did you come up with your book idea?

 

AMIRA: It was definitely not my idea. I wish I could take credit for it, but it’s actually Kristina’s, my mom. She had a dream almost four years ago that sparked the original concept of THE SOWING. In her dream, two young adults are fighting in an abandoned city at night, on opposite sides of the battle. The girl skids to the ground and falls. The boy reaches his hand out to her. When their fingers meet, a flash of electricity pulses through the two of them – and then the dream ended. Kristy woke up and knew she had to tell the story of these two young lovers. Although the electric jolt has since been removed from the novel, this fundamental scene became the crux on which the entire first book rests: when Remy and Vale meet again for the first time in three years, on opposite sides of a battle with enormous ideological consequences. 

 

RW: So your Kristina has the idea, she brings it to you and your sister, what did you do next?

 

AMIRA: After Kristy decided she really, really wanted to write this story, she and my sister Elena sat down and drafted what ended up being that scene. Then they went back and wrote what eventually became Chapter One of THE SOWING. They showed both chapters to me, and I was really impressed. So impressed that I sat down and wrote Chapter Two, but this time, I wrote it from Vale‘s perspective, instead of Remy‘s. The dueling protagonist narrative was something we’d never seen before in a novel, but we wanted to tell both sides of the story, so we took it and ran with it. My sister and I went back and forth like that for a while – she would write several chapters from Remy’s perspective, and I’d write a few from Vale’s. We kept going that way, plotting out the next few chapters, but without a fully-conceived idea of where the book was going and how it would end. In a way, it was a stroke of good luck that the first draft came out as well – and as coherently – as it did. I think we were all a little surprised when we finished writing. We kind of looked at each other and said, “Well, now we have a book. What do we do with it?” 

 

RW: So it sounds like there really wasn’t any outlining really or even really the seat of pants writing, but as technical as THE SOWING is how did you make the book flow considering there were two writers?

 

AMIRA: We didn’t really outline in THE SOWING, although we always tried to make sure we knew what the next few chapters would be. It was kind of like driving at night – we could only see as far as our headlights, but we always knew there was more road ahead.

 

RW: And the research?

 

AMIRA: Most of the actual research we did came in draft two, when we focused on perfecting the science and making the world believable. When you’re dropping words like ‘hovercar,’ ‘airship,’ ‘DNA encryption,’ and ‘genetically modified’ on almost every page, we knew we’d have to do a fair bit of research to make the science at least feasible. I like to think we succeeded.

 

RW: How did the writing go for THE SOWING, was it smooth and just come easily for the first draft?

 

AMIRA: It was very smooth. The first draft was, in many ways, radically different from the book that we eventually published. For example, Remy had superpowers – we called it “bird vision”, and she could see in frequencies that no one else could. But we threw that baby out with the bathwater – we didn’t want to write another superhero novel, and we wanted our protagonists to be powerful because they are good, strong people, not because they have superpowers. But the first draft came very smoothly. We just went back and forth, chapter by chapter, until we came to a good stopping point and we said “I guess that’s that!” 

 

RW: You mentioned writing the book with your mother and  sister, how easy or difficult did that make the initial creation of the book?

 

AMIRA: The initial creation was so much fun! Working with Elena and Kristy was a thrill, as both of them bring unique abilities to the table. We all complement each other. For example, Kristy is very imaginative, and is really good at filling in plot holes. A lot of the times, when Elena or I were stumped about how to move forward or to make a chapter work, Kristy would come up with a really good idea and Elena and I would just be like, “Why didn’t we think of that?” Elena, by contrast, is a very emotional writer. She spins these gorgeous phrases that just knock you off your socks and make you totally empathize with the protagonist. Also, both Elena and Kristy tend to be much better at writing humor. My own writing is starker, and more serious. I’m also the one who brings the “science” to the “science fiction”. I’m not a scientist (though I do work in a laboratory!), but I do tend to be the one who makes sure everything’s correct, consistent, and yet readable for a layperson. 

 

RW: Let’s say you have your first draft done, did all of you walk away and leave on the shelf for a time like so many say to do?

 

AMIRA: Yes. We did, and I think that was enormously helpful. I recommend it to everyone who’s editing a novel. We finished writing the first draft of THE SOWING in November of 2012, and we handed it to some trusted friends and writers for a beta-read. The feedback we got was not only really encouraging, but also critical to shaping what the book eventually became. This interim period was when we came up with one of the most critical elements of THE SOWING, which was the mystery of the DNA encryption. Without giving too much away, the DNA mystery became a driving force in the first novel. We dove back into editing two months later, in January of 2013, and that was when we shaped the book into, essentially, what it is today.

 

RW: How many drafts did you do for THE SOWING?

 

AMIRA: It’s hard to say, because we did so many different stages of revisions. I would approximate that we did five major drafts. Three of those were re-writes for structural changes, and the last two were line-by-line edits for language and style. 

 

RW: Who did the editing for your book?

 

AMIRA: All three of us! And boy, was that a challenge. If writing the first draft with three people was smooth sailing, by draft three, we’d hit stormy seas. We all had very strong opinions about the book and believed passionately in the story, which meant that we were willing to fight tooth and nail to get rid of parts we thought weren’t good enough and to keep our favorite parts in. Editing with two other writers is a humbling experience. You realize that not every word you’ve written is gold, and that your opinion is by no means the right one. It was both an honor and a challenge to write with two other equally talented authors at my side. 

 

RW: Is there a favorite “darling” you had to “kill”, and can you explain to some of my Friends what it means to “kill your darlings”?

 

AMIRA: For me, killing your darlings means sacrificing parts of the story or phrases you love for the improvement of the novel as a whole. It means prioritizing the big picture over that scene you wrote one night that you absolutely love. One of my darlings was a scene I wrote early on in the story where Vale accompanies a squadron of soldiers on a ‘training’ mission to show him how to be a commander. In this chapter, Vale watched a fellow soldier die, killed by poisonous flowers planted by the Resistance, and his reaction was one of righteous anger and a desire to take revenge. At the time, I loved that scene, because I thought it helped justify Vale’s passion at the beginning of the novel, and it upped the ante on both sides of the war. But in the end, it didn’t fit in the overall narrative. We neither had space for it in the beginning, when we really needed to get to the heart of the action, nor did it make sense for Vale’s character arc. We cut it, and it was definitely the right choice. 

 

RW: How long did it take from the idea to the final in the hands of the publisher of THE SOWING take?

 

AMIRA: We really started writing in January of 2012, and we had a published book by August of 2013. So, almost exactly a year and a half. 

 

RW: Once the publisher had your book, how long did it take to make it out to the masses?

 

AMIRA: Well, our publisher was us! We self-published the novel, a choice I’m still proud of. It gave us more control over the art and the story, and it allowed us to get the story to the public much more quickly. We had a finished book in mid-July, and we published the whole thing in early August. So our turn-around time was about three weeks. For most books, the time between when your agent sells your book and the finished product actually hits bookshelves is around eighteen months to two years. So the fact that we put the book out a mere three weeks after finishing it is frankly pretty amazing. 

 

RW: What has been the most difficult part of the whole novel process from idea to actually selling your book to the masses?

 

AMIRA: People aren’t joking when they say that writing the book is the easy part. Marketing, and learning how to sell in this new, strange world of digital books and independent publishing, is one thousand times more difficult than writing. I love writing – it’s something that comes naturally to me, no matter how tired I am or how burnt out I am on a story. But marketing, selling, advertising, spreading the word – that’s the hard part. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about marketing a book on social media, it’s simple: Just be yourself. There’s a writer on Twitter I very much admire named Ksenia Anske, and for a little while, when I was new to Twitter, I tried to emulate her. I was at my most boring, then, when I was trying to be her instead of myself. My follower count started jumping (not that it’s anywhere near hers) and people started really listening to me when I decided to stop being her and to start being me instead. (It was a lot easier, too!) 

 

RW: When you had those moments of frustration, exhaustion, almost burnout, what did you do as an escape?

 

AMIRA: Whiskey. And beer. And wine. No, I’m not joking, and I’m not trying to play the ‘tortured artist’ card, either. Food, drink, and good conversation with good friends, has always been my escape during times of stress. And since my co-writers are also two of my best friends, it’s easy to find an escape in a bottle of wine and a heated debate over environmentalism or economics or whether an IPA is a better beer choice than a porter. 

 

RW: What gets you pumped to write?

 

AMIRA: Music! When I’m lacking in focus, I’ll close out all my social media tabs and turn up the music. I’ll listen to everything from classical piano to jazz to indie folk to classic rock. 

 

RW: Who is your favorite author right now?

 

AMIRA: That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t know that I’ve had a ‘favorite author’ since I was much younger. I’ve been trying to read books by a lot of different authors, instead of delving deeply into the works of only one. But I will say that the book that most recently blew my head off was INFINITE JEST by David Foster Wallace. The book is enormous, and it took me almost six months to finish, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so overwhelmed by how thoroughly a writer inhabited so many different writing styles. DFW is like a shapeshifter for writers – he transitions effortlessly between countless voices. I was astounded. 

 

RW: What book are you reading now, or the latest book you read that you really enjoyed and recommend?

 

AMIRA: Right now, I’m reading IRONWEED by William Kennedy. So far, so good. The most recent book I would recommend is THE VAMPIRE LESTAT by Anne Rice. Technically, it’s a prequel to INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, but you don’t need to have read Interview in order to understand Lestat. I didn’t expect a book that was so enormously popular and ‘hip’ to be so philosophical, or so emotional. But it was both. It really resonated with me as a story about trying desperately to make connections in a world where loneliness is so prevalent, and about trying to understand the world from an outsider’s perspective. 

 

RW: What writing resources would you recommend to my Friends, including sites, anything?

 

AMIRA: Joanna Penn’s website on publishing and writing is fantastic: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/, although to be honest, I haven’t read very many books about writing. Personally, I’ve found that the best way to learn how to write is simply to read a lot and write a lot, and that if you don’t do those two things, no amount of writing ‘advice’ is going to help. 

 

RW: What is your favorite beverage?

 

AMIRA: I’ll take a really nice Riesling or a whiskey sour, depending on my mood. Also, dry rose wine, which is chronically under-appreciated in the United States, is the perfect drink for sitting on the patio with friends and family. 

 

RW: What is your favorite munchy food while writing, and if you don’t while writing what is it anyway?

 

AMIRA: Cheese and olives. 100%. Cheese is manna from heaven, and olives are the perfect complement. 

 

RW: Would anyone be surprised if I told you she had some Greek in her? What is your favorite word and why?

 

AMIRA: Oh, but I have so many! Recently I’ve been really digging the word ‘loquacious’. It’s just so weird, and I love weird words. Look at it, how weird it is. ‘Loquacious.’ It means ‘talkative’, but I can’t help but think of lollipops and Dr. Seuss whenever I think about it. I don’t know why.

 

THE REAPING COVER 8.13

RW: And a Bonus Question: When can we expect THE REAPING, the next of the THE SEEDS TRILOGY to be out?

 

AMIRA: We are shooting for October 15.

 

I hope everyone likes the cover of THE REAPING. It was revealed Friday, and I had to sit on my hands not to let everyone see it early as I was able to get a peek at it early. I thank Amira for the trust.

 

I want to thank Amira for doing this interview. Hearing her experience from beginning to end was a learning time for me. I learned that my thoughts and ways of doing things aren’t completely off the mark, and I see how you have to keep working. Even if you had a publicity machine behind you, you still have to keep working. Even walking away from your draft doesn’t mean you aren’t working on another project, you best be.

 

Amira has agreed to come back for an Author Interview when The Reaping is released. Who knew a simple follow on Twitter would turn into a great friendship. I just wish the time zones were the same.



 

Amira didn’t ask for all the links and the like in the interview and she definitely didn’t ask for the below but I wanted you to have everything in one place. By clicking on each book cover below you can go to the Amazon.com site for each book showing. THE SOWING is in both kindel and paperback.

COVERTHE SOWING - Book One of the SEEDS TRILOGY

The Seeds Trilogy Facebook Page

TheSeedsTrilogy.com

Follow on Twitter

 

Much Respect to Y’all

Ronovan

 

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