Interview With Nicola Rhodes

For Wednesday’s interview, I have the very talented Nicola Rhodes with me! She is the author of the Tamar Black Saga and the SCI’ON Trilogy (so far) – often can’t remember where she lives so she lives inside her own head most of the time, where even if you do get lost, it’s still okay. She has met many interesting people inside her own head and eventually decided to introduce the rest of the world to them, in the hopes that they would stop bothering her and let her sleep. She has been doing this for ten years now, but they still won’t leave her alone. When she is bored she also paints, draws and makes things out of egg-boxes and is trying to learn the guitar (because musicians are sexier than authors and they make more money). She likes chocolate and vodka (well you never know – someone might take the hint) She is married to the long suffering Mike who lives in an old Vicarage in  Derby – England because he is not crazy (well not much anyway) and they have three girls between them. She wrote these books for fun and does not care if you take away a moral lesson from them or not.

 

Hi Nicola, it’s great to have you here, welcome to my blog.

Hi Miranda, thank you for having me, it’s nice to be here.

   

First up, the random question as always! You say that you live in your own head mostof the time-tell us what it looks like?

Hahaha, are you sure you want to know? Like a cross between the casting for an over-ambitious fantasy movie and a funfair, which is not as much fun as it sounds.

 

Wow, sounds crowded! When did you realise you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember what inspired you?

Itwas about ten years ago, I suppose. I was never one of those kids who ALWAYS wanted to be a writer, even though I did write, all the time. Djinnx’d began with a simple wish. I wanted a better life and could see no way ofgetting one. I had a brass genie lamp on my hearth and thought if I could only have three wishes, I would wish for the power to lift myself out of poverty and ill health. That seemed simple enough. To grant your own wishes (so to speak)for the rest of your life.

But of course, for a story it couldn’t be that simple. Wishes always have a catch, and so the story of Tamar and her three wishes was born.

After that, she became so real to me that her adventures couldn’t possibly stop there! My imagination had been let loose.

 

I’d have wished for more wishes. Does that ever work? Never mind, ignore me….Would you ever consider writing in a different genre to the one you do now?

Oh yes, absolutely. I already have the premise for a Gothic Horror novel floating around in my (slightly addled) head, and if it works out as I hope, there will be a sequel to that. Maybe I will end up changing my preferred genre for good.Who knows?

 

*Gasps* Competition? I challenge you to a dual! Actually, scratch that, you’re safe for now. 🙂 Your first novel, Djinnx’d, sounds very interesting though. Can you tell us more about it?

Djinnx’d is a comic fantasy about a girl who accidentally becomes a Djinn when she makes the wrong three wishes. Five thousand years ago, she was a teenager with not much on her mind beyond boys and clothes. Now she is a five thousand year old Djinn bent on vengeance. By wishing for phenomenal powers, she ended up as a slave instead – a genie in a bottle. And she is determined that if she ever regains her freedom, the Djinn who trapped her, will pay the price.

Enter Denny, a man so boring he needs a charisma transplant just to be Clark Kent. But it is he who takes on Tamar’s challenge, finds Askphrit and frees Tamar – forever. Heroes are found in the strangest places. They end up on a quest to find the guilty party and … but I am not going to tell you how it ends.

 

Aw! *stops scribbling in notepad* So what inspired this novel?

Apart from the above mentioned desire to sort out my life, I guess I was inspired by reading more than anything. I have always been a voracious reader and, at that time, I was just getting into the works of Terry Pratchett and Tom Holt – courtesy of my Father – it seemed like a fun way to write, so I thought I would give it a try. I never expected, at that time, to publish. I wrote for release, for fun and for myself. It was not until I had written four books about Tamar, and the few people who had read them told me to publish, that it even crossed my mind.

 

Good taste! Where can we find your novels?

You can find all my published novels on Amazon in the Kindle store and in paperback at Lulu.com. I am happy to do signed copies for anyone who contacts me through my website and there are also epub versions of all my books on there for the Nook ereader.

 

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Apart from a nervous breakdown? I am definitely keen to try my hand at the aforementioned gothic horror, and I have a number of other fantasy novels on my mind. One about the faerie realm and a more supernatural type – featuring a ghost. But before that, I have the spin off series from the Tamar Black novels to finish as well as my Fantasy/SciFi cross genre Trilogy. Nervous breakdown here I come.

 

Not while you’re on my blog, we haven’t got the insurance! Last random question…you love both chocolate and vodka, but if you could only have one for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Oh chocolate – no contest. I have an additive personality, vodka on its own sounds too dangerous.

 

Ummm…..do you think anyone will one day make chocolate vodka? You can find out more about Nicola Rhodes on Facebook , Twitter, her website and on her blog.Thank you for being here, Nicola, anything else to add?

Did I mention the chocolate? I am just glad you didn’t ask me whether I would rather give up chocolate or writing for the rest of my life. Now that would be a conundrum!

 

Now why didn’t I think of that question? You can find Nicola’s books at Amazon US (click here) and UK (click here), and also here at Lulu.com.

Djinnx’d

YOUR WISH IS MY COMMAND …

What would you wish for if you were offered three wishes? When Tamar, found a dirty old bottle in the river and released an ancient and powerful Djinn, she decided to go for the big one, the ultimate wish to end all wishes.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time…

Djinnx’d …

… or Jinxed by a genie, which is what happens to Tamar when she is tricked into taking the genie’s place in the bottle.

Good – in that she now has phenomenal cosmic power Bad – in that she is now the slave of the bottle for the next several eternities.

But eternity is cut short when she meets Denny. At first he seems just the latest in a long line of human masters, but it soon becomes apparent that he is no ordinary master when he declares his intention to set Tamar free from her bondage – no matter what the cost. He has no idea what he’s let himself in for. Witches, mermaids, houris a homicidal Djinn and a mad forest god with a superiority complex and that’s not the half of it …

What can kill a Djinn? If Denny can’t answer this question in time then it will all have been for nothing.

Excerpt from Djinnx’d;

In the beginning, there was the word. (Actually, there were two words.) And the words were “System Ready” because it was. And the programmers saw that it was good. Not as good as it could have been, because the bosses upstairs had only given them a week to build the program. So the universe was something of a rush job in the end, but deadlines were deadlines and it would just have to do. So they pushed “Enter” and the screen flashed up “Mainframe universal systems online” And underneath that > “Which file?” So, the programmers accessed the stellar matrix and switched on the stars. And the void was filled. And the programmers saw that it was good.

So they left mainframe, which could pretty much run itself now anyway, and went home for their tea. After all, it was Sunday, and the bosses had temporarily vetoed the file for time and a half on weekends. And it was on the weekends that some pretty interesting new files were created that the programmers completely missed. A good example of this was the “magic” or “virtual reality” files. By the time the programmers realized what had happened within mainframe, the error was too large to correct. Magic was an integral part of the system,

One of the worst type of magic files that had been created were the Djinn files. In order to try to sort this one out the programmers demanded, and got, their time and a half weekend pay. Even management could see that they would have to back down on this one. Even so, the problem was only partly resolved in the end. However, the programmers felt that they had it under control. There were around twelve hundred Djinn files to be amended. That is a lot of work in anyone’s book. Perhaps it’s no wonder that they missed one.

In the beginning, there was the word. And the word was “Error” And that explains a lot, doesn’t it?

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Did KDP Select Work?-Or, How I Panicked About Giving Away My Work Free

Okay, I’m jumping on the bandwagon of authors who have done a blog post about this, but they haven’t done one about my experience, so now you get to skim through another load of paragraphs about KDP Select. 🙂

Now, you should know that I did do this with some trepidation. Some angry little egotistical part of me was screaming, “What the hell are you giving them away for?! Do you know how long I worked on that?!?!” But then another calmer part of me, probably slobbing on the sofa, was replying, “But no-one knows about your book…we need to build up a readership. This could be the way to do it.”

When I started KDP Select, my books on Amazon.com were at something like #589, 605 (give or take another few lightyears away from anyone ever seeing them), and they were so low on Amazon.co.uk, they weren’t even ranked! Yes, that is possible. Anyhoo, I started my free promotion last Friday, and began twittering, facebooking, and any other number of social-media-ing that sounds like it would get you into a court case. I waited a while, and then-

10 downloads!

This was, you must realise, after just waiting for twenty minutes or so! I was so excited, I became addicted straight away. I suddenly wanted to see where my book would rise up. It rose further and further, with over 1400 downloads at the end of the first day!

Over the weekend, it slowed down a little, as I suppose the first rush of people had already downloaded it, but it still went steady at about 60 downloads an hour. Overall, when the weekend had finished, I had over 3000 downloads of Conner, meaning it was in more people’s hands, to speak about it from word of mouth, to boost the rankings, and to gain a readership.

These were the figures I managed to capture on Sunday, and I was also at #2 in horror and suspense on Amazon.de, but I didn’t manage to get the figures for that, with about 76 downloads overall, so you obviously need less downloads to get to a good ranking on Amazon.de! Here are the captures, the first one is UK the seconds one is US.

So, the real questions is, did it help sales? Well, in a word, yes. 🙂

It’s only been two days since the promotion ended, but I’m already getting pretty good sales figures, at about 7 a day. Now that may not sound like much, but 7 a day is a great deal more than 0 a month! Now, I don’t know how long it will stay at this rate, but I’m hoping I can at least gain a little readership, and get people hooked for the sequel, Erin, due to come out in September!

So, I’ll let you know what happens in a week or so!….. 🙂

 

Do I Need An Editor?

Yesterday in my post I mentioned that I used to work as an editor/proof-reader a few years ago, (and I still do, as freelance) and weirdly it also came up in a conversation with a good friend yesterday over emails. She’s asked me to have a glance over an excerpt she’s written, and I can’t wait to, it looks really cool.

But it got me wondering about editing and the indie community of authors. There are some authors who happily pay a hundred or more for editing, and are very happy with it. There are others who pay the same amount and they have books full of mistakes. And there those who do it themselves, or don’t bother at all.

Now, I do my own manuscripts, but that’s because I’ve done it for an awful lot of people. If you’ve never done professional editing before, I can’t see it turning out well for you. Let me explain; I don’t mean it to sound as stuck up as it does, I really don’t. I just mean that it’s so incredibly difficult; I’m impressed if you decide to do it yourself without knowing what you’re doing.

And I’m saying this from experience. When I had finished writing Conner, for the first time several years ago, it was full of mistakes, and I hadn’t yet started working as a proof-reader, never mind as an editor! (Which came later.) It was truly atrocious, you couldn’t go for a few pages without going, “Oh, there’s another one!”

But when I got training for editing, and I really started to pay attention, I realised how little I knew.

So, if you do decide to have a go yourself, I’ve listed a few little tips to use when editing your own manuscript.

1. Always check for spelling errors. No, REALLY check for them.

It’s amazing how many people say to me, “But I did check for spelling errors. I used Spellcheck.” Let me tell you something people, Spellcheck is not-let me repeat that, not-a 100% check on your errors. Sure, it will pick up on simple errors such as a word with missing or extra letters; ‘trieeed’ instead of ‘tried’, for example, but let me give you one it won’t pick up on. If you write ‘form’ where you meant to write ‘from’, 9 times out of 10, it won’t even pick it up. If you can’t be bothered to re-read your own manuscript at least three times for spelling errors alone, pay someone. 🙂

2. Check for grammar.

This is an easy one. Check for the grammar! And as above for Spellcheck…. Try reading your manuscript out loud, rather than in your head, even if you’re just murmuring to yourself. This way, if something doesn’t sound right, you will hear it, and pick up on it as you do so. Trust me, saying something out loud will pick up on things that skimming with your eyes won’t.

3. Does it make sense?

Sometimes when we’re writing, it’s easy to get bogged down with something else; the kids, housework, the garden, that annoying sales call. So we stop writing for a while, and when we come back, we can’t remember exactly what we were going to write. So….we put down the rough idea of what we were going to write, and carry on. And there is nothing wrong with this. But you must check for continuity. If character A got shouted at by character B, in the next chapter they can’t straight away be laughing and joking with each other. It’s annoying, and it disrupts the flow of a story. So always read through to make sure your story links together.

4. Have you got your facts straight?

Sometimes you might be reading a book, and you’ll scan the line you just read again. “I’m sure that’s not true.” you think to yourself. This is when authors don’t do their research. I once edited a book where the author was writing a romantic story about a couple who sail to the New World just after Christopher Columbus had a good look around. She set it three years after he had been. But the story was set in 1645. Quite impressive seeing as Columbus died in 1506 and arrived in the Americas around 1492. So the author hadn’t done their research. You must check for simple facts in your story as well. If you mention a historical person or event, are the dates right? If you’re setting it in another country, do you know the geography of it well? If you want to mention a subject such as science or psychology, do you understand it? There really isn’t any excuse nowadays, with the internet there to do research on if nothing else.

5. Rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite again!

If you have followed all of the above advice, and have moved onto your cover, STOP! No, you’re not done yet! With all of the errors you’ve corrected, and the facts you’ve changed, and the parts you’ve linked together, some of the sentences may need smoothing out. You may have just thought of the perfect part to put in that would fit where it wouldn’t before. Maybe you just want to be sure? So rewrite. If you’re a good writer, chances are you are a good reader. And you know what parts might be too lengthy, or not lengthy enough. A simple fight scene can be made boring with no tension. Concentrate on details; this helps you to slow the pace down, without losing the tension. Rather; it creates the tension!

So I hope some of these tips will help you if you do decide to edit it yourself. And if you decide you would still like someone else to do it for you, you can always consider me! 🙂 Just email me at mirandastork@gmail.com, and see if I can help you.

Why Self-Publish? (Or Why I’m Too Impatient)

Okay, so I’m not that bad…no really! I didn’t actually think it would be easier to self-publish. Because in fact I know it’s very, very hard. A few years ago I worked for Stag Editors in New York as a proofreader and copy-editor, and believe it or not, some of our clients were indie authors. So I not only got to see the plethora of talent available in indie books, but also saw a lot of the mistakes.

When I first wrote Conner, I was only eighteen. It was a great acheivement for me, and there are plenty of young authors who are very good, but mine was….well, just good. Lots of people loved it, said nice things about it, but…it was immature. I hadn’t wanted to write an YA novel. I had wanted to write a novel for adults. So when I got comments back such as ‘my young daughter would love to read this’, I knew I had done something wrong.

For some reason, I couldn’t look at it objectively at the time. It took me two years to write it, and it was my first ‘proper’ novel. I had it self-published for friends and family, but never sold more than a few copies. So I felt it, and went off to write the sequel, Erin. Then I left that one because I felt as though I wasn’t sure what to write after Chapter 12. And then I went off to write some short stories, and to start my next novel.

Then recently I came back to it. I had almsot given up on the idea of Conner ever being something that would be published, or indeed ever seen. Nothing more than a sad story to tell my grand-children round the fire when I’m old. “Well, children, I once tried to do something, and got lazy….”

I didn’t want that though! So I rolled up my sleeves, sat down at my laptop, and began to write again. I absolutely pulled Conner apart. I considered what would set it apart from a YA novel-it isn’t as if I don’t read, I do, and have a collection of around 3000 books scattered around the cottage, much to my boyfriend’s amusement. Whole chunks of Conner were taken away, others were changed, and brand spanking new parts were put in. Then I checked it again, and again, and again.

And then I still didn’t go for it. Because first I wanted Erin finished, so that they would match up. So now I had to finish Erin. It had sat on my hard-drive for nearly two years untouched, and now I wrote over 63,000 words in a week. Why? Not because I had found my ‘muse’, or because my life suddenly cleared up and got easier (although there was a much loved family member who died the year before, so obviously I couldn’t write then). It was because I had Grown Up. Because I had realised that if I ever wanted anyone to read my book, I was damn well going to have to think about the advice I had been given, and ACT on it.

I made the cover for Conner, and I didn’t like it, so I spent two days trying out covers, considering what it would look like, before I finally settled on the delicious cover that it is now. 🙂

The cover of ‘Conner’

After all this, I had decided I would self-publish. Well, you probably guessed that, seeing as I’m waffling on about covers. But why on earth go for the hard option?

I can handle criticism, I couldn’t for the longest time, but now I can let it roll over me like air. So it certainly wasn’t that I was worried about rejection. In fact, I reckon nine times out ten the best authors in the world get rejection. But after the long haul I had with Conner and Erin, something about them felt different from any other book I would write. I needed to keep them as they were, because I had stripped them time and again with my own editing. And having done it for a job, I think (I hope! 🙂 ) I knew what I was doing.

Plus I loved the creative control, and I’ve always been a little bit of a control freak-my favourite game when I was younger was ‘The Sims’, and yes, I did try the thing where you kill them off in the pool. Don’t ask if you’ve never heard of this, I promise it isn’t as ominous as it sounds…lol!

So I self-published this time because there was almost something sacred to me about Conner and Erin. Something that had gone ten rounds with a critic and leapt up again screaming, ‘Edit me, will ya’?” So I kept it as it is, so that it will be remembered as it is. And because I love marketing my book now, I’m beginning to thrive on it, in fact.

But my next book? Vigilante of Shadows? Yeah, I’m going to try to get that traditionally published. Rejections and all. 🙂

DON’T FORGET! Conner is currently free this weekend only on Amazon. so grab it now while you can! I want lots of reviews from you lovely people! 😀 http://goo.gl/vtOH7 (US)

Want A Free Book?

Just a quick note to all my followers, that today, Conner is FREE on Amazon! Yup, you can grab a copy of Conner from any of the Amazon sites with my ebook from today until Sunday 27th. So what are you waiting for, go and get it now! 🙂

Erin is a young psychologist, with no time for anything but her work, and unable to remember anything about her past. She leads an uneventful life, but a lonely one, in which she secretly wishes for a soulmate…

Conner is an unusual patient who approaches her, thrusting her into a strange world of darkness that runs beneath our own. He believes hiimself to be a creature of legend-a werewolf. But he also draws Erin with a roguish charm, and an irresitible feeling that seems to bind them together…

Conner desperately tries to save her from an unknown evil that persues her with a relentless passion that crosses centuries, an evil that once took her very soul away, somewhere in Erin’s lost memories.

As she becomes more entwined in a series of events that will remind her of who she really is, will she make it away from the oncoming darkness unscathed…?

Reviews for Conner from Amazon;

“5/5 stars Amazon.co.uk

A fast past paced rollercoaster of a tale that’s got everything. Twists and turns, passion and fear mixed with amazing characters all wonderfully told in an expressive and descriptive style from the author.
Conner is a fascinating tale of an intelligent psychologist Erin Miller who is transported from academia into an amazing world of werewolves and vampires, romance and violence. Her world is turned upside down….. Drawn into this strange world which challenges all her academic and professional beliefs she discovers that Werewolves are in fact real…………….
It kept me not only entertained but excited and unable to put it down….. Now I just can’t wait for the sequel…. So many questions………If it’s anything like Conner it will be brilliant……….. ”

“5/5 stars, Amazon.com

I’m hooked and I can’t wait for the sequel. The characters are amazing. I love that the story is fast paced and I want to be friends with Erin and Conner. It’s a great book, the settings were so vivid. I felt at once like I was “across the pond”. Erin was a strong female character, and her life will always be better when she spends time with Conner. I love the book Conner. “

Interview with Robert Zimmermann

Today on my blog, I have the wonderfully poetic Robert Zimmermann with me! Robert is a writer. Most of the time his thoughts will grace the pages in the form of poetry, but occasionally some short pieces of fiction will show their faces. His work mainly touches on experiences that shape who he is today and are emotionally engaging but easily accessible to those not familiar with much poetry. When Robert isn’t writing for himself, he’s writing to help others. In his blog, A Life Among The Pages, Robert posts numerous book reviews, interviews, and other book related posts to help out fellow writers in any way he can.

How qualified is Robert for all of this? Well, he holds and A.A. in Humanities and a B.A. in Creative Writing. Basically it boils down to him having a lot of downtime living at home. At least he has a cute puppy to keep him company while he’s busily at work on writing his first collection of poems.

 Hi Rob, it’s nice to have you here, welcome to my blog.

Thank you for having me here.

First off, a bit of randomness…do you always wear a hat?

The simple answer: Yes. For the most part I don’t wear hats when I’m sleeping. But once I wake up, I throw a hat on to walk the dog. Then when I’m cooking, I normally wear a hat.

Sometimes when I’m writing, I’ll wear a few different hats. Not at the same time, though, that’d be silly. I’ll be working on something and feel like the hat I’m wearing is uncomfortable, so I’ll throw that one off and grab another that fits differently.

I own many hats. Currently I have three hanging on the wall over my desk so they are easy to reach when needed.

 

You know what mother said kids, always have a hat handy! I love that you have different writing hats though. So first  real question, why did you decide to start writing poems? Was there a special reason?

I’m not sure if it was exactly a decision I made to start writing poems. There was a conscious thought of “I can totally write a poem.” But I think once that first one was out of the way, something just clicked inside of me. Poems became more a way to sort my thoughts out and discover more about myself, as unoriginal as that sounds.

In regards to writing poetry instead of another writing form, I think it’s because I feel I can put much more of “me” into a poem than a piece of fiction. Also, poetry comes much easier and more natural to me than prose. I do try my hand at it when a good idea comes.

 

So what do you normally base your poems on, is there a muse for them?

In my earlier poems, there are a few muses I could definitely name. Those were mainly centered around people I had a romantic relationship with. I have way too many of those poems, haha.

In the last few years I’ve slowed down my writing production, but I think the quality has drastically increased. With this change, the muses or points of inspiration have changed. No longer are my poems about a romantic encounter or fantasy situation. I’ve been reaching into my past; back into my years growing up and some recent tragic events as well. These muses have been the toughest for me to welcome, but the outcome has been very rewarding.

 

Your secret’s out now, if anyone has seen your earlier poems! 😉 It’s brilliant that you can use your poems to work out events from your past though, it must be very healing in a way. So on that note, would you ever consider writing a full novel?

Hmm….no? I don’t think I’ll ever say “No, I will never write such and such.” As I said earlier, I don’t really write prose. But at the same time, it’s something that I hope to explore eventually. I’ve had short story ideas, and I’ve had other ideas brewing in my head. I think some of them could work for a quick short story, if I sit down for long enough to develop my prose skills more. If one of those ideas warrants a book length effort, so be it. I don’t think anyone should ever shy away from something if that’s where an idea wants to go.

 

Sounds good, I’ll look out for your debut novel! 🙂 So where can we find your poems?

I have my poems up in a few places on the web. For my earlier pieces, the ones I’m more embarrassed about (but will still let your readers take a look at) they can be found on a website called Dreamers Reality. I have MANY poems here, but have in the last two years stopped posting them on that site. Since graduating college I want to keep my stuff to myself until I’m ready to either publish it myself or get it published in journals or magazines.
For more current work I have a section of my blog for the poems I have posted there.

Lastly, here is a site where I’ve had my first “official” publication. It’s an organization called Albany Poets. It’s a growing organization that helps bring poetry to my region of New York, but it’s spreading its reach rapidly. (http://albanypoets.com/2012/04/new-poetry-robert-zimmermann/)

I took at a look at your poems, and thought they were fantastic. My favourite one was ‘Behind The Mask’, quite a few things in that poem rang true with me as well. So go and take a look everyone. Go on, now! And then come back here. What can we expect to see from you in the future?

In the (hopefully) near future, I plan on publishing a collection of my poetry. It’ll be my first and will be sort of the culmination of all the hard work that went into developing my writing skills through years of practice and schooling.

This collection will be very personal, emotional, and has already proven that it’s very tough to write. I hope to speed up the writing process, but I need to keep the same amount of effort, so I can’t give a publication date as of yet. I’m aiming for something between now and the end of the year. So be on the lookout for more updates in the coming months.

 

We will definitely be keeping a sharp eye out for them, I’m sure you’re going to go from strength to strength. One last random question, who would win in a fight? A poet with a pen, or a novelist with a quill?

I think the poet has more of an advantage in that fight. His pen will be better to stab the novelist with. The quill could easily break. With that said, though, the novelist would probably have a knife with him in order to have a sharp quill. So he could just use the knife as a weapon, overpowering the pen. On the other hand, again, the poet probably has years of pent up anger and issues that he has been waiting for the right moment to release. This fight could easily be the right moment. He’d turn all Poet-Hulk on the novelist and win the fight hands down.

 

I just have a brilliant image of a ‘Poet-Hulk’ in my head now, bit scary! But cool. 😀  You can find out more about Rob Zimmermann on Facebook, Twitter, and on his blog. Thank you for being here, Rob, it’s been brilliant having you here, and I hope you can come back soon.

Also, here is one of Robert’s newest poems, just for you lucky folks to enjoy! Now don’t say we don’t spoil you!

“Benefit of a Morning Walk”

The sun rose up

the far side of the valley.

As each minute passed,

colors changed

the clouds; works of art.

The sky, a fresco

displayed on the world’s ceiling

with me, the only one,

to take it all in.

_____

The moment passed swiftly,

with the clouds parting

and the vibrant colors blending

into a monochromatic backdrop of blue.

_____

The sun now climbs higher

bringing a stifling heat

in its wake.

I am forced to seek shade.

_____

As I rest in the cooling

shadows of an oak,

the back of my eyelids

replay the morning’s masterpiece.

Interview with Liz Long

Today I have the lovely and slightly eccentric author Liz Long with me! Liz Long has been writing fantasy stories since she could spell the word “unicorn” (second grade). She fears a zombie apocalypse, though admits it would give her a good reason to stay inside and write as long as she wanted. She is a proud graduate of Longwood University with a degree in English. Liz lives in Roanoke, VA with her husband Jason and their Jack Russell terror, Fisher.

Hi Liz, it’s a pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog.

*waves frantically* Hi! Thanks so much for having me!

It’s a pleasure to have you here. Okay, random question first! You mention on your website that you ‘post nerd-related things’ on Twitter…what is the nerdiest thing you’ve ever tweeted?

Oh, gosh. I post a lot of nerdy things, from Pac-Man wedding cakes to my Harry Potter/Wizarding World honeymoon. I’ll go with either posting my photos with all the Marvel superheroes on my honeymoon (I tried to run away with Captain America) or tweeting about how I made a 12 year old cry over XBox Live (He wouldn’t stop singing over the mic while we played Halo, so I yelled at him and called him Justin Bieber. The teams laughed, he got upset, haven’t seen his screen name since. Still don’t regret it.)

That’ll teach him! *Looks nervously out of the window towards a passing children’s choir, and quickly offers Liz a cookie, momentarily distracting her* (Best way to distract authors, by the way) *As Liz nibbles on the cookie, I ask* When did you realise you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember what inspired you?

Like most authors, unicorns talked and my heroine saved the prince’s hide when I was only eight or nine. I was always pretty introverted–not shy, but I preferred to escape into a book over any other hobby. It made me dream of my own stories–I wanted to provide that escape to other people.

You also say on your website that you narrate life in your head. (same as me!) Can you narrate what you can see right now as if it were a story?

She sighs, looking around her office. The clock reads 3:45 and 5pm can’t come fast enough. “I can’t wait to go home and get in pajamas and write,” she says. The radio sings back to her, the only sound heard in the quiet publisher’s building.

I swear, I do that ALL THE TIME. Like, I narrate out loud to myself at home or talk to my dog as though he were reading my actions. It’s bizarre. I don’t talk about myself in 3rd person to other people, but it’s just a weird habit that I have (and thank god I now know I’m not the only one or someone might commit me after this interview).

Nope, we’re all slightly mad! You probably shouldn’t be on the same blog as me lol! I’m only out on writers-day release 🙂 Your novel, Gifted, sounds really cool. Can you tell us more about it?

Sure! It’s a fantasy novel that takes place in the modern-day world, but inside a circus. There’s an entire magical community that call themselves Gifted and gifts can come in any shape, form, or size. Lucy is a Firestarter, which means she can control and create fire. After she loses both her parents, she rejoins with the Donovan Circus, traveling home to more Gifted beings than in any other circus or area. Just as Lucy begins to settle in–making friends, learning the ropes, meeting hot boys–a beloved circus member turns up dead. Lucy, being the new girl and because of her gift, becomes Prime Suspect #1 and must figure out how to prove her innocence. Problem is, this world has a history, some of it very ugly, and Lucy’s about to get caught in the middle. She has to figure out who to trust in addition to finding the murderer.

Sounds amazing! So what inspired this novel?

Well, don’t go around deeming me an arsonist, but I’m an Aries/Fire sign and have always had a bit of a thing for fire. When Lucy came knocking on my head, I knew immediately she was a Firestarter and would join the circus to hide her identity with everyone else. It was important that I write an action-adventure story with supernatural elements (rather than vice versa). I like romance and relationships, but I wanted Lucy’s relationship with herself to evolve first. I probably also watched way too much Law and Order those days, hence the murder mystery aspect!

Arsonist! I mean…*ahem*… Where can we find your novels?

Gifted is on sale for both Kindle ($1.99) and paperback ($9.99) on Amazon!

Cool, so what can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m currently working on a YA piece that’s based in the same Gifted world, but with a completely different stories and characters. It’ll have more of a superhero feel than Gifted, but I really enjoy the different spin on the world I’ve created-I have tons of characters demanding to tell their story in the Gifted world from their perspective! I’m also working on the 2nd book in the Donovan Circus series–they’ll each be stand alone novels, but with Lucy and the gang on new adventures (sort of like the Sookie Stackhouse series)

Final question of randomness…you like Harrison Ford and hate zombies. What would happen if the two came into contact?

I will not accept anything less than “Harrison Ford kills zombies; saves world.” Don’t even ask me to consider him becoming a zombie or I might bawl my eyes out Right. This. Minute. I’m getting teary just thinking about it!!

*Quickly hands Liz a handkerchief, murmuring soothing things about Harrison Ford…the children’s choir starts up again, so I decide to wrap up quickly* You can find out more about Liz Long on Facebook , Twitter and on her blog. Thank you for being here, Liz, any parting words?

Thank you so much for having me. For those who are interested in checking out Gifted, I really hope you dig it. Enjoy running away to the circus–just watch out for fireballs! 🙂

Great having you here. 🙂

Even in a world of freaks, being a Firestarter is considered a dangerous Gift.

Lucy was born with the ability to create and control fire. She longs to leave the human world for one filled with Earthshakers, Transporters, and Chameleons, to name a few. When she rejoins the circus, it’s everything she hoped it could be—new friends, a potential love interest or two, and a place where she can be herself.

When troupe members begin turning up dead, however, Lucy is suspected of foul play. She must not only prove her innocence but also realize the full extent of her power. To find the real murderer, she must uncover the truth behind her father’s fiery legacy while figuring out whom to trust within her new circle. Little does she know the history of the Donovan Circus and its enemies might actually destroy the entire gifted world.

Stork, Eyes Back To The Front!-And My Book Tour!

Ugh…I feel like I need one of those old-fashioned teachers right now, one of the ones who snap the desk with their ruler, and make you carry on with your writing. Why? Because I was staring out of the window at that tree, Sir.

I hate it when I have days like this. Ones where I have to force myself to write because I’ve hit a stump. With me it’s not so much that I can’t think of anything, but that there is so much I can think of, I don’t have time to write it all down. Anyway, with that moan out of the way…

MY BOOK TOUR IS SOON!!!

Caps lock a little too much? Never mind, you spotted it right? 🙂

Yup, the lovely ladies from Dark Mind Book Tours, Franny and Silvia are organising my book tour which will run from June 4th, to June 8th, so make sure you put it in your diary! I mean it, I see some of you not scribbling it down there! Not that it sounds like I’m forcing you or anything…lol! There will be interview, reviews, and even giveaways…who says you don’t get something great free? Anyhoo, here is the wonderful banner that Silvia has put together for me…

And you can check out the details of the tour by clicking here….

I’m pretty excited about it, probably more than I should be, but this is the first time I’ve ever done a book tour, so it’s all a new experience for me. And despite the slightly, err…threatening invite I’ve jsut sent you all above, I honestly would love it if you could make some time to have a peek along some of the stops on the tour. 🙂

So in celebration of the tour, I thought today I might do something a little different, a sort of creative exercise. I’m going to do a character interview of Conner…..and Erin on Thursday, maybe give you a little insight into their characters-you have been warned!

Character Interview-Conner-*warning, spoilers!*

 

Name: Conner

Age: around 2000 years old or more

Protector of Erin, and all round good-guy-but-werewolf.

 

Hi Conner, it’s great to have you here.

Yeah, it’s good to be here…although I’m pretty sure I should go and find Erin, it’s not safe for her to be on her own for long.

Oh, never mind about her! I’m sure she’ll be just fine…so what would you say were your greatest qualities?

Well, I’m pretty old, so I’m sure I’ve got a great pension somewhere…I’m a great listener, and I’m very charming…err, even if I do say so myself. Also, I’m an animal in bed! *winks at me*

 

Why are you blinking like that? Have you got something in your eye? And what would you say were your greatest weaknesses?

Isn’t it obvious? I’ve got none! No, that’s not completely true, I do have schizophrenic tendancies…but that’s nothing when you’ve got the problems I’ve got. Mother gone awol, father a vicious lunatic, werewovles after Erin…but I’m going off topic. I guess another weakness is Erin actually, I just can’t stop my fangs sliding out every time I see her.

Err…okaaaay. That’s kind of weird, but whatever floats your boat, I guess! So, you’re a werewolf? What’s that like? I suppose there has to be a full moon?

Funny, I remember someone else asking me that not long ago…It’s quite usual for me now, has been since I was eighteen. Full moon? Sometimes, surprisingly, yes. I can control it though. Sometimes I can do it when I’m very hungry, or if I’m threatened, to enable me to fight, or sometimes…sometimes, when I’m very sexually frustrated. *winks again*

 

Okay, I’m going to get you some water for that eye. *I get up and grab an eggcup of water, throwing it in Conner’s eye. He shouts, and screws up his face a lot, which pretty much means it’s working* And will you stop with the sex jokes! We get it, you’re hot!

Why, thank you. *still blinking in shock* I guess I am. *grins; I nearly melt*

So what attracted you to Erin?

She reminds me of a girl I loved a long time ago…a girl who looked exactly like her. And sounded like her too. I don’t remember her being as sarcastic though. But I like that about her. I prefer a girl with spark, with a little bit of fire in her belly.

I’m sagittarius? And I once set fire to that sofa. But we won’t talk about that now. I’m told you make a mean fry-up as well-well actually, Erin told me. Any other delicious meals you can whip up? Apart from yourself, I mean.

Haha, you’ll get in trouble saying things like that. I sort of like a lot of raw meat. The fry-up isn’t very often for me. I mean how else could you build muscles like these on fry-ups? *whips top off revealing a wash-board stomach and firm muscles, several ladies passing outside faint; one of them collapses against the window. Nice.*

Okay, well I’m going to have to wrap this up now, Conner, I need to clean the windows…but thank you for being here, and I hope we learn more about you in ‘CONNER’.

Oh, I’m sure you will. Not to mention my secret about Fil…oops! Forget I said anything! Bye ladies!

Okay, well…I guess he’s gone. I hope my interview with Erin on Thursday will go a little  better. And don’t forget that tomorrow we have an actual interview, with the very real Liz Long, author of Gifted, so make sure you take a look! 🙂

 

Review of Lothaire, By Kresely Cole

If you take a look at this book on Amazon, you will there is quite a mixture of results with the reviews. So, being a huge Kresely Cole fan, I thought not only would I buy it for Kindle, but I would also give you guys my slant on it.

Here is a little bit about the book first from the Amazon site;  From the humblest of beginnings a millennia ago, Lothaire the Enemy of Old rose to power, becoming the most feared and evil vampire in the immortal world. Driven by his past, he will not rest until he captures the vampire Horde’s crown for himself. The discovery of his Bride, the female meant only for him, threatens to derail his plot. She is a mere mortal, a glaring vulnerability for a male with so many deadly foes bent on annihilating anything he desires. Yet soon he discovers his Bride’s secret. A magnificent power dwells inside the fragile human, one that will aid his quest. But to possess that power, he will have to destroy her. Will Lothaire succumb to the torments of his past, or seize a future with her. . . ?

 

*Warning, SPOILERS!*

 

Good Points

Okay, first good point, and a major one I think, is that I loved Elizabeth. So many of the female characters are wonderful in Cole’s books, but they always have the reasoning of being tough, that they are unique, immortal, or otherwise magical in some way. Elizabeth is not like this-Holly Ashwin came close, but still a little of the ‘damsel’ about her. Elizabeth is completely fearless, strong in herself, and downright cool, especially with her little quips and jobes at Lothaire.

I also-and this is a controversial point amongst reviewers-loved Lothaire. Yes, he’s a heartless, cruel, arrogant son-of-a-bitch, but he is so jaw-droppingly hot. And I LOVE that he is actually troubled. Not troubled in the way that previous male characters have been troubled, but seriously, deeply, darkly troubled. I think that Kresely Cole has taken an admirable turn as her books become darker, reminding the reader that you are still reading about creatures who could easily tear you apart with their fangs or claws! It was interesting to see him struggle as he tried to become more….humane? Maybe not the right word. And in the Kindleversion, it explained a littlemore about his past before he became the Enemy of Old, and I would dare a stronger person not to go mad.

The writing was fantastic as usual, and I loved how we learned a little bit more about Hag, and I really hope that she finds her love again! It was a refreshing take on Cole’s usual style of writing.

Also, the line, “…And for the record, Mothman’s a fuckwit.” Loved that.

 

Bad Points

I understand that Elizabeth was so drawn to Lothaire, and he to she, by some magical unseen force that brings all the immortal couples together, but did she really have to go so easily? I would have liked a little more fight from her over her relationship with Lothaire. After all, I’m not sure how calm I would be around a vampire who had just told me his evil-goddess-girlfriend and himself were going to take over my body and kill, no matter how good his kisses were! I just thought that maybe she should have held out a little more. But, on the other hand, who knows what you might go for if you had been in prison for five years? 🙂

Also, the beginning and middle of the book were brilliant, really drawing me into the story. But towards the end it began to feel a little more rushed, almsot as though something had been forgotten in the storyline. The other thing I  hated was that Elizabeth’s family seemed to accept her new ‘condition’ so readily. I understand that they loved her no matter what, but I’m not sure I would just be totally okay with my daughter’s new need to drink blood. Or maybe I’m just not liberal enough?

 

Overall, I loved this book even more than I loved the first of Kresely Cole’s book, ‘A Hunger Like No Other’, which got me hooked in the first place. I like that she seems to have taken a darker turn with her books, and I love that her male leads don’t all have to be perfect fluffy characters, some of them can be a bit more…evil….but still hot! I can’t wait for the next one, and I hope we find out who Nix will be matched up with, as we race towards the conclusion of these great books.

I give it…….4/5 stars!

Interview with Cassidy Kingston

Well today I have my first interview with author, Cassidy Kingston! Cassidy is a married mother of three with multiple degrees in subjects that relate nothing to what she writes about. She loves animals,books and chocolate. (who doesn’t?) She currently lives somewhere in the great state of Alabama where she tries really hard not to melt during the summer. She is a self proclaimed geek and a southern belle that loves writing about things that make other southern belles blush. She currently has two novellas out; Taste of Love, and Scent of Desire.

 

Hi Cassidy, it’s nice to have you here, welcome to my blog.

Thanks for having me!

 

Okay, random question first, you say you are a self-proclaimed geek, what is the geekiest thing you own or do? 🙂

A few weeks ago my oldest son had to do an assignment for biology. He needed to draw an animal and label it with its scientific name and common name. Well, he was getting ready to get on the computer. I was reading a book and stopped reading and said, “Well you can use the ring necked snake, diadophas puntatus. Or the American bullfrog Bufo Americana…or the spotted salamander Ambystoma maculatum.” I looked up from my book and my entire family was staring at me with their mouths hanging open.  Then my husband said, “Who the hell knows that kind of stuff off the top of their head?” My oldest son replied, “a geek, that’s who.” By the way, he used the ring necked snake and got a 100 on the project, so having a geeky mom paid off.

I also love going to Dragon *Con (I’ll be there this year so look for me) and I plan on dressing up this year as a steampunk vampire. And this past weekend I dressed my youngest son in a Marvel tee shirt and made the whole family take me to see The Avengers for mother’s day.

 

Well, that’s certainly better than getting a card with too much glitter on it! So first real question, why did you decide to start writing?

I’ve always loved to read, and a few years ago my husband and I were talking and I mentioned that since I read so much, maybe I could write something. He kind of smirked and said, “Ok honey whatever you want to do.” I started writing a little here and there when I had time but never felt I was actually doing anything worth reading. At the time I was writing a YA thriller. Once I started writing paranormal erotic romances it all just clicked. My husband was shocked when I got my first contract and almost passed out when I got the next two. I call him my “nonbeliever”. He was always supportive; he just thought it was a hobby that would never go anywhere.

 

That’s brilliant, it just shows you that if you keeping going at something, you will get there. So what did you do before you got immersed into the world of vampires and demons? 

I don’t think there was a time I wasn’t into the paranormal. In high school I did my Senior book report on Carrie…and presented it the day before prom.

Haha, I bet that got a few raised eyebrows! 🙂

I’ve always watched horror movies and my favorite author is and always will be Stephen King. My most recent obsession (according to my family it is an obsession) is True Blood. I have a table in my very nicely decorated “Formal” living room that is full of magazines with True Blood covers. Not to mention the two bottles of Tru Blood on my dresser in my bedroom. There are many other paranormal creatures in my stories its not just vampires and demons. In the series there will also be an angel of death, and psychic and a shape shifter. And maybe a siren…not sure on that one yet.

 

Well, who doesn’t need a few bottles of Tru-Blood on their dresser-you never know who might drop by! Where do you get your ideas from?

I got the idea for my current series of short stories when I overheard a group of teenage girls talking about how it would be “totally awesome” to be a vampire. So I wrote the story of Laken and how much she was disappointed that being a vampire was not what the books and movies promised. Since I named that short story Taste of Love I decided to do one based on each of the five senses. My second story, Scent of Desire actually was started a few years ago as a story of a teenage serial killer. I’ve always had a very vivid imagination so I always have strange ideas floating around in my head. It can be kinda scary at times.

 

I know what you mean, those voices can get kind of loud…err….*ahem* I mean, are there any people from real life sneaked in as characters into your novels?

There are a few people from my real life in my works. Some characters have physical attributes of people I know and some just have their names. Hayden from Taste of Love is named after one of my sons’ coaches. And Callie from my third short story Touch of Pleasure (out in August) is named after one of my best friends. I will leave it a mystery as to who I base the physical descriptions on. I don’t need everyone know who I’m checking out for my characters.

 

Of course not! But if you ever see Cassidy staring at you and scribbling down notes, you know what she is doing. *winks* *Cassidy shakes her head profusely in horror, and stares out of the window* Okay, okay, I was only kidding. Moving on, your latest book, Scent of Desire, sounds really interesting; could you tell us a little more about it?

Well as I said earlier, it actually started out as a teenage serial killer story. But I fell in love with the idea of a scent tracker demon and decided it needed an adult spin. Aiden is a scent tracker demon, meaning he can track people by their scent. He can smell people’s emotions. He is hired to find a young woman who has run away because she is being framed for the murder of her ex fiancé. Once he finds Alden her scents really draw him to her. The one thing I loved about writing this short story was developing the scent tracker demon. The idea that emotions have smells really interested me.  I’m working on an idea for a novel length story using scent tracker demons.

 

I love that idea; sort of like the idea of people who can see colours when they hear sounds. So where can we find your books?

They are available though my publisher at www.torridbooks.com you can also find them for Kindle at Amazon, for the Nook at Barnes and Noble and on All Romance Ebooks.

 

What can we expect to see from you in the future? Any more books in the mill?

There will be a total of five short stories in my “Five Senses” Series. Touch of Pleasure will be out in August and Sound of Passion and Vision of Ecstasy do not have release dates yet. I have a novella on submission and am currently working on a novel length contemporary Romance…and that is giving me fits, I’m sure it will end up with some paranormal aspect to it. And you can always follow me on Twitter to keep up with what I have going on. I am very active on there.

 

One last question, who would easily be hotter-vampires? or demons?

Well I am totally a vampire girl, I would easily leave my husband if Eric Northman was real (and was actually Alexander Skarsgard) … but I do love my scent tracker demon….

 

You can find out more about Cassidy Kingston on Facebook and on her blog. Thank you for being here, Cassidy, it’s been great talking to you, I hope you can come back soon. And keep an eye out for Eric….;)