Writing on the Rocks

Join me as I review and interview the brightest stars in Independent publishing. Whether they are self published or published through a small publisher, these writers have the talent, voice and know how to carve a spot for themselves amongst the literary gods.

The Lost Interview with February Grace, Author of “Godspeed”

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Back in September I was two months out of the hospital and about to have a very intense surgery on my hand and I thought, “Pfft. I can get back to my life as it was.” Oh, if only I knew seven months later I’d still be trying to achieve normalcy.

Anywho, before I got sick I read a Godspeed, a beautifully written steampunk novel by February Grace. Honestly people, she stole my breath within the first few pages. I wanted to know more about her and her book so I did what I always did. I emailed her, gushed over the book and demanded an interview. Ok, not really demanded but nonetheless she answered my questions.

And now… you get to read it, just remember it was done in this past fall.

Bru? Sorry for the delay. I know you can’t have a Guinness so I’ll have one for you and here’s an ice cold Coke for you. ;)

 

1_Front_Cover for promo and blog

1. Can you give us a quick synopsis of Godspeed?

FG: Godspeed is the story of a courageous young doctor who breaks the law to treat his unique patients, using his own inventions to help them even though in his time this sort of ‘experimentation’ on humans could cost you your life. The story is told through the eyes of one of those patients, a young woman who comes into his care after she collapses in the street and is discovered there by the doctor’s best friend.Of course she is quite taken with him from the start, and the story goes on from there, with her mystified by the secretive nature of his practice and trying to piece together the puzzle of who he really is and why he does what he does.

2. What drew you to the steampunk/romance genre?

FG: I’ve always been drawn to the romance of the idea of technology ahead of its time. I remember being in Disney World as a kid and hearing/seeing references to Jules Verne and HG Wells and how they dreamed worlds ahead of their times technologically, and those images stayed with me. I guess when you think about it, Disney himself did the same thing and has always been a HUGE influence on me (thanks EPCOT Center!)Add that to the fact that my favorite book of all time is Jane Eyre, and I wondered for a long time what would happen if you took what was essentially a love story and embellished it with Steampunk elements.

I had absolutely no idea how to do it though, most of my ideas just fell flat before they took on any life at all. So the thought brewed for a year or two before I ended up doing anything with it. I’ve always been a hopeless (hopeful?!) romantic at heart, so basically any good love story has the potential to stay with me. But I wanted to attempt to write a love story that wouldn’t be outdated two, five, ten years from now, and hopefully this hybrid of both genres has allowed me to do that. I hope it will stand the test of time.

3. What was the inspiration behind this novel?

FG: I won’t bore everyone with the details but basically, I had fifteen surgeries between 2009 and 2011, most of them in 2010, and the actual idea for Godspeed came to me one night when I was awakened abruptly when my pain medication wore off.I was trying to focus on anything I could to stay in the moment– to keep from passing out from the pain so I could get some help and some more medicine since I was in the room alone– and I became aware of the sound of two things: the racing of my heart, and the ticking of my favorite clock on the opposite wall. It has three faces, and they were all ticking so loud and in perfect unison and the line “What is a heart if not the ultimate clockwork?” came to me.

I grabbed the notebook where we had been keeping track of my medication doses and scribbled that down along with a couple other ideas then I somehow fell back to sleep. The original idea was much darker than Godspeed turned out to be, but in the end it turned out to be exactly the story it needed to be.

Add to that the fact my doctors told me that my body has set them back “A hundred and fifty years” as far as what they can do to help my eyesight, and it just led me back again to the idea of a story of a doctor trying to work beyond the limits of existing technology. Put all that together, and you get Quinn Godspeed.

4. One of the reasons why I, and others, loved your book is that you make it seem entirely plausible that there was a London doctor performing these types of experiments in Victorian England. Did you do any research into medical practices of that time?

FG: First of all thank you, you are so very kind. One of the reasons that I set the book in a fictional city, Fairever, (though most certainly it was most closely modeled off of London of the late 1800s) was because I wanted to have room to create whatever I needed to create to serve the story and the characters but still make it believable. Believability is VERY important to me– there is only so much suspension of belief you can expect from a reader before they have what Crow T. Robot from Mystery Science Theater 3000 would refer to as an “I call no way” moment, and can’t invest in the characters. If they can’t invest in the characters then they won’t care what happens to them and won’t finish the book.The beauty of Steampunk influenced writing is that it gives you that freedom of invention but how fantastical those inventions are varies from author to author. But yes, I did research the medical devices of the day. Stethoscopes especially, for example, since one figured in so prominently into the story, and of all things believe it or not, I did a lot of research on typewriters! I don’t want to give any more away than that or it’ll count as a spoiler.

I focused mostly on the characters and telling the story from a patient’s perspective in order to keep it believable but still allow for the Doctor’s innovations. I didn’t want to get too bogged down in the mechanical; that is where the literary aspect of the book comes in, it is more character than technology driven.

5. Many writers take material from their own life and use it as a foundation for their creativity. Is there any part of the story that represents a part of you more than any other?

FG: Oh, that’s a difficult question. It’s not a memoir, but I certainly have plenty of experience to draw on for writing about different types of pain, and of course I had my own issues with my eyesight which gave me perspective as to how to write the character Marielle. I think though in the end the greatest issue I related to is one of belonging; everyone wants to be loved and feel they belong, and my search for those things in life likely bled through onto the pages to a degree, no doubt.

6. What inspired you to write? How long have you been writing?

FG: I was making up stories about my toys before I could hold a pen, my imagination was always working that way, toward creating amazing adventures for them. I remember my first actual creative writing experience as being an extra credit assignment I was given in the fourth grade, to watch clips of fairy tales on the projector at the library then rewrite the endings. I was hooked then, and I kept writing, in one form or another, ever after.

7. Are you currently working on anything new?

FG: I’ve had a lot of health issues since I finished Godspeed and other things going on life-wise so I haven’t been working on a new novel.

I’ve written some short stories and flash fiction and had several poems and short pieces published this year, which has been amazing. I’d love to put together a collection of short stories and a book of poetry. As far as another novel, I am hoping to start working on something this fall when NaNoWriMo comes around (it is great motivation to write) whether I decide to publish it or not.

I’m kind of at a fork in the road with my writing at the moment, unsure if I want to focus more on the shorter pieces and poems instead of novels. While I’ve been mulling it over I’ve been doing a lot of painting, which I also love to do. I think by the end of the year I’ll have a much clearer picture of where I’m headed as a writer.

 

IAN 2 smallFebruary Grace is a writer, artist and poet who lives somewhere that is much colder than she would like most of the time. She sings on key, plays by ear, and is more than mildly obsessed with colors, clocks, the Perseids, and science fiction.

She’s done a few more or less interesting things in her life, not the least of which include working for Disney, getting kissed by a Klingon (it was unprovoked) and going blind, though she wouldn’t personally recommend the latter. She would however highly recommend the doctors who helped partially restore her sight after a long series of surgeries between 2009 and 2011.

Her poetry, prose, and/or flash fiction have appeared in The Rusty Nail Literary Magazine, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Rose & Thorn Journal. Her work can also be found in the recently released anthology Poetry Pact Volume 1.

GODSPEED is her debut novel, and a labor of love she refers to as “Literary romance with steampunk embellishments.”

You can pick up Godspeed at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and add it your Goodreads now!

Follow Bru on Twitter or by checking out her website.  

Interview with Erotica Writer Angelica Dawson, Author of Blue Moon House

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Hey friends! Welcome back to the pub! Today I’m very happy to introduce you to Angelica Dawson, author of the erotica novella, Blue Moon House. I just read the novella and if you like reading about hot vampires that can push you to your limits and beyond then you’ll want to pick up this erotica short. I’m feeling festive tonight and the drink of choice is pineapple juice so drink it straight or mix it with whatever but ready for it to get hot in here. Here we go!

KD: Can you tell us a little bit about Blue Moon House?

AD: Sure! Blue Moon House is the story of one human who has so impressed her vampire Master that he wants to keep her forever. However, there are six other vampires living in the house who would also be spending eternity with Julia. They all want a chance to decide if she is someone they find worthy as a companion.

KD: What is your inspiration behind the novella?

AD: At first, the idea was simply to have a BDSM free-for-all. I wanted to hit everything. The vampires came in early as the Doms that could real put a sub through his/her paces. However, as I began to pit Julia against them, I got to know each of them, just as she did, and found they had a lot of character.

KD: What drew you to the erotica genre? Have you always written erotica?

AD: I started back into writing with Fanfiction. My first pieces were pretty PG, but I quickly dove off the adult deep end. I do publish under my real name as well, but those are YA and literary fiction. My YA ranges from SciFi/Fantasy to Paranormal to Horror. I am a big fan of YA books (like the Hunger Games, Divergent, everything by Tamora Pierce) so that was where I went first with my writing.

KD: What is your biggest obstacle as an erotica writer?

AD: My five year old daughter! She is a voracious reader and although she might not know what all the words on my screen mean, she can sound them out. So, I have to make sure she’s out of the room or asleep, preferably asleep. I try to spend time with her and my husband while she’s awake.

KD: This first installment was a novella at just 20,000 words. Why did you chose this format instead of a full length novel? 

AD: I did. I had a story I wanted to tell and at the end of 20 000 words, I had told it. I tend to write shorter form and especially for this story, where the plot really only covers a few days, it made sense for it to be shorter. Also, in general, erotica thrives in the shorter form. You can really overload if you try to stretch it too far.

KD: If you could meet any writer living or dead who would it be and why?

AD: Tamora Pierce, so I can apologize for making her feel old when I told her I read her books in high school. Ha! She had a signing her in town and that’s exactly what I said. It’s true, but well, I didn’t mean to make her feel bad! Also to let her know that she inspired me to publish my first novel.

KD: You’ve just won a trip to a secluded island and you’re instructed to bring your favorite book, drink, and companion. What/who would you bring? 

AD: Only one book? Not a series? Damn. I’d be tempted to bring a notebook. LOL Let’s go with the Mists of Avalon, because I’d probably be rescued by the time I finished it and it has lots of pages for kindling fires. (I didn’t just say that.) My favourite drink would be pineapple juice. Unless there are pineapples on the island. And naturally, some rum to add to it. My companion would have to be my husband. He’s been my best friend for over a decade and he’s good at inventing games so when Mists got boring I’d have something to do.

KD: I hear that you’re writing a prequel series focusing on each of Blue Moon House vampires, is this true? Crosses fingers ;)

AD: It is true. I’m still working on the first one, Jocelyn’s story, but I have all seven outlined in one form or another.

Thanks so much for stopping by and giving some insight into your novella and you! Friends check back tomorrow for Angelica’s post on what it’s like to be an erotica writer and a mom. 

Angelica Dawson has been writing for several years and having sex a lot longer than that. Angelica is a wife, mother and environmental consultant. Her love of plants and the outdoors is not diminished by the bloodsucking hoards — mosquitoes and black flies, not vampires. 

Be sure to pick up your copy of Blue Moon House at these following sellers, Amazon, and Smashwords. You can find Angelica at her website or follow her on Twitter

 

Julia has the opportunity to become one of the Vampire Dominants of Blue Moon House. Before they accept, however, the seven vampires must all gauge her worthiness as an eternal companion. Each will test her, sample her, and decide her fate.

Cheers!

NEW REVIEW Karen Victoria Smith’s Dark Dealings

Friday, June 1st, 2012

In Karen Victoria Smith’s urban fantasy, Dark Dealings, the mystical world overlaps reality through sabotage, murder and magic. Investment banker Micaela O’Brien has spent her entire life trying to forget the day her parent’s plane exploded over northern Dublin leaving her to explain how she was the sole survivor of the tragic event. Left under the care of her grandmother, Micaela quickly learned that she was not like her friends for she had visions and understandings that went well beyond her youth. After years of tamping her visions down, even convincing herself that they may have been caused by something medically wrong, she has learned to live her life without the nightmares and visions that plagued her youth.

That is until the deal of a lifetime brings everything back. Not knowing who to trust, Micaela is left to turn to the one thing she denied herself all these years, her visions.

Smith’s writing is spot on. Her characters are well thought out and developed and she reveals just enough about the players without giving too much of the story away. At first there does seem to be an influx of characters in the beginning of the story but Smith handles the character development well, quickly fleshing out a spot for each of the main characters in the reader’s head. I quickly came to understand and feel for Micaela as she fought for clarity and safety as her visions returned and her world was threatened by an unknown villain.

I would have liked to know more about her parents. They seem to have been highly respected and regarded in her grandmother’s Druid community, but the details about the explosion and how Micaela survived it (and what that meant) were few. It’s mentioned a few times in regards to her gift and legacy but never exactly what happened or why she survived.

I appreciated the different layers of story telling Smith infused into her work. Suspense, action, magic, mystery, all with a dash of romance, created an extremely well written story about a woman discovering her true path in life. Smith’s voice is strong and seasoned and I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the urban fantasy genre.

Review of Karen Wyle’s Science Fiction Novel Twin Bred

Monday, May 28th, 2012

In Karen Wyle’s science fiction novel, Twin Bred, humans have been living on a distant planet called Tofran for seventy years and have yet to find a way to communicate with the native species, the Tofa.

The Tofa don’t communicate through words, their faces are featureless so reading their expressions is out of the question and they emit odd smells at seemingly random times. Due to miscommunications and confusion, tensions between the two groups have been growing and the council is desperate for any sort of intervention. Scientist Mara Cadell, who has an obsession with twins after learning she lost a twin brother in utero, thinks she has the answer.  Her plan is to implant one human embryo and one alien embryo into host mothers. With the hope of using the scientific fact that twins have special ways of communicating between each other, Mara sets out to create special sets of twins specifically designed to bridge the gap between the two species.

Unfortunately, no matter how carefully engineered the experiment was, Mara couldn’t control certain important elements such as human ignorance and prejudices. As outside influences try to destroy the work she has dedicated her life to she starts to question the morality of her actions while trying to push through to achieve their one true goal of unification.

I have to say that Twin Bred is more science than I’m used to but Wyle handled the explanations, details and intricacies of the plot dealing with breeding people and aliens together quite well. Details concerning the sociological and psychological consequences of inseminating women with both human and alien embryos as well as the effects on the children themselves were carefully handled within the story. Wyle’s writing was meticulous in order to help even non sci-fi readers, such as myself, understand the specifics of the experiments without having it go over her reader’s heads.

The relationship between Mara and Levi was an interesting twist to the story and I think it really kicked up the psychological aspect of the story. I actually wish there was more time dedicated to their relationship. Wyle infused the story with a number of different characters to give a fuller and more detailed look at all the players involved in the experiment, (the scientists, the neighboring Tofa, the government officials, the twin bred, the host mothers, civilians) however at times it became too many points of view. By reading up on everyone’s stance on what was going on around them some of the characters who started out strong, like Laura, a host mother, lost steam as the story progressed.

However, with that said I found Mara to be a well developed and strong character. I loved how Levi was her voice of reason and the moments at the end of the novel involving her, Levi and the Tofa were tenderly moving.

Using science, psychology, and good intentions Wyle put together an interesting, thought-provoking read that any science fiction fan will love.

Interview with Heather Huffman author of Jailbird

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Hey friends! Today I’m very excited to have Heather Huffman, author of Jailbird, join us at the bar. I met Heather a few months ago through the lovely people at Booktrope and after reading her novel, Jailbird, I thought, “Karen, you need to interview this woman.” So, without further ado, here is the lovely Heather Huffman!

 

 

KD:  Can you tell us a little bit about Jailbird and where the idea for the story came from?

HH: Jailbird’s story follows Neena Allen from her accidental jailbreak to the small town she lands in. The book actually begins in the middle of her jailbreak – that scene came from an incredibly vivid dream that inspired the book. In the dream, I saw everything through the eyes of a woman breaking out of prison. I saw what she saw; I felt what she felt. Also in the dream, there was no speech, no conversation, until I saw Charlie Russell and asked, “Who’s that?” Those are the first words of dialogue in the book, too.

Jailbird is more than the story of Neena’s jailbreak and subsequent new life. It’s a beautiful love story. It’s Neena’s journey to reclaim her humanity and the healing of her soul.

KD: Neena’s story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. She met adversity and through strength and hope she found her way. Is she modeled after someone you know or is she more of a collective thought of what a strong woman should be?

HH: Neena is a little me, a little of who I hope to be, and a lot of the women I see all around me everyday. Her plight seems so horrible; just the other day I heard that 1 out of 3 girls will be sexually abused by the age of 18, so it’s not an uncommon one. The details of her story are exceptional, but the heart of her tale is something many of us can identify with. Neena’s strength is a combination of the beautiful strength and power of the women in my world.

KD:  I absolutely loved the exchanges between Neena and, well, everyone. Her side of conversations were fast, quick-witted and honest; I felt as if I could pick up a conversation with her easily. Did you have a favorite Neena exchange or moment to write?

HH: It makes me happy to hear you say that – I genuinely like Neena. I think we’d be friends if she were real. My favorite scenes with Neena are the ones where she got tongue-tied around Charlie. That always made me smile.

KD: Due to the nature of Neena’s back story was there a scene or section that was particularly hard to write?

HH: Talking about the night of Neena’s attack was always tough. It was more than deciding how much to share – though that was part of it. I’m a visual writer; I often see the scene play out as I type, and many times it’ll keep playing over and over until I finish writing that particular part of the story. Those scenes were tough to watch.

KD:  You write romantic suspense, what draws you to this genre? 

HH: I didn’t pick my genre so much as it picked me. I just write down the stories in my head, and this is where they happened to fall. I suppose the fact that two of my favorite things in life are adventure and love might have had something to do with it, though!

KD:  Who are some of your favorite authors? Are you currently reading anything?

HH: When I’m not actively writing, I read a wide variety of books. Lots of classics line my bookshelves; they’re my favorites. When it comes to modern writers, I find myself buying a lot of Jennifer Crusie’s books. I used to tear through Nora Roberts books like crazy. At the moment, I’m reading something completely different. It’s a book called the Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. When I finish that, I plan to catch up on some of the books by my fellow Booktrope authors!

KD:  Your stories revolve around women who haven’t been dealt the best hand yet find a way to not just survive but thrive. Have you always been an advocate for social injustices for women? How did you become a part of the movement against human trafficking? 

HH:  I’ve never been able to keep my mouth shut when I see injustice. I believe that if something’s wrong, I should try to fix it. Why wait for someone else to step up? I became part of the fight against human trafficking when I learned it existed while researching Throwaway. At first, I struggled to find a way to plug into the fight. When I started using my writing as a way to raise awareness, things fell into place. I began to connect with some amazing organizations on the front lines like Project Liberty and The Covering House.

KD:  Your voice as a writer is strong and well developed, how long have you been writing?

HH: First, thank you – that means a lot to me. In answer to your question, I’ve been writing books for as long as I can remember. I got serious about honing my ability to write a novel and share it with others about four years ago.

KD: When you’re not writing how do you spend your free time?

HH: What’s that? My family recently moved to a 10-acre homestead, so tending the garden and animals is where the bulk of my non-writing time goes. I love to create – sewing, embroidering, weaving, refinishing furniture… the list goes on. I spend a lot of time with my kids; they are a lot of fun, and we have some pretty fantastic adventures together. In fact, as soon as I finish up with work today, we’re taking the dogs on a creek walk. That’s my kind of evening.

KD: Are you currently working on anything new?

HH: The next book is just wrapping up – look for Devil in Disguise to begin hitting the online shelves mid-June. I’m giving my brain a writing break until August, when I’ll start working on Roses in Ecuador, which tells the story of Devon McAllister. His sister was the main character in Ring of Fire.

Thank you so much, Heather, for stopping by the pub! I can’t read wait to read more from you and I urge you all to check out the wonderful works by the talented and wonderful Heather Huffman!

You can find out more about Heather on TwitterGoogle +Facebook, and on her website. You can find her books on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.  

 

Review: Hope Road by John Barlow

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

In Hope Road, the first mystery in a series of nine books, John Barlow introduces us to John Ray, a son of a notorious criminal, who uses his father’s past to save his friend’s future.

John Ray is the white sheep of the family, his father, Tony Ray, a used car dealer, was part of a large counterfeiting ring that left the cops itching for a conviction that never came.  Instead of following in his father’s footsteps like his brother did, John stepped away from the family business; he excelled in school and was determined to live his life straight. After returning to home to take over the family’s used car dealership, and run it legitimately, his coworker and friend is accused of murdering a prostitute. As if things couldn’t get any worse, the dead girl was found in the boot of a car John just bought for the dealership casting doubt on his clean way of living. Stuck between a rock and a hard place John turns to the life and people he left behind in order to find the truth.

John Barlow’s writing is sharp and intelligent as it takes his readers through a complex, multi-layered story.  While characters hold stereotypical traits, such as gruff, no-nonsense and cocky cops, their personalities are seasoned with little nuances that make them unique yet relatable. I loved the character of John Ray. He lives just outside the shady criminal world yet when he’s forced to mingle among the old gang he falls quickly back in step. You can tell he’s an intelligent man with a good head on his shoulders yet there is something about him that makes you want to keep a close eye on him.

The pacing and flow of the story is well matched with the intricate details that go along with a plot of murder mystery. Character interactions, the settings, major and secondary plot points are all used together to create a well focused story with no added filler to confuse the plot. Barlow’s infusion of twists along the way keeps the reader guessing as to not only who the murderer is but how everyone fits into the story.

Hope Road encompasses all the themes pertinent to a murder mystery: betrayal, greed, love, lust, and even the Shakespearean notion of “sins of the father are to be laid upon the children.”  I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in an intelligent, smooth read that keeps you guessing until the end.

 

Interview with YA Author Shay Fabbro

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

 Hello friends!! Welcome back to the pub for another fantastic interview. This author is no stranger to the pub and was a featured author on Writing on the Rocks last year. Dr. Shay Fabbro is back to talk about her YA series that contains the books Dangerous Reflections and Twisted Reflections

KD:  Can you give us a brief synopsis of your Reflection series?

SF: Alexis Davenport is a teenage girl with a lot on her plate: deadbeat dad, forced to move away from her childhood friends, starting her freshman year in a  new school, being targeted by a bully on the first day of school…oh, and she is seeing the images of strange girls in the mirror. After being transferred to the body of the girl in the mirror, Alex soon realizes she must stop an man from changing the time line. Not an easy task for a teenager, but Alex has some gifts that will help her as she meets her destiny.

KD: Where did the idea for a time traveling teenager charged with saving the world come from?

SF: As I was getting ready for work one day, I imagined the reflection changing to someone else. And of course, rather than being scared of the notion, it sounded exciting! I think that’s pretty typical of writers ;)   During the course of the day, the idea started to grow and the idea of using the mirror to time travel solidified. When it came to creating the main character, I wanted to have a strong, smart, sassy female. The first series I wrote was adult scifi/fantasy so my original thought for the heroine was an adult, perhaps a stay-at-home mom. But I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and push myself a little. Thus the idea of writing a teen main character came to fruition.

KD: The main character, Alex, is teenager who absolutely loves history, reading, boys and the latest fashions. What was teenaged Shay like? 

SF: I was an awkward teen, that’s for sure. There’s a lot of me in Alex. However, most of the most awful stuff happened to me in middle school rather than high school but I was able to pull from those emotions and incorporate them into a main character in high school. I loved to read, loved science (I think I was born to be a biologist), had plenty of crushes, dealt with bullies, loved 80’s hair bands, used massive amounts of Aqua Net hairspray…ah, those were the days.

KD: In your guest post on my site you talked a little about getting into the mind of a teenager. How did you go about capturing the spirit of a modern day teenager?

SF: I did a lot of teenager watching while out and about. I also pulled a lot from my own experiences. Even though times may change, the things teens deal with are the same: boys, parents, trying to come into their own, finding their way in the world, schoolwork, making friends, the first kiss, gaining freedom in the form of a driver’s license.

KD: Thanks to her “gift” Alex has traveled to the South during the Civil War, to the times when the great pyramids of Egypt were being built and various other places and times. If you had the ability to control time travel, where would you go?

SF: I would go back and meet Jesus of Nazareth, listen to his words, perhaps witness his resurrection. It would also be awesome to go back and meet my ancestors, to actually speak to them, see if we have some of the same features, mannerisms, etc. Rather than having to rely on family trees and faded photographs, it would be so amazing to actually sit down and have a mug or ten of beer or wine and chat about their life.

KD:  What’s next in store for Alex Davenport?

SF: There is a LOT that’s going to happen in the third book. Alex is going to find an important ally, do some more traveling, and come face-to-face with Drifter. Does she have what it takes to save the world? You’ll have to read the trilogy to find out!

KD: What was your favorite part to write in this YA series?

SF: I loved writing the time travel scenes. I have never been much of a history buff so this was another area where I had to stretch myself and do a LOT of research. As a scientist, research is in my blood so I delved right in. I wanted to pick people from history that weren’t necessarily something everyone would know. I thought it might be educational and interesting at the same time!

KD:  What is easier for you to write, YA or Sci-fi? Why?

SF: Scifi for sure. I enjoy writing from multiple points of view. When writing YA, the only POV is the main character.

KD: Can you tell us a little about your Sci-fi novels?

SF: My scifi novels involve multiple planets, multiple alien species (which were fun to design!), gigantic mechanical beings that destroy entire worlds, heroes that must work together to fight the Mekans, romance, dark magic, good magic, advanced weapons, travel pods, portals that take the Chosen to various worlds (while changing their physical form to match the sentient species), and so much more!

KD:  Do you have anything exciting in the works?

SF: I’m currently working on the last book of my Portals of Destiny series. Once that is completed, I will begin working on the final Alexis Davenport series. I have some ideas for a series of crime/thriller novels.

 

Thanks so much for stopping by, Shay! We love to have you visit! Congratulations to Debbie S. George-Jones for winning one of Shay’s books! We’ll be in contact soon, Debbie!!

And thank you to all the patrons of the pub for supporting all these wonderful authors and for following my site. You guys are the best! 

 

Interview with Write for the Fight authors Tess Hardwick and Tracey M. Hansen

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Well friends it’s been awhile since we’ve had someone stop by the pub for an interview but it’s time to polish up the bar, set out the glasses and tap the keg. I have several reviews lined up which means that the pub is officially open again for your literary and imbibing pleasure! ;) And what better way to kick of these latest string of interviews that interviewing not one but two of my favorite ladies. My dear friends, Tess Hardwick and Tracey M. Hansen, who worked on Write for the Fight together, are joining me today as we talk about strength, hope and life.

Their anthology, Write for the Fight: A Seasonal Collection of Essays brings together eleven other authors to discuss life as it parallels the seasons. To find out my thoughts of this inspiring collection check out my REVIEW that I posted this past Tuesday. But before you do let’s get the interview started. First things first. Ladies? What’ll it be?

Tess Hardwick (TH): I think I’ll go with a vodka martini with an olive.

 

 

 

 

Tracey M. Hansen (TMH): A bottle of Riesling. One bottle equals one big glass.  I’m a classy gal, so I drink it in a plastic tumbler with ice. It doesn’t get much better than that.  I’m an equal opportunity drunk though, so I will drink whatever you buy me.  The only rules are NO RED BULL and no BROWN LIQUOR.  I have a sensitive tummy.  lol  It has a cork though so it’s a step up from the boxed stuff.  One step at a time.

Pulls out plastic tumbler and sets in front of Tracey. I have no problem serving in plastic, with the riff raff that comes through my doors it keeps my costs down. :)

All right, ladies, let’s get started.

KD: How did this project come to be?

TH: This was inspired by my own health scare last autumn, in addition to losing several friends to breast cancer.

TMH: Tess asked one of the seasonal questions on her blog and then said that a collection of similar questions would make a good book.  I agreed.  She said she wasn’t kidding and I said I wasn’t either and then here we are…

Also, my Uncle Gary had passed last April from brain cancer and it hit me a lot harder then I thought it would.  It made me start asking questions about life and mortality and these questions in the book are exactly what I needed to work it all out, in my own special weird way of course.

KD: Tess, your essays tended to be more lyrical and poetic whereas Tracey’s brought humor and in-your-face truth. How did you pair up on this project?

TH: I tend to make creative decisions rather quickly. I believe it is divine intervention, especially when an idea comes to me like a bolt of lightening. I’ve admired Tracey’s work since I found her via twitter and started following her blog. There is something so raw and effortless about her gift – simply I think she’s one of the most talented young writers around – and when I imagined the book I thought of us as two bookends – in stark contrast to my voice, which is one of the themes of the book – celebrating our diversity and yet our sameness.

TMH: I was in shock when she asked me.  I still don’t think I deserved such an honor.  She’s amazing, I’m…odd.

KD: Why have 11 other authors participate?  

TH: Again, I envisioned all these diverse, gifted writers contributing to the cause.  Also, I thought it would be a unique way for some previously unpublished but super talented writers to be heard.

TMH: We held a contest on our blogs to find the best contributors.  I think we did a pretty good job.

KD: This must have been a huge undertaking, how did you go about choosing the authors that contributed to Write for the Fight?

TH: Once I roped Tracey into it, we doubled our efforts by running a contest on our blogs.  Then, our publisher, Booktrope picked the winners.

TMH: Oh, I just answered that above.  I have ESP.  I knew you were going to ask it.

KD: What question was hardest for you to answer?

TH: Emotionally, the 20 year old question. The one that really made me have to pause and think was the middle question. I had to really think what I want and answer it honestly.

TMH: I had a huge problem with the five year old question.  I think I wrote it over ten times, all different ways.  I also struggled with the life list question.  It really brought out a vulnerability I’m not normally comfortable showing.

KD: What question was most fun to answer?

TH: The five-year old question for sure. I loved reliving those moments. It was like I was there again while I was writing.

TMH: See?  This is proof of how different we are!  I just said this was my most difficult.  lol  I LOVED writing the ‘what I want people to say about me on my 80th birthday’ question. I kind of went off the wall a little.  It was a lot of fun.

KD: Outside of your own, do either of you have a favorite essay within the anthology?

TH: No, I love every single one of them. However, Tracey’s do make me laugh out loud no matter how many times I read them.

TMH: Awe shucks.  Tess wrote my favorites, I’m not just saying that.  Tess writes in a way that no matter what the subject matter is it makes me cry.  She could write about her new mac and I will get teary, so she knows how to pull those strings.  That’s talent.  Karla Nellenbach also has an essay about being the worlds oldest and greatest zombie hunter during the zombie apocalypse.  Makes me wonder what kind of drugs she does…

KD: I have no idea but let’s hope she is of the sharing kind. ;) Ladies, what is your hope for this book?

TH: I hope to raise a lot of money for breast cancer research, obviously, but I also would love to see the idea of the essay questions being a gateway for discussion groups in book clubs and writing groups. I think they are such great questions to frame your experiences and envision your future.

TMH: Of course the purpose is to raise funds to assist the fight against breast cancer.  But on a smaller scale as writers we always want to entertain and possibly inspire.  If even a few people laugh or cry or just truly enjoy the essays then I am pretty happy with the outcome.

KD: How did you pick the organization to donate the profits to?

TH: That was a bit tricky, given what happened with Komen just as we were about to make our announcement. We’ve chosen some smaller but worthy breast cancer organizations instead.

TMH: I have a bone to pick with the big organizations out there.  When you tell them you would like to help the cause they make it seem like you just asked them for a kidney.  I am glad we are doing smaller organizations.  It makes it easier to see where the contributions go as well.

KD: What’s next for you two?

TH: I’m working hard to finish my historical fiction novel set in 1930 Alabama and Georgia. It feels like it may never be done, however, it’s the best work I’ve ever done.

TMH: I’m going to read Tess’s book when it’s done.  Oh, me?  I’m finishing my book Not a Perfect Mom, a book I wrote with my friend Holly about her decision to have her daughter who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and a major heart defect in utero.  I am working on a book based on some of my blog posts called If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, and my untitled novel will be done when the voices stop shouting and speaking over one another.

That about wraps up today’s interview. Again, I want to thank both Tess and Tracey for stopping by and also for their hard work and dedication towards Write for the Fight. I encourage each and every one of you to go out and buy yourself, your friends and family a copy. 

Until next time, cheers! 

 

Tracey M. Hansen grew up in the wilds of Cape Coral, FL where she still unwillingly resides today.  She lives with a dime piece she calls ‘ManPal’ and three very feisty fur-kids. With her best of friends scattered around the globe, Tracey spends her time in a dark corner in fetal position, sucking her thumb and crying while listening to Enya.  Her campaign, ‘A bottle a day keeps the…who the fuck cares’, is catching on like wildfire in the alcoholic writing community.  She is afraid of flying, the dark, bees and Rosie O’Donnell…not necessarily in that order. Her goals are to have a restraining order filed against her by a celebrity and world peace…in that order. Tracey went to Catholic School which explains so much.  Her constant caffeine high allows her to write without thinking of the repercussions, so she has a tendency to offend people.  Luckily, she doesn’t give a shit.

She has two books coming out in 2012, NOT A PERFECT MOM and WRITE FOR THE FIGHT, both brought to you courtesy of Booktrope Publishing. Her first novel titled, WHY THE FUCK DOES WRITING THIS THING TAKE SO LONG, is due out when she stops procrastinating summer 2075.

You can stalk Tracey at her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Tess Hardwick is a novelist, blogger and playwright. She has a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California. Like her main character in Riversong, Tess is from a small town in southern Oregon. She currently lives in Snoqualmie, Washington with her husband, two small daughters and a teenage stepson. She is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window.Tess is busy writing frequent posts for her blog “Inspiration For Ordinary Life” on her website and is finishing up last rewrites on her second novel, an historical fiction set in 1930’s Alabama, inspired by a short story written by her great-grandmother. Find her novel at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

You can also find Tess on Twitter and Facebook.

Review: Write for the Fight: A Seasonal Collection of Essays

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Statistics on breast cancer can be very scary, especially when you hear that every woman has a 12% chance of developing invasive breast cancer sometime in her life. Breast cancer affects us all. It takes away our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, friends and even ourselves. When I heard that authors Tess Hardwick and Tracey Hansen joined together to work on an anthology celebrating life with the determination to donate all author proceeds to a breast cancer organization I immediately became interested.

Paralleling our lives to the four seasons, Tess and Tracey brought together eleven other authors for Write for the Fight and asked them four questions:

Spring: What do you miss about being 5 years old?

Summer: What would you tell your 20 year old self?

Fall: What, at this point in your life, do you want, wish, and dream of for your life going forward?

Winter: What would you want said about you on your 80th birthday?

It is a fascinating concept and I feel that the authors chosen to participate in this anthology of essays were excellently cast. I loved the mix of voices, experience and approaches to the questions. Some were poetic, flowery with their depictions of times gone by, others were in your face and blunt with an accurate retelling of how life really was, is and most likely will be.

What fascinated me was even though there were over a dozen different voices their memories and hopes for the future were all very similar. It’s almost as if we have a global memory of what it’s like to be five years old, the wonder, the innocence, the need to take everything in right then and there. It’s a shame we lose that.

I have to pull attention to author Terry Persun’s Summer essay because he was the only one that instead of approaching his 20 year old self with words of wisdom and insight he wrote of the hope of regaining some of that recklessness and “gusto” that his younger self was full of. It was a different take on the question and it helped break up the section and made me realize that not everything about being 20 was that bad.

I think if I were to reread the anthology, which is most likely to happen, I think I would pick an author and follow that’s author’s voice throughout each section then go on to read another’s views. When I read it for this review I did it start to finish and after reading 13 essays in a row about one topic it got a bit redundant. However, that was my fault, not the anthology’s.

The truth is once I read one’s perspective I needed to know what the next author thought. The flow and blend of their voices gave way to a rhythm that I found quite comfortable and readable. A humorous, light hearted essay would follow one more subtle and insightful but one never detracted from the other. There were many times I felt as if I was just hanging out with old friends, sharing with them, laughing with them.

I found myself longing for the age of innocence with them, cringing at the mistakes and insecurities of my early twenties. With my new friends I started to hope for a brighter, stronger and more independent future and I crossed my fingers that not only do I make it 80 but I have loved ones willing to throw one hell of a bash for me. This book makes you think and that’s not always the easiest thing to do, especially when the topic you’re thinking about is your life.

We only get one round on this merry-go-round and it’s sad to think of the chances lost and the worries about tomorrow’s problems. However, this book isn’t for regrets, it’s for remembering, learning, growing and living. This book is also about taking care of each other. Ladies, don’t wait for that magical 40th birthday if you’re not there yet; do your self-exams. Really, it’s not that hard to check yourself out. Husbands, brothers and sons take care of your women. Insist they get their mammograms, that they go to their annual appointments. And everyone buy this book and help support breast cancer research. It is currently available on the Nook and will be available in print and other booksellers beginning April 5th.

 Contributing Writers for Write for the Fight:

Gordon Bonnet

Galit Breen

F. Jo Bruce

Derek Flynn

Jesse James Freeman

Laura Kilmartin

Marni Mann

Karla J. Nellenbach

Terry Persun

Laura Tiberio

Laura Zera

 

Tracey M. Hansen grew up in the wilds of Cape Coral, FL where she still unwillingly resides today.  She lives with a dime piece she calls ‘ManPal’ and three very feisty fur-kids. With her best of friends scattered around the globe, Tracey spends her time in a dark corner in fetal position, sucking her thumb and crying while listening to Enya.  Her campaign, ‘A bottle a day keeps the…who the fuck cares’, is catching on like wildfire in the alcoholic writing community.  She is afraid of flying, the dark, bees and Rosie O’Donnell…not necessarily in that order. Her goals are to have a restraining order filed against her by a celebrity and world peace…in that order. Tracey went to Catholic School which explains so much.  Her constant caffeine high allows her to write without thinking of the repercussions, so she has a tendency to offend people.  Luckily, she doesn’t give a shit.

She has two books coming out in 2012, NOT A PERFECT MOM and WRITE FOR THE FIGHT, both brought to you courtesy of Booktrope Publishing. Her first novel titled, WHY THE FUCK DOES WRITING THIS THING TAKE SO LONG, is due out when she stops procrastinating summer 2075.

You can stalk Tracey at her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Tess Hardwick is a novelist, blogger and playwright. She has a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California. Like her main character in Riversong, Tess is from a small town in southern Oregon. She currently lives in Snoqualmie, Washington with her husband, two small daughters and a teenage stepson. She is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window.Tess is busy writing frequent posts for her blog “Inspiration For Ordinary Life” on her website and is finishing up last rewrites on her second novel, an historical fiction set in 1930’s Alabama, inspired by a short story written by her great-grandmother. Find her novel at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

You can also find Tess on Twitter and Facebook.

New Review of the Serial Bone Wires by Michael Shean

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

When I last reviewed Michael Shean’s Bone Wires, a cyberpunk noir featured weekly on Curiosity Quills, Detective Daniel Gray had just found the first homicide victim missing his spine. Now in its fifteenth week, two more bodies were discovered with their spines removed adding pressure on Gray to solve the case. Since the beginning of the serial, Detective Gray had his sights on that amber shield and with the identity of the bone thief now known, but not yet captured, he has finally achieved the shield and notoriety he so desired. However, with the killer still on the loose and being forced to accept an assignment for a Senior Vice Detective, Gray is learning that the road to the success he dreamed of is not as smooth and steady as he once thought.

Bone Wires is my first dive into not only reviewing but reading a serial. I was curious about how the pacing would flow and so far the story has moved along nicely. Shean balances development of the case with the development of the characters beautifully within each installment. His placement of plot points, introductions of new characters along with the further development of existing characters are well thought out and keep the story moving fluidly from week to week. (more…)