Posts Tagged ‘Karen DeLabar’

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.  

Pushing Through The Unexpected

Friday, April 12th, 2013

images (3)There are certain phrases you hear in life that you can never be fully prepared for. “Congratulations, you’re homeowners.” “You’re pregnant.” “Your favorite TV show is going off the air.”

One I never thought I’d have to hear is, “Worst case scenario, double amputation up to the knees.”

Those words hit me harder than a physical punch to the gut.

I was lying in my hospital bed on the sixth floor. It was sixteen days since I was admitted and my world was thrown upside down without me knowing about it. The initial scare was gone. I had the fight of my life and I won, but I was not without my scars. My left hand was swollen and the tips of my fingers black. My left thumb was completely black and I was just starting to understand that I would have to have it amputated. My hand was so heavy that I had to lift it up with my right in order to move it and with blood flow returning it was also hot to the touch. If I fell asleep with my hand close to my head I would wake up sweating from the radiating heat.

I was out of the ICU for about four days and plans were in motion to move me to a rehab facility the next day. But before I went I needed my fevers to stop and a podiatrist needed to see me to plan a treatment course.

On the fever front we had several theories all that were being addressed so I mentally put that requirement on the back burner.

All that was unknown was my feet.

A few days earlier I finally got out of bed and started walking around. Granted, I needed a blood transfusion of a couple of pints in order to get enough energy to take a few steps without having a heart attack but the point was I could walk. I thought I was as good as gold, the podiatrist would look at my swollen feet with open sores, red and angry, and would put me on some regiment that would help heal the wounds and I’d be on my way.

Instead I had this man standing in front of me in my darkened room telling me that I’d most likely never run, skip or dance with my little girls. His words cut me to the core. He continued to assess my feet but all I heard was white noise.

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A Heartfelt Thank You

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Hey everyone!

Since my typing abilities are severely lacking right now I made a quick video to thank everyone and to give a short overview as to what happened in the beginning of June.

I apologize for my emotions getting the better of me but I still struggle with the reality of it all. Also, because of my emotions, I forgot to mention some things, one most importantly are the nurses, especially in the ICU. I complimented my doctors but the nurses deserve the same amount of praise. The nurses at the hospital and rehab center were with me through some of my hardest times and will always have a special place in my heart.

So here it is, my thank you card to you all. I truly believe that it was with the help of your prayers and healing thoughts that kept me here. Well, that and I’m just to stubborn to die. :)

Enjoy! And keep an eye out for when I start my blog series about my story. Thanks, again!

(Oh, and PS – No, that is not a nicotine patch, it is a Fentanyl (pain med) patch. I can’t tell you how many people congratulate me and ask how long it’s been. When one woman found out what it was she asked if I wouldn’t mind trading patches. Um, yeah, I would mind! For some reason I don’t think smoking, or a nicotine patch, would take the edge off considering I still need other pain pills to manage the pain.)

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.  

 

The Lost Romantic

Monday, March 19th, 2012

What happens when you can no longer write what you want to write? I write romance, er, well, I used to. It always felt right to me. It was not uncommon for my mind to drift off during the day and find myself dreaming of romantic gestures, sensual dialogue and even steamy sex scenes.

This past December I had to get an MRI done on my left knee. I don’t know how many of you have had an MRI done but they can be loud, and therefore intimidating, suckers. To help ease their patient’s nerves the hospital offers headphones with your choice of music to listen for the duration of the test. I didn’t have my ipod with me so I settled for a local pop station and away we went.

At first the music was just fodder in my ear. I really wasn’t listening to it, it was just taking the edge off of the machine gun sound from the MRI machine. Then a love song came on, I can’t remember the song specifically but it had a nice melody and immediately set my mind adrift.

I started to picture a woman laying right where I was, listening to music. It’s a song she likes but it reminds her of her boyfriend, no, make that ex-boyfriend. They had just broken up for one of those classic romance novel misunderstandings, but of course, since it was my book it would have to be something more than just a misunderstanding. (I mean really, can’t people just talk to each other and just, I dunno, ask what the problem is instead of just assuming you know and getting all pissed off about it?)

Anyway, when the song is done she sighs a breath of relief until she hears the first few chords of the next song. It was the song he used to sing to her when they were first dating. The song transports her back to a time of young love, hopeful dreams and long summer nights. Her heart breaks again over the loss of that love, of that innocence. (more…)

Yeah, I Pinned That

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

About 98% of readers of this blog find me via social networking. I have to say, I love Twitter; to me it’s the biggest and best social networking site out there. I can connect to people I’ve never met and most of them actually follow me and care about what I have to say.  I have a Facebook account, both personal and professional but not a Google Plus because let’s just face it, it’s just regurgitating what I wrote on Twitter and Facebook.

With that last thought in my mind I was quite skeptical when Pinterest entered the realm of social networking. However, I admit that I was secretly interested. Over the years I’ve been collecting various craft ideas or project ideas for the kids or my husband and the idea of having them all in one place to pull from was pretty exciting.

Even with my increasing curiosity over the site, no one really said, “YOU HAVE TO BE HERE!” and I was already struggling under the weight of being a mom, a writer, a wife, a friend, a trainer, a bus driver, a twitter addict, amongst other things I didn’t think I could handle one more hat.

But I couldn’t deny the buzz that was going around the internet about this little site for long. A very good friend of mine, Janelle Jensen, wrote an in depth blog post about the dangers of the site in terms of copyright infringement. After reading her post I didn’t think I would want to participate in it. However, after some prodding from several other friends (I’m looking at you, Veronica) I thought that the least I could do is go there and make up my own mind about it.

That was two weeks ago. I am now an addict.  (more…)

A Return to Self

Monday, March 12th, 2012

I used to be an excellent organizer. I was one of those freaks that would color coordinate anything and everything.  If I could designate it a color and categorize it with other similar things I was in heaven. And don’t even get me started on my incessant need to alphabetize things. I worked in a library when I was younger and at Blockbuster Video during high school and college, to say that I alphabetize in my sleep is not exaggerating.

I used to love writing down and keeping a schedule down to the minute. It’s not that I was obsessive, if something happened and I couldn’t follow the schedule I never freaked out. In fact, I did quite the opposite; I got excited because it meant I got to make a new schedule. Ok, so that in itself could be considered a tad bit obsessive.

Scheduling gave me a sense of accomplishment, a sense of direction. Needless to say, I am not nearly as organized as I once was and I have but one excuse… well, two. They go by the nicknames of Peanut and Trouble. Yep, like most problems that happen in my life I blame my children, lovingly, of course. ;)

For years leading up to my pregnancies I’ve been told, “Once you have kids you’re on their schedule.” While those words of wisdom are true that didn’t mean that I should throw away years of organizational bliss. If anything, I should have stepped it up a notch. Instead, I threw the baby out with the bath water. Huh. Maybe I shouldn’t use that specific idiom but you get my drift. (more…)

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Growing up I was known to be somewhat of a storyteller. Actually, they didn’t even sugarcoat it with that, they called me a straight out liar.

You have to understand, I needed attention. Ok, that sounds a bit pretentious. I mean, there I was the youngest, the only girl with three older brothers and I had the cutest, curliest red hair imaginable. There’s no doubt I had any problems getting people to notice me.  However, once I had their attention, I needed to keep it.

From a very young age I learned how to read people. I can tell when someone is interested in what I have to say and I learned when to pull back from a story or push through. It wasn’t easy; I got caught lying a lot growing up, but I like to think over the years I pulled a few doozies over people that to this day they don’t know about.

And for that, I’m extremely embarrassed and ashamed.

You see, as I got better, the lies got more extreme. It became almost a game to me; who could I trick, who could I get to believe me? Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t only use it for evil, it helped me immensely with acting and I pull it out when I write, what writer doesn’t? (more…)