Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Facing The Future with Frederick Crook

When it comes to the post-apocalyptic genre, I must admit I've consumed more films than books but it's still a favourite scenario of mine. It raises questions about the human condition: how do humans survive catastrophe; how do they maintain their humanness. Author Frederick H. Crook has just released his adult geared post-apocalyptic crime fiction this month, Campanelli: Sentinel, about a smuggling operation, organized crime, corrupt cops, politicians, preachers and based on the reviews, promises not to disappoint.

Frank Campanelli is a blind Chicago Police detective who depends on his fully functional bio-electronic implants to see and do his job.

After assisting on a botched infiltration of a top human trafficking network, he and his partner, Marcus Williams, are transferred into the CPD’s Organized Crime Division to head the newly formed Sentinel group and bring down the Ignatola family business.

Frederick was kind enough to weigh in. Read on for a glimpse of his writing process, his fave films, and what his personal connections is on bio-electric implants.

Who is your favorite character and why? It’s definitely Frank. He has my tenacity, my humor and my temper, augmented in sort of a Frank Sinatra debonair. He truly is a combination of myself and the character Sinatra played in the movie, “The Detective”.

Since I write time travel I always like to ask-where would u go? Perhaps the bootlegging mob era? I think I’d like to go back to the early 1960’s and write these same works. I think they would have more of an impact on readers. I often feel that I was born 20 years too late.

How did you come to be with Solstice? I struggled to a publisher even after the first novel, The Dregs of Exodus and The Pirates of Exodus. I had joined an author’s showcase at the Villa Park Library this past September where I met Solstice’s Rebecca Frencl. We became quick friends and I submitted Campanelli: Sentinel to Solstice and they snatched it up. It’s been a whirlwind of activity since.

I am a huge movie buff and I went through a phase of being addicted to futuristic movies. Some of my faves are Screamers, Tank Girl, Total Recall, Robo Cop, Surrogates and Minority Report. I also love mob movies, Goodfellas, The Godfather, Untouchables, Donnie Brasco, Scarface, Bugsy and Public Enemies. What is your favorite organized crime movie? Cop movie? And or futuristic movie? Well, like millions of people, I love the “Godfather” movies. Bladerunner is one of my favorite futuristic cop movies, though, unlike “Sentinel” the human race isn’t doing so well.

Is there a personal link to why you made the character blind? Actually, yes. As a four-year-old living in an apartment in Cicero I broke a light fixture in my bedroom. A piece of the heavy crystal pierced my right eyelid, destroying the eye itself and severing many muscles within. Having an interest in technology, I like the fact that bio-electronics are in our future. One day, maybe I’ll have two eyes again. Frank Campanelli is an extreme example of someone who is benefiting from such implants, having lost both eyes in an apartment fire as it was alluded to in Campanelli: The Ping Tom Affair.

I love that! Not that you lost an eye as a child. That must have been tough but the fact that you're bringing real life misfortune to the page and offering hope, not to mention putting such a cool twist on it. Kudos! You have a truly unique perspective and what a way to use it. So what is your favorite scene and can we have a teaser? My favorite scene in “Sentinel” is the quick drive to Chicago’s City Hall on the morning of Reverend DeSilva’s Rally. It really describes the full functionality of Frank’s eyes. It’s the scene included in my publicity package as the excerpt.

Frank took manual control of the car and set its alert status to ‘Condition Two’. The car’s computer sent out its signal to traffic lights and other computerized vehicles, clearing the way for them. The blue lights flashed and the siren whooped and warbled to warn pedestrians and non-computerized vehicles of their presence.

Campanelli adjusted his lenses to zoom in just enough that he saw the leading edge of his vehicle’s hood and beyond. This gave him advanced warning of upcoming pavement hazards. He kept his thought commands on visual adjustments, putting them back to default when the car was in traffic and zooming forward again once the road was clear ahead. Frank’s full-service lenses had an advantage over the standard bio-electronic breed. His fully encompassed the surface of the eyes to give him the benefit of peripheral vision. When he magnified his view, it was not merely like looking through binoculars, it was akin to being physically thrust forward a few feet, albeit with some distortion at the edges of his field of view. With this advantage, Frank Campanelli had the reputation of being a rather insane driver, but from his point of view, he simply saw more detail than others and drove to match.

As it was Saturday morning, the traffic was light. As a result, Frank could get the car up to eighty miles an hour at times, broken up by sudden slowing and lane changing to avoid a vehicle or road hazard. This unsettled Marcus Williams to no end, forcing the veteran to increase his serotonin levels as he held on to the door handle and center console while plastering his feet into the floorboards.

The engine whined and whistled with acceleration, alternating with the crying of rubber whenever the brakes were hit hard or the steering yoke was twitched to go around something.

Marcus was just glad they were not in pursuit, otherwise Frank would be in a real hurry.

Campanelli slowed at the corner of State and Madison and hung a tight left. The powerful car accelerated like a shot, but the siren went quiet. Marcus dared to open his eyes and saw that the road ahead was deserted of pedestrians, cars and potholes.

The siren sounded again as they approached the intersection at Dearborn. Dodging around a CTA bus, Frank made the turn and accelerated again, though only briefly as they were close to their destination.

Suddenly, the siren quieted and the motor wound down to its near-silent normalcy. Marcus opened his eyes in time to see the blue lights cycle one last time before going out. The light at West Washington Street still turned green for them, indicating that Frank had set the car to ‘Condition Four’: ‘No lights, no sirens, just an officer in kind of a hurry’, as it had been explained to him once by someone he could not remember.

What are you working on next? I’m working on adapting my short story, Lunar Troll into a graphic novel with the help of my cover artists, Arvin Candelaria and Velvet Lyght. The script for that is done and now I’m writing a short story entitled, Minuteman Merlin. There will definitely be another Campanelli novel and a novel involving one character from The Pirates of Exodus who meets up with the main character from the short story, Runt Pulse.

Get your copy today at Amazon and don't forget to check out his website and like his Facebook Author page. 



Monday, December 22, 2014

Canadian History, Second Careers and Bucket Lists with Susanne Matthews

Today I'm talking to Author Susanne Mathews about Canadian history, her writing career, list of novels and latest work, an early French Canadian historical romance title, The Price of Honor, recently released by Solstice Publishing. 

Before we get into your latest release, I noticed one of your books is called Holiday Magic and since 'Tis the season to buy stocking stuffers, I thought this might appeal to some of my readers this week? I've actually got three Christmas books out. Holiday Magic and The Perfect Choice are stories written concurrently, both ending on Christmas Day. The main characters in the book are Georgia and Eleni Baxter, twin sisters who find love, in different ways, at Christmas. The interesting thing is that some of the same events take place in each book but from the other sister's point of view. 

Perfect. Now let's talk about, The Price of Honor. I can't tell you how nice it is to see fiction set in Canadian history. Was there a personal connection for you on why you chose this time and place?
There are not a lot of novels out there, written in English, that explain some of what early New France went through. Canada's history is very different from early American history. Like Louisiana, Canada was originally a French colony, and we passed into British hands as part of the Treaty of Paris in 1763. One of my father’s ancestors was among the first 6,000 people to make New France home. He emigrated here form Paris in 1664 as part of the Carrignan-Saliere regiment, sent by King Louis XIV to quell a Mohawk uprising that threatened the colony. Once the job was done, the regiment was disbanded and the soldiers had a choice. They could remain in New France, L’Ile Royale, or one of the other French colonies in what’s now Canada, or return to France. If they stayed, they were given land and what they’d need to become successful colonists. The catch was they had to marry within the year to keep the land or get more.

That seems like an easy enough task however, I happened to know a little bit about Canadian history myself and I believe there was a shortage of women in the colony, am I right? Yes, aside from missionary nuns. So Colbert and the king decided to send reputable women to New France to be wives—sort of a large scale mail-order bride idea. The women were called Filles du roi, the King’s Wards, and his majesty provided them with a trousseau and a diary. They’d leave France and their families and cross the oceans under horrendous conditions to marry a stranger and provide babies to grow the colony. Almost a third of those who left France died before reaching the colony.

I love to blend my imagination with history? Are your main characters based on real historical characters? Isabelle and Guy as well as those around them on the ship are fictitious, the historical figures who played a role in the drama are real, the facts verified, and the information about the Mohawk and the Mohawk words used are authentic. I did improve her conditions at sea, but much of what would have taken place aboard the vessel is accurate.

Was there a larger message you wanted to send with this book? The Price of Honor is more than a historical romance. It’s a glimpse into some of the problems early French settlers faced not only from their enemies in the new world but back in France where getting rich off the colonies was the name of the game.

Now it looks like you've switched gears somewhere along the line. Your debut novel, Fire Angel was about an unlikely investigative pair hunting down a malicious serial killer who is out for revenge in Paradise. I love mystery and suspense. Did you writing enjoy this genre? Writing Fire Angel was an incredible experience for me. I'm a big suspense fan-- I love Castle, Bones, and Criminal Minds, and rarely miss an episode of Blood Bloods and Hawaii Five-O. Last year, I got into watching Motive as well. What was interesting is that you knew who the killer was at the beginning of the show. This year, I've added Stalker to my repertoire. I wanted Fire Angel to be different from the others in its genre. I wanted to give it an edge. I decided to work with imperfect characters because to me they were more realistic. Life hasn't been easy for Alexis or Jake. They've both been betrayed by those closest to them, and they've managed to rise above their situation, but each is still afraid to let go of that distrust, and without trust there can't be love. Each is an expert in his or her field, but it takes their combined skills to track down the Fire Angel, figure out what he does, and stop him. Discovering the killer's motive pulls everything together, but not until the end. 

What is your favourite scene in this book? There were a number of scenes I enjoyed writing, but probably the ones I found most challenging were the ones where Alexis uses her special talent to see how the fire behaved. I had to do a lot of research into fire to be able to understand it well enough to write those scenes without getting too technical, but being descriptive enough for the reader to visualize the scene. I taught grade 9 science. That's how I knew about dancing gummy bears. The other scene I enjoyed writing was the description the morning after the snowstorm. Setting the story in Northern Ontario was a risk, but it paid off. People who've visited the area comment on the realism of the descriptions. As a Canadian, I'm proud of my country and I've set a couple of my books in it.

What is your favourite genre? As far as my favorite genre goes, since I've sold five romance suspense manuscripts and am polishing up two more in the same genre,I'd say that's my preferred style. There's suspense in my two historical novels, and I try to slip in a few hair-raising scenes in my other novels as well.

Tell me a little about how you got into writing: When I finally retired completely from teaching in September 2012, I wasn’t sure how I was going to fill my days. I’d left teaching full time in June 2010 and had substituted throughout the following two school years, but when a third September came around, I really didn’t want to go back to the classroom. I wanted something else to fill my days. I wanted something I’d had on my bucket list since I was fifteen years old—I wanted to be an author.

In the 1990’s, I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse of what it was like to be a paid writer. For a year, I wrote bi-monthly stories for the local newspaper, stories aimed at children in grades 4-6 as part of a Newspapers in the Classroom initiative, long before anyone realized how computer technology and cell phones would change the world. During the last few years of my teaching career, I had the opportunity to get “paid” for my writing again. I was seconded to the Ministry of Education for the province of Ontario to write curriculum for the new online courses the ministry had created. It was interesting and challenging. I wrote several English courses and two Fashion Arts courses, as well as a unit of a grade six Science, and edited several French courses and a grade twelve art course. I loved the opportunity to write, even if it was nothing but curriculum, and longed to do more.

Even before I retired, I spent a lot of my spare time reading and for Christmas, 2011, my husband bought me a KOBO e-reader, something that changed and revolutionized books. Prior to that I’d always read paperbacks, some I’m ashamed to admit, I purchased from garage sales and second hand used bookstores, never thinking about the royalties an author would never see. (I won’t do that anymore, and discourage those I know from doing it too.)

Since I didn’t own any e-books, I sought out various ones online, classics that were free as well as romance novels by my favorite authors. I came across free books from time to time and read voraciously, never even thinking of writing a review afterwards—something else that I no longer do—if I read it, I review it.

After a few purchases, I started getting newsletters from the publishers, and it was from one of these that I heard about the “So You Think You Can Write 2012”contest. Here was my chance to write something that might well get picked up by a publisher. I’d tried to write before, but other than a few poems, curriculum items for school and a few years’ worth of Sunday school lessons, I wasn’t able to get anything published, but I’m an intrepid soul and my old, nothing ventured, nothing gained philosophy convinced me to give this a try.

Feeling none too confident, I wrote chapter one of The Price of Honor. Needless to say, I didn’t win the contest, and probably the only things I kept from that early version were the basic plot and the opening lines: Treason, murder, destitution! What more could fate possibly throw at her? What did I learn from that early attempt to be an author—more than I ever imagined.

So, after your first attempt at being an author failed, what did you do? I realized after I’d written that first chapter that I really wanted to become an author, but I also understood I had a lot to learn. The first NaNoWriMo came along that year, and too worried about failing to participate overtly, I did my own NaNo thing and wrote another book. The Price of Honor, which I’d finished, sat in my computer, but after re-reading my effort, I knew it needed lots of work. I wasn’t ready to abandon it, but I thought maybe a historical wasn’t the best way to break onto the writing scene so I began work on a romantic suspense, one of the few books that I’ve started that sits unfinished in my computer. I was only part way through when an idea grabbed me that took precedence. I had a chance to pitch a story to an editor. I hooked up with a group of writers and we worked together honing our stories. I didn’t win that particular pitch, and I was ready to quit. A friend convinced me to submit to another publisher. I did, and I sold my first book, Fire Angel, which was released in April 2013. Since then, I‘ve written and sold 12 novels.

Are all your novels historical romances? While all my books fall in the category of romance, I write in several subgenres. I have 3 romance suspense novels, Fire Angel, In Plain Sight, and On His Watch, one paranormal romance suspense, Echoes of the Past, 3 contemporary romances, Just For The Weekend, Holiday Magic, and The Perfect Choice, and one other historical romance, The Captain’s Promise. A Christian suspense romance, All For Love, will be released in 2015. As well, I co-author under the name Misty Matthews. We have a novella out, Grand Slam, as well as the first of four novels in the series, Taking a Chance on Love. It’s called Coming Home. Book 2 is due out in the spring.

What’s next for you? I’m writing away, hoping the next book I write will make it to the bestseller list. I’m almost finished final edits on two more romance suspense, and I wrote a contemporary for NaNoWriMo 2014 which is finished and needs to be edited. I want to try my hand at a YA novel, and I’ve got a couple of stories started that need to be finished. I’m hoping to put the stories I wrote in the 90’s, properly edited, into an anthology. Until I get all the ideas out of my head, I’ll keep working my way through my bucket list. I’m looking forward to an Alaskan Cruise next spring.

Where can readers find you and your books? All of my books are available on Amazon through my author site: http://www.amazon.com/Susanne-Matthews/e/B00DJCKRP4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Everything about me and other retailers for my books, including the Misty Matthews books, can be found on my website. http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca/

If your readers are interested, they can follow me on my blog as well. http://mhsusannematthews.wordpress.com/

People are welcome to follow me on twitter @jandsmatt And on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SLMauthor

Monday, December 15, 2014

Shootin' the Breeze & Herding Words with Author Jack Strandburg

Jack Strandburg is a transplanted Texan so it's really no surprise that his debut novel was a good old fashioned off the wall western-humor. Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid, brought to you by Solstice Publishing was spawned from one of his all-time favorite movies, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Henry and Cue-Ball, as the names suggest, make their living not by robbing banks but by hustling at billiards. The book takes place in the Old West, circa turn of the 20th century. Originally he wrote the book in the 1980’s just for fun. He never dreamed this would be his first published novel. Once it was accepted, he made it his mission to research and ensure the writing reflected the time and place

Thank-you for joining me Jack. 

Given my interest in science fiction and fantasy, I always like to ask people where and when they would go if time travel was possible. Would you head to the Wild West? And if so what sort of occupation would interest you? I would love to travel to the Civil War era. The history and the battles have always interested me and I've seen several movies. One of the items on my bucket list is to visit Gettysburg, not just because of the history but also because I love paranormal and ghost sightings. I think it would be fun to actually be witness to a ghost sighting, although I can’t be sure how I would react if it actually happened.

I love paranormal as well, maybe you should dabble there next novel. You said that you originally wrote the book in the 1980's. I was actually born in 1980 so I have a lot of fond memories from that decade. Ghostbusters, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Nintendo and Ninja Turtles to name a few. What is your favourite and least favourite fad of that time? I got into playing Atari video games and I still enjoy watching Ghostbusters. My son was heavy into Ninja Turtles (okay, I’m dating myself because my daughter was also born in 1980). I found Miami Vice with Don Johnson annoying and although I like women, never actually watched the Charlie’s Angel’s TV show. I also never had enough patience to solve Rubik’s Cube.

Are you going to stick with the old west or dabble in other genres? I am currently rewriting my first mystery, originally written in the 1990’s, and working on several solid short story ideas in the mystery genre. I will likely stick with mystery because that’s what I enjoy doing the most.

I love mystery. The second book in my Temple of Indra series, Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire is a mystery thriller. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? What is your favourite scene? My mystery is titled A Head in the Game and started from a creative writing exercise which suggested, “imagine you are standing on a crowded street and someone walks up to you and hands you a bag.” My favorite scene is the first meeting between the protagonist and antagonist, although at the time, the antagonist’s role isn’t clear. The antagonist constantly answers a question with a question and won’t stay on topic. Sarcasm and subtle insults are frequent.
Heather Graham is one of my fave authors. She writes paranormal as well as mystery. Who is yours? My two favorite authors at this time are Harlan Coben and Tess Gerrittsen. I was fortunate to receive an autographed copy of one of Mrs. Gerrittsen’s books.
Now I'm going to put my author hat on and ask you some of the nerdy business questions we authors like to ask. What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book?  I often struggle to get started since I am an impatient perfectionist. I constantly battle with the need to write a flawless first draft. Once I do get going on a project, particularly novel length, deciding which plot point and path to follow often keeps me up at night. I consider myself lucky because I never lack for ideas or characters. This happened with my current mystery novel. I came up with additional characters and plot points which I know will improve the story, and is the reason why I am rewriting instead of revising.

Tell us about the publishing process. Was it easier or more difficult than you thought it would be? The research and revision process to meet the editor’s suggestions and recommendations was actually fun. I enjoy the revision process the most when writing a story because I can see how the story, the characters, and the writing itself improve. Marketing and promotion, however, is a different animal, and after over a year, I still struggle with not only how best to market and promote, but fight the frustration with how much time it involves, taking away from actual writing time.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
I make extensive use of Excel spreadsheets and last year bought a 36x72 inch whiteboard which allows me to brainstorm without restrictions.

How do you overcome writers block? I have never experienced writer’s block in its rawest form – not being able to write anything, because there is always something I can write. If I get stuck while working on a scene or chapter, I either brainstorm a solution to the dilemma or refer to the endless sources of writing prompts. There is always something to write.

What outside influences give you inspiration? I like listening to nature music, playing very softly in the background, Gordon Lightfoot and Enya. During the Christmas holidays, I’ll write on my laptop in the bedroom or family room while tuning the TV to Christmas music. Occasionally I’ll take my laptop to the library to get out of the house, but try to sit where I can occasionally glance out the window and look upon nature.

What tools, programs, processes do you use while writing?
Other than heavy use of Excel, I recently bought Scrivener after giving it a try and attending an on-line presentation. No program or process or tool will ever write a story for me, but the Scrivener software addresses and (so far) resolves the biggest obstacle most writers face – organization.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Talking Criminals, Redemption & Beyond the Skyline with Brody Lane Gregg

You have a new book releasing soon from Solstice Publishing called Beyond the Skyline. What is it about?

Beyond the Skyline is really a story about redemption, in both a social and spiritual sense. The book is a compilation of the journal entries of Alex Lane, a renowned criminal who is given a second chance at life. After a childhood spent forging his criminal empire, followed by a stint in a juvenile detention center, Alex is released with a new outlook on life. He just wants to be normal, and hopes to find his way in the world without repeating his past by succumbing to a life of crime. But Alex quickly learns that following this new path is easier said than done.

I can’t tell you any more without giving away too much of the story. My book will be released early next year, and will be available through Solstice Publishing, Amazon.com, and my website, www.brodylanegreggauthor.com.

What do you like most about writing?

My mind tends to sway back and forth between reality and imagination. Yes, I was one of those kids who day-dreamed my way through most of my high school and college years, constantly imagining new worlds to create and explore. I love the world-building process of fiction writing, and I especially love sharing my ideas about these new worlds with others. My poor wife gets the brunt of this—she really loves me! There’s just something about the creative process that fuels me. Thank God I have been blessed with decent grammar and a fairly fluent command of the English language. I can’t imagine having all of these ideas in my head with no outlet for sharing them.

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing?

I also enjoy helping other authors with their projects, so I work part-time as a freelance author and editor when I’m not working my “official” day job as a case manager for individuals with disabilities. But my biggest job is yet to come. My wife and I are expecting twins in the next few weeks, and my current work-from-home jobs will allow me to stay at home with the kids. I look forward to being a stay-at-home daddy. We’ll see how I juggle all of these in a few weeks.

What inspires you?

My wife. My relationship with Jesus. Reading books. Family. Music.

Besides Beyond the Skyline, do you have any other projects in the works or already published?

Yes, my short story, Terror State, is in the November edition of Heater Magazine. You can purchase a copy at fictionmagazines.com. And recently, my short story, Inside Chaos, was published on Fiction on the Web (fictionontheweb.co.uk). It’s a free read.

Also, I’m currently working on my second novel. I hope to have the first draft done before spring rolls around. It’s my first adventure into sci-fi/fantasy, which has been quite enjoyable.

And lastly, where can readers connect with you for updates, purchase details, etc.?

I’m not very savvy at selling myself, but I’ve learned a lot about social media in the past few months. You can follow me on Twitter, “Like” my Facebook page, or check out my blog (and other various info) on my website at:


Friday, December 5, 2014

Meet Karen King: Author of Sapphire Blue

I am delighted to welcome Karen King to my blog today. She has had over one hundred children’s books published. She’s written for many children's magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. She writes for all ages and in all genres; story books, picture books, plays, joke books and non-fiction. Sapphire Blue is her second YA novel. She also writes romance novels under the name of Kay Harborne. Her new book, Sapphire Blue, is out today. Below is a blurb and an excerpt.

Can love survive death?

“No one has ever walked out of Red. Once the Soul Catchers get you they don’t let you go.” Denny’s words scare me but I have no choice. If Will is in Red that’s where I have to go.

I’ve never really thought what it was like when you died. I’m only 16, too young to worry about that. At least I thought I was. I’ve heard about Heaven and Hell, of course, but it doesn’t look like I’m in either of them. All I know is that Will is here too and I need to find him. I can’t face spending eternity without him. 

Sapphire Blue - Extract

My mind is a mess. I can’t leave Will. I’ve got to help him. But how can I? I don’t know this world. If I don’t go with Grandpa and my family, I’ll be on my own. The Soul Catchers might get me too.

Soul Catchers. The very name makes me shudder. Have they got Will? What are they doing to him?

Will and I promised to love each other forever. How can I go without knowing he’s safe? I can’t leave him. But if I stay, how can I help him? My head is such a mish-mash of thoughts and fears I’m hardly aware of Grandpa leading me over to the silver bus, of climbing up the steps to board it.

It’s crowded so we have to go right at the back to find a seat. Grandpa gently pushes me into the seat by the window. I look out and see the guy still waiting on the steps. He’s not giving up on his sister. How can I give up on Will so easily?

That guy belongs here. He knows his way around, I remind myself. I’m new. I need to stay with Grandpa. Besides, the zone guides will find Will.

What if they don’t? I might never see him again.

The realization smacks me like a punch to the stomach, momentarily winding me.

I can’t go. Going with Grandpa might mean leaving Will forever and I can’t do that.

I can get another bus and meet up with Grandpa later, when I find Will. He could be on his way here, right now. I think of him walking in alone and confused like I was, of running to greet him, hugging him, letting him know that even though we’re here we still have each other. I have to wait for him.

I get up from my seat, almost jumping over Grandpa in my haste to get off.

“I’m waiting for Will,” I shout as I race down the aisle toward the closing door.

I can hear Grandpa and Aunt May calling me to come back but I ignore them. The doors are closing. With a final burst I reach them, slip through the narrowing gap and leap out, landing sprawled out on the ground. I hear the doors slide shut behind me and a loud whoosh. Scrambling to my knees I swivel around just in time to see the silver bus rise up and soar off into the sky, swiftly disappearing behind the clouds. Okay, so that’s why it’s called a sky-bus. Now what the hell do I do?


The guy’s standing in front of me, arms crossed, looking cool as chilled lemonade on a burning hot day.

Website: www.karenking.net
Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn&__adt=7&__att=iframe#!/KarenKingAuthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard
Twitter: @karen_king
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Karen-King/e/B0034P6W7I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kryski/

Monday, December 1, 2014

Spilling Ink With Author Vicki-Ann Bush

The lovely Vicki-Ann Bush resides in Las Vegas, Nevada but her love for writing began in New York at the tender age of thirteen when she took part in a city wide writing contest in her hometown of Floral Park. She was hooked and after many years of writing she finally plucked up the courage to submit in 2008, at the urging of her two wonderfully supportive daughters. The first positive response came from Salt of the Earth Publishing and her work began with children books—Winslow Willow the Woodland Fairy and The Queen of It. She has since settled into writing young adult fiction. Her first release was the novella series, The Dusk Chronicles, a supernatural romance set in Las Vegas. Her latest work has just been released by Solstice Publishing, a historical romance novel, The Garden of Two and the paranormal romance novella, The Fulfillment. In addition, she is currently working on a young adult science fiction novel, The View from Room 629.

The Garden of Two
Charlie Murphy and Lillie Whitman are surrounded by the innocence of young love, and
the guileless early twentieth century. They fall deeper into each other, intertwining their very different worlds to create a bond that no one can break. Or so they thought. When the dawn of World War I comes to their Long Island town, and personal tragedies begin to spiral the lovers into an abyss of darkness, they must fight to hold on to their love. Knowing their bond will be the only ties that will get them through. From the horrors of Germany's front lines to the emotional battle fields fought at home, Charlie and Lillie must find a way to stay strong, and navigate a path, back into each others arms. And how a garden, a very special garden, can withstand the coldest of winters and give the ultimate symbol of hope.

1. Let's talk about your new release, The Garden of Two. Give us a teaser if you can.  

It is an historical romance that takes place in 1916 and centers around World War I. The story unfolds in Long Island, N.Y. with two young lovers, Lillie and Charlie. The reader goes on the journey with them as they face the horrors of the first World War and the terrible sadness they must endure in their own lives. As for a teaser … someone of great importance dies.

2. What other books/short stories have you written?

For YA, I've written the supernatural romance trilogy, The Dusk Chronicles. And coming soon from Solstice, a paranormal romance novella, The Fulfillment. My prior work was in children books, which included Winslow Willow the Woodland Fairy, and The Queen of It.

3. Are they available in e-book, print, or both?

All of my YA is available in both and The Queen of It as well. Winslow Willow is in print only.

4. Where can readers find your books?

Amazon, Barnes and Noble both on-line and in selected stores, Kobo and other various on-line sites for purchase.

6. What do you think are the biggest challenges for your genre?

Trying to keep with a story line that is unique. There is so much paranormal romance YA. Writing the story with an idea that differs from everything you read, remains my worst enemy. I think The Dusk Chronicles and The Fulfillment, satisfy that unique component. And, The Garden of Two is completely removed from any paranormal substance.

7. How did you get started in writing?

When I was thirteen, in a school contest. We had to write a story and construct the book. I fell in love instantly with the process.

8. Where and How can readers get in touch with you?

They can always reach out to me on my author Facebook page, my blog Silent Pen, or even my email … vickiannbush@gmail.com I love hearing from readers.

9. So what's next for Vicki-Ann Bush? What can we expect from you in the future?

I just completed a YA Sci-Fi. It's with beta readers right now and then some more editing before I submit it. I'm also working on a new novel, it is very different than anything I've written so far and it's both scary and exciting for me.

10. How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

Most of it. I use everything and everyone around me for inspiration, myself included.

11. I'd like to talk about the details of the creative process. Do you set a schedule? Do you have a routine?

I pretty much go with the flow. I've tried to structure myself, I should. It's a work in progress for me and a personal goal. It's simple, I sit and write. There is no one thing I always do, it various with the book.

13. What about you in general? What is it that makes you tick? Makes you you? Things you like to do and what prompted you into writing?

First of all, the hardest thing for me to do is talk about me. That being said, family makes me tick. Friends prompt me to write just by observing them. I love the holidays when everyone gets together, I like going to the movies and I adore hanging out with my great Dane.

14. Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite Hero or Heroine?

My all time fave is Lightening, by Dean Koontz. I also adore the character, Odd Thomas and that series of books.

15. What kind of research do you when writing one of your works?

Depends on the book. For The Garden of Two, I watched several documentaries on World War I, researched pictures on line of Long Island in 1916 and read various articles and testimonies on the war.

16. Do you ever ask friends/family for advice or ideas to go into your works?

Not so much ideas to go into the work, more like their opinion of how the work is presenting itself.

17. Have you ever experienced Writer's Block? If so how did you work through it?

Yes, but it usually only lasts for a few minutes. I get up walk away, put on some music or pour a cup of coffee and relax for a bit. Sometimes, it helps if I sort of act out the prior scene. I'll play it either in my head, or in the middle of my room. I can usually get what's coming next after that.

18. Who do you like to read? Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?

Dean Koontz is my number one fave. But I also enjoy Anne Rice, Stephen King, Robin Cook and Michael Crichton.

19. Anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

Just that I really love making the connection. Hearing what they think, what they like or don't like, is very important to me. The more the merrier.

20. What is your advice to the aspiring writer? 

Yes … Do not give up. Keep writing, keep submitting. Someone will eventually see what you are doing. I know it all sounds like a cliché, but it's true. Writing is doing something you love, but it doesn't make it easy. Hard work, perseverance and simple tenacity. Staying involved, learning constantly about how to further your work, your name, your craft. I'm constantly trying to figure out this ever changing maze we all need to run through. Keep going. 

21. How can my readers get a free copy

Excellent Question! 2 winners will be chosen to win a free ebook. To be in it to win it, all you have to do is go on my Author Facebook Page, leave a comment and Like the page. Winners will be chosen at the end of the day! https://www.facebook.com/VickiAnn.Bush.Author


Ms. Bush other works include, The Dusk Chronicles trilogy, featuring these five star reviews—
SUPER cool story that had me hooked!
A Clever Time­Travel Adventure


Friday, October 31, 2014

Spice up Halloween with Tricks as well as Treats

Who's ready for the constantly ringing doorbell and the shouts of Trick or Treat? Here are some fun ideas I found online for confusing the kids. I'm still laughing at #3, 5, 6 and 18.

1. Give away something other than candy. (Toothpicks, golf balls, bags of sand)
2. Wait behind the door until some people come. When they get near the door, jump out, wearing a costume, and holding a bag, and yell, “Trick or Treat!” Look at them, scratch your head, and act confused.
3. Fill a briefcase with marbles and crackers. Write on it, “Top Secret” in big letters. When trick-or-treaters come, look around suspiciously, say, “It’s about time you got here,” give them the briefcase, and quickly shut the door.
4. Get about 30 people to wait in your living room. When trick-or-treaters come to the door, say, “Come in.” When they do, have everyone yell, “Surprise!!!” Act like it’s a surprise party.
5. Get everyone who comes to the door to come in and see if they can figure out what’s wrong with your dishwasher. Insist that it makes an unnatural “whirring” sound.
6. After you give them candy, hand the trick-or-treaters a bill.
7. Open the door dressed as a giant fish. Immediately collapse, and don’t move or say anything until the trick-or-treaters go away. When you answer the door, hold up one candy bar, throw it out into the street, and yell, “Crawl for it!”
8. When you answer the door, look at the trick-or-treaters, act shocked and scared, and start screaming your head off. Slam the door and run around the house, screaming until they go away.
9. Open the door and pretend to be drunk. Offer the trick or treaters a sampler of liquor (this is especially effective if the trick or treaters are with their parents) – this is a sure fire way to get rid of unwanted visitors!
10. Insist that the trick-or-treaters each do ten push-ups before you give them any candy.
11. Hand out menus to the trick-or-treaters and let them order their own candy. Keep asking if anyone wants to see the wine list.
12. Get a catapult. Sit on your porch and catapult pumpkins at anyone who comes within 50 yards of your house.
13. When people come to the door, jump out a nearby window, crashing through the glass, and run as far away from your house as you can
14. Answer the door dressed as a pilgrim. Stare at the trick-or-treaters for a moment, pretend to be confused, and start flipping through a calendar.
15. Instead of candy, give away colored eggs. If anyone protests, explain that the eggs are the only things you had left over from Easter.
16. Answer the door dressed as a dentist. Angrily give the trick-or-treaters a two-hour lecture on tooth decay.
17. Answer the door with a mouthful of M & M’s and several half-eaten candy bars in your hands. Act surprised, and close the door. Open it again in a few seconds, and insist that you don’t have any candy.
18. Hand out cigarettes and bottles of aspirin.
19. Put a crown on a pumpkin and put the pumpkin on a throne on your porch. Insist that all of the trick-or-treaters bow before the pumpkin and adore it.
20. Dress up like a bunny rabbit. Yell and curse from the moment you open the door, and angrily throw the candy at the trick-or-treaters. Slam the door when you’re finished.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Choosing a Cover?

With the contract signed I'm ready to move into the exciting world of cover art and I'm having way too much fun. Look at all these great images. It's clear to me that I need some help from my dearly devoted friends, fans and family.

Which image would you like to see selected for the cover of Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire? Keep in mind this is still part of the The Temple of Indra Series, but it has more of a mystery/thriller vibe to it as opposed to the adventure .

As a librarian, Sophia Marcil loves reading, especially books about ancient curses and reincarnation, but she never imagined the legend of the Purple Delhi Sapphire was true until she inherited it and was transported back to a past life where she was murdered. Now she knows that not only is reincarnation real, but so is the devil’s magic locked inside the precious gem. Just as she’s about to tell her boyfriend Cullen about it, he proposes with an engagement ring made from a piece of the very sapphire that’s cursed her. Reeling from the shock and surrounded by his family, she allows him to place it on her ring finger. As soon as it touches her skin, she feels herself being wrenched back in time.

Before she knows it, she’s wandering the hallway of an old Victorian house in the body of her great aunt. Unfortunately, her nemesis has also reincarnated in 1920—as one of her family members. Sophia struggles to locate the Purple Delhi Sapphire in time to prevent the deaths of those she loves, but she fails and returns to her present-day life, to the precise moment she left, with a deep understanding that her killer’s soul is also tied to the sapphire and every life she has, he is resurrected as someone close to her. Her stalker ex-boyfriend Nick seems like a prime candidate this time but she’s convinced she’s a step ahead of him, thanks to a tip from a medium, she knows that if she uses the magic of the stone correctly she can trap Nick’s soul in the sapphire and save herself. But when Nick is murdered, she finds evidence that has her questioning everything she thought she knew. Is Cullen husband material or is history doomed to repeat itself?


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Sequence of Extraordinary Events

As I sit at my desk watching the steam roll off my coffee, I take in the dark wood paneling, old books and brick fireplace that make up my study. Something about this space reminds me of that Victorian steampunk film, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. You know the one, set in the late 19th century featuring an assortment of fictional literary characters appropriate to the period. Maybe I love it because it's filled with Victorian Era superheroes or maybe because it draws on the works of some of the greats: Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Bram Stoker, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mark Twain—just to name a few—or maybe I just really love it because of the kick-ass library. I truly am an atmospheric person. Architecture, decor and everything old, these are the keys to my creative spark. My husband promises to build floor to ceiling library shelves complete with a rolling rack. But even just as it is, this room is too beautiful and too inspirational not to write in and I really need to write. My soul has been aching for the past week to create something fresh but there is just too much excitement going on in my life and I feel like I must share it before I can relax and allow book three to flow once again. So here it is—so many big changes.

Mid-August we made up our mind to move. We quickly found our dream home, a massive Second Empire Victorian Home, built in the late 1800's. This house comprised of three floors still has original doors, hardwood flooring, large baseboard trim and 12 foot ceilings with intricate crown moldings. The Parlour, Dining Room and Study are three of my favorite spaces but the best and my absolute favourite has to be the third floor which formerly held the servant’s quarters. I've included some pictures below. This space with its aged wood and arched dormers is something out of Flowers in the Attic, and has proven to be a complete treasure trove: pirate chests, heavy velvet pink drapes, old doors, shutters, windows, trim, and stoves. It's a DIY addicts dream—but I digress. Back to the story, so we bought our Addams Family styled Mini Mansion and sold the home we'd loved for four years--all in a matter of weeks. It was all so sudden and yet it wasn’t. We'd been debating the move all summer but we'd allowed for some feet dragging. My black and white movie star dressing room and our backyard lagoon styled oasis were just too perfect to give up while there was still a sliver of summer left but as September approached we knew the time had come to cut the cord. My son needed to start school and I wasn't switching him mid-way. The guilt, a gripping dark monster that lived in the pit of my stomach, was bad enough knowing we were ripping him away from the friends he'd grown up with, but this house was to magical a place to let slip and we all agreed, including him that we were ready for new adventures. It was time for the Stapleton's to branch out; we were hitting up the wilds of Norwood in our monstrous mini mansion.

Now this move was part of a strategic plan to continue writing. September had always been my deadline. Either I would go back to work and let my soul slowly perish or I would get Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire, the second book in my Temple of Indra series picked up thereby allowing me to continue my dream to write and travel.

Enter September 9th—just another Twitter Pitchparty—I think not. This would be a life changing day. I tweeted my pitch twice an hour from 8am-8pm just as Brenda Drake outlined in the rules and I had much success. I got seven favourites from a combination of agents and publishers. The next day I emailed off my queries, partials and fulls as requested. And I went on with my week, painting, filling the new wardrobes I'd purchased from an antique shop down the road, volunteering in my son’s school. Then Friday morning something extraordinary happened. I was in the kitchen, brewing a coffee and contemplating my egg whites, having just returned from dropping my son off at school, when I checked my phone and low and behold there was an email from one of the Publishers I'd just submitted to two days ago.

"Rachael, I've had a chance to review Curse of the Purple Sapphire, and find it extremely compelling and well written. I've attached a contract for you to review and sign. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask."

My heart skipped a beat, I let out a squeal. Was this for real?

Stay Tuned for my next post...decisions, decisions. What’s a girl to do?