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Monday, July 20, 2009

What to Post?

Hey there,

I hope everyone had a good weekend. I do not have writer's block, but I have blogger's block. Even as I write this, I have no idea what to blog about, no clue. Any ideas?

I think it's because I am still working on the YA Spotlight project right now, needing to get dishes done because I put them off all weekend because of commitments. The highlight had to be Sunday. My husband and I stopped by the birthday party of a family friend, someone I've known since I was little. I didn't get a chance to see her at my wedding reception, and I really just wanted to see her and say hi, so we went and stayed all of about an hour or so, just long enough to pass our birthday wishes to the birthday girl, speak to a couple of the people who worked with my parents and the sister of the birthday girl. It was nice to see them, and the fact that she was 90, made it feel like it was something I had to do.

Of course, my husband felt out of place, and so did I, a bit, only because we crashed the party. Yes, I admit it, we weren't invited, but I really wanted to see both the birthday girl and her sister while there was still a chance to do so. We didn't stay and eat because we weren't invited, we felt it would be wrong. (However, as we said goodbye, the birthday girl told us we could have eaten anyway and took great care to make sure we were okay, which is one of the reasons I have always liked and respected her.)

This visit was also hard for me because it made me revisit/remember some difficult times in my life, such as when both of my parents lost their jobs (the first time) when I was in grade school. My life changed quite a bit after that time, even though I stayed in the same parochial school, even though I didn't want to stay there. See, I didn't have a choice about being there, so I figured I'd control what I could. Just because I was forced to go to school there, it didn't mean I had to be friends with them if I didn't want to.

Of course, because it was a parochial school, the teachers couldn't leave well enough alone and tried to force me to socialize. That had the opposite effect. I closed off even more. I honestly did prefer to eat my lunches alone and did my best to do so, even when they tried to have kids sit down and eat with me.

I know my parents thought they were doing what was best for me, but I wonder what school would have been like had I attended public school for 7th and 8th grade. Would I have met some of the people I associated with earlier? Would it have changed who I hung around when I got to high school? Would it have changed what I chose to study when I got to college? Would I have still met my husband, or would that have turned out differently too?

But, since I can't change anything, I don't waste my time about what ifs, unless I'm trying to figure out a storyline.

What about you, do you ever stop to consider what ifs?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

YA Author Spotlight Saturday Presents... Brian S. Pratt!!!

Hey there everyone!

I found Brian Pratt the same way I found last week's author, Linda Dawda, from an amazon.com search of YA authors. While I cannot find his books in my local library, I am very glad I found this author because I happen to be a fan of sci-fi/fantasy stories.

Brian S. PrattWhen you look up Brian on his website, you'll discover that he was born in Modesto, California, graduated high school in 1985 and went straight into the Air Force where he was trained as an Avionic Specialist on the F-117A Stealth Fighter.

When Brian's tour of duty was over, he joined Pizza Hut as a delivery driver where he quickly rose to become a General Manager of a delivery unit in Edmonds, WA. You'll also learn that after a short stint as a taxi driver, he spent two years as a driving instructor and that he now writes full time.

Currently, Brian Pratt lives with his three children, Joseph, Breanna and Abigayle in Lynnwood, WA. On his website, Brian confesses that he always had a book in his hand and read every chance he got. [I think that just about every author could say the same thing. I know it was true for me, even reading during class in grade school.]

Brian is a self-published author of 14 books and has sold over 8,000 copies in both print and eBook form since his first book came out in December 2005.

The Unsuspecting MageWhat you'll also find on his website is a link to a free copy of The Unsuspecting Mage: The Morcyth Saga Book One in eBook form, which you can find by clicking here.

[I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, because I am still working on his latest book, The Adventurer's Guild, but I will be working on it soon.]

If you wish to learn more about the Morcyth Saga, check out Brian's website for a series overview and book descriptions.

The Adventurer's GuildBrian's latest release is called The Adventurer's Guild. I have managed to read the first 26 pages and I am already hooked. I was extremely impressed with how he laid the foundation for the town and the history he created for it. In truth, I felt that I knew enough about his work to say that he has a talent and a knack for writing a good adventure and he considers all the angles.

But don't let my opinion be the one that guides you, make that decision for yourself. Until July 25th, 2009, readers can take advantage of a wonderful special from the author, a free copy in eBook form! That's right, for the next seven days, readers will be able to download a free copy of The Adventurer's Guild! Click here for more details and be sure to use this code: ZS77B.

Enough from me though, let's here what Brian has to say:

"The Morcyth Saga continues to be my biggest seller though it is written in present tense (I know, but what did I know when I started?) The rest of my books are in past tense. It is also my roughest series, the later ones read much smoother.

UndergroundMy books are simply fun adventures written at about the 5th-7th grade reading level. No sex, profanity, or explicit gore. About the most graphic parts are contained in the sword battles. Younger readers would probably enjoy The Broken Key Trilogy or The Adventurer's Guild most. The Adventurer's Guild is quite amusing. The Dungeon Crawler Series is just that. The story begins with a group in an RPG (role-playing game) style dungeon complete with monsters, traps, and treasure, and they have to fight their way out. Again, nothing over a PG-13 rating.

Why did I decide to write The Morcyth Saga? I suppose the main reason was due to the many series, which were currently popular at the time. Series that in the beginning grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go, but then over time began to lose momentum in a mire of subplots and overlong descriptive paragraphs, which I found myself skipping. When I realized I was skipping pages at a time to pass through a subplot that didn't really move the story along to get to the what I would consider the `good points' (action, adventure, actually seeing the main characters) I figured I could do better.

So I set out to write a series in which the reader followed the main character 90% of the time, action or points of interest were in every chapter, and descriptive content was down to a minimum. As a reader I knew I could create my own visualization of surroundings and figured others could to. I mean, do you really need me to go in depth as to what a teenage boy's room looks like? Doesn't `messy boy's room' bring up an instant visual? Stuff like that is what I mean. Certainly there are those who prefer grand descriptive content and a myriad of plots that takes a notepad to keep track of. To them I would say The Morcyth Saga is not for you.

As to the story itself, I was a role player decades ago in high school. And I got to thinking about how interesting it would be should a gamer be thrust into a world in which his gaming experiences could help him thrive. After all, if you take a person from our world and thrust them into a world of magic, wouldn't it be helpful to select someone who would be more amenable to the prospect of magic? Perhaps one whose very interests were along those lines? That was how James came into being, a high school senior who loves creating and then running his friends through his creation.

The Morcyth Saga and The Broken Key Trilogy are both written along gaming lines. The Morcyth Saga is about a gamer that is thrust into a world of magic while The Broken Key Trilogy is written in role-playing style."

Shepherd's Quest Hunter of the Horde Quest's End


Here's a look at Brian's book list:

The Morcyth Saga
(7 books)
The Unsuspecting Mage (First book I published)
Fires of Prophecy
Warrior Priest of Dmon-Li
Trail of the Gods
The Star of Morcyth
Shades of the Past
The Mists of Sorrow

Travail of The Dark Mage
(1 of 5 completed) sequel to The Morcyth Saga
Light in the Barren Lands

The Broken Key Trilogy
(3 books)
Shepherd's Quest
Hunter of the Horde
Quest's End

The Adventurer's Guild
Jaikus and Reneeke Join the Guild

Dungeon Crawler Adventures
Underground

Qyaendri Adventures
Ring of the Or'tux


Now, let's hear some more from the author:

"Paperbacks are only available on-line through most of the major retailer. This is one of the drawbacks of being self-published. No one wants to take the chance on you. Actually, if you are over in Massachusetts, there is one bookstore there that stocks them, or at least most of them.

For info on self-publishing, go to:

click here

and scroll down about midway, you'll find it on the left edge of the page. POD means "Print-On-Demand"

When I first began the self-published journey, I used iUniverse as my publisher. Now though, I do it through other companies like Lightning Source, which if one is able, will generate more royalties.

For previews and excerpts, go to Smashwords and you can download the 25% of any of my books for free, except Light in the Barren Lands. All eBook formats are available.

Has there been anything that has helped me to write better? Yes there was. A site called FanStory helped me to refine my writing and be more aware of proper grammar. At FanStory, members submit stories or poems and others critique. Critiquing others certainly helped me to catch more mistakes in my own writing. I would recommend FanStory.com to any wannabe writer who sets out on the self-publishing road."

Because I played AD&D, I just had to know more about that part of his life. Here's what Brian had to say:

"The gaming side, as far as running a bonafide D&D style game, happened primarily during my high school years. I belonged to the chess club, but it was really just a bunch of us who played during lunch and on weekends. After high school, I primarily played on computer games, solo for the most part.

The part I enjoyed the most about RPG gaming was the construction of the worlds. Designing the dungeons and various campaigns through which I would take my friends. That, I suppose, transposed into my love of writing adventures in the fantasy genre that many people have embraced and follow.

My boy likes RPG games with the computer, but for the pen and paper type, no. Currently we are enjoying Fate, which is a computer game that is very much like D&D. You fight monsters, have magic, descend into a dungeon, etc. My girls have interests in other areas."

Have any questions? Feel free to ask Brian some questions when you comment! He'll check in through out the day and try to answer your questions. Be sure to thank him for the free eBooks!

Friday, July 17, 2009

PUCKER UP! IT'S HEART HEALTHY!

I was floundering for topics this week and so I started searching the web. While rambling about cyber-space and coming up with nothing my husband asked for a goodnight kiss. The lightbulb in my brain—it was as bright as a flood light—flipped on and I thought awesome topic! LOL

Kiss me once, kiss me twice

Come on pretty baby kiss me deadly

Kiss me once, kiss me twice

Come on pretty baby kiss me deadly

Sorry, but those lyrics of Kiss Me Deadly by Leta Ford slashed through my brain when I started my kissing research.

So, I did a quick search on the web and found 10 benefits to kissing. Yes! You heard right. There are benefits, healthy benefits, to kissing! Woot! Now, I’m not saying it is accurate information, but it was fun, so let me give them to you:

1. “Those who kiss their partner goodbye each morning live five years longer than those who don’t.”

Pucker up baby because I’m expanding my living years to 105! LOL I've always said I wanted to live to be 100, so why not 105? But seriously, the thought that a simple kiss each morning can make you live five years longer than those that don’t pucker up. Wow! That’s a better excuse to pucker up each morning than any other I've ever heard of.

2. “Kissing is great for self-esteem. It makes you feel appreciated and helps your state of mind.”

Hmmm….okay. I’ve never thought of it like this before. Personally, I like hearing “thank you” to make me feel appreciated. But, a “thank you” and then a kiss could mean I’m extra appreciated.

3. “Kissing burns calories, 2-3 calories a minute and can double your metabolic rate. Research claims that three passionate kisses a day (at least lasting 20 seconds each) will cause you to loose an entire extra pound! It's time to start that kissing diet!”

Oh, hell, yes! Finally a fun and easy way to loose weight! Woot! Woot!! Kiss me baby one more time! Kiss me! Kiss me! Kiss me! Kiss me all night long! Who knew losing weight could be so much fun!

4. “Kissing is a known stress-reliever. Passionate kissing relieves tension, reduces negative energy and produces a sense of well being, lowering your cortisol ‘stress’ hormone.”

Oh, yeah, there is nothing more relaxing than a nice kiss. Makes all my world worries melt away.

5. “Kissing uses 30 facial muscles and it helps keep the facial muscles tight, preventing baggy cheeks! The tension in the muscles caused by a passionate kiss helps smooth the skin and increases the circulation.”

More reasons to stay puckered up! It makes us look younger! This just gets better and better!

6. “Kissing is good for the heart, as it creates an adrenaline which causes your heart to pump more blood around your body. Frequent kissing has scientifically been proven to stabilize cardiovascular activity, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol.”

Well, why didn’t my cardiologist say this before? I love getting the heart pumping this way! lol

7. “Those who kiss quite frequently are less likely to suffer from stomach, bladder and blood infections.”

Hmm…interesting again. So us kissing fiends are healthier in more than one way. Kiss away!

8. “During a kiss, natural antibiotics are secreted in the saliva. Also, the saliva contains a type of anesthetic that helps relieve pain.”

Again…interesting. I don’t think the drug companies want this to become common knowledge! The anarchy that would ensue if we knew drugs weren’t needed, but kisses instead! Let's go green together baby and kiss the infections away! LOL

9. “Kissing reduces anxiety and stops the 'noise' in your mind. It increases the levels of oxytocin, an extremely calming hormone that produces a feeling of peace.”

ACK! *slams down on the brakes* Now, wait a minute. I don’t want the 'noise' to stop in my mind! It helps me write! *kicks a can* This is the first not good thing about kissing. *sulks*

10. “The endorphins produced by kissing are 200 times more powerful than morphine.”

Let’s kiss baby and get high together! LOL Who knew!

I hope everyone has a naughty weekend! And pucker up as much as possible! It's heart healthy and it's free! lol
Mwah!
~~~~~~


NOTE: All photos were taken from Photobucket. No copyright infringement intended.


~~~~~


And on a special note, an author friend, Kenzie Michaels, has received some awesome reviews for her new book, All She Ever Wanted, and I wanted to share them with you! Congratulations, Kenzie!!!!!

Four Stars from Sensual Erotic Romance & Erotica 24/7. Read the review here: http://sensual.ecataromance.com/index.php?p=2375




Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Little Mayhem with Barbara Bonfigli, Author of Cafe Tempest


What Inspired the Idea for the Book and Inspired Me to Write It by Barbara Bonfigli


Since first traveling to Europe between college semesters I've been trying to pack lightly and take off whenever the chance arises. So it wasn't surprising that when I started to write my first novel I was sitting on a beach on Greek island with no intention of moving until my cash wore out. Wondrous landscapes and fantastical characters surrounded me. Theatre is my family tree; my mother was an actress, my great uncles were in Vaudeville and I re-lived my English incarnation as Lady Bracknell in my high school production of "The Importance of Being Earnest."

Nothing is more fun than rehearsals. Greeks eating and acting and discussing every imaginable subject seemed like the perfect co-conspirators on my imaginary island. Love of course is always a part of my life; my friends and my lovers are the stars of the show.

Besides loving to write, I have some perspectives -- on love, travel, spirituality -- that I wanted to share and I hit upon the fictional memoir as a venue that would give me the latitude to do that. I love writing songs too, but those are one story at a time.

Then there is Proust, who said-- you read a novel to learn about yourself. I think you write one for the same reason.



To learn about Barbara Bonfigli and Café Tempest, feel free to visit any of these sites.

Barbara Bonfigli’s website – www.cafetempest.com
Order Café Tempest directly from the publisher - http://www.tellmepress.com/pub_ct.php or from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Café-Tempest-Adventures-Small-Island/dp/0981645313
To see the complete tour schedule visit http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2009/05/cafe-tempest-by-barbara-bonfigli-summer.html


About Barbara Bonfigli

Barbara is an author, lyricist and theatrical producer. When she isn’t writing songs or travel articles, or producing shows, she packs some French roast and catches a plane to Athens. Then a ferry or a hydrofoil to... but that's classified.

She hitchhiked to Greece in her first nomadic summer, and discovered her native land. She’s been exploring it ever since -- hiking in the Pelion, kayaking in the Dodecanese, sailing the Aegean. In a tiny seaside taverna, over fried kalamari and a pitcher of homemade red, a few Greek families and she watched Obama conquer Berlin.

Maps are her recreational drug of choice. After wearing out five passports and four continents she uncorked her memories and imagination -- and a bottle or two of retsina -- to write her first novel, "Café Tempest: Adventures on a Small Greek Island". It's a kind of "A Year in Provence" meets "Zorba the Greek". You are invited to the mythical island of Pharos, to laugh and dance in the hammock, not the cradle of Western civilization.


About Café Tempest: Adventures on a Small Greek Island

What is it about Greece that makes it so exotic, so romantic, so tantalizing that it’s right at the top of everybody’s bucket list – the one foreign land they’re longing to visit? Our dreams are made on Never on Sunday, Zorba the Greek, and more recently My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Mama Mia.

Café Tempest: Adventures on a Small Greek Island is a witty, evocative, beautifully written novel that puts you right in the heart of Greek island life. It’s so alive with the sights and smells and tastes and characters of Greece that you can pick it up and start your Mediterranean vacation on page one. On a deeper level, the book is filled with the kinds of observations, reflections, and arc of self-discovery that make Eat, Pray, Love so compelling.

“Welcome to Pharos. Laugh and dance in the hammock—not the cradle—of Western civilization,” says author, lyricist, and theatrical producer Barbara Bonfigli. “I’ve been falling in love with Greece since I was old enough to drink retsina. But if Sarah hadn’t captured my imagination you’d never know how I feel about friendship, feta, and the abundance of grace that turns friends into lovers and fishermen into kings.”

Synopsis

When Sarah, a thirty-something American theatrical producer, is asked to direct the locals in their summer show, she picks Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. What follows is a hilarious adventure in casting, rehearsing, and consuming. Her neighbors are excited about acting but delirious about eating. Their rehearsals in a deconsecrated church become a feast in four acts.
Armed with a sizzling wit, a dangerously limited Greek vocabulary, and a pitch-perfect ear for drama, Sarah navigates the major egos and minor storms of a cab driver Caliban, a postmaster Prospero, and a host of fishermen dukes and knaves.

When she falls in love, there are even trickier seas to navigate. Her own offstage romance provides an exhilarating, unpredictable counterpoint to Shakespeare’s story of magic, intrigue, and the power of love.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ALBERT BORRIS, CRASH INTO ME

When I first read about this story on the Class of 2K9 blog, I knew that I had to do something to show my solidarity for a fellow writer in a health crisis. And since writing is what I do best, I decided to write about the plight of this promising author. In December, just before his book, Crash Into Me, was set to debut, Albert suffered a massive stroke and though he recovered physically, he is still struggling to regain his ability to communicate. To speak or even to write. So while he works to regain his ability to do what he so loves, I thought I would show my support by posting about his debut book here and by encouraging readers to check it out and pass the word about Albert. You can read a full press release about Albert here:

http://community.livejournal.com/classof2k9/25259.html

Maybe visit him here and leave some encouraging messages:

http://classof2k9.com/?q=node/10

Or even check out his book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Crash-into-Me-Albert-Borris/dp/1416974350/ref=sr_1_2?ie=U

Thank you for indulging me with this. ~ Margay

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Update on Today's Scheduled Guest

Due to unforeseen technical difficulties, the intended blog with Alan Furst had to be postponed. If the technical issues are fixed in the immediate future, we'll try to reschedule the blog. Sorry to the readers and fans looking forward to this blog. We'll do our best to make it up to you."

Sincerely,

The Moonlighters

Today's Guest

Hello, all,
Today, we were set to highlight Random House author Alan Furst, but the material isn't ready yet. So please bear with us. Hopefully, we will have something for you shortly. Thank you for your patience.
The Moonlighters

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm Busy Reading

Hey there,

The Elfin RealmSorry that I haven't posted sooner, but I was busy reading Linda Dawda's, The Elvin Realm and lost track of everything.

I know this is a YA book, but it isn't just for kids. The effect of this book was kind of amazing to say the least. While reading about the kids in this book and about how they transformed from children to young adults for their journey, I was being transformed into a little kid along the way. At one point, I was so distracted from the book by childhood memories of playing outside and some of the adventures I had that I had to laugh. I've read these kinds of books before, and I can tell you, I never felt like I had been transformed into a kid! It wasn't the fact that the characters were kids, it was the fact that their actions and how this unfolds is done so believably that it just draws you in and before you know it, you're hooked!

Seriously, I had woke up and had the lights off, trying to fall back asleep but all I wanted to do was read the book and I really wanted to just read by flashlight! I didn't have one, so I turned on the light by my bed and read some more into the not-so-wee hours of the morning. Then I slept again, woke up and made this post.

What about you? Have you had a similar experience reading a book? What was the name? What happened in the story? How did it transform you?

I can't wait to hear about your reading adventures!

Carrie

A Little Mayhem with A.F. Stewart, author of Chrinicles of the Undead

Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! A. F. Stewart’s newest release is Chronicles of the Undead. Her full-length horror novella became available in paperback and e-book in January of 2009!

Author Website: http://afallon.bravehost.com/
Book websites:
Chronicles of the Undead- http://www.squidoo.com/undeadchronicles
Inside Realms- http://www.squidoo.com/fantasycollection
The Elite of the Blood- http://www.squidoo.com/eliteblood

Author’s Blog: http://afstewartblog.blogspot.com/
Lulu Storefront: http://stores.lulu.com/MaeveErin

When/how did you know you wanted to write?

I have written poetry and short stories since I learned to write, and that eventually evolved into writing books. I’ve always had ideas rattling around in my brain clamoring to get out.

Do you use a pseudonym? More than one? Why?

I use my initials instead of my given names, for two reasons. Here in Canada, there is another writer (of cookbooks) with my given name, Anita Stewart and I wanted to avoid any confusion. I also wanted to avoid any possible preconceptions about a woman who writes in the fantasy genre; I write darker fantasy stories and generally stay away from the paranormal romance genre.

What I didn’t anticipate was that people would automatically assume I was a man. I guess it’s a case of be careful what you wish for.

What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?

Always look to improve your writing skills, have patience and don’t take rejections personally. You should also do your research before you decide what publishing route is best for you. There are many options these days: The big traditional houses, the small press publishers, e-book publishing and self-publishing. They all have their pros and cons.

Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?

Ideas just pop into my head. Something strikes me as odd or I ask myself “What if something was this way?” My vampire book started with the thought: “What if you weren’t horrified that your neighbors were vampires?”

I may subconsciously use people I know in my books, but I don’t do it intentionally. If anything, I put parts of my own personality into my characters. I sometimes use real life as starting points for events in my stories and I often put historic events in my writing.

How long does it usually take for you to research a book? Write the book?

It usually takes as long or longer to research the book as it does to write it, since I do a great deal of historical research for my books. I take several months to do preliminary research and sketch out a loose book outline before I start on the first draft. That first draft can take another few months to write (or longer if my muse is being persnickety); I also research as I write to get added details correct. The final edits are the easiest to finish because I know where the book is going at that point and what isn’t working. It is also the point where I do any final research on changes or new plot points to ensure accuracy.

Some authors start out with a plot in mind, others with characters whom they’ll follow to reveal the theme. What works best for you and why?

I usually start out with a plot idea that evolves into a first sentence or paragraph. From there I figure out the main character and the ending; the tough part is writing what goes in-between. I need to know where the story starts and where it ends, in order to write the journey.

When and where can we purchase your books?

I currently have four published books and they can all be purchased at Lulu.com, in both print and ebook form. Inside Realm, my fantasy short story collection, is available on Amazon.com and Chronicles of the Undead is available at Amazon worldwide, as well as Barnes and Noble.com.

What are you reading right now?

The fantasy books, Rise of the Ancients- Annuna by JC De La Torre and The Long-Timers by Matt Lupo, a great crime/mystery, The Wonderful Demise of Benjamin Arnold Guppy by Gina Collia-Suzuki, and an excellent book, Nora’s Soul by Margay Leah Justice.

(Okay, I am officially blushing now. Thanks, A.F.!)

I also have a very long list of to-read books.

Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?

Ray Bradbury, he is the first author who showed me that writing could be both entertaining and have an emotional impact on a writer, and Neil Gaiman who led me down the path to the dark side.

What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I like all kinds of books: mysteries, fantasy, sci-fi, non-fiction; I’ve even been known to read a historical romance or two. My favourite author is a toss-up between Guy Gavriel Kay and Neil Gaiman.

What do you do to unwind in your free time?

I read of course, and I like to watch DVD’s (I’m partial to action movies). I also dabble in drawing and oil painting.

If you had a book club, what would it be reading — and why?

Good old-fashioned genres like sci-fi, fantasy and mystery. The last book club I belonged to favoured chick-lit books and that is just not what I generally read.

Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you.

1- I’m a total geek. I own numerous movie collectibles, collect sword replicas, can quote Star Wars, and can tell you why the Terminator movie plotline is actually a time paradox. 2-I have some artistic talent in drawing and painting, but I am extremely untalented when it comes to crafts such as sewing, crocheting, embroidery, etc.; I can however knit simple things like baby blankets given a year or two. 3- I can write any poem in thirty minutes or less, if inspired, in fifteen minutes or less.

Many writers have had success writing in different genres. Do you think it is difficult to switch over to another genre?

I think it is a matter of being comfortable with the genre. I have no problem writing fantasy, sci-fi, poetry or certain types of non-fiction and I’ve dabbled a bit writing mysteries. However, when I try my hand at romance I always feel awkward and I can’t see myself writing an old-fashioned western.

Do you write more than one kind of book? Do you have a preference? Is one type of book easier to write than another?

My preference is to write fantasy books, although my latest, Chronicles of the Undead crosses over into horror. I have written a volume of free-verse poetry and a small non-fiction book about action movies. I find poetry the easiest to write, probably because it takes the least effort for me to write; poetry has always been second nature for me.

Why did you choose your genre?

It was more that it chose me. As I said, I tried my hand at writing in a few other genres, but it’s always the fantasy stories that keep coming to the forefront of my brain. I probably read too many fairy tales as a child.

What's your next project?

I was working on my non-fiction book, the Incomplete Guide to Action Movies, but I hit a few snags and I decided I needed more time to write a better book. My next book will be my second book of poetry, Shadows of Poetry. I’m also writing a vampire novel, The Elite of the Blood, online.

Thank you so much for joining us today, A.F.! ~ The Moonlighters

Saturday, July 11, 2009

YA Author Spotlight Saturday Presents... Linda Dawda!!!


Linda Dawda


To say that Linda is a very interesting person is an understatement, but you wouldn't really know that by looking at her website, hiddentrees.com. On her website, she has a picture of herself that, while demonstrating her professionalism, does nothing to reveal the writer within.

According to the bio Linda has on her website, she has been happily married to her husband, Tom, for over 20 Years and resides in the North Eastern region of the United States. She has a degree in science and has worked as a Veterinary Technician with a specialty in avian medicine for many years. Linda is the mother of three teenagers named Tom, Rachel and Scott. For those of you familiar with her and her stories, you already know this, but for those not as familiar with this bit of info, the names of her children inspired the names of the Morgan children in her trilogy! [Very neat!]

Her website bio will also tell you that Linda always wanted to write a book and has finally accomplished her goal with The Elvin Realm and soared beyond it with the release of The Rise of Zeflana: The Elvin Realm II. Her love of fantasy and the imagination of her children as well as their names inspired her to write the first book in the Dream Warrior series, The Elvin Realm.

That's all well and good, but what the website doesn't say is lot more interesting and we've got Linda here to give us the scoop on some of that, so I hope you find this interview as fun and interesting as I did conducting it!

Me: So, you’re a vet tech with a specialty in avian medicine. For those of us not familiar with animal medicine, what’s the difference between a regular vet and vet tech?

Linda: A Veterinarian is an animal doctor and a Veterinary Technician is an animal nurse, X-Ray technician, laboratory technician and surgical technician all rolled into one. We have to learn all of these responsibilities where as in the human realm; people must specialize and concentrate on only one of these areas.

Me: What kind of neat birds have you had the opportunity to work with?

Linda: I have had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of birds: the most expensive bird I have helped was a Hyacinth Macaw. They are a very large purple-feathered bird that sells for over $10,000. One of our good clients had 8 macaws; it must have been very noisy in the mornings at that house. Other birds are a assortment of amazons, cockatoos, cockatiels, and a variety of small pet birds.

I have also had the opportunity to work with an Avian Wildlife Rehabilitation Veterinarian. I would assist with the rehabilitation of Owls, Hawks and the majestic Eagle. When the bird was well enough, we would be able to set it free back in the wild, a very rewarding experience.

[Okay, they do look very blue in that first image, but the second one sure looks purple!]

Me: Have you ever worked with a zoo or animal adventure theme park?

Linda: I volunteered at a zoo while completing my residency in college.

Me: Which one and do you still work there?

Linda: The Detroit Zoo, I volunteered during my residency and was able to assist with many surgeries, basic care and I really enjoyed working with the baby animals. Feeding the baby Tigers was amazing.

Me: Where have you put your talents to use?

Linda: I have also developed and taught an Avian Medicine course at a local college. The curriculum consisted of bird species identification, basic skills such as trimming nails, clipping feathers and tube feeding. Also my students learned to draw blood from the tiny veins of the bird, which is quite a task in itself, X-Ray restraint, medical lab tests, proper daily care and training.

Me: Does your job involve traveling to sick patients?

Linda: One of my residency experiences was to work in a large animal practice. We had to go to the patient’s farm to treat them. We treated Horses, cows, goats, sheep, chickens and pigs. Did you know a cow has 4 stomachs? Just some food for thought. And no, you do not get chicken pox from chickens.

Me: Has the travel given you any inspiration for your stories?

Linda: Not really. My stories are all fantasy. The only correlation would be Deano in the story who is actually my daughter’s horse.

Me: As much as many of us want to, we can’t work and write 24/7, even though many of us wish we could. It’s also not mentally possible to constantly work without something giving way. What do you do for fun, to recharge your soul?

Linda: I’m really kind of crazy. I actually tried out for Survivor 5 times but was never chosen, Oh darn. I enjoy any type of outdoor activity such as, gardening, hiking, canoeing, and I really spend a lot of time in the summer on my bike. My husband and I have recumbent bikes, which are extremely comfortable; it is like sitting in a lounge chair while you are peddling. We will ride 25 to 40 miles at a time 2 to 3 times a week. We ride through tree lined trails which cross next to a river, very refreshing and invigorating. Great for releasing stress as the wind blows through your hair and you breathe in the cool clean air.
[okay, all I can say here is wow!]

Me: Where have you traveled to with and without your family?

Linda: Our family loves to travel. We camp and have been to Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, hiked in the Teton Mountains, where we actually found some gold, saw the Flaming Gorge in Utah, Las Vegas, and toured the Grand Canyon. We have also been to the south, Kentucky mountains, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida where we went to Disney World 6 years in a row when the kids were smaller, they love Disney. We have camped in Panama City and went deep sea fishing and snorkeling. We also love to go on cruises. My family is very close because my children are 19, 20 and 21 years old. The kids are best friends and enjoy each other s company and being on a cruise together was one of the best times we have spent together as a family.

Me: How big a part of your life is writing?

Linda: I started writing small stories when I was a teenager, but back then, writing was difficult with a block tablet and a chisel, just kidding. The old pen and paper made writing a chore and I never finished an entire story. When I became a mother and my kids were so adventurous, I thought of stories about them and started to write again but never really thought of actually publishing a book. The invention of the computer really makes writing a pleasure. After J. K. Rawlings became such a world renowned success, I thought wow, she is just a mom and look what she did and she inspired me to actually finish an entire story.

Me: Do you have critiquing friends or are you more of a lone wolf when it comes to working on your ideas?

Linda: My children are where I work my ideas. If I have writers block or am thinking about a new creature or event, I bounce it off them, especially my daughter Rachel. She is fabulous when it comes to imagination. When I finished my first book I let a few friends and teachers read my manuscript to see what they thought and I told them to be brutal. They all gave me their critiques and I was open to them and it made the story better. They all encouraged me to publish the book.

Me: How long did it take you to get your novels done from start to finish?

The Elfin RealmLinda: The Elvin Realm took me a year and a half to complete. I went through it many times and had many changes until I thought it was right. The Rise of Zeflana only took me nine months to finish. With the experience of The Elvin Realm, the process was much smoother. I am launching The Rise of Zeflana this weekend on my website www.hiddentrees.com, please feel free to visit this site to read about both novels and readers reviews. I am also launching it on Amazon.com.

Me: What kinds of obstacles did you face?

Linda: With The Elvin Realm as my first book I had difficulty imagining the entire book at first. I took each chapter at a time and slowly it came together. The difficult part comes when you want someone to publish your work.

Me: What is your most memorable experience as an author so far?

Castle BackdropLinda: I love to do presentations and book signings. I was setting up for a presentation at a local elementary school and a class of 3rd graders came by and asked why I was setting up a castle. I told them I was an author of a book and they got so excited. They all got out pens and wanted me to sign stuff, anything from their note pads, hands, arms and even their baseball caps. They made me feel like a star, it was amazing. Then when they came into the presentation, they all were all holding their autographs and smiling from ear to ear. When I go to a book signing, I dress in character, an elf, bring a castle and explain to the children how a book actually goes from your imagination to a book in your hand. All the steps from taking a story in your head and using your imagination to put it on paper, acquiring the ISBN number, bar codes, illustrator, editing, and finding a printer. Then the book shows up on your door step and wow, your name is actually on the front cover. How cool is that. Then I ask for volunteers and dress them in costumes like the characters in the book, they will be my actors. I ask for more volunteers and they will be the story tellers. One will start a story and the others will expand upon it, which is part of what is on the MEAP tests. As the story unfolds, the actors will act out the story. It is a fun and amazing experience for all as the children learn while having a great time. Then after the presentation, each child who has purchased a book will bring it up to me and I personally sign each one. After the children read the books, they write to me through email and tell me they can’t wait for the next book and when am I going to make the movie. Wow, every author would like their book made into a movie, I’m no exception, but I’m not holding my breath.

Me: Now on to the good part, your books. You said that you’re children inspired you to write your first novel, what role did they play (other than names) in creating the story?

Linda: My three children are the main characters in my book. I have used many of their actual antics and quirks to create their characters in the books. They also gave me ideas to add to the adventure as I was writing. Anders is really one of Tom’s friends, whose name is actually Adam. Adam is a red haired, muscular guy who I affectingly call the wall because no one could get past him in soccer. Tom and Adam are great friends who tease and encourage each other in the book as well as in real life. Deano and Cashanti, the two horses in the books are actually my daughter Rachel’s horses. Her current horse, Deano, performs in equestrian shows, such as dressage, jumping and eventing. Deano in the book jumps over streams and logs just as he does in real life. Scott was actually a State Champion gymnast, which I state in The Elvin Realm. He is very strong and agile and his muscles are ripped from head to toe, which, in the book, allows him to wield a sword so well. My children were the inspiration of both books and are the major part of the story.

Me: In just reading the blurbs for your books on your website, I am left with the impression of several other influences. Would it be fair to say that you were influenced by the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter series, and maybe possibly the movie Labyrinth?

Linda: [Besides those mentioned] I also liked Eragon and the Terry Brooks series, The Sword of Shannara. I love fantasy/adventure and I enjoyed all of those books and movies and yes they all had influence in my book. I did not want to copy anything from the above listed books, but create my own fantasy world in which I could escape to and explore. I wanted to write a book that would have so much action that the reader would never get board and want to keep reading to find out what happens next. When I was young I did not care to read, because I would get board in parts of the book, not keeping my interest I would set the book down and never finish it. Most children these days, with video games and TV need to read a book that will keep their interest. This is how I wrote my book, to some adults it might not be the greatest work of literature, but in the child’s eye, they can see and picture the events happening in their minds and turn it into a movie as they read. Keeping their attention will encourage them to look for more books that interest them, which will in turn, keep them reading. That was my goal from the start, encourage children to put down the game controller and pick up a good book. My books are not just for kids, many adults have purchased my books and emailed me as well wanting to know when the next one will be available. These are the same adults who read Harry Potter, Narnia and Lord of The Rings. Adults too want to escape into another world and pretend for a moment to be a great hero, warrior, princess or even a villain.

Me: Will there be more books in the series?

The Rise of ZeflanaLinda: At this time, The Rise of Zeflana is the conclusion of The Elvin Realm. I can continue if the readers wish. I want to hear their feedback, which was fabulous for The Elvin Realm. I have my website, www.hiddentrees.com in the back of both books so readers can email me and leave their reviews and feedback or ask questions. It also depends if a large publisher takes on the books, which will expose the story to the entire reading population.

If I do continue the series, I would probably expand on the relationship between Rachel and the Elvin Warrior Russom. Russom became fond of Rachel in The Elvin Realm and fell in love with her in The Rise of Zeflana. Also Tom and Vanquez have a little something going too. We could explore the mountains for treasure, as well as encounter new and exciting creatures. There is always room for more adventure into the Elvin Realm.

Me: If not another Elvin Realm, what is your next writing project and what can you tell us about it?

Linda: I love fantasy/adventure and I write to encourage reading. When I write again you can expect a magical world of new adventure and mystical beings with wild adventure around every corner. That’s what we all need, an occasional escape from reality and the everyday doldrums, to a world of excitement that will get your blood flowing and entice your every thought into the world of fantasy.

Me: Thanks for joining us today Linda and for giving us some great insight into who you are as a person, and as an author. I especially appreciate the glimpses into your two books.

Linda: I want to thank you so much for having me on your author blog. I feel honored to be the first young adult author and have really enjoyed the experience. I hope you enjoyed The Elvin Realm and The Rise of Zeflana and strive keep the fantasy alive.

Me: I now pass the baton to the readers out there! Feel free to ask Linda questions or to tell her what you thought of her books!

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Crazy Week...

My week has been crazy, busy and I’ve gotten nothing constructive done, certainly no writing. *whimpers* Sunday my family and I returned from a four day trip to the beach. Now, I don’t know about you and your family, but we always need a vacation from our vacations. *sighs dramatically* I’ve decided my new year’s resolution for 2010 will be for my family and I to learn how to relax when we vacation. LOL Relax…would someone remind me what that word means again. ;-)


This is what I have felt like this week!





Our week has consisted of the battery in my car dying, an emergency orthodontist visit, grocery shopping, a visit to Wal-Mart which always seems to make me want to blow my brains out—sorry for the graphicness—the free matinee to watch Horton Hears a Who...next week is Space Chimps and I’m praying it’s better than Horton...washing clothes, cleaning, washing more clothes, then more cleaning and just when I thought I'd done enough...lucky me...more cleaning!!!....LOL....two trips to the chiropractor and a round of bowling that resulted in injuries and also resulted in one of the two trips to the chiropractor. How does bowling cause injuries you might ask? ;-) My oldest got his thumb stuck in the bowling ball and instead of remaining calm so I could help him remove it, he panicked and yanked his thumb out. *facepalm* Thank God for chiropractors! LOL

My boys have been karate practicing fools this week because they have a tournament this weekend. The living room furniture has been shoved against the walls for the most part of the month. I've banned myself from the living room because I can't take it any more!!! Stop the madness!!! If I hear Let It Rock by Kevin Rudolf and You Give Love A Bad Name by Bon Jovi one more second I might scream loud enough for the Canadians to hear me! Grrr....why the music, well, they both participate in Free Style Forms which requires music for the form.

Both boys are black belts in karate, the oldest a 3rd degree, my youngest a 1st degree and both are 2008 World Champions. So, they’re goal is to become World Champions again for 2009. LOL At least they have high aspirations and they work hard for it! I’m always a weensy bit nervous because I hate to see them not achieve their dreams or goals, but I also realistically know they cannot always be winners. :-/

And as mentioned my book, Bloodlines, was accepted and has been renamed to Elfin Blood. The publisher already had one book named Bloodline, so having two with that name would have becoming a bit confusing. The contract was signed and mailed back to the publisher today. *runs around excitedly* Now, the edits will begin. *nervous gulp*

That’s been my week, boring, busy, crazy and little to no writing. I’m praying next week involves a lot of writing—begging desperately for that—so much writing that I’m sick of it by the end of the week and need to reboot with a good book. LOL

Have a naughty weekend!




Note: Photo was grabbed from Photobucket, no copyright infringement intended.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sun, Sand ... Seduction! in the Jungle

Hello Everyone!

Last week, Leslie Parrish stopped by for a visit to discuss her new series Fade to Black. This week, the third Plot Monkey, Leslie Kelly joins us. Okay, but what does Leslie Parrish have to do with Leslie Kelly? Well, they are two sides of the same author, Leslie Kelly. Leslie Parrish is just a moniker used to let readers know that those stories are very different from what they've come to expect from Leslie Kelly.

I've read
Make Me Over
Make Me Over

and I currently had to put down
She's No Angel
She's No Angel

just so I could get this blog together. Let me tell you, that was a hardship! As much as I liked Drew Bennett from Make Me Over, Mike Taylor from She's No Angel is making me swoon...

Okay, while I recover, I'll let the real star of the show take over. Take it away Leslie!

Leslie KellyIn between all the promotion for my first dark romantic-thriller as Leslie Parrish (Fade to Black, just in case you’ve missed all my squawking about it…lol!) I have a novella coming out from Harlequin. I love doing these super-sexy, hot summer reads for Harlequin and jumped at the chance to work with Stephanie Bond (again) and author Lori Wilde.

When I was asked to do the anthology, I was simply told the stories needed to have a “tropical beach” setting. I chose the island of St. Lucia because I’ve actually been there and felt like I could do the location justice. Talk about a gorgeous location—pure white sand beaches, amazing blue skies, lush forests, turquoise lagoons, and towering volcanoes. Just paradise.

[I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m hot and bothered already. Seriously, it’s what, July 9th and I was wearing long pants, thick socks, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt when it’s normally in the high eighties and/or nineties up here! Just picturing those white sandy beaches makes me warm and slick and … oh, can’t go there!]

Sun, Sand ... SeductionSince I was doing an unusual locale, I decided to try a more unusual hero. My Leslie Kelly heroes are usually nice, down-to-earth, super-sexy guys. They’re often flirtatious, average Joes, and when they fall they fall hard. For some reason, I decided that the hero in “Propositioned”—my novella in Sun, Sand…Seduction!—was going to be more alpha. More of a Desire or a Presents hero. An uber-rich, strong, controlling multi-millionaire who was relentlessly tracking down the woman he wanted…heroine Liz Talbot.

So what’d I end up with? An uber-rich multi-millionaire who was … adorably sexy and flirtatious and funny and irresistibly sweet. Dang. I just can’t write a jerk of an alpha hero if I try!

I tried. Really, I did. But he just kept flirting instead of barking orders. And rather than being perfect, he had some serious (adorable) weaknesses!

For instance…Jack Beaumont has a serious problem with seasickness:

“You had to remind me of my problem, huh? I’d almost managed to forget where we’re going. I still don’t know if this is a good idea.”

“It’s a fine idea.” She shook her head. “I love being on the water so much, I have a hard time believing you don’t.” Sighing, she added, “I just sail and sail, letting my troubles float away.”
“My troubles wouldn’t be what was floating away,” he snapped. “My sanity would.”

“Jack, would you just trust me? The bracelet will work.”

He stared at the anti-motion bracelet on his right wrist, obviously not believing her. “I’ve tried motion sickness medicine before, on one of those dinner cruises in Boston Harbor.”

“And?”

“It was a real struggle to get back to shore before my dinner did.”

She couldn’t stop laughing, though it earned her a deep frown in return.

“Nice. Laugh at a guy’s weakness.”

“Oh, come off it, do you have any other weaknesses? What else is there to laugh at you about?” She lifted her hand, ticking off her points. “You’re rich, you’re successful, you’re drop-dead gorgeous.”

Liz swallowed hard, wishing she hadn’t pointed that one out. Hurrying on, she added, “You speak a couple of languages, give generously to charity, and have a loving family that isn’t the least bit dysfunctional.”

She’d found that surprising, and hadn’t quite believed until she’d met his incredibly warm and genuine parents.

“So forgive me for taking amusement in the fact that you have one Achilles’ heel.” Unable to suppress a wicked grin, she added, “Make that Achilles’ stomach.”

All that, and he focused exactly on what she most didn’t want him to. “Drop-dead gorgeous, huh?”

“Don’t make anything out of it,” she shot back.

“As if I could,” he muttered.


See? Sexy, funny, self-deprecating, successful, uber-rich…Jack Beaumont is just irresistible. I tried to make him snap insults, and he just flirted. I tried to make him relentless and he became adorably cajoling. Tried to make him domineering and he just became irresistible!

Ahh, well. Liz Talbot fell for him just the way he is. As did I.

Hope you do, too!

[That should make the rest of us feel better, even a practiced author like Leslie can’t make a character do what she wants him to do! I know I’ve been having that same problem. Characters are who they are and there’s just no fighting it.]

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Whose Idea Is It, Anyway?

The other day, my fellow Second Wind author JJ Dare wrote an interesting post on ideas that really got me thinking. Entitled “Steal This“, the post tackled the issue of authors (or one, at least) blatantly stealing ideas from other authors and writing their own stories from them. Now this is a little different than coming up with a story based upon a similar premise. That happens all of the time – how else do you explain the plethora of vampire and shapeshifter books out there? The difference there, however, is that each author has taken the initial premise and made it their own, developing whole worlds that are far different than their peers’. This is also different than having someone say that you or your story inspired them to write their own and then to discover (happily, as I did) that their concept in no way mirrored your own. I have no problem with that. In fact, I revel in the experience of being the inspiration for others to write. What I have a problem with is people blatantly stealing from other people.

I wish I could say that this was an isolated incident, but sadly, it is becoming far too common. With stunning frequency, accounts are coming forward about one author lifting material from another and trying to pass it off as their own, as “original.” How they can do this with a clear conscience is a mystery to me. I labor every day to make my stories as unique as I possibly can. I won’t even read anything with a similar theme until long after my book is done because I don’t want it to influence me in any way or give anyone a reason to accuse me of pilfering. Sadly, it seems that too many people are jumping on the bandwagon of accusing (mostly famous) authors of stealing their ideas – and some are actually doing it. How did we ever come to this? Whatever happened to professional courtesy and respecting our peers?

After reading JJ’s story, I will be even more careful about sharing any ideas with others – until the ideas are 300-page books, that is. What about you? What do you think of the outbreak of plagiarism that has struck the book world lately? Will it make you more reluctant to share your ideas with others, or will you still participate in workshops and critique groups, trusting that no one will hijack your idea? And if you have any suggestions on how I can calm my fears of idea/story theft, please feel free to share them. All comments are greatly appreciated.

Author's Note: This post was originally published on the Second Wind blog at http://secondwindpub.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/whose-idea-is-it-anyway/ but I believe, in light of some more famous cases of idea theft (or plagiarism, if you will), that it deserves more attention. Please read JJ's post, Steal This, to see what got me so fired up. It might make you think a little differently in the future. Thank you, Margay

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In the Moonlight with Rebecca J. Vickery

Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! Rebecca J. Vickery’s newest release is Surviving With Love. Her full length contemporary romance novel became available in e-book on May 1, 2009 and in print in June 2009!

GIVE ME ALL WEBSITES WHERE YOU CAN BE FOUND, WHERE YOUR BOOKS CAN BE PURCHASED, ETC. ANYTHING TO PROMOTE WHERE FOLKS CAN PURCHASE IT ONCE IT COMES OUT!

Home website: www.romancewithatwist.com (All of my ning sites are listed on the preferred links page here)

Blog: www.rebeccajvickery.blogspot.com

FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?drop&ref=mb#/profile.php?id=1095614601&ref=profile




When/how did you know you wanted to write?

I’ve always loved to write stories, even in first grade. And I was a voracious reader. When I was about ten years old, I had read everything of interest in the school library. The librarian had just got her copy of Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow. Once she read it she loaned it to me. I was hooked. I wanted to write stories just like that. I flunked several English assignments after that because I wrote an adventurous sweet romance instead of the assigned work.

How long did it take you to become published?

For my first novel it took 10 years. I sent out my very first submission/query letter in 1998. I have had short stories and articles published before but Surviving is my first novel.

How long does it usually take for you to research a book?

Tough question. I don’t outline my story other than a broad idea of location and initial plot or characters. I stop all during my writing when there’s something I have to know and look it up. Many things I don’t have to research as I recall them from real life experiences or from reading about them at some point.

Write the book?

Surviving’s first draft took about a year to write. I was also working at the time. Then of course I had to edit and refine my research, do some re-writes and change some scenes around. That took probably another 6 months before I felt comfortable submitting it.

Is there any character in your books that you can really relate to?

All of my heroines have a bit of me in them. LOL I tend to write what or who I’m familiar with. At 23 to 25 years old, I was mouthy and very sure of myself like Stacey. And I’ve always talked to myself. Bad habit I know, but I’ve passed it on to several of my characters. My next heroine, Jessie, lives on coffee and would do anything to help a child...again like me. My heroes always seem to have characteristics I admired in my grandfather and one special uncle along with a few traits thrown in from my husband and son.

What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?

Don’t write strictly for the market. Write what you enjoy and your enthusiasm and inner happiness will show in your work. Do your homework on publishers and agents before submitting to them. Try not to get discouraged if it takes a while and keep writing.

Where do your story ideas come from?

I have a very vivid imagination and realistic dreams. Toss in a few real life experiences or a bit of what you hear on the news and you have a book. Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings? Surviving With Love was actually born from a tiny snip of news I heard about the theft of some special bearer bonds. Later the same evening there was a plane crash and my “what if” game began. What if the thieves had been on that plane? What if they took hostages? What if they walked away from the crash into the wilderness? What if the only one able to find them was a female tracker? What if a tough hostage rescuer was called in? And on and on until I had a very long book just to answer all my own questions. LOL You can see the book video for it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZrvw76qjNo

You just recently were published. How does it make you feel?

Thankful and very blessed. And to have three coming out in the same year is beyond anything I had prayed for. It also feels like the long wait and all the hours on the computer were worth it to hear someone say they read and loved my book.

Getting back to your books coming out soon. Tell us a little about what to expect from them.

Looking Through The Mist is my next release and it will be out next month. It’s a psychic contemporary romance about a young woman who has visions of a child being kidnapped. When she goes to the police to report what she knows she meets a hunk of a detective who does not believe her at first. After a second child disappears they team up to try to find the missing kids. Here’s the link to the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oehCsQ0mb4 Then in October, Following Destiny will be released. In it a down-on-her-luck woman inherits a house and the worldly possessions of her grandmother who she never met. Among the possessions is an antique ring that proves to be very unusual. The ring allows Andrea to hear the voices of her ancestors. The local sheriff and a mutt named Heidi become an important part of the story when a serial killer begins to strike in their town. I also have two proposals already accepted to be released in early 2010 if I get them completed and they are up to par.

When and where can we purchase your books?

Surviving With Love is available now in e-book (multi-format) and also in print. The other two releases will be available at the same retailers when they come out.

Publisher: http://classactbooks.com/bkpgSurvivingwithLove.html (buy link and excerpt on site)

Other retailers are:

http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/surviving-with-love/7022117
http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b88328/Surviving-With-Love/Rebecca-J-Vickery/?si=0
http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-survivingwithlove-16502-149.html
http://www.amazon.com/Surviving-With-Love-ebook/dp/B0029ZAPH2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=digital-text&qid=1244960184&sr=1-1
http://www.bookstrand.com/product-survivingwithlove-14821-281.html
http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/BookStore/index.php?main_page=pubs_product_book_info&cPath=69&products_id =2240

What are you reading right now?

Actually I’m writing right now. This is another book I have a proposal out on and I have to get it finished in case the publisher actually accepts it. But I just finished Said The Spider To The Fly by Miss Mae. I loved it and would highly recommend it. My to-be-read list is incredibly long. I hardly have time to breathe between writing, editing, and promoting. So regrettably reading has to take a back seat for now. And I do have a family (though they think I’ve abandoned them) and real life stuff that requires some of my time.

Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?

That would definitely be Kay Hooper and she is very much alive. Her mixing of suspense and romance is awe-inspiring. I love her psychic crime series and I’ve learned a lot from her writing and the advice she posts on her website for new authors.

What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?

That would be the Bible. The history and completeness of it and it is filled with romance, war, joy, love, happiness, tragedy...all the things that we as writers would hope to convey. I’m also a believer and was taught early on to respect the principles it contains.

If you had a book club, what would it be reading — and why?

That would be Surviving With Love, of course. LOL Because I think everyone should read it.

What are your favorite books to give — and get — as gifts?

I love to receive any books. Especially autographed romances. I think my books are going to become my favorite ones to give as gifts. Before now I liked to give clean joke books or something like Jeff Foxworthy’s You Might be a Redneck if...something to make people smile and feel good.

Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you.

My very first job was helping my uncle cut grass when I became big enough to push the mower. I could hardly see over the handles, but I shoved and pulled and worked at it. He actually paid me and then took me to the store to spend the money I earned. Sure made that snow cone taste good to buy it with money I worked for. LOL

Not many people know that I picked my husband up at the Piedmont jockey lot. They didn’t call them flea markets back then. We’ve been married 34 years this month. I tell people he has lasted longer than anything else I ever picked up at the flea market, but he’s beginning to wear a bit around the edges. LOL

And that brings me to after we were married. During the first two years we moved seventeen times. It got so I didn’t even unpack the boxes and we practically lived out of our suitcases. I thought I had joined a band of gypsies. But you’ll be glad to know that now we’ve been in the same home for 27 years.

What else do you want your readers to know?

I love to go RVing at the beach and take long walks either at sunup or sundown or both. That is my best unwinding time. I enjoy my 3 grandchildren and love to take care of them. We all enjoy fishing and crabbing, reading, video games, swimming, and cooking out. I’m also an amateur artist and love sketching and painting. My dislikes are simple. I dislike rude and overbearing people. I dislike seeing animals mistreated. And I dislike that there are children who have to go without love. I want to adopt and hug them all, kids and animals.

What are your experiences with publishers and agents?

My experience with Class Act Books has been amazing. They are definitely number one in my book, no pun intended. LOL Dare I say they are a classy act??? I had a bad experience with a good agent. I was accepted by James Roush in England as a client. He had just worked up a proposal and my bio and all the things agents do when his health rapidly declined. He struggled on for a bit but finally had to retire. He encouraged me to keep going as he had faith in my writing. I searched for another agent for a while but then found out about e-publishers and decided to go it alone. I submitted to several and was finally contracted by a publisher who put my book on the back of a computer file and let it set for over a year. Then when pestered by ‘yours truly,’ she pulled it out of mothballs and supposedly edited it. Naturally by then it wasn’t very “contemporary” and re-writes had to be done. We played the stall game for a while with the book going back and forth over the net, but the final straw came when she lied to me about having sent it to an artist for cover work. Then she said the release date would have to be postponed a minimum of six more months. I lost all faith in the company and pulled the book. That book was Surviving With Love. Class Act Books graciously met my already promoted release date and were fantastic about it. I would recommend them to any romance writer seeking a home.

What will the role of the Internet play in the future of publishing?

Eventually the only places you will see hard copy books will be in collections, libraries, and museums. We’ll all carry our little, much improved e-readers around like they do on Star Trek. I believe the price of the e-readers will become very affordable and will be a must have item like cell phones and iPods. I think once that happens even the kids will use them for their texts at school.

What's your next project?

I just opened an e-store at CafePress with items carrying slogans and pics related to my books. The address is www.cafepress.com/rebeccajvickery if anyone wants to window shop. I have to finish Finding Treasure very quickly and then Healing Rain, and Seeking Shelter within a few months.

Why did you choose your genre?

I really think it chose me. LOL Contemporary romance with a twist of the paranormal, adventure, or suspense is how I describe what I write when asked. I definitely don’t see myself writing erotic scenes and having to explain ‘why’ to my mom or my grands some day soon. And the really sweet romance is too tame for my temperament. So my stories drift from fairly sweet to sensual. I leave some things to the imagination and close the bedroom door, so to speak. And love has played such an important part in my life I have to write romances with happy ever after endings.

Have you ever gotten to a point where a story wouldn't come? If so, how did you get back on track?

Ahhh, writer’s block. I think all writer’s have them. Editing the project will work sometimes...helps me get back into the feel of the story. I also find doing something physical like chasing grandchildren or playing with my poodle, Dixie, often relieves it. Long walks on the beach are a wonderful, but not always practical, cure as we live several hundred miles from it. And sometimes I just go on with another project and the muse will eventually hit me and drag me back to that original work.

What do you think is the most important characteristic of a prolific writer?

Being able to focus on the story while the phone rings, the TV plays, the grands yell and scream, the dog barks, hubby wants dinner, mom needs her sugar tested, and the stew boils over.

If you could choose one thing to be remembered by, what would it be?

That I always tried to help others when asked.

Some authors start out with a plot in mind, others with characters whom they’ll follow to reveal the theme. What works best for you and why?

I usually have a broad, general plot in mind and often a starting location, but I tend to let my characters change and grow as the story develops. But for the first time I have some secondary characters screaming at me for a sequel to tell their own stories and I don’t have the first one done yet. LOL Not sure how I’m going to handle that.

Do you use a pseudonym? More than one? Why?

No, but I have considered it. At times, especially on the internet with all the hackers and spammers, I wished I had. But I think the main reason I didn’t is that my grandfather always used to tell me to be proud of who I am and of my name. For some reason that seemed to apply in this instance so I used my real name.

Many writers have had success writing in different genres. Do you think it is difficult to switch over to another genre?

I haven’t actually tried it but I do switch back and forth from technical writing to fiction. It is a whole different ballgame. I can imagine that switching genres would feel similarly challenging to me. Not sure I’m ready for that yet.

When did you start writing?

I wrote my first published work when I was twelve. One of my teachers sent a poem I wrote to Highlights for Children Magazine and it was published. Every child in the class received a free copy of the magazine. I wish I still had mine. LOL But professionally I began technical writing in 1983 when I was employed by H & R Block.

Where did you receive your most valuable lessons in becoming a writer?

All the books I’ve consumed had to have helped. LOL English and Literature were my favorite subjects and I always exceeded the required curriculum, even in college classes. But the experience of providing writing on demand in a job situation was probably the best teacher. That and life experiences.

Do you belong to a critique group or have a critique partner? Which do you prefer?

I do have a new critique partner. As a matter of fact, so new we haven’t even worked on anything together yet. And the folks at our new Yahoo group, Sweet and Sensual Romances, are always willing to give me an opinion. I’ve never been part of a critique group so I can’t say about that. I think I would prefer one-on-one critique partnering though. I think a group would get confusing for me at this stage with too many ideas and opinions coming at me at once.

Would you recommend critique groups to other writers? If so, what elements, in your opinion, make a successful writer’s group?

I think every writer needs either a partner or group to provide honest, but constructive criticism of their work. And not relatives. They mean well but can seldom be honest. They either like everything or nit-pick your work to death. LOL I think the partner or group should want to be helpful, be available, and above all be supportive.

Do you ever look back and think, "I wish I had written this differently?"

Not yet, but I’m sure I will as time passes and I learn more. I’ll probably look back at these early works and ask why did I ever write that? LOL

Is writing your full time job or do you have another job also?

To borrow a phrase, “I wear many hats, depending on the day, the hour, and the need.” I am a tax preparer from January though April 15th. I do contract research projects and write a few articles plus do some bookkeeping. On top of that I have a hubby, my mom lives with us, and a two year old grandchild is staying with us for a while. I am definitely looking forward to and praying for the time when writing books can become my full-time occupation.

How long does it take you to complete a book, from the time the idea for the book is conceived, to when you submit it to your editor?

Another tough question. Surviving took a year and a half to submit to the first publisher. Looking was in the works over a period of 3 years, but not constantly being worked on as I took a 2 year hiatus from writing when my sister (and best friend, collaborator, and editor) died suddenly from deep vein thrombosis. Now, I often have more than one project going on at any given moment. I think the fastest I’ve completed a book is 6 months and that’s if I get Finding Treasure done soon. You have to understand, I don’t write shorts, I write full-length sagas. LOL So far I haven’t written a book under 80,000 words but I am struggling to end Finding Treasure at 55,000 – 60,000.

How important is it to attend writing conferences?

Other than for technical writing, I’ve never been to one. I would imagine if you want to get into the big NY publishing market, it would be very important. I do attend all of the workshops, seminars, and meetings that I can online. Networking is extremely important for promotion and for staying up on what’s happening in the world of books. I’ve made a lot of helpful online contacts over the past year, including you and everyone here, Margay. And we should never stop learning about our craft. I don’t hold with the opinion some authors get that they know it all.

Do you write more than one kind of book? Do you have a preference? Is one type of book easier to write than another?

I seem to always write contemporary and definitely happy ever after romances, but at times my work will include various types of paranormal elements (always in the gifts family such as psychics, mediums, healers, telepaths, etc) or adventure or suspense. Looking even has a murder in it as does Following Destiny. These are all elements my muse and I seem comfortable with and for now I think we’ll just hang out in this genre.

What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I love psychic contemporary romances with some mystery or suspense tossed in. Kay Hooper to the end. LOL

What do you do to unwind in your free time?

What is free time??? LOL I entered and won a writing contest, I blog and attend online chats, and I occasionally get to read other than to edit. My best unwind time is still getting away to the beach for a stay at the beachfront campground.



Surviving With Love

by

Rebecca J. Vickery


Sparks start flying when Stacey Parker meets ex-military, hostage-rescuer, Cord McConnell, and she begins to wonder if they will survive this assignment in the wilderness without killing each other.

Cord McConnell felt someone step from the woods. He wasn’t prepared for the sight of a young girl with a wild mane of strawberry blond curls who claimed to be his tracker. “I won’t wait on you if you fall behind and I don’t like whiners. I’m in charge and you do exactly as I say, regardless. Understand?”

“I won’t wait on you if you fall behind either, and whining is for dogs. You’re welcome to be in charge and I’ll follow orders when I agree with them,” She walked from the clearing without waiting to see if the man who sent her senses spinning would follow.


ISBN 978-1-935048-22-0 1-935048-22-8

http://www.classactbooks.com/bkpgSurvivingwithlove.html

Thank you for visiting with us today, Rebecca. Good luck with the new release! ~ The Moonlighters

Monday, July 6, 2009

Call for reader reviews

Hey all,

Sorry that I didn't post anything until now, but my hiatal hernia had picked late last night to act up, so no computer time last night and I slept in so late that it wasn't until now that I could get online to post this.

Since we started, we covered a ton of different authors, some new to the scene, and some that have been around for awhile.

Because we are curious and would like to know, how many of you discovered an author here on our blog and have since read their works? If you have read their books, when did you read them and what did you think?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th and Whee!!!!!


My book, Bloodlines, that I submitted recently, was accepted by the e-publisher!!! Woohoo!! I’m bouncing off the walls with excitement! It’s a paranormal romance, my favorite topic to write and read about. I’ll keep you all updated as I receive more information.

Happy July 4th to all the Americans! I thought I’d give you a few fun facts:

1. There are 30 places throughout the United States of American with the word “liberty” in its name. That’s a lot of Libertys. Iowa has more of these “liberty” places than any other state. Do you know the four cities in Iowa? They are Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty.

2. There are 11 places with the word “independence” in its name.

3. There are five with the word “America” in its name.

For more fun facts visit: http://www.chiff.com/a/fun-facts-fourth.htm

How many of you are planning on attending a Bar-B-Q? I’d love to hear any plans you have!

I hope everyone has a fun and safe July 4th!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fade to Black

Hey there everyone!!!

If you're anything like me, you have a dark side to yourself that needs to fulfill itself by reading darker novels, even dark romance novels. While I love romance novels to death, I need a well-balanced reading diet to keep things interesting and to keep all parts of my soul happy in terms of reading. As part of this well-balanced reading diet, I pick up Sci-Fi/Fantasy, crime drama/thrillers and more recently, Harlequin's Intrigue line. Part of that line includes Intrigue Eclipse which is their Gothic Romance line. Yes, I like these, but I've soon realized that I have been satisfying my dark side by listening J.D. Robb's In Death series.

Leslie ParrishImagine my surprise and pleasure when I discovered that Leslie Parrish is coming out with a dark crime romance series starting with Fade to Black. Without further ado, here's Leslie!!!


Writing Violence:
The Human Element


Earlier this week, I wrote a guest blog about how I had to decide whether to leave the door flung wide open on the sexy scenes in my upcoming romantic-suspense trilogy. And while I was writing that, I began thinking about the tightrope I walked regarding how much violence to include in the Black CATs books.

When I read horror, I fully expect brutal scenes. Thrillers, probably so. Romantic-suspense, however, even if it’s on the thriller side of suspense, is a little trickier. Some authors do a fabulous job of getting the gory details in there without overwhelming the plot (Karen Rose for instance.) Others keep the suspense high without the gruesome bits (like my good pal Roxanne St. Claire.)

I honestly wasn’t sure which way to take these books. The horror lover in me wanted to let the blood flow. But the very last thing I wanted was for these books to be gratuitous, or for the violence to in any way overshadow the romance or the mystery.

Fade to BlackIt wasn’t until I started writing, started to feel my way through the first story, that I began to find my own comfort level in terms of violence and darkness in my books. I’d have to admit they’re pretty dark, but (and here’s the important part) they are not gratuitous. There aren’t pages and pages of torture or mutilation, nor long, gruesome scenes of detailed autopsies. In fact, probably the bloodiest scene in any of the three books is the prologue to Fade to Black, which has been on my website for several months. Yes, it’s awful to read about this woman slowly being tortured to death. But (imho) the scene does so much more than show her die. From the moment you’re in this poor, tragic girl’s head, you begin to see her as a person. Not a nameless victim, you empathize with her, not just because she’s a victim at that moment, but because you sense there are tragedies in her background that led her to make the bad decisions that brought her to where she is.

Take this, for instance:

>>“I’m sorry.” Tears oozed oozing from the corners of her eyes to mingle with the blood and dirt on her cheeks. She didn’t know who she was talking to, some God she’d long since stopped believing in? Herself for getting caught in this trap?
Maybe she was trying to say the one thing she’d never said to the one person who truly deserved to hear it. This will break her heart.

The vision of her sad, weary mother, who’d been so loving, yet so impossibly blind, brought her head forward. She again focused on her attacker.
He was no demon. Just a vicious, awful human being. << These kind of moments are spread throughout the prologue and are much more the focus than the knife or the pain. Lisa appears on only a handful of pages in this book, yet her heartbreaking character remains a major presence throughout the rest of it. My point is, the violence was not there to shock the reader, or titillate or get attention. The sadness of Lisa’s life, juxtaposed with the horror of her death, was simply the right way for me to start this book. The reader shouldn’t be quivering with fear when they read about Lisa’s death…they should be tearing up with sorrow for her.
It’s not about her ugly murder. It’s about her humanity.


Pitch BlackFrankly, while the violence is much more subtle in book 2, Pitch Black, I find the prologue of that book far more horrifying. The villain prides himself on not being a villain at all. He’s simply putting people in positions where they’re almost certainly going to die, then sits back and watches them do it. The opening of this book, where two teenage boys are put out on an icy lake, conscious and aware as the ice breaks beneath them, is probably the most heart-wrenching thing I’ve written. The villain never lays a violent hand on either of them, there are no knives, no gun, no implements of torture. It’s all entirely psychological…and again, meant to instill anguish in the reader, not fear.

The whole scene is, again, on my website, but here’s a snippet of it:
>>>Jason knew what the man was going to do even before he bent into the car and flipped off the lights. The sudden darkness was almost as blinding, the terror infinitely more extreme. Because he didn’t have to see the car being shifted into neutral or hear the emergency brake being released to know exactly what was happening. “God, no, please.”

The vehicle began to roll down the slope, drawing irrevocably closer to the icy pond on which Jason and Ryan were trapped. “Why are you doing this?” he yelled, straining against the tape even as the front tires reached the frozen shoreline.
Behind him, he felt movement. Ryan was coming to.

“Goodbye, Jason,” the voice called. “The world will be better off without you. Shame about your friend. You really should have come alone.”

The shadowy figure moved, disappearing into the swirling snow. A moment later, an engine rumbled, then slowly faded away. He barely heard it as the car eased closer, sliding across the snow slicked ice. Adding weight...so much weight.

Crack.

How deep is the water? How thick could the ice be?

Will we freeze or will we drown?

“Jase?”

“Ryan, I’m sorry I got you into this,” he sobbed.

Ryan’s head moved, until his frozen hair touched Jason’s face. “S’okay. Sidekick’s always got the hero’s back.”

“Sorry!” Jason cried, trying not to move yet desperate to break away. But before he could do a thing, even say goodbye to his best friend, another crack came and the ice gave way beneath them. Freezing liquid rushed over his feet and ankles, bringing them back to life to experience the agony. They plunged down until blackness covered their heads and ice seared his lungs. And as the water turned the world above him into an icy grave, Jason could think only of his parents.

God how he wished he’d gone with them to Florida.<<< As you can see, it’s not gruesome, not violent. Terrifying, yes. Heartbreaking, yes. But not gratuitous. Again, what makes it effective is
Jason and Ryan’s humanity,

the depth of emotion in their final moments, not the violent way they died.

Black at HeartThe murder that opens the third book, Black at Heart, is incredibly brutal. Bloody, violent, vengeful. But it’s not shown on the page. Originally, I had written the scene from the victim’s pov. What’s done to him is horrible, but, honestly, considering he was a child rapist turning up for what he thought was a child-swap with a little girl, I didn’t mind so much. That scene (as Carrie knows) ended up cut out because my editor predicted (and got me to agree) that no matter what was done to him, inside a pedophile's head was just not a place a romantic-suspense reader truly wanted to be. So all the violence is portrayed by the reactions of the hero as he arrives at the scene the morning after. Through his eyes, we see how ugly it was, but, again, nothing is on the page.

But I don’t think that’s the most effective “deadly” scene in Black at Heart.
This is:
>> God forgive me. A little kid. A little boy not much older than Toby. Boyd had taken him. Hurt him. Killed him.

If there was a hell, Will would someday be there with the man he’d helped set free, both of them sitting front row, center.

“Pop-pop.”

“That’s right, I’m your Pop-pop,” he said, kissing the tousled blond curls on the top of the baby’s soft head. “And I’ll always be there for ya, kid. I’m gonna watch over you, take care of…”

A loud noise cut off his sentence. Pop! Pop! Something hit him, then something else, bang-bang, two in a row.

The bullets struck hard, pain erupting in his lower back, and in his left shoulder. He stumbled forward from the impact, staggering onto the sidewalk, dropping to his knees. Even as he fell, he was careful to hold the baby up so his tiny frame didn’t smash onto the cement.

The sharp pain from each gunshot rapidly expanded, spreading throughout his body before merging to create one enormous torrent of anguish. He’d never known a person could hurt so much.

“Toby.” The word lingered on his lips. As he started to fall forward, knowing he was going to land on his face, he gently pushed the boy to the side, out of harm’s way.

“Help,” he whispered, not even sure he understood what had happened. “Help.”

Toby began to whimper. Then to cry. But his cries were drowned out by the sound of a car’s engine, revving up and roaring away, the tires spinning and screaming on the blacktop as the vehicle tore up the block.

“Pop-pop?”

Will reached for the boy, his own flesh and blood, the kid who was supposed to be his chance to make everything right, to do it all over again. He wanted to touch him, to stroke that hair, brush his fingers against that little cheek and promise it would all be okay.

But his fingers were bloody and his arm was weak and he was dying, and Will could only stare at the child as the world went dark and he headed for his front row, center seat. << A man has been shot down, in cold blood, murdered with his grandson in his arms. But I somehow suspect it’s not the violence of it that grabs you as you read it.
It’s his humanity.


I’m sure you’ve now seen the common thread in all these examples. Yes, I want the reader to find these scenarios horrifying; they are horrifying. Disturbing, violent, ugly…all these things. Yet the real horror comes not from the level of detailed violence but from the connection we feel to the victims. They’re human. And our shared humanity is what makes each of these scenes work on such a deep, intimate level.

I’d really like to know what other readers look for when you open a dark romantic-suspense novel.

Do you just want to be scared?

Or do you, (like me) enjoy a book more when you feel an emotional connection to every character—including the victims?