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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Moonlighters Review of According to Jane by Marilyn Brant

When I first read the premise of According to Jane, I thought, Well, this could be interesting. A young girl inspired by the voice of Jane Austen, whose ghost has taken up residence in her head? Well, that was different. But I like Jane Austen and I've read and enjoyed several books inspired by her, so when I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book, I took it. And I am so happy that I did. According to Jane is everything you could wish for in a book. It's funny, it's witty, even poignant at times, and it's one of those books that grabs you from the beginning and won't let go until you're finished. It's a book that you think about in the down time between readings and stays with you after you finish it. an absolute dream of a book.

According to Jane tells the story of Ellie Barnett: Just your average high school kid until the day that Jane Austen comes to visit her mind - and stays there. the dialogue between them is sharp, witty, sometimes cutting, but always insightful. You see, for some reason, Jane has become Ellie's champion and has taken it upon herself to guide Ellie through the treacherous grounds of high school into adulthood. And Ellie, after a time, even learns to welcome it - for the most part. There are times when she decides to tune out Jane completely and she suffers the consequences for doing so. Especially when it comes to Sam Blaine, whom Jane describes as Ellie's own Willoughby. Sam is the ideal crush material - until he opens his mouth and some unflattering things come out. Sam is always giving Ellie a hard time, which sometimes leads them into trouble, both at school and beyond, when they are both adults. But he isn't just a pretty face. He can be kind and caring and even chooses to go into a noble profession. Sam is more than just a Willoughby; he is far more complicated and multi-layered than the original Willoughby. But of course Ellie doesn't realize this in the beginning. This is one of the lessons that she has to learn on her journey with Jane.

If I had to complain about one thing in this book, it's that there wasn't enough Sam! As I read it, I found myself breathlessly awaiting the time when he would reappear in Ellie's life and they would realize they were meant to be with each other. Then he would appear and I would think, Yes! only to have them part ways again, which left me unfulfilled. And whenever Ellie was with someone else, I secretly thought, No, she should be with Sam, or I like Sam better than this guy. But I suppose that this is a great testament to the storytelling; I became invested in Ellie's life and, much like Jane, I wanted her to make the right decisions. I found myself echoing Jane's sentiments and silently imploring Ellie to listen to Jane, take her advice. This, to me, is the mark of a good writer. Ellie's story became my story and I didn't want it to end, but when it did, I was satisfied with the way it turned out and already thinking of when I would read it again.

So does Ellie take Jane's advice? Does she end up with Sam - or someone else? And does she ever discover why Jane Austen's ghost took up residence in her mind? If you want to find out the answer to these questions, do yourself a favor and get a copy of According to Jane. You will be glad that you did.

Marilyn’s website:

Marilyn’s blog:

Where to buy:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Author Jade Lee!

Terrific Tuesday!
Hi there everyone!  

I can't tell you why I have a fascination with the orient.  I'm not sure if it has to do with all those Charlie Chan movies I watched as a kid (ah, Son number 2 makes good observation!), the intrigue of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, my fascination with dragons, or if it was because while growing up I heard comments about my eyes being somewhat Asian-looking.  That's also been commented on recently as well.  While I can't say for sure that I do have an Asian connection because I'm just not ready to go searching for my true lineage (I'm adopted), I can say with certainty that I've always been fascinated with the orient and all things Asian.  I also have a fondness for Asian music, especially that found in anime.  Try as I might, I can't understand why I love Japanese and Chinese architecture so much.   

No matter how it happened, I found myself thoroughly enjoying historical novels from Mary Jo Putney based in China.  Okay, call me crazy, but I just never realized that other people would appreciate historical novels set in China, so I didn't expect there to be too many of them.  Imagine my surprise when I recently discovered Jade Lee.  

I found her completely by accident.  I was really intending to interview Katherine Greyle for today, but found that Katherine Greyle is now Jade Lee, and Jade Lee has lots of steamy, no, wait, make that fiery novels set in historical China.  I haven't quite gotten to them yet, but they are on my list and queued.  However, I have managed to skim through enough of them to know that I really want to read them!  So, I bring you Jade Lee!

Shorting the Glitz and the Glamor

Jade LeeI’m in between books right now. This means...well, it means that I get up late, read or watch tv, and rollerblade until my hip hurts. I also play a lot of solitaire, all in the name of finding that great idea. Truthfully, no idea comes to me until I spend some time meditating. No games, no tv, no physical activity, just my mind quiet and receptive. A mature woman would skip all that other stuff and go straight to meditation, but we’re talking about me. So, it took me a couple weeks, but, yippee! I finally got an idea for my next regency-era historical. I’m going to explore sibling issues in this next book (and sorry, that’s all the teaser you’re going to get!)

But once the basic concept was nailed down, I have a ton of other questions. In this blog, I’m going to ask you all about SETTING. Don’t roll your eyes, it’s not as boring as you might think. We all know the basic settings for regency era. You’ve got ballrooms and Almacks, Hyde Park and carriages, plus secret alcoves for kissing. There’s even the occasional folly or stable where more than kissing can take place. So here is my question to you:

How much setting detail do you want?

Assuming that the characterization and love story are gripping, do you really care about the pretty dresses, ballroom crush, or bad lemonade? If the writer gives you general descriptions: nice trees in the park, grand buffet at the ball, intimate spaces in the folly, can you fill in the other details all on your own?

I’m not talking about historicals set in China, for example. When I wrote my tigress series set in historical China, I knew that most people didn’t have a clue what Shanghai looked like in 1800. Smells, textures, even furniture decor had to be described. But I’m talking about Regency England, the mainstay of mainstays in historical romance. If I say there’s quite the crush in the Duchess of Whatever’s ballroom, do you need to have more detail? Or can I just go on to talk about what the hero looks like as he reacts strongly to my heroine’s gawd-awful gown (which of course would be described because...well, it’s gawd-awful).

I am guessing that you the reader has turned to a regency-era historical because it’s a land of balls and lords, glitz and glamor. So am I shorting you by not dwelling on the glitter? Can I give you the romance without the period details beyond the very basic? Inquiring minds want to know!

And if you answer in the comments, then someone will win a copy of one of my Jade Lee books be it contemporary Blaze, historical regency, or dragon fantasy. And yes, they’re all romance! So...what do you think? Oh...and extra point if you’ve purchased my current Blaze release Getting Physical. But my most recent historical, btw, is The Dragon Earl.

Getting Physical    The Dragon Earl

Monday, September 28, 2009

Halloween and The White Queen

Happy Monday!

Hello Everyone!  

Jack-O-LanternToday is the start of a new week in which we'll see the end of a month, the start of a new month and the end of the first week in fall.  Yes, that's right, it is officially fall.  Where did all the time go?  It's hard to believe that summer is over and that winter is right around the corner - not going there.  Just like I don't want to hear Christmas songs the first day of November, I don't want to think of winter until the day after Thanksgiving.  Right now, I want to think of Halloween and embrace it!  

Yes, Halloween, that holiday that so many parents want to pc out the door and ignore it because they are afraid of the "influence" it has over children.  As if enjoying a good vampire story makes you a pariah or something.  I'm damn tired of teachers and schools trying to make kids feel bad about being witches, vampires, ghosts and goblins.  I don't understand the negative attitude at all.  At one time, November 1st was considered a day to celebrate the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter season.  

As many of you writers and studiers of Shakespeare know, fall and winter have long since had a connection with death while spring and summer were for renewal and life.  It was this way even in the time of the Egyptians as well as the Celts.  The catholic church and those like it, are the reasons the day has been given such a bad rep.  

For catholics, November 1st has long since been known as All Saints Day, but it really started as All Hallows Day, or All Souls Day, but it wasn't always this way.  According to sources, the original date for the feast of All Souls was on May 13th, the date of what was considered to be another pagan holiday, Feast of the Lemures.  

Rutabaga Lantern fromThe funniest thing is that most of the current Halloween traditions didn't really become traditions until the 19th century.  It's funny to think that if pumpkins weren't so prevalent here in the U.S., that we'd still be carving rutabagas into jack-o-lanterns!  Yes, that's right, the first jack-o-lanterns were made from rutabagas!  On the same note, it wasn't until the 19th century, that the paranormal elements we enjoy today were tied to the holiday.  The notions that there is any satanic ties to the holiday stem from the roman catholic church - just one more way in which the popes have told people what to do and think and have created unnecessary bigotry and problems that still exist today.  There are several areas that have p.c.-ed the holiday by preventing children from dressing up as witches, demons, devils, vampires, etc., and the schools involved aren't even religious, they're public schools!  It's completely ridiculous! 

So, do your best this year to take back the holiday that is Halloween!  Watch scary movies, read paranormal, suspense, horror or thriller novels.  Take away the damage that has been done to this day and get back to the roots and celebrate the end of the harvest and take time to remember the dead.  Is it possible that those with the second sight have a stronger chance of getting a more accurate reading that night?  I leave that for you to answer.  

Not sure what to read?  Well, stay-tuned in October as we invite many paranormal and suspense authors into the moonlight.  

In the mean time, let's get back to The White Queen.  

The White QueenIn part one of my review for this book, I spend most of the time talking about what you'll find on the book jacket.  Well, I may not have been able to finish the book by now, but that's okay because I don't need to finish the book to tell you I like it.  

Philippa Gregory has such a talent for blurring the line between fact and fiction.  It's also important to note that some of the mystery here, with this book happen because of certain important places where events took place - Calais and Nottingham.  All I can think about whenever I hear these names are the Three Musketeers and Robin Hood.  

But that's not what keeps me glued to this story.  It's the way Gregory uses rumor and speculation as well as the notion of parental favoritism.  Confused yet?

Well, throughout the first half, there are rumors that Edward was not the son of the king and therefore didn't have a legitimate claim to the throne.  The notion that his own mother perpetuates this as true in favor of her second son George, and to get him on the throne in place of Edward.  So, not only is this the war of the roses (the war of the cousins of York and Lancaster), it's a war of brother vs. brother!  It's completely scandalous!  

Also, Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, has a reputation as a Kingmaker, turns against the very man he made king.  Gregory suggests that the reason for this has to do with the fact that Edward, a York, chose to marry Elizabeth of Woodville, the widow of a Lancastrian enemy, over Warwick's choice for his bride (a French Princess).  History has argued that the marriage between the two had been "illegal" and not recognized by the law.  However, the question of an actual pre-contract of marriage between Edward and the French Princess still remains.  Why were people able to declare this marriage as false?  Because the main witnesses were women and the priest and it was done in "secret", implying that there were reasons they could not be wed.  

However, if you look at the facts of the matter, Neville put King Edward on the throne, and Edward's "marriage" to Elizabeth, negated Neville's plans and essentially removed any supposed power he had.  It is after this time that Neville begins to plot to put Edward's younger brother George on the throne.  As far as historical sources say, the contract was in negotiations, but never actually completed, which means (as far as I am concerned) that there wasn't any pre-existing contract to impede the marriage of Edward and Elizabeth of Woodville.  

It's all of this political stuff that makes some feel that the story is weighed down.  However, you have to remember that you are dealing with royalty and not just any royalty, but some of the most warring royalty of all time!  Getting the throne wasn't just about fighting and winning or losing battles, but it was about destroying the credibility of the bloodline of the king.  See, you can't just kill a king, or you are, by law, considered a traitor, so you have to be methodical about it.  You have to destroy a king from the inside out.  You need to first discredit his bloodline, his marriage, his family, do anything to destroy his followers faith in him, so that when it comes time for battle, he doesn't have many supporters.  In the same right, you have to make sure that there is a "legitimate" heir to the throne ready to step up and you have to make sure that this heir is popular so that there will be arms support in battle.  

Yes, this is complicated and convoluted at times because of all of the in-fighting and inter-marriages, but Gregory has done a superb job in helping the reader keep things straight.  But that isn't the only thing that makes this particular story a tasty treat.  It's also in the way she wove a legend into the story as though it could be fact.  

She opens the story with tale of Melusina and credibly ties Elizabeth of Woodville to this mythical being, accounting for the paranormal second sight and connection to the wind and seas that both Elizabeth and her mother have in this book.  Very cleverly done and again, the references are done so well that it is believable.  

So, do I suggest this book?  Absolutely!  Again, if the depth of the material scares you off, then opt for the audiobook recording.  I'm somewhat perturbed to find that there is the abridged version at my library because you will inevitably not be told something important to understanding another part of the story.  The unabridged version is the one that I will always recommend.  

Have I managed to intrigue you? Would you like to win a copy of this book? Well, to enter your name in the drawing, leave a comment at the post found by clicking here! Be sure to select the link that says, "Post a Comment" - Thanks!            

Saturday, September 26, 2009

YA Author Spotlight Saturday Presents... Jeannine Garsee!!!

Hi there everyone!

I never imagined how interesting this foray into YA books would be. I never expected to find interwoven storylines and complex characters. The most complicated books I read in grade school were Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt and Go Ask Alice. Yeah, I was about 12 when I read Go Ask Alice. I was an advanced reader, sort of. I had a mind that needed challenging but a school filled with people not willing enough to challenge me. If Before, After and Somebody in Between and Say the Word, or books just like them, were available back in the 80s, I probably would have gobbled them up. But enough about me and my early teen reading habits. Let's get to our guest!

Jeannine GarseeJeannine Garsee has lived in Ohio all her life, grew up to be a psych nurse and lives with her family. She also writes books.

Before, After and Somebody in Between and Say the Word are two fabulous books that will stand the test of time. Because of the content and themes, there will always be an audience for these books, and not just among the young adult readers. These are novels that most adults can appreciate. They are well written and gritty with complex characters.

Before, After and Somebody in Between was published in 2007, which means it was accepted about 2 years before that and Say the Word published in 2009.

Before, After and Somebody in BetweenQ. Was BASB the first manuscript you submitted for publication? If not, what happened to that first one? Do you plan on reworking it to get it published or will you be giving up on it all together?

A. BASB was the first manuscript I’d ever submitted to an agent or publisher. I’d written 4 previous novels—3 while still in high school and then a gothic thriller when I was in my twenties. I call them my “practice” novels, and no, none of them will ever see the light of day. Writing them was a great learning experience, but when I read them over now I realize I had no idea what I was doing. But it was fun, and, as a teen, writing kept me out of trouble (well, for the most part J). I always knew I wanted to write to be published, not simply as a hobby. It just took me a lot longer to do this than I ever expected.

Q. How long in the making was BASB? How much research did you do and how did you do it?

A. It took me about 8 years to write BASB because I was working full-time, raising two kids, and also taking college courses. Then it took another two and a half years to find an agent because I hadn’t written BASB as a YA, but as more of a mainstream coming-of-age novel and I couldn’t understand why agents kept sending me rejections saying, “We don’t represent YA.”

Then I spoke to agent Andrea Brown at a writers’ conference who suggested that if the story was about a teen I should probably try to market it as a YA. After reworking the entire manuscript, and then querying the agents who did handle YA, Tina Wexler of ICM agreed to represent me. After the manuscript was acquired by Bloomsbury USA, I spent several more months working with an editor. When the book was released the following year, I figured it out: it took me roughly twelve years from beginning to end.

As for the research, because BASB takes place in Cleveland, Ohio, the city I grew up in, I had little research to do as far as the setting is concerned. I did need to learn a few details about the foster care system, and for that I relied on a good friend who’s had experience with this. I did enjoy running around the city taking photographs of many of the places Martha refers to in her story. These can be seen in my “Martha’s Cleveland” album on my Facebook page:

Q. What inspired you to write Martha’s story?

A. Well, my “real” job is that of an RN in an inner-city hospital. One of my patients, an African American lady named Judith, adopted a white baby girl named Tabitha after the baby’s mother, Judith’s friend, died. Judith was in and out of the hospital for years and Tabitha would often visit, along with her many adoptive brothers and sisters. You often hear of white families adopting black children, but as it rarely the other way around, BASB originally was going to be a story about that. However, “Martha” had other ideas (as characters often do when you’re writing) and BASB evolved into a completely different kind of story.

Q. The events of Martha’s life seem so real that it’s as if they are being told from someone with experience. So, I have to ask, are there any parts of Martha and her life that you can identify with? If so, which ones and why?

A. Although the majority of Martha’s story is pure fiction, I did slip in a few scenes based on my own experiences, particularly the bullying scenes. Several characters are based on people I either knew or met, like Wayne, for example (yes, that scumbag really exists) and Grandma Daisy. Also, growing up with two close family members who were alcoholics, I knew from experience what this does to kids and how they go to incredible lengths to protect their loved one. I understand how they feel roped into that endless enabling behavior, to say nothing of the guilt and shame that accompanies it. Some of these experiences will haunt them their whole lives. They need to know that they’re not totally alone even if it very often feels that way.

Q. I really would like to follow Martha’s story, find out what happens to her after Zelda picks her up at the phone booth. Is there any chance that you’ll continue her story? What about Danny, Nikki and Shavonne? Will you ever tell their stories? Why or why not?

A. People ask me this a lot. I still get e-mails from readers saying how much they cared about Martha, and asking if I plan to write a sequel. I’m not sure I can answer this one way or another. I doubt I’ll continue Martha’s story, only because she’s been through so much I’m afraid anything else I write will send her right over the edge. I’ve toyed with the idea of giving Nikki her own story (and haven’t completely ruled it out) but with so many other projects brewing, I doubt it’ll happen any time soon.

Q. As far as themes go, what made you choose alcohol, abuse, underage sex and addiction as themes in BASB? Did you have any particular purpose behind using them in your book?

A. I didn’t want to write about your average teenager from a nice middle-class family. But neither did I want to write a total downer of a story about a girl trapped in a bad situation with no way out. There are so many Marthas out there who are stuck with less than perfect families, many with abusive and addicted parents. They know what it feels like to step into their schools every morning knowing they’re pretty much helpless against the bullies who terrorize them daily. Teens who just want to feel loved even if it means having sex at a too-young age and who experiment with drugs or alcohol to help escape their reality. These teens need to know that they’re not alone; that they’re not responsible for their parents’ drinking and drugging, and to understand that making mistakes doesn’t make you a bad person. Most importantly, they need to find their own passion, something—like Martha’s love for the cello—that’ll keep them whole, and focused, and determined to succeed in spite of all odds.

Say the WordQ. Continuing with themes, teens dealing with at least one gay parental unit seem to be a popular theme in teen fiction today, why did you choose it as a theme in Say the Word? What inspired you to write this story?

A. Like BASB, STW started out as a different kind of book. Originally it was to be about a girl with a gay best friend and how it affected their relationship. This idea was loosely based on my own experience as a teen with a lesbian best friend.

About the same time I started writing this novel, the gay marriage controversy hit the media. I was interested in this subject because I’d written a paper for a sociology class about the children of gay parents and what happens to them when their parents split up; how, in most cases, the non-biological parent has no legal right to the son or daughter they’ve loved and cared for since birth and may [never] see that child again. Again, this story evolved into something else, which meant I was able to create Schmule, one of my favorite characters.

Q. I thought that your themes in BASB were deep, but in Say the Word, you delve even deeper then I would have expected for YA fiction. Shawna has some definite issues to deal with considering all she has seen by accident. You put the reader right into Shawna’s head in these instances. How much research did you have to do to determine these reactions? What kind of research did you have to do? Did any of your own life experiences come into play here?

A. I did a bit of research into the effects of gay parents on their children. Some of Shawna’s reticence at accepting her mother’s lifestyle came from this research, but also from my own experiences as teen growing up in the Midwest. She has friends, for example, who think having a gay parent is either “funny” or “disgusting.” In the scene at her mother’s funeral, several guests make some very nasty remarks about the openly gay mourners. As much as we’d like to pretend it isn’t so, homophobia still exists in less liberal areas of the country. Gay-bashing is not uncommon, even among teens who’ve otherwise been taught to be accepting of those who don’t share the same lifestyles or beliefs.

Q. Who or what inspired the character of Schmule/Sam? Why did you decide to take his story the way you did (ha, trying really hard not to give away a key point in the story!)?

A. Schmule pretty much “wrote” himself (and chose his own name, too). Characters who write themselves usually turn out to be my favorites; their words and actions come so naturally to me, very little is changed during the editing process.

However, some of Schmule’s actions are based on those of the young son of a very close friend (the scene, for example, when Schmule cuts his face out of the photos). My friend’s son suffered from serious depression, and I’m sorry to say it ended in suicide. Writing about this was very difficult for me, plus I was also concerned that this particular scene might upset my friend.

Me: You did it again, you made me care about a bunch of characters I never expected to, so here are some questions I would really like to know the answers to:

Q. LeeLee and Tovah are a couple I didn’t expect to want to know more about, but you made me want to know more about them. Do you plan on writing their story, what happens when they both get to New York? Why or why not?

A. I actually started a sequel, with LeeLee playing a bigger role, for my NaNoWriMo project last year, but I’m not sure if it’ll go anywhere. With LeeLee and Tovah older now, and in college, I may be pushing it as far as a YA audience is concerned.

Q. What about Shawna and Nabil? Will you tell what happens to them? Why or why not?

A. Same answer as above, although…can you imagine Shawna’s father’s reaction if Shawna and Nabil became involved in a serious relationship? I wouldn’t want to be within a ten-mile radius. Their cultural differences alone would be fun to write about, so say nothing of their basic personality clashes.

Q. Last but not least, Arye, Schmule and Fran. Will you ever continue their story? Why or why not?

A. I’d love to do a story from Schmule’s perspective—partly because I’ve never written from a boy’s point of view, and also because it’d give me a chance to explore what happens to the other characters, including Fran. Once I finish the projects I’m working on now, I seriously may revisit this idea.

Q. If none of these is on your plate at the moment, what is? What can you tell us about your latest manuscript?

A. I’m working on two right now—another contemporary YA that I’m revising now, and a YA paranormal that’s currently out to my beta readers. I hope to finish them both within the next couple months, with a possible sequel planned for the paranormal.

Q. How do you manage to find time to write between your work (which must keep you on your toes) and your family?

A. Luckily I have a very understanding family who doesn’t mind living in squalor. Housekeeping is always the first thing to go, and second is any kind of a social life. I work 4 days a week as a psych nurse, so on my three days off I generally try to spend 5 to 8 hrs writing. I also have a highly energetic puppy who takes up so much of my attention, I’m springing for doggie day care services to give me more time to write.

Q. What do you do to recharge your soul in between writing your novels?

A. Truthfully, I rarely need to recharge; writing is such a passion for me that even when I’m working on something, it doesn’t feel like “work.” Nothing relaxes me more than spending hours at my computer, obsessively playing around in the lives of my characters. I’m actually more tense when I’m not writing—does that make sense? No? I thought not. J When I do take an infrequent break, it’s usually to blog, or read, or watch some bad TV.

Q. Do you foresee writing becoming your main profession one day? Why or why not?

A. I would LOVE to be able to write full-time, but very few writers can afford this luxury. Publishing is a volatile, highly competitive business and there’s no way to predict who’ll be successful and who won’t. Because I’m not able at this time to quit my job and write full-time, I’m definitely at a huge disadvantage. Still, I have hope.

Me: Thank you for guest blogging with us and for writing two really terrific stories!

Thank you so much for having me!
xox Jeannine

Friday, September 25, 2009

Men may be from Mars, but Edits are from Hell!!!

Edits...Edits...*bangs head against the computer*...Edits...Edits...

*throws a fit, cursing and ranting, kicking pillows*

Edits is a five letter curse word! Grrr…I’ve been rocking along pretty good, working through the edits and I’m proud of what we’re accomplishing. Thursday night comes and—WHAM—I come up against a fortified concrete wall. You did realize I said “fortified”, right? There’s got to be steel—no, titanium or the U.S. military—inside that concrete because there ain’t nothing getting through it! So, yeah, fortified! And, yeah, I know that’s not proper English and I don’t care!

*sighs dramatically and counts to ten slowly*


Well, that didn't make me feel any better or calmer. *blows hair out of my face* For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the editng process. Maybe that’s crazy, but I’m the oddball in my family, so I’m comfortable being there. But edits have been a fun learning process. Working with an editor is the best thing that’s happened to my writing and that excites me.

Then Thursday night rolls around and that blinking cursor mocks me. *whimpers* I’d rather be tormented by my muse than have nothing. Have I worked him—yes, my muse is a male—too hard? Do I need to reboot him by giving him a mental vacation? But I have a deadline! Well, maybe not a deadline, but something similar because I’ve been given a release date of November 9th. Now, I know we can make it because I work best when I’m in a crunch. I can probably thank my paralegal years for that.

So, my plan…I’ll clean house first thing this morning and then *glares at my muse and screams* we’re freaking editing! If that doesn’t work, my muse and I are going to have a ‘coming to Jesus meeting’ as us Southerners call it or I’ll give him a good ole’ fashion butt whoopin’! lol

Muse, you have been forewarned! *giggles evilly and taps a whip against my palm* :D

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

~~All photos taken from photobucket, no copyright infringement intended.~~

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Series, Trilogies and Readers with Susan Wiggs

Hi everyone!  It is my pleasure to bring to you, author Susan Wiggs!  She is an author who frequently visits Jack's Bar and is considered a friend by many there!  For those of you not familiar with my style, my asides are in brackets [] and usually exist throughout the post. 

The Neverending Story
by Susan Wiggs

Susan WiggsWhat’s up with all the sequels and connected books these days? Check out any recent bestseller list, and you’ll find recurring sleuths, spinoff romances, trilogies, epic cycles, thrillers with characters who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Genre writers and children’s authors practically invented the connected or series book, although the tradition can be found as far back as Homer and Chrétien de Troyes.

It’s less prevalent in literary-style books, often because the protagonist, beloved or not, dies. Or is already dead. The Lovely Bones is an amazing book but personally, I would rather have a root canal than read The Lovely Bones 2: The Lovelier Bones. A follow-up to The Kite Runner? Hit me in the head with a hammer, why dontcha? Maybe the best of these books–To Kill a Mockingbird, Bastard Out of Carolina, Snow Falling on Cedars–are so complete in and unto themselves they don’t need a sequel.

[I saw and read To Kill a Mockingbird - I can't see why there would be a sequel made when you consider what the story was really about.  Even after reading it or watching it, it seems so emotionally satisfying that anything more would be "overkill."  I guess I feel the same about Bastard Out of Carolina.  This was an excellent movie that I find the need to watch whenever Lifetime feels the need to show it.  The main theme of this story was about the girl.  Again, the ending was emotionally satisfying and we want to think that anything that happened to the girl from that point on was better than what she had already endured.  The last thing we would want to read about is if this girl had worse things happen to her because it would, well, break our hearts because we all wanted the best for her by the end of the story.]

Then there are the authors who are so popular, they continue to publish after the author is dead. The late J.R.R. Tolkein topped the charts recently with The Children of Hurin, which his son Christopher finished. Poor Ian Fleming is a hundred years old, and he’s still writing Bond books. He’s a ghost with some of the best ghostwriters in the business–John Gardner, Kingsley Amis and Sebastian Faulks. Robert Ludlum , who died in 2002, has been publishing a bestseller or two every year since departing this life. Twenty years after her death, V.C. Andrews is as prolific as ever. I wonder if the recently deceased George MacDonald Fraser will keep going with his bullying, hugely entertaining antihero, Flashman. In my dreams, my post-mortem books are written by authors far better than I.

[Why do publishers think we can't tell?  Of course, this works for some of the newer generation who doesn't bother to research an author they like.  It ruins the existence of the author himself because it makes many people wonder just how many people really write under the moniker of Ian Flemming and, did he really exist?  When you think about that, then you tend to wonder if that's going on with other authors.  Oh, as much as I love JAK's Arcane society, I hope they do not ever get a ghost writer for her.  If someone carries on the tradition, fine, but don't try and tell me your the real thing!]

In genre and commercial books, that thread of connection is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Publishers tend to like series books, because it helps with marketing. They can create a consistent look to signal to readers that there’s a new addition to an old favorite. They can build anticipation and schedule the books at regular intervals, accelerating the building of numbers.

[Let's not forget the possibility of toys, games and expansion into graphic novels, which seems to be a growing trend, in an effort to reach a wider audience.]

Writing books with continuing threads is a natural fit for many writers, myself included. Just because you’ve written “The End” doesn’t necessarily mean a story is over. Characters take on a life of their own, and we–and our readers–find ourselves imagining where they are now. It also saves us from the post-partum depression we sometimes suffer once a book is over.

A lot of series start organically, when a writer’s story grows beyond the scope of one novel. A secondary character steps onto the page, and you suddenly realize he’s on a journey of his own. Maybe you build a world–a town like Mitford, or Cedar Cove, or some other made-up place that suggests story after story. There might be a workplace–Precinct 87, anyone?–filled with enough situations and characters for book after book. Stories multiply like the mythical hydra–you make a Herculean effort to finish one off, and two more appear in its place.

Readers are drawn to series books. My love affair with series books started when, at the age of nine, I rewrote the ending of The Yearling (that kid Jody Baxter was a wicked bad shot) and made up stories about Charlotte’s spider babies. I collected books about the Bobbsey Twins, the Little House books, even the Three Musketeers, although these became more lame as time went on. In contrast, Georgette Heyer actually outdid These Old Shades with its spinoff, The Devil’s Cub. I was recently at a reading by fantasy author Terry Brooks, and in the audience was a guy who had been reading his Shannara books for thirty-one years.

[I can list three off hand that I love to read and will read all books that come out:  Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta Books - as much as I love the character, Cornwell has aged her and will, to my utter disappointment, have to have her die at some point waah!; R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt Do'Urden Saga - I'm behind, but that doesn't mean I won't catch up; J.D. Robb's In Death series - Eve and Roarke are really enjoyable and the audiobooks are wonderful performances!]

Readers tend to get proprietary about the books they love. As far as I know, Annie the Number-One Fan of Misery, is a figment of Stephen King’s dark imagination, but readers with that kind of passion do exist. I have no doubt that Laura London, aka Sharon and Tom Curtis, has been fending off shrill cries for Cat’s story for decades. Robin McKinley surely has Sunshine fans camped out on her doorstep. Elizabeth Lowell hinted at doing a sequel in her medieval series about the character Eric but this reader is still waiting.

Readers are a demanding lot. They want Daisy’s story. Or Seth’s. Or (fill in name of beloved secondary character here). They fell in love with something about a book, and they want to revisit the world of the story again and again. They’re looking for a familiar story tone or author voice. Small-town settings are a big draw. A small town, where everybody knows everybody else, where there’s history and old friendships and rivalries, is a good bet. People yearn for that kind of connection in this fast paced life.

[Yes, this should be the ultimate kudos to any author.  If you can make us care so much about a set of characters in some real or imaginary town, that we want to keep reading beyond one book that we beg you for more, that is really the ultimate success and demonstrates the power of your talent.]

It’s tricky, though. They insist on the comfort of familiarity, yet they want something new and exciting and fresh. Disappoint them at your peril.

Finding a uniting theme is key to creating a successful franchise. A boarding school for wizards, anyone? A family of vampires? How about a mystery that unfolds over the course of many books? Or a highly specialized, dangerous career with Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters. A summer camp, a yarn shop, a quilting circle or a cooking school. A family like Mary Balogh’s Cynsters or Jo Beverley’s Mallorens. Diana Gabaldon’s Jamie and Claire. Sometimes the concept for a series is as simple as a character you adore–what’s Stephanie Plum up to next?

I once wrote a trilogy about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which saved me months of research. Instead of researching three separate eras or events for the books, the one big event yielded three stories. And yes, there is a book about Phoebe, who one day will turn my trilogy into a quadrilogy.

The Mistress[I listened to the abridged version of The Mistress.  I really hope that the unabridged audio versions of your books exist on CD somewhere (If not, they should!) because I detest abridged versions because it inevitably feels choppy and confusing in parts.  However, I didn't realize until just now that it was part of a trio, so now I am on a quest for the other two because I did find Kathleen O'Leery and Dylan Kennedy to be quite interesting!] 

How do you know if you’ve stayed too long at the party? It’s a judgment call, like everything else in this business. The three musketeers fizzled (sorry, couldn’t resist). Anne of Green Gables tried readers’ patience about the fourth or fifth time she straightened out a wayward child. And does Gilbert still love her? (Duh.) Writers walk a tightrope, trying to strike a balance between keeping a series fresh and avoiding repetition and staleness, while not disappointing readers with a big twist or switch. When Elizabeth George killed off a beloved character in her long-running Lynley novels, she found herself explaining the situation on CNN. Dorothy Dunnett was a ruthless killer of characters. J.K. Rowling has declared that there will be no more Harry Potter.

[For me, I don't always want the story to stop at the supposed HEA, I want to know, do they really stay in a state of HEA, or does fate throw them even more twists and turns, as it does to many people in real life?  So, a story doesn't have to end with a marriage or the birth of a child, because - as far as I'm concerned - this is where the real story begins.]

Like the characters in a long-running series, we move on. We ride off into the sunset to explore new horizons. See you around, pardner.

Susan Wiggs’s neverending Lakeshore Chronicles series is published by Mira Books. Lakeshore Christmas is definitely not the last. Artwork courtesy of her fellow writer Suzanne Selfors,

I want to thank Susan for joining us today!  Be sure and leave a comment, because one lucky winner will win a set of her Tudor Rose Trilogy - At the King's Command, The Maiden's Hand, and At the Queen's Summons!  Of course each of these is a reprint of the following titles: Circle in the Water, Vows Made in Wine, and Dancing on Air - but who cares, it's a free set of books!  I know I wouldn't mind a set of these!  The new cover art is fantastic!

At the King's Command   The Maiden's Hand   At the Queen's Summons

Tell us, what favorite series did Susan's post make you think of? 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


As Summer slowly gives way to Autumn and the school buses arrive to take our children off to school, I can't help but to contemplate other changes in our lives. Changes that mark beginnings, ends, and new directions.

When you think about it, life is one continual path of change. Take, for instance, the phenomenal amount of changes that a baby endures in their first few months of life. They come into this world a wriggling, squalling little bundle, often with misshapen heads and strangely-colored skin from the trauma of being born and in those first months, their heads shift into more normal forms, they lose the newborn look, plump up on mother's milk - and start to teethe. Not to mention the rate of growth. It always astonishes me to contemplate how much children grow in their first years of life and that's just physically. What about emotionally? Intellectually? Do we really understand how wondrous it is that they go from drooling, incoherent gurglings to full-on speech in a two-year time period? And that, by the age of five, they are already in the mainstream of academia, filling their brains with all of these facts and figures that they couldn't possibly use in their lifetime.

Change is everywhere. Right outside my window, the leaves on the trees are starting to turn into an autumnal feast that tourists travel great distances to see - but all I have to do is open my curtains. By mid-October, all of the trees will look like they have been lit on fire for a brief, beautiful time before those leaves are set free on the wind, the trees stand stark against a gray sky, and the snow begins to blanket the earth in a frigid comforter. Ah, more change.

And then there are the changes that are more personal. Your oldest child going off to college. Your niece giving birth to her second child. Your sister celebrating a milestone birthday. Life is change. What changes are you facing as we enter the first week of Autumn? Please share, I'd love to hear your stories. ~ Margay

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Julia London in and around...London

Tantalizing Tuesday

Julia with Shades - CloseupHello Everyone!  Today I bring Julia London to our corner of the web.  Of course, her traveling here can't hold a candle to the more exotic places she's been in her lifetime, but hopefully we can make it memorable enough for her today!  

If you've been to Julia's website, you've seen her sitting in a beautiful red velvet (or is it velour?) two seater, kicking back with what looks like a glass of red wine.  Very cool and comfortable setting. 

[Does Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem need something like that here, to make readers feel more at home?]

As many of you know, Julia writes historical novels, but she also writes contemporary fiction.  However, our focus will remain on the historical side of things today because well, that's our focus for this month, and the interview questions will reflect that.  

Q. Most of your historicals appear to take place during the 1800’s of British history, which equates to the Georgian Era. What is it about this time period that fascinates you? Why this time over others?

A. In the last few years I have written books set in both the Regency and the Georgian era. My latest series is set just before the Regency. I like that time period because it was prosperous and was ruled by civility. To me, it’s a very sexy time period because men where real men, but they were chivalrous, and women were beginning to emerge as capable in their own right. I also like the aesthetics of the period, with the costumes and big houses and furnishings, and ornate carriages, etc. It’s just fun for me personally to spend time there.

I wouldn’t mind writing in other time periods, but the truth is that I have written so many historical novels set in this time period that I am well-versed in the era’s society and politics and I have quite a lot of research materials for that time period. I’d need more time to research a new period. But I’d be up for it.

Q. How do you choose the settings for your books? How do you decide whether to use Scotland, London or some other British location?

A. It really comes down to my personal preference. If I’ve written a couple of books set in London, I want to write one in another part of Britain just for a change and a fresh location. I am writing a quartet of books for publication beginning next year that are set in a fictional village two hours south of London. I did it that way so I can build a close community, but go easily step into the London highlife. The best of both worlds!

Q. According to your website, you’ve traveled to many places. What experiences during your travels have contributed to your historical novels?

A. I think it helps me portray the places where I set my books. I have walked through many Georgian mansions, and I have driven all over the U.K., so I think I can describe the landscape. The other benefit is that when I go to some of these historical sites, you can often find obscure books or maps that I would never find in the United States, which help me add authentic details. But I guess the best part of traveling to the places I write about is just soaking up the atmosphere and hopefully transferring some of that onto the pages.

Q. Tell us about some of the exotic places that you’ve been to. Where was your favorite place to visit? Least favorite? Sexiest place? Details, details, we want details! Pictures too!

Julia on a CamelA. The most exotic place I have been is probably the Sultanate of Oman. That was many years ago, but it was such an experience. There is a modern society, but there is a society that still lives as they did dozens and dozens of years ago. I also visited a Bedouin tribe. I heard later that they named a camel for me. I have no idea why. I have traveled through Europe, as well, but it seems like we always end up in the U.K. again. I really love it there. I think I must have been a queen or something in a previous life.

The most romantic place is, of course, Paris. France in general. I don’t know why, but it just has the feel to it.

Let’s talk about the heroes.

Q. In your mind’s eye, what makes for a truly great hero? Which hero(es) of your books best illustrate this?

A. I think great heroes can take on a lot of characteristics, but at their core, they have to be the kind of guy who will do anything—absolutely anything—for the woman he loves. He has strength of character, he is loyal, he is noble, but he is a little dangerous. And he can be softened by the right woman.

I try to write heroes that have flaws and may act in ways that are not politically correct, but are redeemed by love. One that comes to mind is Adrian Spence in The Dangerous Gentleman, or Rhodrick Glendower in The Perils of Pursuing a Prince. Both men were isolated by their actions and prejudices from society and had to overcome some personal flaws before they could win the hearts of the women they fell in love with.

Q. Many writers have a picture of a real person in mind when they start creating a hero. What about you? Who inspired the heroes in your historical novels? What visuals did you use to help create them? Again, we want details and images please!

A. I am not generally inspired by real people (other than perhaps Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, who, as you know, wasn’t exactly real) when I create my heroes. They are truly created out of my imagination.

Q. Which was your favorite hero that you’ve written and why?

Oh man, that is a tough question. I don’t know if I can choose just one. I will always have a soft spot for Michael, my first hero, in The Devil’s Love. I also liked Rhodrick Glendower, just because he wasn’t a beautiful man. But I really like them all, and it’s hard to choose a favorite.

Now let’s talk about your heroines

Q. In your mind’s eye, what makes for a truly great heroine? Which heroine(s) of your books best illustrate this? Which ones least illustrate this? Why?

A. I like heroines who can pull themselves up by their bootstraps when they need to, and aren’t afraid to take men on. I like it when they have to dig deep, but I also like them to have some innocence in them, too. By that I mean I don’t think they have to know the reasons why they do what they do, but just react from some place that is all girl. In my very fist novel, Abby was very naïve at times, and she made some bad choices. But the girl knew what she wanted and went for it. In Book of Scandal, Evelyn had to overcome so very deep pain to find herself and her love for her husband again.

Q. Who or what was the underlying inspiration behind your heroines? What visuals did you use to help you create them?

A. The heroines I write are composites of women I have known or read about. I suppose they all have a little of me in them, too, although that part isn’t particularly inspiring, LOL. It’s just familiar.

Q. Which was your favorite heroine that you’ve written and why?

A. Like Michael, I have a soft spot for Abby in The Devil’s Love. I also like Lauren in Wicked Angel, and I really liked Claudia in The Ruthless Charmer. But like me heroes, I like all of my heroines for different reasons. I can’t choose a favorite. They all appeal to me.

Highland ScandalQ. What new books can readers look forward to in the near future?

A. I have a lot of things in the works! In October 2009, the last book of my historical Scandalous Series, A Courtesan’s Scandal (following Book of Scandal, Highland Scandal) will be released. In that one, the Prince of Wales orders the Duke of Darlington to keep a secret for him the duke would rather not keep.

In 2010, One Season of Sunshine, another book set in Cedar Springs, Texas will be out, as well as the start of a new historical quartet, The Secrets of Hadley Green. That series is set in 1807, in the village of Hadley Green south of London. An old crime wreaks havoc in the lives of several people as they try to determine what truly happened all those years ago. In the course of discovering the truth, several secrets are revealed and unlikely pairings occur because of it. I have just started writing the series and I love it. It’s a little different than my other historicals because there is a bit of a mystery.

Summer of Two WishesAny questions or comments for Julia? One lucky commenter will win a copy of Julia's historical Highland Scandal and another lucky commenter will win a copy of Julia's contemporary Summer of Two Wishes. According to my friends at Jack's Bar (Robyn Carr's Chat Group), Summer of Two Wishes makes for a pretty good read.

Remember, if you don't comment, you can't win the book (Please indicate if you have a preference)!

I want to thank Julia for joining us today and giving us some great answers!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Hi everyone. I know that I was supposed to have posted my second review. Reading this post should hopefully explain why.

I wish I could say that I am my bright and cheery self right, now, but I can't. During my review of Jay Asher's book a couple of Saturdays ago, I mentioned one of the major losses in my life due to suicide. What I didn't mention was the loss of my grandmother, my roots, nor did I mention the loss of a close friend.

During a time when I was supposed to be worried about grades and getting myself into college, like many others I knew, I was busy keeping my soul together with a shoestring. It worked, for awhile, but it didn't last. I have since replaced the shoestring with a stronger thread, but it doesn't seem to be doing its job, because the wounds still open and there are days where it just feels like everything is falling out from underneath me and I don't know how to make it stop.

Sure, I have my husband, and I am glad for that, but he just doesn't understand the truth of it, and I'm not sure he ever will. Besides, I lost two people who were integral to my soul within 6 months of each other and a third one one and a half years later, one week after my 19th birthday. That's three portions of my soul that died back then. You don't replace it, or heal it when part of your soul dies, you tie it off, connect the living parts, to make them stronger. My husband is only one person and he can't possibly fill the void that remains, even though he has tried.

What's worse about all of this is that I thought I had let go and I had been doing really well, until recently, when I looked at a printed calendar little over a week ago. I realized that it was the 19th anniversary of my friend's death. I thought by acknowledging it, saying and prayer and spending time remembering my friend would be enough to purge the demons, but it wasn't.

I have been doing a lot to avoid having to think about anything for the last week or so, and I understand why now, when I think about it. I didn't want to think because if I did, I would get upset and cry and feel the loss all over again.

Almost twenty years later and the pain of loss feels almost as strong today as it did back in 1990, the start of my senior year of high school. Looking at that picture, which can currently be seen by viewing my blogger profile or my facebook page, you wouldn't know I was hurting so badly. That's the thing with cameras and photos, you don't always see the truth. Even if you do, you find some reason to ignore it or explain it away.

I don't ignore the pain of loss or deny the tears, but in the last 19 years, the pain and tears don't seem to have lessened, not one iota.

The depression has been creeping up on me. I've felt it so many times before, you'd think I would be able to recognize it easily enough, but no. I was blindsided by the pain and sting of the loss. After 19 years, my heart still aches for the ones I lost. It doesn't make me sensitive. That's not why I am still struggling. I am struggling because all three of these people had accepted me for who I was, mistakes and all. When I lost all of them, I lost my roots, my sense of belonging and I have been wandering around ever since.

Looking for what?

I don't know.

I love my husband, and I think he is the only reason I stay in this state. I would love to move to a place where I don't have so many memories all the time, everywhere I go. Deep down, I know moving wouldn't help, that it would merely be running away, so I stay and struggle with the pain in my heart.

I also don't know how to keep the real fear I have of losing my husband at bay. I have real reasons to be concerned because he has genetic conditions. Sure, he's trying to do the best he can to take care of himself, but what if it isn't enough? What if, no matter what he does, it won't help? His uncle died when he was in his 40's. I know I should live in the now, but it's hard to do that, especially during these hard economic times when money is definitely a concern. He's becoming overworked, and I worry about the damage that kind of stress is doing to him.

I'm having a hard enough time dealing with things with him alive, how will I cope if the worst should happen? I know I shouldn't think about it, but when you're a survivor like I am, and have faced a few demons, you need to be prepared, or you'll find yourself right back in the pit.

Walking on the edge of the pit this last time, I got a glimpse into why some people cut themselves. They don't do it to get attention, at least it sure doesn't seem that way. I have a cut on my finger and it was pretty sore. When this wave of depression, pain and tears hit, I found myself gripping that finger so hard that it hurt. That pain distracted me from the pain in my soul long enough to get a grip on reality. It was in that instant that I could understand why people do it. Inflicting pain on your person doesn't just give you control, but it takes your mind off of the pain you can't handle (or don't want to handle) and let's you focus on the pain you can handle at that moment and gives you a temporary reprieve.

I do not condone someone cutting themselves because it really is a true sign of suffering, but I believe I have a much better understanding of it now. I wish I could say I am fine, but I can't. I've shed my tears and felt the loss, but I know this calm reprieve is merely temporary. I will fell it again over the holidays because my grandmother's birthday is December 23rd. I will feel it again in March because that's when my best friend's birthday was and that's when I lost the brother-in-law who was more like a real brother. I will feel it again in May because my grandmother died on Mother's Day. I will feel it again this time next year because I always do this time of year.

I wish I could reassure you that the pain of loss will lessen, but I can't. All I can say is that you just won't always notice it, but it will always be there, especially if the person was part of your soul. I hate the pain of loss and wish I didn't have this endless loop, but I just have to deal with it. All the medication in the world won't make it go away and if it can, it's only prolonging the inevitable.

Your soul needs you to feel the pain and acknowledge it from time to time. If you don't, deal with it each time it occurs, the backlash can be so much worse. I am really strong, most of the time. Sunday (today), just wasn't one of those days. I'll get through it, I always have and I always will.

I hope that those of you who read this are able to make some sense of this. If not, sorry about that!! I promise to get things straightened out this week!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

YA Author Spotlight Saturday Presents... Fon James!!!

Hello there everyone!

Fon JamesToday I bring you YA Christian Fiction author Fon James. Fon James is a life-coach, speaker and author. Her first book, Back and Forth, discusses some heavy issues that many college students face relationships, sex, consequences and abstinence.  Through the use of Faith Walker and her friends, James helps the reader explore the joys of a caring relationship, the reality of the consequences of unprotected sex, dealing with those consequences and the sting of betrayal.  Back and Forth has a realistic view of the world and doesn't sugar coat the real problems that exist in universities that college students face everyday as they spread their wings and grow into adulthood.   While this book is marked as YA Fiction, it is definitely geared for the older section of the age group.  Her latest release, Forward March, continues Faith's story, picking up after she's had some time to settle in to her new surroundings and career.

Let's get to the interview!

Q.  You’re a life coach, a speaker and an author.  Do you find that you switch hats for different situations, or do you find that you wear a tri-cornered hat?  Are there ever times where it’s difficult to see things wearing just one hat?  

A.  Being all of those things is simply who I am. When you’re a life coach that skill set alone affects everything in your life. So when I am speaking or when I write, you’re definitely going to be getting the coaching side of me as well. My first book won’t have that side of me because I had not entered into coaching at the time, but the Fon James you encounter now is all of that…life coach, speaker, author. It’s all about encouragement to me, but through different formats.

Q.  Which came first, author, speaker, or life coach?

The author came first, but I truly believe that I have been a life coach most of my life, I just hadn’t identified it as such.

Q.  Tell us what brought you down the path of a life coach?  How did that come about? 

A.  As I mentioned, I believe that I have been a life coach all of my life. I’ve always enjoyed encouraging others and helping others reach their highest potential. The more I prayed about this gift, the more it was revealed to me that life coaching was the name for what I was doing. That led me to researching the industry and returning to school to get my certification as a life coach.

Q.  As a speaker, what topics do you generally speak about?

A.  There are three topics in particular that I speak about and they were derived from my fiction novels.
Forward March:
"How to get from where you are to where you really want to be."

Back and Forth:
"Don't straddle if you want him to fight your battle."

Lord, What Am I Supposed to Be Doing Because This Sho'Nuff Ain't It:
"Living On Purpose and Loving It."

Readers can get a more in depth description of these topics on my website.

Q.  How often do you find time for you?  What do you do when you need a break from everything?  What recharges you?     

A.  I find time for me by making time for me. In order for me to operate at my highest potential, it’s essential for me to take a Fon break and a lot of times I do that by just enjoying a relaxing time with my husband and one year old daughter. When we’re just hanging out, that relaxes me and it also recharges me. An occasional massage also gives me my necessary R&R.

Let’s go on to the author side of your life and your books:

Back and ForthQ.  Why inspirational novels and why YA Fiction?  What was the draw for you?

A.  When I was in college, there was a lot of temptation and as an avid reader I tended to feed my thoughts with things that went against what I believed and the life I truly want to live…a life of purity. It’s hard to read books that don’t inspire you to live the life you desire. It’s actually contrary and that can affect your thoughts and your thoughts affect your feelings and your feelings affect your actions (there’s that coaching coming out of me). LOL.

Q.  Will you continue to write YA Fiction or will you branch out into other inspirational fiction genres?  Will you stay within inspirational or will you venture away from that genre?

A.  Part of the reason I started writing YA Christian Fiction is because I felt there was a void. Now more and more people are writing in this industry, and that’s awesome. I plan to continue to focus on the college market (YA College) would be more in line with my niche market. I am currently working on a non-fiction idea that will target my niche. Stay tuned to my website for more details as that project comes to fruition.

Q.  How difficult is it to find time to write with all of the other things going on in your life?

A.  You have to make time to write. There are a lot of things going on, but we tend to find energy for those things we really want to do…right? Writing is something I really want to do, so I find the energy to do it.

Q.  What inspired you to write Back and Forth?  Is there a particular life experience that helped give you certain points of view? 

A.  I wrote Back and Forth because it’s a real situation that many face…the inability to make a decision. And yes I too faced times where I would make a decision but then go back and forth on my actions. In my writing Back and Forth, I wanted to show readers that you can’t keep going “back and forth,” you have to choose…you either are going backward or you are going forward. Only one choice.

Q.  What character can you most relate to and why?

A.  I can relate to all the characters because I birth them. Each character represents a part of me for that reason. I probably most relate to…all of them!!! LOL…I can’t pick one “baby” over the other.

Q.  With all of the other themes that tend to plague our teens, why did you specifically choose pregnancy, abortion, and cheating as the main themes of your story?

A.  Actually the main theme of my story is more about Faith’s struggle with celibacy. Out of that struggle comes the pregnancy and abortion. And to be honest the cheating came out of that struggle too because her inability to stand firm sent out mixed signals to her boyfriend Gavin.

Q.  Why did you choose to use Jackson State University, a Historically Black College and University, for your college setting?  Was there more to it than the fact that you are JSU alumni?

A.  I love my alma mater and that’s why I choose it, but readers from all walks of life have said this very story could have taken place on their campus anywhere in the world.

Forward MarchQ.  According to your website, you wrote Forward March, which has recently hit the market.  This is the sequel to Back and Forth and continues the story, with Faith Walker as the main character.  I know that at the end of Back and Forth, Faith gets a job in San Francisco, so it must be the setting for Forward March, but why choose there over New York, L.A. or even Miami as the setting for the next book? 

A.  Aha, great question! I chose it because I once lived in San Francisco and I loved it, so I wanted to take the story there. But please note, I am not Faith (LOL). I was familiar with San Fran and I thought it would be a great place for Faith to Forward March to. LOL.

Q.  For those of us who haven’t read it or knew that it was available, are there plans for another part of the story or do you feel that Forward March offers readers enough closure on all the characters? 

A.  Forward March is the finale of this series. But these characters will always be very much alive within me.

Q.  Are you currently working on any other manuscripts?  If so, what can you tell us about them?   

A.  I am currently working on a non-fiction project. This is my first, so I am looking forward to the challenge that it will bring as a first-timer. Please stay tuned to my website for updates. Would love to keep you updated through my e-newsletter, which you can also sign up for on the homepage of my website: