Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Please Stand By

I didn't want you all to think I'd abandoned the blog or anything. I'm lining up some interviews and revising my WIP. Not to mention "normal" things I have to attend to like my job, house, husband, and kids. Ehem. So, yeah. I'm still here, don't fret. And I'll have some great things lined up for you soon! Stay tuned!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Contests around the Blogosphere

I love contests. I win some, I lose some, but they're always fun to participate in. Not to mention they are great learning devices for writers.

Here are some writerly contests occurring at the moment. (Please read the pages linked carefully for rules):

OASIS FOR YA: Win a query critique or first page critique!

YA FANTASY GUIDE: Win a query critique from Tamar Rydinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency!

FIRST LINE CONTEST: Win a query critique by agent Mary Kole or a 5-page critique by author Martine Leavitt!

SHOW ME THE VOICE: Win a 20-page, 10-page, or query critique from Natalie Fischer of the Bradford Literary Agency!

YATOPIA: Pitch contest judged by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

There are probably more I've forgotten or missed, so feel free to leave me a comment if you know of any.

Good luck! :)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Interview with Dave Morris

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone! Hope you've all had a lucky day and didn't get pinched. And look, I even brought you all something a bit Irish! Let's all welcome author Dave Morris.

Hi, Dave! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m three-quarters English, one quarter Irish. I’ve been writing professionally most of my adult life and I’m married to another writer (Roz Morris of Nail Your Novel fame) which as a domestic set-up would probably be really boring if we were both dentists or bankers or something. Fortunately being a writer means having an interest in everything, so it’s actually fun to bounce ideas off each other over breakfast before firing up our PCs. We live in a quiet part of south-west London (as quiet as London gets, anyhow) and we have no kids or cats or dogs, but Roz does have a very big horse who is stabled out in the Surrey countryside and who gives us plenty of excuses to get out of the city.

How long have you been writing?

More than a quarter century now. I’ve had over fifty books published and I’ve been translated into a dozen languages, which is one of the reasons I felt it was time to jump over into comics. I’ve already said pretty much everything I need to in the medium of prose!

Tell us about MIRABILIS - YEAR OF WONDERS. What’s your story about?

It’s about a forgotten year when a green comet appears in the sky. People wake up to find a world of marvels outside their window. There's a troll under London Bridge. Mermaids are swimming up the Mississippi. A dragon is trying to hatch the Taj Mahal. And every rainbow ends in a crock of gold.

So in this world – which is our world, up until the moment the comet appears – fantasy is now a part of everyday life. And this year of the comet is 1901, so we have a world which is full of injustices and rigid class hierarchies, and suddenly anything – in fact, everything – is possible. Jack, our hero, is a young man from the wrong side of town who’s fallen in love with a lord’s daughter, Estelle Meadowvane. And normally in the strict Edwardian era that would be hopeless, of course, but now there’s a brief, real opportunity to seize the moment. Except Jack’s going to find that even if goblins are setting up shoeshine booths on Piccadilly and so on, that doesn’t mean the human heart is suddenly easy territory to navigate.

So it’s really a love story – not just Jack’s love for Estelle, but my and Leo’s love for myth and fantasy and the infinite possibilities of storytelling.

How did the idea of the story come to you?

Leo Hartas, who draws the Mirabilis books, is one of my oldest and closest friends. When I handed in my first book, the publishers asked if I had an artist in mind. I had met Leo briefly a week earlier when he came in to show his portfolio at the magazine where I did freelance work. He was pretty much the only artist I knew, so I called him up and we met, and our imaginations just clicked. Since then, pretty much all my own favorite projects are the ones Leo and I have cooked up together. It doesn’t feel like work, we’re just like a couple of kids playing. He has a lovely studio in the countryside that’s set in a secret garden – it really is something out of a classic kids’ story. And we get to go down and stay with him and his wife Jo every couple of months when we’re locking down a new issue of the comic, and it’s just such a great place to be, with his kids – who are lovely, and very talented – and cats and the chickens providing eggs for breakfast every morning. A little bit of rural paradise, and a fantastic setting in which to work.

Anyway, as to how Mirabilis came about: I’d gone down to see Leo in Sussex, on Britain’s south coast, and we were taking a walk around a village called Brightling when we came across a pyramid. I mean a real Egyptian style pyramid, lichen-spotted with age, smack dab in the middle of a tiny English churchyard. It was built by a rich eccentric called John Fuller who died in the 1800s. And I said to Leo how normally we liked to work with constraints – you know how that gives shape to an idea. But that how about if for once we let our imaginations totally off the leash to dream up the kind of world where Egyptian pyramids wouldn’t be out of place in English villages?

We might have forgotten about it, but half an hour later I saw a ghost. A tall gentleman in Victorian clothes walked by in bright summer sunlight, tipped his hat – and five seconds later had vanished. Now, I was trained as a physicist. I don’t believe in ghosts. But I turned to Leo and said, “That settles it. We’re really going to have to do something with this idea.”

I said that there aren’t constraints, but of course you always need those. In Mirabilis it’s all there in the structure of the single year. So in the early part there’s just the hint of fantasy – that’s like a Tintin graphic novel with a gentle infusion of magical elements. But by the spring, which is the book I’m writing now, we’ve got characters visiting Atlantis and Cerberus collecting tickets for the London Underground. It all builds up to midsummer and then the comet starts to get smaller in the sky, the fantasy dwindles. It all has to come to an end, you see. And the story is about how our characters, changed by everything they’ve been through, will face up to going back to the world as it used to be

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

The words! I remember hearing an interview with Alfred Hitchcock where he said that after getting the story all worked out and storyboarded, actually going on set and shooting it could feel like a chore. And I love the creative part where I’m coming up with new things to happen to my characters that will test them and peel away their layers to reveal who they really are. And I love making that entertaining, coming up with visually inventive locations and hopefully sparkling dialogue. But when I have to write descriptive text – the stage directions – I get very impatient.

And that’s the main reason I’m loving my work in comics after twenty-something years writing prose. I’ve always been very visual in my ideas. I get the scene like a movie in my head and in novels I’ve had to translate that into prose. Readers have been kind enough to say I have a poetic prose style, but that’s something I have to work at and I feel like it’s the hard graft part, not the “art part”. But in comics I don’t need to do that. I just sketch exactly what I’m seeing, and I write the dialogue as I hear my characters saying it. This part of the process usually just comes to me literally as inspiration, as though it is breathed into me from outside. And I also enjoy solving the plot problems, because I just have to identify the problem, then go do something else and my obliging subconscious pops the solution up to my waking mind after an hour or two, just like one of those memos arriving in a pneumatic tube. And then, because it’s a comic, I just give all that to Leo and he’s my cinematographer, he shoots the scene. All that arduous prose – gone. In comics I don’t have to write one single line of it!

Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

You have to learn to mediate between the craftsman side of the work and the pure creative side. Keep those in balance. The craft part is essential to make a story that actually works. You don’t want some Philippe Starck chair that’s nice to look at but is as comfortable as the edge of a surfboard. But that side of you is also the inner critic – essential in revision, a confidence-killer in the early stages. And pure creativity is the only way you’re going to come up with something fresh, but you have to rein it in or you end up with too many toys to fit back into the box at the end of the story. Each strength contains its own weakness, so you need to learn to use it properly. And the best way to learn is to just do it – write every day. Those 10,000 hours soon stack up.

Who are your inspirations?

How long have you got? ‘Cause those roots go deep. I found a book of Norse myths at my local library when I was seven years old, and that particular brew of rambunctious adventure, laconic humor, dreamlike fantasy and dark, dark deeds really got me at some deep level. I hadn’t thought about it until this moment, but that’s very clearly inspired the structure of Mirabilis – the bright dawn, the flowering of a glorious summer in the knockabout escapades of Thor and Loki (as often comrades as enemies in the myths), then the sense of a gathering storm as we move towards Ragnarok. Odin will certainly be making an appearance in Mirabilis – one of my favorite characters. I see him played by Peter O’Toole in full wild scary mode. Hmm, I actually frightened myself a little bit there. Those old myths still have power.

Moving on, big influences were Marvel Comics (we’re talking about the Silver Age, late ‘60s with Stan Lee at the helm), movies like Lawrence of Arabia and First Men in the Moon, the juvenile novels of Robert A Heinlein. Then in my teens I discovered Mike Moorcock’s Elric and Corum books, Jack Vance’s Dying Earth, and gradually discovered those were just the shores of an ocean of great literature that extended well beyond outright fantasy.

Biggest influences today...? Well, those of us working the MG/YA side of the street can’t fail to acknowledge the towering influence of J K Rowling. She’s the green comet that changed everything. I’m just hoping that the tectonic shift Harry Potter brought about in kids’ prose fiction will eventually ripple through to comics, which are still largely mired in the hobby store mentality of capes ‘n’ cowls on the one hand, zombies on the other. There’s so much more that can be done in comics, and a much broader readership waiting out there, but they’ve been sucked into this ever-narrowing spiral of niche content for the last decade or so. Having said that, I find plenty of comics to enjoy: B.P.R.D. from Dark Horse, Joss Whedon’s Buffy Season Eight, Ed Brubaker’s Criminal series of hard-boiled noir stories, the real horrors of World War One in the reissued Charley’s War books by Pat Mills.

Let’s face it, when you’re a writer, everything’s an influence. I think the one thing we must always remember is that junk is a good influence too. We know that as kids. Take it all on board, let your subconscious process it, and some real flecks of gold may show up even in the unlikeliest muck.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

A cup of tea, which usually ends up going stone cold when I’m in the groove and pounding that keyboard. Luckily I’m one of those people who doesn’t mind lukewarm tea. It’s Earl Grey, by the way, the same as Captain Picard drinks, only Data doesn’t bring it to my desk – Roz and I shout at each other across the house until one of us gives in and goes to fill the kettle.

In the early stages of a story I need to see trees and meadows, breathe fresh air, and feel the weather. Sun, rain or fog, anything so long as the English landscape can get right into my pores. I get my best ideas out walking, usually when I’m in the middle of a wood with just one scrap of paper and a broken pencil.

There’s also the question of what I don’t like to have around. When I get to the stage of structuring the story, I get very distracted by anything around me. I sometimes used to work through the night for the total, airtight solitude. I don’t have the stamina for that these days, and in any case the internet means there would still be friends in LA, Japan or Australia awake even in the middle of the night. In those later stages of the work, I get my best writing done while Roz is off riding her horse. It’s nice to have her around all day (especially when she makes the tea) but I can feel the vibrations of her thoughts when she’s working in her study, and that can really throw me off when I’m trying to hammer my own story into shape.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Ah, now this is a question that I have given far too much thought to over the years. I mentioned Marvel Comics – I was always a Marvel fan rather than DC as a kid, and when I think of being one of those heroes, well, if you pick a DC character there wasn’t usually much of a downside. Superman’s biggest worry is having to pretend he’s a mild-mannered reporter. That’s a private joke, not a problem. But if you’re Spider-man then you’re directly responsible for the death of your uncle. If you’re Daredevil you’re blind. If you’re Iron Man (and I did want to be Iron Man) your heart could give out if you can’t recharge your chest plate every eight hours. Green Lantern had to recharge too, but in his case there wasn’t any downside. So that’s why I still say Stan Lee was a genius. He shook up the whole genre of superhero comics with ideas that were forty years ahead of their time. Stan’s imagination, that’d be a good superpower to have!

Ultimately, though, in adult life it comes down to teleportation or flight. Teleportation would be so useful. I like going places when I get there, but I really loathe the journey. (Anyone who lives in London will say the same.) But with flight you get the thrill of soaring over the rooftops, and nosing into everyone’s back yard, which is a little more fun than just beaming somewhere. Oh, it’s so hard to decide… Wait, am I going to have to fight crime? In that case I’d better be Iron Man after all. You’re nowhere as a superhero if you don’t have the bulletproof thing covered.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: secret, hairspray, and wild pig.

If my wife didn’t insist on keeping the hairspray in a secret place, I wouldn’t always look like I just rode through a hedge on the back of a wild pig.

So simple yet so great! Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

First, my dad and mum. Dad was an electrical engineer, he used to tell me stories and he taught my mind to work. I use that every day in my writing – coming up with an original idea is only part of it, you have to engineer it into the form of a satisfying story. And mum’s influence is more in the form of a sense of getting the most out of life and friends, the confidence that comes from knowing you can rely on unconditional love and support.

And my wife Roz, who would be a big source of energy and confidence even if she wasn’t a writer too, but the icing on the cake is we can unburden our story problems and publisher gripes on each other. Two heads are exponentially better than one, and the hour spent chatting over a glass of wine after dinner often provides a solution for something we’ll have been worrying over all day.

And finally I have to thank Leo, my partner on Mirabilis and longtime friend and collaborator. He’s kind of a slave driver at times, as he just won’t let me sneak a half-baked idea past him. He’ll read my first draft through and say, “You need to tell the reader such-and-such” or “So-and-so has to articulate what they’re feeling here.” He’s always right, and he always insists on me bringing my best game.

And finally, where can people find you online?

Come on over to www.mirabilis-yearofwonders.com and take a look around. That’s the quickest way to get a feel for what Mirabilis is all about.

As for the comics themselves, we’re in the App Store for iPad here: http://bit.ly/gRKQ2a

Also in Graphic.ly’s iPhone app: http://bit.ly/adDh5D

And on Android and desktop/laptop http://graphic.ly
The great thing with the digital editions is we can give the first couple of issues away for free, so readers get a chance to see if they like the story before they buy.

And we have a Kindle book – not a comic, but a bunch of vignette stories in the form of letters from around the world during the Year of Wonders, covering everything from the mysterious giant hand found in a wood in Yorkshire to the best way to deal with a dragon that's taken a shine to the gold reserves of Fort Knox: http://amzn.to/hB55TW

Anything I missed out? Oh yes, the good ol’ fashioned paperbacks: http://amzn.to/dLp5tK

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Dave. Your book sounds amazing. And for all my readers, take a gander at the book trailer!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Interview with Dixon Rice

Happy Monday, Blogosprites. Things have been hectic lately, but I'm hoping that the lion that March came in as will soon show its more lamb-like qualities. Once things settle down, I'm really going to try to have something cool for my followers in honor of my one-year blogoversary that just passed at the end of February. If I can pull it off, it just might be legen...wait for it...dary! (Okay, yeah, I've been watching too much How I Met Your Mother.)

But for now, I've got an interview with an author who's legendary himself. Let's chat with the fabulous Dixon Rice.

Welcome, Dixon. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a novelist living in Kalispell, Montana, deep in the glory of the Rocky Mountains. Besides eight years in Army Intelligence, I’ve been a funeral director, investigator, office manager, payroll manager, shipping clerk, insurance salesman, and done retail sales. I’ve jumped out of perfectly good aircraft. I’ve gone into jails for Literacy Volunteers and have also been on the wrong side of the bars.

That's quite some bio. How long have you been writing?

I started telling bedtime stories to my children (now young adults) and they asked me to write them down. A few got published in local and regional pubs, and a nasty addiction was born. Then I turned to book-length adult literature, and the habit spun totally out of control.

Tell us about MONTANA IS BURNING. What's the story about?

This thriller takes place in a small town in NW Montana in 1975, the same week in which heiress Patricia Hearst is captured. An abortion clinic serving wealthy out-of-towners is firebombed, with fatalities. In the middle of hotly contested election between the incumbent sheriff and the chief of detectives, Paul Longo, the brand new detective, is the only neutral guy in the department. He must confront vicious local politics, a small group of religious fanatics, federal agencies trying to take over the investigation, a newly-formed militia group trying to blockade the county, and jealous local cops. Pretty much his only supporter in the department is Janet Barefoot, a member of a tiny Native American tribe. An outsider herself, she appreciates the barriers Paul faces. When a peace march is bombed, quick thinking by Paul keeps the death tally down, but can he solve this terrorist spree before more lives are lost?

Suzanne of Unruly Guides is slaving away on a book cover and ways to improve my writers platform, and I’m guessing MONTANA will be released on Kindle and serial podcasts before all the snow melts from my back yard. Of course, that might be August of 2014…

Right, lol. How did the idea of the story come to you?

The idea of Paul Longo – a fish out of water – came to mind first, and then putting him into an unmanageable situation such as Ruby Ridge or the stand-off with the Branch Davidians in Waco, where the federal agencies assumed jurisdiction and pushed local law enforcement aside.


It also takes place in Montana during the 1970s, but that’s the main similarity.
A likable young Montanan named Ty “accidentally” becomes a serial killer when he’s targeted by a family of brutal rednecks. Every time he kills to protect himself, he feels like he’s done the community a favor – and he enjoys the rush it gives him. Alternating chapters present a bearded, thirtyish man who emerges nude from the ocean near Ensenada, Mexico. He meets a woman walking along the beach. Startled, she blurts out, “Jesus! You’re naked.” He thinks to himself, “So that’s who I am” before killing her and taking her white beach robe. Jesus walks up the coast, killing when it pleases him, and gathers a Manson-like tribe of weak-minded followers. He follows the voices in his head until he reaches Montana. He meets Ty but who will survive the encounter?

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

My mantra is “I can’t find my own mistakes.” Once I had part of MONTANA IS BURNING drafted, I looked around for a local critique group, but there wasn’t one with an opening. So I gathered some friends together and started one. We meet for an evening every two weeks, and the group has been tremendously helpful. We’ve had memoirists, poets and YA writers, and tellers of western, romance and SciFi tales. The genre doesn’t seem to matter – good writing is good writing.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Writing a synopsis. It’s the worst, barely ahead of rewriting.

I have to agree with you there. Hate's not a strong enough word for how I feel about writing a synopsis. So, got any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

When your characters are faced with a choice, help them to choose the unexpected route – if the choice is compatible with the character’s core personality.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

I need to get away from my house to create my first draft, to avoid the many domestic distractions. I’ve discovered that if I get up early, the critical editor in the back of my head is still asleep, and I can write page after page of crap. Later, I can tidy up the crap and fix the mistakes, and even move big chunks of prose around – with the help of that critical editor who’s now alert and helpful.

Other than the above, I can write in silence, with music playing, in front of the TV, on a park bench, in a car between Kalispell and Fargo, whatever.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I would wish for the longevity of Methuselah because I feel I’m just now hitting my stride as a writer, and I am absolutely green with envy at the young writers who will grind out 40 or 50 books by the time they reach my age.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: binoculars, tango, and starfish.

Before leaving for the Vatican to commit the crime of the century, Tango Smith flipped open his Starfish brand laptop and ordered a pair of sniper binoculars online.

Tricky! Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

My wife Mitzi will surely be considered for sainthood, and my kids have been tremendously supportive. The members of my critique group, along with writing instructor Dennis Foley and the Authors of the Flathead, have helped me develop my craft. Laura of Writers Etc, Suzanne of Unruly Guides, and Roxanne McHenry have pushed me out of my comfort zone, with the result that I expect to be Kindlated and podcasterized later this spring. And over 2,900 helpful writers, poets, editors and agents on Facebook have been generous with their time, experience and advice.

And finally, where can people find you online?

I blog every day of the year at http://wredhead.blogspot.com/ alternating inspirational and not-so-much literary sayings with tips on improving our writing craft and getting published – many of the tips contributed by my FB network of writers and book lovers. On my FB page (Dixon Rice Novelist), I post a thought-provoking country song title every day of the year; often the only thought being provoked is “what on earth were they thinking when they wrote that song?” I’m nearly finished posting my Top 20 song titles, and am thinking about going through the entire list in alphabetical order – I can easily keep it going through Christmas.

It was great getting to know you and your book, Dixon. Thank you so much for chatting with us, and I wish you heaps of success with your writing!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Interview with Bob Kuykendall

Hey, everyone. Happy Fat Tuesday, if you're celebrating it. Speaking of celebrating, let's indulge in a new interview. Shall we? We shall! Today we're talking with writer Bob Kuykendall.

Hi, Bob! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a full time federal agent, a Special Agent with the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations. I have been a federal agent for sixteen years, having also worked for the United States Postal Inspection Service and (in a support position) for the FBI. I am a dad to two, Maddy and Cade. (The lead character in my first book is Special Agent Maddison "Maddy" Cade.) I married my high school sweetheart and after eight moves, we are back "home" in Birmingham, Alabama. We've been married now for twenty years.

Wow, that's a pretty impressive bio! How long have you been writing?

I have early memories of writing stories back in 7th grade, when my teacher recognized I could tell a story, and in lieu of writing sentences, she made me write short essays. While others wrote "I will not talk in class" a hundred times, I wrote two page papers on "Why Bobby talks in class." Although I didn't continue writing much through high school or college, I never really forgot the way she enjoyed reading my little papers.

As an adult, for years on my job, I got fussed at for "writing books," as my bosses would say. I love giving colorful, descriptive stories, which sometimes clashes with drab, bullet form "cop" writing. My real "writing" began about five years ago when I started a book on effective communication strategies. I began writing this simply as a platform to speak. Speaking was/is my real passion, and perhaps my only God-given talent. I LOVE it.

I have to say, "Why Bobby Talks in Class" sounds like a great title for a book. Just putting that out there, lol. Tell us about THE ADDICT. What’s the story about and how did the idea of the story come to you?

I think there are many people who have a story to tell, it's just hard to sit down and start writing. I think people think about "writing a book," and picture the final product, some three or four hundred pages, and don't think they can get from point A to point B, so they never take that first step.

For me, I was already in a writing mode in my effort to write that book on communication strategies. I was speaking to church and social groups here and there, and stumbled across a few old friends who were struggling with drug addictions. My transition to writing this book is very complicated and probably could be better explained by a psychologist, but picture this:

I was "on stage," being introduced as a "successful" law enforcement agent and public speaker. I would give some presentation which was usually met with a nice response - even a few standing ovations here and there. Then afterwards, I would speak with individuals, some known and some unknown to me, who would talk about their past and their struggles. Many of them spoke about their faith in some higher power to help them through. As they spoke, seeking some sort of advice from the "successful" guy, it crossed my mind sometimes that I was way more screwed up than them. It slowly began weighing on me that as I stood before people with all sorts of issues, maybe I had the biggest one. I had become cynical beyond repair. Cynical about life, about religion, about God even. I can't understand why babies die, why dogs live for such a short time, why there are so many divisions of religion, why there are fifteen or so million dollar church buildings in my city and why mean people with crappy personalities seem to live forever while cancer and car crashes take some of the best people you know.

Last year, when attending a worship service and N/A meeting with a friend, a homeless man named Nasty (Probably a street name, or his momma really had issues.) asked if I was a user. I told him no, I was a cop. This didn't seem to phase him much and he asked a few follow up questions. I shared an abbreviated version of my cynicism and he said, "You can't worry 'bout no niggas telling you 'bout yo faith, man. Yo religion is 'tween you and God, man, and God is a cool mutha fucka." Nasty was right and I even liked the way he put it. It was ironic. He cursed God, but meant it in a very respectful way.

So Nasty didn't motivate the book, it was nearly finished at that time, but he inspired me to modify the book and add a final twist that makes the book what it is. I can't give that away, but lets say the book is now more than a crime fiction, but a book with a purpose. My hope is that readers are sucked into the story about crime and terrorism, and are pleasantly surprised when they find they've been duped into reading a book with a life-related message. To my surprise, the changes got the attention of church and social organizations, and I've been invited to more and more functions lately. Maybe the big Man has other plans for The Addict and is guiding things against my intentions?? I'm a work in progress.

That's some story in itself. Amazing! So, what's the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part about writing is the writing. I can't type or write as fast as my goofy brain works. If I had the money to hire someone to put my thoughts on paper, life would be great!

Or some invention that connects brain to computer, so the story is written instantaneously. Wouldn't that be great? Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing? 

Quad shot, no foam, non fat latte (just like Agent Cade drinks) before 9am and Diet Mt. Dew after 9am.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

This is so strange. I'm now revisiting this question after answering all your others. I feel like a Genie has asked this, and I'm afraid to answer. I mean flying would be cool, but too show-offey, you know? Super strength would be nice, but you can only find so many cars on top of babies to rescue. Like, I'd probably under use that one. X-ray vision would probably end my marriage. I think I'm going to go with the seldom-used ability to communicate with animals. I could do a lot with that!

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: flabbergasted, tricycle, and handcuffs.

After looking up the word, "flabbergasted," Bob... just kidding.

Agent Cade was so flabbergasted by the suspect's actions, he reached for his handcuffs in lieu of his weapon, knowing he'd surely pistol whip or shoot his target. He handcuffed Jimmy to his shiny red tricycle after stripping him naked. The jeers and laughter would surely stick in the kid's head, and he'd never run over a neighborhood cat again.
(Yeah, that's two, I know. I need my editor!)

LOL, but well done. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

My friends, those who live nearby and those from Facebook and Twitter, have been so patient and supportive. I mean, a guy with a book is usually a pain in the butt. Last week, after my mom asked for a copy of it, I stuck the Amazon URL on her refrigerator. I'm a pain, I tell you, talking about it and pimping it daily. My wife also has been so wonderfully supportive. From the "I'll be right there" moments, when an idea is slowly creeping from brain to laptop, to the constant phone calls and late night book signings. (That last part was fiction.) And finally, I want to thank you, Dorothy. This is a great and valuable service you provide. So many authors are out there dying to share their vision with possible readers. And you have your own books as well, but you take the time, through this forum, to help so many others. I appreciate (first typed "love" than thought it sounded stalkerish) you very much!

Awww, I'm blushing. Well, you're welcome, and I'm very glad to help out wherever I can.

Just a note: I'll gladly reply to e-mails re the book at bob@singlesourcespeaker.com
The book is available at Amazon "The Addict Closed Case Files of Special Agent Maddison Cade."
The book is also available at my website, SingleSourceSpeaker.com, but you know, trying to keep that Amazon ranking about 500,000 is tough. I need to make my momma proud.

And I'd like to invite first time authors, who have fiction or non-fiction books with a "life-related purpose," i.e., motivational, inspirational, or a serve to benefit others, to e-mail me regarding a new collaborative effort seeking to help authors who have decided to make their books available while searching for representation and/or publication. The company, First120 (first120.com), offers help authors (for free) get their first one hundred and twenty books sold! The group is hoping to be a future one-stop-shop for readers, agents and publishers to check out books waiting to be discovered. info@first120.com

Sounds great! Thank you so much for letting us get to know you and your book, Bob. It's been fun, and I wish you lots of success!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Interview with Rachel Lyndhurst

We've been having a real sunshiny week so far in my neck of the woods, and I'm loving it. To shoot a little sunshine your way, in the form of an interview that is, I'm sharing a fun chat with author Rachel Lyndhurst.

Hi, Rachel! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a law graduate and accountant, but haven’t set foot in an office for twelve years since our two children came into the world. We all live on the south coast of England within sniffing distance of the sea.

Sounds lovely! How long have you been writing?

Since I was about four years old! I’m a lifelong scribbler, but only set about it seriously i.e. with a view to submitting, about five years ago.

Tell us about STORM'S HEART. What’s the story about?

Storm’s Heart is my debut novel and is one of the launch titles for Embrace Books, the dazzling new imprint of Salt Publishing. It was also Embrace’s first acquisition.

Storm’s Heart is a sexy, sophisticated romance with a dark, brooding centre. When Greek lawyer Andreas Lazarides and bistro-manager Kizzy Dean clash over the executing of his mother’s final wishes, he takes matters into his own hands and Kizzy back with him to Greece. Tension runs high on the sun-baked Greek Island of Rhodes amidst the ancient myths and alleyways of Lindos village.

Hopelessly out of her depth and penniless, can innocent Kizzy resist the treacherous sexual attraction that draws her powerfully into Andreas’ orbit? Dangerously appealing and darkly charismatic, he’s made it quite clear that he wants her in her bed. It would be to her advantage, he’d make it worth her while …

She’s an independent woman, born illegitimately into a brutal world, so is Kizzy tough enough to handle this millionaire Adonis? Can she keep the ironclad fortress around her heart intact? The stakes are high if she is to prevent history repeating itself. No man on earth will leave her as heartbroken and destitute as her mother.

An explosive meeting of two different worlds results in a mirror image of cruelty, betrayal, guilt and shame that only their passion for each other can possibly overcome. But is it enough?

Kizzy wants answers and her turbulent past and shadowy revelations kick up a storm in Andreas’s heart that will not abate until his own explosive secrets are forced out into the open.

Sounds pretty intense. How did the idea of the story come to you?

I’m sure it’s against one of those ‘rules’ you read about when you’re starting to learn your craft, but location is very often my starting point. In Storm’s Heart, the action begins in London, on the London Eye in particular. I was lucky enough to be invited to a champagne reception on it and the same year, I went on holiday to the main location of the book, historic Lindos, Rhodes.

I wasn’t just inspired by the age and architecture of Lindos, but also by the Greek Legends associated with it; particularly Helios the sun god and his demi-god son, Phaeton. A salutary tale of what can happen if you don’t do as your father tells you. A fiery battle of disobedience and death. This sowed the seed for my character Andreas Lazarides and gave me two different worlds to smash together for an initial conflict.

Layered into this, I came across a poignant newspaper article about General Sir Mike Jackson’s son, Mark Jackson, who reinvented himself after injury forced him to leave the army. He gave his sculpture of a lifeless Icarus his own scars. Without giving out any spoilers, this inspired me towards Andreas Lazarides’ dark secret.

I’ve also been a member of Amnesty International for many years which has raised my awareness of many issues and problems that rarely make the daily news. Storm’s Heart scrapes the surface of one of these and forms some of the back-story for Kizzy Dean and Andreas.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

I’m not terribly keen on the revision process, but all the pain is worthwhile when you read through the finished manuscript. Generally speaking, the worst part of being a writer is the waiting!

Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?

Check out the house style of the publisher you are targeting – get it right the first time and it will save you a lot of pain in the long run!

Good advice. Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

If I’m writing on the computer, it would have to be my gorgeous red, wireless mouse. Otherwise a notebook and pen is all I need. I do like a nice cup of tea though.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Ooh, that’s a tricky one! It would be brilliant to be able to fly – remember how it felt to scramble up a tree when you were a child, or go as high as you could on a swing? I’d like to swoop up to the top of the eighty-foot fir tree at the bottom of the garden and make friends with the squirrels.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: flip flops, jugular, and lemonade.

Granny sips vodka and lemonade, nodding her approval as a black clot seeps from the goat’s jugular and flip flops like jelly onto the marble floor.

Whoa, okay! Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

Golly, it’s like the Oscars then? Thanks to all my friends and family for being so patient, understanding and supportive of me. And for believing I could do it all along. Also a huge thank you to Jane Holland, my editor at Embrace Books, who gave me my big chance with Storm’s Heart and really knocked it into shape!

And finally, where can people find you and your book online?

Find out more about Rachel Lyndhurst and Storm’s Heart here: http://rachellyndhurst.blogspot.com/ including Twitter and facebook links.

You can buy Storm’s Heart in paperback or in digital form from:
Amazon.co.uk http://amzn.to/gfayrv
Amazon.com http://amzn.to/fgS1vV
Embrace Books (Salt Publishing) http://bit.ly/eU1KmH
The Book Depository http://bit.ly/gkhDO9
Diesel (eBook only) http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/

Rachel, thank you so much for letting us get to know you. I wish you heaps of success in all your writing endeavors.