Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween by Donna B. Snow

Thanks to Donna B. Snow for stopping by for Halloween!


First, a little history lesson. All Hallowed Eve was not originally a night of gruesome creatures, or evil things that go bump in the night, but a celebration, a remembrance of dear friends and family who had passed on, to be thought of and prayed for on All Souls (Saints) Day.

However, most of us know Halloween only as the commercialized fright day that it has become. And in that vein, I thought I would don my costume and share a bit of an eerie thought.

Now, I’m sure you’ve never thought of writers this way, but aren’t we all a bit like Dr. Jekyll? A bit schizophrenic? With the myriad of characters funning around in a writer’s mind – reflections of all sorts of characters from the real world – I do sometimes feel that my inner writer needs to wear a mask. In a way, that’s what we do, what I do, when I use a different pen name – not because I’m hiding, but because I’m someone else under that different name – a different persona. And just like a costume, it’s still me under there, but at least my readers know what to expect from each name.

I would hate to have someone buy a story by Donna B. Snow – because they know they just LOVE everything I write J - and then find themselves reading a western, or a mystery, or (gasp) a vampire story. What the heck? I thought she wrote inspirational romances?

So just like the ladies at the masquerade ball, I’ll just slip the mask into place, change my name, and become someone else. Nope, I’m not telling you who my alternate personality is. I’ve kept them separate for a reason. But doesn’t that just make you wonder...

Margaret Ellington and Lukas North have a history to resolve. He's determined to reclaim the love he threw away ten years earlier. She’s afraid to let her heart be broken again.

When the past repeats itself, can there be a different outcome?

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Brave New World of Electronic Publishing by Jude Urbanski

With Jude's new release, Joy Restored, coming out in mid November by Desert Breeze Publishing, her thoughts have centered on electronic publishing. In this blog, she referencing Randy Ingermanson and his predictions on electronic publishing.

The Brave New World of Electronic Publishing

By Jude Urbanski

Writers, we are living through electronic history in the publishing world.

One of my favorite authors, Randy Ingermanson, made a five-year prediction on the future of publishing and some of us authors, hear words resonant of Doctor Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham“I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like them Sam-I-am.” But whether we like it or not, we must inform ourselves.

Aside from books, Randy writes his Advanced Fiction Writing Newsletter and challenges us to be prepared rather than afraid of the future of publishing. He says he may be right, he may be wrong, but he knows change is certain.

Among his predictions are:

    1. E-books (electronic books) will surpass p-books (printed on paper books).
    2. E-books will become the “Minor Leagues” or the place where beginning writers first break into publishing.
    3. Mid-list authors or those having only a few books to their credit may do better if willing to accept electronic publishing.
    4. Bestselling authors will profit most. They will be published in both venues.
    5. Publishers will no longer accept returns. Returns are costly to everyone: the store, the author and the publisher. With electronic publishing this is avoided.
    6. Agents will stop reading the slush pile or all those piled-up submissions they receive. Knowing authors have already been published electronically allows agents better evaluation of an author's potential.
    7. Publishers will become more profitable. Think- less cost to produce books.
More specific information is available at Randy's site Check his archives for Electronic Publishing. He also refers us to Joe Konrath’s blog for further reasons why e-books will surpass p-books.

Randy also says e-books are much more efficient to produce with their biggest obstacle presently being the e-book reader. With everyone wanting part of the profit, even this drawback is lessening as e-readers are made more available and user friendly.

There are various electronic readers, including Kindle, Nook, Sony, Cruz, Aluratek and now the new Kindle Fire. At first, I explored my Kindle rather tentatively, but now can say 'I love it!' 'I Love It!' I can enlarge the print as big as I want, it is so easy to carry and can hold 3000 books, electronic books are much less expensive, and many are even free. The little device is nothing short of amazing. Again-history in my hands

Ingermanson says new authors will get their training, so to speak, in the electronic format, making it the “Minor League” of publishing as opposed to the printed publishing world being the “Major Leagues”. Once successful in the e-world, new authors are more apt to catch the eye of agents and publishers because then the guess work and risk of marketing are tempered. The role of gatekeepers who try to guess what the market will buy won’t be needed. A little scary since these are agents and publishers. Hence, in the electronic world, less of each will be needed.

The concern of awful e-books flooding the market will be handled by the market itself, as it is now, Ingermanson says. The market is smart and always finds the good books. No news here. We have awful printed books already.

Publishers may finally get to publish only winners, but this prediction is less clear in Ingermanson’s magic globe. They may publish their bestselling authors in e-format or these authors may choose to do it themselves.

For those unable to foresee life without a printed book to hold in their hands, don’t despair. A robust segment of the market still wants p-books. Publishers may go p-book and e-book simultaneously or go printed version only after the book is proven in e-format.

I found Randy’s predictions of the future changes in publishing absorbing, yet I have to work on a new mind set. Sacred cows like agents, publishers accepting returns, a print book to read in bed just before going off to sleep are hard to release. The future of publishing can’t be predicted with perfect clarity, but I plan to embrace electronic publishing. Especially since Desert Breeze is publishing my first two novels in e-book format!

This blog topic gives all of us new predictions to ponder. Viva la print-whether electronic or paper!

Joy Restored, Book One, The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing

Book Blurb: Kate Davidson feels God has played a cruel joke on her with the death of her young husband, a disturbed Vietnam vet. She is so angry at God, she almost misses the incredible love offered by rich, Christian widower Seth Orbin, no stranger to loss and grief.

Jude Urbanski writes women's fiction featuring strong inspirational romance elements. She invites you to stories of heroes and heroines who spin tragedy into triumph with help from God.

First published in non fiction, Jude continues to write in this field also. She has two upcoming electronic novels, The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing, published by Desert Breeze Publishing. She is a columnist for Maximum Living, a magazine focusing on spirituality and wellness for women. She has been a blogger for Ellechor Publishing, Hoosier Ink and her own blog.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Things I've Learned by Cynthia Hickey

Thanks to Cynthia for dropping by and telling us about the things she's learned as an author!

Things I've Learned
By Cynthia Hickey

I started my first story when I was 15 years old. I wrote three longer short stories and many, many very short ones, in addition to that first "novel". Most of the short stories featured my younger brother as the hero or was a love story about whatever boy I had a crush on at the time. I said I wanted to write books when I got older, but I rewrote the same story over and over, off and on, until I turned 40. Time to get serious! I’d send it to a publisher, get rejected, then start the process all over again.

Then, I joined a writing association and got involved with a critique group. From there, my writing career really began. A friend of mine dared me to write a mystery. I did, won first place in a contest, obtained an agent, and was picked up by a larger publisher. I have now published or contracted three books and am working on several others.Although I really didn’t have a clear idea of what I needed to do to get published, I never gave up. I had a dream of becoming an author. I finished the book one final time and submitted it to a small independent publisher who published that one and two more.

But the work does not stop at being published. You have to market your work. Start on your next book, you have edits, and cover art approval. Writing the book is only one step of many. So, how does an author write more than one book? It is very rare for someone to say, “I’m going to write a book.” Then sit down, write it, and become published.

You must continue to improve your craft. Stephen King says to never stop learning how to write better.

You must set goals. Even if it's only a daily word count goal.

You must have self-discipline. A set time to write. This goes two-fold with goal setting.

You must have a plot line in place.


Cynthia Hickey has three published cozy mysteries and a contemporary novella (releasing in 2013). She lives in Arizona where she spends some time every day writing and daydreaming. Her mysteries are now available on ebook through Amazon and Smashwords.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gold Earrings

Book Look by Carol McClain
  • Gold Earrings by Diane E. Tatum
Daughter of a bordello madame and an Italian captain of the seas, Angelina Mercy longs for a new life, free from the condemnation associated with her mother’s home in Boston.
     A former navy man, Jonathan Thomson has accepted God’s call and become a minister of a small congregation. Adrift from his Yankee heritage in the Missouri plains, Jonathan longs for a family of his own. 
     Pursuing Alice, the daughter of the town’s wealthy patron, Jonathan believes he can tame her wild ways and accomplish more as a preacher once so established. When Angelina’s guardian and Jonathan’s seminary professor learns of Jonathan’s misguided intentions, he seeks out a solution to aid both individuals, providing a new home for Angelina in St. Joseph, Angelina and Jonathan are brought together with a strong initial attraction.
      Can Jonathan ignore Angelina’s Gold Earrings, a constant reminder of the implications of her less than pristine parentage? And will Alice succeed in keeping Jonathan from Angelina? The resilient heroine of Diane E. Tatum’s novel will inspire you in this touching tale of love against the odds.
  • About Diane
While in high school in St. Louis County, Missouri, Diane E. Tatum wrote the short story that grew into this novel. After teaching middle school language arts for eleven years in Tullahoma, Tennessee, Diane “retired” in 2009 in order to write full time. She writes for and Diane works in youth Sunday school and has written Bible study materials for middle school for LifeWay and David C. Cook. Diane and her husband, Ken, live in Tullahoma, Tennessee. They have two sons and daughters-in-law, one couple in Marietta, GA, and one in Bethesda, MD.
Gold Earrings releases on September 27, 2011. Published by Tate Publishing, Diane E. Tatum presents an historical Christian fiction novel with lessons that continue to apply, even in the 21st century.

At the heart of the story is the problem of judging others on their outward appearance. Angelina’s Gold Earrings are a lightning rod for judgment. Jonathan’s tall, strong physique is more ranch hand than pastor quelling stereotypes about a weakling pastor. 
     Diane wrote a short story with the two main characters in high school. The novel did not come about until summer of 1993. After no success in marketing the novel, Diane went back to school to get her Masters of Teaching in Language Arts in order to be trained and certified to teach middle school language arts. After a move from Virginia to Tennessee and 11 years teaching to help put her sons through college debt-free, Diane quit her day job to become a full time writer, a life-long dream. Gold Earrings is her first novel, but not her last since she has nearly completed her second, a Civil War novel entitled A Time to Choose.

     Diane was born in Louisville, KY, raised, married, and had 2 sons in north St. Louis County, MO. Her young family relocated to Newport News, VA, so her aerospace engineer husband could work at NASA-Langley. In 1997, she received her Masters and teaching certificate just a month before moving to Tullahoma, TN, when her husband began a new job at AEDC facilities.

Why St. Joseph, MO?
I grew up in St. Louis and studied Missouri state history in 4th grade. St. Joseph was at the edge of the frontier in the days following the Civil War. As a result, the French founded town became the “stocking up” station for the settlers leaving for the West. That makes Crabtrees’ general store a thriving business and the church perhaps the last one settlers would see until they helped build one in their new community.
Why do you mention Jesse James in the story?
St. Joseph, Independence, and Kansas City were stomping grounds for the infamous brothers and their gang. In the post-Civil War era, the James brothers were heroes due to their service to the Confederacy. They also give an air of authenticity to the town and the story.
What is the take away message from Gold Earrings?
Since Gold Earrings is a Christian historical fiction, of course, The underlying theme must be how does one live a Christian life in the face of worldly concerns.
The primary theme is not the judge anyone by outward appearance or family background. Other themes include being able to look yourself in the mirror every morning by making things right with people every day; the importance of being a faithful friend; and acting out the servant character of Christ in difficult situations.

Do you have any speaking events lined up? 
I have been a consultant for AP/College Board leading conferences for teachers with Pre-AP (middle school) students on ways to better prepare their students to take AP classes in high school.
I have also been a consultant concerning youth Sunday School for the Southern Baptist Convention, the Tennessee Baptist Convention, the Baptist General Assembly of Virginia, and the Peninsula Baptist Association.
I will be hosting a booksigning in the New Covenant Christian Bookstore in Shelbyville, TN. I will be there on Nov.12 from 1-3.

Find out more about Diane at:
Twitter: @DianeTatum

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Countdown To National Novel Writing Month Has Begun! by Carol Moncado

My turn again! Carol here.

Any one else doing National Novel Writing Month?

November 1 is just around the corner!

November means turkey. Dressing. Christmas Carols playing way before Thanksgiving.

And the mad rush that is National Novel Writing Month.

For the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month is a frenzied writing exercise - an attempt to write a novel in a month. Or at least a good chunk of the first draft.

To win NaNoWriMo, you have to complete 50,000 words in 30 days. That sounds like so much in a month! But it's not. Not really. But it takes some careful planning.

And some willingness to throw that planning to the wind!

So here's five tips for not only surviving but winning at NaNo. And alternatives - in case you're like me and these ain't gonna happen ;).

1. Prepare meals in advance. The first is a Tuesday. The weekend before make up some meals to stick in the freezer and pop in the oven giving you time to write.

Or steal all the candy from your kids' Halloween stash. Between the chocolate and the nugget* filling, surely there's some redeeming value! [*is that spelled right? Ya'll know what I mean - nooooooo-get. Or order Chick-fil-A for everyone. They have good nuggets. Spelled the same, taste much different.]

2. A comprehensive outline, chapter by chapter if you can, and day by day so you know exactly what it is you need to accomplish.

Or just throw caution to the wind and just write! Seat-of-your-Pants!!!! It's fun! It's like taking a road trip where you know you're going from San Diego to Portland, Maine. You know you have to stop in Oklahoma City, Indianapolis and NYC, but beyond that, go wherever the road takes you! Find the real Radiator Springs! See the Arch. Go spelunking! It's up to you! And if you make it to the Arch and hear the Keys calling your name? Well, grab a swim suit from the nearest mall and ditch Portland and enjoy the sunshine! It's amazing what your characters will come up with when you just let them free!

3. Give yourself permission to write poorly. NaNo is all about getting words on the page. Even if it means the only thing greater than the number of "thats" in the manuscript is the number of -ly words! Tell your inner editor to take a vacation and relax.

Or hog-tie your inner editor. It works much better than that nicey-nice stuff.

4. Don't worry! That next sentence will come if you stare at the last one long enough! Writer's block doesn't dare show it's face during NaNo!

Okay - we all know that one's not true! So here's what you do! Grab a copy of Wake Up Your Muse: 1001 Story Prompts for Fiction Writers by Pentalk member Jan Christiansen. The prompts in this book are fantastic! Pick a number between 1 and 1001. If that prompt doesn't work where you're at, pick a different one. Or combine two of them. Is this something of a shameless plug for my 'other mom'? You betcha. Is it also something I fully intend to do? Yes. Jan sent me a copy of it well over a year ago to look over and I can't count the number of times I've used it to break writer's block! So run, don't walk, to your nearest
online retailer and pick up a copy. For examples of the kind of prompts you'll find, see the Wake Up Your Muse website. Here. I'll help!

Barnes and Noble [Now Available - I ordered mine Sunday and got them Wednesday!]
Amazon [Coming soon]

5. Get plugged in with a support group. Telling your family and friends can be a great support, but I understand why not everyone wants to do that. Telling opens you up to potential ridicule, derision and all sorts of other stuff. So this applies even more to those of you who, for whatever reason, don't have the support of those in your real world.

There's so many places you can do this! Here's just a small sampling of the ones I know of:
  • Your local boards on the NaNo site. Or the boards on the NaNo site in general.
  • If you're a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the ACFW Novel Track loop is in 'Editing' mode, but the loop is still active - there will be people there for support.
  • My Book Therapy has a thread with all sorts of good stuff [free membership required].
  • I'm a part of a Christian NaNoWriMo group on Facebook. I'm sure there's many others.
  • The Pentalk groups can be a big support.
  • Use the Twitter hashtags - including #1K1HR to challenge yourself and other Twitterers out there to see if you could write 1000 words in an hour. It's amazing the support you'll get from random people you don't know.
  • Last year, Deeanne Gist had a thread on her Circle of Friends Chat Room [message boards called the Chat Room, free registration required].
There's dozens of other places you can find support. If you have one that you love, link to it in the comments and help us compile a list!

Yeah, there's nothing else to say about this one. It's so true. Support is invaluable in NaNoWriMo, writing or even life in general. It's why Pentalk and so many other wonderful organizations are out there.

Wherever you find it, find support! You won't make it without it [the same is true for most
endeavors, I suppose].

So who else is just insane enough to try. You know you wanna! ;)

Carol Moncado spends her time with her husband and four kids, teaching and writing romantic dramedy in the Ozarks. She is Editor-in-Chief of Pentalk Community Blog, member of ACFW and MozArks ACFW. She will be published in a Christmas anthology (Hidden Brook Press, December 2012). Find her online at, and on Facebook at Carol Moncado Books.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Small Press is a Great Option for New Authors by Tracy Ruckman

Thanks to Tracy for stopping by to tell us about why a smaller press can be a great option for newbies! And I love that Write Integrity Press is WIP - something, as writers, we all have and something we all are - Works In Progress!
A Small Press is a Great Option for New Authors
by Tracy Ruckman

Writers have so many publishing options these days, but it is still difficult to get your foot in the door if you’re new. One option new writers should consider are small, independent publishers.

“The key to breaking into these markets is to follow the guidelines,” says Write Integrity Press publisher Tracy Ruckman. “A proposal that is presented professionally immediately grabs our attention, and we’ll spend more time on it than we would on something thrown together casually or haphazardly.” She advises writers to proofread their proposals, and provide all the information requested by the publisher.

“We just signed a contract with a new author, who originally submitted her story for the Pix-N-Pens line of books (before WIP opened its doors.) Her story did not fit the evangelical requirement, so we sent her a rejection letter. But we were so impressed with the package she sent us originally that months after we opened WIP, we remembered her, and sent an e-mail to see if her book was still available. We’re publishing it in the spring, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s a wonderful story, but if she had not presented herself in the manner she did, we probably would not have remembered her. That first impression does make a difference.”

One of the deciding factors for that particular author was her website. It gave a professional appearance, and although the author is new, she is focused on future success. “That message relayed itself immediately and stuck with us. Her proposal was thorough, and she followed our guidelines to the letter. She presented herself as a professional who cares about her career.”

Write Integrity Press is currently seeking fiction that is “inspiring, entertaining, and wholesome.” Stories do not necessarily have to be Christian, but they do have to be “clean” – no profanity, excessive gore, or gratuitous sex scenes. “We especially love series, so if you have a series idea, pitch it to us.”

WIP publishes all books in print and digital formats, and offers a wide distribution so books are available worldwide.

They accept proposals for several genres. Some of their recent titles include Board to Death (three mystery novellas for adults centered on a theme of board games), Which Witch? (a Christian novel for middle-grade readers), and Life Lessons from Grandparents: A Trip Down Memory Lane (a beautiful anthology of stories about grandparents.)

Upcoming titles include A Familiar Shore by 2010 Genesis finalist Jennifer Fromke, Hands of Death (Book Two in the Dangerous Games Series), a second women’s fiction and a detective novel.

Submission details can be found on their website.

WIP’s sister company is Pix-N-Pens Publishing. PNP is a niche publisher, specializing in books that have a strong evangelical message. Their debut book, an anthology entitled Love Letters from the Heart, will release in February. Other titles are currently under negotiation.

The mission of Pix-N-Pens Publishing is to proclaim publicly the Good News of Jesus Christ. They publish fiction and nonfiction, but every book will have a message that offers readers hope or points them toward a saving knowledge of Jesus. In the fiction line, the salvation message can be subtle or direct, but as with all books, STORY is the key.

Submission details can be found on their website.

Tracy Ruckman was teased all her life for being a bookworm - and her passion for the written word has blossomed into a successful writing and publishing career. She lives in Georgia with her magnificent husband and spoiled dog. In addition to her writing and publishing duties, she attends college full-time, working toward a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies.

Monday, October 17, 2011

K. Dawn Byrd and Mistaken Identity

Thanks to K. Dawn Byrd for stopping in and sharing about her newest release!

India McGuire's peaceful life is shattered when on the night of her engagement to David

Richards, she comes face to face with Chase Porter, a long lost love. India must come to terms with her overpowering feelings for Chase and choose between David, the neighbor who says he loves her, and Chase, the man who broke her heart.

Chase's plans of leaving quietly turn to disaster when he finds that it's impossible to disappear without seeing India one last time. Feelings begin to surface that he believed buried forever and he finds himself fighting to win her back even as David struggles to hold onto her.

India longs to follow her heart, but she's been hurt too deeply. Who will she choose? The neighbor who can provide stability or the man she vowed to love forever who may once again heed to the call of the open road?

1) How did this story come to you?
This story actually started as a post-WWII story about a man who goes away to war and returns many years later to find his ex-girlfriend engaged to someone else. Once I began writing, the WWII era just didn't feel right and the story became a modern day romance.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I had already published several books with Desert Breeze Publishing and when they reopened submissions, I pitched it and they reserved a spot.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.

1) I own two hairless Chinese Crested dogs.
2) I love sour things....pickles, lemons, sour candy.
3) I used to ride a Harley, but gave it up in order to have more time to write. (My husband always wanted to stay out way too long and take the scenic route home. He still has his bike, but I don't miss mine at all.)

4)What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I'm writing the sequel to my first young adult romance, Mistaken Identity, which released in June.

Future releases are:

January 2012- Zoe Mack and the Secret of the Love Letters (the first book in a
college-age mystery series that's heavy on the romance)
April 2012- Shattered Identity (young adult sequel to Mistaken Identity)
June 2012- Zoe Mack and the Case of Fatal Attraction
December 2012- Zoe Mack (Book #3- not yet titled)

5)Parting comments? Thank you for hosting me! For those of you who love
Christian fiction, please check my blog for weekly book giveaways. I interview 3-5
authors a week who give away their books.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?


I'm also on Twitter (kdawnbyrd) and facebook (K Dawn Byrd.) I am the moderator of the Christian Fiction Gathering facebook group (!/

Bio: K. Dawn Byrd writes inspirational romance in many different genres, historical, suspense, and young adult to name a few. When not writing, she enjoys with her husband by a gorgeous lake near her home while they plot the next story to be told.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Writing that Pesky Back Cover Blurb by April Gardner

Thanks to April Gardner for some great advice on writing blurbs! I know I can't be the only one who wants to tear her hair out in frustration over trying to write them!

Writing that Pesky Back Cover Blurb

Blurb -noun 1. a brief advertisement or announcement, especially a laudatory one

Raise your hand if you read the back cover of a book before heading to the checkout. I see all those hands!

As readers, we know how critical those few paragraphs can be in helping us choose a book, so as writers, we tremble at the thought of creating them.

We know our characters inside and out. The plot and every twist along its path are engraved in our minds. We could quote our novel’s Theme in our sleep, and if asked, we would gladly spout the hero’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict every morning before coffee. Then, why, on why, do we struggle so to write a three paragraph summary? COTT Marketing Manager, Jennifer Slattery finds it’s easier “to write the entire novel than those golden words.” Hear, hear!

Authors struggle because we’re too close to our stories. We lose sight of those key elements that must be conveyed to our readers. Some publishing houses write the blurbs for their authors. There are benefits to that (like sparing the author a major migraine!). Reflections writer Ben Erlichman states, “It’s better for a writer to write his/her own blurb because it’s the author who knows the story through and through.” He wouldn’t trust anyone else to write his. Nor would I.

Hence, the dilemma and the frustration. We’re too close, yet we’re the best qualified.

I asked Reflections in Hindsight Senior Editor Lisa Lickel if she has any tips on writing blurbs. “I cut down the synopsis, cut it down some more, and then tweak out the big dilemma from each side of the story.”

Author Elaine Cooper takes it a step further. “I like to keep the BCB short, sweet, and to the point. Less than 200 words preferably,” she says. “Have you ever watched a potential buyer at a book store glancing at the back covers? I did once during a book signing. So interesting to see how quickly the buyer would go through the blurbs to make a decision. We have to attract the interest of the customer pretty quickly to get their attention and (hopefully) buy our book!”

Whether they know it or not, readers are constantly on the search for “different.” If we don’t give them that in our back cover summaries, they’ll move on without a qualm.

Author Eileen Rife, agrees with Elaine. “I like to keep my cover copy to a short paragraph or two.” She also shares how she works up those all important paragraphs. “I decide on back cover copy in much the same way as I brainstorm a story idea. With pen in hand, I jot notes in my journal.” The following are the key elements she focuses on:

  • Setting of story
  • Main characters (protagonist/antagonist)
  • Central conflict that illustrates the theme
  • Question that begs to be answered and moves the story along to the finish line

Write ‘em down, folks! Those are handy points to remember.

What about you? Do you have a method you follow when creating a back cover copy? If so, please share!

April W Gardner is the author of the historical romance series, the Creek Country Saga, as well as the children’s adventure series, theChannel Islands Resistance. She writes a regular column for the joint blog, Reflections in Hindsight, and is the founder and senior editor of the website,Clash of the Titles.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Almost Paradise by Laurie Hanan

Book Looks
by Carol McClain

Mail carrier Louise came to Oahu to start over. In thecomfortable life she has built for herself, there are no surprises. She likesit that way. One day, while delivering the mail, Louise notices somethingwrong. One of her elderly customers, Mrs. Santos, is missing. Mrs. Santos livesalone and has no close family or friends. Even after Louise alerts the police,she can’t stop worrying.
Has Mrs. Santos fallen? Is she suffering from amnesia? Was she assaulted whilewalking to the store? Louise can’t sit back and wait for the police to do theirjob. She sets out to find Mrs. Santos, and a bizarre series of events begins tounfold. Louise’s peaceful existence and anonymity are shattered, and she isforced to draw on strengths she didn’t know she had, to stay one step ahead ofdisaster.

Laurie grew up in the picturesque islands of the SouthPacific. Her father pioneered air travel to many of the tiny islands, andLaurie often accompanied him on his flights.
After high school, she movedSeattle to study photography and dance. While there, she discovered an interestin Jewish Studies, Hebrew, and Middle Eastern dance. She went to Israel topursue these subjects, earning her keep by working in the cotton fields of the Jezreel Valley.
On a secondtrip to Israel, she met the love of her life. They eloped and were married inCyprus. Laurie and her husband spent time exploring the Far East, beforesettling in Hawaii.
Laurie had a career with the Postal Service, and raisedthree children. For eighteen years she taught Middle Eastern dance and led aperforming dance troupe. When she isn’t writing her Louise Golden mysteryseries, she works to promote animal rights and rescue, and practices yoga,meditation, and qi gong. Laurie currently lives on Oahu with her husband andtwo youngest children.

I had a chance to cyber-chat with Laurie--

Laurie, you’ve leadquite an exotic life. What was life like in the cotton fields of JezreelValley? We headed for the fields at 4 AM, before the sun rose. By noon it wastoo hot to work. My hands developed calluses like leather. My only payment wasa hard bed in a dormitory and all the food I could eat. Hebrew classes withabout thirty other foreign students went through the afternoon. There was noentertainment, no television. Good nights were spent sitting around bonfires,playing guitars, and singing under the starlight. Bad ones were spentunderground in spider-infested bomb shelters. Relationships ran deep. It mostvivid and most disturbing time of my life.

How didyou meet your husband and where was he from?
My husband is fromIsrael. I went back to Israel for a visit, seven years after my Jezreel Valleydays. We met in one of those eyes-across-a-crowded-dance-floor moments.

On which South Pacific Islands did you grow up? And whydid you choose to settle in Hawaii?
I lived in Hawaii, onOahu, until I was eleven. At that time we moved to the Mariana Islands. Ourhome base was Guam, and that’s where I went to school. But my father’s job tookus all over the South Pacific, and even to Asia. No matter where I went in theworld, Hawaii was the only place that felt like home. After my first child wasborn in Los Angeles, I returned to Hawaii. I wanted my children to know thisplace like I do, and to consider it home.

What is itthat drew you to animal rights?
Growing up, my home wasfilled with pets. We had the normal types—dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guineapigs, mice, fish—as well as some more exotic species—fruit bats, coconut crabs,and a shrew. I’ve always loved animals. Observing and interaction with them, Iknow they experience joy, pain, and fear, the same as we do. We are fine witheating and torturing them, simply because they can’t tell they suffer. If theycould speak, would we still eat them? Someone needs to speak for the voiceless.

Anythingelse you’d like to add?
My life has been prettyordinary since 1988. I settled down with my husband and started my career withthe postal service. We already had one child, and two more ensued. Liferevolved around work and raising kids. Now I’m retired, with a fifteen-year-oldand a ten-year-old still at home. I’m where I want to be, doing what I want todo, which is writing novels. The furthest I want to get from home is theswimming pool down the road, where I lead water aerobics three mornings a week.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hello, Hollywood by Janice Thompson

Carol here! Please welcome Janice Thompson to Pentalk! Be sure to check out my reviews of the two books currently released in her Backstage Pass series!

How much of your screenwriting experience did you draw from to create the character of Athena?

Whether I’m writing a screenplay, a stage play or a novel, the process is much the same. I always see the story in my head, much like a movie! It’s great fun to translate what I see to the page. What bliss! I should add that my time in L.A. (writing the movie Liar’s Moon) was such a blast! That experience played heavily into my decision to write the “Backstage Pass” series.

You actually lived in L.A. and worked in the movie business for a while. Can you tell us about your time there?

If I close my eyes, I can flash back to a kinder, gentler era. No, not the fifties. Not even the sixties. My "kinder/gentler" era took place in the late 70s, when my father decided to move our family from the Houston area to Los Angeles.

Yep, it's true. I lived in L.A. when I was eighteen. Why? Because my father had illusions of grandeur. Like gazillions who had walked the road before (and after) him, he wanted to get in the movie business. Unlike most, my father actually had connections - writers, directors and so forth. He was also filled with ideas. So, off we went, traveling from Houston to L.A.

I still remember the home we rented--a two-story, five-bedroom house in Bel-Air West (directly off of Mulholland) with a fabulous pool and hot tub in the back yard. The area behind our home was a canyon (one that actually caught on fire)!

While writing "Liar's Moon" (the movie that would go on to be filmed starring Matt Dillon and Cindy Fisher), I worked at Tele-Credit (a check verification company on Avenue of the Stars in L.A.). I also (of course!) spent time at Malibu Beach. (What eighteen-year-old wouldn't?) My favorite thing to do, however, was to drive through Hollywood Hills. Oh, how I loved looking at those houses!

Jump ahead from 1977 to 2010:

I came up with the idea to write Hello Hollywood (book two in the Backstage Pass series). The goal? To relive my time in Los Angeles and to pay tribute to my dad.

I’ve noticed that most of your books have a comedic flair. Why do you write comedy?

From the time I was a little girl, I was the happy-go-lucky sort. Giggly. Goofy. My mom always called me a ham because of my overly-dramatic style. Not that I minded. Oh no. Drama was my thing. And performing comedy on the stage was the thing that made me happiest. Then I grew up. . .and life happened. Unfortunately, some of the events of my grown-up life weren’t funny. In fact, they were pretty tragic. Still, through my faith and my innate desire to keep on keepin’ on, I managed to keep my smile intact much of the time.

When I began to think about writing books for a living about fourteen years ago, I decided to take the humorous approach because I believe that “laughter doeth good, like a medicine.” In many ways it’s just he “ointment” we need to get through a rough time. Not only do these humorous stories transport readers, they lift my spirits, as well. And frankly, I’ve needed my spirits lifted. The next time you pick up a book that I've written, I hope you see my sense of humor shining through. I've particularly enjoyed adding humorous elements to my first person stories

There’s a scene in which Athena pokes fun, tongue-in-cheek, at the general perception of the Romance genre; how does Hello, Hollywood! fit into that genre?

Hello Hollywood is definitely a romance, but fits more into the romantic comedy genre than the general romance category. Most general romances are written in third-person (he said/she said). Hello Hollywood is more like the chick-lit novels of the past—written in first person and seen only through the eyes of the heroine. This provides further insight into your earlier question about why so little attention is paid to Athena’s physical attributes. Because this story is only from her POV (point of view) the “eye of the camera” (as it were) focuses only on what she sees/hears/feels, etc.

How can readers learn more about you and your books?

Carol again: Be sure to check out Janice's blog for more details - like the original cover and how the dog joined the cast - and the fun story behind the doggy model!


Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson affords an inside look at TV land, drawing on her experiences as a screenwriter. She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series and lives in Texas.