New Release Alert: Mercy

Lindsay Marie Miller releases her tenth novel today! Down below, you’ll find everything you need to know about her latest title.

Those who would like to learn more about Lindsay should click here; you’ll be taken to a video interview that I conducted with her a while back. 🙂

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Title: Mercy
Author: Lindsay Marie Miller
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Release Date: January 31, 2017
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SYNOPSIS

Nineteen-year-old Anna James is an Ex-President’s daughter with a bounty on her head. A sudden thirst for teenage rebellion lands her in a crowded night club, where she locks eyes with a beautiful stranger across the room.

Ten years her senior, elusive and brooding Julian rescues Anna and then whisks her away to an undisclosed location in the wilderness. But Julian is like a force of nature—cold as ice one minute, warm and tender the next. Frightened and distressed, Anna is reluctant to trust her hero.

Especially when she discovers that Julian is the man hired to kill her.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author-photoLINDSAY MARIE MILLER graduated from Florida State University Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. An incurable romantic at heart, she enjoys writing about strong heroines and the honorable gentlemen who claim their hearts. The author resides in her hometown of Tallahassee, FL, where she is currently working on her next novel.


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Author Interview: Charles Freedom Long

  • 262541072015 INDIEFAB BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD FINALIST
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A boy genius is taken from his family and trained for a suicide mission on the moon. But he falls in love with just the wrong person. This powerful and gripping novel explores questions of redemption, truth, love, and life beyond death. Richly detailed, imaginative and evocative, Dancing with the Dead blends science and spiritual fiction. Filled with vivid and convincingly drawn characters, this gripping tale is at once a poignant human/alien love story and a foray into the realms beyond.

Want to learn more about Dancing With The Dead? Stick around. Its author, Charles Freedom Long, is with us!

chas-tino-2-winter-20101. When did you start writing?
Neither of my parents finished grammar school. They strongly encouraged me to become educated. I began reading at the age of three. That led naturally to writing. By the time I was in fourth grade, a perceptive New York City Public Librarian who saw me attempting to take out books from the “adult” section, made me sit down and read a chapter in a book I wanted to borrow, asked me a number of questions about it, took my “childrens” card, and issued me an “adult” library card. I was off and running.

I began writing poetry in grammar school. By the time I entered college, I had notebooks filled with poems. I majored in literature and minored in far eastern studies. I took every literature class I could and became enamored of modern English literature, especially E. E. Cummings, Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Merton, and the novelists William Faulkner, D.H. Lawrence, Evelyn Waugh, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell. I read and wrote, constantly, sometimes to the detriment of my other studies. I managed to see two poems published.

Life intervened. I made a living as a technical editor on the Apollo Project. Then, as a research assistant at NYU Medical Center’s Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, writing reports and grant proposals for studies into the design and implementation of tools and workplaces for the handicapped.

Life took me back to school, into graduate school, in organizational psychology, training in Gestalt therapy, and into a series of cross-country, cross-border, overseas, and third world expatriate work and living adventures that taught me how differently other people live life and view the world. How much what we assume is reality, and “the way things are,” is very different from what others assume. I’ve lived and worked in Canada, England, West Africa, four states and two regions in the U.S.

After all this travelling and living in foreign cultures, particularly the third world, I find science fiction is a natural place for me to write, since its boundaries of imagination are limitless. A recurrent theme in my writing is “It ain’t necessarily so.” I write to challenge readers’ fixed ideas in a way that will make them consider other possibilities.

2. Does your story have a moral?
Dancing With The Dead, which I published in the fall of 2015, is about the dance one joins with the spirits of the living and the dead while alive (that is, with a body) and dead (gone beyond the physical body). Dancing With The Dead has won three awards, and has been favorably compared to the work of Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, and C.J. Cherryh.

It’s a tale of a brilliant astrophysicist, whose entire life has been about becoming a “martyr for truth.” Fahd al-Sharfa is on a suicide mission to destroy two space stations and a thriving city on Luna. Until he falls in love with Doctor Quenby, a cat-like, bipedal alien coworker from a planetary race of pacifists. He begins to question his beliefs. The presence of the dead, beside and among the living cultures, both human and alien, respected for their insight and consulted at personal and political levels compounds the situation, as the dead on both the side of law enforcement and the terrorists struggle for victory, and Fahd’s quest for ultimate truth takes him beyond the veil called death.

After years of seeing the dead portrayed in countless fatuous ways, I decided it was time for someone to show another side of the story. That is, life continues beyond the change we call death, the personality survives passing beyond the earthly life and moves on into other dimensions. And truly civilized cultures integrate the dead into the society. I talk with deceased people all the time. So, with the help of some friends on both sides of the veil called death, I write science/speculative fiction, fiction to be sure, but with a spiritualist point of view. It will challenge your perception of death, life after death and the quest for truth that continues after the change called death.

3. Any project in the works?
I am currently finishing Alvar’s Spear, the sequel to Dancing With The Dead, and expect to have it in publication shortly. Alvar’s Spear takes on the theme of sentience, in addition to the theme of destiny versus free will that ran through Dancing With The Dead.

Thirty years after dancing with the dead, half-Terran, half-Antal, Gar has just one desperate last chance to save the Antal hive from immolation at the hands of its own mother, the sentient moon-world, Alvar. He must do this before a mutant conspiracy turns Alvar into a fetid swamp, controls the Galactic Bank, and enslaves the Antal.  Alvar has sworn to hurl herself into the gas giant she orbits before she allows that to happen. To become Alvar’s Spear, the planetary savior, Gar will confront enemies, assassins, a traitor, and a beautiful, brilliant, Terran geneticist. He will travel into the mysterious forbidden mountains of the vild, from which no one has returned. If successful, he will save Alvar. But the danger of creating a savior is that he will be his own person. He will do what he will, and whether his acts are judged good or bad will only be known in the unrolling of time. Time is not on Gar’s side.  But time does unroll. What it reveals may not be to everyone’s liking.

4. What is currently on your to-be-read shelf?
My to-be-read shelf has well over two hundred books. A good friend of mine once made the argument that a good case could be made for the existence of eternity simply on the basis that it is the only way you could ever read all those books you said you would.

Currently, I’m reading: John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, James Galbraith’s The End of Normal, Jessamyn Ward’s The Fire This Time, Esther De Waal’s The Way of Simplicity: The Cistercian Tradition, and Real LaPlaine’s Earth Escape. I usually have a few books going simultaneously, and depending on my mood, immerse myself in one or the other.

5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read, read, read. Read in the genre you write in. Read in other genres. Read the best writing you can find, because your own writing will rise or fall to the level of what you are reading.

And—write. Find a writer’s group to work with. Force yourself to suffer the slings and arrows of active criticism from people who have the same illness –the insatiable obsession to write—as you. If you write for any reason other than you cannot imagine not writing, stop. Do something else until you are overwhelmed by the incurable desire.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books.

2. Dogs or cats?
Dogs. I have three Maltese.

3. Summer or winter?
Summer. But not as a steady diet. That may explain to some degree why I live in snowy Western New York and not Florida.

4. Ebook or physical book?
Physical books. I know, I know. I’m a retrogrouch who writes science fiction—go figure.

5. Living in the city or living in the country?
The country, hands down. I live in a little village in the boonies where there are more cows than people.

6. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
I have both. But telepathy is more user friendly for me. My telekinesis kicks in sometimes when I’m in a dice rolling game, (never for money—I do not gamble, ever), but it kicks in more often when I’m p’o’d at my computer and then bad things happen to it. (Not fun).

7. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Car, hands down. I spent way too much time on airplanes in the past. And now, puhleeze, no liquids? No metal objects? Squeezed in like sardines? strip searches?

8. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Another no-brainer for me. Love is all there is.

9. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
I spent a few years without a television at all. There was no television where we lived in very rural West Africa for two years. But, especially in a rural area, the internet is my link to the rest of the world.

10. Finding yourself caught in the middle of a hurricane or finding yourself caught in the middle of a snowstorm? (Note: in both scenarios, you’d be outdoors and have no access to shelter.)
Hurricanes terrify me. And snowstorms? Well, we get our share here in the snow belt, and I have been outdoors in the woods when a storm has suddenly come up, so I know what it’s like: scary.

11. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Aaargh! I love chocolate! I put chocolate in my coffee. (The South and Middle Americans do this). And then I write. I have to say neither of the above! Only a sadist would come up with this kind of choice.

Thank you for joining us, Charles!
Readers: want to connect with Charles? You can find him on Goodreads and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out his author website and blog. Interested in obtaining a copy of Dancing With The Dead? Click here.

Author Interview: J.L. Frederick

33641353A year after divorcing her husband, Elowen is quite content with her life, besides the tension between her and her son. Or so she thought. When a man by the name of Nyle moves into town, he and Elowen share an instant and startling connection. They soon progress into the most fulfilling relationship either of them has ever been in, despite some obstacles thrown their way. But love is never truly easy…

Twin Flames: The Divine Union hit virtual shelves less than a month ago. Its author, J.L. Frederick, joins us to discuss her debut novel and to share its trailer with us all. How exciting!

DISCLAIMER: I — Jessica — did NOT design the book trailer contained in this post. Since I’ve previously shared book trailers of my creation on Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar, I felt it necessary to include the preceding statement, and thus, minimize the likelihood of misattribution.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s watch the trailer for Twin Flames: The Divine Union and sit down with J.L.!

1. Tell us a little bit about your hobbies.
My hobby is reading–the only one I’ve ever really stuck besides watching movies and television shows.

2. When did you start writing?
I can’t pinpoint the exact year I started writing. I started off by writing fanfiction on Wattpad.com about about…six, seven years ago? From there, my writing greatly improved. When a teacher from my high school read some of my short stories, she started to encourage me to “Write more!” In fact, she’s the reason I actually buckled down and started to actually write Twin Flames in the first place.

3. Why did you start writing?
Quite frankly, I have more story Ideas floating around in my head that, by the time I actually get them all down, it will probably be ten years in the future. If I don’t write, all these ideas will either stay stuck in my head forever, or will be completely forgotten. I also want to use my books to hopefully help advocate equality a bit.

4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
The idea came to me about a year and a half to two years ago. The product varied a bit from what I had originally planned, I think. As I wrote it, more ideas or what I wanted to happen would come to me, altering it slightly. The general idea, however, remained the same.

5. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
That’s a bit of a tough one, to be honest. My main character, Elowen, would definitely be one of them. She’s relatable, I think–a woman trying to be the mother her children need after she and her husband divorced. But at the same time, she also wants to do what makes her happy–dating a man she feels a connection with.

6. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Twin Flames: The Divine Union.
Loving, responsible, baker, mother.

7. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I can’t say I really use them myself. Of course, I’ll have general outline in my head of how I want my story to go, but if I want to change something later on, I do. If I don’t have this ability, I feel trapped.

8. Any projects in the works?
Yes. I am currently a novel that is meant to the first in a four-book series. It is girl/girl romance and mystery.

9. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just write. There’s no secret to writing a book, you just have to write. Try to do a little bit most days, but don’t be afraid to take breaks. I do. If there are days when you literally have no desire to write, take a break and come back later. But don’t do this too often, otherwise your project might not get done. There’s been days when I have felt like writing, but do it anyway. However, there’s also been times when I’ve allowed myself to take breaks on those days.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Depends. In most cases, the book is better than the movie. But even still, I do enjoy watching movies and television shows.

2. Dogs or cats?
Dogs.

3. Summer or winter?
Summer.

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Hmm, this is a hard one. Cake, I guess.

5. Car or motorcycle?
Car

6. Ebook or physical book?
I don’t think I really have a preference. I read mostly physical because they’re available to me at the library, and I don’t have to go broke to read them. But I also read a lot of fanfiction, which, of course, generally don’t have physical versions. I’ve also read some comics online as well. I plan to buy some ebooks hopefully in near future.

7. Nights our or nights in?
A bit of both. Although most of my nights are spent in.

8. To travel to the past or to travel to the future?
Hmm, another hard question. The future, I suppose. Although I’d much rather just travel in the TARDIS.

9. Reading or writing?
Reading.

10. Going bungee jumping or going on the slingshot ride?
Bungee jumping.

11. Being able to speak and understand all human languages or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Another tough one. Human languages, I think. I’d be able to translate my books into other languages and get more exposure. I’d also be able to make more friends. The animal languages is pretty tempting, though…

12. Misunderstanding everything that is told to you or being misunderstood every time that you speak?
I’m actually hard of hearing, meaning I’ve experienced quite a bit of both. But if I have to choose… being misunderstood, I guess.

13. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
Television. I can’t survive without being able to read.

14. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Well, I don’t drink coffee as it is…

Thank you for joining us, J.L.!
Readers: want to connect with J.L.? You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads. Interested in obtaining a copy of Twin Flames: The Divine Union? Click here.

Author Interview: Michael Tappenden

final-revised_front_cover_original_rev1Based on a true story. Ted and Florrie were childhood sweethearts who in 1936, married at the church on top of the Hill where they both lived, unaware of the dark rumblings from Europe, which in a few short years were to change their lives forever. Ted is called up in 1940 and joins an elite Airborne glider force tasked with attacking, capturing and holding bridges in enemy-held Normandy vital to the success of the D-Day invasion. His war continues, across the bloody Rhine Crossing, across Germany until finally meeting the Russian Army on the Baltic. Casualties are terrible. Ted is demobbed and returns to Florrie and his young family unscathed or apparently so, for Florrie doesn’t know the man who returns. Soon the constant horror of death and battle takes its toll on him and both have to struggle to understand and come to terms with a problem that could destroy them both in the buttoned-up society of the 1940s and 50s. Pegasus to Paradise is an ode to both the extraordinary efforts of ordinary men and women during WW2 and a social commentary of the lives of real people from the grey fifties with the horse-drawn baker’s van and black footprints of the coalman to a society recovering from the devastation of war. A moving portrait of trauma, survival, humour and the power of love in post-war Britain.

In the virtual studio is the author of Pegasus to Paradise, Michael Tappenden!

img_00071. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in the middle of an air-raid with my first yells competing with the sound of air-raid sirens and anti-aircraft fire. The fact that this occurred in Kent, the Garden of England, whose very name implies bucolic gentleness and little strategic importance, seemed lost on the Luftwaffe, who regularly deposited bombs, doodlebugs and burning aircraft onto it, when they were not enjoying themselves, machinegunning cows, sheep, fields and the odd hop-picker. In addition, the war in April 1942 was not going well, particularly in the Pacific for which I somehow felt personally responsible, rather like a bad luck charm arriving and now apologise profusely to the Forces of the United States.

Somehow my father survived the war, despite both Allies and Axis laying considerable odds against that happening and so I had the good fortune of having been brought up by both of my parents (that’s one of each gender in those less enlightened days) but also a brother, which of course, unfortunately, meant sharing.

I spent a great deal of my childhood reading, which of course made Christmas and birthdays easy for my family. They simply had to get together and remember which book they hadn’t already bought me. I also spent my time listening to a radio (there was no television to begin with until Mrs A just up the road got one on Hire Purchase and the entire street queued patiently to have a look). The advantage of radio was that it both stimulated the imagination and allowed you to tune into a whole host of exotic places around the world, so developing a sense of adventure and curiosity (and geography).

At a tender age, I passed what turned out to be a life changing exam and found myself complete with school cap, uniform, hymn book and a shiny new satchel in a 1950s grammar school where I was assaulted daily with lashings of schoolwork, discipline and rugger. The teachers wore gowns, carried canes (which they used whenever the mood took them) and the boys doffed their caps in the presence of their elders and betters. It was stultifyingly narrow, socially exclusive, but gave the few boys lucky enough to be there, an entrée into the academic world of the university and the professions. So, accordingly, I left, academically successful, and began work with a gang of Irish labourers on a building site… and so my education really began. I had decided to join the real world (as the blisters on my hands soon indicated) and rapidly discovered that my ability to decline Latin verbs was of little value. I had however discovered English Literature and the beauty of the English language. So, thank you for that school.

It may have been that radio and all those exotic place names or the fact that my father had been something of a hero (amongst heroes) in WW2 (he had been one of the first Allied soldiers to crash-land behind enemy lines in a flimsy glider on the eve of D-Day, 1944) that convinced me to make my next move. By now, I had promoted myself from labourer to the role of gardener and junior grave-digger (as well as seasonal fruit and hop picker) and one lunchtime, found myself volunteering to join the Parachute Regiment of the British Army. I won’t bore you with the selection process, except to say that of my intake, sixty per cent failed to make it. So, I became a fully-fledged paratrooper, serving my country for a year in the mystical deserts of the Middle East and later in a rather bloody civil war in Cyprus. And, not only did I keep a diary, but I began to write. Write home… about a strange, mysterious and at times potentially life threatening world, whether from thirst or bullets. About the spiritual beauty and isolation of the desert and mountains, of the people and later of abject fear and hatred and terror. And my mother kept all my letters. Of course she did.

Three years later, I found myself in England again, a civilian, with the strange urge to settle down. I applied to a college, became an art student and then a graphic designer based in London. (Very exciting in the 1970s).  Later, I took those skills and became a Course Leader and Principal Lecturer at the University for the Creative Arts, giving me the opportunity to pass on my knowledge and experiences to young people. (Also, more travelling, this time to exhort the advantages of the English University system in Europe, Africa, Far East). It was now, that I also first became involved in the professional process of writing by having research papers published. A very specialist form of writing but I can still remember the thrill.

Then, I left. (Teaching is so important but can also be highly stressful. Big cheer for all those teachers out there). So, I left, retrieved the bucket list I had made out when I was eighteen, ticked them off – OK I wasn’t going to play for England now – and became a writer.

2. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
Initially I attended evening writing classes, which I found hugely useful. It’s one thing writing home to your Mum, another entering the world of the professional writer and it was there that I settled on the theme of my first novel (or at least I thought that I had). I decided to write about my family, in particular my mother, Florrie, a very feisty, eccentric, rather bonkers woman and my father, Ted, the D-Day hero. Theirs was, I knew, a fascinating life, within which, war had a terrible impact. And that’s where the problems started.

I set up a writers group with two writers I met at the class. This turned out to be invaluable. We were all at the same stage in our writing careers and capable of giving each other honest appraisals. We also acted as a common catalyst (useful when the will to write lags a bit). We also became friends.

3. How different is the final product (the book) from your original vision? That is, did the structure and content of the novel change with the passage of time?
There were so many issues and problems:

  1. What was the truth? Not only the factual details but the truth that happens between people, in their private lives, often hidden or deflected or minimised or even exaggerated.
  2. The enormous amount of research needed.
  3. The temptation to include all that juicy research.
  4. The skill in including factual details seamlessly and not obviously.
  5. How honest could I be? These were my parents after all. Could I tell this warts and all? Would that be a betrayal?
  6. If this is based on a true story, how much can I add/fabricate? What rules did I need to determine beforehand?
  7. Mother and father yes, but what about the kids in the family? Hang on, that includes me. How do I write about me? (That was so difficult. Not so much from a factual point of view but I found myself jumping from the first to third person and back again. Am I writing about me – the writer – or me the character as well as being the narrator? In the end, I had to change my name to make it work).
  8. What would the structure be? I had no idea and eventually I had to read other books on a similar theme to understand how to structure it. It didn’t help that because of the subject matter this also had a chronological content that had to be considered. At one point, I wrote a cv of each character including their dates of birth and death, and made sure that their age was relevant to key points in the story. They really couldn’t retire aged six.
  9. What about the language. This story covered most of the twentieth century. Things change let alone the wallpaper.
  10. What genre would this be? Would it fit neatly into some marketing concept? And who was the book aimed at? I really had no idea (even when it was finished). I just knew that the classics I had read were just brilliant stories and that had always been enough for me.
  11. How long should it be? I discovered that nowadays, some peoples’ attention span is rather gnat-like. Will they be bothered to read the extra thirty thousand words above the average length recommended?
  12. How well written should it be? I grew up on the literary giants. Should I aim for the Booker prize or just dumb it down? I was amazed at how some people found it too difficult to understand. What?
  13. Was I aware of the emotional trauma that I the writer, was going to put myself through?

I realised quite quickly that my thoughts and opinions which I thought were well determined, were actually like shoals of little fish, one moment bright and silver and the next darting for the deep shadows. My pen on the paper however left physical marks (yes, pen on paper back then) which I was forced to confront – they were staring me in the face – and often took me to places that were dark and difficult. My father had been a war hero – no doubt about that – I had read the official accounts many times, seen the film, even visited the ‘set.’ He fitted the black and white war films of my childhood perfectly. Handsome, square-jawed, resolute, prepared for sacrifice, defeating the nation’s enemies, steeped in glory. I even knew about the concept of ‘horrors of war’ – that was part of the package – although never expressed. But how had he really felt, this strong man, my father? Was the outer calm really a protective barrier? Had he felt fear? Yes of course. But had he trembled with terror, wanting to run and hide away? Had he felt satisfaction at killing the enemy? These were powerful emotions for me to deal with.

My mother, overwhelmed with joy on his return, quickly realised that she no longer knew the person who now inhabited his body and certainly didn’t understand for nothing was spoken about. Why did he (and countless others) refuse to say a word? But she coped, stood by him, even though she was saddened and dismayed by her exclusion. So, was she the strong one after all?

I shouted angrily at them. Laughed aloud at them. Was astonished by them. Admired them and wept openly for them.

The discipline of writing was not a problem (I knew all about discipline) and having started very late in life; the clock was ticking. And so, I gradually worked out what was best for me. I think that somewhere in my past there might have been a druid ancestor or maybe an Aztec priest. Why else did I relish the wonder of dawn and feel concerned when night arrived. Not frightened of the dark, but uneasy. So, I started early. Sometimes as early as five thirty am. I had no deadline other than the one I determined but decided that a thousand words a day was a good goal. (I think I read that somewhere – probably Stephen King’s excellent book on how to write) and it was a good goal to aim for. You certainly feel as if you have done a day’s work when you achieve it and at times you need all the morale boosting you can get. Especially when you are on your own – exactly why am I spending a year of my life, writing something that nobody may read? But you decide. What suits you. I am still very thoughtful about what I write, which slows down the process. Sometimes I will stop, take a large sheet of paper, a pen and work the next problem out. Lots of scribbles, arrows and re-workings. Old habits die hard.

I soon discovered that rather like my days as an art student, initially covering the canvas was important. Painting the detail could come later. My thousand words covered the canvas. To begin with, it was unlikely that any of them would see the final draft. They would be deleted, re-written. So important to be honest and ruthless (hence the writing group) and to be prepared to spend hours working and then to be able to ‘kill your darlings.’  I also had to be alone. No distractions. And no music.

Now I love music. In fact, I have just exchanged one of my children for a 1950 Buescher tenor sax, complete with original case from which, on opening, drifts the smell of the last sixty six years. Hand made in New York it makes a sound which curls ones toes. But not when I’m writing. Maybe it’s a generational thing. Access to music was not that easy in my early teens. You needed money. Now it pours into young (and not so young) ears all day long. Maybe it’s that. Maybe the truth is that now, I can only do one thing at a time. (The bit about exchanging my child was not true. Just seeing if you’re still awake).

So, one hundred and twenty thousand words later (and with sore finger tips from two finger typing) I felt at last I had begun for the first time in my life to know my parents and myself. Where I had come from, who I was, and how I had been affected by a World War that I could barely remember. And I had a book. All I needed now was a professional editor.

4. How do you feel about self-editing?
I know that increasingly you can publish your book entirely on your own. I know that employing an editor costs money. I also know of the frustration from readers faced with books that are not only structured poorly but are full of typos, poor grammar, poor design and  with appalling typography and layout. The choice is yours.

5. Tell us a bit about your book’s title.
Always tricky and very important. If you are a famous author (or artist or musician) then you could probably call it anything you like. Have a look at just about anything by Frank Zappa. For example, Weasels ripped my flesh. Or T Rex – Prophets, seers and sages, the angels of the ages. Or, Captain Beefheart – Lick my decals off, baby. Or closer to home, how about Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami.  If you’re not famous, then far more difficult. If you want more, then have a look at Goodread’s list of popular book titles.

The word ‘Pegasus’ refers to the symbol of the Airborne Forces of the British Army in WW2 (it has just been reinstated for today’s Forces) i.e. the flying horse ridden by Bellerophon with his lance, going by air into battle. The original cover included that symbol as an image. This obviously covers the military content of the book.

Paradise? Refers to the ending of the book (which the reader won’t know) but hopefully is intriguing and trips of the tongue as a nice piece of alliteration. The book is often called P to P.

6. Does your book have a moral?
What is fascinating is how different readers found so many different moralities and conclusions and aspects, including those that hadn’t really occurred to me and how it touched the hearts of women in particular. It was as if I, the author, had not really been that involved in the process but simply offered one hundred and twenty thousand words for others to disseminate and for me to discover.

Taken from reviews on Goodreads and amazon. Read on…

Crippling family saga of misunderstanding and missed opportunities/ deeply moving/ I enjoyed the humour and pathos/most riveting and well-crafted book I’ve read in a long time/unique and powerful word choice/attention to historical detail/gorgeous prose and vivid descriptions/like a close friend was telling me this awesome story that I didn’t want to stop listening to/some surprising twists – some shocking, some sad/action, romance, drama, politics, struggles, war, humour and sadness/ seamless narrative transitions/ riveting, emotionally endearing/ stays with you a long time after you are done.

For me, it was the absolute tragedy of war. The need for men and women not only to sacrifice their lives but also their emotional core. For them to be haunted by what they had witnessed and done. For their loved ones to be damaged by their damage. When Ted arrives home to his family, Florrie is overwhelmed by joy but soon realises that she doesn’t know who he is anymore.

For me, it was that the absolute sense of duty and resolve that had won the war, that now turned against them in the stiff upper lipped, buttoned up society of the 1940s and 50s and beyond, that almost destroyed them and lost them the peace.

For me, it was their unconditional love that saw them through and kept them together.

7. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Pegasus to Paradise.
War, war, war, war, war and war (sorry that’s six)

8. Could you talk to us about the process of creating your book’s cover?
As a graphic designer, the imagery is so important to me and that includes the typography – what you have never thought about the typography as imagery? Oh dear. Have you never picked up a book, opened it, looked at the dense, tiny, grey, difficult shaped words and said… don’t think I can be bothered? See what I mean. Believe me, the typographer’s art is complex, skilful and largely unsung. Let’s have a cheer for all good typographers.

I have two covers for P to P. The first a collaborative effort with the publisher and the second, a creative collaboration between me, the writer and a highly talented illustrator (Neil Breeden, former Head of Illustration at the University for the Creative Arts). Yes, I know. I am very lucky to have such a mate.

I suppose in the excitement of my debut publication, I lost sight of its credibility. Strange when you consider the professionalism and attention to detail of the editing and proofreading process and the considered approach of the publisher to design, layout and typography, that the front cover should largely be an off the shelf image. Worse still, when you consider that the author practised as a graphic designer and worse still as a design lecturer. Shame on me. OK, my sales director (if I had one) would point out the need for a cover that attracted readers and sold books and my marketing director (if I had one) would point out the need to direct the cover at a specific audience and all that’s true but for me it’s more than that.

There is a potent history of book cover design. Look at Alvin Lustig in the 1940s, Ben Jones’ design for Orwell’s 1984, the iconic Female Eunuch by John Holmes in 1970, the quality of Picador covers (see American Psycho, 1991) and the history of Penguin under the leadership of designers such as Germano Facetti and Jim Stoddart – he of the Clockwork Orange cover – and the fearlessness of the Fear of Flying (yes, the one with the zip) and much more. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

The current aesthetic for royalty free, off the shelf, ‘that’ll do’ images with over loud type shouting at you is not pretty; it’s not even very thoughtful (and a bit of an insult to the reader as part of the instant, sensationalised, in yer face culture we often have to tolerate today). Not all of it of course. Look hard. It’s still out there.

My new book cover now tells a story. Ask questions. Looks good. Sets the decade. I like it. It feels like my book is now complete. I can sleep at night and the original (painted onto wood) is now on my wall. And then there’s the video.

The cover includes Florrie’s bridal bouquet of white flowers shedding tears/petals of red. Sign that all will not be well even though Ted stands tall and proud beside her. Great opportunity for the animator (yes, another professional – well what’s the use in having friends if you don’t ask). Actually, the animator was my daughter. Brilliant of course. Have a look at White Rabbit Animation. She’s based in Bristol. Might do something for you. Yes, I know it’s a shameless plug.

9. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
It feels as if being a writer is a summation of everything I have ever done being funnelled into the act of writing. Some of it I look back and clearly see the link: the love of the English language from my grammar school (although to begin with there was the tendency to pour every word I could think of into the mix). My career in art and design gave me a visual take on the world, initially via sketchbook exercises and then through the sketchbook I keep in my mind. I also learnt as a designer that less was more and simplicity was everything. But do not confuse simplicity with leaving things out. Oh no. This was a simplicity that said everything and required a great deal of creative and lateral thinking.

My love of film. If you want to understand how people tick, watch a very good actor (sorry, I’m old fashioned enough to include the word actress as well. Yes, I know that they do the same job, but they are different). Watch the moods cross their face, a simple movement in response to a situation. That’s what you the writer have to convey in words.

And in between read, read, read. Anything that takes your fancy (and sometimes things that don’t – you never know what you may be missing).

In addition, it seems important to really understand and accept yourself. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The act of writing is often a reflection of the writer. The strengths and weaknesses, the light and shade. Draw upon it.

Finally listen to your characters. If they are weighty enough they will know where they are going, how they are going to respond. It is a strange experience to sit down and begin to write a dialogue which you intend to go from A to C and somehow it goes from A to F. It’s almost as if you are simply the scribe writing down what your characters are whispering (no, sometimes shouting) in your ear.

But back to the question. My favourite character…

The obvious ones are of course Ted and Florrie, particularly Florrie, because of the interest in the book of so many female readers. Florrie who is tough and strong, who struggles against war, the reticence of her husband and her own mental health problems, but who never gives in. And it is true. But for me, her son… too close. Which leaves two others:

Patrick.

I worked with Patrick. He was an Irish labourer who wielded a spade with consummate skill and pride. That made me realise that great skill could be found in the simplest of tasks. (If you want to understand more, then read the poem ‘Digging’ by Seamus Heaney).

Patrick had always been a labourer and as he got older, he moved away from the building site to the much easier life of a gravedigger. He told stories of life in Ireland, drank and gambled his wages away (I have seen a similar scene, where two grown Irishmen, engaged in hard physical labour, have shared a single cheese sandwich as their meal for the day. The rest of their money had gone on booze). Patrick also, from time to time, set out to return to Ireland. He never made it.

I described Patrick in great detail. I could remember him in so vividly and as always I was looking for that simple detail that said so much. He always wore an old flat cap, sweat stained and frayed around the peak. He never took it off. When he briefly removed it to mop a perspiring brow, he revealed a pure white strip around his hair line, below which the rest of his face was tanned like an old chestnut.

Patrick was a gentle man, who asked for very little. His life was so different from mine and I felt a great empathy towards him. I often wonder what happened to him (although I guess I really know).

Darkie Mace

The approach to Darkie was very different. First of all he was an imagined character (well as far as I know, he mainly was). If that sounds weird, just ask yourself where your characters do actually come from? From the same place as those unknown people in your dreams?

We know quite a lot about Darkie’s background. An orphan, called up into the army alongside Ted. Generally picked on because of his small stature and the fact that clothes and he didn’t get on too well (the army had trouble kitting him out). A very private person but one with an extraordinary skill that he used very successfully one night. He was a talented fairground booth boxer.

So, there is little physical description apart from that and his name of course (which is not dwelt on). The readers are then left largely with his personality and background and are invited to fill in his physical description themselves. This seems to be a powerful tool and in addition offers a large degree of ownership to the reader’s imagination. Darkie becomes their Darkie.

 10. Are you for or against outlines?
Didn’t use one. OK Pegasus to Paradise is a true story essentially and chronological in nature (historical fiction) but I had no idea of the ending until I got there. My second novel (when can we get hold of it, I hear you clamour) is entirely fictional (as far as that is possible) and has no outline. It does however have a number of issues to be explored and exploration is what has happened. I had no idea of where it was going until I got there. People ask me what the title will be. No idea yet except it kept on changing as the story changed. I would not like to be straightjacketed by an outline unless I could change it at will and then I suppose it’s no longer an outline.

 11. Any project in the works?
Mature couple re-meet by accident after forty years of being separately bashed about by the culture of their time and life in general. Do they really want to get together? Maybe, but this time governed by their own rules. They discover an enormous freedom particularly erotically. But their past is never far away and threatens to destroy them. Will they let it? Will they be able to stop it? How much control do any of us have with their lives?

12. What is your favorite book?
Easy. I recently purchased a new copy of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson from the Folio Society. WOW!

Black slip case with matt foil blocking illustration, curved to allow access to the book. Book cover bound in buckram and blocked with wonderful illustration. Traditional case bound book with wonderful typography reminiscent of the time. Full colour illustrations. It looks wonderful. Feels great. Smells divine.

And the story!

Stevenson was also a traveller (partly through ill health) and this undoubtedly influenced his writing. From a treasure map drawn for a young relative came the adventure story of Treasure Island, published in 1883, a story of the sea and travel, of pirates and buried treasure, of good and evil. Over one hundred years later, it is still vivid and exciting. OK it is a boy’s own adventure story, but a wonderful piece of storytelling that has stood the test of time and made me, as a young lad want to be Jim Hawkins (and maybe in a way I was). Jim Hawkins? Read the book and find out. Smell the sea, feel the danger.

13. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

  1. Be able to write English. You know spelling, grammar, punctuation. If you can’t do it, then get an editor who can. It is highly unprofessional and irritating to churn out stuff that is riddled with errors. And don’t give me that bullshit about a living language or the need to break rules or having your creativity denied. That is an impoverished excuse. We are after all, talking about the writer’s craft.
  2. Have something to say. Something original. Something you know about. Don’t just copy your version of the latest successful fantasy/sci-fi/thriller/TV series (unless you want to be the sort of writer whose books are read on beach holidays and then confined to the nearest dustbin).
  3. Don’t expect any financial reward (then if you get some, it will be pleasant surprise).
  4. Never give up. If one stranger reads your book and tells you how much they enjoyed it, then you are a writer.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Dogs or cats?
Did you know that wild dogs (wolves, jackals, dingoes etc.) rarely bark? So, domestic dogs have developed a language with which to communicate with humans and humans (certainly doggy humans) can interpret that language. Seems a shame after all that effort by our canine friends not to do so.

2. Summer or winter?
‘Summer afternoon – summer afternoon: To me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.’ Henry James.

3. Cake or ice-cream?
Ice cream every day but has to be cake on birthdays.

4. Ebook or physical book?
You can feel, smell, visually enjoy and hear a physical book. Even put it under your pillow (without breaking it). Did you know that papermakers used to put straw into the pulp mix to give the paper ‘crackle?’ That lovely sound you get when you turn the pages over. Books were the first multi-media item. Long may they live.

5. Living in the city or living in the country?
There are stars in the country. In the sky I mean. Just look up. Millions of them. There are very few over the city when I look up. Presume they’ve gone to the country because it’s cheaper there.

‘If you would be known and not know, live in a village.

If you would know and not be known, live in a city.’

Charles Caleb Colton

6. To find true love or to win the lottery?
True love is a lottery

7. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
A lot of Austen’s writing is about the misuse of language as a way of indicating a social position or class. Which assumes a very correct way of speaking. I wonder if we do that now or are we now more accepting? It certainly would be fun to have the spoken ability to conduct quite scathing attacks but within the realms of polite behaviour that you witness between Elizabeth Bennett and the initially arrogant Mr Darcy. Polite, intelligent, witty, biting, clever, never resorting to anger or oaths. How many people are able to do that today?

8. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
My wife became deaf after an attack of septicaemia and it rapidly became clear that her deafness isolated and excluded her from the rest of the world. Initially I found it difficult to understand why deaf people said they would rather be blind. However after attending classes in lip reading with her and experiencing the same feelings of anger and panic and despair at not being unable to comprehend (and I still had my hearing) I understood. Your ability to understand and communicate when you are deaf is severely limited even with deaf aids and inplants.

9. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
It’s obvious now that both coffee and chocolate have good health properties (as long as they are not laced with sugar and taken in moderation) so the choice is a difficult one. I suppose it would have to be coffee on the grounds (sorry) that it is so available. One bag of coffee will last for many more bars of chocolate. No, that assumes not eating the whole bar in one sitting. Yes, I have… occasionally. Yes, I know. Anyway, aren’t you supposed to only have one square a day, of the darkest chocolate/cocoa you can manage? Mind you, if you live in Brussels as I have done, on and off, then a cup of Belgium chocolate will blow your mind, saturate your sips with sin, tantalise your taste buds and make your knees go all funny. Pardon café.

Thank you for joining us, Michael!
Readers: want to connect with Michael? You can find him on TwitterFacebook, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Also, be sure to check out his author website. Interested in reading Pegasus to Paradise? U.S. readers, click here. U.K. readers, click here.

Author Interview: Ellie Oberth

30627365Venice Sinclair decides to join her friend, Tanya, at an auction at Lock & Go Mini-storage. Buying the contents of abandoned lockers provides inventory for Tanya’s two antique shops in Las Vegas: the higher end Tanya’s Treasures and the more miscellaneous Junque in the Trunk. When the auctioneer whips open the rollup door on the first unit, Venice and the other bidders catch their breath. This storage room has been set up as a shrine!

Tanya wins the bid. While they inventory their haul, Venice discovers a diary in the “shrine” unit. Of course she must read it, and soon Venice is convinced the diary reveals that its author was murdered.

Venice’s friends are indulgent but skeptical as Venice starts to research the matter of the death. By the time they take her seriously, so does the murderer…and he is not pleased.

Sounds like an interesting read, doesn’t it? Ellie Oberth, the author of A Frenzied Bid for Murder, is here to share details regarding both her book and her writing process.

ellie1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Chicago born and bred. (Go Cubs!) I retired from my day job 4 years ago and have been traveling extensively ever since. I devour mysteries and participate in reading challenges. I’ve even devised my own, The Reporter’s Challenge, and put it up on the GoodReads Challenge Factory (under yearly challenges). And I’m the Treasurer of Sisters In Crime – Chicagoland Chapter.

2. When did you start writing?
I started writing in grammar school. I remember my older brother and I writing Sherlock/Watson-type mysteries on his bedroom floor. It wasn’t until much later in life that I wrote and published several short stories.

3. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
Not exactly, but the inspiration for my novel was the TV show: Storage Wars.

4. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
My favorite is Carl Danby. He’s a gruff, no-nonsense old-fashioned detective who’s stuck training a newbie who’s into technology big time! Carl Danby is the protagonist in The Hudson Agency-Chicago Style and From Beyond The Grave. I love Danby’s character, he’s so much fun to write. I’ve been told he’s like me – logical and blunt.

5. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in A Frenzied Bid For Murder.
Compassionate, determined, deductive, curious, family-oriented.

6. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I enjoy total quiet (so I can think) and a long chunk of time so I can immerse myself in the world I’m creating.

7. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I don’t outline my short stories, but when I wrote my first novel I created a bare-bones outline so I could keep the story moving and it was extremely useful.

8. What is your favorite book genre?
This is a no-brainer. I eat, sleep and breathe mysteries. I watch all the forensic shows on TV, attend mystery conventions and even decorate a forensics Christmas tree every year.

9. What is your favorite series?
Victoria Thompson’s gaslight mysteries. They are set at the turn of the century and have compelling characters. The historic aspect is interesting.

10. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
A character I can believe in, one whom I’d love to spend the next 300 pages with.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books

2. Dogs or cats?
Cats

3. Summer or winter?
Summer

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Cake. Chocolate of course!

5. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book

6. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in

7. Living in the city or living in the country?
Living in the city

8. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Being able to travel to the past. Love those hoop skirts!

9. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Sending a text

10. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Travelling by airplane

11. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Staying in a hotel

12. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Going without watching any movies/television shows for a week

13. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Staying awake for forty-eight hours

14. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
Never watch another film

15. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Never again drink a cup of coffee

Thank you for joining us, Ellie!
Readers: want to connect with Ellie? You can find her on Goodreads and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her blog.

Author Interview: Robin Glassey

23161219Tika is not like the other princesses on Fathara. With her wild hair, pointy ears, and disheveled appearance (not to mention the collarless sand tiger who follows her around), it is hard for her to make and keep friends. To complicate things further, Tika discovers she is more than Human, with surprising abilities. And all she wants to be – is normal.

Yet the very abilities that set Tika apart are the very things that Fathara needs to save it from destruction. For Mortan has been searching for Tika … and he wants her dead.

Allow me to introduce you all to the author of Secrets of Fathara, Robin Glassey.

image-3

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Pickering, Ontario—a little town outside of Toronto. I always joke about growing up across from a nuclear power plant and having the ability to shut down electrical gadgets/computers etc., but my husband and kids will tell you it happens around me all the time. I wouldn’t call it a superpower exactly, more of an annoying curse. I call Utah my home now, and moved here back in 1994 as a transfer student to BYU. The move became permanent when I married Brett Glassey. We have four boys, three of whom are adopted through fostercare. I love to watch Doctor Who with my family, eat french fries (especially with gravy on top) and of course, write books.

2. When did you start writing?
The Azetha Series first came to life when my most recent fosterdaughter returned to her birthfather, back in the spring of 2010. Even though I had anticipated she would leave our family, I still struggled with the grief of losing her.  One day before my husband left for work, he suggested I try writing my own fantasy story—like one of the many books I love to read.  I had no idea that picking up a pen and a notebook that day would change my life and begin to heal my heart. Those twenty pages I wrote on that first day became a part of my novella, The Least of Elves.

3. Does your story have a moral?
I would say that the overall moral of The Azetha Series is to accept yourself for who you are. Too often we spend so much time looking for the approval of others, instead of appreciating our own uniqueness and talents.

Some of the major themes present in the series are light versus dark, death, betrayal and forgiveness, faith versus doubt, and empowerment.

4. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
One of my favorite characters is Eno, a talking lizard. He appears in the second book in the series, The Veil of Death, as Tika’s guide through the Swamp of Tears. I love Eno because he’s a reluctant hero. You never know if he will abandon you or save you. He’s chatty, cowardly, funny and overall quite endearing, even if he did blackmail his way out of the swamp. I can never seem to get mad at him, no matter what he does or says.

5. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
There are those who hate outlines, preferring to write by the seat of their pants. I live by a planner and checklists to help keep me on track and on time, so outlines help guide me through my stories and keep me going in the right direction. But I’m not so tied down with an outline that I believe I should keep strictly to it. Every so often a character or an event will surprise me and change things, making me adjust my story in ways I never imagined.

6. Any project in the works?
I have a couple of projects in the works. One is a middle grade series called The Perils of Ponderitch. I’ve already completed the first book in that series and am shopping it out to agents. The second book in the series is almost complete and I’ve even started an outline for the third. I’ve also started a near future YA novel based on a world where the US is run by a corporation. Ironically, I began writing this before I discovered the series Incorporated. And my third writing project is about a boy who wants to become a dragon. I’ve discovered that just like when I used to quilt, I can’t seem to work on just one writing project at a time. It must be my ADD.

7. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
I think what makes a story good is when the reader gets “lost” in the story. The world feels so real and the dialogue so natural they forget they are reading a book. When I keep coming back to a book again and again, then the author has struck a chord in me that has me returning and rereading, enjoying the words one more time.

8. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. And while it’s exciting (and scary) to share your work with others, don’t rush so fast to get your story out there that you skimp on editing. You risk losing your audience by doing so. Find other authors to exchange your writing with and go to plenty of classes and conferences to hone your skills and learn how to improve your writing.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Dogs or cats?
Cats. That probably sounds stereotypical as I’ve seen many pictures of writers with cats, but I grew up in a family that loved cats and had seven throughout the course of my childhood. The irony is, I have none now. My husband is a dog lover and seeing as we can’t agree on a pet, our home is a pet-free zone.

2. Ebook or physical book?
I choose both. I love the feel of a physical book in my hands and there are certain books I just have to have in my collection because I know I will read them again and again. I also love the convenience of Ebooks on my phone for when I have to go to a doctor’s appointment or waiting for kids to come out of school during carpool pick up. My purse is crammed with so many things (too many things according to my husband) that adding a physical book would tip the scales, cause the universe to explode or at the very least my purse to self-destruct.

3. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
I would love to travel to the past and meet my grandparents. I have two grandparents I never had the opportunity to meet as my dad’s mother passed away when he was five, and his father passed a way a few years before I was born. My mom’s dad passed away when I was three and I don’t remember him. It would be wonderful to talk with them and get to know them better.

4. Making a phone call or sending a text?
It took me a long time to learn how to text because I’m not technologically savy. But texting has become my friend and choose it over phoning in most cases when the message is short and simple.

5. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Is beaming technology an option? Because I choose that. I love to travel, meaning going to new places, but hate the process of getting there. The older I get the more aches and pains I discover, making it uncomfortable to travel. Airplane over car, for sure, but I’m still hoping scientists come up with a faster way soon.

6. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
I choose hotels over camping anyday. Although I camped a lot as a child, I love modern conveniences: flushing toilets, running water, and beds—yes, beds. My husband calls me the princess and the pea. I have to have everything right in order to sleep at night.

7. Losing all of your money or losing every picture you’ve ever taken and every picture that has ever been taken of you?
I would rather lose all of my money, after all, you can make more money, but you can’t go back in time and retake pictures (and I have thousands and thousands of pictures). Every year my computer starts screaming at me that it’s too full and I have to dump the images to an external drive for safe keeping.

8. Reading or writing?
When I was a kid I would have chosen reading because I hated writing, but now I chose writing. It’s one of my favorite things to do and I actually get grumpy if I don’t get enough time to write.

9. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
I love Jane Austen (and the Pride and Prejudice movie and soundtrack is on my iPod to help me fall asleep on our Lake Powell vacations). I can’t even count how many times I have watched the movie, most recently on a flight to Kauai over the Christmas holidays.

10. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
I love languages and it would be a dream come true to be able to speak every language known to humankind. I learned French in elementary school and high school, learned a little bit of German during six weeks in Germany as a teenager, and learned Russian during an 18-month LDS mission to the Ukraine.

11. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
I love food too much to go without it, so I would have to choose never speaking again and learn sign language. And my kids would be happy to go without my long lectures when they get in trouble.

12. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
I could sacrifice never watching another film and stick with reading books. Growing up in a house with one tv and several family members, I often went to my room to read instead of fighting for a turn with the tv.

13. Spending half a day locked in a coffin (there would be a hole for air, of course) or spending two days trapped at the bottom of a well?
I would definitely choose to be trapped at the bottom of a well for two days rather than be locked in a coffin for half a day. With my claustrophobia, I couldn’t even make it fifteen minutes in the cabin of our boat on a hot stuffy summer night. I clawed my way out and huddled in a corner to try and stay dry on that rainy night.

14. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
This is an easy one. I’ve never had coffee, so I would choose to never drink it and keep eating my delicious Milky Ways. That reminds me, I have a few stashed in a drawer in the bedroom. I think I’ll grab a couple.

Thank you for joining us, Robin!
Readers: want to connect with Robin? You can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and YouTube. Also, be sure to check out her author website.

Author Interview: Catherine Cerveny

27173524As a famed tarot card reader, all is well in luck and love for Felicia Sevigny, until Russian crime leader Alexei Petriv walks into her shop and demands a reading.

Petriv’s future looks dark and full of danger, which wouldn’t be Felicia’s problem, except that it’s also aligned with hers. Felicia discovers she is the key pawn in Petriv’s plot to overthrow the all-knowing government, and she must decide if she will trust with him with her heart, body and soul, before the future of the entire human race collapses around her.

Please help me extend a warm welcome to the author of The Rule of Luck, Catherine Cerveny. Aspiring writers will want to read on; Catherine offers some excellent advice to those who dream of someday getting their own stories published.

299a0979-21. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from Peterborough, Ontario Canada, but somehow ended up living in the country. I’m not sure how that happened and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. The quiet is nice, but the shopping is terrible. I currently work in logistics, which may be why my stories seem very concerned with planning, organization, and everything being properly coordinated. I have a degree in English and History because I love stories and to me, both these fields of study dovetailed nicely into my love of reading and writing stories. What is History if it isn’t the study of other people’s stories? And English—well that seems self-explanatory. I also have a degree in Library and Information Science, so yes, I am a professional shusher. Ssshhhh!

2. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for The Rule of Luck?
I don’t remember if there was an exact moment where I came up with the idea for THE RULE OF LUCK. I enjoy Tarot cards and I also like hard Science Fiction, and I wanted to combine the two together—like chocolate and peanut butter. I wanted to take something mystical and essentially what Science sees as mumbo-jumbo, hocus-pocus and place it in a hard sci-fi world. Except in this world, it wasn’t hocus-pocus—it was legitimate and accurate. The end result is quite a bit different than my original vision. The novel is set about 800-1000 years in the future, and I’d originally planned on the story being much more dystopian. However somewhere along the way, the story lost much of its dystopian flavor and ended up being more positive and upbeat than I intended. Also, I don’t think I initially saw the story crossing over into Romance as much as it did. That surprised me and took the story in a direction I never thought it would go.

3. Does your story have a moral?
I’d like to think the moral of the story is how can we hold on to our humanity as we become more reliant on computers to the point that we may someday be able to upload ourselves onto the Internet. It’s not really a new idea but I’ve often wonder, how far will it go? Will we lose ourselves in the process? The main character, Felicia, is a Tarot card reader living in a world where people are technologically and genetically modified, and she doesn’t know how she fits into that world. Society is changing and she feels left behind—a second-class citizen in the new world order. I think in relation to that, some of the major themes are Felicia’s feelings of isolation and alienation as she fights to find her footing.

4. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I like absolute quiet when I write, so it’s probably a good thing I live in the country. Since I have a day job, I do my writing late at night. Most of my writing is done after 9:00 pm, and on the weekends, there are no rules! I’ve been known to start writing at 11:00 pm and write until 5:00 in the morning. I don’t really have a daily word count goal, since I honestly never know how much I’ll get done at one sitting. However, I do have a tendency to get up and wander off in the middle of a scene, leaving it for a few hours or even a day or two. It gives me a chance to think about it for a while and come up with ways I can improve the scene when I eventually get back to finishing it.

5. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
Yes, I always have a general outline of the story. Otherwise, I have a tendency to lose control of the story and get off track. I like to know exactly where I’m going. However, that’s not to say there isn’t room for going off course and making modifications.

6. What is currently on your to-be-read shelf?
My to-be-read shelf currently contains about 50 physical books I need to get to. Then I have about 100 e-books I want to read. I also have several audio-books I’m working on too—I have a 45 minute commute to work, and it’s a great opportunity to listen to a book. I compulsively buy books like it’s some sort of addiction and I need an intervention. One of the books I’m currently reading is READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline. I’m also listening to THE COLLECTOR by Nora Roberts. And I’m also looking forward to Karen Marie Moning’s FEVERSONG. Did I mention I read multiple books at the same time?

7. Any project in the works?
The sequel to THE RULE OF LUCK just came out December 6, 2016, called THE CHAOS OF LUCK. So if readers enjoyed the first novel, they can check out the second. It’s set about five months after the events in the first book.

8. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
I think a story is ‘good’ when the characters stay with you long after you’ve finished the book. You wonder about what happened to them, if they’re okay, are they happy, and what are their lives like after the story is done. It’s nice to have a moral or be introduced to new ideas you’ve never thought about before, but really, it’s the characters that matter to me. Did I care about them and was I engaged in what happened to them? If so, then the story was ‘good’.

9. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I know this is terribly clichéd but honestly, never stop writing. Take courses. Find a writing group. Get a critique partner. But never stop writing, because if you only treat it as a hobby, that’s all it will ever be.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books (obviously)

2. Dogs or cats?
Cats

3. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book

4. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in

5. Living in the city or living in the country?
Living in the city

6. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis

7. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Travel to the past

8. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Sending a text

9. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Win the lottery

10. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Being Spider-Man for a day

11. Reading or writing?
Reading

12. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
Extremely busy expressway

13. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Staying awake for 48 hours

14. Misunderstanding everything that is told to you or being misunderstood every time that you speak?
Being misunderstood every time I speak

15. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
Trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead.

Thank you for joining us, Catherine! 
Readers: want to connect with Catherine? You can find her on Twitter and Goodreads. Also, be sure to check out her author website.