Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Please welcome author Minnette Meador

Hello, and welcome, Minnette.


We're here in honor of your new release, The Belle Stalker, an Urban Fantasy Thriller. Here's a blurb:

The police have done all they can, but it isn’t enough. When Belle finds the mutilated body of her lover strewn across the furniture she knows only her ex-husband, Homicide Detective Mike Cranston can stop the maniac who has been dogging her steps for over a year. The only problem is the man who stalks her...is not a man at all. Belle plays a dangerous game and only hopes that Cranston can stop the monster before it’s too late.

This sounds really interesting.


















RESEARCH IS MURDER

Mike knew it was time for him to start tying the threads of the case together in his patented “connect the dots” style, but this one had him stumped. He stared at the body for a long time. Something had his hackles standing at attention, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

From the position of the body and the condition of the furniture under it, it was obvious someone had meticulously staged the murder. This had the signature of a very experienced serial—maybe a pro. The idea made his cheeks hurt. If this was the same man who attacked Belle last year, she was in trouble. Big trouble.

The Belle Stalker – Chapter Four

TODAY’S PRIZE: Special “Tea with Minnette” – A cyber visit with the author to talk about anything and everything. Leave a comment for a chance to win (and a chance to win grand prize as well – Kindle or Portland Tote)

(Don’t forget: If you send your name and address to Minnette, she will send you a stack of signed swag. Just drop her a note at: mmeador@minnettemeador.com )

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's funny how you perceive something one way and it turns out to be something else. This is what I came away with after an interview with Detective Austria from the Portland Police Bureau Homicide Division.

Located in the Justice Building in downtown Portland, the 13th floor (yes, I said 13th) was like any other business; cubicles, large open windows in all directions, and people going about their daily routine. Only these men and women were occupied with catching and prosecuting murderers. In addition to investigating homicides, the Homicide Detail investigates officer involved shootings/use of deadly force, felony assaults, kidnapping, custodial interference and missing persons. As you can imagine, these are very busy people. It was humbling to say the least.

Detective Austria was an amazing man; 17 years with the bureau, skilled, confident, kind, soft spoken. Originally from Hawaii, he has worked his way up through the ranks of the PPD to become one of two lead detectives in the division. I was honored to be speaking with him about his craft. This man is a professional through and through.

To explain what it is like to research homicide, I'll try to lay out what is involved in an investigation based on my interview. I am taking some literary license here and will be dramatizing it a bit, hoping to get all the details right based off of our conversation. From a creative point of view, this process helps me absorb the information so I can incorporate it into my writing. The following is what went on "behind the scenes," so to speak, and didn't get included in my novel, THE BELL STALKER. I'm hoping it will be an amazing journey and I'm delighted to have you along...

THE CALL

Dispatch receives a phone call from a cell phone somewhere in the SW Portland.

"911. What is your emergency?"

The woman on the other end of the line is frantic. "My friend... John, my friend... he's dead... in my apartment."

"Stay calm, ma'am. What is your address?"

Between sobs, the woman gives the address and the dispatcher recognizes it as a high rise in the Park Blocks of downtown Portland. She signals her partner to radio the closest uniformed officers to respond to the scene and keeps the woman on the line.

"Ma'am, how do you know he's dead?"

"There's blood everywhere... he's... he's all cut up... Please hurry... Please."

"Where are you right now?"

"I'm in the apartment... in the kitchen."

"We have dispatched officers to your location. I need you to get out of the apartment. Is there a neighbor you can contact?"

"Yes... no... I don't know."

"Leave the apartment now and knock on a neighbor's door. Can you do that?"

"Yes... yes, all right."

There is shuffling over the line and the dispatcher hears a knock. After several seconds, she hears muted voices over the line.

"Ma'am, are you all right." A few seconds more. "Ma'am?"

"Yes. I'm all right. I'm next door with my neighbor."

"Good. Now I want you to stay on the line with me until the officers arrive. What apartment are you in?"

A muted conversation, then, "11B."

"Thank you. I will make sure they find you as soon as they arrive."


THE OFFICERS
(Note: We didn't talk a lot about what the first officers on the scene do since it wasn't vital to my story, so this may be a bit sketchy. Thanks for your patience. Some of this is based on previous experience.)

Three cruisers pull up outside the building and uniformed officers get out. The first officer on the scene pushes the button on his radio.

"Dispatch, what do we have?"

"Female reports body of friend "John" in her apartment, 11D. We have sent her to a neighbors, apartment 11B to wait. Female reports the body is covered in blood and cut up."

"Roger, dispatch. Call the manager and have them let us into the complex."

"Already have. The security guard is waiting at the front door for you."

A guard stands at the glass door of the high rise, alert. Five more cruisers arrive. Having arrived first, the officer takes the lead and goes through the door with two others close behind him.

"Elevator?" he asks the guard. The man points down the hallway toward the back of the building.

When five more officers arrive, the lead orders two to the front and two to the back of the building, and the other to take the stairwell to secure the area. The original three officers take the elevator to the eleventh floor.

The long hallway is lighted by dim sconces when the elevator doors open. They can see an open door at the end of a line of them. Unholstering their guns, they make their way slowly to the apartment.

Once there, they lean against the door jam and call through the open door.

"This is the police. If anyone is in there, come out with your hands up or we will shoot you." There is no response.

They enter the apartment and scan the scene. There is a small open kitchen to their right with the light on. Otherwise, the apartment is dark. Making their way down a hallway, they enter a sunken living room lighted only by the kitchen. Laid over the couch and across the coffee table is a man about 6' tall in dark clothes.

The lead officer signals the two others to search the rest of the apartment. He approaches the man and reaches to feel for a pulse, but then realizes the man's throat is missing. Stepping back from the body, he is careful not to step in the pool of blood around the corpse, making certain he does not touch anything. The other two officers come back and report that the apartment is clear. The lead officer posts one outside the door of the apartment and takes the other with him to question the witness.

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

"Ma'am, I need to ask you some questions. What is your name, address, and phone number." She mutters them through her sobbing. "Please tell me how you happened to find the body."

"I was coming home from a late night at work. My door was unlocked when I got to the apartment and I thought my roommate had forgotten to lock it. I went in, turned on the kitchen light, and then saw the body..." A moment of breakdown. "Then I called 911."

"Do you know who the victim is?"

Terrified eyes. "Yes," she whispers. "It's my friend John. John Ian. But it's impossible. He called me when I was downstairs in the garage. He called me."

"That's ok, ma'am. When the detectives arrive, they will ask you some more questions. In the meantime, just remain calm."

He has the officers with him put up police tape and cordon off the hallway and the apartment. He then calls Homicide to speak with the detective on duty filling him in on the details. Homicide is already on their way.

If you would like to read the next three installments of this article, follow these links:

http://minnettemeador.blogspot.com/2009/08/inteview-with-homicide-behind-plot-part.html
http://minnettemeador.blogspot.com/2009/08/inteview-with-homicide-behind-plot-part_04.html
http://minnettemeador.blogspot.com/2009/08/inteview-with-homicide-behind-plot.html 



And here are some more links:
http://youtu.be/avY8W6i0rw4   Audio Excerpt
http://minnettemeador.blogspot.com/p/books-by-minnette.html   Written Excerpt
http://minnettemeador.blogspot.com/  Blog URL

RESPLENDENCE PUBLISHING (all eFormats except Kindle & Nook):
http://www.resplendencepublishing.com/m8/381-200-103-422-5--the-belle-stalker-by-minnette-meador.html

AMAZON BUY LINK: (Kindle)


AMAZON DIRECT LINK:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Belle-Stalker-ebook/dp/B0064PA6LI/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321749531&sr=1-8

BARNES & NOBEL DIRECT (Nook):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-belle-stalker-minnette-meador/1107087599?ean=2940013589698&itm=1&usri=the+belle+stalker

All Romance eBooks:
http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thebellestalker-625303-140.html




Prize: Minnette will be giving away a small Kindle ($79) plus a Portland Tote filled with goodies to one randomly drawn commenter, along with daily prizes.  She will do the drawing herself for the daily winners.  The Kindle and tote bag are limited to US and Canada only;  if an international winner, an Amazon GC will be substituted; ALSO:  PLEASE NOTE:  Any reader who sends their name and address to Minnette will be sent a stack of signed swag. Just drop her a note at:
mmeador@minnettemeador.com

Please follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2011/10/virtual-book-tour-belle-stalker.html

<http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2011/10/virtual-book-tour-belle-stalker.html>


Thanks for being my guest, Minnette! I'm a big fan of your work, and this sounds like another winner.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

review for A Necessary End by Diana Rubino

What would happen if the ghost of a Roman killer, long dead, haunted John Wilkes Booth in an effort to drive him mad? Add in the fact that Wilkes is dating a beautiful Yankee sent to spy on him. They fall in love even though they’re on opposite sides. What occurs when she tries to stop him from his plans against President Lincoln? This book shows us, with a cast of fascinating characters, including a “Jack-the-Ripper” type doctor on the scene to add interest.

A bit of the paranormal meets history with a dash of “Romeo and Juliet” thrown in to make for a page-turning story. Ms. Rubino knows her history, and she writes entertaining works, one right after the other. A Necessary End does not disappoint.

Historical characters are brought to vivid life in this story. The reader gets a behind-the-scenes look into Booth and the action that made him infamous. What things happened, slowly pushing him toward his radical decision to kill Lincoln?

Ms. Rubino’s story explores all of the above in a way that is memorable. Even though we all know the inevitable ending concerning Lincoln, suspense is still created, and tension is high until the last page. This book is highly recommended to both lovers of historical fiction and the paranormal.

Available now at Amazon

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review for Spartan Heart, Part 2

Spartan Heart, Part Two by Kristine Cheney is an entertaining, romantic paranormal story. It has an exciting beginning with colorful characters bringing this tale to life. It’s filled with hunky men.

Evan is a likeable heroine. She displays kindness, forgiveness, and graciousness at different times.  Tommy, a mortal, is surprisingly chivalrous. Taryn, Evan’s best friend, is an interesting, complex character, and of course the hero, Dorian is wonderful.

Suspense is created with several pressing questions, one being the gender of Evan’s unborn children. A serious bet is based on the outcome. A lot rides on the wager. There are sweet and tender moments like when Dorian communicates with his unborn children. At other times, the story is funny and charming or sexy.

Sometimes the writing is distant and vague with lots of telling, and there are a lot of exclamation marks, but the story is still quite enjoyable, with a villain to keep things tense. With the birth of the babies and the end of the tale, more surprises pop up. This is a great second part to the series. It's available with Astraea  Press,  LLC
www.astraeapress.com

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The emotions of animals

Hello, do you have an opinion about whether or not animals experience emotions? Many pet owners will say that animals do have feelings, but many scientists disagree, saying that ascribing human characteristics to the nonhuman is anthropomorphism.

I don't know, I have pets, and it's pretty clear to me that they can feel, and strongly. I have witnessed what seems to be clear happiness (bright eyes, wagging tails, purring etc), anger (hissing, baring teeth, growling, flicking tails), sadness (mopping around directly after a tragic loss such as the death of another pet in the household) and other emotions in cats, dogs, and other animals.

To read an interesting exploration of this topic, I checked a book out in the library called, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy. The book discusses both points of view and displays several interesting cases of observed animals such as Siri, an elephant who sketches, to Koko, a gorilla who can do sign language and loves to play with dolls--when alone. There are many other animals and their stories described as well. It's an interesting book. If you love animals, you'd probably like this book.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

review for a short story

Hello, I just read a short story called Wayward Soul, by Kim Bowman. Astraea Press put it out. It's an interesting little paranormal.

Here's the blurb:
When Zanna Seoul accidentally causes the death of a fellow spirit guide’s charge while trying to save the life of the man she loves, she is stripped of her position and banished to Earth to die. In the spirit world, one doesn’t mess with what’s written.

With Zanna no longer guiding him and his memory of her erased, Owen Nash is left wide open as the target of the vengeful spirit guide who feels he’s been wronged. A guide who also happens to be a werewolf. Once on Earth, Zanna refuses to stand by and watch Owen die, so she intervenes again, setting off a chain of events that could mean death for all of them if she doesn’t go back and undo the mess she’s made. Can Zanna succeed before the werewolf does?


This story has a lot of action in it and takes place partially on another plane of existence. Zanna has to meet with the sentries in this mystical place and answer for what she did. Sent back to earth as a human and being unrecognizable by her love brings about an adventure. He thinks she's crazy. How is she to help him? The pace is quick enough to keep things rolling well. The Zanna and Owen are likeable, and the story is different from many paranormals. For a fast read in the paranormal romance genre, this is a good one to check out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Bone House book review

Stephen R. Lawhead. The Bone House. Thomas Nelson, 2011. 416 pgs.

The Bone House is a sci-fi book, the second in Stephen Lawhead’s Bright Empires series. I didn’t read the first in the series, “The Skin Map,” but in the beginning of “The Bone House”, there was a section to help readers who hadn’t read “The Skin Map” catch up.

This book continues Kit’s story in his search for the skin map. He takes over for his great-grandfather, who was killed. Kit is on the run but has resourceful friends such as Mina.

There are many good sci-fi aspects weaved throughout the story. These are presented quite well. Early in the book, when I came across several interesting little side stories, I hoped they would connect. At times, it was a little hard remembering them all, but by the end of the tale, it made sense.

Kit and other characters cross into dimensional divides to other places and times. Interesting questions about the nature of time, death, and the immortality of the human spirit come up.

Ley travel, the great aspect of this story, is not the same as time travel. Time is out of joint, and different worlds overlap. History gets slippery.

There are messages like, “We have to do the best we can with our lives; do the next thing.” Also, what are the connotations of a universe filled with multiple alternative worlds, the mysteries of time, space, and reality, etc.

The world exploration held my attention as the characters searched for the skin map.

The ending was the best part of the book. When Kit goes back to the Stone Age, his encounters with cave men are fascinating. For those who like sci-fi adventures, this is a book to check out.

I was given a copy of this work for review purposes by BookSneeze, and the opinions here are strictly my own.

Spartan Heart part one book review


A paranormal romance by Kristine Cheney
Published by Astraea  Press,  LLC
www.astraeapress.com
148 pages.

“Placing a foolish, drunken kiss on a Greek statue in the museum's basement, Evangeline unknowingly frees a Spartan prince from an evil oracle's curse. Suddenly, her lonely life is invaded by the rakish man with knowing emerald green eyes who never eats or sleeps, and seems to know her every thought and feeling.”

I just finished reading Spartan Heart part one and look forward to delving into part two. This story has its tender moments, a sad beginning creating great curiosity. Evangeline’s parents were murdered, and she’s the heir to their fortune and assumes the reins of London’s Greco-Roman museum.

“Evan’s” ex-boyfriend, Andrew returns to the scene, hoping to woo her again. Taryn is Evan’s best friend, an interesting character in her own right. Things heat up with Dorien, an immortal who meets her, in a most unexpected way.

The story is sensual and has depth with characters one can relate to. There is some distant writing, but intriguing Spartan historical tidbits are weaved throughout a fast-paced story peopled with characters creating the right amount of tension.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Final Summit book review

Title: The Final Summit

Author: Andy Andrews

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Pages: 224

Where I got it: Booksneeze sent me a free copy in exchange for a review

Rating: 5

This is not an adventurous or action-packed book, but it was worth my time to read. Entertaining as it was, I’d describe it as a book that makes you think…about important ideas.

It’s not dry. The mental/emotional stimulation occurs in a fictional setting. The set-up is intriguing: The archangel Gabriel asks a regular guy to head up a committee in order to come up with the answer to an important question. How can humanity get back on track?

Well, this committee is fascinating. It’s comprised of famous people throughout history, but not famous for doing stupid things. No, these people have done great things. When David, the regular guy from our time, gets together with some of these intriguing people, the ensuing conversations are amazing.

Humanity is balanced on a precipice, and this group of people must examine the wisdom of our past to determine the future…or even if there is to be a future on earth.

There are so many great lines in this book that encourage, give hope, and inspire. One of my favorite lines (and there were many) is this one: “The tragedy in man’s life is not that he quits; the real tragedy is that he almost wins but never begins his second act!”

There is a time limit to answer the question posed. The big hourglass adds tension to the story.

This book is intelligent, a thinking book filled with excellent food for thought. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book review for The Master Key by T.K. Toppin

The Master Key by T.K. Toppin is an exciting Sci-Fi story sure to please fans of the genre. It’s the second in the trilogy and just as good as the first. Ms. Toppin’s characters are three-dimensional and interesting. It’s the future, and people live quite different lives, but some things are fundamental to all humanity, and this is displayed well with those who people the story.

Josie is from our time and finds herself in the future a few hundred years. She marries the president. This is a great set-up, almost guaranteeing there will be action—and there is.

She’s relatable and spunky. For all her charm, she has a mouth on her, and it’s humorous when the people of the future hear her display her verbal “talents.” She’s crass but honest. Her husband, John, the president, is complex, a contradiction of traits.

All of the characters in this story have depth, and emotions are described well. Dialogue and narrative are quite effective.

Josie is trusting, and John worries for her safety, with good reason. There are mysteries to be solved. The sci-fi aspects and futuristic technology are fascinating and woven into a tale with an underlying humor that pops out once in a while.

Suspense is created in several ways through the characters. For example, Josie meets her great-great, and so on niece. Is the girl for real? Readers will keep turning pages to discover this and other mysteries that drive the tension. Things are unpredictable.

This book is richly detailed. The author has done a great job at world building. There is plenty of adventure, and fight scenes are abundant, sometimes graphic and very realistic. It’s action packed. There are some wild scientific turns, at times almost freakish.

Charming and funny scenes are mixed in. Josie and John have great chemistry, and this comes into play throughout this fast-paced story.

Themes of family, trust, ethics, and immortality raise some intriguing issues and stimulate thinking.

This is a great read but sometimes vague (luckily not too often). Interesting questions come up at the end, and I expect the third in the trilogy will be as good as the first two.

I received this book free from the author and was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Virtual Book Tour for Minnette Meador's A Ghost of a Chance

Welcome, Minnette, and congratulations on your book release. Please tell us about your research.


THE WICKED SIDE OF RESEARCH
by Minnette Meador

People ask me all the time how I research for love scenes and keep them hot. To tell you the truth, the answer is not as sexy as the scenes, unfortunately. It takes hours of arduous testing, exhausting marathons, risky experimentation, backbreaking repetition, over and over and over again. And then there are those long hot nights of sweating, groaning, and screaming. Honestly, it’s grueling. My poor husband has to put up with so much.

Now that I have your attention, the truth is I read erotic stories and, secretly, LOVE them. I have many author friends who write erotica very well and try, unsuccessfully, to bring me over to the dark side. It has been tempting and one day I may try my hand at it. For the time being, the closest I’ve gotten is in my current romantic paranormal comedy, A GHOST OF A CHANCE. The second chapter consists of Keenan succumbing to a very sexy succubus in the most graphic way. It actually earned me a slot on an erotic site instead of its sister romance site. My corrupters would be so proud!

Someone asked me the other day if my husband and I do something that inspires certain… situations in my books. Actually, it’s the other way around. I’m telling you, if my DH wasn’t 7 years younger than me, I don’t know what we’d do. He’s such a good sport. Does it bother him? When I get the wide grin off his face, I’ll ask him.

I wish I could tell you that writing the scene sets off bells and whistles… well, okay, it does the first time around, but after a dozen revisions, it’s just… well, okay it still does, but then there are the galley proofs. Oh hell! Who am I kidding? It does… every… single…time. ~SIGH~ If you ever want to add a little sizzle into your love life sit down and write an erotic scene, the closest to your fantasies and the more graphic, the better. Then read it to your husband… you know, just to get his, uh… input. Trust me, if he’s alive, you’ll get all the input you can handle.

Anyway, if you want to read a real example of the above, there are two great ones in my new book, A GHOST OF A CHANCE. You be the judge.


Blurb: Keenan Swanson is your typical, everyday graphic designer. Well, except for the hundreds of pesky, prank-loving poltergeists that make his life interesting (in a Chinese curse sort of way). He finds his situation precarious yet manageable—until witty, smoking-hot coworker Isabella enters the scene and Keenan decides he wants her all for himself. With a horny succubus who has other ideas, a burly city cop determined to lock Keenan away, and an evil entity who’s hell-bent on using Keenan’s seed to create a living demon, the reluctant psychic realizes he just might not come out of this alive—or with heart intact.


Steamy excerpt:
The dream was so real.
Hands slithered over Keenan’s body, but they were detached somehow. It was hard to describe. Starting on his scalp, the hot tickling sensation sent tendrils of pleasure down his gut and directly into his cock. It was painfully erect, aching for a good hard squeeze, but he couldn’t reach down to touch it.
 A weight pressed down on his body, holding him to the bed. Keenan could actually feel his body sinking into the mattress. Something heavy, like invisible clay, pressed against his face. He couldn’t move. He wasn’t scared at all…just horny as hell.

The hands massaging his scalp moved down to his face, pressing his eyes closed with what he could only assume must have been thumbs. They moved down his face and found his lips, parted them, and thrust a slender finger into his mouth. There was no taste, but the soft, warm texture electrified his senses. He sucked on it instinctively. It was deeply sexual and made his cock throb in anticipation. To his utter dismay the finger slipped from his mouth and trailed down his chin.

Keenan opened his eyes. Light from an outside streetlamp illuminated the foot of his bed and half his dresser. When she appeared in a wisp at his feet, he had to struggle to lift his head enough to see her.
Naked heaving breasts came into view; the nipples were long, slate hard, and the areolas black against dark skin. Her waist and hips were slim. Stretched fingers pinched the nipples, making them longer, more rigid. The triangle of her pussy was bald, the slit dark and inviting. Hazy clouds covered her face, making it soft and featureless, but billowing tendrils of black hair twisted out from around it, flowing in a wind Keenan couldn’t hear. It moved in a watery dance.

The covers glided slowly down his body. The soft touch of the silk made his cock twinge in agony and he gritted his teeth to hiss his pleasure. Electric shocks ignited the nerves in his neck, shoulders, and arms. When Keenan was completely exposed, he wasn’t cold. His cock sprang into ready position. The hair on his arms and legs snapped with static.

Buy it here 
Amazon buy link

www.minnettemeador.com
http://minnettemeador.blogspot.com
Amazon Link - TO COME LATER
Resplendence Publishing Books Link

Now about the contest:
Minnette will be giving away a Kindle at the end of her promotions campaign and anyone who comments on her tour, or on her blog, will be entered into that drawing. One randomly drawn commenter from the tour itself will-- in addition-- win a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2011/05/virtual-book-tour-ghost-of-chance-by.html

Thanks so much to my incredible host Laura and her amazing blog. She’s the best!

Thank you, Minnette. I love your work. And to my readers, thanks for dropping by!
-Laura

Monday, May 30, 2011

Virtual Book Tour for Dianne Greenlay's debut novel, Quintspinner: A Pirate's Quest, a YA historical romance.

A warm welcome to author Dianne Greenlay!
Hello, Dianne, please tell us a little about you. 

Saving lives by day (physiotherapist, EMT) and spinning lies by night (writer/author and playwright/director of Community Theatre), I live on the Canadian prairies with my husband in a lovely historical home that we share with a consortium of cats. Having raised a family of 6 kids ( and, amazingly, everyone lived through it!) , I have plenty of their escapades still fresh in my mind, to weave into my fiction. Whenever possible, I travel to exotic locales to research my novels and to seek out new adventures to fuel my already overactive imagination.

Sounds great! Could you tell us about research for your book?

Research for Quintspinner
Hi Laura, thanks so much for this invitation to guest post on your site!

It's nice to have you here, Dianne.

Tips for writing in the historical genre:

A) Making the decision:
In having centuries to choose from, a writer must still have a seed of an idea to narrow the choices down. My novel, Quintspinner - A Pirate's Quest came about as the result of a seemingly topic-unrelated Google search result. That is to say that I was searching for information on a present day medical term and, in the search results, up came "women pirates". Well, who knew? At the time I didn't know that there were such people, but it caught my interest and as I investigated, I found out that not only were there several women pirates throughout history, but that they were quite well documented and were extraordinary characters. Two of the more well-known and colorful female pirates (Anne Bonny and Mary Read) lived in the early 1700's and sailed through the Caribbean. Having read extensively about them, I chose to tell a story in that time period and locale. Little did I know that a novel set in this setting would entail so much research!

B) Ask the experts:
Luckily for me, I had already travelled frequently through the Caribbean and had firsthand experience with the physical details of the intended setting. However, I also made a trip to Nova Scotia, Canada and visited several of their Maritime Museums and nautical displays. The curators were a wonderful source of nautical information and unexpected bits of entertaining sea lore. I came back from that trip with several notebooks full of details.

C) Write what you know and get some experience when and where and if you can (preferably in a non-life threatening manner):
Again with the hands on, although not necessarily all historical research, I managed to (rather, attempted to) haul a sail up a mast on a tall ship - a  task physically demanding beyond belief; I was swamped in a 12 man Zodiac boat by a spouting Orca off the coast of Vancouver island; I sailed in a Hobie Cat in shark territory off the coast of Mexico (unintentional, let me tell you!), and got caught in an ocean undertow while learning to surf in Hawaii. Back home, I made hard tack biscuits, similar to the type that sailors survived on, and invited friends over to share. At the same time, all in the name of research, I made up a batch of sailors' "grog" as documented by several sources, and inflicted it upon my unsuspecting, but game friends. Awful, foul-tasting stuff - at least the first 12 glassfuls were....

D) Internet and library info costs nothing (so use it, use it, use it):
My dryland research was far less traumatic. Writers now have the Internet to do research by and I certainly made use of that, but I also fell back on using my local library. Before long, I had ordered in so many reference texts, I was on a first name basis with all of the librarians! They never flagged in their enthusiasm for my interest in all things belonging to the 1700's, and were impressive at tracking down even little known publications.

E) Remember, it's historical:
Collecting the historical details was only one step in writing the novel from a historical perspective. As I was writing and plotting the story, I tried to stay true to known behaviours and mores for the eighteenth century. People behaved very differently 300 years ago and what was quite commonplace to them is now unacceptable to many of us. Child labor, casual, but violent deaths, and drastic medical treatments were some of the things that came up over and over again in my research, so I had my characters behaving in ways and making decisions with regards to these, that were appropriate for their times - quite different than if they had been living today. Time references were particularly difficult for me to write - I avoided using the terms "hours" and "minutes" even though there were hour glasses and sundials by then, as my characters were at sea, and such items were not used on an individual basis on a ship.

F) Learn from other historical writers:
I was also fortunate to have been granted a one-on-one blue pencil session with the famous Diana Gabaldon (author of The Outlander historical series), at the Surrey International Writers' conference, in which she emphasized that too much minute detail is boring for the reader. The writer/researcher discovering gruesome/interesting/astonishing facts for the first time will think that it is all just too good not to use, BUT don't be tempted to overload. Her words of advice were that if it doesn't move the story along, totally engage your reader's senses in some way, or substantially affect/build a character or setting, then leave it out. On the other hand, it is a great skill to be able to write a riveting story (and we all want ours to be so), including historical details and tidbits in a fashion that educates while still being entertaining. I'm still working on that one.

Being a debut author, I didn't realize -didn't even consider - the popularity of the historical genre. (At the time, in my mind, there were only vampire stories and then everything else.) There were A LOT of things that I didn't know when I started and that's probably a good thing or I may have been intimidated and overwhelmed by the writing process. As it was, it had taken me a year, writing part-time, to complete my novel. When I read of others (Stephanie Meyers,Twilight series, for instance) pounding out a complete novel in a matter of weeks, not months, I felt a bit inept, a little crazy even, for having put in the effort.

It was only after I had finished, and Quintspinner began to win awards, including Reader Views First Place for Best Historical, that I looked back on all the information I had amassed and took stock of the writing skills that I had honed. Quintspinner was also awarded the Tyler R. Tichelaar Award for Best Historical Novel, and in speaking with Tyler, who is a historian with a Ph.D. in English literature and has several published books to his credit, I asked him, "Do you think writing in the historical genre is harder and more time-consuming than other genres because of the research required?" He readily agreed. "Sometimes I think I'm crazy to write in the genre that I do, but it's my passion," he admitted.

And that was all the justification that I needed to dive into "crazy" again, writing Book Two in the Quintspinner series. I'm loving every minute of it!


Wow, I'm quite impressed with your research! It's good to hear that you're writing another book. I wish you the best with that, your series, and lots of success on Book One as well. Now for a blurb and excerpt to tempt readers:

Blurb:
•  Blurb: In the year 1717, 16 year old Tess Willoughby witnesses a murder near a London marketplace and becomes the keeper of a legendary Spinner ring. Even so, she never imagines that she will find herself an unwilling passenger on a merchant ship bound for the pirate-infested waters of the West Indies and forcibly betrothed to the murderer. Longing to be with William, a young press-ganged sailor, but unable to escape her dangerous fiance's clutches, Tess struggles to survive in her new set of circumstances. During a pirate attack, she unravels the legacy of her strange Spinner ring and its power, realizing that her own life and those of everyone she loves, are in jeopardy. As a powerful hurricane overtakes the ship, a slim opportunity for her own escape presents itself, and she is forced to make the most chilling decision of her life.  Having won multiple Book Awards, (ReaderViews, ForeWord Connections, Creative Arts Council, Sask Book Award, Eric Hoffer Award) Quintspinner is a tale of pirates, secrets, betrayal, and romance on the seas of the West Indies, all bound together by a dash of ancient magic.

Excerpt:

   "Are you alright?" Tess whispered into her sister's ear. "How have you been treated?" Even as the words left her mouth, Tess's hands slid down to her sister's shoulders and froze over top of a softly thickened weal on Cassie's right shoulder.

Tess pulled her hand away and stared. "Oh my God, Cass," she whispered hoarsely. "What has he done to you?"

Under the inquiring touch of Tess's fingertips, an angry raised mound of fresh and tender scar tissue stood out. Clearly it was a miniature form of the powder horn depicted on the pirates' flag.

"He- he branded you?" Tess gasped.

A brand. The pirate captain's brand. Burned deeply into the soft flesh of Cassie's shoulder, it marked Cassid forever as his own. Tess swallowed hard as sudden waves of nausea threatened to expel a rush of bitter bile. Anger deeper than any she had ever known cascaded over her in a hot rush. Looking into Cassie's tear filled eyes, and seeing the intense anguish there, she clasped her sister hard to her chest.

"He will pay for whatever he has done to you!" she seethed.

"No-o-o," Cassie moaned. "He'll kill you if you try anything." Her eyes pleaded with Tess. "Save yourself if you can." She laid her own hand gently over the branded tissue. Her voice was barely a whisper. "I am doomed."





What an exciting book this sounds like! It should be very good. Now, where can readers find you?


Web page www.diannegreenlay.com ;
blog http://www.writeonthewaytosomewhere.blogspot.com ;
Facebook Group http://on.fb.me/kFmjca ;
book trailer http://youtu.be/HPltUhH-b2w ;
available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters/Indigo

Now about the giveaway:
To one randomly drawn commentator, Dianne will be giving a Quintspinner T shirt and $10 Amazon gift card. Please follow the tour and comment. The more you comment the better your chances of winning.
The tour dates can be found here: Goddess Fish Promotions

Thanks for being my guest, Dianne, and that you, readers, for stopping by!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Time travel books

Hello, I love time travel fiction and read and write a lot of it. I'm always looking for new (to me at least) authors who write in this genre. The romantic type is especially appealing to me. Recently, I saw the name of an author, Lynn Kurland, on one of the lists I get. Though she's been writing for years, I had never come across her before. Lynn Kurland's "A Dance Through Time" was a great time travel romance, and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves that genre. It was well written and quite enjoyable, set in Medieval Scotland as well as modern-day Scotland and America (well, 1990s.) I'll be sure to check out this author's other work.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Virtual Book Tour for Dianne Greenlay's Quintspinner: A Pirate's Quest, a YA historical romance.

Hello, look in the future for Virtual Book Tour for Dianne Greenlay's debut novel, Quintspinner: A Pirate's Quest, a YA historical romance. Her tour will take place May 30-June 10, 2011. There will be a prize awarded to someone who comments on posts concerning this tour. I will host her here on May 30. Hope to see you there. :)





Saturday, April 30, 2011

A blog of lists

Hello, I started a blog that has lists that might be useful for readers and writers:
Lists

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Hello, I wanted to wish you a happy and peaceful Easter.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Please welcome author Emma Lai

Hello, Emma, welcome to my blog!
The excerpt below is a bit steamy. :)

Bio:

Emma likes nothing more than a challenge. First, she tackled the male-dominated field of engineering. Next, she expanded her understanding of the world by studying international relations. Finally, her husband dared her to use her experience and knowledge and devote herself to writing. She accepted his challenge and has been writing ever since.

Writing keeps Emma sane. Her characters demand their stories be told and nag her incessantly until she complies. The characters are very insistent about her remaining faithful to their individual adventures. As a result, Emma writes a range of genres and levels of heat. She never knows what the next set of characters will demand!

Twice is Not Enough Blurb:

After several disastrous engagements, Lady Minerva Peters is an expert at suppressing her own needs. Only in the darkness of night does she give in to her wanton desires with a fantasy lover.

In the middle of a crowded ballroom, she learns her father is not yet ready to let her fade into spinsterhood. Humiliated, she ducks into a dark alcove only to find out she's not alone. Her hiding spot is occupied by a captivating stranger. Before she can escape, the two become voyeurs to another couple’s sexual rendezvous. The atmosphere heats up and so does her body, especially with the tempting offers whispered in her ear.

Will Minerva deny her needs once again or will she embrace the anonymity of their seclusion and finally explore her basic impulses and the startling attraction to the compelling mystery man?

Excerpt:

Minerva’s hand trailed to the spot between her legs she knew would help ease the ache inspired by the Markhams’ passionate display. Through her skirts, she pressed her palm against the magic spot hidden between the outer lips of her core. A gush of moisture answered.

“Would you like some assistance?”

She jumped. How could she have forgotten the presence of her shadow? Anger at her forgetfulness and the slight humor in his voice swept away her embarrassment. She let her hand fall to her side, straightened her shoulders, and raised her chin.

She needed to remove the temptation facing her, but it wasn’t as if she could interrupt the Markhams now. She slid a step to the side in an effort to end her view of the amorous tryst, but the alcove wasn’t deep enough. If she could just take a few steps back…but no. The man behind her prevented it.

Two hands grasped her hips and hauled her against the hard body at her back. Shock held her immobile. How dare he manhandle me! Who does this stranger think he is?

A picture of her fantasy lover popped to mind. Would it be wrong to pretend her shadow was the object of her fantasies? Her traitorous body relaxed into the broad chest at her back. Heat pooled in her belly in response to the firm thighs and distinct bulge of an aroused male member nudging her bottom.

“I can help.” A hand journeyed upward, from her hip, to her arm, to her shoulder with only the lightest of contact, but yet even that slight touch sent tingles darting along her skin.

She tensed, but inside, her body pulsed at the promise in his voice. The suggestive words murmured in her ear had moisture dripping down her passage. Her thighs became slick with her need. If she took him up on his offer, she could discover for herself if reality surpassed fantasy.

A thumb massaged her collarbone, and fingers teased the tops of her breasts. “No one has to know. It’s just you and me.”

Click here to buy.
Thanks again for dropping by. I wish you well!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

contest closed

Hello everyone, thanks for entering the drawing for the CSN stores GC giveaway. I have picked a winner at random, #8, Tim, and have notified him. :) Congratulaitons.

Monday, March 14, 2011

CSN Stores Gift Card Give Away

Hello, everyone, I hope things are going well for you. :) It's that time. The CSN Stores people have approached me, and so I'm having a drawing for a $60 gift card good at their stores. They have so many things to choose from. This drawing is open to U.S. and Canadian readers only.

I'll do the drawing in a couple of weeks. You must be a follower of this blog via GFC or be an email subscriber to be in the drawing. Just leave a comment to this post, stating that you're either a new or an old follower. Also, please leave your email in case you win. Thanks, and good luck!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Researching

Hello, I hope everyone is doing well. I'm home again after a nice day at the school I work at. It's time to do some editing and research. I really love researching for a new book. The discovery is fun as I delve into my books, finding out more about the past. I'm buried in books, both paper and electronic. Up until a few weeks ago, I had to read my ebooks on the computer only, but my father was nice enough to give me an ereader. I really like it. I can adjust the font and have many books with me at any give time.

Sometimes, I'm in the library doing my research, kicking back with a good book or ten. I always read on the bus. People have such interesting conversations on the bus too. Then, I come home and read in the office of my small apartment. If I had a house, I'd be getting cozy in one of the great backyard swing sets that I've seen on television, with a stack of books or my ereader.

Research has changed since I was in high school, for the better in one major way of course: the Internet. What a useful tool to find out stuff; however, as recommended years ago by colleagues, I also double and triple check the information I find there. I don't want to get my facts wrong if I can help it. Interviewing people is another wonderful way to get information. If you do research, what is your favorite source of information?

Well, I'm off to do some work. Take care!

Monday, February 14, 2011

About today

Hello, and happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Visualizing and making changes

Here is an interesting quote by William James (1842-1910)
"There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking."

What do you think about this? It makes a lot of sense to me. On a physical level, they say, "You are what you eat," right?

Well, your thoughts have a lot to do with the surroundings you find yourself in. Some would say it's the opposite, and in certain cases it is. But due to free will and the choices we make, our lives take on a specific shape. The above quote, besides coming across as psychologically sound to me also feels accurate in the mystical sense, that law of attraction thing. I've often noted that people of different faiths, with different backgrounds and living in different eras and cultures say exactly the same thing but with unique words.

Visualizing is a strong tool and worth the practice to master. It's never too late to make your life better and that of people around you. I'm still working on it myself.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A warm welcome to author Nell Gavin

Hello, Nell, and welcome. Please describe your current work and tell us where to find it.

Blurb or excerpt:

Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn

When Henry and Anne meet in 1970, they presume they're meeting for the first time.

     They don't know they were married 434 years before. They don't know they parted on bad terms. Anne has no idea why she has a compulsion to punish Henry, a man she's only just met, and he has no idea why he can't be near her without falling in love.

      They don't know they are bona fide soul mates, bound to each other through eternity. They don't know that this meeting is a test...

     Several lifetimes ago, and hundreds of years earlier in 1536, Henry and Anne were at the mercy of influences outside their control, explosively incompatible, and caught in a marriage that ended in betrayal so shocking that Anne required lifetimes to recover.

     Henry, seemingly in defense of Anne (but more likely acting out of "stubborn perverseness", she observes), terrorized England and decreed widespread political murder in order to protect her. Ultimately, to Anne's horror, this once passionate husband turned on her and had her executed as well.
 
     Threads, a reincarnation fantasy, opens with Anne's execution. Her fury at her husband’s betrayal has enough momentum to survive centuries, but in Threads she learns that she has been assigned a hard task: she must review their history together through a number of past lives, and find it within herself to forgive him. This may prove difficult and take some time. The husband in question is Henry Tudor, the notorious Henry VIII. The narrator is the stubborn, volatile Anne Boleyn, who is not at all inclined to forgive. 

     It is a very unusual love story.

How were you inspired to write about such a fascinating topic?

I have always been somewhat of a religious heretic. I probably thought about religion more than most, and asked the hard questions. I examined world religions and came to conclusions. One of the things I always came back to was reincarnation, so I studied up on it, and decided I believed in it more than the religion I had been brought up with.

There were fictional books on reincarnation, but they never seemed to pull the laws of karma into the story. They didn’t ring true. To me, we’re all on a journey, and all here to learn. We’re in different grades, but we’re essentially all in school. I wanted to read a book that described the learning process, and the transformation we all go through as we evolve. No one seemed to have written it. So I did.

What is your background in this area, and what interesting information about
it did you discover during your research?


My only background in the Tudors came from living 13 miles from a Renaissance festival. We went every year. I had friends who worked the show, and I frequently helped them out, in costume. The king was Henry VIII and his queen was Anne Boleyn. In this particular festival, they were in their “honeymoon” phase before Elizabeth was born a girl, and Anne got bitchy.

I would look at them playfully teasing each other for an audience and think, “She’d skin him alive, if they met up today!” I had years of study and contemplation brewing in me, about karma and reincarnation. I started doing calculations in my head about what past actions would result in this or that, and it started turning into a story.

I began studying them when I began writing.

Probably the most interesting thing I learned about the Tudors were their toilet habits. I sat in a library and devoured a book about Tudor architecture, amazed by what I was reading.

It seems that courtiers would relieve themselves in the palace gardens, causing an unpleasant stench. Henry VIII couldn’t get them to stop, so he had crosses painted all along the fences. It was blasphemy to pee on a cross, so problem solved.

The palace also had plumbing, with hot and cold running water. Amazing to even consider, and I was astonished! Who knew? Also, It turns out, all the fine lords and ladies would relieve themselves in a unisex room, together. It was essentially a closet with a long board that had holes carved into it. The waste ended up in a bricked up container that occasionally needed to be cleaned. They hired (?) children and dwarves to clean it out because they needed someone small enough to fit into the opening. That was perhaps the worst job in history, in my opinion.

How is your approach different from others?

I don’t pattern myself after anyone else because I am not trying to be a “writer”. I get locked into a story, and I get obsessed, and the only way to tell it is to write it, so that’s what I do. I am not doing it because of a lifelong dream of being an author. It’s more like taking a dose of Ipecac. I write to purge. I’m not prolific. A book takes me years. And when I’m done, I feel better. “Threads” was a purgative for some events I had experienced when I was young. “All Torc’d Up” was a purgative for some events that happened a little later. I have another one coming that will address the years following that. No ETA. Figure 10 years to publication.

I also write differently from other people. I write the beginning, and then I write the end. Then the middle builds itself – I never know how the story will find its way to the end. I go back and forth, back and forth, abandoning chapters when I stop seeing the words clearly, and come back to them when they’re fresh again. I write what strikes me at that moment – I never force myself into a routine. I write mountains of words, and then carve away at them until the story comes out. In fact, I had most of Threads written before I even knew what order the chapters would go in. One day I sat down and put them into a cohesive order, and was very relieved that it all fit together.

The most important thing, I’ve found, is honing and perfecting just one or two chapters – make them really beautiful, and then proceed. Writing is mainly drudgery with a few precious and very fleeting moments of “inspiration” and “brilliance”. There’s a sense of hopelessness that follows you when you read your first draft. First drafts are deadly to your confidence. So I make sure to have one or two really finely-honed chapters I can fall back on, to reassure myself that I can do it. When I get discouraged, I read them.


Favorite authors?

Harper Lee, Betty Smith, Anne Frank…I prefer female authors to male authors, just because they delve a little deeper into the psyche. I’m not much for car chases.

When did you get your first ³Yes² and how long did it take you?  Did you get
your first story published after trying for a while, or did you write many
novels first?


I actually got my first yes by e-mail. I self-published “Threads” because I had serious concerns that a publisher wouldn’t “get” it. Some people don’t. So I went it alone.

When “Threads” first came out, I had a book signing and sold about 10 books. One of these books went to someone who knew a movie producer, and she passed the book along to him. He contacted me and wanted to make Threads into a movie. I couldn’t find an agent, and I’d read the horror story of Mrs. Von Trapp (The Sound of Music) who got $5,000 for the rights to her story, while Hollywood made millions. I didn’t want to do it without an agent, so I said no. Then, the second offer came about a year later, and I STILL couldn’t get an agent, so I turned that one down as well. When the third offer came, and I got two author friends to offer up their agents, so I picked one. She negotiated my contract for me. However, the movie never came to be.

Then an agent in Italy wanted to sign me. She had “Threads” translated, and sold it to a publisher in Europe.

It was very strange. I would sign into e-mail…how were these people finding my book? I never did find out.

Do you have other work out, such as short stories that readers can look at?

I’m not really a writer in the sense that I write whenever I can. I never wrote before “Threads”, and since then I’ve written “All Torc’d Up”. My profession was “Technical Writer”, so I wrote that. But that’s primarily all I’ve got.

What is your advice to aspiring authors concerning the craft of writing, a
writer¹s life or your genre of choice? Marketing?


You have to have a network. You have to have a group of people, a forum, a board, SOMETHING, that keeps you apprised of what’s going on. Things changed so quickly in the past few years. Paperback sales are dying. E-books are selling like hotcakes. You need to have a group of other authors who can hold your hand through the process, proofread your pitches, and give you honest feedback.

What should aspiring authors know about the publishing industry (besides
everything)?  Is there something important in particular that you have
learned?


I am not the sort of person who would do well with a traditional publisher. I put too much effort into it to water it down, or to consider “markets”, or what have you. I wouldn’t do well with being told to change things. I do know this: Indie publishers are making money. Traditionally published authors are languishing. The whole world is upside down.

Please tell us about your upcoming work.

My newest book is available at Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/38162. It will be available at other online vendors, including Amazon, shortly.

All Torc’d Up

In Chicago, 1958, a gunshot alters four-year old Holly’s life: her mentally ill mother has just committed suicide. Holly is subsequently raised by her grandmother whose abusive parenting laid the groundwork for her mother’s death.

Surviving her childhood, but still damaged and angry, 19-year-old Holly unexpectedly falls in love. Dreams of marriage and children, and a "normal" life, are suddenly within her grasp when she meets Trevor, who works as a roadie for a famous English rock band. However, as the relationship progresses she suspects that she may be more damaged than she previously thought.

Within the world of 1970s Rock and Roll, and with the bus, and the band and its entourage as a backdrop, the story takes Holly on tour across country as her relationship with Trevor gets progressively more serious, and her illness gets increasingly more difficult to hide.

Where can readers find you?
www.nellgavin.com

Thank you so much for being my guest today and taking time out to do this
interview! When I first heard about your book, Threads, I knew I had to have
it.  I really enjoyed it and will be looking for your other work. I
appreciate your time and insights.  Sincerely, Laura Hogg

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A warm welcome to author Marianne Stephens

Welcome, Marianne. I'm happy to host one of the stop of your blog tour for your nonfiction book, "Guilty Survivor - Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall".

Guilty Survivor – Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall
Link: http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/MarianneStephens.html

BLURB:

Tamerla Kendall is the woman you see rooting for her son at sporting practice. You might meet her in a grocery story. Perhaps you’ll see her planting a garden behind her home. Or, talk to her at school or work. She’s a student, worker, wife and mother.

Surviving a dark past is hidden by her façade of an everyday, average life. Reading her memoirs will reveal her true struggle to survive in a war zone, and is a testament to her courage.

Bosnian Croat, Tamerla Kendall, lived through the carnage and chaos in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Hers is a story of courage, fear, ingenuity, and survival. Difficult choices she made then still disturb her peace of mind and life today.

She made a few trips out of Sarajevo, only to return to keep the family restaurant business operating. One carefully planned, secretive trip was made to remove her daughter from the dangers of fighting, but this created a heartbreaking rift in their relationship. For her second trip, Tamerla masqueraded as a United Nations Protection Forces soldier and rode in a tank. A uniform and travel assistance came from a Ukrainian general.

Her hopes for a return to normalcy at war’s end diminished as corruption and religious zealots took control. She married an American, and this marked her as an outcast by some she’d trusted. When her life was threatened at gunpoint, she faced a critical decision concerning her family’s safety in her beloved country.

Could you please tell us about this memoir?
Hi, and thank you for interviewing me!
Bosnian Croat, Tamerla Kendall, lived through the carnage and chaos in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Hers is a story of courage, fear, ingenuity, and survival. Difficult choices she made then still disturb her peace of mind and life today.

What got you interested in this story?
I’ve ghostwritten one other nonfiction book and enjoyed the challenge of “getting into someone else’s head” and writing their story in first person. A mutual friend introduced us and when I heard some of her story details, I felt as if it would make a good book.

Do you have any personal connections to the people involved?
Over the past two years, I’ve gotten to know Tamerla. We’d meet for interview sessions where I’d take notes (and tape-record our talks) as Tamerla told her story. Her English has vastly improved, and as someone who didn’t see her everyday, I always noticed an improvement.

How did you gather the information?
Tamerla and I would meet and I’d gather her information as she spoke of her life before, during, and after the war. I also interviewed her second husband, an American, to gain some perspective from his point of view on some issues.

I contacted a professor in Austria, Dr. Florian Bieber, who’d written reports for the United Nations about the Bosnian War. I explained what I was writing and asked if I could use some of his statements in the books for historical reference. Instead of using information from UN reports, he graciously allowed me to use pages from the book he wrote about the Bosnian War.

What did you learn from working on this project?
Everyone has a story to tell! It may not be as dangerous and eventful as living through a war, but we all have so much in our background. Celebrities and politicians write their biographies, but everyday people have many fascinating life stories to tell, too.

Tamerla Kendall is the woman you see rooting for her son at sporting practice. You might meet her in a grocery story. Perhaps you’ll see her planting a garden behind her home. Or, talk to her at school or work. She’s a student, worker, wife and mother.

Surviving a dark past is hidden by her façade of an everyday, average life. Reading her memoirs will reveal her true struggle to survive in a war zone, and is a testament to her courage.

What feelings do you have about this?
I feel as if I know someone who lived through danger for days, weeks, years, and yet, never gave up hope. Tamerla set her goal…to save the family business and that was her motivation.
We can all be inspired to achieve our goals, just as she did. Quitting wasn’t an option, and finding inner strength is a key to success.

Is there anything you would like your readers to know?
Of interest to readers, Tamerla made a few trips out of Sarajevo, only to return to keep the family restaurant business operating. One carefully planned, secretive trip was made to remove her daughter from the dangers of fighting, but this created a heartbreaking rift in their relationship.

For her second trip, Tamerla masqueraded as a United Nations Protection Forces soldier and rode in a tank. A uniform and travel assistance came from a Ukrainian general.

Her hopes for a return to normalcy at war’s end diminished as corruption and religious zealots took control. She married an American, and this marked her as an outcast by some she’d trusted. When her life was threatened at gunpoint, she faced a critical decision concerning her family’s safety in her beloved country.

Is there anything else you¹d like to add?
I’ve also written 4 mainstream romance books (under the pen name Marianne Stephens) and 2 erotic romance books (under the pen name April Ash).

http://www.mariannestephens.net
http://www.aprilash.net

Where to find my books:

Marianne Stephens - Ellora’s Cave Mainstream “Blush” (was Cerridwen) imprint:
http://www.jasminejade.com/m-310-marianne-stephens.aspx

April Ash - Ellora’s Cave Erotic books:
http://www.jasminejade.com/m-441-april-ash.aspx

Marianne Stephens - Breathless Press:
http://www.breathlesspress.com

Marianne Stephens – Secret Cravings Publishing Nonfiction Imprint – Living and Learning:
http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/MarianneStephens.html

Marianne Stephens – Amazon Books: ebooks and print:
 http://www.amazon.com/Marianne-Stephens/e/B003NT0QSQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_6?qid=1293604293&sr=8-6

April Ash – Amazon Books: ebooks and print:
http://www.amazon.com/April-Ash/e/B003OJRSSG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1293604456&sr=1-1

Marianne Stephens and April Ash – All Romance Ebooks – Search for names:
http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html

Nonfiction Book:
Publisher: Secret Cravings (Imprint: Living and Learning)
Buy Link: http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/MarianneStephens.html
http://www.mariannestephens.net

Guilty Survivor – Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall
Link: http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/MarianneStephens.html

Unofficial Excerpt:

Restaurant Meli was attacked more than once by grenades. I was downstairs in the bakery area the first time when a grenade was thrown. It destroyed my beautiful winter garden. There was broken glass and debris everywhere and the storefront was damaged.

My first reaction was one of fear and panic. I froze where I stood, wondering if the basement had also been hit and damaged. My heart skipped a beat, and then began beating wildly. What if I’d been upstairs? What if customers and my employees had been there? Then, my fear turned to anger. Why was this happening? Who were the cowards who tried to steal my sanity and wanted to drive me away?

That same day, my employees and I put up a heavy protective wall covering in the front of the restaurant. This remained in place during the war and for some time after the war ended.

In that one instant, everything changed before my eyes. I had felt a kind of safety I’d convinced myself existed inside my restaurant. I now knew that was no longer true.

Another time, a grenade destroyed my roof. After my initial sense of heart-pounding fear, anger again took its place. I let frustration rule my senses. I got up on the roof and had some employees help me repair the damage.

It was a long, difficult job, and a saner person might have considered how vulnerable we were standing out in the open. I’d gone beyond sane level thinking and just wanted to fix the damn roof. My employees didn’t balk at this, but joined me in doing the job quickly.

We had to put rolls of material and hot asphalt on the roof. Roof attacks happened five or six times. We fell into a routine of accomplishing repair work between sniper attacks.

Death and destruction were everywhere. There was no avoiding this. Ignoring it as if it didn’t happen on a regular basis would be like ignoring an elephant sitting in the restaurant.

Wow, Marianne, this sounds fascinating and touching. Thanks so much for sharing, and I wish you well with the book!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The world's first novelist

About a thousand years ago, the earliest novel in human history was written. Lady Murasaki, or Murasaki Shikibu (born in the late tenth century) was a Japanese poet and novelist, best known as the author of The Tale of Genji, the first novel (written in the early eleventh century). The book has also been called the first psychological novel. Sounds interesting. Someday I may have to check it out.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another list

Hello, here's a list of different animals, one for each letter of the alphabet, just for the fun of it:
Aardwolf, badger, cockatoo, donkey, ewe, ferret, gazelle, hedgehog, iguana, jackal, kangaroo, lemur, mongoose, newt, otter, porpoise, quail, rhinoceros, sloth, toad, umbrella bird, vole, walrus, xenops, yak, zebra.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A good reference for writers or those who love the English language

Hello, I just got this book on the English language. It has many interesting references in it and will surely be helpful for writing; especially since I love to write historical work. If a word seems too modern for the setting of my story, I'll look it up. It's divided into sections such as "In Use by 1600."

Here's an example from the book: "One could blab by 1400, blabber by 1470, and be a blab by 1350." Huh, I would have guessed these terms to be newer. I'm going to have fun learning with this book because I love language. :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A creative endeavor

Hello, for fun, I tried to make a hemp and bead necklace. This is my very first attempt. I know I need to practice, but as a kid, I'd make my own doll clothes--the other kids made fun of them, but that's okay--so I know I have the potential to improve, lol. :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

CSN stores review

Hello, I was lucky enough to get to do a review for CSN stores again. With over 200 stores containing products ranging from art to furniture to shoes, and much more, there is so much to choose from.
This time, I chose a pair of shoes and a little handbag for review. I was not financially compensated for this and offer only my honest opinion on the matter.

For the shoes, I chose a pair of Aerosoles. I've worn other shoes by them before and was very happy due to the comfort of the shoes and the fact that they were stylish. Comfort and style...two things that I think go great together, especially since I walk a lot and don't want to get sore feet. (Also, having once been a professional nail technician, I know what poor-fitting shoes do to feet over time--no thank you!)

The pair of Aerosoles that I already have are flats. This pair here that I'm reviewing has heels, but rather wide heels (another good thing for me since I don't do well with narrow heels--most of my shoes are flats).

Being being drawn to this brand again I also chose this pair of shoes because they're attractive. I work in a private school, one-on-one with students in my office. The shoes have a professional, yet fashionable look to them. I will most often wear them to work, and the heel won't be a problem for me because I sit at my job. These shoes look really classy and will go great with my work clothes, but they're adorable enough that I'd wear them on the weekend too, perhaps with jeans? I'll have to try that. They'd go well with a skirt too.

Okay, now for the second test: would they be as comfortable as that other pair that I have with this brand name? I had to unzip the side to get them on then walked around. They were a tad loose, but not enough to be a problem. I won't be able to wear thin socks with them though, or there would be too much wiggle room. That's okay for me though. My feet get cold easily, and I don't like thin socks anyway. They weren't AS comfortable as those flats I own, but they weren't uncomfortable, and flats are supposed to be cozier on the feet than heels anyway. They feel better than high heels though, by far. When I chose this pair to review, I took a small chance because of the heels, but seeing their width, I shrugged off my concern. Walking in them, I wobbled a little, but I haven't worn heels since I was in my twenties (the Clinton years). I'll get used to that fast though, I'm sure, because they're not that high.













Now for the stats: Aerosoles Egg Role Pump:

*The shoes of the Egg Role collection come in black fabric, black leather, gray leather, and dark brown. I got the black fabric pair.
  • Distressed glazed leather upper
  • Rubber sole
  • Fabric lining with zipper
  • Manmade suede sock liner
  • Self covered heel and buttons
  • 3' heel

This is a good brand, and I'd buy from them again. Dealing with CSN stores is great, as usual. I like the fast, friendly service, and shopping online simplifies things for me because I mostly rely on the bus and walking. Having more than 200 stores in one place is another convenience. One can find a variety of things without having to spend the whole day searching around. The shoes arrived in the mail in good condition and in a timely matter.

Now for the second item I received for review: A Murval Max Quilted Wristlet.

I don't carry around a purse, but rather a backpack because I'm a voracious reader, and as an author (I write at night when I get home from work) I'm constantly researching and lug books with me everywhere. Sometimes though, all I need is my wallet and maybe one other item when I walk into a store or a restaurant. Bringing in the backpack would be too much. When I saw this wristlet, I was intrigued. My wallet and itouch could fit in it when I have to leave my backpack behind.

I'm a practical person, but I'm also an artist. I used to draw a lot, but I play two instruments and used to be in a rock band. Looking for an item that was both useful and logical for me as well as being cute and unique, I was drawn to this little wristlet. It arrived in the mail shortly after the shoes. I put my wrist through the chain like a bracelet. It was a good size; not too big.






It looks good and does the job. Now for the stats:

  • Constructed of 100% cotton
  • Interior lining is 100% polyester
  • Bag closure is with a zipper along side
  • Fabrication is canvas soft
  • Do not soak in water
  • Dimensions: 6" H x 6" W x 1.5" D
MURVAL is a French company founded in Paris by 2 sisters, Muriel and Valerie.  Kind of cool.The Wristlet came with a tag that had a friendly little note from the sisters, adding to its charm.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Some random, interesting things

Hello, I'm reading this book called The Book of General Ignorance: Everything You Think You know is Wrong by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson. There are many things in it I found surprising. I'll list a few, briefly. :)

According to this book:

A person is more likely to be killed by an asteroid than by lightning.
Camels come from North America.
The Universe is oficially beige (not black with silvery bits).
Who blew the nose off the Sphinx? (Not Napoleon. The most likely answer is 6000 years of wind and weather on it.)
The place of baseball's invention? England. (Really?)
How many states does the United States have? Technically, 46. Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts are officially commonwealths. (I guess I was born in a commonwealth.)
What do camels have in their humps? Fat. (The only one that didn't surprise me.)
How long is the day? Depends on some different factors but never exactly 24 hours long. It can be as much as 50 seconds more or less than this.
The longest animal? The bootlace worm. (I guessed the blue whale.)
And the loudest thing in the ocean? Shrimps.
Okay, I'm officially surprised. The book is filled with tons of these, and it gives elaboration.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's greetings

Hello, I hope you have a wonderful, inspiring, happy new year!