Friday, March 27, 2015

Interview with historical thriller author K. Williams

We’re ending the week with an interview with historical thriller author K. Williams about the novel OP-DEC: Operation Deceit.

K. Williams will be awarding a grand prize of a paperback of OP-DEC: Operation Deceit (US only) to one randomly drawn winner and a digital copy of the book to 10 randomly drawn winners. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Bio:
Born in Saratoga Springs, New York, K.Williams embarked on a now twenty year career in writing. After a childhood, which consisted of voracious reading and hours of film watching, it was a natural progression to study and produce art.

K attended Morrisville State College, majoring in the Biological Sciences, and then continued with English and Historical studies at the University at Albany, home of the New York State Writer’s Institute, gaining her Bachelor’s Degree. While attending UA, K interned with the 13th Moon Feminist Literary Magazine, bridging her interests in social movements and art. At the same time, K’s first book project, Blue Honor, was underway. Blue Honor originated as a creative final project and independent study, regarding the civil war, which places fictional characters into a non-fictional realm, to display the social realities of the time. Topics include gender limitations, racial disparities, and the trauma of war. Now, Blue is both a full-length novel and an adapted spec. To see some of her favorite causes, click here.

Following Blue, K worked on the screen spec 8 Days in Ireland and also the spec for the first incarnation of The Trailokya Trilogy, then called Faith Fallen. After publishing Blue, K produced her second novel OP-DEC:Operation Deceit, to rave reviews by Kirkus Indie, NY Indie and Midwest Book Review.

Currently, K has completed the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program for Film Studies and Screenwriting at Empire State College (SUNY), and is the 2013-2014 recipient of the Foner Fellowship in Arts and Social Justice. K continues to write and is preparing to release her new series The Trailokya Trilogy, a work that deals with topics in Domestic Violence and crosses the controversial waters of organized religion and secularism. A sequel to OP-DEC is in the research phase, while the adaptation is being shopped to interested film companies.

Excerpts of these and more writings can be found here.

Welcome, K. Please tell us about your current release.
OP-DEC is my second historical novel and stands out as my favorite in my catalog thus far (I have six books (three yet unpublished but written, including the sequel to OP)). Most spy thrillers take place in either modern times or the iconic 1950s, post war. Instead, I wanted to show the harrowing exploits of a class of military personnel who have the biggest impact on how operations turn out – the intelligence class. The game of secrets is necessary and important part of any conflict, and it quite possibly is the reason that the German forces were unsuccessful in sustaining their domination of Europe. They didn’t value intelligence as much as the Allied forces and research shows a structure mired in suspicion that could have benefitted from greater trust. Thankfully, that did not come to pass.

What inspired you to write this book?
My love of the time period has been a long one. I have memories of watching documentaries with my father. Being awed that my grandfather had served in the Merchant Marine (lying to join) and heartbroken that he lost a brother during the course of the war. There is something about the generation that pulled us through the conflict and liberated Europe that seems absent from subsequent generations and whatever that is, it is inspiring. I wish I could put my finger on it exactly. That respect and interest culminated in a very comical, bizarre and auspicious dream one night that gave rise to the narrative.


Excerpt from OP-DEC:
“Carsten stood with his pistol pressed to the temple of her attacker’s head. The expression on his face rivaled her father’s usual mien. He spoke in measured German and the man backed up. Carsten’s gaze flicked to her and he murmured gentle assurances. The hate was clear in his eyes, but his concern had taken away its energy.

Claire’s attacker put his hands up and lowered onto his knees before Carsten’s pistol. Claire pushed along the wall wanting to be as far from the horrible man as possible. Carsten reached his hand out to her, keeping his gun and eyes on the man who’d sought to violate her. Carsten pulled her to him, and she buried her face against his shoulder.

“Hauptmann,” Kohl’s voice called, trying to deescalate the situation.

He stood over the only other surviving perpetrator, who knelt with his hands clasped behind his head and sniveling.

Carsten spoke again. Then his gun reported. Multiple times.

They stood for several moments in the silence that followed. Claire wept quietly against Carsten’s shoulder not looking at the scene. She knew he’d shot the remaining men.

Soon, other soldiers and passerby crowded the entrance.

“You cause me so much trouble, Fräulein,” Carsten’s voice came.

The soldiers coming into the alley looked confused by the three dead soldiers at the feet of the suited men. Kohl stepped forward, attempting to explain, holding his hands up and his pistol dangling from his thumb harmless. It did little good. The gathered soldiers dragged them back to the command tents at the port to answer for the crime.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m polishing up OP-GHO: Operation Ghost, which will be the sequel to OP-DEC. I will be releasing the first installment of a trilogy I finished early last year in April: The Trailokya Trilogy, Book 1: The Shadow Soul. After that—maybe a sequel to Blue Honor, my first novel, perhaps something else historical or maybe I will continue with the fantasy world of my trilogy. I haven’t yet decided.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Reflecting back I think it was the moment that a professor of mine said: “If you write—then you are a writer. That is all it takes to be a writer. So write. The other stuff will come.” Or some such mix of those words. Professor Jill Hanifan, University at Albany English Professor…she was an inspiration. One of my poems that I shared with her while I was secretary of the graduate program there (well after graduation from the English Bachelor program), she said it reminded her of Charlotte Bronte. Professor Hanifan is a poet, and that was a lofty compliment!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write full time and I work another job full time. I know! I write when the mood takes me or not (this could be into the wee hours of the morning when I have to be up early for work the next day). If my mood is sour, I haven’t been writing—life happens. I support my art by working as a secretary for a college. It provides me time to focus on other things so the work can ruminate, listen and experience so that I’m not quarantined from life and have things to write about later. If I were able to write full time, I am afraid that being a recluse would be the norm. I’m a total introvert and love being so for most hours of the day (with my dog). Cutting off completely however, that might turn out to be more of a nightmare than a dream come true. That said, I do prefer more time alone than with others (unless they’re dogs).

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Post it notes. Scrap paper plotting. Lying down to go to bed and popping back up to write a note on a scrap of paper in the dark and finding it legible in the morning. Or—maybe it’s that my dreams churn out some pretty amazing story lines.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actor, probably. I wanted to pretend to be someone else and go on adventures. I didn’t really want to be anyone other than myself, so maybe all that pretend play was just me really wanting to go on those epic adventures I saw in the movies, or read in my books. I was comfortable with who I was—I just wanted to do interesting things, exciting things.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you for taking the time to read about me and my work. I hope that you’ve enjoyed my answers and will seek to learn more. Thank you to Lisa Haselton for the opportunity to share.

Links:


Thank you, K! Happy writing.


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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Special excerpt from fantasy novel Fire Above by C. H. MacLean

Today’s special feature is the fantasy novel, Fire Above, by C. H. MacLean.

During his virtual book tour, C. H. will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice) to a lucky winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

A bit about the author:
To young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You'll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.'s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She's just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.” C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality.

But toys were not mature, and stories weren't respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.'s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn't leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I'm not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.'s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it's not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or...” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five pets, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

Blurb about the novel:
I love her so much, I'd risk anything.

She and I don't have names. We're just slaves, after all. But our hearts don't care, and we're lucky, we have a chance at a scrap of happiness in our terrible lives. My father is the Queen's pet.

But when my love discovers the lords' newest atrocity, she lashes out, does the unthinkable, and attacks one of them. Her courage is heroic, but now they have stuffed her in prison, getting ready to slaughter her.

With nothing to lose, I dare to dream of a life far from the lords. I fight for our freedom, and escape to the woods with my love. We can do no less than free all of our people in the effort.

Our flight through the woods is only the start of our journey. The lords’ flaming attacks, their deception, the loss of so many of my people—I don't know if I will survive, or if I even want to. But for my love, I will do almost anything, even battle the fire above.


Excerpt from Fire Above:
My father opened the small door and his eyes lit up for a brief second. He must be alone. We were still in the hall, though, so I said, “I live to serve.”

“I live to serve,” he said, moving aside and ushering me in.

His office always looked the same. Fireballs hovering in the corners cast flickering but bright light around the small room. Baskets of tally sticks lined the room in an order only he understood, stacks of the thin sheets of metal the lords used to hold language on the one table in the room. No chair or decoration. Looking like a storage closet, this room saw most of the information about the empire.

Inside, my father relaxed a hair. He gave me a half-smile and put one hand on my shoulder. “Where were you?” he said in low tones. “They need a runner to go to the far southeast village.”

“The lords wanted to collect a package from oldest brother's house,” I said. “They Called his youngest.”

“Already?” he said, his eyes falling. All three of my grandsons, I heard him think. I thought I had more time. He thought about telling me something else, something serious. Once again I considered telling him I could hear his thoughts, so he might as well just talk to me. Once again, I rejected the idea. My ability was close to magic, and everyone knew only lords could use magic. I loved my father, but didn't know how he would react.

Links:


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Interview with romantic suspense author Morgan K. Wyatt

Today I have an interview with romantic suspense author Morgan K. Wyatt. She’s chatting about writing, and in particular, her new novel Suspicious Circumstances: Love or Deception.

During her virtual book tour, Morgan will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Bio:
Morgan K Wyatt, raised on a steady diet of superheroes, believed she could fly at a very young age. After using trees, barn lofts, sliding boards, and even a second story window as launch pads, she found her flying skills were limited to fast and downward. By the age of nine, her dreams to be a superhero needed some modifications, which caused her to turn to writing and horseback riding as alternatives to flying.

At the age of twenty, she had another chance at superhero greatness as being one of the few female soldiers trained for combat. The fact that women will be able to serve in combat soon indicates that all the witnesses to the grenade incident have retired. The grenade incident didn’t prevent her two sons or daughter-in-law from enlisting in the service. Having different last names probably helped.

Morgan recently retired from teaching special needs students to write fulltime, instead of in the wee hours of the night. With the help of her helpful husband and loyal hound, she creates characters who often grab plot lines and run with them. As for flying, she prefers the airlines now.

Welcome, Morgan. Please tell us about your current release.
Love or Deception is a romantic suspense. Amy is convinced love isn’t part of her life. Her job in a top-secret chemical warfare project doesn’t leave her time for socialization. A delicious twist of fate has her bumping into her future husband at a conference. A whirlwind courtship and a beach wedding leaves Amy deliriously happy. Her only issue is her husband and memory both go missing at the same time. The worst part is no one can remember ever meeting her husband.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wondered what would be the worst thing that could happen to a woman who never expected to fall in love, but did.


Excerpt from Love or Deception:
Pushing off the bed, he stood and walked toward her, placing both hands on her shoulders. “You have no clue how beautiful you are. I find your intelligence incredibly alluring, but I think Dirk was interested in you because you were the only female in the building who wasn’t panting after him.”

He called her beautiful again. Not the most effusive compliment she’d ever received, but then she hadn’t received many. All her compliments dealt with her work as opposed to her appearance. Theron didn’t employ models for their research. The chemicals used in the labs, along with safety features, made flowing hair, skirts, and even cosmetics undesirable. Of course, the skirts were more about the searches. No woman wanted to have the guard pushing the metal wand underneath her skirt during the twice-daily searches, even if in many ways, they were just drones for the company.

“That might have been true. I can’t recall why I went out with him. I do remember him to be lacking in intellect.”

Ryan’s lips twisted up in a smirk. “Yeah, that’s what all the women want in a guy. I am not totally sure if they care if he can talk.”

His hands still rested on her shoulders. It wasn’t uncomfortable. She considered it reassuring, but puzzling. Her memory might be lacking in many aspects, but she was sure they were not this touchy feely with each other. Ryan’s anxiety showed in the way he held his shoulders. Odd that she’d known that, but they’d been working together almost a third of her life. “What is it? There is something you want to say, and it’s troubling you.”



What exciting story are you working on next?
Several things are in process. I have a non-fiction dating book, which will be out soon. I’m also 75% done with a cozy mystery that I’m writing with my husband called The Painted Lady Inn Mystery Series.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably in junior high, when I had a poem published. Guess that made me more of a poet.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your workday like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Currently, I substitute teach, but try to write a 1000 words before work. I edit after work. Whenever we drive somewhere as a couple, I take my computer and work in the car as my husband drives.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I do my best work in bed, with headphones on, and the curtains drawn. It cuts out distractions.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to fly like Superman and write, but I settled for just writing.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I have several public appearances coming up in April at the Jeffersonville, IN Author Faire, Zionsville, IN Author Faire, & Midwest Authors (Indianapolis). I love meeting readers.

Links:


Thanks, Morgan!


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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Interview with fantasy author Alexander Fernandez

Today I have an interview with fantasy author Alexander Fernandez. He’s doing a virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for his newest novel, Tears for a World.

During his tour, he’ll be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice) to a lucky winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

Bio:
Alexander Fernandez was born in Santa Monica, CA and grew up in Rancho Cucamonga. Currently serving over 20 years in the United States Air Force, he lives with his wife Helem in Rocklin, CA.

Alex has been writing fantasy stories since early childhood for both school and for pleasure. He hopes to make a lasting emotional impact in his readers. He thrives in the exhilaration of creating memorable characters and adventures that become a part of the reader’s life.


Welcome, Alexander. Please tell us about your current release.
Hello Lisa, I really appreciate the time you took to host Tears for a World on your site. I’d also like to thank Goddess Fish Promotions for their support. The story is a fantasy involving sorcery and a mysterious, scorned religious power. There is plenty of drama and action involving one-on-one fights, battles between armies, and a budding romance. Some themes from the novel reflect our daily lives, such as practicing faith or not, or believing if a deity exists at all. In this story, 16 year-old Marisylia Malludar must not only find faith that a goddess exists, but she must also decide if the deity is good or evil. She alone has the capability to release the goddess from prison.

What inspired you to write this book?
My incessant (and sometimes annoying) imagination and need to create were a large part of my inspiration. As a child, I had always written short stories with different genres. However, as I grew older I had always dreamed of writing a full length fantasy novel. That motivation came from Lloyd Alexander, award-winning author of the Chronicles of Prydain.


Excerpt from Tears for a World:
Marisylia nodded, then reached out and touched his shoulder. “Thank you for watching over me, Krahn. You haven’t stopped doing that since the explosion. All those days I wrapped myself in seclusion, but I do realize how much you’ve been here for me.”

Krahn turned toward her on the bench. Unexpected heat rose in Marisylia’s cheeks as their eyes met. Her hand still rested on his shoulder. His arm moved as if to touch her leg, but his hand ended up on his knee. “You’re very welcome,” he said. “But I’m just doing my job, Mari. Security has been my life for many years. With Milick in Three Fingers, I can return to Lenth knowing you are safe.”

Disappointment pressed Marisylia like a weight, pinning her to the bench. Is that what he had been doing all this time, merely performing his job? Did he not care about their effort at a relationship that began in Lenth? Apparently he wanted to return home. She then felt a bit naïve as the warmth returned to her cheeks. Of course Krahn was doing his job, that’s what he had been hired to do. And truthfully, their short time together in the city didn’t warrant a full loving commitment, as if they had been a couple for years.

Still, after everything they had experienced together, she hoped Krahn had developed more affection for her. She certainly had grown to appreciate him, and found his company reassuring.


What exciting story are you working on next?
Writing is funny, because I get excited whether I’m creating one sentence or five pages! Tears for a World is the first book in the Lonely World Trilogy, so right now I am working on the second book in the series, Tears for Love. The cover designer, Angela Rogers, is currently putting together the art and I am going over some edits. There is no release date yet, but hopefully early summer.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I remember when my 5th grade teacher chose to read my cave-exploring adventure story in front of the whole class. I was mortified! However, I felt happy that he liked it as well as the other students. Then in 6th grade, I had déjà vu when the teacher read my monster-fighting Halloween story in front of the class. I felt mortified again, but that happiness returned knowing that some people actually enjoyed my writing. After that was when I took writing more seriously. 

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Military life and a hectic work schedule make writing difficult. I tend to write in small spurts, and finishing projects takes a long time. However, I always make an effort to have fresh ideas and scenes in my head, even while at work or driving. That way, when I do get to sit down, the writing comes easy and I never struggle with writer’s block or anything like that. The story is always there; I just don’t have the liberty to write for long stretches of time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
This is kind of embarrassing, but when I really get into a scene, I actually get out of the chair and act it out. I envision myself in the scene, I move around and gesture. It truly helps to capture the moment. I feel the character’s emotion and picture the surroundings. I then hop back into the chair and the writing comes easy.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I actually wanted to be a policeman or firefighter. In high school, I joined the police and fire department Explorers Program where you go to the station and they teach classes or you go on ride-alongs. However, I was a puny kid and am still small as an adult. I had trouble doing some of the activities, such as holding up the jaws-of-life while trying to cut open a car door. I also got queasy learning some of the paramedic stuff. Reality set in and I ended up joining the Air Force as a satellite communications technician.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Keep reading, and pass on your passion to children. Books are such amazing pieces of art. They spur imagination and bring us to places we dream about. In this technology-driven world of smartphones and computer games, I hope many children out there still want to pick up a book and read about Frodo and Sam, Nancy Drew, and my favorite Taran Wanderer.

Links:

Thanks, Alexander.


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Monday, March 23, 2015

Excerpt for romantic suspense novel The North Country Confessional by Craig C. Charles

Today is the kick-off for the virtual book tour of the romantic suspense mystery novel The North Country Confessional by Craig C. Charles.

During his tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, Craig will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a lucky winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

Welcome, Craig. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm a native New Englander. I grew up in the sleepy shoreline community of Madison, CT. After graduating from high school in the late 80's, I headed out West and spent a wonderful six years living in, exploring, and getting lost in the deserts of Arizona. After earning my B.S. from Arizona State University, I headed back East trying to find my path in life.

I found myself trying out MANY different careers. I learned the art of audio engineering and worked at a major recording studio in Manhattan for a while. I learned the nuances of fine wine from a wonderful South African man and sold libations in his high-end store. I sold power transmission equipment as a manufacturer's rep in the Northeast. Next I ventured into the publishing world when I signed on with Yankee Magazine working in their Community Partners Program. It was here at Yankee's headquarters in Dublin, NH that I fell in love with the art of writing and beauty of the Great North Woods of New Hampshire. I met tremendous people and embarked on my own quest to write an engaging mystery novel set in New England. However, I couldn't ignore the internal pull I felt to work with young people. I went back to school and earn a Masters of Education degree and embarked on a career as a special education teacher working primarily with autistic children. This has been my main profession for the past 14 years as I continued to write and work towards mastering the craft of writing. I love the creative process of writing and editing.

In short, I'm a lifelong learner who continues to absorb all I can about the world around me.


Here’s a bit about the novel:
Family roots, teachings, and tradition permeate Darby Weeks’s existence despite a two decades old decision to walk away from a life of privilege. They have given him the courage to survive under impossible conditions, but the most challenging of them all comes from an unexpected place: his return home. As heinous crimes peppered with riddles begin to plague the North Country, Darby's reappearance back home sparks an old rivalry between two families, releasing an evil to wreck vengeance upon everything around them. Darby's proposal of a truce between them not only fails to appease the rival family’s thirst for retribution; it fuels it. And the town of Bretton Woods lies between the two when old passions ignite and set forth new determinations to win an old struggle.

Reunited with an old flame and guided by a pompous blowhard, Darby sets out on a journey to learn the truth about his family’s past and their ancient blood feud with a ruthless industrialist. Darby’s quest leads him all over New England, from the rare books library at Dartmouth College to Author’s Ridge - the final resting place of the literary greats Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Emerson. Darby discovers family he’s never known and an insidious danger lurking in the arms of a rekindled love.


Excerpt from The North Country Confessional:

CHAPTER 1

Emily Baines glanced down at the streets of Midtown Manhattan from her corner office at Tither Publishing and fiddled with the single gray strand of Tahitian pearls that clung around her neck. Rush hour had already paralyzed the streets of the city as throngs of humanity struggled to reach their insignificant evening destinations. Worker ants, she told to herself.
           
She had stayed late, disrupting her normal evening routine of pilates and a massage as she awaited confirmation that the assignment was complete. Her cell phone buzzed, announcing the receipt of the message. A smile blossomed on her face as she read the expected news. The object of her attention had paid the fee just like so many other political malfeasance, celebrities, and religious buskers that Tither had squeezed over the years, avoiding what would have been a very messy and very public scandal. Dirt was her business and business was never better. She verified the $20,000,000 transfer had been processed.
           
Sitting down, Emily congratulated herself as she poured another glass of Perrier-Jouët and marveled at how far she had come: building Tither Publishing into a media giant with no equal. She rarely thought about the past, but the picture and associated story on the front page of the New York Times stopped her cold in her tracks, causing unfamiliar pangs of nostalgia.
           
“Darby S. Weeks,” she said slowly while biting her bottom lip and caressing her pearls. She paced her expansive office for a minute, looking at the picture as memories invaded her mind. Throwing the paper on her desk, she hastily buzzed her personal assistant.
           
“Olivia, I’m going home to Bretton Woods for a little vacation. Make the necessary arrangements. I want to be in the North Country by tomorrow.”
           
Ready or not, here I come, war hero.


Links:


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Friday, March 20, 2015

Interview with YA novel Practical Advice from an Evolved Soul by Marcus Dino

This Friday interview is with humorous and inspirational YA author Marcus Dino. He’s telling us about Practical Advice from an Evolved Soul and other things.

During the tour, Marcus will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice) to a lucky winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Welcome, Marcus. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Who am I who puts thoughts into the head of the eccentric struggling actress/waitress pounding the pavements of Hollywood who calls herself 'Fifi Larouche,' heroine of 'Fifi Anything Goes in the Double Os', 'Practical Advice from an Evolved Soul,' and 'Diary of a Mad Gen Yer?'

I grew up a lover of the great American novel reading books such as The Grapes of Warth, Jaws, and The Godfather. I've also a lover of old Hollywood movies. Somehow the combination of being a lover of great fiction and being a Hollywood movie buff inspired me to create Cheryl 'Fifi' Larouche, Hollywood actress who endures one crazy adventure after another.

I have also had a varied professional life outside of writing, starting out as an electrical engineer working for several large Aerospace companies to teaching math for many years at Los Angeles area middle schools. My teaching career helped me understand what Fifi needs to go through as an actress as the two professions require similar traits,

I also have masters degrees in both Electrical Engineering and Education and am a graduate of Chapman University. I am semi-retired and currently live in Santa Maria California.

Please tell us about your current release.
“Fullfill your destiny Fifi, as you wander through the Wilderness.” Goth her spirit guide tells her. What is 21st century actress/heroine Cheryl 'Fifi' Larouche's destiny? Is it her burning desire to be the greatest actress Hollywood has ever seen despite getting rejected from audition after another and her father constantly telling he didn't spend 'a quarter of a million dollars to send her to a top liberal arts college to be a waitress?” Is it Fifi's destiny as her spirit guides Goth and Au tell her that life is all about 'spiritual growth not being rich and famous' despite the fact Fifi can't stand than an actress with one tenth her talent land a role she knows she is more qualified for? 

Practical Advice from an Evolved Soul is the third in my 'Fifi' trilogy series after Hollywood novel Fifi and top ten Amazon bestseller in it's category anthology Diary of a Mad Gen Yer, dealing with Fifi's wild and wacky adventures. Like Diary, Evolved Soul is a humorous anthology of short stories, blogs, and poems but Evolved Soul also introduces the power of 'Twitte'r with Fifi's silly tweets' and good practical spiritual adice from Goth and Au, thus the name of the title Practical Advice from an Evolved Soul. Evolved Soul is partially meant to be entertaining YA fantasy with such eccentric off the wall characters not only Fifi and her college professor father Charles, but also a 200 year old English ghost called 'The 200 Year Old Great Writer' and Fifi's best friend Alocki, a brilliant science professsor whom Fifi says is an extraterrestrial from another star system and her equally brilliant but absent minded 'extraterrestrial' partner Helos. It is also a partially a 'spiritual book' with the advice that Au and Goth give. Of course Au and Goth are involved with many of Fifi's silly adventures.

What inspired you to write this book?
What inspired me to write a tweet in Fifi's 'silly tweets' 'Sometimes I just feel like a whole mess of cells that grew a mutated in the 20th and 21st century ..You know like a human petri dish...' or 'I used to see a shrink but now that I am in LA I see....a psychic.'

The inspiration to write Practical Advice from an Evolved Soul is just 'sponataneous creativity.' The reader immediately feels and identifies not only with her eccentricity and humor but also the real life struggles that Fifi goes through. Living in Los Angeles and getting a feel for the Hollywood scene I want the reader to get a bird eye's view of not only a Hollywood actress's career is like but what life is like living in LA. After writing Fifi I wanted to do something different in my approach to Fifi's characterization and decided to write 2 anthologies as oppose to sequel/prequel novels in Diary of a Mad Gen Yer and Practical Advice from an Evolved Soul. The silly poems, the silly tweets, the silly blogs all give the reader a fresh new perspective on who Fifi Larouche is as much and in my opinion more in depth than any novel would, There is also the added inspiration advice from Goth and Au that adds a creative advice to Evolved Soul.


Special excerpt:
(Excerpt from 'A Midsummer Night's Silliness')
QUEEN LYMPHAMA

This is a night when strange demons and vampires arrive to doth try to steal the soul of the innocent…Tonight oh Neptune after the party we shall call the Royal Apothecary who will doth conduct a potient out of bat wings and garlic and the tongues of TV talk show hosts and politicians and other vile and smelly things…And whoever I praytell drinks of this potient will scare off all evil souls and who ever drinks of this potient will be strong as anyone who drinketh such foul and smelly stuff would have to be strong…and crazy…Now.. Come my good king and my subjects let us now go to the party at the palace to intake in wine and merriment….

(Image of Ghost from Hamlet appears)

GHOST

What noblest of misfortunes that hath cursed my son Hamlet partakes thou fair Queen? I praytell that I shalt make amends for my son to be of assistance to thee…My son Hamlet at times hath not believed in me…I praytell thou noblest of Queens believe in me as I was once King Denmark…

QUEEN LYMPHAMA

I hath no misfortune oh Ghost of the King of Denmark…I praytell that thou may get into the minds of casting directors of good theater and good movies and good TV shows of which there are so few in 2012 and convince them of my acting abilities…Now Ghost of the King of Denmark a place where they doth are well known for changing men into women and women into men I doth praytell thou join us at the palace for an evening of wine, song, and merriment….


What exciting story are you working on next?
Obviously after writing three books dealing with Fifi's life my next project perhaps will be a screenplay. I'm also looking at converting Diary of a Mad Gen Yer from e book to print, finally I am hopefully entertaining a lot of Fifi's 'followers' on Twitter and Facebook. I try to do at least 2 or 3 tweets a day. Anything that's newsworthy and you can bet your bottom line 'Fifi' will be talking about it. Finally as you can see from the spiritual advice part from Goth and Au I have been interested in spiritually and my book may be a fiction or nonfiction book with a spirituality theme. Of course if it's fiction there is a good chance 'Fifi; will again be involved.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I considered myself a writer when I was in elementary school and had to write 'book reports.' I think as an elementary school student so many moons ago I liked English actually better than Math. Later on in high school I got more interested in Math, I wish to mentioned I bombed my Verbal SAT and took 'Bonehead English' in college. Writing is a skill, just like teaching, that is squired with time.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I sure wish I has the luxury to write full time. I still have to work part time to pay the bills, but that's why you can see my last 2 books are anthologies. Even if I wrote full time I have to hand it to authors Stephen King or Dean Koontz, I just do not have the imagination or stamina to write a full length novel. I did it once and that's enough. I get my ideas from say my wild and crazy dreams which inspired Fifi's 'silly dreams,' from people I meet, and believe it or not when I'm driving at night or places that I go to such as the supermarket. Where I don't get many ideas is sitting in front of my laptop. Believe it or not listening to classic rock while I'm driving or on my smart phone while I'm working out really stirs my imagination.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Writing Fifi's 'silly tweets' on my smart phone, I absolutely love Twitter. In my new screenplay Fifi tells Jerry her agent as she is struggling to make it as an actress she will has started writing the next Great American Novel while driving 60 mph in her truck on the Hollywood Fwy using her smart phone writing app. Of course when I tweet on my smart phone I make sure that I'm parked

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A doctor, a scientist, an actor, later in college which I know is not a child but you are still 'growing up,' a geologist, a mathematician, and engineer, which I became. As you can see I switched majors. And yes I wanted to be a writer as a kid. Marcus Dino as a named I penned as a kid and wanted to be a great science fiction writer as I loved reading Asimov and Bradbury. I have no idea why that name came to me, just sounds so noble. Obviously like most people I did not have an exact profession as a kid. Ironically I never considered being a teacher until I landed a teaching job as a mid-career and stuck with it.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The one thing I have enjoyed throughout my life is entertainment. When I read or write fiction or watch a movie or even a TV show (and there are so few entertaining TV shows today), or go to a play, I want to be entertained. This is what I have tried to do in the character of Fifi Larouche. I have tried to make her the most entertaining character I possibly can.

Website  

Evolved Soul can be purchased through major online bookstores such as Amazon and Smashwords

You can find me on Facebook and Twitter (over 7,500 followers) username: Fifilarouche

Thanks, Marcus!


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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Interview with memoirist Narissa Doumani

I have a special interview with memoirist Narissa Doumani today. She’s talking a bit about A Spacious Life: Memoir of a Meditator, as well as her writing life and other interests.

During her virtual book tour, Narissa will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice) to a lucky winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Bio:
Narissa Doumani is an Australian author, meditator, and mindfulness practitioner who previously carved out a career as a commercial model and presenter. Narissa is a graduate of the University of Melbourne (Bachelor of Science) and is now the student of a reclusive Thai Buddhist yogi. She is an avid appreciator of desserts and enjoys making them for friends, adores a good book (of course), and is fascinated by the transformative power of storytelling.

Welcome, Narissa. Please tell us about your current release.
A Spacious Life is a story about searching for happiness. It just so happens to be my personal story. I’ve had many advantages in life, such as educational opportunities and a loving family, however I always felt something lacking. I couldn’t make sense of the purpose of my life, and why things sometimes felt so hard, emotionally that is, even though my life looked wonderful from the outside. So I ended up on a path of learning to work with my own mind and emotions through the practices of meditation and mindfulness. It’s given me a deeper sense of contentment, purpose, and connection to others, which I like to think is a story worth sharing.

What inspired you to write this book?
Finding a sense of inner peace within the chaos of life. Is that too cheesy? Really though, I’ve met a lot of warm-hearted and intelligent people who have struggled with the challenges of life the way I had, and by that I mean illness, anxiety, stress, and heartache. They would tell me how overwhelmed they felt by their struggles and emotions. It doesn’t matter how perfect someone’s life might look from the outside, everyone has their challenges. So I wrote this book hoping to spark some conversation and inner reflection about how we go about using life’s inherent challenges as fuel for a positive transformation.


Excerpt from A Special Life:
(From Chapter 9: The Model Life)

Now and again, I worked with challenging personalities, such as the German photographer who wanted to tape my ears to the sides of my head. She was six foot tall and cut an imposing figure. The prospect of standing in front of her lens was intimidating.

I pulled myself together and walked onto set with the steeliness of a seasoned warrior. My armour was a shoulder-padded polyester blend, my war paint MAC Studio Fix C2. But when the German took a test shot of me and barked, ‘Those ears. They are sticking out too much. Can you all see that?’ her words hit me like a well-timed jab-right cross combo. My confidence, along with my ego, was sent reeling.

I was supposed to look like a corporate worker, so the hair-and-makeup artist had slicked my hair into a low bun, and the tips of my ears were protruding, pixie-like, in a way she obviously found less than perfect.

‘Can’t we do something? Bring some gaffer tape!’ she shouted.

I started shrinking. I couldn’t afford to shrink. The client was counting on me to get a good shot. I also couldn’t retaliate. It never pays to antagonise the creative team whose job it is to make you look good. So I took a silent, mindful moment and came back to my breath. In and out, in and out, it connected me to the present.

I considered my ears, two small, moulded lumps of flesh on the sides of my head. Ears were instruments for hearing. Mine worked very well indeed. Why should I be ashamed of them? They weren’t particularly beautiful, but were any ears truly beautiful?


What exciting story are you working on next?
Oh, I’m still recovering from this one! It took me five years of work, on and off, and although it was totally a labour of love I’d like a little holiday before launching into another book. I’m heading over to Thailand for a family wedding next month, which will give me some R&R time. I’m planning to visit my Buddhist teacher while I’m there (he’s a yogi who’s somewhat reclusive and lives in a remote forest area) – he does make a couple of appearances in my book, and who knows, perhaps he’ll inspire a follow-up story!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been a writer. I believe that if you sit down and put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) because you have an artistic impulse you feel the need to express, you’re a writer. Let’s not make it into some kind of exclusive ‘in club’. Considering myself an author, however, was another story. It wasn’t until I had a complete polished manuscript that other people saw value in, that I felt bold enough to call myself one.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
This is my debut book, so I definitely wasn’t writing full-time. A gal’s gotta earn a living. It’s the hardest thing to balance, I think, for any creative artist. How do you support yourself and still have the time and energy to create art? I’ve been lucky enough to have worked as a commercial model and presenter, which meant sometimes I’d be booked on a job that earned me several thousand dollars in one hit. But those jobs were sporadic and unreliable, so I needed to do lots of ‘in-between’ jobs too, to keep cash coming in. I’ve done everything from handing out flyers on the street to dressing up as the Tooth Fairy for a kids’ event.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
This might not surprise you, but when I’m stuck I take a break and meditate. I find having a head overcrowded with thoughts often doesn’t leave room for clarity or creative inspiration. By sitting quietly and letting my thoughts settle, insights about my work often dawn on me. Who knows where those insights comes from – the subconscious mind, perhaps? After a meditation practice, I can also come back to my writing with fresh eyes and renewed focus.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It changed at least once a year. When I was six, I wanted to be a jeweller, because a friend of my family was one and had given me a beautiful charm bracelet as a birthday gift. When I was eight, I wanted to be a makeup artist and would practice on my friends with a kids’ mini makeup kit. It’s funny to think I ended up working as a model and having my makeup done quite often, but by then I found it a bit of a chore. I always enjoyed creative writing, but didn’t grow up thinking about it as a career option, only something to be done for the love of it. Don’t ask me where that idealism came from…

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I don’t believe there’s only one path to happiness. We all need to explore what the path looks like within the context of our own lives, and I wish all your readers much success in doing so. I believe every life is precious and that we all have unique gifts to offer the world. Here’s to moving forward, sharing our gifts with abandon… my feeling is that the world needs them now more than ever.

Social media links:

Thank you, Narissa!

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