Monday, February 29, 2016

Interview with memoirists Deborah Serra and Nancy Serra Greene

Today I’m featuring and interview with co-authors Deborah Serra and Nancy Serra Greene. We’re chatting about their travel motherhood memoir, 2 Broads Abroad: Moms Fly the Coop.

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

A little bit about the book:
When sisters, Deborah & Nancy, discovered that motherhood was a temp job they decided to run away from home. After packing up that last kid for college, and facing the sad stillness of their suddenly quiet homes, they decided to leave the country. 2 Broads Abroad: Moms Fly the Coop is a funny, irreverent, occasionally poignant travel tale of their impulsive road trip around Ireland.

In this witty warm-hearted adventure, they experienced some of Ireland’s quirkier history while sharing universally relatable stories of maniacal school coaches, neurotic neighbors, and tiger moms. Having kicked that empty nest into their rearview mirror, the sisters took off careening down the wrong side of the road, making questionable choices, getting trapped in a medieval tower, sneaking Chinese take-out into a famous cooking school, drinking way too much, and gaining a changed perspective on their lives ahead.

Who designed the book cover for the book you are touring?
We had a lot of ideas for the book cover. We loved the colors from the cover from Where’d you go Bernadette. We discussed this with our publisher and then left it up to his graphic artist. We were really pleased with the way it turned out.

Excerpt from 2 Broads Abroad: Moms Fly the Coop:
When we thought about the phases of our lives at each juncture of change: our own departure from home, our first real job, our marriages, the birth of our children, all of the big phases of change held out something new for us. This change was shaping up very differently. This change was loss – complete dissolution of the fundamental family structure forever and that was all. We had to plan. We needed to be proactive. The alternative was to be left standing frozen in time, in a life that had moved on without us, and to become observers and visitors in our kids' lives. Not acceptable. So, we set our imaginations loose.

We considered our location. Now that we knew we were leaving – where could we go?

“Angkor Wat,” I said.

“Wat what?” Nancy asked.

“It’s the largest temple in the world, built in 1125.”

“Where is it?”

 “Cambodia.”

“Uh, huh. Deborah, I was thinking more along the lines of a bucolic vineyard in Tuscany. You know, stroll along the hills, sample the fruit of the vine, nectar of the gods?”

“Oh. Okay, how would you feel about a camel trek in Morocco?”

“Probably sore, smelly, and hot. And I understand camels are mean and they spit. They spit, Deborah. What about a civilized boat ride down the Rhine River in Germany? They have castles and I know how you like castles.”

“I do like castles, but don’t you think we should go more exotic?”

“This is our first trip together. I’d like to steer clear of nations at war, places we’d need to wear a burka, or can’t speak the language, or ride on an angry animal. Surely we can agree on somewhere.”

“I’ve always wanted to see where grandma’s family came from.”

“Me, too!”

“With a little research and a rental car we can see the entire island in a couple of weeks.”

“Perfect. Ireland it is!”


Can you describe your dream home?
My dream home would be in the mountains surrounded by trees. This mountain contemporary home would have lots of large windows, giving you the feeling of living in a tree house. The d├ęcor would be warm with a stone fireplace and a large dinning room for family dinners.

If we were to come to your house for a meal, what would you give us to eat?
I love making Mexican food. We live in Southern California and so we’re close to the international border with Mexico and our two cultures have blended in a lot of very positive ways. My Go To dinner would be Tortilla soup, and chicken & steak street tacos, with lots of toppings: sour cream , several salsa’s, and definitely lots of homemade guacamole. (Okay, now I’m hungry.)

Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.
In this digital age we haven’t received any fan letters although that would be really nice. We have had readers post online. This was our favorite:
I loved this book! It was funny, poignant and inspiring, all rolled into one joyful adventure. For me, it perfectly matched the conflicting emotions I felt when my child moved out and realization of the new normal moved in. And when the authors decided to run away from home, I couldn't wait to join them.”

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?
This has been an ongoing discussion between my sister and me. We have drastically different tastes and travel desires. I’m more of a lovely Tuscan wine and cheese tour, and she’s more of a camel ride through Morocco…so. We are taking suggestions on our Facebook page. If all else fails we’ll draw straws.

Author bios:
Deborah Serra has been a sought-after screenwriter for twenty-five years having written for NBC, CBS, Sony, Lifetime, Fox, and others. She was a recipient of the 2012 Hawthornden Literary Fellowship. Her first novel was a semi-finalist for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Award given by the Faulkner Society in New Orleans, LA.

Nancy Serra Greene is a graduate of San Diego State University. She worked in medical sales before stepping away to raise her two children, at which point she became: Team Mom, Snack Mom, PTA member, Assistance League Volunteer, and the list is never-ending. Nancy was the editor and publisher of the Buffalo Hills Echo newsletter with a circulation of 1400. She also designed and managed her community website.

Links:

Thanks for being here today, ladies! 



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Friday, February 26, 2016

Interview with YA author Charity West

Today’s special guest is Charity West. We’re chatting about her YA contemporary romance novel, The Boyfriend Deal.

During her virtual book tour, Charity will be giving away a $10 Evernight Teen gift card. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below.

Bio:
Charity West is a young adult romance author who has always had her head in the clouds. She had her first crush when she was four, and it lasted for six years. Then she quickly fell head over heels for another boy, until she had to move away and leave him behind. Jumping from one boy to another, she finally found a keeper when she was twenty, and she’s been married to him ever since.
By the time Charity was twelve, she was sneaking her mother’s Harlequin romances and reading them in secret when she was supposed to be asleep. Teased throughout middle school and high school for the bodice ripper covers on the books she openly read in class, she knew that one day she wanted to write her own happily-ever-afters.
Welcome, Charity. Please tell us about your current release.
The Boyfriend Deal is a contemporary young adult romance set in a small Tennessee town. Hadley, the band geek, has wanted the attention of Tyler, the star football player, for as long as she can remember. So when he suggests the boyfriend deal, where he’ll pretend to date her, how can she possibly refuse? But the more time she spends with him, the more she wants it to be real.

What inspired you to write this book?
The Boyfriend Deal came to me in a dream, but Hadley’s character is based loosely off my daughter. I’d wanted to write a contemporary YA romance for a while, but had just never gotten around to it. The day I sat down to make a few notes on the story, I ended up writing several thousand words. Then one turned into two, and then three… Before I knew it, I’d written the entire story.


Excerpt from The Boyfriend Deal:
Seeing Hunter head my way, a determined, slightly psycho look in his eyes, made me panic. I did the only thing I could think to do. I grabbed the first boy I saw and kissed him like my life depended on it, but as my body pressed against my unsuspecting target and my lips crashed against his, three things became very apparent to me. One, the boy knew how to kiss; his lips were divine and the hands going around my waist weren’t so bad either. Two, I was slightly in over my head, as he pressed me back against my locker. And three … well, I was still reeling from one and two. Three would have to wait for later.
“If you wanted me to kiss you, Red, all you had to do was say so.”
My eyes popped open and I stared in open-mouthed shock at the boy who had just made me melt with his kiss. Tyler Robbins. The one boy I should avoid like the plague. The only boy who had the power to completely devastate me, rip out my heart and stomp on it, and do so without any true effort on his part. I’d had a major crush on him since pre-kindergarten. Perhaps crush was too tame a word. When you’ve obsessed over a boy since the age of four, it escalated things beyond crush level.
He winked at me and moved along down the hall, as if the earth hadn’t just moved, as if lightning hadn’t just struck, as if … well, you get the point. He was everything I’d ever wanted, and the one thing I’d never have. Tyler flitted from one girl to another. He didn’t have a flavor of the month; he had a flavor of the day. Or maybe it was a flavor of the hour. Except for Alicia Thompson. She was his on again off again girlfriend for the last two years, and she was a total witch. The last time they’d broken up, she’d egged the car of his next conquest.
It took me a moment to realize Hunter was standing beside me, looking both livid and hurt all at the same time, but really, the entire thing was his fault. If he hadn’t cheated on me, then turned stalker, my lips never would have touched Tyler’s. Then again, maybe I should be thanking him. Now I could cross off a major item on my wish list. I’d been dreaming of kissing Tyler Robbins since the first time I saw him, on my very first day of school. Of course, that was before he started crushing on the snotty girl in our class, then I just wanted to pelt him in the face with a mud pie at recess.


What exciting story are you working on next?
I actually have several partials I’m toying with at the moment. I have one about a baseball player, one about a girl who’s home life is less than desirable, and another geeky girl type story. I’m not sure which one I’ll finish and submit next. It just depends on which one is talking to me the most.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Before this story, I wrote adult romances. So I guess I’ve considered myself a writer since my first story was published in 2008. I’d written stories for myself off and on all through middle school and high school, but I was in my twenties before someone convinced me to have something published.

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?
Yes, I write full-time, but my schedule is a little strange. My husband works the night shift, so I sleep during the day with him while the kids are in school, then get up when it’s time for the kids to get out of school. I pick them up, help with homework and check social media, then I make dinner. After dinner I have to take my husband back to work, because we only have one car, and then when I come home I make sure the kids get showered and ready for the next day and get them tucked into bed. Once they’re asleep, I write until either the words stop flowing or when I feel I’ve reached a decent word count for the night.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write best when I have a cat curled up next to me. I have six of them so I usually have at least one furbaby nearby.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I jumped from job to job, first wanting to be a vet and later wanting to be an engineer (yeah, I know…HUGE difference). It never crossed my mind to be a writer because I was always told you couldn’t make a living by being an artist of any kind.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Being an artist of any type isn’t easy, but it is so worth it. I’ve had a lot of jobs over the last twenty years, but writing is my true passion and I know I’m supposed to do. So, no matter how many people tell you that you’ll never make a living in the arts, don’t listen to them. Do what you’re passionate about and everything else will work itself out.

Links:

Buy links:  

Thanks for being here today, Charity! Happy writing!

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Interview with YA fantasy Ingrid Koivukangas

My special guest today is Ingrid Koivukangas. She and I are chatting about her new YA fantasy novel, Hunters of the Dream, Book One: The Gathering.

NOTE: Hunters of the Dream will be available at Amazon from February 22 to March 20 for only $0.99

During her virtual book tour, Ingrid will be awarding an Eco Heart Oracle Deck valued at $28 US, (the Eco Heart Oracle is an integral part of the Hunters of the Dream trilogy). 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:
Ingrid Koivukangas, BFA, MFA, is an award winning environmental artist, writer, designer, Reiki Master and educator.

As an artist Ingrid works intuitively at sites creating new works in response to sites and their energies and histories both natural and human. Her work encompasses many media including site specific ephemeral, large scale public works, writing, video, photography, sound, web, sculpture, painting, drawing and printmaking.

Ingrid's artworks have been exhibited in Canada, the USA, Europe and Asia. She's been featured as an artist in residence on CBC-TV; has had numerous gallery exhibitions; has many site specific ephemeral works left in situ and large scale permanent public art projects.

Ingrid's artworks have been included in many publications and books including: Art in Action: Nature, Creativity and Our Collective Future, published by the Natural World Museum and the United Nations Environmental Programme and Art + Science Now: How scientific research and technological innovation are becoming key to 21st-century aesthetics by Stephen Wilson, Professor of Conceptual and Information Arts at San Francisco State University. One of her favourite publications to be included in is Scholastic Book's Now See This! Art That Influences.

Ingrid has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with Distinction, from the University of British Columbia Okanagan and a Master of Fine Arts, Environmental Sculpture, from the University of Calgary. You can view her work at: www.ingridkoivukangas.com

Ingrid lives on Salt Spring Island with her husband Robin, two dogs, Lucy and Scout, and a fierce cat named Hunter.

Welcome, Ingrid. Please share a little bit about your current release:
When the summer holidays begin, Aurora thinks she’s just a normal teenager about to have another boring summer. Then, for her seventeenth birthday, Nana Brin gives her a long-silent Oracle that has been passed down through their family for generations. The mysterious Oracle soon awakens in response to the creeping Darkness that is escaping and destroying all worlds. Aurora must quickly find the courage to come to terms with her calling as the Huntress of the Dream.

What inspired you to write this book?
I had a busy practice as an environmental artist and was also a professor teaching fine art at a college, before moving to, Salt Spring Island. For years I had been wondering how to write about, and share, my experiences working with Spirit and the natural world in a fictional way. At the time, I didn’t want to write a non-fiction book around the topic. I believe that fiction allows readers to engage in story through the imagination without engaging the analytic brain, whose job it is to question whether or not what one is reading is ‘real’. Within a year of moving to Salt Spring Island the characters began arriving and with them pieces of the story. Their stories began to interweave with some of my dreams and experiences of working with Spirit and energy….and so Hunters of the Dream was born.
 
Excerpt from Hunters of the Dream:
The Bone Seer placed the bone into Aurora’s hand. As soon as it touched her skin, she understood that it came from the Sacred Reindeer and that, with this one small bone, she could call forth the protection of the entire herd by casting the bone in a time of need. The bone, also able to sense danger, instructed Aurora to listen with her heart in times of doubt or uncertainty; she would receive answers. She put the bone into a small, beaded leather pouch that had somehow materialized on her hip. She looked at the pouch, tracing the beaded outline of a reindeer with her finger.
As the Bone Seer began to pickup another bone, she hesitated, cocking her head from side to side, as if listening to someone speaking. She breathed in sharply, surprised, and suddenly frightened, and in a high pitched voice began singing:
 The wise one will read the signs,
As the all seeing one awakens,
When the drum woman travels,
And the compass unravels,
And he, who swims between worlds,
Joins the one who sparks and twirls,
The broken wing is set free,
The wolves howl and protect thee,
Gathering under a double moon,
Agreements hewn,
The Huntress is born again,
As Darkness slips its chains.
Looking directly into Aurora’s eyes she hissed, “The Darkness is waking, Aurora. There are many teachings you must complete, and amulets and allies to gather in preparation for the battles ahead. You must find your fellow hunters before the Darkness escapes and finds you, or all will be lost.



What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m excited to be working on the second of the Hunters of the Dream trilogy, Book Two: Darkness Approaching. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!


When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have been writing for most of my life, but never really considered myself a Writer until I held the first print copy of Hunters of the Dream in my hands. It was in that moment I realized that I had crossed the threshold from writing to writer.

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 am writing full-time. When I say that I ‘writing full-time’ that includes the business of writing, the marketing– which is much more time consuming than I ever imagined. The business side seems to take more time than the actual writing! During the winters I can work from morning to night writing, but soon spring will be arriving and that’s when I will need to begin splitting my time between working on our farm and writing. I also still have a practice as an environmental artist, but that work is project based and depends on when, and where, I’m invited to create new work in response to sites.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like having my, amethyst and quartz, crystals on my writing desk beside a lit candle. I meditate before I begin inviting the story forward.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had a very active and busy imagination. These are things I remember that I wanted to be–I’m sure there were more: Adventurer. Archaeologist. Astronaut. Spock. Batman. A librarian. Mary Poppins. An artist. A writer. A cowboy. A musician. A yogi (I know, that’s a weird one, isn’t it?)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The characters in Hunters of the Dream are guided by the Eco Heart Oracle, a 48 card oracle deck, that I created. Readers can get a free online oracle reading here: bit.ly/FreeEcoHeartOracleReading

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Lisa!

Links:

NOTE: Hunters of the Dream will be available at Amazon from February 22 to March 20 for only $0.99

Happy to have you here today, Ingrid.


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