Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Interview with fantasy author Caiseal Mor

Author Caiseal Mor is here to chat with me about his new historical fantasy, King of the Blind.

During his virtual book tour, Caiseal will be awarding a $15 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 his other tour stops and enter there, too.

Caiseal Mor is an Australian sci-fi and fantasy novelist, artist and musician. Ancient Celtic Folklore has been a major inspiration for his thirteen published Fantasy novels. Mór also composes and records music, having produced seventeen albums since 1995. He is well known for his self-designed book and album covers and his intricate artworks in both traditional and digital mediums. Since 2013 he has been developing a distinctive graphic art style and creating digital sculptures in 3D.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
In 1688 a plague of smallpox swept through Ireland. Like many others, eighteen year old Turlough O’Carolan was struck down. He was one of the lucky ones to survive. However, the sickness cost him his eyesight. Within two years of being blinded he’d learned to play the harp and taken to the road as a travelling musician. In time he’d be considered the greatest of all the Irish harpers. His music is still played all around the world today.

To the end of his days he always maintained that Otherworldly beings, known in Ireland as the Shee, had granted him the gift of music and were responsible for at least some of his compositions. This is a story from a time when the veil between the worlds was thinner and belief in the mystical “Good People”, was still strong.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve been a huge fan of the music of Turlough O’Carolan since I was a boy. My mother had an old 78 record of some of Carolan’s music played on the Irish harp and it fascinated me. In my twenties I was travelling through Ireland listening to stories from traditional storytellers. I heard a few tales about O’Carolan and just started collecting them. I never really intended to write a novel about him. I was just interested in his music, his life and that period of Irish history.

Excerpt from King of the Blind
From long experience of travelling the roads Turlough had learned the trick of sleeping soundly in the saddle. It was late afternoon about an hour before sunset when he suddenly awoke from a deep and restful slumber. He shuddered so violently he almost lost his balance and slipped off the horse.
‘Hugh!’ he called. ‘There’s trouble up ahead.’
‘Is there?’
‘Can’t you hear it?
‘Listen. I hear voices raised and threats of harm.’
Hugh stepped in front of the mare to stop her. He cocked his head but he couldn’t hear anything.
‘Are you sure?’
‘What’s the road like ahead?’
‘There’s a sharp bend just there.’
‘Get the pistols,’ Carolan advised. ‘I have a terrible feeling about this.’
‘I’m sure it’s nothing.’
‘Do as I say!’
Hugh rolled his eyes, sure his master was letting his imagination get the better of him. But to make him happy he went to the saddlebag, rummaged about and pulled out the pistols Squire Jones had loaned him. Quickly, he primed the pans from the little powder flask, closed the frizzens and stuck weapons in his belt. Then with shaking hands he carefully concealed the pistols under his coat.
‘Try not to tremble so much,’ Carolan told him. ‘They’ll think you’re frightened.’
‘There’s nobody on the road ahead, master.’
‘Then why are you shaking so much?’
‘We haven’t had a drink for three days,’ Hugh countered. ‘It’s not fear that’s got me shaking. It’s the Dee-Tees. I need a whiskey to steady my nerves.’
‘What are you talking about? What’s the Dee-Tees anyway?’
‘Doctor Delany explained it to me,’ Hugh explained, as he led the mare on. ‘If a man drinks every day his body gets used to the stuff, so much so that when he’s forced to stop for a few days he’ll get desperately ill yearning for the companionship of the spirit, as the good doctor called it.’
‘I know that feeling well enough,’ Carolan replied.
‘The Dee-Tees is short for delirium tremens,’ Hugh continued. ‘It’ll make your heart beat wildly. A man’s hands will start to shake. Fevers and sweats follow. He’ll act out of character and may take foolish risks. Such a man can become easily distracted.’
‘As I believe you are now,’ Turlough pointed out beginning to lose patience with the discussion. ‘We’ve all been there. I didn’t know there was a word for it. Stop it now. You’re making me thirsty and you need to ready yourself for the danger ahead.’
‘But there’s more,’ Hugh went on. ‘A man suffering this malady will see and hear things that others cannot.’
Carolan was silent but the servant could tell by the way the harper frowned that he was considering the information carefully.
‘Some men go completely mad. Some men die. And there’s no cure for it.’
‘Except a drink,’ Turlough pointed out.
‘I suppose so,’ Hugh agreed. ‘I hadn’t thought of it that way.’
‘Keep your mind on the job at hand,’ the harper snapped, ‘Enough of this talk. You’ve got me worried my life is at risk whenever I go through a bout of sobriety. If you can’t stop shaking at least try to control yourself. There’s trouble on the road ahead and we have to keep our wits about us.’

What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now, I’m working on writing and illustrating a Sci-Fi graphic novel called “Veil of the Gods”. Chapter One is already out on Kindle and Chapter Two is about to be published.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I didn’t really consider myself a writer until my fourth novel was published and nominated for an award at the WorldCon in 1999. There I met Terry Pratchett ( we shared a publicist ) and it sort of hit home that I was an author. I’d never actually planned to be a writer. It just happened by accident. Random House and Simon and Schuster published my novels originally, but now the rights have reverted to me.

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. At the moment I’m working on a graphic novel series that I’m illustrating as well as writing. It’s called “Veil of the Gods”. Chapter One is already in Kindle. I’m just finishing Chapter Two. So yes, writing is my FULL time job. I love my work. It’s easy for me to get lost in it. I’m very lucky to have a couple of people who drag me out into the sunshine now and then so I don’t die of vitamin D deficiency.

I originally wrote King of the Blind in 1997. It took three months. I worked 12 hours a day with one hour for lunch, one hour for siesta and one hour for walking by the ocean near where I lived at the time in Sydney, Australia. Each week I’d take a day off, though if inspired I prefer to keep working. Sometimes ten or twelve days would go by without a break. I was living alone so it wasn’t so difficult to finish the novel quite quickly. I don’t plan very much. I tend to just look over my notes and start writing a novel. I rarely ever start at the beginning of the story. The ending is much more important, in my opinion.

King of the Blind was originally called Carolan’s Concerto and it was a much shorter novel. Recently I restored all the parts my editor at the time didn’t approve of. Now it’s a kind of extended “Director’s Cut” of the original.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a very obsessive routine I follow before I start work. My desk has to be just right and if I’m writing on the laptop rather than a desktop computer I have to be surrounded by a few lucky charms. I’ve often got two projects on at once and I shift between two computers. One will be rendering scenes for the graphic novel and the other is where I do the writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Normal. I was diagnosed as autistic when I was 7 years old. In those days the rate was 1 in 100 000 people with autism. Now, it’s 1 in 100. So, I was considered very unusual. I wasn’t allowed to do the things other kids could do, like sport, swimming or field trips. I was stuck indoors a lot. The only thing I really aspired to was climbing the mango tree in our front garden. I did this whenever I could slip away undetected. That was my only real ambition, especially in mango season. I still love the mangoes from the very top branches. They’re the sweetest.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
This novel is really about the awesome power of gratitude. It’s about focusing on the opportunities in life rather than the setbacks. Indeed, I personally don’t believe in setbacks. As far as I’m concerned there are only opportunities. My work is quite unique I think because it’s based on a mixture of history and myth. For example, a great deal is known about Turlough O’Carolan but there’s a lot more said about him in traditional stories. Unravelling fact from fiction was a challenge when I was researching him. In the end King of the Blind became a story about storytelling.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Interview with romance author L.J. Greene

Romance author L.J. Greene joins me today to talk about her new adult contemporary, Aftereffects.

During her virtual book tour, L.J. will be awarding a $25 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 her other tour stops and enter there, too.

LJ Greene is a self-professed obsessive multi-tasker who writes really boring stuff by day and lets her inner romantic fly by night. This California native is married to the most amazing man and has two beautiful children, not old enough to read her books. (They probably wouldn’t want to anyway on account of the “Ew, gross” factor.) She’s an avid reader of all genres with an embarrassingly large ebook collection, and a weird penchant for reading the acknowledgements at the end of a novel. She's also a music lover with no apparent musical talent, a travel enthusiast, and a cheese connoisseur. 

Welcome, L.J. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Aftereffects is a highly relatable friends-to-lovers story about two people who meet in a random way on the Golden Gate Bridge and, through a serendipitous twist, find that they share a similar adversity. As a result, they forge a true bond of friendship and that evolves into a very endearing relationship. But things go a bit amiss when the interests of their friendship clash in a rather heartbreaking way with the interests of their relationship. They truly want the best for each other, so the choices are tough.

What inspired you to write this book?
Two things: First, I always wanted to write a friends-to-lovers story. I think the friends/lovers theme is so enduringly powerful because the risk/reward ratio is so high on both sides. How amazing is it to be loved by the person who knows you best – knows all your flaws – and thinks you’re perfect anyway? But if things don’t quite go as planned, how difficult to lose both the love of your life and the person you most want to call when you lose the love of your life? There are tough choices to make in that equation and they’re very real for a lot of people. In reading the reviews of this book, it’s incredibly gratifying to see how many people relate to that in a very personal way.

The second bit of inspiration came from my dad, who I lost just as my second book, Sound Effects, was being published. This book honors him, and so many men like him for whom the call to parenting is no less than sacred.

Excerpt from Aftereffects:

Selene lifted her left hand and touched my face with her palm. It was definitely a new kind of closeness for us, at least sober—one to which I gave no resistance. Her skin felt warm and smooth as she stroked my cheek gently. And I couldn’t take my eyes off her face. My God, she was stunning. This close, I absorbed the perfection of her features, of her delicate earlobes. A tiny piece of dark hair curled around the back of one.

The air between us seemed to crackle quietly, and I sat frozen in my seat in case any movement might cause her to draw away.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you clean-shaven,” she said softly.

I could feel her breath, too, warm against my face. My fingers itched to reach up and touch her mouth, to feel whether it was as soft as I remembered. My heartbeat picked up not only faster but harder, like it was punching me from the inside.

Had a goal been scored just then I wouldn’t have noticed. Nothing could have pulled me from that trance. I didn’t hear anything going on around us. Not the crowd, not the announcer, not the buzzer.

Only her.

Only her voice and her eyes and her breath. The memory of her mouth.

“Do you have a preference?” I asked roughly. I had no idea what possessed me to ask her that.
No, that’s a lie. That other side of me wanted to be everything she wanted and would have shaved every single day if that’s what she asked of me.

“No.” Her beautiful lips curved slightly upward. “How could I choose between James Bond and Indiana Jones?”

Her palm came to rest on my jawline, and I took a deep breath. When had my wanting her turned into this painful kind of ache?

Under the sanctity of her expression, I had a sudden and startling thought that maybe we could write a different ending for the two of us. One I hadn’t yet considered. Maybe there was a different story we could tell in which the things we had to offer would be enough.

There was obviously more to our relationship than just friendship, and perhaps we could figure out how to have something more than what we’d allowed ourselves. After all, there was care and respect at the heart of everything we did together. That had to mean something.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve just begun work on my fourth novel, which centers around one of the secondary characters from Ripple Effects, Marcus Abbey. Marcus is just a great character – not your typical romance hero – and I’ve been thinking about writing his story ever since one of my beta readers for Ripple Effects told me she loved him so much she was kind of rooting for him to end up with the heroine! I’m really excited to finally be doing it!

All of my books are standalones and can be read in any order so readers can jump in at any time. But I do love bringing characters from the previous books together with new ones to see what might happen. It’s always a joyful romp.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I heard someone say once that everyone has one book in them, but very few people have two. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but when I finished my second book I thought, okay, I’m now one of the few. Finishing this book, my third book, made me feel like a 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’m a consultant in the Silicon Valley. This typically means I have the pleasure of spending many hours in Bay Area traffic, hammering out the next scene in my head! In fact, that’s pretty much how this whole writing adventure started for me almost eight years ago – listening to “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” while sitting in traffic and musing about a totally different interpretation of that situation.

Aftereffects is my third book, and I’m enormously proud of it. It’s a beautiful friends-to-lovers story with a squeal-worthy HEA. The book took me nearly two years to complete, so your question about finding time is a really great one! I actually don’t think you find time to write. I think – at least this is my experience – you have to make it. Writing is work, no matter how you slice it. And it’s hard work, at that. So if you don’t love it, or maybe if you don’t need it more than you find it hard, you won’t put yourself through the agony of doing it.

I actually write something every single day, usually first thing in the morning. Sometimes it’s a lot; sometimes it’s just a few thoughts, but every day I write. To me, it’s kind of like exercise. When you’re in the habit of doing it every day, it’s not so hard. But if you take a few weeks off, re-entry is rough.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if this is a quirk, but I typically design my cover very early on in the drafting process of a book. I’ve found that it helps me to visualize my characters and connect with them as three-dimensional people. It’s also fun because it gives me the opportunity to write their shirt or their jacket or their wristbands into a scene, bringing the cover into the story.

I absolutely love the cover of Aftereffects. This is exactly how I see Keir in my mind. And I was so lucky to be able to collaborate again with Joshua Bruce from X Book Cover Design, who incorporated a bit of a mystical feel that I didn’t realize would be so fitting when we designed the cover two years ago.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was in elementary school, I had a dress that said, “When I grow up, I want to be the President.” Looking back, I love that my mom and dad put me in that dress and sent me off into the world. I don’t know that I actually ever wanted to be president, but I never grew up doubting for a second that I could. That’s awesome, right? I’m certainly ready to see a female president – maybe one of my daughters…

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
More than anything, I just want to let you know how much I appreciate your having me as a guest. Blogs like yours play such a critical role in giving a voice to independent authors like me. I don’t ever take that for granted. And to those of your readers who welcome Aftereffects into their hearts and homes, thank you! It’s an honor to be part of your ‘me time.’


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Interview with novelist Kate Dyer-Seeley

Novelist Kate Dyer-Seeley is here today to chat about her new mystery, Violet Tendencies.

Kate Dyer-Seeley is the author of In Cave Danger, Scene of the Climb and Slayed on the Slopes in the Pacific Northwest Mystery series, as well as the memoir Underneath the Ash and Natural Thorn Killer, the first book in her Rose City Mystery series. Kate’s writing has appeared in a number of regional and national publications, including Climbing Magazine, The Oregonian, The Columbian, Portland Family Magazine, Seattle Backpackers Magazine, and The Vancouver Voice. She is an active member of the Willamette Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.

Welcome, Kate. Please tell us about your current release.
I’m so excited to share the 2nd book in the Rose City Mysteries with readers! In Violet Tendencies, floral artist Britta Johnston and her Aunt Elin have been chosen to design the signature float for Portland, Oregon’s annual Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade. They’re busy gluing seeds to their two-story float and stringing together beautiful strands of violets when a violent protest breaks out and threatens the entire parade.

What inspired you to write this book?
Growing up in Portland meant that Rose Festival was always a highlight of the year. The Grand Floral Parade was one of my favorite traditions. I loved watching the colorful floats and even had an opportunity to march in the parade during high school. I pulled from those memories for inspiration for the book. While the murder is fictional, everything that I’ve weaved in about the Rose Festival is real. I spent time volunteering as a float decorator when I was working on the book to get a better understanding of how the magnificent floats come together. One fun fact: everything on the floats has to be organic. That means that volunteers spend hours and hours painstakingly gluing tapioca pearls and polenta and draping branches of evergreen boughs and roses onto every float.

Excerpt from Violet Tendencies:
An uneasy sensation swelled through my body as I walked with trepidation toward our float. Something about the huge, cavernous space felt foreboding.

“Hello!” I called again.

The only answer was the sound of my own voice bouncing off the walls.

Shouldn’t the other decorators and volunteers be here by now? We were supposed to report by
seven thirty for the morning meeting. Had I missed a message? Was the parade canceled? I thought about turning around but I willed myself forward.

Bad choice.

When I made it to our float I looked up in horror. Our float had been destroyed. The arbor and
grapevines that we had meticulously secured had been torn apart and were scattered in broken pieces throughout the floor.

I stepped forward and let out a scream.

Sham’s body was sprawled out among the ruins.

A noose of purple violets twisted around his lifeless neck . . .

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently working on a ton of research for my next project. Research is one of my favorite things about the writing process. I used to say that I wished I could be a perennial college student. Writing fulfills that dream. I love getting to immerse myself in new worlds and learn new skills.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I didn’t consider myself a writer until my first book was published, despite the fact that I had been writing for newspapers and magazines for many years before that and getting paid for my writing. I can’t exactly pinpoint what the shift was, but there was something about the fact that I had a full-fledged book published that made me suddenly realize, “Oh, I am a 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 do write full time. I write multiple mystery series so I’m basically always on a deadline. I find that I do much better when I have structure and a daily word count to hit. I like the routine of writing every day. I think it lends to even more creativity because you’re constantly exercising your writing muscle.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I completely change out my office every time I start a new book. I have a playlist for my protagonists to help me get “in their head” so to speak. For example, when I was working on Violet Tendencies I had pictures of violets and pictures from the Grand Floral Parade posted on my office walls. I edited the manuscript with a purple pen and lit a violet scented candle when I was writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to write, and I actually wrote my first mystery when I was in second grade. However, in college I took a more practical approach and minored in creative writing, while earning a degree in speech therapy. At the time I had no idea what I wanted to write. It took me a lot of terrible first drafts and years of writing workshops and conferences before I took the plunge.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks so much for having me on today, and to all of the readers who help champion books and share them out in the world.


Thanks for joining me today, Kate.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Interview with women's fiction novelist A.K. Arlington

Novelist A.K. Arlington joins me today to share a bit about her new women’s fiction novel, Anna: The Story Behind the Star.

A.K. Arlington lives in Los Angeles with Bella, a fairly ancient Silken Windhound. A dog lover. An optimist or a pessimist, depending on the day (and sometimes the time of day). Loves reading, but can’t help writing. Years of acting, directing, and writing plays and screenplays, have led to ANNA: The Story Behind the Star.

Welcome, A.K. Please tell us about your current release.
ANNA: The Story Behind the Star is a novel, written in the form of a memoir, about a young woman growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, who decides at a very early age that she wants to be an actress. In her own words, Anna tells us how she made that happen and, often in intimate detail, about the men she encountered along the way. Ultimately, it’s about a woman who sets her mind on a goal and will stop at nothing to achieve it.

What inspired you to write this book?
Having acted for many years, the idea of a young woman’s rise to stardom seemed a natural fit. Many events in the book are inspired by events I encountered in my own career (although Anna is definitely more “adventurous” than I was).

Excerpt from ANNA: The Story Behind the Star:
Jake must have had feelings for me for months. We’d been in each other’s company nearly every day all that time, but he never pressed it. He waited until I brought it up, in that basement Chinese restaurant on Mott Street.
I leaned across the table.
Even though I made my intentions clear, he still hesitated. Then, slowly—achingly slowly—he moved his lips to meet mine.
His kiss was sweet. Tender.
A grumpy voice interrupted the moment. “You finished?” Our waiter dropped our check on the table and stood there, poised to grab our plates.
Jake looked at me. I nodded. “Yes, we’re—”
“Need table,” the waiter snapped. “You go now.” He hurried off with our plates.
As we climbed the steps back to the street, I stopped Jake and leaned against the rail. It took him a moment to figure out I wanted him to kiss me again.
He did, lightly—once, twice. Then he looked into my eyes and kissed me a third time.
I pulled his lean, hard body against mine. I slipped my fingers under his t-shirt to feel the abs that occupied my thoughts so many times.
I asked, “How far away is your place?”
“Four blocks. Did you want to …?”
I nodded. He took my hand, and we and headed up Mott Street.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m still deciding, actually. I’m developing outlines for a few things, which tends to be how I work. I’m outlining one about a group of women in a trailer park; a detective romance; and one about a lawyer who gets involved in a case that’s way over her head, both with the case itself and becoming involved romantically with the shady client. At some point, one of them will demand to be written, and that’s what I’ll do.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I began writing short plays and monologues to get scenes to perform in acting class. I found it easier to write a scene that focused on what I wanted to work on than to search through plays for the right material. An agent called me in from a showcase I’d done, where I’d performed something of my own. It turned out she wasn’t interested in taking me on as an acting client; she’d called me in to find out about the writer who’d written the scene. That’s when I knew I was onto something as a 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?
My day job is actually a fairly boring office job at a law firm. Finding time to write is hard, but I try to carve out at least an hour or two a day to do it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I talk to my characters. This is a carryover from my acting days. They become real to me. I can hear their voices, and get the cadence of their speech. When I write, I give just enough character description to allow the reader to decide for themselves what the characters look like. But I could tell you what Anna looks like to me, how she walks, what she wears. And even though all this comes from inside my head, I’m always delighted when I character decides to do something I don’t expect.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian, of course. Then, I think, a singer. Then an actor. But I’ve always been interested in writing. I remember writing short stories as far back as elementary school.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’ve been most gratified by comments from friends, and reviews I’ve received, in which people seem to “get” that Anna’s story is about a woman taking charge of her own life, her own body, and her own sexuality. I was concerned that in the #metoo era, some people might be uncomfortable with a woman using her sexuality as one tool in her struggle to get ahead. And, to be fair, some have felt that way. Mostly, though, people find it refreshing that Anna’s journey is one of empowerment.


Thank you for joining me today, A.K.