As the very first Spotlight Author of the Rave Reviews Book Club, and yes, my fellow RRBCers, I will continue to remind you of that singular honor, I take great pleasure in hosting a Spotlight Author. If you’re not familiar with the benefits of membership in the Rave Reviews Book Club, then head on over to the website. Stay awhile and surf the menu. RRBC is a home away from home for a great group of congenial writers who help beginning writers as well as established writers to promote their work and have a good time while doing so. Today, Janelle Jalbert is in the spotlight, so if you decide to join this great group, say that Janelle sent you! Here she is in her own words.
Birth of a Wingdog
Often, authors refer to their books as “book babies”, and I tend to be one of them. Each book is a special gift, at least for me, and has its own unique life beyond the covers. WINGDOG: Soul Pup continues that trend for me. It wasn’t started as a book. I had no illusions about being a memoirist. It started as a coping mechanism that blossomed into more than I originally ever thought possible.
The story behind WINGDOG started sometime in 2009. Have you ever gone through a period in life where everything seems to be touched by magic…where doors open to possibilities you couldn’t have imagined, and it seems as if you were given life’s golden ticket simply for waking up in the morning? That is where WINGDOG started.
I was transitioning out of the traditional classroom into online teaching and also working on a doctoral program in education while writing for an online startup. I’ve always had a wide range of interests and hobbies, including auto racing. In fact I used to get teased by my students for my motorsports enthusiasm.
By 2010, I was working two posts as a motorsports reporter/photographer in addition to my teaching career. Ninety days after covering a race weekend in Martinsville, Virginia, I signed a lease for an apartment in Charlotte, since my reporting was leading to more travel to the area. A month later, I officially moved from Southern California to North Carolina.
I didn’t have any personal ties to the area at the time. It was a leap of faith in many ways. A few months after I settled in, I began having problems with some neighbors and a couple of events had me thinking that I made a disastrous mistake. Still, I am not one to cower in the face of adversity, and my dog lover side made the solution easy. A pup would help me deal with the situation as well as be a much needed form of companionship in the aftermath of my move.
Little did I know the miracle that would arrive on an October afternoon. I opened an email and was introduced to a pup with one brown eye and one blue eye. I fell in love instantly. By that evening, my wingdog, Goose, and I were a fresh little family. Goose not only worked his magic on me but also touched lives across the country.
A year later, I began writing the “Goose Tales” as a kind of writing therapy. My life had done a severe one-eighty, and I was struggling after my return to Southern California. It started as a series of vignettes to help me smile when I thought the proverbial bottom had fallen out from under me.
It took more than four years and several stops and starts to see WINGDOG: Soul Pup completed. What began as writing therapy, to help process the events of a remarkable time in my life, slowly shifted. I learned one of the major differences between fiction writing and memoir writing in the process. There’s therapeutic value in getting a story told, but sometimes it takes time for the full impact of a cycle of events to emerge. Time may heal all wounds, but it is also true that the unfolding of subsequent life events change the story behind the story. It was the permission to let the story emerge over time that was the key to WINGDOG: Soul Pup being more than just another canine-centric story.
WINGDOG: Soul Pup is subtitled ‘A Magical Mutt Memoir’ because what started out as a personal coping strategy developed into a celebration of life and love. The magic in life is not about spells, potions and other wizardly or witchy things. The magical side of life is about experiencing all that life has to offer; celebrating companionship in all its forms; seeing the love and humor in the everyday moments; experiencing the gifts of serendipity and synchronicity; and understanding that the present of life is often more than we can grasp in the present moment.
Excerpt from Wingdog Soul Pup
Yes, I slept with him on our first date. It felt so good to have his warm body against mine. He was gorgeous and sweet as slumber set in, and I couldn’t help but curl up closer. We were already doing our own version of spooning, just hours after meeting. Everything was once again right with the world thanks to his warmth by my side. It was a case of love at first sight that grew deeper in the darkness of the bedroom around us.
I couldn’t help but run my fingers through his fur as his brindled coat rose and fell with deep, sleep-filled breathing. His fur was the perfect texture, not too course but without fluff. The hairs behind his bouncy ears were already my favorite, so silky fine. He sighed as I continued rubbing up and down his side before once more scratching behind his ear. With the ear rubs, he pushed closer into me. His sixteen pound body firmly tucked at my hip.
Ah, I’m home.
I wasn’t sure if it was my thought because it could have easily come from the pup at my side. For the first time in weeks, I began to doze off, peaceful and content. The neighbor problems that plagued my previous weeks faded away with his comforting presence.
Sometimes it does all work out. Bad things can lead to great opportunities.
The stress of moving from California to North Carolina evaporated. The distress that plagued me eased. It was what I’d been craving: a chance to forget and to enjoy life again. It was what my soul needed. I sighed and let go. All was good, at last.
The day started like most of late when I got sidetracked by my inbox after clicking on the message. A small, brown puppy snuggled face-to-face with a tabby kitten appeared. The expression in the picture wasn’t curiosity. It was more like a big brother protecting a younger sibling. The other picture was of the same puppy looking up at the camera. His brown ears were as big as his head. The look in his eyes was that of questioning intelligence, and only the slightest hint of his blue left eye opposite the brown one showed. He seemed to know it was not simply a picture being taken.
It took less than thirty seconds. I was in love.
Immediately, I hit reply. He’s adorable. I’d love to meet him!
With that, a flurry of emails was exchanged. I rushed out into the silvery, fall day, filled with clouds. I stopped at the ATM before getting on the highway for the trip down to Rock Hill from Charlotte. It felt odd to pull money out to buy a dog. Granted, I rescued pups before, but this felt different. Then, it hit me. There’s something not all together right about exchanging money for a living creature’s spirit, and that thought caught me off guard.
“What’s that all about?” I muttered as I turned down the onramp to Highway 85, heading south. I shook off the feeling with the thought that it helped pay for his care rather than buying him per say.
As I made the transition to the 77 near uptown Charlotte, I started thinking of names for the pup. Angie named him ‘Ace of Spades’ or Ace for ease, but that wasn’t right. I knew that instantly. My dogs have always named themselves. He’ll let me know. I thought, but still names flitted through my mind.
What do I want from all this? That made me laugh. It’s a dog adoption, not a marriage. The truth was already apparent. This was going to be bigger than a simple custody transfer. The anxiety over recent events with neighbors at my apartment complex threatened to rear up again. I needed someone…something…to help watch my back. I wanted a right-hand man…a wingman…or, in this case, a ‘wingdog’.
That’s it! Goose. Like the wingman in Top Gun, he’d be my extra pair of eyes and ears. I loved it immediately and settled on it before remembering that the dog does the choosing.
“Okay, just keep it in mind,” I mumbled as I got off the highway and made a convoluted trip to the apartment. I texted Angie from the parking lot because I couldn’t make sense of the numbers in the complex, so she agreed to bring him down to meet me. I waited in the car for a few minutes, laughing at myself for having a bit of ‘first date’ jitters about meeting a puppy.
They seemed to appear out of nowhere and stopped at the end of the walkway.
I got out, and as soon as I cleared the bumper, he spotted me. It was magic – a connection in an instant – as he leapt towards me despite his leash. His eyes lit up like I’m sure mine did. With a big smile and open arms, I walked up to him at Angie’s side and said hello. He barely reached my kneecap, but his eyes were wide and bright. I dropped to my knee. Given my earlier thoughts about marriage, I chuckled and shook my head to clear the whole proposal analogy from my head. He nuzzled into me immediately and toppled me onto my rear.
Who are YOU? I haven’t seen you before. He did a once over with his nose. Yep, you smell nice. You’re a good one. How ya doin’?
I smiled ear to ear as I situated myself, sitting cross-legged so the little guy could sniff away at will. If that isn’t an enthusiastic yes, I don’t know what is. My heart swelled as his furry little body shivered with excitement. His wild tail matched the leaping in my chest. I looked into his wide, trusting eyes: one brown, the other blue. It was a match. You choose me too! I thought as I wrapped my arms around the brindled bundle showering me in warm wet pup kisses.
“We found him on the highway. He was in bad shape, but we nursed him back to health. He’s been dewormed too.”
He sat listening to the conversation like he would chime in at any time, sneaking glances at me as Angie debriefed me about his circumstances.
How could someone be so evil to such an adorable boy?
“Several people have come to look at him, but the brindle coloring gives the impression of a pit bull.” Angie sighed. “He’s incredibly friendly, but the people who’ve come to see him have scared him as well as my husband and me. It’s like he knows they’re not right. My husband and I figured they were looking for fighting dogs, or even bait dogs, when they start asking about his bloodlines.”
A chill traveled down my spine at the thought of people looking to sacrifice a loving creature for a blood sport.
Angie continued, “That’s why we’ve been saying that he’s a Jack Russell mix. We’re not sure though, and we can’t keep him anyway.” Angie went on to explain about their impending move as Goose scanned the yard of the apartment complex.
Hold on. His name isn’t Goose yet. I thought as my mind and heart made the leap. He gets a vote. Remember?
“He’s big into sticks,” Angie stated as she reached up into the branches of a small, almost bare tree near us and broke off a branch for Goose. He immediately plopped down to tackle his new toy. “I was going to name him Lucky, but that’s too common. So, I thought that the Ace of Spades is a lucky card. That’s how he got his name.”
I noticed that he wasn’t too fond of the name either, since he didn’t even twitch when he heard her say it. Good boy! You’re definitely a smart one. I thought. I could tell Angie was stalling a bit with her continued chatting.
“He’s still damp. I was cleaning the bird cage in the bathtub, and he jumped right in too. He loves water.”
“Perfect! I’m a surfer girl who needs to be around water all the time.” I said with a laugh and smile. “Yeah, I know Charlotte’s not near the ocean, but we’ll be at the lake a lot.” I felt like I was selling myself to win favor.
“He loves going for rides too. My husband has to take him every time he goes to the store or wherever.”
“That works out perfectly too. Though I am teaching online classes fulltime, I’m a bit of a road warrior right now with a side gig as a motorsports reporter. That’s what brought me to NC. We’ll be going to California in a couple of weeks for the Phoenix race, Thanksgiving, and Champ Week. He’ll get the ride of his puppy life.”
Angie’s shoulders slumped as we transferred his things to the car, and I handed Angie a hundred dollars for both the pup and all of her supplies. There wasn’t much: a used cat collar, a small leash, some food and a bowl, but it was a start. The supermarket dog food was going to be replaced immediately.
You’ll be eating way better than that. I vowed silently. I could tell that Angie was both happy and sad. I passed the test. He was going to a good home, but it meant that he was leaving her.
Whether it was Angie’s demeanor or plain puppy energy, he grew restless, starting to explore the yard as much as he could while still on a leash. After Angie ran out of things to chit-chat about, I opened the passenger’s side door and cradled him in my arms. His warmth traveled to my core as the soft bundle of brown, black and white fur rested close to my heart. A sigh escaped as I held him to my chest before placing him on the seat.
Shotgun! He perked up and sniffed the interior, which was already filling with the smell of kibble.
His investigation stopped abruptly and he stared at Angie and me. He knew something was different. This wasn’t a casual, meet-someone-on-a-walk encounter anymore. It was a strange new car. He looked at Angie. Thank you. I’m happy. She’s a good one.
Angie sighed. “Bye, Ace. You’re a good boy.”
He seemed to smile as he stretched, puffing out his puppy chest. Then he got distracted by the straw to my iced coffee. He was at ease, and inside of two hours, I became a pup mom. Life wasn’t going to be the same again.
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/JanelleJalbertRRBC
Twitter handle: @JustJJWriting
WINGDOG: Soul Pup will be released on Amazon, March 7, with full release across most major retailers in June 2016
For the past two years I’ve been following the blog of a young French author and scholar, Natacha Guyot, who already in her young career has published works of both fiction and non-fiction. Clairvoyance Chronicles is her latest fiction offering, and I am honored to be her host today as part of her blog tour to celebrate her latest book. As a writer I am interested in the writing process. Natacha graciously answered the interview questions I sent her, which focused on her creative process.
- How do you craft your story and characters?
The original ideas come via characters or settings, though most often via the characters. From there, I take a lot of notes and build the world, seeing where things are going until I have a structure I can write from. I like having a solid and detailed structure, but not something that is so tight I can’t make things evolve as the characters surprise me as I write.
- How much research is involved?
It depends though I am mostly a plotter for fiction. If I write nonfiction, a lot of research and planning happens, but plotting fiction still takes time. Some more recent projects were more on the pantser writing side. Clairvoyance Chronicles took more research for me besides my usual world building because I based it in real life. I had to research some geographical, historical and cultural aspects, especially with characters from so many different backgrounds. It was a different approach for me and it was a learning experience as a writer.
- How long did it take from idea to finished book?
I had the original concept in 2010 – if I recall correctly. I took notes about some characters and world building then let it stay in a drawer until 2014. When I picked my notes up, it turned into a collection of short stories with more main characters. I worked on outlines in Fall 2014, then was writing the first drafts until Spring 2015. Then came revision and preparing for the November release.
- Do you have any writing rituals or habits?
Not really. My process is rather organic. The one habit I would really have is being a plotter. Besides enjoying structure, I go with how the muses are working at a given moment. I am unable to write two projects at the same time. I can revise, promote, format several ones simultaneously but if I am in the first writing phase, I must focus on a single project. For years, I also had to have a definitive title if writing. These last two years, I have become more flexible on the topic.
- What is your favorite theme?
Becoming a better person. Growing as an individual is a theme that always comes up in my projects, fiction or nonfiction. Friends, family and faith are also central themes that run through my work.
- Do you have a favorite character? Why?
I don’t. It would be like asking a parent who their favorite child is. I love all of them. I even find interest in my villains, although some really scare the hell out of me, especially Keno. I have some characters I like more than others, but picking up a single (or even a trio of) favorite isn’t something I can see myself do.
- Is Adaira your alter ego?
No, she isn’t. Are there elements of me in her? Yes. Her devotion to her people, her faith and her want of a family are elements important to me too. Yet, I would gravitate more towards Mairi as some vague alter ego, than Adaira. Tania reminds me of me a few years ago.
- Are any of your life experiences reflected in your book?
I originally came up with the story with Tania as main character, before it evolved into a multiple narrator book. Her studying abroad in London is inspired by my own experience. I even found it amusing to have her live close to where I used to during my time in the UK. Situating some of the scenes in Oxford is also dear to me because I have fond memories of trips there.
- What do you hope readers take away from your books? This book in particular?
I always hope that my readers have a good time reading my books. I’d like that they feel and think thanks to my stories, whether fiction or nonfiction. In the end, what matters to me most is that they enjoy them, regardless of their personal experience generally speaking. As for Clairvoyance Chronicles, I hope they fall in love with the characters and want to come back to see what happen to them in the next volumes.
- How do you like to connect with readers?
Social media makes it quite easy to connect. I always enjoy reviews, but exchanging via emails or comments on my blog or other pages is a great way to find out more about my readers and their experiences, too. This is why I do my best to be reachable via several online platforms.
CLAIRVOYANCE CHRONICLES VOLUME ONE
Old enemies never truly disappear. When they return, peace becomes fragile and clans are on the brink of destruction.
Were Saber-toothed Cat Neyla relives her real-life nightmares upon Keno’s reappearance. Her longtime nemesis is scheming to overthrow the supernatural society. With Keno’s followers growing each day, Fae, Weres, Shifters and others with special gifts, are at risk.
In these dark times, everyone must join ranks and keep faith in a better tomorrow.
Unfortunately, the price may be high.
About NATACHA GUYOT
Natacha Guyot is a French author, scholar and public speaker. She is passionate about Science Fiction, Fantasy, Transmedia, Gender Studies, Children’s Media and Fan Studies.
She holds two Master’s degrees: Film and Media Studies (Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle) and Digital Culture and Technology (King’s College London). Since 2012, she has been published in several countries and was a guest speaker at academic conferences and university lectures in both Europe and North America.
Her released titles include A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation and Storytelling in Star Wars, Feminist Bloggers: The 2014 Collection (editor), and La Cité de Sharianth.
Besides her nonfiction and research work, she also writes Science Fiction and Fantasy stories.
She considers herself a feminist, Science Fiction and Fantasy nerd, fangirl, book worm, vidder, gamer and cat lover.
SOCIAL MEDIA–Here’s how to connect with and support Natacha:
- Amazon US
- Amazon UK
- Amazon France
As a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, I have the honor of hosting the Spotlight Author’s blog post from time to time. Today I present a post by Christa Nardi. If you love murder mysteries as I do, follow the links below to Christa’s books. Then snuggle up with your favorite hot beverage and one of Christa’s books. You can support Christa on Facebook and Twitter or visit her blog through the links at the end. Below is a preview of what you’ll find in Christa’s books.
The Characters of the Cold Creek Mysteries Series:
Interview with Max Bentley
Thank you for joining us today Max – I mean Mr. Bentley.
It’s Dr. Bentley.
My apologies Dr. Bentley. We wanted to talk today about the recent murders here at Cold Creek College.
I hope this isn’t going to take very long. My research is important and takes up much of my time. That State Detective – McMann – he took up a lot of my time. He had no right interrupting my meeting with my students.
What are your thoughts on the murders, Dr. Bentley?
Murders are not good for the prestige of this college. Especially when a faculty member is the victim and the rumors about him. Did you know that he was married four times and dating multiple women? That is not how to raise money for the college. Research brings in money. It is what’s important and will improve the prestige of the college.
What do you research, Dr. Bentley?
I work with mice and rats in my laboratory. Along with my students, I study learning and social behavior. This is critical research and I’m sure I will get a grant some day and be able to – now don’t quote me on this – get to a bigger better university where they appreciate my research. I’ll receive many awards. Are we almost done? My research you know…
Do you think there is enough security and support for students, staff and faculty?
My lab is secure, locked all the time. I need to take care of the mice and rats in order to keep the lab you know. All of that is regulated you know. I’m very careful. I only let the best students, like Wesley, work in my lab.
Just one more question, Dr. Bentley. What is your involvement in the crisis plan for the campus?
Crisis is what Sheridan does along with Kim and Mitch. Only Sheridan tells Detective McMann what she thinks and then he comes and bothers me. This is all bad publicity for the college. I don’t know about the interim Chancellor but I hope the new Chancellor knows something about education and research. Someone needs to appreciate that faculty should not be hampered by students. [stands up and walks off]
Thank you, Dr. Bentley.
An excerpt from MURDER AT COLD CREEK COLLEGE:
From Chapter 1
I nodded and then checked the next open door. Unfortunately, it was Max’s office. I knocked. He swiveled around, his black hair somewhat uncontrolled and in need of a cut. I must have startled him. His brown eyes opened wide.
“Sheridan, you wouldn’t believe. I‘m ready to get this experiment going, and somehow the materials I ordered haven’t come in. Terra told me I didn’t have enough money in my account, and that’s not right! I don’t know what her problem is,” was his opening tirade. Max was the other experimental psychologist in the department. He was by far the one most interested in research .
“Yeah, well, Terra and Ali do the books. They would know. Maybe you didn’t figure right what you had in your lab account. I bet they can give you a full accounting,” I suggested. Max tended to have these tantrums a lot. He was relatively young and had come to Cold Creek straight from graduation the year after me. He had big dreams of doing enough research to get to a better university.
“You doing okay otherwise – you know with the rec center and all,” I asked.
“Oh, I gave up on the rec center last year. Too crowded. I joined a private club where I don’t have to deal with the students. At the rec center, they always tried to talk to me. Are you looking for a place to work out?” he asked, oblivious to the excitement on campus. But that was not unusual for Max. Unless it was going to directly affect him, he didn’t seem to know about it. Now, if he had wanted to work out today, he might have been more interested.
“Uh, Max, someone died at the rec center this morning,” I offered as gently as I could.
Jumping out of his seat, he proclaimed, “I knew it, I knew there were safety problems. I knew those students would wreck something! See what I mean?”
“Max, someone was murdered. It wasn’t an accident,” I added. I wondered at the fact that he hadn’t asked the obvious question of who? It was certainly the question I wanted answered.
“Oh. Well, it better not get in the way of my lab work. I’d love to chat with you Sheridan, but I have work to do,” he responded. With that, he sat back down and turned back to his computer. Good thing or he would have seen me shake my head in disbelief. It was also probably a good thing that he did research with rats or mice, examining their use of cues, learning, and such. He sure didn’t seem interested in people and didn’t always pick up on social cues. I made my way back to my office with a wave at Kim. I also quickly let her know that it wasn’t Jim, Doug or Max who was murdered.
Check out Christa’s books:
Murder at Cold Creek College
mystery, women sleuths, cozy
Murder in the Arboretum
mystery, women sleuths, cozy
Twitter handle: @ChristaN7777
Facebook address: https://www.facebook.com/christa.nardi.5
Website address: christanardi.blogspot.com
Don’t forget to stop by Rave Reviews Book Club. Tell them Christa sent you!
As the Rave Reviews Book Club’s very first Spotlight Author, I really love hosting for the blog tours of the Spotlight Authors. It gives me a way of paying back for the wonderful support I received when I was the lucky author and still receive today as a member of RRBC. Today, I host Maureen Kovach and Brigette Howard, a mother and daughter writing team, also known as Maureen K. Howard. Wait until you dig in to the first book in their Lake Erie Mysteries series! Looking for another great summer read? Look no further than this link to Sunny Side Up. To get things started, the authors have for you today an “interview” with their main character, Francine Orsini Egge. Then, have fun reading an excerpt from Chapter Two of Sunny Side Up.
~by Brigette Howard
Host: Welcome! Let’s get the easiest and most obvious question out of the way first. Who are we talking to today?
Francie: My name is Francesca Orsini Egge. Notice that my last name rhymes with ledge and not leg. People get that wrong all the time, but you can just call me Francie.
Host: Okay, Francie. Would you tell us a little bit about your family?
Francie: I have been married for twenty years to my wonderful husband Hammond. He is a lawyer and a really stand up kind of guy. We have two children, Beth and Ben; they are twins. They both moved off to college this year, so I’m suffering a little bit of empty nest syndrome.
Host: Is that why you spend so much time with your friend June?
Francie: I guess I never thought of that. I suppose I do like being around June and all of her shenanigans because it keeps my mind off of worrying about my kids.
Host: Speaking of shenanigans, tell us more about June.
Francie: June is my best friend, if people in their forties are still allowed to have best friends. We met while I was working as an intern to the Cleveland prosecuting attorney, and she was just starting her career as an investigative reporter for WCLV. Our paths seemed to keep crossing, and in no time we were socializing out on the town and living it up as two single career women would do. That’s also just about the time I met Hamm, and the rest is history so to speak. Look at us now. Still best friends, but with very different careers and lives than we set out for.
Host: How did you switch gears from a budding career in law enforcement to eventually heading the local college drama department?
Francie: After the twins were born, I loved being a stay at home mom spending my days with Beth and Ben when they were babies and then sharing in their youthful adventures, but I realized that I still needed something for me. I was endlessly directing impromptu plays the kids put on with their friends in the neighborhood, so I thought, why not try my hand at theater for adults. It started with just a few classes here and there when I could squeeze them in, but resulted in a degree in theater and a very fulfilling career as the drama department head in the same college where I had started out my classes.
Host: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Francie: I love to spend summers at my “Happy Place.” Hamm and I have a condo and a boat in Marblehead on Lake Erie. We spend our weekends there as often as possible. We enjoy taking the boat for short trips to some of the nearby islands. There are some great shopping destinations and really delicious food. Not to mention a wide variety of tempting adult beverages.
Host: Do you have a favorite food or drink that you would like to share?
Francie: Cheese for sure! It can be on food, in food, or just by itself, but everything is better with a little cheese. And of course, a nice glass of Pinot Noir also goes nicely with a cheese plate.
Host: I think that about wraps things up. And I’m getting a little cheese craving of my own right now. Thank you for stopping by to chat Francie.
Francie: It was my pleasure. Until next time, remember my favorite motto, “keep a drink in one hand, credit card in the other, and everything else will sort itself out.”
Maureen K. Howard is the pen name of mother/daughter writing partners, Maureen Kovach and Brigette Howard. They both live in Findlay, Ohio. Maureen recently retired from a long career as a high school English teacher and now focuses her time on spoiling her three granddaughters, spending long weekends at the lake with her husband and their golden doodle, and making friends with fellow mystery writers and readers across the globe via social media. Oh yeah, she also writes books. Brigette works full time managing multiple national restaurant franchises. She enjoys taking her charcoal lab on running adventures and spends her free time reading, gardening with her husband, cooking, and planning the perfect murder.
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Sunny-Side-Lake-Erie-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00Q79DB90/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434554136&sr=1-2&keywords=sunny+side+up B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sunny-side-up-maureen-k-howard/1121262131?ean=9781634432887
Did I leave my vibrator on? Oh wait, I don’t own a vibrator, so what was causing the riotous pile of clothes on my bedroom floor to buzz with such urgency? The mundane truth was that I’d switched my cell phone ringer off so I wouldn’t lose focus while trying to assemble my weekend wardrobe. Obviously that wasn’t working out so well for me.
I located the gyrating devil under some discarded tank tops and swiped the answer button on the screen just before the call was switched over to voicemail. “Hello?”
“Francie! Is it a go? Did you get the hubby to agree to run us over to the island in the boat this weekend?”
“It’s good to hear from you, too, June. And no, I haven’t even gotten around to asking him yet. He’s downstairs whipping up one of his gourmet meals, and I sure don’t want to distract him from that. I was trying to figure out what I should pack. How do you prepare for freezing cold mornings, balmy afternoons, torrential downpours and high winds—and fit everything into one suitcase? At least I don’t have to worry about bathing suits. After the winter we’ve just had, the lake probably won’t warm up until August.”
“Sorry. I’m just anxious to get to the island. My editor is jumping down my throat to get this story in before the official start of the season.”
June’s passion was hard to resist. She was like that about everything she did—she took off running and didn’t look back. I could feel myself being lured in to the promise of fun and adventure. It wouldn’t be the first time.
My best friend was a freelance writer. She worked for a consortium of specialty magazines running the gamut from Fruit Aficionado to The Neighborhood Cigar, to my favorite, Lady Sings the Tools. Two years ago she gave up her high-profile job as an investigative reporter for WCLV, the major network news channel in Cleveland. After her divorce, she bagged up all her corporate outfits, chopped off her hair, and set off on a new career path that didn’t hamper her free spirit. Her new job now requires her to spend time with all kinds of interesting people from every walk of life instead of digging up dirt on the lowest of low-life criminals.
Recently, I even got to meet Christie Browne, the beautiful model, while June was working on a story about the latest beauty product the star was endorsing. In our enthusiasm to prove our support for the much-touted self-tanning lotion, we doubled the recommended amount as well as the recommended usage time. Our skin turned a frightening shade of burnt pumpkin, and wouldn’t you know it, I had to accompany Hammond to a formal dinner party given by his firm that same evening. June, on the other hand, was able to postpone her face-to-face interview, and by the time we met Christie, we both looked sweetly sun-kissed. She got rave reviews on her piece. I got put on a prayer list.
“I get that you’re under a deadline, but if I don’t approach Hamm in just the right way, I’m fried. Let me call you back in a little while.”
“Okay, but let me know soon. If I don’t take this assignment, I’ll be stuck documenting the mating behaviors of ferrets for the next two weeks.”
It give me great pleasure to host Spotlight Author Elizabeth Love, fellow member of the Rave Reviews Book Club and author of Call of the Goddess. Let’s give her our love and support on Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon. See her links below. If you don’t know RRBC, why not go to the Rave Reviews Book Club website to check out the benefits of membership. Tell them Elizabeth Love sent you! Here is Elizabeth in her own words.
Hello! I’m happy to be here today with my RRBC friends and supporters. If you haven’t heard of Rave Reviews Book Club, be sure to check it out. Find a great book to read or join and enjoy the support of fellow indie authors making their way through this big wide world of writing and publishing.
It’s my belief that writers are naturally curious people. We love to learn about anything and everything. Personally, I love learning about a variety of subjects, especially in science and literature. We are inclined to read and research information that interests us, especially if we need it for our next novel.
Have you given much thought to learning more?
Last winter I found MOOCs. For those of you unfamiliar with MOOCs (I know I wasn’t), these are Massive Open On-Line Courses offered through universities, colleges, and even museums from around the world. Many MOOCs are free and open to the public and offer folks the opportunity to learn a variety of subjects from reputable professors and instructors. There are also specific courses designed to be used as continuing education for licenses and certificates, for a small fee. The choice of courses is almost limitless, and that’s just on one site I’ve used called Coursera.org. Arts, engineering, mathematics, and astronomy are just a few of the options.
Because these courses are open around the world, there is an opportunity to connect with hundreds of individuals with varying backgrounds and cultures, adding another dimension to the learning possibilities. Forums are a large part of each course, where you can ask questions and start a discussion. It’s easy to find like-minded individuals and share meaningful tidbits.
The courses vary in length from a few weeks to a few months. The course work often includes video lectures, some reading material, and quizzes. Certain courses also require short essays or submitting photos of projects that are evaluated by random peers in the course according to the course rubric.
I am salivating over the information possibilities. So far this year, I’ve completed courses on evolution, the origins of the solar system, paleontology, writing, and politics. Unfortunately, I failed miserably at astronomy, but I gave it my best shot. The beauty of these courses revolves around the ability to fail at the course but not lose anything in the trying. At this moment, I’m enrolled in Australian Literature and Everyday Creativity.
If you have a little extra time (sorry for that joke – extra time is a fallacy), search for MOOCs on your favorite search engine and see if anything strikes your fancy. You might be inspired for your next great novel.
~Elizabeth N. Love
Call of the Goddess by Elizabeth N. Love
Amazon Link: http://goo.gl/8pPUmR
About the Book:
On the faraway planet of Bona Dea, in a society forged by ancient settlers, trouble is brewing. Young psychic Axandra, never comfortable with her gift, is being forced to use it for the benefit of her people as ruling matriarch of the entire world and host to a powerful entity known only as the Goddess. Struggling with her fate, used as a pawn between warring factions, life for Axandra is almost too much to bear. Even the ministrations of her beloved companion, Quinn, may not prove powerful enough to overcome the stress threatening to destroy Axandra’s fragile soul.
About the Author:
Elizabeth N. Love is a native of Kansas who grew up on the prairie in rural small towns. From a very young age she enjoyed creating stories and poems and practices daily in the art of wordsmithing. She also enjoys other forms of art, such as drawing and making music. She is currently finishing Book Two in this series, as well as working on a paranormal romance, a non-fiction narrative, and a new sci-fi novel based on an alternate past. She lives near Kansas City with her family.
Connect with Elizabeth!
Amazon Author: www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-N.-Love/e/B00JRM567O
It is my pleasure to host April Adams, fellow Rave Reviews Book Club member and Spotlight Author. April shares her thoughts about writers’ inspiration. We all need inspiration as well as practical support. I encourage you to show your support for April by following her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Pick up a copy of her book on Amazon. See April’s links below. While you’re at it, stop by the Rave Reviews website, a great place for authors and readers. If you join, tell RRBC that April sent you. Here is April in her own words.
How Inspiration Strikes and What I Do About It
Inspiration is a funny thing. It can strike without warning. One minute, I’m sitting there watching my infant being awesome, and the next my mind is swirling with a story line that just sort of blipped into existence! I love those moments. I can understand how the concept of a sentient being called “Muse” came about. It’s almost like a sudden possession. It isn’t there, and then it is! Magic!
Everybody gets inspiration at one time or another. I think what sets apart the thinkers from the doers is just the action one takes when inspired. I don’t let one of those magical moments pass me by. I will stop what I’m doing while the moment is fresh and record it somehow. At times it’s just scribbles on a notebook. Other times I make a voice or text note on my phone. I capture them before they can flit away like shooting stars.
Not every idea I get is worth a novel. Some of them aren’t even worth a short story. At least, not yet. My first book, Shattered, sat in my brain box for a long, long time. Since I was sixteen or so, but it was just an embryo then. Over the years I gathered experience and skills until one day, while watching TV, all of the pieces just fell into place.
One line, spoken by the right actor at the right time, let all the swirling bits coalesce into a beautiful (if I do say so myself) story of epic adventure, tender romance, and magical creatures, with a special twist on the classic good vs evil plotline. Shattered is available through Amazon at http://amzn.com/B00CH3T0DQ in paperback, ebook, and audiobook. The trilogy is complete now, so you won’t have to wait for the next book. I hope you’ll give it a shot. It was definitely inspired.
Find me online!
It is my pleasure to host Helen Treharne, fellow Rave Reviews Book Club member, published author, and lucky RRBC Spotlight Author, as she graces the websites of other fellow RRBC members during her blog tour. If you haven’t heard of RRBC or the club’s perks for Indie writers, check out the RRBC website. If you join, tell them Helen sent you. Better yet, plan to go to Amazon on February 14 to order your copy of Death in the Family. While you’re there, claim your free copy of Relative Strangers. Here is Helen in her own words.
There’s no way around it, writing a book is hard work; writing a series is perhaps even harder. You live with your characters for months, years in many cases. Writing is not for the faint hearted. Within the confines of your creation lurk great risks. What if readers don’t get what you are trying to say? What if the story just doesn’t translate from your mind onto paper? What if they think your writing sucks? Perhaps people won’t root for your characters. When you write a series, this is essential. You want readers to warm to the ongoing plotlines and characters, even the villains. When the vampire genre is already pretty saturated, crafting stories and conjuring up people that feel fresh and interesting is stressful, I can tell you!
But along with the challenges of writing a series, there also come great rewards, not the least of which are the memories you forge along the way. It took two years to write Relative Strangers, the first book in the Sophie Morgan vampire series. I started it during a particularly busy time in my personal life and with lots happening outside the confines of my limited writing time.
My experience of writing Death in the Family was very different. I’ve forged great memories of the creative process. Improving my planning made a significant difference – as did finding a fantastic editor. This time around I also had the support of authors and readers I befriended following the release of Relative Strangers – that helped a lot! There are far too many to name, though I have acknowledged a few in the acknowledgements in the soon to be released sequel, Death in the Family.
I’ve learned some important lessons about writing a series along the way. Some of them about myself, others about my art. Here are just a few:
- Have an overall vision of where you want your characters to go. What’s the overall lesson or journey they will undertake through the course of the series.
- Keep proper notes of recurring elements and their features – characters, locations, appearance.
- Take time to plan at least an outline story before pen even touches paper.
- Choose cover designers who understand your vision and can commit to producing covers for each book in the series.
- Use some form of version control for your drafts. Scenes you delete now might be good to use in future books.
- Ask critical friends of other beta readers to take a look at a draft at an early stage. Try to use those who have read other books – to check for consistency. Also use those who haven’t, to ensure it makes sense to those who haven’t.
- Release books close together. You will have more success if people can move on to one book straight after the other. Sit on your hands if you have to, to prevent out hitting that ‘publish button on the first one.
- Read other series in your genre – get a feel for what readers expect, what sells and what won’t.
- Network with other authors and with creators of other series in particular. Writers are a friendly bunch and will happily share tips on marketing and craft, or just a hefty heap of motivation.
- Set yourselves some milestones. When will you finish each book? Will it be something that is wrapped up within 3/4/5 books, or will the books just keep going until you run out of steam? Once you’ve finished, how will you reward yourself (a nice meal out is always a good treat I think!)? Writing a series is a bit of a marathon, you’ll need to keep yourself motivated with little wins to enjoy along the way.
So, there you have it, my lessons so far. I’m sure these will evolve over time. Please let me know if there are any you would like to share. Please leave a comment on the blog or pop over to mine and say hi.
Death in the Family will be available from Amazon 14th February – the perfect valentine gift for the vampire loving reader in your life! It is available for pre-order now. To celebrate the release, Relative Strangers will also be FREE to download from Amazon on 14th February.
Helen Treharne is the creator of the developing Sophie Morgan vampire series as well as short stories and other prose. Helen lives with her husband, three cats, an entrenched tea addiction and an increasing collection of stringed instruments. When she’s not writing, she spends her daytime hours working in communications and volunteers for a feline welfare charity. She also runs a very successful book blog, reviewing and promoting the work of other indie authors. She also can’t stop purchasing stationery. She can be found at her blog, Facebook page and on Twitter.
Kathryn C. Treat passed away on Sunday, December 21, 2014, at 2:20 a.m. (California time). On Friday, December 19, after having a wonderful time at the Rave Reviews Book Club’s virtual Christmas party, in a virtual chat room with her fellow RRBC VIP Lounge members, Kathryn said that she was not feeling well and was going to leave. Shortly thereafter, she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and then lapsed into a coma.
Kathryn was an honorary board member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, where she served as Membership Director from December 2013 until September 2014. Kathryn is the author of ALLERGIC TO LIFE: MY BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL, COURAGE AND HOPE . She inspired and encouraged many with this book, so if you have not had the pleasure of reading it, please head to Amazon and get your copy.
Kathryn was a dedicated member of RRBC until her passing, and she was one of the most supportive members the club had…not just to one, but to all. Kathryn leaves to mourn her husband, her mother, her sister, her two daughters, a son-in-law and three grandkids (whom she adored more than life), as well as her entire RRBC family.
Let us remember Kathryn and honor her memory by always being kind to one another and by always offering our support to another. It’s what she did. It’s how she lived. It’s who she was. In honor, many blogs across the world are memorializing Kathryn today with the same post that you see here. If Kathryn touched your life in any way, please share your memories and comments below. Since everyone who knew Kathryn may not yet know of her home-going, we ask that you also share this page on all your social media forums.
We have erected a memorial page on the Rave Reviews Book Club site that will remain. Please stop by to leave your comments and memories of Kathryn, so that her family will get a sense of just how loved she was by so many.
PS: As a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club and someone whose life was touched by Kathy, I am participating in the worldwide blog today as Kathy is laid to rest. My thoughts are with her family, and I send them love. In an earlier post I wrote about Kathy and her courageous fight both to educate others about multiple chemical sensitivity and to survive a workplace mold exposure that had turned her life upside down. You can access it here: Click.
As the very first Spotlight author of the Rave Reviews Book Club, it always gives me great pleasure to host a new Spotlight author. The current Spotlight author Rochelle Carter shares her thoughts about the benefits of outlining, a technique I once taught and promoted as a teacher of English and still recommend to writers today. After you’ve absorbed the wisdom of Rochelle’s advice, show her a little love by supporting her on the social media she lists below. And don’t forget to check out her book on Amazon. Better yet, join the group that promotes established, new, or aspiring writers. Stop by the website of Rave Reviews Book Club and say that Rochelle sent you.
How I juggle writing with a screaming toddler
We’ve all got conflicting priorities to juggle; here’s why outlining your book should make you more efficient
Even as I type this blog, my 18 month old is screaming in my face from my lap. She’s tired and teething, and overall not happy with life right now. I’m still typing however, because I have a plan for my writing, and estimated word count I will hit and then I will be all hers again- if she’s not asleep. That’s because I live for outlining my work. Having an outline provides three major benefits:
- Helps you stay focused- even while multi-tasking, having an outline and a general premise for what you are trying to convey will allow you to drop off and pick up as needed.
- Allows you to develop your writing strategy– if you know the end goal for each section in your outline, you are less likely to go off on a tangent and wonder how you got there.
- Makes it easier to get help if necessary– for nonfiction books especially, outlining will allow you to work more effectively with editors. They will be able to see the overall arc of your book and provide directed input, rather than just going with the flow of your writing.
I know as authors we get told repeatedly to write an outline, and yet so many of us forego this simple tool for the sake of the long, treacherous, and blind journey to manuscript completion. After years of starting various books, I finally went back to basics and completed my first book- The Seven Step Guide to Authorpreneurship. I may not be selling millions, but I’ve certainly made the Amazon bestseller lists and won a couple of awards this year. I am a good student, so for my next book I have already started working on my outline… even while the kids run and scream!
As the very first Rave Reviews Spotlight Author, it is always a pleasure for me to host a new Spotlight Author. Today the spotlight is on Ronesa Aveela, author of Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey. For all of you history lovers out there, now is your chance to learn a little more about a people who were contemporaries of the Ancient Greeks. And if you haven’t heard about the Rave Reviews Book Club, then mosy on over to the site to check out the club that supports, promotes, and propels members. Tell them that Ronesa sent you. Here she is in her own words.
We knew little about the Thracians when we started to work on “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey.” When people mention Thrace, the only heroes who readily come to mind are Hercules, Orpheus, and Spartacus – if even those. But Thrace has a vast history beyond its mythology or the conflict with Rome. We enthusiastically rolled up our sleeves and researched their culture, religion, and customs. Our efforts were reward with a delightful review: “I love that there is a little bit of historical elements in this book, namely the stuff set in ancient Thrace. A history buff myself, it isn’t often I get the chance to read things about Thrace that don’t involve Spartacus. Major props to the writer for creating this wonderful tale.”
Quite often now when we mention the book, people ask, “Where is Thrace?” or “Who were the Thracians? Is that a country?”
So, let’s start with the easy question: “Where is Thrace?” The Thracians lived in southeastern Europe along the Black Sea, in the region that is now modern-day Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.
“Who were the Thracians” poses a more difficult question. What we can tell you is that they have been around for a long time. Since the people themselves did not have a written language, everything that is known about them comes from other sources. The first historical reference to them was in Homer’s “Iliad,” where it was mentioned that they were allies to the Trojans. But evidence of them as a distinct people exists as far back as 1500 BC.
They were a warlike tribal nation, living in mountains and valleys. But they were also great artisans, finely crafting delicate golden objects and painting beautiful murals.
A polytheistic people, they worshiped the Sun and Moon, both. Bendis, called the Great Goddess, was one of their primary deities. Better known, however, is Dionysus, the god of wine, whom the Greeks incorporated into their religion. It is through the story of Orpheus (you remember him; he went to Hades to retrieve his wife Eurydice) that the tale of this drunken god is probably best known. The story did not end well for Orpheus. The Maenads, followers of Dionysus, tore him apart. Yup, gruesome.
Even today, Bulgaria is known for its wine. Many myths and legends mention Thracian wine. Homer says the most popular wine, one with the best aroma and body, came from the Thracian city of Maroneia. Odysseus also used Thracian wine to put the Cyclops Polyphemus to sleep before he struck the beast in the eye with his spear.
When Christianity crept into the region, the Dionysian cult faded away. But even today the feast of Saint Trifon is celebrated, and the festivities trace back to the cult of Dionysus (for example, pouring wine and electing a king). But, that could be the topic of another entire blog.
“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.
Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974
Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY
- The New Anti-feminists: Have They Talked to Their Mothers or Grandmothers?
- Review of The World’s Emergency Room by Michael VanRooyen
- Rave Reviews Book Club’s Spotlight Author Sherilyn Powers
- Paying It Forward to Jan Sikes, RRBC Author
- Let’s Welcome Janelle Jalbert, RRBC’s Spotlight Author
- Rave Reviews Book Club’s Spotlight Author Jan Hawke
- Kathryn C. Treat: Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Author, and Loving Friend. RIP
- An Interview with Natacha Guyot, Author of Clairvoyance Chronicles
- Paying It Forward to John Howell, Author and RRBC Member
- Spotlight Author Christa Nardi and the Cold Creek Mysteries Series