Discovered Review & Author Interview

Discovered - Cover

Edinburgh is a city that’s slow to change. Which is why in 2061, Professor Lachlan Mackenzie still lives there. He hasn’t changed in the 1000 years since he and his shipmates abandoned ship, forsaken by the Vampyras millions of light years away and left to fend for themselves, feeding off the blood of humans.

 

Lachlan is drawn to sexy psychologist Kate the moment he steps into her office. He wants to protect her and help her overcome her PTSD. Ignoring the warning signs of his growing attraction he agrees to be her cabin mate on the journey to the new colony on Mars. But when Kate discovers him feeding on bagged blood, all hell breaks loose. Has he been set up by the Vampyr council leader? Will Kate ever forgive his lies? And how does he explain what he is to his long lost daughter who he meets on their journey?


As Kate starts to trust, outside forces threaten to rip them apart. Will Lachlan lose the only woman he’s ever truly bonded with?

I’ve known Em for what seems like forever, she is one of my closest friends, one of my favourite authors, and the person who continually kicks my ass when I’m procrastinating!

I remember Em talking about this amazing idea she had – (let me set the scene for you: Glasgow Fort Starbucks, I’m wearing a huge floppy hat, Em and I are drinking steaming coffee and there’s a folder sitting on the table with a picture of the gorgeous Grigoris Drakakis staring up at me.) –  Em was super excited about this new book she was going to write… about vampires. (I think I might have been silently judging her at the time, sorry Em).

But! Em proved me (and my silent judgement) so very wrong. She wrote Discovered, and I was in love (and it wasn’t just beacause Lachlan is *dreamy*).

Discovered is such a fantastic read – it’s funny, it’s touching, it’s exciting, it’s interesting. In fact, it is everything I could possibly want in a book! This is far removed from the usual stuff Em writes, and she’s done an absolutely magnificent job of it.

I’m really looking forward to the next installment in the series!

I give Discovered top marks – and I recommend it to anyone who loves Sci-Fi, Vampyrs and smart writing.

Be warned: it does contain sex, so I’d advise against it if you’re not into that. (I love it).

And now, to the fun part!

Author Photo - Em Taylor

What do you do when you are not writing?

Well that depends. I do a lot of social media. I spend a lot of time on Facebook in particular. I crew at film and TV conventions so sometimes I get to meet famous people though quite often it’s more looking after attendees. But that’s always fun too. With Amazon currently trying to reduce and reduce authors royalties I have to work to make ends meet. I knit and I’m about to start my own Etsy store. So I knot partly to make money and partly just because I like it.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I’m mostly a pantser but I do have a general idea where I’m going. That said, with Discovered, I did use an outline and I have most of an outline ready for the sequel. Usually it’s not written down though.

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre? 

Ugh, I hate marketing. There is no right way or wrong way to market and if I had the key, I’d be giving £162 million to charity like JK Rowling, rather than sitting wondering if I can afford to go out for coffee. I mainly use Facebook. A photo and a quote and info about the book being on Kindle unlimited and available on Amazon.

I also use Kindle countdown deals and free days but they don’t have the same impact they used to have. The best thing seems to be buying a Bookbub promotion but they’re selective and it’s expensive. I’ve never done it. The next best thing is a Bargain Booksy. Though again your book has to be on promotion. I use Twitter and I’ve tried Tumblr but don’t find that effective. I do find face to face interactions useful. And blog tours like this can be useful. It just depends. Sometimes you’re lucky and your book takes off.

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

To be honest, I’m loving working with the alien vampyrs at the moment. I think they are my babies. I can’t wait to write the second book. I’d also like to write books set in the second two decades of the twentieth century – Downton Abbey Era, as it were. Having written Regency I’d love to go to another very decadent era. Even though the war was going on and it wasn’t decadent for some, the rich didn’t put up with much hardship, though they lost their sons too, as peers were not exempt from conscription.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I think all criticism is hard to take. To be honest I think the hardest to take is that which seems unjustified. When you get a one-star review because your book is “filled with disgusting sex that Georgette Heyer would be appalled by,” you’re left wondering why they didn’t buy a Georgette Heyer novel. Or why they didn’t read the disclaimer that said the book had sex in it. Someone saying they knew me on Facebook and they had expected me to be wittier and that I was too reserved & hadn’t really been myself, was probably the worst though. That said, that was criticism I was able to take and learn from so while it hurt, it was worthwhile and I needed to hear it so that reviewer did me a favour.

Two compliments stick out in my mind as my favourites. One was when someone said of An American Cowboy in Scotland that they could tell I had actually been to Scotland. A big compliment indeed for a Scot born and raised in Scotland and who has always lived here. And secondly one of the early reviews of Discovered said that fans of Lynsay Sands’ Argeneau series would like Discovered. I LOVE Lynsay Sands’ Argeneau series.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Don’t be an aspiring writer. Be a writer. Stop messing around and just do it. Sitting in cafes on your iPad being all tortured and interesting won’t get you a book deal. Put your stuff on WattPad. Better still get it edited and get it on Amazon.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I promise I will get more books out soon.

In 5 words, please describe your ‘Romance Writing Style’

Umm, what style? Ha ha!

Do you pick up something from your ‘to be read’ stack?

No. I tend to listen to audio books but I’m skint so I may be returning to my bookcase which is filled with books and my kindle with has loads of unread books in it.

When you walk into a book store, where do you head first?

Last time I was in a book store it was to buy Christmas presents. I’m seldom in book stores because there are so few of them. I was actually looking for The List of the Lost by Morrissey – How embarrassing is that? It was for my sister. She’s a big Morrissey fan. It won the Literary Review’s Bad Sex Award. It was described in the Guardian as “unpolished turd of a book, the stale excrement of Morrissey’s imagination.” But my sister likes Morrissey so she got it as part of her present. Anyway, I normally head for the best seller’s bit of the book store which is just wrong. I should go and look for the people who are not selling.

Advertisements

Preying on Time – Review & Interview

In case you aren’t aware of this already, I am a huge fan of author Rebecca Clare Smith. We met many years ago through Twitter, and she soon became one of my favourite bloggers. Her flash fiction was something I looked forward to every week, and her entries for writing challenges I created were always superb. When I met Rebecca she was working hard on writing her novels, and today she has released two novels – both of separate series – and is currently in the process of editing another.

PreyingOnTime_03_300_zpsff36c190

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was when she told me she’d finally released Preying on Time. Having been a fan of Rebecca’s writing, I knew that she wouldn’t disappoint me, but I did not expect to finish reading Preying on Time in just one sitting! I could not put the book down.

 photo PoTfracturetime_zpsd8b36348.jpg

Preying on Time drags us into a dark, and frankly terrifying, future where nothing is as it should be. The world is full of seers, necromancers, werewolves and more. From the first page to the last it’s excitement and nervousness and intrigue. I never wanted to put the book down because I just had to know what was going to happen next.

I can’t begin to praise this novel enough, Rebecca’s writing style is utterly unique, and she draws the reader in with it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in dystopian futures and magical creatures. Five out five!

And, of course, what’s a review without a word or three from the author? Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Ms Rebecca Clare Smith!

 photo 37921_448353465822_584525822_6157711_5179952_n_zpsde72608a.jpg

Rebecca! First of all, tea and cat cuddles please. How are you?

I’m okay for the most part. A little weary, but aren’t we all? Always a pleasure to talk to you, though. And, by the way, the cats are just fine.

What are you doing right now?

I’m enjoying the view of my new illuminating kettle (because tea!) and eating biscuits with one of my furry boys. Soon I’ll be back to writing, though. Tea breaks are just essential.

I’ve been reading your writing for, like, forever. What made you want to write?

There isn’t just one thing that kick started me and it was crowd funded either. I’m so funny. Not. No, writing was never one of those things where I had some kind of whimsical day where it clicked and a story idea appeared. Writing is just living. Living is just writing. I can’t do without it and if I’m forced to it usually incurs low periods during which I am listless, unfriendly and unlikely to open the curtains. So I can’t say that anything made me want to write. I just do. Like breathing.

Where and when do you do your best writing?

At night. Unequivocally, at night is when I do my best writing. Especially if it’s raining. I’m not entirely sure why those specific things help me get into the zone, but they do. It’s my thing like other writers need whiskey or a library corner or whatever I need darkness and rain. Cheery. I don’t really have a where, though. This is mostly because I can’t afford a where. At the moment it has to be the sofa because I have no garden and our only desk space is taken by my other half’s monster computer that is probably too clever and gadgetified for me to touch. It’s also not red. And I like red things. My laptop is red.

Do you listen to music? What kind of music do you listen to while writing? Do the cats sing along to it?

The cats don’t sing along to the music. I’m not sure they really sing at all, to be honest. Mostly they make choked miaows when it’s close to feeding time because they’ve never really got the hang of being cats. They are mini peoples with fur and tails who like to climb in the fridge, drink from the washing up bowl and attack the mattress until they’re let out at 4am every night. I’m not a cat (unless you ask my other half who thinks I’m turning into one), but I do like to listen to music whilst I write. The type usually depends on the mood of the piece. Breaking Cadence was usually a mixture of Birdy and The XX whilst Preying On Time was totally and completely the ‘Lungs’ album by Florence + The Machine.

Preying on Time is rather magical (haha) what inspired the tale?

I think I was listening to Howl, actually, by Florence + The Machine at the time that I came up with the idea, which pretty much suits the book down to the ground and is why I used it in the background of my book trailer for Preying On Time. I’d been reading a few books with necromancer types around then too, such as No Humans Involved and Lirael.

I knew that I wanted to write a necromancer story. Ideas had been slowly forming about their different abilities, which I’d been scribbling down in my little black writer’s book every chance I got. When I thought of these powers combined together Violet came suddenly and fully formed, but what story could I put her in? Certainly nothing I was writing at the time. Then I was sitting on the bus one day, a journey to university for a course I wasn’t sure why I was doing, and the idea of time travel in a supernatural mutant future struck and Preying On Time led from there.

Are any of the characters based on people you know?

In Preying On Time? No. I wish I could be exciting and say there were some, but if there are then it’s been unwittingly done.

I think I’m love with Specs. Who’s your favourite character?

Ha ha. Specs is awesome, but sadly not my favourite. Without question, Violet is my favourite, but that might be because she displays a lot of my stubborn side. She’s a character that can be both easy and really difficult to write. It’s like she has a blocker for certain characters, too. If they aren’t to do with her case or her family then she doesn’t need to understand their motives or bother with their feelings. As somebody who finds it hard not to overanalyse other people and the way they react to me, I guess it’s kind of refreshing to create somebody like that.

Who was the most unruly character to write?

Logan! Of course, Logan. He’s hot headed and stubborn and clearly still on the cusp of being a teenager in his head. He’s what the literary world describes as new adult. And in the sequel, Logan has a lot to learn.

Who did you enjoy writing most?

I enjoyed writing Violet most, obviously, but the most fun was with Rhiel. I can’t help but enjoy writing really angry, villainous characters. I’m pretty sure he’s going to appear further ahead in the series, but not in Baying For Blood.

Tell us about the sequel ‘Baying for Blood’?

Firstly, I’m loving it. Summer stalled its progress, yet I’m so close now that I can taste it. I switched the point of view in this one because it felt better written from first person so you can really get inside the character’s heads. And we’re not just following Violet. The chapters move between her and Logan as he’s discovering just how hard it is to be a werewolf, especially as he’s been accused of murder!

And just to make it worse, the murderer is a werewolf serial killer of necromancers. Who’s better to find the beast behind the attacks than a necromancer like Violet? However, nothing is as simple as that. Can Violet find the killer before he strikes again or will she become his latest victim? And will Logan be proved innocent or is he the mindless beast the police believe?

When can we expect it?

I am hoping to release it before Christmas 2014, but that means a lot of scurrying around and finishing off first.

Tell us about the self publishing process?

Well first I write it. Then I edit the hell out of it so it’s much better for human consumption. After that we get started on the cover, usually. This involves me inundating one poor lady at Katarr Kanticles Press with what is usually a million images that ‘might look cool’ together. After she’s probably screamed at the screen a zillion times, she sends me some versions and we tweak them here and there until it’s more like what I had in mind. Then she gets to line read too and tell me if I’ve missed any typos or such. After that it’s formatting and away we go!

What’s your superpower?

Invisibility. Not really, though, which is sad. It’s probably partly why I made necromancers able to become invisible, at least to living beings.

What are your favourite books?

What a rubbish question. Joking aside, though, I don’t know how you expect me to answer. I have lots of favourites. Like parents don’t have a favourite child… do they? I hope not. I guess if I had to name some then it would be Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series. It’s one of those where I literally couldn’t stop myself from reading into the night and waaaaay on past dawn. Oh well. Who needs sleep?

Who inspires you?

Life inspires me. Everything and anything I see gets mentally noted in some sort of story warehouse in my head and sometimes I wheel it out and go, hey there let’s try you today. Mostly I get ideas from dreams, though. A dream is where Breaking Cadence started amongst many snatches of other tales.

Describe your writing style in one sentence?

My writing style is a bit quirky with some stop starts and a flourish of description here and there. I think.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever written?

Hmm… I write a lot of weird things, as you know. I suppose early pieces from when I was much younger and hadn’t really honed my craft would be the weirdest. A lot of them had no real plot and were written basically because I had a lot of free time on my own.

And lastly, if you could be anywhere in the universe right now, where would you be?

Probably in my own little housey (that we own instead of rent) with Mr Bear, our two cats and a raven that looks like a writing desk for company.

Thanks so much for joining me on Vorax Lector – is there anything else you wanna tell our readers?

Stay in school kids! No. Not really. Nothing as cliché as that. I just hope you guys decide to take a hit on my books and enjoy them if you do. And also, thanks muchly to you for this interview and the amazing review!

Where to find Rebecca:

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads

Buy Rebecca’s books on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords

Author Interview: Darryl Branning

The wonderful Darryl Branning has taken some time out from his writing schedule to answer a few questions for the blog! Here he is:
First up, tell the readers a little about yourself?
I started reading science fiction and fantasy when I was about twelve years old. That was in the mid 1970s, when most people had never heard of a computer, and there were only three channels on the TV. I was also an only child, so reading was a natural. That, and I often wasn’t allowed to watch TV for a week or two after I’d gotten up to the normal sorts of trouble that kids get into at that age.
Later on I learned about computers from reading Issac Asimov. I took a class in high school just to see what they were all about. We had access to a dumb terminal that was just a modem with a keyboard and paper-print output, but I can still remember the Star Trek simulation game we used to play. Science fiction is the reason I’m a computer geek today.
When, and why, did you begin writing?
I had a baby sitter who used to let me play with an old manual typewriter. It was fun, so I taught myself to touch type at a fairly early age, but the idea of actually writing something didn’t occur to me until years later when a book I had been enjoying ended in a way that I found frustrating and disappointing. (It was Childhood’s End, and I suppose I could make some meaningful connection to the title here, but I really hate the ending.)
I think the first story I ever wrote was for an assignment in the third grade, but if I remember right, I just stole one of my favorites and put it on the moon instead of in the forest. The first short story I tried to get published was in high school. I sent it to Issac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, and I got a very nice rejection letter out of it.
What inspired ‘Bred’?
I started with this awesome-super-powerful character who was half-demon because bad things happened to his mother before he was born. His face looked like a skull, and he would go out at nights and hunt monsters to protect the people of the city. I kept getting more ideas for more awesome-super-powerful characters, and I would write a scene or two and then file them away somewhere. I didn’t even have a plot until I pulled all of those hand written scenes out of my filing cabinet, and started typing them into my computer. I had no idea where the story was going until I made up a list of random events for one of the characters to have a prophecy about.
My inspirations came in small bursts, in learning how to limit my characters, and in remembering and practicing the advice I’d gotten from the professionals, both in person and in print. The whole book was a sort of training ground.
Were any of the characters inspired by people you know?
Not in Bred. Most of them were probably inspired by other fictional characters. I worked on a science fiction blog for a few years, and some of those characters, yeah, but I probably shouldn’t admit it.
Tell us a little about the world you created for ‘Bred’? Was that based on anything in particular?
It’s a very character driven story, and I needed a place for them to live, so it more or less grew out of that need. Even now I don’t have a very strong sense of the world. Maybe because you never know when you might have to change something to make that next scene work out. That might be a flaw in the story, but everything in the world is there for a reason. Well, except for the Vortex. The Vortex started out as a way to explain all the monsters that the main character was going to be hunting, but those scenes got cut. I guess I left in the Vortex to give it a bit of historical weight.
Tell us about the publishing process?
Deciding to self-publish the book was harder than the actual process. I had been going to small science fiction conventions for years. Writers at science fiction conventions are almost always happy to hang with, drink with, and have normal conversations with fans. I’ve heard so many horror stories about the traditional publishing industry that I was never really interested in trying my luck.
On the other hand, the term ‘self-published’ was practically an insult for many many years–probably for good reasons. Before I went ahead with the project, I gave it a lot of thought, and I did a lot of research. I eventually decided that I really didn’t have anything to lose, except possibly my non-existent reputation.
I spoke to some professional editors, and paid one of them a lot of money to put all the commas in the right places–because I’m lousy at commas. I spoke to a couple of artists, commissioned a portrait that I ended up not using, and then contacted a reasonably priced cover designer who works with indie publishers. I spent about a week formatting the book according to the Smashwords guidelines, and then I uploaded that file. I haven’t uploaded the novel to Amazon yet, but you can get the Kindle version (among others) at Smashwords.
What authors would you say have influenced you?
There are so many, but I love character driven stories, so I’d have to say those have had the most influence on my own writing. Issac Asimov, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Alan Dean Foster, Anne McCaffrey, Larry Niven, and Terry Prachett are a few of my favorites.
Do you have advice for other aspiring writers?
Write for yourself. Write the story you want to read. Make yourself happy. If you can’t do that, I don’t see the point.
Seek real and constructive criticism. Your friends and family may not be the best people to give you that.
Common writing advice is common, but it may not apply to you. One that I hear a lot is, “Learn to ignore (or turn off) your internal editor.” I don’t like that one, so I say, “Learn to work with your internal editor.”
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Read a good book. Or go dancing.
Is there anything else you would like to add to this?
Over the years I’ve studied a lot of writing texts, read a lot of stories, went to many science fiction conventions just to speak with the authors, and attended college long enough to get two writing degrees. At some point I realized that successful writers have to work way harder than most people think, and that I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down that road. I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere, because I’m working way harder at it than I ever thought I would, and I’m still not rich and famous.

Book Review: ‘Bred’ by Darryl Branning

Discount Code for 40% off: GT99A
And check out the ‘Scions of Lyn’ Facebook Page
Demel was bred for power, born into slavery, and lives in the city of sorcery. His talent for remaining unnoticed allows him to grow into, and master, his power. But when he frees himself from a powerful control curse, he releases a storm of events which threatens all of Lyn. Demel, and his sometimes reluctant allies, are the only ones who can stop a thousand years of violence and oppression.
Book Description
Darryl Branning has created an amazing world in ‘Bred’ – a character driven fantasy, it has all the elements – there’s politics, and war caused by those. Demel is a fascinating character, a half breed demon, he has a heart of gold and the wits to make things right. We follow his journey from childhood into adulthood as he learns the strength of his own power, discovers others and ultimately saves the world.
There’s not a second of boredom while reading ‘Bred’ – every chapter leaves you wanting more, needing to know what’s going to happen. The characters are amazing, deep and really well crafted – every one has their own demons, and watching Demel battle his own along with others is great.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It was a fast paced fantasy, which is my favourite kind. Absolutely fascinating read!
I give ‘Bred’ by Darryl Branning a 5/5 – I recommend you read this book now!

Author Interview – Jeanne Bannon

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’ve worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years. I started my career as a freelance journalist ,then worked as an in-house editor for LexisNexis Canada and currently work as a freelance editor and writer. I’ve had several short stories published and won first place in the Writes of Caledon Short Story Contest. My novels,The Barely Boy and Dark Angel were finalists in the 2010 and 2011 Strongest Start Contests. One of my short stories “Thom’s Journey” is part of an Anthology entitled A Visitor to Sandahl and is available at Amazon.com. Invisible, my debut novel, is about a teenage girl who isn’t happy with herself and wishes she could disappear. And one day she does. Invisible is available on Amazon, Smashwords, and the Solstice Publishing website.When not reading or writing, I enjoy being with my daughters, Nina and Sara and my husband, David. I’m also the proud mother of two fur babies, a sweet Miniature Schnauzer named Emily and Spencer, a rambunctious tabby, who can be a very bad boy.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. But I put my aspirations aside for kids and career. I started again just three years ago. I really don’t think anything or anyone inspired me to write. It’s just in me. Writing is what I love to do and it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

What inspired ‘Invisible’?

I was going to write a short story for an anthology. The theme was super heros. I didn’t want to write about the typical super hero type, you know, the alpha male or the nerd turned alpha male, a la Spiderman. Instead I decided on an anti-hero. That’s when I came up with my protagonist, Lola. She’s an overweight teenage girl. She’s kinda plain and she’s picked on at school. When choosing her superpower I didn’t have many original choices available to choose from because everything under the sun was already taken. I decided on invisibility because that would be my choice if I could have a superpower. Anyway, to make a long story short, the short story didn’t happen. Instead it grew and grew and became a whole book. I drew on my own experiences in dealing with bullies in grade 7 and 8 and put Lola in that situation but in high school. She’s so desperate to be freed from beatings and taunting that she literally wishes herself invisible. Hence, the plot of Invisible was born.

Were there any characters based on people you actually know?


Well, I suppose in a small way, Lola is based onme. Other than Lola, I’d have to say, no. Although the bullies I had to dealwith are all rolled into one and form the character of Nino.

How did you feel about the publishing process?

The publishing process with Solstice Publishingwas quicker than I’d anticipated. Everything moved along at a good clip.Although I really didn’t have much input on the cover art. It turned out well,thank goodness. Publishing is a frustrating business and unfortunately theauthor does the greatest amount of work and gets the least amount of profits.Authors are expected to not only write the book, but promote it as well.Promoting takes as much time (if not more) than the actual writing.

Is there a character in your book you particularly relate to?

Well, Lola, or course.

Do you have a new project in the works?

I’m in the final stages of rewrites of a paranormal thriller titled Dark Angel. I’ve been working on this novel for over two years and hope to have it completed by the end of the year. It’s not a young adult book, however, and is darker and edgier than Invisible. It’s also more than twice as long.

What authors would you say have influenced you and why?

I read so much and pick up bits and pieces fromlots of different authors. An early influence was Stephen King. I adore him.He’s a master at characterization and I think he’s underrated as an author. Ialso love John Irving but could never dream of writing a book of the samecalibre as any of his. I love to read literary fiction, but could never writeit because I don’t have the patience for the research needed to make the novel true to life.

Where and when do you do your best writing?

I write in the evenings as that’s the only time I have. I sit in bed with my laptop on my knee and try to force myself toproduce. Facebook, Twitter and a bunch of other sites are always calling myname and I find it difficult not to get sidetracked.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The best advice Ican give is to find a good writer’s group. Listen to what your fellow writershave to say and don’t take their criticisms personally. Listen and learn. Thebest thing I did was join an online writing group. The best advice I can give is ‘less is more’ and ‘show, don’t tell.’ I think this is self-explanatory.

What do you do in your spare time?

What’s spare time? I don’t understand thisquestion, lol 😉

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

Of course it would be invisibility.

What are your desert island essentials?

Books, books and more books. Oh and coffee.

Tea or Coffee?

I think I just answered that one above…coffeeand lots of it!

If you could be invisible for the day, what would you do?

Hmmm, perhaps follow my teenage daughter around for the day to see what she’s like when I’m not around, lol  And I’d take stacks of my book and place them on the shelves in large bookstores…right at the front of the store, of course!

Author Interview – Karen Pokras Toz

The lovely author of ‘Nate Rocks the World’, Karen Pokras Toz has taken some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions!
Tell us a little about yourself?


I’m a happily married mom of three great kids aged5-14 and one extra furry kitty. I tell my kids all the time to ‘dream big.’This year, I decided to take my own advice, and I published my very first novel- a children’s book geared toward 7-12 year olds. I also enjoy blogging aboutmy chaotic life with a teen, tween and little one. Besides writing, I love tospend time with my family, cook, and garden.

When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing quite recently actually. About ayear and a half ago, I sat down with an idea I had been carrying around for awhile for an adult contemporary novel and quickly discovered that I love towrite! The book, although about an adult, had several flashbacks back to themain character’s childhood. It did not take long to discover that I preferredwriting in a child’s voice.
What inspired ‘Nate Rocks the World’?

At about the same time I started writing, I noticedthat my two older children (aged 13 and 10 at the time) were becoming less andless enthusiastic about reading. Getting them to read anything beyond what wasrequired for school was torturous. They complained there was nothing FUN toread. I decided to prove them wrong by writing a book! The main character isinspired by the two of them, as well as my youngest who was 4 when I startedwriting.  My oldest son is the cartoon artist of the family. My daughteris a dancer and very creative, and my youngest son loves to make up storiesinvolving super heroes. I rolled them all together to create one fabulous NateRocks!

How did you feel about the publishing process?

I decided to break allthe rules and self publish. It has been a LOT of work, although for me,completely worth it. I liked being able to hand pick my editor, designer,timeline, and distributor. I guess I truly am a control freak! Marketing hasbeen a challenge, but I think that even authors who go the traditional routehave to do a lot of their own marketing these days. There really are noshortcuts in this business.

Do you have a new project in the works?

Yes! I about a third ofthe way into the second book of the Nate Rocks series and having so much funwriting new adventures for him! I don’t want to give too much away, but itinvolves summer camp and there are some fun new characters in the mix. I hopeto have it released in the spring of 2012.

What authors would you say have influenced you, and why?

Without a doubt, JudyBlume has been a big influence. I grew up loving her books and now my childrenare enjoying her books. I’m pretty sure Nathan Rockledge (aka Nate Rocks) &Peter Hatcher (of her Fudge series) would be best of buddies. Of course, JKRowling is another author who comes to mind. I marvel at the way she was ableto write a series that appealed to so many age groups and markets. She is trulyinspirational.

Where and when do you do your best writing?

I am most definitely amorning person. I love getting up early before anyone else is awake, starting apot of coffee, and sitting with my laptop in front of the big picture window inour living room. It’s my zen, and if I don’t get to do it for some reason, Iget admittedly a bit cranky.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The same advice I gave myself… dream big. I knowit’s a cliché, but it is something I tell my kids all the time, so I figure Ishould follow my own advice, right? Just to be clear, I am not talking aboutmoney and fame. For me, success is not measured that way. You have to set goals– keep them reachable and then push yourself even further. Make as manycontacts as you can, use the Internet, join critique groups, get a writing coachif possible, educate yourself, keep up with the industry, be passionate aboutyour work, and just keep writing!

What do you do in your spare time?

Spare time? I think thewriting part is my spare time! Otherwise, I’m busy trying to keep up with mykids – I am their taxi, maid, cook, personal assistant, social director, youname it – but I do love every minute of it! When I have time, I like tocrochet, garden, cook, and I love to read!

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

I would want to be ableto clone myself! I would get so much more done everyday – plus I could eat moreand not gain weight since each of us would have to eat our own food. Yes – Ilike that idea.

What are your desert island essentials?

Does this island haveelectricity and wi-fi because I definitely need to have my laptop. And myphone, so we’ll have to make sure there is a cell-tower there as well.

Tea or Coffee?

I like both, but I amshamelessly addicted to coffee. In fact, I love coffee so much, that one day Idecided to blog about it! The Wonders ofCoffee – so I guesswe’ll have to add a coffee pot to my desert island list.

If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be and why?

That’s a really toughquestion! I think I’m leaning toward Angelina Jolie. Not only is she a generousphilanthropist, but also she never seems to have a bad hair day, and she getsto wake up next to Brad Pitt!  It’sbetween her and my cat. He gets to nap whenever he wants and has an unlimitedsupply of food and water. Not a bad life!

Nate has a great imagination, what’s yours like?

Well – since I createdNate and all his adventures, I suppose I have a decent imagination. One thing Iam not, however, is an artist. I can barely draw a stick figure – but I do loveto dream up stories. 

Author Interview – Elizabeth Ann West


The gorgeous Elizabeth Ann West, author of Cancelled is here today answering a few questions 🙂 Elizabeth is also here to answer any comments you leave, and you can chat to her on Twitter @EAWwrites

Tell us a littleabout yourself?

I’m not easily daunted. 🙂 As a Navy wife, mother of two,and writer, I can’t be. I was raised in a military family as the oldest ofthree girls. Growing up, I was told I could do anything. I may have taken thata little too literally! I worked temp jobs to put myself through college in numerousindustries, from real estate to non-profits to engineering firms. I always wantto learn new things, and that has served me very well.  
When and why didyou begin writing?
I fell into writing. I know, don’t shoot me! In 2007, wewere moving cross-country for the second time in six months. I needed a careerthat could move with me. I was looking for a way to offer administrative dutiesonline and found a link to writing articles online for money. Totally thoughtit was a scam, but I was pleasantly surprised with they paid me $7 for thearticle on my tips for long distance relationships based on my military wifeexperiences, and another $1.50 for every 1,000 page views. To date, more than40,000 people have read that article! When I burned out on writing non-fiction,I bought Writing Fiction for Dummies and worked for 6 months onCANCELLED.
What inspired’Cancelled’?
Two things. In 2005, I sat next to a man on a plane withmore drama than you could ever believe! While separated from his wife, at herrequest, he got his girlfriend pregnant. The wife wanted to get back together,and was at the hospital when his son was born! Six years later, that storystill sticks out to me, so I thought it was pretty strong as a backbone for a modernromance novel.
The other is my own desires as a reader. I lovechick-lit/light romances. But if I had to read another one taking place inNYC/London with a heroine in marketing/publishing/event planning in love withher boss who had unlimited funds for no apparent reason, I was going to scream.The author of Chick Lit = The New Black really nails the challenge for newchick-lit titles: capture modern relationships in a compelling way.
Were there anycharacters based on people you actually know?
My real-life experiences as a stepmother and someone whostruggled with infertility before having my daughter in 2009 absolutelyinfluenced the character of Anna, Johnathan’s stepmother. However, there isn’tone character that is directly based on someone I know, and most characters area blending of the best or worst parts of people I’ve met in my life.
How did you feelabout the publishing process?
Oh boy. I was prepared for the amount of work it takes toget the book out as a self-published author. I wasn’t mentally or schedule-wiseprepared for the time suck of what happens AFTER you publish. Suddenly, thereare dozens and dozens of sites you need to register your book with. You need tonetwork with other authors, book reviewers, and readers. You have to watch forpromotional opportunities within your budget, and somewhere in there find timeto sleep, eat, and write another book!
Do you have afavorite character?
I have a very big soft-spot for Anna. I can’t give away theending, and I gave her a pretty big flaw, but having experienced about an ounceof the troubles of infertility, I don’t condemn her for what she allowed tooccur. Writing wise, Daniel Michaels was a favorite because he was dead fromthe get-go, so I could make anything his fault. 😉
Do you have anew project in the works?
I do! My next book is about a woman named Jill who has bigproblems with her pocket book. She just broke up her fiancé after years ofbuilding a life with him. Trying to dig out of the credit hole she put herselfinto with student loans, credit card debt, and realizing her career choicerequires even MORE education to make the big bucks really puts her in a bindand her family is done bailing her out. She takes on a second job to fix herfinances as a medical investigator and doesn’t like some of the truths shefinds out along the way.
What authorswould you say have influenced you and why?
Hands down Sophie Kinsella is at the top of my list. Idon’t mimic her style, but I try to make my stories as enjoyable for the readeras reading her stories are for me. I’m also very inspired by fan fiction. Notin the rip-someone-off-kind-of-way, but my experiences with reading, reviewing,writing, and editing fan fiction for a variety of story worlds has pushed me asa writer to challenge certain genre conventions. Without flinching too much.
Where and whendo you do your best writing?
When I have a million and one things going on and I justgive myself permission to suck. I outline, but the organic process of turning abullet item into a scene does make my outline evolve. I listen to music or justhave my family and the TV in the background, but mostly I do my best writingwhen I’m squeezing it in thirty minutes here or fifteen minutes there.
Do you have anyadvice for other writers?
Don’t give up. There are many, many times you’re going towant to quit. I did. Every writer I know has it happen to them, too. You’regoing to have to squint at your manuscript and say “It’s either me oryou…and today is not your day!” Get Clint Eastwood on its ass! It’s justwords on a screen or piece of paper. You are the strong one, you are thecreator, and by golly, YOU call the shots. And don’t let anyone else tell youdifferently!
What do you doin your spare time?

Reading and video games. 🙂 I rarely get the remote controlin my house, not that I really want it most of the time. I lose myself in goodstories and love RPGs, simulations, and puzzle games. My stepson and I usuallywork on a video game together, either swapping notes or occasionally working onthe same file together. It’s a great way that I bond with him.
If you couldhave a superpower what would it be?
I want to be magical for household chores. I want tocontrol my washing machine and dryer with my mind. So I guess telekinesis withit taking less effort than ACTUALLY physically doing something. 🙂
What are yourdesert island essentials?
Assuming my family can’t go with me? Tools, a library ofbooks, and a vat of sunscreen. Seriously, I *think* about going outside, I geta sunburn. I’ve lived on the coast my entire life and stay away from the beach.I’m pretty handy and can build a shelter and fish, but UV rays? Ugh, bane of mypasty, pale existence.
Tea or Coffee?
Tea, most definitely. I was married at a Victorian teahouse and sample a large variety every year. Right now I’m loving an AutumnSpice blend, but my all time favorites are Constant-Comment (decaf) and EarlGrey Lavender. I have really crappy kidneys, and caffeine and I do not getalong.
If you could beanyone for a day, who would it be and why?

It would be my husband, just so I could better understand how he sees the world. He is my best friend and absolutely amazing to me. I would just love to see the inside of his head! 🙂