Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Hereafter by Terri Bruce

 
 
Welcome to the afterlife. The food has no taste, the drinks don't get you drunk, and the sex...well, let's just say 'don't bother.'
 

Welcome to the Making Connections blog today for a guest post (Chinese Ghost Festival) and giveaway with Terri Bruce, author of Hereafter!


Today is Chinese Ghost Festival—a holiday occurring in the middle of Ghost Month (August 17th to September 15th this year)—commemorating the dead, similar to the Mexican Day of the Dead or the Roman festival of Parentalia. During Ghost Festival, people leave plates of food outside (on the sidewalk or at altars) for the dead, prepare lavish banquets for their deceased relatives/ancestors, and burn paper effigies of items they believe the dead will need in the afterlife, such as money, animals, and even televisions, sailboats, and houses. Ghost Festival is not celebrated just by the Chinese—there’s a form of Ghost Festival in almost every Asian country.

 Ghost Festival has become one of my favorite aspects of Chinese afterlife mythology, and is featured prominently in Hereafter. At some point, I began imagining a version of the afterlife in which the dead could actually take possessions with them—what would such a world look like and what would the dead do with all this stuff they had collected—and Hereafter was born.
 
Today, to celebrate ghost festival I wanted to share part of a scene from Hereafter that takes place during Ghost Festival, and give a few “behind the scenes” glimpses into the scene, including a couple of hidden “Easter Eggs” (for more Hereafter Easter Eggs, check out my August 22nd guest post at Butterfly-o-Meter Books).
 
At the start of the scene set during Ghost Festival, Irene—the main character—and her friend Amy (both ghosts) are in downtown Boston, near Chinatown:
 

A loud blast of horns and drums drew their attention, followed by the sharp crackle of firecrackers.

“What’s going on over there?” Amy asked, turning to look down the cross alley that led to the next street. She started cautiously toward the alley, motioned for Irene to follow, and then surged forward without waiting.

 
My sister-in-law teaches English in China and has become quite versant in Chinese culture. She told me that firecrackers are a big part of Chinese culture—they are used to drive away bad spirits (apparently the noise is meant to frighten them). The Chinese don’t regard ghosts and spirits as “bad” or malevolent, per se; however, spirits are believed to be generally jealous of the living and often bent on mischief. In a bid to be “safe, rather than sorry,” the Chinese generally combine placation and prevention in their approach to ghosts—they provide offerings for the dead, while at the same time using preventative measures to drive spirits off. Firecrackers are one such method and are used to “cleanse” an area before anything significant takes place—which can include a marriage, a birth, or even having sex for the first time! I so wanted to have a scene where I worked in the firecrackers before sex, but unfortunately I didn’t find any way to use that tidbit (in this book).

 
They emerged into a thick crowd of people watching a Chinese dragon parade down the street.

“Oh my God, it’s Ghost Festival!” Amy grabbed Irene’s hand and began pulling her through the crowd.

“Ghost Festival?” Irene asked. Something dinged in her memory. Jonah had said something about a ghost festival. She wracked her brain, trying to remember what he had said. Something about…the living sending stuff to the dead…

“Yeah, all these foreigners have one, you know. They’re really superstitious, but I’m not complaining. It’s like Christmas.” She gave Irene’s hand a sharp tug. “Come on!”

 
Unfortunately, (as of the writing of this blog post), to my great sorrow, I have never attended Ghost Festival. The Chinese calendar is based on a lunar cycle, which means dates move from year to year (Ghost Festival generally falls somewhere between mid-July and mid-September) and I always manage to miss it.
 

She dragged Irene down a side street, away from the crowd. Irene noticed things laid out on the sidewalk. She slowed down, trying to get a closer look, and realized it was mats covered with dishes of…“Hey! That’s food,” she cried.

“Yeah,” Amy said, still tugging her down the street, “but it’s all nasty Oriental food. God, what is it with these people? Doesn’t anyone have anything good? I’d kill for a pork chop or even a Skybar.”

Irene pulled her hand free. “Okay, slow down for a second and please explain to the new girl what exactly is happening here.”

Someone knocked against Irene and a man—glowing blue—dropped to all fours in front of the closest mat of food. “I haven’t eaten anything in months,” he moaned and began shoveling food into his mouth with both hands. Repulsed, Irene took a step back.

She thought back to the last time she had thought about food—it seemed so long ago that she had stood in front of Stephanie’s thinking that she hadn’t eaten in days. It seemed a lifetime ago. She still wasn’t hungry, but the sight—and tantalizing smell—of the ghost food stirred the memory of hunger and her “stomach” growled.

You don’t have a stomach, she reminded herself.
 

My goal for Hereafter was to create a world in which all the afterlife beliefs—from every culture and religions—were true. I’ve always been interested in mythology and love to learn about the origins of myths—the “real story” behind the story. So I tried to imagine the “real” origins of some of these myths. Of course, one of the earliest problems I had was that so many myths have to do with giving physical objects and food to the dead—who technically have no bodies. What, then, would a ghost do with food? As I delved further into afterlife mythology, the Egyptian belief that the soul is made up of five parts—the heart, the shadow, the name, the soul or essence, and the “vital spark,” that which makes us alive—captured my attention. The Egyptians believe that each of these five parts separates at death and serves a vital function. I used this idea to create an afterlife in which that which remains after death is the spirit or “essence” of an item—whether it be a person, an object, or food. Therefore, in Hereafter, spirits don’t eat actual physical food—they consume the spirit or essence of food.
 

“Come on,” Amy said. “Before all the good stuff is gone!”

Amy gave Irene’s hand a tug and then, dropping Irene’s hand, she bee-lined down the street and disappeared around a corner. Irene slowed down, trying to get a good look at the items laid out on the sidewalk. On closer inspection it turned out that it wasn’t just food laid out for the dead. There were small items—such as soap, candy, jewelry, flowers, and money. There were also elaborate paper models of larger items—sailboats, cars, even animals.

Irene stooped and picked up a paper horse—delicate and precise. It was beautiful, obviously folded with care. She reached down and scooped up several more paper items, turning them over in her palm to study them—paper money, some sort of building that was either a pagoda or a house, and a motley collection of animals, mostly birds.

She meandered down the street, stopping to explore the contents of each display with fascination. She found a cigarette lighter at one—just a cheap, convenience store item—but it was glowing blue so she slipped it into her bag to give to Ernest next time she saw him.

Food seemed to be the most popular item left for the dead—she passed many empty plates and quite a few dead, greedily eating. The paper animals seemed to be the least popular, judging by the number that she found left behind. She picked up a few more, holding them in her palm like pebbles.

 
Of course, a whole separate issue was what would a ghost do with all the “stuff” left for it during something like Ghost Festival? Did ghosts have ghost houses, populated with ghost televisions, ghost refrigerators, ghost furniture? Almost every culture thinks that the dead need some form of currency in the afterlife—the Chinese mythology is perhaps the most elaborate in that they create paper money (ghost currency) specifically for the dead (which they burn as a way of sending it to the afterlife). What, exactly, were the dead doing with all this money? Are there cities in the land of the dead—an economy, stores, jobs where one can earn more money? It was all incredibly fascinating to envision and try to figure out!
 

She heard Amy shout her name. She absentmindedly dropped the paper items into her bag and ran to catch up. She found Amy around the corner, happily munching what turned out to be a hamburger from a local fast food chain.

“God, this is good,” Amy said.

“Really? Someone left a bag of fast food for the dead?” Irene gaped at the blue glow surrounding the fast food bag.

Amy held out the remainder of the burger, offering it to Irene. Irene shook her head. “You are so lucky,” Amy said, polishing it off. She burrowed into the bag and pulled out some fries. “We didn’t have anything like this during my time!”

“It seems like a rather smart-assed move to me—leaving fast food.” Irene couldn’t believe it was a serious offering to the dead, on par with the meticulously folded paper animals.

Amy wrinkled her nose. “I’ll take a hamburger over a paper cow any day!”

Irene wasn’t convinced

“Think about it,” Amy added. “If you thought the dead were hanging around, pining away for the things they enjoyed when they were alive, which would you send them...a…”—she snatched up one of the paper animals—“…pig? Or a television? Stewed cabbage or a hamburger?” She dropped the tiny animal to the ground and took Irene’s arm. “Let’s see if we can find some dessert. I adore dessert!”

 
Apparently people actually do put out hamburgers during Ghost Festival. I took this a step further and had someone leave a bag of fast food. It’s meant to be a kind of funny and irreverent addition to Ghost Festival, but at the same time, there was a strange kind of logic that made it reasonable that someone might actually do this. I know people who pour a glass of scotch over their hard-drinking father’s grave every year and I’ve seen medals, photos, and toy cars left on grave stones as a token of remembrance, so why not a bag of fast food? I know that’s what I’d want someone to send me!

 
They wandered down the narrow street, checking both sides and the alleys leading off of it. At one point, Amy cried out in elation at finding a pack of playing cards and then promptly had to fight off another young, dead woman who tried to wrestle them away from her. There were a lot of wind chimes, which Irene and Amy had a good laugh over, wondering what possible use those could be to the dead, and a lot of paper money that Amy impatiently told Irene wasn’t of any use when she saw her picking it up.

“Coins are the only money that matters,” she said.

“Why?”

Amy shrugged. “Just is.”

 
Here’s another Easter Egg—anyone who knows their mythology know why coins are important in the afterlife! The dead were buried with a coin for millennia so that they could pay the ferryman to row them across the river, to the land of the dead. This practice went out of fashion a couple hundred years ago, leaving Amy and Irene confused as to why coins are important.
 
The scene continues on after this, touching on some of the traditional food offerings (stewed cabbage and Red Bean Paste Buns [which I really like!]) and also traditional preventative means of keeping a ghost out of a house. I had a lot of fun imagining that during Ghost Festival, ghosts just walk into houses, sit down at the table, and help themselves to the food left for them. While it’s traditional to set a place for the ghosts, I don’t think anyone actually expects ghosts to literally sit down and eat with them. Imagine if you found out that they really did! It was little twists like this that made Hereafter so much fun to write. J
 
I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes glimpse into the writing of Hereafter and Chinese Ghost Festival. If you want to learn more about Ghost Month, visit my post on the topic, celebrating the first day of Ghost Festival, at Kelly A. Harmon’s site.
 

 
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Why let a little thing like dying get in the way of a good time?

Thirty-six-year-old Irene Dunphy didn't plan on dying any time soon, but that’s exactly what happens when she makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a night bar-hopping with friends. She finds herself stranded on Earth as a ghost, where the food has no taste, the alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, and the sex...well, let’s just say “don’t bother.” To make matters worse, the only person who can see her—courtesy of a book he found in his school library—is a fourteen-year-old boy genius obsessed with the afterlife.

This sounds suspiciously like hell to Irene, so she prepares to strike out for the Great Beyond. The only problem is that, while this side has exorcism, ghost repellents, and soul devouring demons, the other side has three-headed hell hounds, final judgment, and eternal torment. If only there was a third option..
 
 
Publication Date: August 1, 2012
Publisher: Eternal Press
Number of Pages: 296
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
 

Available Wherever Books Are Sold:


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Giveaway!
Enter the Rafflecopter form for your chance to win! 
 
1st Place - E-book of Hereafter plus swag pack
2nd Place - E-book of Hereafter
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
 
 
Contacts
Email: tbruce@terribruce.net

Website/Blog: http://www.terribruce.net/

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/6450132.Terri_Bruce

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100003716022408

Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Terri-Bruce-Fan-Page/325830544139030

Twitter: @_TerriBruce

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Road to Hell by Christopher C. Starr

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christopher C. Starr is the author of The Road to Hell: The Book of Lucifer, the first novel in the Heaven Falls series. These stories examine the God’s relationship with Heaven and Earth, told through the eyes of the angels. The next book in the series, Come Hell or Highwater, is scheduled for late 2012/early 2013.

Chris makes it a point to look at the dark side of his characters, both heroes and villains, and his work explores the “grey”—that place where good and evil come together in all of us.

When he’s not being chased out of churches, Chris enjoys comic books and movies, staying away from cemeteries, and poorly participating in P90X. He lives in Seattle with his wife, two kids (The Boy and the Honey Badger), and his huskies, Rocky the Wonder Dog and his colorful sidekick, Leylah Redd. You can check out his blog at christophercstarr.net.



The Road to Hell: The Book of Lucifer
You already know my name and, yes, I am that Lucifer. Fall from Heaven, Garden of Eden, ruler of Hell, Satan, the Devil, the Adversary, blah blah blah. I am the one you condemned without, what do you call it? A fair trial. Forget what you think you know: I want to tell my side of the story. The Road to Hell is all about how a pathetic group of short-sighted angels kicked me out of Heaven.

Humans are naturally curious and I suspect you’re asking ‘why now?’ Well, He has a book and it’s been pretty successful, so I figured what the hell? Found a ghostwriter and gave it a go. After all, the story is fantastic! It has everything you clods of dirt crave: a love story, a little sex, intrigue. Murder. War. Lots of blood. And a cast of characters you already know and love—Michael, Gabriel, Raphael—along with a host of others. Even has a special guest appearance by the Father and that damned boy.So, let’s get down to business or brass tacks or whatever colloquialism works for you. I have plenty to say and plenty of time: The Road to Hell is just the first in a series of novels about my experience with Him, with my brothers and sisters, with you. If you’re interested in featuring me, reach out to the pile of dust below; if not, well, I’ll see you soon.

BUY THE BOOK

 
When did you first know you wanted to write?
I figured it out when I was little. My brother and I convinced my father to take us to see Alien when I was six. Big mistake—kinda. The movie scared the mess outta me. I didn’t even see the whole movie at that time: I saw everything until the facehugger jumped on John Hurt’s face, then spent the next 20 minutes peeking through my father’s fingers. Until the chestburster jumped out of Hurt’s chest. Then we were through. What I remember about that experience, after I reconciled my fear, was wanting to do that to people. To make them feel something with the thoughts in my head.

 

I can honestly say I've never seen another book written from Lucifer's point of view. Where did the idea come from for Road to Hell?
I absolutely am not the first author to take on the subject matter and even Milton tries to write Lucifer’s part from his point of view. There are couple books that take his point of view but most them don’t deal with his fall, they address the aftermath or work it in through flashbacks and memory. It’s always something that already happened. Those contemporary authors that do take on the subject write around Lucifer, trying to get at the larger picture. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just wanted to be original.

 

The idea for the story honestly woke me up as a dream. I could hear Lucifer saying “The Father is wrong!” and I could see Michael wielding his sword, ending the madness. It wouldn’t leave me alone. And, in the beginning, it was Michael’s story. I was really interested in what he must have gone through having to be the one to actually exile Lucifer from Heaven. But after I wrote the first draft and shared it, everyone around me said Lucifer was the best part and he was the one they wanted to hear from.  Upon rewrite, I really got into the character, really heard his voice. Really made it his story.


 
I initially wrote it as a screenplay. I thought I was writing a movie until I met a guy who was presenting a workshop on religion in film at the Sundance Film Festival (The Passion of the Christ had just come out and did much better at the box office than expected). He asked me to flesh it out into a novel. I think you can tell in the pacing of the book: it’s faster, moves from scene to scene, written a little leaner. Much more dialogue.

 

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
A few experiences have really colored who I am as an author. A lot of it is the movies and comics I saw as a kid. You’ll see a lot of action, a summer blockbuster approach to my subject matter. I see my stories visually and try to give the reader that same picture. I act out my actions, I speak my dialogue out loud, I outline with screenplays so you get pacing and strong dialogue. Though I’m a novelist, I’m always trying to write a movie.


When I was in college, I was at a crowded restaurant and saw two women get into an argument. One shot the other. Right next to me. It was the first time I used writing to process life, the work through the human condition. I had to make that incident make sense and place it into a larger context. When I started writing about it, my words resonated with other people. They felt it. I learned a little about responsibility in writing and honesty, about putting your emotions on display as a way of connecting with people.

 

As a person of color, I try to also write characters other people of color can relate to. In The Road to Hell I see the characters as representing all races and colors. I have to be sparse on their descriptions because angels and God are intensely personal ideas. But you’ll see additional main characters, particularly women, as people of color in my writing.

 

Have you learned anything from writing your book?
To trust my gut. I have plenty of doubt as an author—I think we all do. Writing is such a solitary endeavor and we authors tend to live in our heads. We all hope other people find the story as compelling as we did, see what we see, feel what we pray they’ll feel. But, in the end, we have to believe the story we told is the story we’re meant to tell and it’ll find its intended target. With this book, I’ve had to learn to trust my abilities as a writer and believe in the story I have to tell.

 

What do you do to unwind and relax?
Unwind? Relax? What are these things when there are new novels to write and existing ones to promote? Actually I do a couple things: I LOVE movies and have famously said “I’ll watch anything”—a statement I instantly regretted when my kids made me watch Beverly Hills Chihuahua. I’ll get lost in a story. I build Legos with my son, let him beat me on Xbox, and will engage in house-wide Nerf wars with my kids at the drop of a hat. Up until a year ago, I was a kickboxing fan until I messed up my ankle (me + mole hole = 3 torn ligaments and a year of rehab). I’m just getting back into it now.

 

Do you have any hidden talents?
I used to write rap lyrics in college and, while my rap career went absolutely NOWHERE, I did gain the ability to rhyme any word. Haven’t been stumped yet. I have no idea where such an incredible talent will get me but, hey, there it is.

 

Do you have any advice for budding writers?
The moment you commit to writing that story and giving it to the universe is the moment you stop being a “budding” writer. We all have growth to gain in our craft, our characterization, our plot, whatever. Don’t talk about being inexperienced: writing is the only thing that can give a writer experience. So stop trying to write it and just write it.

 
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?
Prolific, proud and blessed. Prolific in that I never stop telling stories. That nothing ever takes that away. And proud of everything I’ve accomplished. Proud of the stories I’ve written, the words on the page, the people I’ve connected with. And blessed to be able to do it at all.


CONTACT
Blog:
www.christophercstarr.net

Amazon Author Page:
www.amazon.com/author/christophercstarr

Facebook Fan Page:
www.facebook.com/christophercstarr

Twitter:
www.twitter.com/SuperStarr73

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5159882.Christopher_C_Starr

Friday, 17 August 2012

Author Interview with Suzanne Van Rooyen



Title:  Dragon's Teeth

Author:   Suzanne Van Rooyen

Genre:  Cyberpunk

Publisher:  Divertir Publishing

Published:   November 1, 2011 


Length:  282 pages

Available From:
   Amazon  Barnes & Noble 


 

 You can never outrun your past...

After years of war ravage the globe and decimate humanity, civilization is revitalized in the city of New Arcadia, a cybernetic playground where longevity treatments promise near immortality.Detective Cyrus, fond of fedoras and narcotics, is hired by Benji MacDowell, heir-apparent to an eugenics empire, to find MacDowell's long-lost biological father.

Employing his network of shady contacts within the underbelly of the city, Cyrus uncovers a murderous web of corporate corruption and political conspiracy with ties to the old Order, a tyrannical organization whose sole intent was perfecting the next generation of genetically engineered soldiers.

Now Cyrus knows too much and finds himself caught in the cross-hairs of super-soldier assassins while the dark secrets of his past snap at his heels, forcing him to confront the truth he's been running from... and discover his own terrifying purpose.



About the Author: 
Suzanne grew up in the urban sprawl of Johannesburg, South Africa where she studied music and penned a few angsty poems. After a brief stint in Australia, Suzanne settled in Finland where she completed a Master's degree in music and started writing in earnest.

Suzanne now works as a freelance writer, author and part-time dance teacher. Her short stories have appeared in Golden Visions Magazine, Cast of Wonders, and Earthbound Fiction among others. When not writing she strums away at her guitar and entertains her shiba inu, Lego.


When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? 
I've always loved writing and reading and the art of storytelling but I never really wanted to become a writer. I wanted to be a marine biologist or quantum physicist, a concert flutist or chemical engineer - never a writer. It's only really been in the past year that I realised writing made me happy and made me feel complete the way nothing else ever had. I think it's taken me all these years and life on three continents for me to realise where my passion and hopefully a modicum of talent lies: in words.

Tell us about Cyrus.
Cyrus is complicated to say the least. He's a walking anachronism, fond of vintage fedoras and strong coffee, wishing he'd been born a character in a Raymond Chandler novel. There's a lot more to him than meets than eye with Cyrus, he's got quite a history and a violent one at that, which definitely colours the way he sees the world. Despite his past, he maintains a self-deprecating sense of humour and strong work ethic. Cyrus lives in the grey area between doing what's right and doing what's legal, very much following his own moral compass.

What was your favorite scene to write in Dragon's Teeth?

Just one? That's tough. I really enjoyed the military scenes and fight scenes although they were challenging in terms of accuracy. I enjoyed the bar scene with Cyrus and Cleo perhaps the most. I love world-building and describing that tech-noir underground club world was lots of fun.

What do you feel is the hardest part of writing?

Distilling the amazing idea in your head into words and syntax. That's definitely the hardest part. Nothing will ever sound as good on paper as it does in your head. I hate that and still struggle with this but I'm learning to let go and give the words some breathing room.

Is there someone in your life who inspired you to write? Was there another author or a teacher who encouraged you?

My mom encouraged me to read and to write from a very young age, often writing out stories I dictated to her. I had a teacher in grade 8 that encouraged me to try and publish a short story I wrote in class. I didn't get very far then but the idea of being published never left me. Since then, I've been inspired by a number of people and life experiences so it's hard to choose just one. My fiancee and best friend, Mark, encourages me on a daily basis - he's my number one fan, technical adviser and the first person to read the rough draft of a story.

How would you describe yourself?

A new soul stumbling through this world in awe of both the beauty and brutality we humans are capable of. I like to think I'm a pretty easy going person with a passion for art, music and film, and of course literature. I'm a the-glass-is-almost-empty-so-give-me-a-refill kind of person.

What do you do to unwind and relax? Go for long walks with my dog, Lego. I try to go swimming or cycling or ice skating depending on the season. My guitar usually bears the brunt of my frustrations - nothing beats strumming out some rock tunes at the end of a rough day.


What book are you reading now?
I just finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and now I'm reading Ink by Isabelle Rowan - tattoos and vampires, how could I resist?

Connect with Suzanne:
Facebook:  
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Suzanne-van-Rooyen/304965232847874

Website:  http://suzannevanrooyen.com/

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5306442.Suzanne_van_Rooyen

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Suzanne_Writer

Monday, 13 August 2012

Author Interview with Nancy Straight

I am super excited to have author Nancy Straight on our blog today! 

Nancy is the author of Meeting Destiny (Destiny series) and her newest book, Blood Debt (Touched series).

Blood Debt is currently available for review in the Making Connections - YA Edition group. 
Go to the
sign up page on Goodreads to get the book for free in exchange for an honest review.




Her whole life, it had just been the two of them. Before her mother’s last breath, she gave Camille the information she had craved her entire life: the identity of her father. Daring to contact him, Camille was welcomed by an entire family she never knew existed. But nothing comes without a price, as she discovers when her family claims a legendary heritage tracing back to a centaur touched by Zeus.


As she learns the secrets of her Centaur bloodline, she is drawn into a forbidden love with Drake. Her life may be the blood debt required to pay for her mother’s transgressions. The same person who once held her mother captive, and forced her into decades of hiding, now controls Camille. Her only chance is to seek a piece of her mother’s past that will win her freedom and the life she desperately wants.


See Goodreads for a complete list of Nancy's books!



Thank you, Nancy, for taking time out of your very busy schedule to answer some questions for us today!
Thank you so much for offering to interview me today, I'm thrilled to be here!! The Making Connections group has been amazing for me. This group did a read and review for my first book, Meeting Destiny. As a result of all the reviews, when I had a FREE day on Amazon, over 8000 copies were downloaded in one day. I hope you all know how much of an impact you have to Indie Authors!

When did you first consider yourself an author?
I love this question!! I didn't consider myself an author until after I had already written and published my third book, February of this year. I can even tell you the exact moment that I
decided I was an author. I was in the Marine Corps for ten years and let's face it, that's not the most feminine job I could have had. As a result, most of my friends from that time in my life are men. I was out for the evening with my husband and two other couples, who we had served with, and a former Sergeant, Jeff, asked, "Hey, when's Destiny's Wrath going to be available on Barnes and Noble, I don't have a kindle."

Okay, to say I was shocked is an understatement. Jeff is built like a brick house and in our younger days I was convinced he could bite steel and spit nails. I stammered for a minute and asked, "You're reading my books?" When he told me, "Yeah, I couldn't put them down, I read your other two last weekend." Jeff was not even close to my target audience and he was hooked. This was the exact moment that I felt like I was an author.

Tell us about Camille.
Camille is a character I think we can all see a little of ourselves in. She's twenty-two (it's been a few years since I was this age), she lives in the real world, she didn't go to college because she couldn't afford, it and is working a regular job because she's got to live. She's vulnerable but strong, she's witty, and she's doing the best she can. Camille doesn't blindly accept what fate has in store for her and she makes her own way.

What scene in Blood Debt did you have the most fun with?
There was a phone call between Camille and her best friend Daniel, where Daniel is giving Camille some relationship advice. Here is an excerpt that still makes me laugh when I read the scene:

"You know, I saw that on the news last week. People walking down the street, minding their own business, and BAM their lips turn elastic and wrap themselves around a friend's man. Happens all the time. It's a side-effect from the 'Stupid Pill.' Must have refilled your prescription before you lef' town."

What do you feel is the hardest part of writing?
My love of reading distracts me from writing every day. I'm probably the only person on the planet that gets excited when I buy a book that doesn't hold my attention, because those are the weeks I get more writing done! If given the option to read for an hour or write for an hour, I always choose reading. The hardest part is really just convincing myself to put my kindle down!

Who designs the covers for your books, and what is that process like for you as the author?
Dreamscape Covers has designed all my covers. Meeting Destiny's cover was a complete surprise for me, as I had no idea what I wanted. When she sent me the first proofs I was blown away. Once I knew what she was capable of doing I told her what I was looking for, for: Destiny's Revenge, Destiny's Wrath, Blood Debt and Blood Ties (I should have this one in the next few weeks!).


Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?
Shelly Crane, Shannon Dermott, Amy Bartol, Charlotte Abel and Rachel Higginson all wrote books I loved and inspired me! After I read their books I reached out to each one and found that not only were they gifted writers, they are wicked cool ladies, too! You can't go wrong reading any of their books; I highly recommend each of them.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
If it's my husband's choice it's helping him with yard work! Yuck!! I have a regular job that I love, so I travel quite a bit. I keep hoping to be in an airport and see someone reading one of my books. It hasn't happened yet, but I look at every e-reader and book that gets pulled out beside me on airplanes! LOL! I have two kids that are a riot to hang out with, they beat me at board games and I'm convinced they cheat when I'm not looking. I recently bought a bowling ball (my first one) and hope to start a bowling league with friends soon.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I don't know if it's a talent or just a personality trait, but I can find humor in anything. Of course, living in a house with three dogs, two kids, and two working parents lends itself to lots of funny situations.

What book are you reading now?
Tiffany King's Meant to Be. I'm loving it so far and it is FREE on Amazon if anyone is looking for a good read. I love it when authors do that: make the first book in their series free so you can test drive it. I did the same thing with my Destiny Series. Meeting Destiny is on me. If you like my writing style, my characters, the plot then it's up to you if you want to read the rest of the series. For those of us that still believe we're in the "rookie" category, it's a great way to get better exposure.


I'm going to be at the Decatur Book Festival in Georgia over Labor Day weekend. Charlotte Abel, Shannon Dermott and I are sharing a table at the book fair, but I'll also get to meet Abbi Glines, Shelly Crane, Amy Bartol, Georgia Cates, M. Leighton, and Tiffany King in person. I can't wait!!

Thanks again Nancy!

Follow Links:
Twitter:  @NancyStraight

Blog:  http://www.authnancystraight.blogspot.com

Facebook: 
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nancy-Straight/243616005687882

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Author Interview with Wynne Channing

I'd like to welcome author
to our blog today!


Wynne Channing's book, What Kills Me, is now available for review in the Making Connections - YA Edition group on Goodreads! 
Click HERE to be taken to the sign up page!



 
Title:  What Kills Me
Author:  Wynne Channing
Genre:  YA Paranormal
Published:  June 2012
Available From:  Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | iTunes


An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race. So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive. How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?




When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember wanting to be anything else. I wanted to write before I could form words. When I was little, my grandfather had all of these construction plans around the house. And I drew stories all over them. (That book was not a hit with my grandfather.)

Tell us about Axelia.
Axelia, or Zee, is a regular 17-year-old girl. She’s led a pretty sheltered life and she’s desperate for some adventure. Unfortunately, she finds it in the worst way. (It doesn’t get any worse than dying.) I wanted to create a butt-kicking heroine; but heroes are not always born. So Zee is a normal person who is thrust into an extraordinary situation and forced to be brave. First, she runs (as we all would), then she fights.

Where did you get the idea for What Kills Me?
I was living in Taiwan for a few months and I had cockroaches for roommates. Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep, afraid they’d rent out my mouth for a party. So I would lie there at night, daydreaming and asking myself ridiculous questions: “What would happen if I suddenly disappeared?” “What if I fell into a hole? What if that hole was filled with blood?” That image, of a young woman climbing out of a well, soaked in blood, was what started it all.

Who designed the cover for What Kills Me and what was that process like for you as the author?
An amazing artist from Portugal, Liliana Sanches Davis, designed the gorgeous cover. The two-week process was intense. We must have sent each other more than 100 emails, working to get it just right. Liliana is fantastic and she wanted to get the tone of the book and the drama in the image. I love the tumultuous waves, the stormy sky, and the butterflies exploding from the girl’s chest. It’s perfect.

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
Readers have told me that the novel is realistic, which gratifies me. I know that sounds nuts because vampires aren’t real, right? But the small details in my book are borrowed from my life, and from news stories I’ve written or read. And it was important that the emotions that the characters experience be as real as possible.

What are three things you wouldn't want to do without?
Do body parts count? I really need my head! How about my journal, my dance shoes and a good novel.

What book are you reading now?
Eating Dirt by Charlotte Gill


Wynne Channing is a national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist. Wynne loves telling stories and as a journalist, she has interviewed everyone from Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman to the president of the Maldives and Duchess Sarah Ferguson. The closest she has come to interviewing a vampire is sitting down with True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard (he didn’t bite). She briefly considered calling her debut novel “Well” so then everyone would say: “Well written by Wynne Channing.”

 




Connect with Wynne
 


Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Nine by Jeffrey Zweig Blog Tour



I'd like to welcome author Jeffrey Zweig II to our blog today.  Stop by Goodreads and check out Jeffrey's book!

The Book: 

The End Begins:  The Nine
Book One of the Trinity Trilogy

Genre:  Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Alternate History
Published by:  Self Published
Date:  September 28, 2011

Can be found on: 




The Nine. Once an academy for training students in the ways of wizards and alchemists, has become a facility for harvesting the powers of students for study. 
Cassarah Telmar escaped the Nine, vowing to bring it down.

But is the choice to live as a slave or to die with freedom one she can make alone?




About Jeffrey:

Born and Raised in the state of Indiana, Jeffrey Zweig II is a self published author of Epic Science Fiction/Fantasy. His degree from Indiana State University, with a background in DIY film production, and internships with various production companies laid the foundation for his creative career and for living life on his terms. He resides in Indianapolis, Indiana living the dream, as they say. 

When not writing he volunteers his time remotely with the Dallas

based non-profit Reading and Radio Resource, a company specializing in aiding those with disabilities to enjoy literature.