Monday, December 26, 2016

Pros and Cons of Dogs in Books

As an author, unless your book is titled A Dog and His Best Friend, It’s a Dog’s Life, or Me and My Owner as told by Rusty to A Ghost Writer, you might want to consider the advantages and disadvantages of using a pup in your book. Here’s a list of considerations and my experiences.

Pro: Cute and Lovable: If you need to make a curmudgeon a tad more lovable, adding a dog to the mix to show how he or she changes is a good move. This was used effectively in As Good As It Gets. In the beginning, the writer/curmudgeon tosses his neighbor’s Yorkie down a trash chute. (Cue the horrified gasps in the audience.) By the end of the movie, the curmudgeon has spoiled the dog with unlimited bacon and he and the neighbor have joint custody of the pooch. Smooth move!
 
Con: Too Cute and Lovable: If the dog has too much time on scene as an adorable canine, it may be time to cut back his or her screen time. This is also true if he’s a bad dog—unless the book title is CUJO. The dog must remain in the background, not the foreground of the story.

Pro: Humor/Tension Breaker: I write paranormal romantic suspense, so there tends to be a lot of tension in my books. The plot races forward, but everyone needs a break from time to time. In The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle, Franny the pug in her so-ugly-she’s-cute way provides an icebreaker between the heroine, Tallulah Thompson, who is alive and the hero, Lucius Stewart, who is stuck in limbo. At times, Franny acts as go-between, clown princess, and snorer in chief. When I needed to write something funny about her, all I had to do was look at my pug, Agent Frank.

Con: Humor/Tension Breaker: A little bit of potty humor goes a looooooong way. Unless your book is aimed at ten year olds and under (see also children’s books) this kind of humor can make a reader throw the book across the room or use it to clean up after their dog! 

Pro: Watch Dog/Rescuer: You don’t need a Saint Bernard to do this. Remember Lassie? Always barking about little Timmy falling down the well? Where the heck were Timmy’s parents, anyway? Nowadays we’d be calling Child Protective Services, but back then the dog was the best guardian for little Timmy. In my book, Desire and Deception, a Weimaraner, which is a loyal-to-the-death family dog, latches onto the wrist of an armed psychopath and enables the heroine to save herself.

Con:
Always on Watch Dog/Rescuer: Unless your book is titled Lassie Lives Again, most readers will tire of the too-stupid-to-live (TSTL) heroine who cannot make it through the day without being rescued by her Teacup Yorkie. Seriously, Timmy was a child. And always in trouble. A romance heroine is usually over the age of 18. She should be smart enough to avoid open wells and dark cellars.

Pro: Investigative Helper: With their acute senses, dogs make excellent investigative assistants. They also can get into spaces and places where humans can’t go. In Some Other Child, Winston the Weimaraner, goes out early in the morning to do his business and returns with a blood encrusted handkerchief, the first of many clues to come in this mystery.

Con: Lead Detective: A very popular children’s show features a large blue dog who gives the audience clues to solve a puzzle. This is great for younger readers, but not so great for adults. My advice: never let the pooch be the lead detective in a romantic suspense novel.

Bottom line: Dogs make great characters. However, unless the main character in your book is the dog (and books like that are puplentiful), an author takes a risk using a dog as a character in his or her book. Remember, like any other secondary character, the canine companion can outshine the main character and upstage his or her owner. Let your heroine and hero be the stars and keep the pooch out of the limelight.

When hotel inspector, Tallulah Thompson, is called in along with her pug, Franny, to investigate renovation delays, she meets an extremely annoyed and dapper turn-of-the-century innkeeper. The only problem is he’s in limbo, neither dead nor alive, and Tallulah and the pug are the first to see him in a hundred years.

Cursed by a medicine woman, “Love ‘em and Leave ‘em Lucius” Stewart is stuck between worlds until he finds his true love and gives her his heart. When he first sees Tallulah, he doesn’t know what he’s feeling. Yet, her stunning beauty, and feisty attitude pull him in.

With the fate of Hotel LaBelle on the line, Tallulah with the help of a powerful medicine woman turns Lucius back into a flesh and blood man. She and Lucius team up to save the hotel, but Tallulah can't help but wonder if he will ever let go of his past love and learn to love again.

Excerpt:
A book flew at his head—and sailed through him, bouncing off the wall and landing on the floor.

Mouth agape, the woman stared from him to the book and back to him again. “You’re a ghost.”

“Not exactly. Shall we start over?” He leaned against the wall and folded his arms across his chest. “After a hundred years of being invisible to everyone except you, I’d like to know who you are and what you’re doing here.”

“Of course. Why not? Could today get any weirder?” She sank into the desk chair, shook her head, and sighed. “My name is Tallulah Thompson. I’m a hotel inspector, hired by the current owner as a consultant to find out why the renovations are delayed and what he needs to do to fix it. He’s teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.”

“What tribe are you?”

She jerked her head up and those doggone lapis lazuli eyes of hers sparked as if she’d strike him with lightning and kill him with one look. “No one asks that. It’s not politically correct.”

“Well, I guess you haven’t been talking to the right people. And I don’t know what you mean by that last part. I’ve never been involved in politics.”

“Nowadays, it’s considered rude to ask about another person’s national origins.” She threw her hands up. “Why am I giving a ghost an etiquette lesson? What am I thinking?”

BUY: The Wild Rose Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance | iBooks | Kobo | Bookstrand

Friday, December 23, 2016

Easy Last Minute Gifts!

Looking for something for that person who has EVERYTHING and doesn't need to jam one more bauble, bangle or bead into their home? How about the gift of DIGITAL books? 

Thanks to Joan Reeves, NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author, we have a list of great books that you can pick up and gift in time for the holidays. 

Just CLICK on this link and go shopping in the comfort of your home! Happy Holidays!
http://slingwords.blogspot.com/2016/12/easy-last-minute-gifts.html

Monday, December 19, 2016

Interview with Kyoko M, Author, Of Cinder and Bone

What made you decide to be an author? I always joke that I bleed words, but it’s completely true. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I was writing my thoughts out, much like an even tinier version of Harriet the Spy, and then by the time I hit late elementary/early middle school, I was writing little stories and fanfiction on a frequent basis. It wasn’t until college that I even gave it a single thought as something I wanted to do with my life. I went to a lecture at my university that was put on by alumnus Jackson Pearce, and she talked about publishing novels, and that was when I realized that I could actually turn what I’d been doing as a hobby into a career.

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least? I love the act of creation. I love that there are no limitations in writing except for your own knowledge and imagination. I love being able to imagine entire universes and the interesting people that populate them. It’s intoxicating, honestly. I hate editing. I hate the fact that I have constant crushing self-doubt about every book that I write. I hate it when I run into a brick wall because something in the story isn’t right and I have to sit there and figure out how to climb over that wall and continue writing.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?
I’m an extremely awkward person in real life. People who know me can vouch for this, and it’s so hard for me to make friends because I have near-crippling social anxiety. Writing is the act of exposing yourself. It forces you to be honest and to share yourself with other people, but in a less stressful environment and in a more veiled sort of way. Life has shown me what really matters in my writing. For instance, I usually find common themes in my books like the importance of cobbling together a support system, or how the biggest monsters of all aren’t always dragons and demons, but awful human beings instead. I’ve also learned how to discipline myself thanks to a rigorous college education and to know when I have time to goof off and when I have to be serious and hit my deadlines.

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book--as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with? Definitely. Often when I start a writing session, the goal is to simply finish the scene or the chapter. I start at Point A and by the end of the session, I need to be at Point B. Sometimes I have a rough idea of what will happen, but most of the time, the words gush out of me and things spring out of my brain and onto the page before I even comprehend them. It happened just the other day while I was working on the sequel to Of Cinder and Bone, as a matter of fact. I was having a good old time writing some banter and then some guy with an Uzi just waltzed into the story and I was just as surprised as my protagonists.

You’ve written four novels and are working on a 5th novel. What’s your favorite time management tip? Know what your “alert” hours are. When I was in college, I used to write at night, since I was in class all day long. Now that I’m a working adult, I do evening shifts at my day job, so now I always write in the morning or before sundown because my body shuts down for relax mode once the sun goes down. If you know your own rhythms, writing becomes much easier and much more productive.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer? I am half-and-half. For instance, I always know where the novel will start and where it will end. I also know large plot points and character development moments that will happen. Everything between start to finish, however, is by the seat of my pants. My brain doesn’t seem to work in outlines. I actually don’t outline until the halfway point of the novel and that’s only to start a timeline so that I know the sequence of events.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be? Don’t quit. It’s so enticing to give up, especially if you’re a newbie author in the self-publishing world. It feels like no one cares about you and no one’s willing to help you and there are no readers out there interested in your work. Push through it. Learn everything you can that works and listen to the advice of the authors who are genuinely trying to help you out. That’s the only way you’ll make it in the long run.

Did music help you find your muse with this book? If yes, which song did you find yourself going back to over and over again as you wrote? Absolutely. Every book I write has its own soundtrack. Of Cinder and Bone was one of the first where I actually went on Youtube and created a little playlist to put me in the mindset of my characters. I’d say the main songs would be “Silly” by Deniece Williams, “S.O.B” by Nathaniel Ratecliff and the Night Sweats, and “I Wanna Get Better” by The Bleachers.
After centuries of being the most dangerous predators on the planet, dragons were hunted to extinction. That is, until Dr. Rhett “Jack” Jackson and Dr. Kamala Anjali cracked the code to bring them back. Through their research at MIT, they resurrected the first dragon anyone has seen alive since the 15th century. There’s just one problem.
Someone stole it.

Caught between two ruthless yakuza clans who want to clone the dragon, Jack and Kamala brave the dangerous streets of Tokyo to steal their dragon back in a race against time before the world is taken over by mutated, bloodthirsty monsters that will raze it to ashes.
Buy link for Of Cinder and Bone https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/689939
Excerpt:
“They’re gone,” Jack whispered. “I don’t…I don’t understand. They were right here, Kam. What did I miss?”

She squeezed his hand. “Jack, this isn’t your fault. Maybe something went wrong and their health destabilized while we were out.”

“All that work,” he said hoarsely. “Years’ worth. Just like that. Gone.”

He shook his head again. “I shouldn’t have dragged you into this.”

“You didn’t drag me into anything. I chose this. I chose you.” She caught his chin and made him face her. Fierce brown eyes blazed at him. “And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

“This kind of thing can end a career. Let me take the blame. Please.”

“It’s my career to end. We tell them together. End of story.”

He shut his eyes at her words, shuddering slightly. “I’m so sorry.”

“We’ll find our way again. I promise.” She stroked the side of his face before turning towards the increasingly uneasy spectators around them.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Jack said after clearing his throat. “I’m afraid that something’s happened. Our hatchlings have flat-lined. They’re…they’re gone.”

A frigid hush fell over the room. The lead reporter stepped forward. “They’re dead?”

Kamala nodded grimly. “Stillborn. We’re not sure how, but we’ve tried everything to resuscitate them and nothing has worked. I’m afraid we’ve lost them.”

Edie’s hands rose to her mouth, and her eyes fell on her son. “Oh, honey.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the reporter moaned. “I got pulled off a hot lead at the Mayor’s office for this crap and you’re telling me the whole thing’s off? Get a defibrillator and bring the little bastards back to life.”

“Watch it,” Jack said very quietly.

“No, you watch it, pal. Everyone’s been talking you up like you’re gonna save the world and yet here we are with nothing to show for it.”

Jack stepped forward, gritting his teeth. “No one put a gun to your head and told you to come here. That’s three years of my life lying on that table over there, dead. Cry me a fucking river.”

Kamala gripped his arm. “Jack.”

The reporter snorted, not backing down even though Jack practically towered over him. “This was just a publicity stunt, wasn’t it? Something to get MIT some attention, since that’s where all the washed up scientists go to spin their wheels and pretend like they’re making a difference. What’s the matter? The real world too much for you?”

“The real world?” Jack laughed bitterly. “You’re about to find out how real the world can get.”

“Jack!”

“No, let him go, sweetheart. This’ll look good on the front page. I can see the headline now: ‘Failed Scientist Socks Award-Winning Reporter for Hurting His Feelings.’”

Jack grabbed two handfuls of the guy’s shirt and a couple of people darted between them, shouting for them to cool off and separate.

Crack.

Jack froze.

Crrrraaaaaaack.

He craned his neck slowly towards the table.

The furthest egg to the left had a fracture running down the length of it.

Crick-crack.

The egg wiggled once, twice. The fracture widened.

Jack and Kamala stumbled towards the table together, their eyes transfixed on the tremors going through the lone egg. A moment later, a tiny green snout poked through a hole in the top and embryonic fluid oozed outward.

Jack snatched up a box of gloves and handed it to Kamala, snapping a pair on, and then reached a shaking hand towards the creature. He lifted the small piece of shell that the dragon had stuck on his snout and watched slack-jawed as it sneezed and pushed its glistening, spindly limbs out. It was the size of a large gecko. The scales were leafy-green over most of its body, with paler shades along its belly, and dark green splotches along its spine. It had four limbs like a normal lizard, but two thin yellow membrous wings stuck out from its shoulders. Its head bore similarities to a bird, with a triangular head with bright eyes, its pupils thin slits like a snake. Each foot ended in pinpricks of claws and it had a set of needle-like teeth just barely poking out of its gums. 

“Kamala?”

“Yes?”

“You’re seeing this, right?”

“I am.”

Jack let out a thready, borderline manic giggle as the young dragon wobbled on its legs and let out a needy chirp, its yellow eyes focusing on the two of them after a moment. Jack cupped one hand and brought it forward slowly, his deep voice soothing.

“Hey there, buddy. Welcome to the party. Nice timing.”

The dragon chirped a couple more times and sniffed his fingers one by one. It nipped them, coughed, and then crawled clumsily into his arms. Kamala handed him a small towel and cleaned the little reptile off, smiling as it nuzzled its head against her touch.

“She’s beautiful, Jack,” she whispered. “What should we call her?”

“Pete.”

She choked on laugh. “You’re such a sap. Hello, Pete. Welcome to MIT.”
Kyoko M is an author, a fangirl, and an avid book reader. Her debut novel, The Black Parade, has been ranked #5 in Amazon's Bestselling Occult novels. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia, which gave her every valid excuse to devour book after book with a concentration in Greek mythology and Christian mythology. When not working feverishly on a manuscript (or two), she can be found buried under her Dashboard on Tumblr, or chatting with fellow nerds on Twitter, or curled up with a good Harry Dresden novel on a warm central Florida night. Like any author, she wants nothing more than to contribute something great to the best profession in the world, no matter how small.
Buy link for Of Cinder and Bone https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/689939
Website/Blog: http://www.shewhowritesmonsters.com 
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/misskyokom
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/She-Who-Writes-Monsters/161227150647087
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7189997.Kyoko_M_

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Glimpse of Crow History and Culture



I fell in love with Frank Linderman’s work and became fascinated with the Crows or Apsaalooké Nation when I wrote my first jinni hunter novella, Kiss of the Silver Wolf, a paranormal romance that involved the handsome and mysterious director of a clandestine division within a powerful government agency. Bert Blackfeather, a hero of the Gulf War with both a Purple Heart and a Silver Star, runs Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate’s Anomaly Defense Division. His agents vary in talents and skills, all paranormal, all outside the bureaucratic box. The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle, takes place in Billings, Montana and on the Crow Reservation, Bert’s home which he returns to from time to time. I hope the following very brief introduction to the Crow culture and history piques your curiosity and gives you a sense of the wonder I felt as I researched and wrote my latest book.

The Name and Language
Although the origins of the name have been argued about by scholars over time, the designation of “Raven” and “Crow” people has been “used interchangeably since the 18th century” (Voget, 2001). The Crow name for their tribe is Absaroke, or Apsaalooké translated variously as bird, children of the large beaked bird, sparrow hawk, crow, raven, or anything that flies, depending on the author and the century. The majority (85%) of the tribe speaks Crow as their first language. Don’t be daunted! There’s an app to learn about the Crow culture and language and it can even be downloaded to your smart phone.

The Reservation and Little Bighorn
Like many Native American peoples, the Crow have experienced loss of territory and lands since Europeans arrived. Treaties were signed, broken, renegotiated and broken again—by the White men. According to the Crow Reservation Timeline, 38 million acres of land over which the Plains people rode and hunted buffalo shrank to its present size of 2.3 million acres. The Crow Reservation sits on breathtaking lands and waterways. South of the city of Billings, the reservation borders on Wyoming. Within its boundaries is the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument at Crow Agency. Crow warriors served as scouts and soldiers in this battle, alongside General Custer’s troops in the fight against their old enemies, the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho. According to Pretty Shield, a Medicine Woman, at least two Crow women served as warriors in this battle, Finds-them-and-kills-them and The-other-magpie.
[A Crow Camp]
Gender Roles
A matrilineal society, the woman owned the tipi (teepee) or lodge tent and all the household goods. They skinned the animals, prepared food, gathered water and wood. The men owned the horses and their weapons. If parents proposed a match to their daughter (outside of the clan, to prevent in-breeding) based on what they thought was a good fit, if she didn’t like the man, she could say no. There was no formal marriage ceremony. The man offered a horse (or two) and a rifle (or two) in exchange for his love and, if accepted, they moved in together—into the woman’s home. Men could take more than one wife, usually the sisters of his first wife. Men were not permitted to speak to their mother-in-law, but had to make public announcements or talk through their wives, which in my opinion, probably avoided a lot of conflict (Linderman, 2003; Vogt, 2001).
[Crow Mother and Child, 1900’s]
Men were hunters and warriors, although there were some exceptions, as noted above. Another Woman Warrior, whom some thought was not real until further research by Denig indicated she truly existed is Pine Leaf. Captured in a raid on the Gros Ventre as a ten-year-old child by the Crow, Woman Chief Pine Leaf grew up to be a powerful warrior and chief. To become a chief a Crow warrior had to “count coup”, by doing one of the following four things: striking an enemy with a bare hand or stick without killing him, leading a successful raid, stealing horses from an enemy camp, or grabbing a bow or gun in hand-to-hand combat.

Two-Spirit People are those individuals who don’t fit into a neatly assigned gender role, but instead are on a continuum of gender. Native Americans have a more fluid approach to gender, with some tribes describing four or more genders. Based on Pretty Shield’s description (noted above) and other extensive historical documentation, Finds-them-and-kills-them also known as Osh-tisch,was a two-spirit person, a male who dressed as woman. Two-spirit people were considered highly spiritual and were accepted by the Crows.

Spiritual Beliefs
Contrary to early European settlers’ misperceptions, the Crow believe in a Supreme Power who is responsible for all life. Since the Crow worshipped and pray in a different manner from the Europeans, this monotheistic belief was lost in translation. A young man or woman will seek guidance from the spirit world by fasting and going out alone in the wilderness to sacred spaces. A successful vision quest will provide the seeker medicine dreams. Animals, birds, or persons are often part of these dreams. In the case of Chief Plenty Coup, the Chief of Chiefs, The Dwarfs, or Little People, appeared to guide him when he was nine years old. They adopted him and instead of giving him a medicine bundle, gave him advice which made him wise and helped him to become a great leader (Linderman, 2002).
[Chief Plenty-Coups, 1880]
Death and Mourning
Historically, when someone died, the Crow women and men cut themselves, lacerating arms, legs, even puncturing their heads. They cut their long hair, one of the Crow people’s greatest pride, to reflect their suffering and loss. Once someone has died, his or her name was not spoken, and they were Beings without Bodies. The departed move to the hereafter, or the “camp beyond.” Historically, Crow burial customs included wrapping the deceased in his finest clothing and blankets and placing them on Hulishoopiio or scaffolds. When the body fell from the scaffold, it would be covered with rocks. Or the body was placed in an Ashalaxxo, or lodge, which is closed up with all their belongings inside and their animals let loose. After the Crow were placed on the reservation, scaffolds on the plains were not an option, so a Balaxoo, or a Tree-Resting Place was used. Again, if the body fell, it was covered with boulders and rock. And, bodies were placed on Rock Ledges and in Crevices during the Smallpox Epidemic of 1843, after the US Army knowingly distributed blankets and rations contaminated with the contagious disease. 
 [Burial Scaffold, 1908]


Animals, Patrons, Spirits and Shapeshifting
The Crow have sacred and spiritual connections to the animals in their lives. They are seen in vision quests and visitations and have special significance when they appear as patrons with special powers. The most sacred animal is the buffalo, the beautiful creature that gave the tribe everything from food to shelter. Like the buffalo, the eagle is the most sacred bird and along with falcons and hawks they are considered spirit patrons. As an aside, because of the spiritual association with these birds, eagle and hawk feathers can only be owned by Native Americans. Wolves were domesticated as pups, but were not treated as common dogs. They were respected, and human scouts were called “wolves” in honor of this animal. Coyotes were considered friends and the coyote’s call was used to communicate among warriors on a raid. The elk gave food, but were also mystical and could transform themselves into women, as could white tail deer. Mink were considered treacherous and could transform into women, bewitching and leading men astray. This is a short list of the animals in Crow life. For a longer list with a description of roles, go to the Crow Indian Tribe Culture and History Resources Report of 2002.

[Buffalo, 1902]
Want More?
Thanks to the hard work of Frank B. Linderman in the late 1920s, the world has a written history of the Apsaalooké, or Crow Nation, a traditionally oral culture. As a young man, Linderman became entranced with the West and moved out there to become a hunter and trapper. Over time, Native Americans befriended him and began to tell their stories to him in sign language and through interpreters. The Crows called him the Great Sign Talker and Pretty Shield said he made books speak. Almost a century later, his work crackles with life and takes the reader on breathtaking journeys into another world and another time. If you have not read his books and are interested in Native American stories, biographies, and autobiographies, please see my list of resources below. I recommend beginning with Pretty Shield: Medicine Woman of the Crows and Plenty-Coups: Chief of the Crows. Pretty Shield’s granddaughter, Alma Hogan Snell, offers us more contemporary perspectives with her books, Grandmother’s Grandchild: My Crow Indian Life and A Taste of Heritage: Crow Indian Recipes and Herbal Medicines. I hope you enjoy the story.

Here are some additional resources if you are interested in this topic.



Crow Reservation Timeline: Crow Tribe, March 2010 http://opi.mt.gov/PDF/IndianEd/IEFA/CrowTimeline.pdf

Denig, E.T. (1961). Five Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri: Sioux, Arickaras, Assiniboines, Crees, Crows. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Montana Office of Indian Affairs: Crow Nation. https://tribalnations.mt.gov/crow

Linderman, F. (2002). Plenty-Coups: Chief of the Crows. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Linderman, F. (2003). Pretty Shield: Medicine Woman of the Crows. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Little Bighorn Battlefield, National Park Service https://www.nps.gov/libi/index.htm


McGinnis, Anthony R. Counting Coup and Cutting Horses: Intertribal Warfare on the Northern Plains, 1738–1889. Evergreen CO: Cordillera Press, Inc., 1990. In Wishart, D.J. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.war.013

Pretty Shield’s Story of the Battle (transcribed from Linderman’s work, Pretty Shield) http://www.astonisher.com/archives/museum/pretty_shield_big_horn.html

Snell, A. H. (2001). Grandmother’s Grandchild: My Crow Indian Life. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Snell, A. H. (2006). A Taste of Heritage: Crow Indian Recipes and Herbal Medicines. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Vogt, F.W. (2001). Crow. In Sturtevant, W.C. (Ed.) Handbook of North American Indians. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, pp. 695-717.

Weiser-Alexander, K. (2015). Frontier Slang, Lingo & Phrases. Warsaw, MO: Legends of America.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Interview with Anni Fife, Author of Luke’s Redemption

What made you decide to be an author? I always wanted to write stories about adventurous girls who went on exciting escapades and saved the world. As I matured, the girls turned into sassy, intelligent women, normally with a hot alpha male lurking nearby. I kept these stories hidden, never believing I was good enough to write them for public consumption, or that being an author was even an affordable reality. For twenty years, I followed a successful career in television. Last year that all changed. I returned home from a family beach holiday, refreshed but totally uninspired to contact my clients and begin the normal January jockeying for work. Instead, I procrastinated. And then I read an article about self-publishing. A tiny flame re-ignited inside me. A few days later, I was in the bath reading the latest Kristen Ashley on my kindle … ‘I can write something like this!’ A crazy thought by a woman lost in lala-land. Maybe. But who cared—not me. Refusing to let that precious spark inside me fizzle out again, I shut down my business, canceled my apartment lease, and packed up my city life. A month later I arrived in a small seaside village, and began my new life…as an author.

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least? I love everything! But my favorite part has to be character development. I’m a psychology fundi, so I get high on fleshing out the intricacies of what makes my characters tick. I also like editing. I used to do a lot of film editing so book editing is a natural progression for me. What do I like the least? At first, I thought it was the marketing and publicity. It was pretty daunting. But the more I’ve got into it, the more I’ve begun to enjoy it. I’ve met amazing people, and discovered awesome blogs that I didn’t even know existed…like yours!

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing? I studied English at university. My mother owned an advertising agency. And I worked in the TV and video industry. So for most of my life, I’ve been immersed in a world of media and communication. In my mid-thirties, I did a long-distance degree in psychology. I’ve also traveled extensively, for work and for pleasure. This varied exposure ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to creating believable stories. Also, throughout my thirties, my husband and I struggled to have a child. We had numerous IVF treatments, and even tried with a surrogate. After a miscarriage, and many failed attempts, I had to close a door on this painful journey. It changed me in ways I’m still learning about. The stories I write are filled with characters that have suffered. My infertility has given me a glimpse of what it means to be deprived of the one thing you want more than anything else in life. A heartbreaking lesson, but one I believe makes me a better storyteller.

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book--as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with? Well, this is my debut novel so I don’t have a wealth of experience, but it did happen to me in a roundabout way. I’m a serious plotter and planner. I write detailed outlines, and crazily, fill them with reams of dialogue. Each and every scene is planned before I start the real writing. But a weird thing happened as I progressed: my characters refused to always behave like they were supposed to. Sometimes they would just stop talking before the scene was finished. Or they wouldn’t talk at all. Instead of freaking out, I got a kick out of it. And being such a planner, I made efficient use of Cut & Paste, and plopped the misbehaving piece of dialogue or section of scene, elsewhere. The spooky thing was, the change was always for the better!

You’ve written your debut novel and are working on a second. What’s your favorite time management tip? I don’t have one. I’m a hermit-crab. I work all the time.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?
Oh no, I couldn’t possibly advise another author. I’m still a beginner. I’m in awe of how so many romance authors pump out books at a rate faster than I can down a bottle of red wine. Ask me again in five years time.

Did music help you find your muse with this book? If yes, which song did you find yourself going back to over and over again as you wrote? Not especially. But I do have a favorite song, Beautiful War by Kings of Leon. Heartbreaking. Uplifting. Just beautiful! When my left-brain gets lazy, I often listen to it and it gets me going again.

Tell me more about Luke’s Redemption.

Luke’s Redemption is a Contemporary Romantic Suspense (Steamy). Here’s a taste—

Red-hot sex. Searing betrayal. A passionate and elusive love…

Chased by her criminal kingpin father, Katya Dalca runs to New Orleans and straight into the arms of Luke Hunter. Sucked into the carnal world of the French Quarter, she succumbs to Luke’s potent sexuality. He not only steals her breath, he steals her heart and the only leverage she has against her father. She is left with no choice except to pick up the pieces and rebuild her life alone.

Undercover DEA agent Luke Hunter thought his newest assignment—recover a stolen flash drive to gain the trust of the Russian mob—was like any other. But his target brings him to his knees, and after one taste of her intoxicating beauty, he's in too deep. Doing his job means walking away, leaving his heart behind with nothing but a promise to reunite. It's a promise he can't keep.

When Katya's past reaches out and her world unravels, her only hope is the one man she is most vulnerable to—Luke.

How about an excerpt from Luke’s Redemption?
 The smell of beignets wafted up and distracted, I lifted the bag and took a deep breath. Whoosh! Fine sugar blew up out of the bag and coated me.
“Shit, honey, you look sweet all over.”

Oh, just great.

Blinking sugar out of my eyes I looked up. And up. He was tall, well over six foot. Midnight-blue eyes rimmed by a deeper blue-black smoldered lazily down at me. “You’re holding the best beignets in the world. You gonna stand there or you going to take a bite?”

“Umm.” Jeez, Katya. Say something.

“Here, let me hold that for you.” He took the coffee from my hand. “Go on, babe. Take a bite. It’ll be the best thing you’ll ever taste.”

Still struck dumb, I did what he asked and lifted a beignet out of the bag and took a big bite. Oh! It was like sinking my teeth into a sweet pillow of ambrosia.

“Good huh?”

I nodded and stared back at him. Then, without uttering a word, I stuffed the rest of the beignet into my mouth. He grinned at me, shaking his head. “Want to wash it down with this?” He held out my coffee.

My fingers brushed against his. Yikes! I couldn’t stop the slight tremor caused by his touch. I took a gulp of coffee - half rich chicory, half hot milk - and finally found my voice. “Would you like one?” I offered the bag of beignets to him.

“Would be like taking candy from a baby,” he grinned. “But don’t worry, I’ve got my own.” He dangled a packet like mine in front of me.

Then we both stood there and smiled at each other while we gorged on sugary donuts. He would reach for my coffee to free my hand. Then after I ate some fluffy yumminess, he’d hand it back to me so I could take a sip. We swallowed the last of our beignets and licked our fingers.

I didn’t even know his name, yet I was more turned on than I had ever been in my life.
Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?You can read book excerpts and learn more about me on my website, and join Anni’s Posse to get regular updates and Bonus Treats www.annifife.com
Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AnniFifeAuthor/
Twitter https://twitter.com/AnniFifeAuthor
My Amazon Author Page is https://www.amazon.com/author/annifife
Luke’s Redemption is also available from Kobe, Bookstrand, All Romance, iTunes and The Wild Rose Press. All these Buy Links are available on Anni’s website: http://annifife.com/
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Lukes-Redemption-King-Security-Novel-ebook/dp/B01M4ITMS7/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1476354406&sr=8-7&keywords=luke%27s+redemption
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lukes-redemption-anni-fife/1124824689?ean=2940156958900

Anni, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Four by Moonlight by Linda Nightingale

The blurb gives each story a tagline, but these fictional accounts of paranormal sightings each stars a different kind of otherworldly hero.  I didn’t start writing a story and decide to write others for a collection.  Each of them was written at different times, with different moods, and fished from my my hard-drive after computer tragedies necessitated several switches.

I have always loved the epic poem The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, originally published in 1906. This wonderful, melodic poem is the inspiration for Gypsy Ribbons.  If you read the poem, you will see the similarities, the characters for one. Loreena McKennett and many others have recorded The Highwayman.

I wrote The Night Before Doomsday about the Grigori and the fallen angel Azazel, in particular, after I read The Book of Enoch of the Apocrypha.  Enoch tells the story of the angels who were sent to Earth to teach Man and fell in love with human women.  The one reference in the Bible is in Genesis.  My son gave me the title, as well as creating the cover for the book.

In Star Angel, the hero is from another dimension.  I wrote this short piece during the days before my divorce.  Upon reading it, you will find the answer to that clue.  It is Lucy’s story and my story in a way. The names and circumstances have been changed to protect the guilty and the innocent.

The Gatekeeper’s Cottage was originally intended to be an erotic romance to be submitted under my pen name Bianca Swan.  One day, I decided that I wanted it to be one of my own works and rewrote it, toning down the spicier parts, but there is still plenty of spice in the story.  If you are interested in erotic romance, look Bianca up at The Wild Rose Press (2 novellas),  and Amazon (one full length novel, On Wings of Desire).

For that matter, look me up on Amazon!  I have 8 books from which to choose. 

Four by Moonlight
An anthology of love in the moonlight…in the paranormal realms

Gypsy Ribbons – A moonlight ride on the moors and meeting a notorious highwayman will forever change Lady Virginia Darby’s life.

Star Angel – Lucy was stuck in a rut and in an Idaho potato patch. She’d seen him in the corner of her eye—a fleeting glimpse of beauty—now he stood before her in the flesh.

The Night Before Doomsday – All his brothers had succumbed to lust, but Azazel resisted temptation until the wrong woman came along.

The Gate Keeper’s Cottage
– Newlywed Meggie Richelieu’s mysterious, phantom lover may be more than anyone, except the plantation housekeeper, suspects.

Excerpt:
After our arrival in Eden, I often prayed for my harp. One day, it appeared in a blaze of light.

A knock at the door froze my hands upon the strings. Had someone heard the music I was forbidden to play? Annoyed at the interruption, I set the harp on its feet. As I glided across the room, I sensed the identity of my caller and relaxed. What could Magdalene want?

Another timid knock sounded. The door creaked open. A slither of sunshine crept across the floor to my feet.

Magdalene called through the crack, “Azazel, I took a chance you were home. May I come in?”

“Hello, Magdalene. Please. Come. I was playing the harp. Would you like to listen?”

“Oh yes.” She clasped her hands to her breast, the gesture innocent yet seductive.

I waved her ahead of me, following her into the late afternoon sunlight glinting on the golden instrument. She sank down at my feet and placed a hand on my knee. As the melody unfurled from the strings, I sang. This time, I did not play the music of heaven.

With the last notes quivering in the air, Magdalene repeated the lyrics. “Stoop angels hither from the skies, there is no holier spot of ground, than where love with beauty lies.” She was trembling. “I expected a hymn.”

“It was a hymn. To Beauty.”

“It sounded like a love song.”

“Perhaps, it is a love song.”

Hope shone in her mesmerizing blue eyes. “To me?”

“To you and every Eve.”

She rose to her knees, brushing back my hair and kissing my ear, her small hand fondling me. My shaft hardened in her caress. My breath caught, my heart hammering.

“Magdalene, don’t.” I caught her fingers.

“Why not?” She breathed warmth on my neck. “I love you.”

I forced images of coupling from my mind. “You’ve mistaken gratitude for love.” I set aside my harp, lifting her to her feet. “Here, I’ll take you flying.”

“I don’t want to fly. Not just yet.” Delicate fingers caressed the sensitive underside of my wing.

Every fiber of my being vibrated to a melody old as the Universe, new as the First Day. She locked her arms around my neck and applied her body to the length of mine.

Face lifted, lips parted, she breathed, “Don’t you want to kiss me?”

The heat in her gaze boiled the blood racing through my veins. My hands shook with the effort to resist. The scent of her perfume, the pure essence of Woman, and the desire that had been smoldering for days overcame me. Helpless, I bent to do what she’d accused me of wanting…something I needed more than the next breath. She stood on tiptoe, opened her mouth, a shy tongue teasing my lips to part. Not like Ruth's kiss. Subtle, innocent yet...knowing.

I groaned in the exquisite pain of desire. My mouth opened, taking her tongue inside, dominating the kiss. Desire was death, a living rigor mortis. As my feverish hands explored her body, she moaned and whispered. Thought sizzled to fog. Spellbound, I kissed her lips, her eyes, her cheeks. When I pressed my mouth to her velvet throat, she shivered in my embrace, and I was lost.

The walls of my house closed in on me. Folding Magdalene in a wing, I lifted her and took her into the garden. Here darkness and my wings would hide our sin.
Buy Links:
Amazon eBook
https://www.amazon.com/Four-Moonlight-Linda-Nightingale-ebook/dp/B01M3Q9J8B/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1476737966&sr=8-8&keywords=four+by+moonlight

Print Only Available on the Publisher’s Website:  http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/cat-romance/cat-romance-paranormal/four-by-moonlight-detail   (Other forms are available here)

Once upon a magical time, Linda Nightingale raised Andalusians, breeding, training, and showing this fairytale horse. She has two wonderful sons, a snazzy black Miata, and a parlour grand, all residing in the big state of Texas. She loves to dress up and host formal dinner parties and doesn’t even mind handwashing the china and glass afterwards.