Monday, May 28, 2012

Interview with Gail R. Delaney

Today, I am delighted to welcome Gail Delaney to the blog. She'll even share an excerpt from her brand new book!  Gail has been actively writing 'for publication' since 1996. The first novel she ever wrote is still sitting on her computer, waiting for the major rewrite that will make it acceptable. She says she has learned a great deal since writing that book, and it shows when she looks back at that rough draft.

Gail has had several novels published in the genres of contemporary romance, romantic suspense and futuristic romance. Her novels have received several nominations and awards since she was first published in 2005.

Gail and her family recently moved from the cold and blustery east coast to Southern California, and is loving every moment of sunshine she can soak in -- without risking a sun burn.

Gail R. Delaney, science fiction writer extraordinaire!



Welcome, Gail! Please tell us your latest news!

After far too long of a hiatus, I am exceptionally excited to announce the sequel to The Phoenix Rebellion is finally released. Phoenix Rising Book One: Janus is the first in a four book series that picks up about a year after the end of The Phoenix Rebellion, and there are a lot of familiar characters along with some new heroes and heroines fighting for the survival of Mankind.


How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

I have an exceptionally supportive family, both blood and extended. My father was my biggest fan, and always introduced me as "This is my daughter. She's an author." My in-laws have always been very supportive and proud of me. My mother-in-law has read most of my books, and my husband has read most of them, too. I am so lucky to have such a supportive family.


What do you love about your latest book?

I love the uniqueness of the characters. They are like no hero and heroine I've ever written, and while it was definitely a challenge, I loved it. I loved being able to return to old friends and catch up. That's why I like writing series. You don't have to let go so soon.


Do your fictional characters develop on their own, or do you have their lives planned out in advance?

Oh, completely on their own. I had a general starting point, but things went down in this book completely differently than I planned, anticipated, or even imagined when I started.  I usually have a good idea of their past, although even then sometimes I 'learn' things as I go; but, I try to allow them to develop organically as I write. Whenever I try to force certain scenarios or manipulate events to incur a certain reaction from my characters, it always reads as contrived, so I have to let events -- and their reactions -- unfold naturally.


Do you base any of your characters personalities off people you know, and if so, do you tell them?

Never in whole, no. Sometimes my characters have certain traits or quirks I attribute to someone I know, but I've never fully modeled a character after someone point for point. For instance, Michael Tanner of the Phoenix books has an abiding love for breakfast. Once you know his history, you know better why, but overall he just enjoys food. He enjoys eating, but especially breakfast. Pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon... especially bacon... fruit. Whatever. This I took from my son, who was only about 7 or 8 when I wrote the first Phoenix books. Even then, his love for breakfast was immense. Still is.

I've seen a bit of a lot of people I know slip into my characters. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. To me, things like that make them human.


Tell us about your all-time favorite character (of your creating.) Is he/she modeled after a real person?

Funny that I talked about Michael Tanner in the previous answer, because he is by far my favorite; there is Michael, and then there's everyone else. :-)

Michael was modeled after an actor for the sake of appearance, but his personality and his actions are his own because he is so unique and comes from a situation so far removed from anything we could know he couldn't be modeled in word and deed after anyone. For the sake of appearance, he is a young Richard Dean Anderson (think MacGyver years).

But it is his soul that makes him unique. Michael is a study in contrast. In some ways, he has aged far beyond his years for the experiences he has survived and the losses he has known. And yet, he is also very pure and naïve. Untainted in his views of the world. He loves with his entire soul, not just the woman he loves but his family, his friends, his child.

Michael is a challenge to write because his life experiences have affected him in ways I could never imagine surviving, but he is also liberating to write.


When did you discover you are a writer? Was there a specific catalyst?

I have been writing since I learned how. I used to write poems and songs and short little stories when I was a kid. In fourth grade, my best friend and I wrote stories about women superheroes rather than playing with games or toys. I wrote a fantasy novel when I was in high school.

But when did I know I was a writer? Winter 1995.

My mother passed away in October, and I was helping my father gather her things and go through papers. While doing this, I found a metal file box. In this box was everything -- and I mean everything -- I had ever written. Every scratched out poem, every draft of every story I'd done. Every school paper I was published in. I realized that day my mother had seen in me something I hadn't accepted yet myself.

I was a writer.

In January 1996, I began writing my first book for the purpose of seeking publication. That book has never been published because I didn't know a single thing about writing when I wrote it, but I intend to edit it one day to get it published. But that book led to another book, that I did have published. And another. And another.


Anything else you want to share?

If anyone would like a free prequel short story to the entire Phoenix series (it falls specifically before The Phoenix Rebellion, but would serve as a great introduction overall), they can email me at gail@gaildelaney.com and I'd be happy to share.


Janus Blurb


It's been a year since Humanity rose up against their alien oppressors and took back Earth from the Sorracchi. The war left Earth devastated, crippled, but not beaten. Under the leadership of President Nick Tanner and in collaboration with their new Areth and Umani allies, the Earth seeks stable ground again.

John Smith of the Areth was a soldier before his queen asked him to serve as ambassador to Earth, and he is out of his element. Restricted in his position from carrying a weapon, he has no way of defensing himself or his adopted son when the Xenos -- a group of Humans wishing to purge the Earth of all alien influence -- decide they want him dead.

Jenifer is a soldier for hire, and answers to no one but her own common sense. She first refused the "job" of serving as John's bodyguard, but a glimpse at the heart of the man convinces her to accept the responsibility.

John has two faces: a soldier and an ambassador of peace. Jenifer has two faces: the steel-skinned warrior and the forgotten person she once was. Too many people hide behind masks, and it's those hiding who want John dead.


Excerpt

                 He stood at the bank of large windows facing out onto the city, his back to her. Standing in the darkness with the moonlight the only source of light, Jenifer had to admit Ambassador Smith had certain attributes most women would find attractive.
                 It was obvious he hadn't thought about being prepared to make a quick escape when he left his bedroom. He wore only a pair of loose fitting pull-on pants hung low on his hips. They were a rich blue color, and by the sheen on the material, possibly some type of silk or similar fabric. His feet were bare, and he wore no shirt, leaving his back exposed. He stood completely still with his arms crossed and his head bowed, pulling the muscles along his back and shoulders tight enough she easily saw the definition.
                 Okay, so not half bad. He was obviously fit, so he probably wouldn't be a total waste in a fight. But if someone else didn't kill him, she was seriously considering it.
                 "Did you need somethin'?" he asked, his clipped tone barely carrying across the room. He never raised his head, never moved.
                 "Yeah," she said, crossing the space. "I need you to not be so damn stupid."
                 He raised his head slowly, unfolding his arms to rub his palms over his face, sniffing softly before he turned his attention to her. "Excuse me?"
                 "I said I'd really like it if you wouldn't be so damn stupid, Ambassador." She took the security core from her belt, snapped one of the electrodes from the back and slapped it unapologetically against his chest over his heart. The core interface immediately came to life, several graphs recording the various biorhythmic information she needed for the globes.
                 "What the hell are you doin'?" he ground out, reaching for the electrode, but she shoved his hand away.
                 "What President Tanner hired me to do, keep your ass alive. But if you're going to make it harder for me, I'll quit in the morning." She pulled a stylus device from the side of the core and grabbed his hand, jabbing a finger with the tip. "You know, I heard you were a soldier back on Aretu, so I thought you'd have enough sense not to stand in front of an exposed window."
                 He looked from her to the window, either oblivious to or indifferent to the fact she held his hand, squeezing several drops of blood from his finger into the stylus tube. The core twittered in acknowledgement of the data.
                 "I wasn't--"
                 "Thinking? Obviously." Finished with retrieving the data she needed, she snapped the stylus back into place and gripped the edge of the pad on his chest. Jenifer contemplated just ripping the pad free without at least pulling the skin taut to ease the removal, but in the end she remembered she hated ripping off bandages just as much as anyone else. She laid her hand against his warm skin, bracing it slightly before gripping the electrode edge and yanking hard.
                 "Bloody hell!"
                 "It'll hurt a hell of a lot more if you get hit with a long range pulse blast." She eyed up the window and the surrounding cityscape, as much as she could call the broken horizon a city. "I wouldn't be surprised if these Xenos went retro and took a shot at you with one of those old time projectile guns. Messy, but they'd cut through this glass like butter."
                 She half expected him to scramble back from the windows, but he didn't. He just looked out again.


Thank you for coming over, and for sharing an excerpt of your book. It's been a true pleasure to have you here!

If you want to see more of Gail, visit her website: http://www.gaildelaney.com
Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorGailRDelaney
Check out Janus on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B0084UWKTW


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Why don't readers like writers?

I want to start with saying, the title is a grave generalization. Most people I meet and talk to in person and online are lovely. There are a few though who puzzle me.

Let me back up a little. If you've made it to my blog, you know what Amazon is. You might not know that Amazon has a number of discussion forums where people meet up to talk about everything from what kind of sandwiches people eat in Sweden (brought on by the Stieg Larsson books) to talking about actual books, or what to do in a hurricane. I spent quite some time in these forums a couple of years ago, but left due to the general hostility in many of them. I think it's a minority of people wanting to stir up a storm, and they seem to be succeeding quite well.

Today, I was looking at something on Amazon and clicked a link into a forum out of pure curiosity. Things haven't changed one bit during the past two years; if anything, it's gotten worse.

Why do (some) readers hate authors so much? They evidently like books, or they wouldn't be there discussing them.

The last time I participated in an Amazon forum I joined in a discussion without mentioning my books or writing. The person who started the thread wondered how Swedish people can be so stupid when it comes to hurricanes, and I tried to explain that we don't have them, so we don't know the first thing about them. It was a fun discussion that veered off into different countries' coffee drinking habits, and everything was fine and dandy until someone looked up my name and shouted, "Hey everyone, she's an author, she's just here to self promote, get her out of here!" Is it wrong of me to find that just a little bit rude?

I understand that people don't want to see self-promotion everywhere, but it seems a tad unfair to want to shut people out of other aspects of society just because they wrote a book. LOL.

The first discussion I saw today was titled, "How do I avoid seeing books from Indie authors?" The person who started that thread wants a special view on Amazon that will only show books from the biggest publishing houses, sorting out small press and self published writers. The post has hundreds of positive responses.

If someone only wants to read books from Random House, it's their prerogative, of course, and probably their loss. I just don't understand.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Moseying around...

From time to time, people ask about my writing schedule. The question makes me think, "I'm supposed to have a schedule?" and I avoid answering. When a story get its claws in me, I think about it constantly and write every free minute from early morning to midnight, but the rest of the time, I do a lot of moseying around. I have a good excuse too: I'm a Swedish person living in Florida. At least half of the year its too hot for me to do anything but mosey.

Don't get me wrong, besides writing I go to school full time and have a daytime job, so I do my fair share of work, but whenever I can I try to plan so I don't have to go anywhere first thing in the morning. The dogs wake me up and we go outside. I make coffee while they have breakfast, and then they'll take a breakfast nap while I check on my online stuff. (I know, taking a breakfast nap sounds lazy, but trust me, they get more running done during their morning outside time than I do in two weeks.) A couple of days a week I have class in the morning, or have to go to work in the morning, and my entire day feels off when I don't get this sofa-doggie time. Weird, huh?

These last few weeks I've added to the routine. I check my e-mail and Facebook and Twitter and yadda yadda, and go to Patty's blog. She has such a warm and friendly personality, and such a sunny outlook on life, it helps set the mood for the day.

This morning, her post contains a cartoon strip with the imaginary voice in one's head claiming, "What are you doing that for? Such a waste of time." I know some people like that in real life, both when it comes to writing and music, and it always makes me wonder, "Why can't you be a little encouraging instead?"

I've found the perfect remedy though; my friend Cynthia in Nokomis taught me. When people think you're strange, or think you're wasting your time, and want to tell you about it at great length, you keep a straight face and say, "I'm an artist. You can't expect me to be like other people." It efficiently throws off the attack, and you're free to go about your day and be as eccentric as you want to.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Giveaway results and new releases

I've held a giveaway of "The Goddess's Saga" on the Goodreads website, and I sent the books out today. It's a strange feeling; when I sell books I assume people will like them, but when I give them away, I worry. I mean, if someone chooses to spend money on a book, they've usually at least read the blurb. Giveaways are different. Most people like to get something for free, but some are very disappointed if the thing they get don't live up to what they expected. The books look good anyway, and I like the contents, but I am - of course - biased. I'm hoping to get some reviews - whether people like my work or not, I enjoy hearing their thoughts. :-)

New Releases

My publisher has some new releases today. Check them out!

It's been a year since Humanity rose up against their alien oppressors and took back Earth from the Sorracchi. The war left Earth devastated, crippled, but not beaten. Under the leadership of President Nick Tanner and in collaboration with their new Areth and Umani allies, the Earth seeks stable ground again.

John Smith of the Areth was a soldier before his queen asked him to serve as ambassador to Earth, and he is out of his element. Restricted in his position from carrying a weapon, he has no way of defensing himself or his adopted son when the Xenos -- a group of Humans wishing to purge the Earth of all alien influence -- decide they want him dead.

Jenifer is a soldier for hire, and answers to no one but her own common sense. She first refused the "job" of serving as John's bodyguard, but a glimpse at the heart of the man convinces her to accept the responsibility.

John has two faces: a soldier and an ambassador of peace. Jenifer has two faces: the steel-skinned warrior and the forgotten person she once was. Too many people hide behind masks, and it's those hiding who want John dead.
Kate spent her adult years focused on fulfilling a list of goals she had created as a teenager. Once the last goal was accomplished, she found comfort in the belief she was in complete control of her own destiny. The one contingency she had purposely left off her list was any kind of personal involvement with a man. That is, until Drake Hampton walked into her life sending a shockwave through her tranquil existence and, forced her to face the possibility.




Photographer Kayli Heddon is sent on an airboat tour of the Everglades to do a controversial photo-essay for the governor's re-election campaign. The tour's scheduled guide gets sidetracked, and he coerces his cousin -- sugar plantation owner Skye Landers -- into taking his place and guiding the government biologists and photographer on the two-day safari.

Kayli’s ex-boyfriend, Clay Jameson -- the governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff -- isn’t buying her story about a routine assignment and shows up unexpectedly to tag along on her tour. Jameson and Landers immediately butt heads, and Kayli can't keep them from bickering anymore than she can quell her mounting agitation with Jameson or her inexplicable attraction to her enigmatic guide. She thinks Landers is just her Seminole airboat guide and wants to call the shots. Landers is used to giving orders, not taking them, and the two lock horns in the famed River of Grass.
Megan Marshall thought she'd made all her dreams come true. Her career as a TV chef was taking off on the network level and in three days she'd be on her way to New York to shoot her first show for the Culinary Channel. When a strange Vampire shows up, she's sure her brother and sister's job with St. Vlad's Slayers has finally come to bite her in the butt. To bad she was right. On the run with Stalking Shadow, the Vampire sent to save her life, she finds herself in the middle of the first Vampire War in over four thousand years. Now, she not only has to stay alive long enough to become the next Paula Deen, she's got to find a way to do it while falling in love with the last man she should fall for, a Vampire.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Doggies!

Save a life - adopt a pet!

When I first came to the US, I was surprised over the number of pets in shelters. We have cat shelters back home, and they usually treat the cats very well until a new home is found. Dogs are expensive in Sweden, and you don't get one unless you really want one. While I'm sure there's the occasional unserious breeder there too, puppymills are unheard of. We have a very regulated society, for better and for worse. There are laws for everything from how many pets a person can have without a permit to how many hours it is acceptable to leave a dog alone. Things happen anyway, of course they do, but we try to protect those dependent on us.

BooBoo Bear comes from the Bishop Shelter in Bradenton.
Anyway, I thought, "Poor babies," and Mikey and I went to a shelter to pick up a dog. We came home with BooBoo Bear - he's an American Eskimo.

I'm a big Border Collie lover, and this was the first time for decades I've lived in a house without one. I kept googling Border Collies, and stumbled over a webpage for a local BC rescue: Ewenity Farms, a Border Collie Haven.

I thought about this long and hard. If there's a BC rescue, that must mean they need rescuing. (Real genius moment there...) I contacted Jill Hurst, director of Ewenity, and asked if I could visit the doggies. She said "Sure!" and I drove out of town to her farm. It was a wonderful day!

Talking to Jill gave me a lot to think about. Before I met her, I didn't understand that there are so many homeless animals in the US, the shelters overflow and have to kill them. Perfectly fine, healthy, loving pets are put down because no one wants them. I imagined a couple a year being painlessly put to sleep, and thought, "That's so sad." I wanted to learn more, so I googled, and almost fell off my chair when I learned there are more shelter pets put down each year than there are people in Norway. It's a horrible situation, and I wasn't sure what to do.

Topper, rescue boy from Georgia.
Jill said, "Why don't you try fostering a dog?" Mike and I thought about it, and finally agreed to give it a try. This is when Topper came into our lives. He was much younger and smaller than I expected, skinny as a twig, and afraid of almost everything. Jill and I met him outside a restaurant - he got a ride down from Georgia by a wonderful woman, and was soon tucked into the back seat of my car, headed home. It took me about five minutes to fall in love with him, and when Jill told me someone wanted to come see him, maybe adopt him, I said, "No way. My dog."

Once Topper was properly established in the house, we thought that maybe we could help out with another foster. One we clearly wouldn't keep, this time. *cough*

During a brief period of time, we had Ruby, Bishop, Emma, Seek, and James. I'll tell you all about them, some other day. :-) And Cooper, but he'll get a blog post of his own.

Princess Bonnie, aka BonBon Bonnie-gator
Bonnie had been with Ewenity for a long time, and Jill thought she might need a change of environment. I knew her well from helping out at the rescue, and was more than happy to bring her home. I didn't expect instant love between her and Topper, but he could have been her puppy. They do everything together. They curl up in the sofa together, play together - usually with the same toy at the same time - eat together, groom each other, run in the yard... If he gets scared of something and runs to hide, Bonnie goes to keep him company. One would have to be completely heartless to separate them. And then they were three.

Bonnie keeps a watchful eye on anything happening outside the house. All bikes, joggers, and pedestrians must clearly be herded into a tight little group where they behave and stand still! Same thing is true for squirrels, birds, and planes.

Moral of the story? Well, if you've been thinking about getting a pet, check out your local shelters and rescues. The website petfinder.com can help search for a specific breed, within a specific geographic area, and so on. If you don't want to adopt, for whatever reason, fostering is a great way to "borrow" a cat or a dog, and often get most expenses paid. Rescues are always short of money and food, and many ask for donations of toys and towels.

There are many other great ways to help out, completely free. You can share a shelter pet on Facebook or Twitter - increased exposure also increases their chances of adoption. Some shelters welcome the public to come play with a cat or a dog, giving them some joy in an otherwise dull environment. Think about it, talk about it, open your eyes. It doesn't take a lot of effort to help.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The beginning

Today, I'm guesting Night Owl Reviews, talking about the strangest thing I've ever done in the name of research. Want a hint? It contains science reports turning into science fiction reports. There's also a chance to win an e-copy of the book to be read on Kindle, Nook, computer...

Don't know if you want it yet? Check out the beginning:

Patricia patted the worn, old dashboard gently. "Hang in there, Henry, we're almost home."

While people in general might not admit to talking to their cars, she thought most probably do, and when driving home in the middle of the night she'd take the embarrassment of encouraging a machine before being stranded any day. Besides, having someone to talk to made life seem better, even if it was just an old Ford.

The road curved through the dark forest and the landscape seemed surreal. The darkness and the snow made everything turn black and white, and it reminded her of an old movie. Being home on the sofa flipping through TV channels sounded great, and she pressed the accelerator a little harder without even realizing it. Girls' night out had seemed like a wonderful idea, but next time she should probably sleep over somewhere.

She could have sworn she didn't take her eyes off the deserted road for a second, not even when she reached out to change the radio station, and the man appearing out of nowhere looked like a mirage. He stood still, frozen in the bright headlights, and one second seemed to last forever. Patricia thought, "He doesn't have any warm clothes. Why would anyone go out dressed like that in the middle of winter?" and then her body started acting on its own. Her foot found the brake and slammed the pedal, but she knew she wouldn't make it.

The man was too close, and she was coming too fast. Instinctively, she tried to steer around him, but the icy surface provided poor traction for the tires, and she skidded all over the road. The car passed so close to the man she thought she could hear the bumper brush past his pants, then it rolled over the shoulder and into the woods, and everything went black.




Sunday, May 13, 2012

What do you do in your free time?

Quirky Hobbies!

From time to time, I grow restless and want to try something new. This is when I usually pick up a new hobby. I'll be completely fascinated with something for a couple of years, lose interest, and move on to something else. I did have a period when beadwork was the most captivating thing on the face of the Earth, but other than that, it tends to be outside activities.

A long time ago, I was learning to fly. I worked in a little IT department at the time, and one of my colleagues liked to dive, and the other to climb mountains. Every Friday afternoon our boss looked almost sick - he thought none of us would come back.

When I grew tired of trying to fly, I really got into off-roading. I had a huge old GMC Jimmy, and there's something really appealing with bouncing around in the woods. It was raised and had four wheel drive, and in summer time, there's a number of off road events around Sweden where you can drive on the military's land together with groups of like-minded people.

The Jimmy was a bit too wide, much wider than a European car, and tended to get stuck between the trees, but it was all good. That car saved my life - I was rammed by a really, really, really large truck, and if I had been driving something smaller, I would just have been a bump on the road. That's another story, though.

Here in the US, I haven't gotten around to exercising my wilder sides. It's much more difficult to be eccentric when you live in a city and don't know the area. Still, one day, I woke up with the strangest urge to buy a Katana sword. I've probably seen one in a movie or something, and I bet my subconscious brooded over it, and finally decided a Katana would be the coolest thing ever.

Image from tameshigiri.co.uk
After doing some research, I learned there's a sport dedicated to cutting stuff up with a Katana - it's called Tameshigiri. That sounded way cool, and I just had to try. There are rolled bamboo mats one soak in water, put on a stand, and cut with the sword. Of course, no one around here sells them, and buying them online and paying shipping for something just to cut it up into little pieces soon seemed like a waste. Someone online suggested pool noodles.

Pool noodles are a challenge, because they bend. The slightest flaw in technique will make them bend and not be cut at all, or just shave a little off on the side. They are also cheap, and come in an abundance of funny colours. I don't have a good place to store them, so I've been keeping them in the back of my car. Someone at work saw them and commented, "I didn't know you have a pool."

I wasn't thinking, so I answered, "I don't. I put them up in the back yard and cut them with my sword."

He blinked, and I added, "Instead of bamboo mats. These are much cheaper, and much harder to cut."

My friend said, "Yeah, that's kinda scary."

I thought, "Oh, smooth going, Maria," said, "Well, you know, I am a Viking," and gave a more proper explanation. We talked about swords for a few minutes, and I don't think he expects me to cut anyone's head off anymore.

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store, and the man handling the carts called out, "Happy Mother's Day, hope you have a good one!"

I was surprised, I don't think anyone has ever wished me happy mother's day before, but I flashed a smile and thanked him. When I was putting my groceries into the car, the nice man came into the parking lot to get the carts out there. He saw the pool noodles. "Hey, I see you have little swimmers at home. I hope they get you something nice!"

The devil sitting on one shoulder wanted to say, "No, I'm going to cut these into little pieces with my very big sword," but he was so nice and I didn't want to scare him, so I just said, "Yes! It's a nice day for swimming!"

When it comes to mother's day, we do have it in Sweden as well, but not for another couple of weeks. I think it's May 27th. If anything, it gives me a bad conscience because I haven't seen my mom for so many years. I don't have any children, and the dogs love me every day. Can't ask for more than that!

I've always thought mother's day and father's day were just another attempt of the retail industry to make people shop, but when I read about Patty's mother's day, I changed my mind. It seems very sweet. So, Happy Mother's Day everyone. Whatever you like to do, I hope you find some time for it today, and have a wonderful day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Release Day!

Kidnapped is here!

As a writer, you sort of get used to handling rejection. The most comical rejection letter I've received was for someone else's book. A good runner up is one that claimed my constant misspellings were offputting. She provided examples, and they were all spelled right. The best rejection letters have been from a publisher in Canada. They're very enthusiastic, and encourage you to write something more and try again. Love those guys!

Anyway, I've learned to shrug and not expect too much - there are so many writers seeking an agent/publisher they're drowning in the mere volume of letters. Getting a rejection isn't personal. There have been times when the agent/publisher were full, when my book didn't fit in, or, to be honest, when it wasn't polished enough and I shouldn't have sent it out in the first place.

One day, I opened my email and saw a message from Desert Breeze Publishing. I told myself, "Don't get your hopes up, they're politely telling you they no longer publish science fiction," and opened it. At first, I just stared at the screen. The mail had words, actual words, and lots of them. A very friendly person said she was interested in my book. What a wonderful day!!!

Since then, a lot of people have worked hard on my book. I have rewritten it, several people helped go through it and edit it, wonderful artist Gwen Phifer made the cover, more people than I can count have helped with marketing, and today it all comes together. Kidnapped is here. 

Some of the characters in the book have lived in my head since I was a teenager, I bet they're pretty content today.

Now, if you're not into science fiction, I would like to recommend some of the other books released today.


Trespasses by Anne Patrick

When the skeletal remains of three young women are discovered on the vacation estate of a U.S. Senator, the local sheriff enlists the help of Special Agent Gabe Landry and a local forensic sketch artist to help him solve the murders. As a profiler, Gabe knows his skills are useless until they discover the identity of the victims.

That’s where the beautiful and talented Mackayla Kensington comes in. Mackayla is all too familiar with the heartache of not knowing the fate of a loved one. The brutal murder of her own daughter is the driving force behind her determination to bring closure to families missing loved ones. Using her artistry skills, Mackayla works frantically to put faces to the skulls so that their identities can be revealed and the killer can be caught. When the killer realizes how good she is, it appears she may be the next to die.

Haunts of the Heart by Barbara Scott

Deanna Butterworth escapes the pain and indignity of dying in a heartless hospital by fleeing to her beloved but now abandoned childhood home. Expecting to be alone, she is surprised to find it haunted by two very lively ghosts. Neal, an amiable if confused spirit, steals her heart. But it is Anthony, desperate to hide his dark secrets, who threatens her soul. Snatched away to the past, Deanna uncovers the treachery that bound Neal and Anthony to her house since their deaths in 1864. Will she be willing to pay the price for their release?





Mauranie Wells and her sister Tennyson are at odds. Mauranie is content with their Wells Double Bar ranch home and working on the progress of her fledgling horse business. Tennyson wants the town life social scene and pretty new gowns, not a dusty horse ranch. She spends as much time as possible in nearby Mescal Flats, and when she is home at the ranch, cowboys come to call on her.

Cowboy banker Stemson Arroyo Smith needs help. He rides into the Bar W on a day when the sisters are not speaking. He unknowingly escalates the tension by ignoring Tennyson to pull his horse up beside the corral where Mauranie is exercising a black colt.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Right now, I'm reading...


Soldier, Lily, Peace and Pearls

When I was a very young girl in the dark ages now known as the 1970's, my mom would speak of Kampuchea and the Red Khmers. I was too small to understand the details, but I did understand it was scary. TV showed pictures of war, steaming jungles, and dirty children in internment camps. As I grew older, I'm sure we studied this in school, but that was more of a history lesson and lacked emotional context.

In the book, "Soldier, Lily, Peace, and Pearls," Con Cú weaves a vivid image of two families and their struggle for survival during impossible circumstances. I read about one third of the novel last night.

At first, I struggled a little with the names, and I think this is a cultural difference. Once I sorted out Han and Hue and Mei and Minh in my mind, and figured out who belonged where, the story and the ordeals the families go through really grabbed my attention. Imagine being a child ripped away from home, marching through the jungle, surrounded by soldiers chanting “To spare you is no profit, to destroy you is no loss.”

In the middle of all this, the families encounter unexpected kindness and support, and Con Cú shows there can be hope and friendship even in the darkest of times. I hope I will be able to read the rest of the book this weekend, and I'll return with a complete review. This far, I am enchanted.


Blurb:
The lives of eight-year-old Quan Phoc in Phnom Penh and two-year-old Minh Chau Thieu in Saigon change radically when the two cities fall to the Communists in 1975. The Khmer Rouge send Quan’s family to a collective farm in the distant countryside. Minh Chau’s family attempts unsuccessfully to flee Saigon. Her father, a South Vietnamese army officer is sent to a re-education camp and the rest of the family is imprisoned Both children escape Indochina in 1978, aided unexpectedly by the kindness of others. In Pulau Bidong camp in Malaysia, Quan becomes Minh Chau's protector, a role that he will play intermittently for the rest of his life. When Minh Chau's family is resettled in Canada, Quan is left behind. At that point, Quan's protector role passes temporarily to Mathieu Hibou, a soft-spoken university student from New Carlisle, Quebec.

If you're interested in the book, click here to check it out on Amazon!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The road to here...

A long long time ago, in the distant past known as the 70's, a quirky child grew up in Sweden. Oh yes, it was me, hahaha. Almost as soon as I could talk, I claimed my life was a horrible mix-up, and my real family would come down from the stars to bring me home at any moment. Every time we went out in the car, I expected a UFO to land in the middle of the road and take me home. That evidently didn't happen - I'm still here - but it brought my mom endless heartache. I was also obsessed with books. Long before I could read or write I made mom staple coloured papers together to resemble books, and I drew suns in them. They were all about the sun, and they were all called the sun book.

Image from IMDB.
Both obsessions stayed with me. My dad would watch science fiction shows on TV - Moonbase Alpha and Jason of Star Command - and thought I was playing with something behind his back. I couldn't rip my eyes away from the TV. We had a lot of books, and I obsessed over Jules Verne's stories at an early age. Imagine travelling to the moon in a cannon ball! The library in my home town is fairly big, and by the time I started first grade I had already gone through all the childrens' books. I kid you not - all the childrens' books. Mom persuaded the librarians to let me look at young adult, and I went through those long before it would be prudent to let me graduate to adult fiction.

As soon as I learned to write properly, I started to dabble with science fiction stories, and when I reached my teens, the ideas were growing pretty solid. The writing itself was still that of a child, of course, but the ideas weren't too bad. You get the point - I always wanted to make books.

One of these stories slumbered in my mind for decades, until an old song stirred the memory. I listened to Cowboy Junkies - Misguided Angel - the first time I wrote it, and when I heard the song again, I remembered. The lyrics are both beautiful and horrible, and personifies the hero to the letter. The song starts, "I said 'mama, he's crazy and he scares me, but I want him by my side. Though he's wild and he's bad and sometimes just plain mad, I need him to keep me satisfied'" I found it on Youtube. The soundquality in the video is iffy, but the lyrics carry me off to other worlds every time I hear it.



Anyway, when I wrote the story the first time, as a teenager, the heroine was called Elizabeth and wandered through a forest on foot. In the adult version, her name has changed to Patricia, and she has a car. The end result is the same - spaceman Travis abducts her by mistake and she is SO screwed.

The road between writing the thing and getting it published has been long and bumpy. The interesting thing - to me - is that it is getting published, by an actual publishing company, and it will be released on Friday. Happy dance!

I always dreamed of having a book cover designed by an actual artist, and the dream came true. Talented Gwen Phifer made it, and nothing I could come up with could ever be as cool. When I first saw it, I wasn't sure about the woman on it, but she has grown on me.

I wanted to tell you stuff about the editing process, and all the weird rejection letters, but this post is pretty long already, so I think we'll have to come back to that some other day.

Thank you for listening to my random babble! :-)
If you have the time, check out my book trailer. :-)



Friday, May 4, 2012

On writing - Tempus

Everyone knows time is vital, and most people never have enough of it. Thus, it shouldn't be a big surprise that time is important when writing too.

Most, if not all, novels are written in past tense. I did something, talked to these people, and this and that happened. Or, in third person, he and she did something, and they met a guy with a machete. Present tense is happening right now. I, for example, sit here writing on my blog.

This sounds easy enough, right? Well, when I started writing, I mixed past and present all the time and wasn't even aware of doing it. I submitted a draft of one of my books, and in the letter I got back, the acquisitions editor said the story showed promise and had an original story line, but my constant switches between past and present tense were off-putting. I said, "My what and my what?" To remedy the problem, I started using the word "had" for everything, just to make sure I stayed in past tense.

Anyway, I'm not the only one falling into this pothole. I've been trying to read a book for months now. It has a science fiction storyline that's right up my alley, it has wonderful characters, and I am eager to see what happens. Every time I start reading I only get a few pages, because the author switches between past and present tense in the middle of sentences, and my brain wants to tie a know on itself trying to figure out what's really going on.

Moral of the story? Just like when we talked about first and third person a few days ago, pick on and stick to it.

If you're writing about a book or movie, you always write in present time.

For example, let's say a book says, "Bonnie took the bus to work, and a rugged man sat down next to her. She tried to shrink into the corner to get away from the musky scent of sweat and whiskey that surrounded him, and didn't even notice he picked her pocket."

If you want to recap this correctly in a review, synopsis, or whatever you might be writing, you do it in present time. "When Bonnie takes the bus to work, a rugged man picks her pocket."

When writing the actual story, most people choose past tense, and accidentally slip into present.

Examples of what not to do: "When I sat on the bus home, I know there will be a package waiting for me." Or, "Her eyes wandered over his hair, it's glittering like gold in the sun."

It should be: "When I sat on the bus home, I knew there would be a package waiting for me." And, "Her eyes wandered over his hair, it glittered like gold in the sun"

It's not difficult, and doing it right makes the material much easier and more appealing to read.
Good luck! :-)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

And, the winner is...

Congratulations to Lynette Endicott - winner of our Shirley Connolly raffle! A book is coming your way!