Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!
Pull up a chair, grab your drinks, and join the chat with Rosalie Redd, a writer of fantasy, paranormal, and scifi, liberally sprinkled with romance...and an 18+ rating. Sorry, young readers, this is a Mom and/or Dad day!
Welcome, Rosalie! What can I get you to drink?
ROSALIE: Lol--I don't drink coffee! Water is my preferred drink, and isn't that sad, but I do like a good hot chocolate now and then.
Ally: Since we have the best hot chocolate, I'll fix that right up while you introduce yourself.
Ally: You've written both short stories and novels. What criteria determine which a story will be? What are the main differences in your writing approach?
ROSALIE: With novels, you have the luxury of delving into sub-plots and expanding on the backstory and/or world building. In short stories, you have to get right into the action. My Love in a Bottle short stories are a spin-off from my Worlds of Lemuria: Earth Colony series. A love potion created on the planet Lemuria falls through a portal and lands on Earth. A human woman finds the bottle and opens it. Each of my Love in a Bottle series is a couple who experience the bottle. I kept these stories short and to the point for each couple, but they all get a happily ever after!
Ally: What is your writing schedule? Full time/part time, morning/night, every day/weekends only? Do you have a special place or a writer's cave?
ROSALIE: I retired from my accounting job a couple of years ago and have the privilege to write full time. I typically read email, post on FB, and check my 'to do' list first thing in the morning. Once done, I head right into writing or editing or brainstorming depending on where I'm at on my current WIP. I have a small desk where I spend most of my time, but if it's nice outside, I'll sit on the deck and try not to get distracted by the hummingbirds!
Ally: Looking back, what things do you wish you'd known when you wrote and published your first manuscript? Were there big surprises along the way?
ROSALIE: Oh, man, these are great questions. When I first published, I had no idea how much time the administrative and marketing side of the business would take. Wow, I felt like a tidal wave had rushed over me. The time commitment can be overwhelming. Plan, plan, plan, that's the best advice I can give. Oh, and have chocolate nearby.
Ally: What's your next writing project?
ROSALIE: My current WIP is Unimaginable Lover, book 3 in my Worlds of Lemuria: Earth Colony series. Here's the back cover blurb: With his pride and honor on the line, Lemurian Council Leader Tanen takes on a solo mission to bring a traitor to justice. Mortally wounded during the hunt, he’s rescued by an enchanting female who nurses him back to health. Despite the passion that burns between them, she’s human…and therefore, forbidden. Distraction is the last thing he needs while on the trail of a dangerous criminal.
Broken promises and ruined love hardened Sheri’s heart, or so she thought, until she finds an injured and extraordinarily sexy man on her property. Pulled into a world she never imagined, she is torn between the lessons she learned from her rough past and the need to seek solace in Tanen’s arms. If only she can trust him, and herself, to let go of her fear.
Ally: Last question is actually five short answer questions:
Ally: Thanks for visiting with us, Rosalie! Before you go, tell us more about your short story, Come to Me.
- a. favorite color of nail polish: Nail polish? What's that?
- b. a favorite author you read (any genre): Nadine Mutas - paranormal romance
- c. high heels, sneakers, or sandals: Sneakers, hands down
- d. favorite after-five drink: margarita
- e. a person you admire (living or dead): Patrick Swayze
A Lemurian god’s love potion falls through a portal and lands in Portland, Oregon’s Forest Park. Once discovered, the alluring liquid can ignite adventure and passion, perhaps leading to a meant-to-be love for those that open it—if they're brave enough to take the risk.
Cassandra Forsyth has a secret crush on a man she believes will never notice her. Adam Harkness doesn’t feel worthy of the tall, beautiful, yet shy, Cassandra. When they find themselves alone on a hike in Forest Park and discover an unusual bottle with a tempting fluid inside, their true passion inflames the hidden desires tucked away in their hearts.
Buy Links: (18+)
Thanks for stopping by the blog. Come back soon!
We've made it to the mid-point of the week again, and it's time for another author interview and book talk! I'd like to welcome Barb Caffrey, author of the Elfy series of YA urban fantasy/romance.
How do you take your coffee, Barb?
BARB: With a little cream, and all poured over ice, in deference to the current heat wave.
Ally: While I get the mugs, please introduce yourself.
Barb Caffrey is the author of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE and A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, which together comprise the Elfy duology, and the co-author of several shorter pieces of military SF set in her late husband Michael B. Caffrey's Atlantean Union universe. Shorter works have been published in many places, with the most recent being REALMS OF DARKOVER. She lives and works in Wisconsin, is a huge baseball fan (Go, Brewers, go!), loves dogs (and cats), follows politics, and is recovering from a nasty reality TV addiction.
Hmmm...what's not in my usual bio? Does playing the saxophone and clarinet count?
My blog: Barb Caffrey's Elfyverse http://elfyverse.wordpress.com
My Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barb.caffrey.1
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbCaffrey
My Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Barb-Caffrey/e/B00H8EROC8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Ally: You're both a writer and an editor. Do you prefer writing your own stories or polishing for others?
BARB: I enjoy both writing and editing, but in some senses it's easier for me to fix someone else's work than it is to fix my own. I can see what someone else is doing -- what's actually on the page, as opposed to what I think is there -- far easier than I can see what I'm doing, most of the time. But there's nothing quite like the rush I get after writing one to two thousand words that exactly fit the mood and story I'm working on...they're not exactly the same skill-set, writing and editing, but the skills for one carry over to the skills of the other. (Though the hardest thing as a writer is to turn Editor Voice off. I'm still working on that one.)
Ally: What was the inspiration for the Elfy books?
BARB: My inspiration comes from three places. One was my late husband Michael, who was one of the most encouraging people I've ever been around. The second was an anthology I read -- I now can't remember the name of it -- where the editor said something to the effect that the stories in that antho wouldn't be "the normal Elfie-welfie stuff." And the third was a dream I had after that, where a short young man dressed all in black came to me and said, "It's not like that!" and proceeded to tell me just what Elfy-welfie stuff was (yes, he insisted on the change from -ie to -y) and why he wanted no part of it, thanks.
I woke up from that dream, not long after my honeymoon, and told Michael about it. Rather than looking at me like I was an idiot, as I would assume most men would do, he said, "Well, then. You have to write about this, and figure out who this guy is, now, don't you?" with a big smile on his face.
And I proceeded to do just that.
Ally: Have you always written for a YA audience?
BARB: Most of what I write does seem inclined toward that YA/NA border, but I'm not quite sure why. Maybe my subconscious figures there are more stories to be told there?
And the main difference between writing stories for a younger audience and an adult audience is more in how you look at things. Kids may feel cynical, but usually their cynicism isn't bone-deep as of yet, so it seems more possible to have adventures. First love, too, is a little more innocent, and deals more with how things actually feel rather than "put slot A into tab B" (as Lois McMaster Bujold's wonderful character Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan once put it).
I see a lot of hope in that.
Ally: What's your next writing project? Do you plan further books for the Elfy characters?
BARB: My next writing project is a New Adult romantic fantasy set in our world, CHANGING FACES. It's about Master's students, both clarinetists, in Nebraska; one is transgender, the other is not, and they are in love. How they manage to learn enough about one another to marry and stay together is the main story; the fantasy element is in how this happens -- how they "change faces," and both become transgender, because they view love as the most important thing. If their bodies have to change in order to stay together and understand each other more, so be it.
Tentatively, CHANGING FACES is due out in September. (I'm still working on it as we speak, so wish me luck with that!)
And yes, I definitely plan more Elfy books. I have a prequel, KEISHA'S VOW, set in 1954, and a sequel trilogy in the works. And I hope to be releasing a stand-alone novelette, "Trouble with Elfs," for Kindle in the not-so-distant future.
Ally: Try a few short answer questions:
a. manicure or pedicure: Pedicure.
b. favorite singer or group: Alice in Chains
c. a dream vacation: Alaskan cruise (in the middle of summer, with lots of stops to see the historic sites)
d. favorite flower: Pink carnation
e. your best reading spot? My best reading spot is curled up in a corner, maybe with a blanket tucked around my legs if it's a bit chilly. There's some coffee (or maybe tea, for variety) at my elbow and a plate of nibbles next to it, in case I get hungry. The best light is there, too, so I never have to strain to read...altogether a perfect place!
Ally: It's been a pleasure to chat with you. Best of luck with your books. Now, let's take a look at A Little Elfy in Big Trouble...
A Little Elfy in Big Trouble
Young Bruno the Elfy and Sarah, his mostly-human teenage girlfriend, are in deep trouble. Bruno’s Elfy mentor Roberto the Wise is about to be sacrificed by a Dark Elf, and Sarah’s parents have decided to help the Elf rather than the Elfy. Things look bleak and are getting worse by the minute, but Bruno and Sarah have a number of allies — human, Elfy, and ghosts — that the Dark Elf can’t possibly expect. Can young love, desperation, and great unexpected power win out despite it all?
Bruno took Sarah’s hand and led her back outside. He looked with his mage senses, and felt nothing; no Elfy magic, no Human magic, and as far as he could tell, no Elf magic, Dark or Bright.
He put up a light shield that should help conceal their voices, and decided it was safe enough to talk for a bit.
“Tomorrow is Ba’altinne, Sarah.” Bruno rubbed his fingers through his hair and tried not to look too hard at Sarah. Goddess, she was beautiful. But he had to stay on topic. “That’s your May Day. Tomorrow.” He shook his head and tried not to frown. “How can we get everything together in time to stop Dennis the Dark Elf?”
“I have faith in you,” she said. Her eyes darkened. Bruno felt as if he were falling, before she gently brushed her lips against his.
Links, including link to sample chapters:
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-little-elfy-in-big-trouble-barb-caffrey/1123003283?ean=2940157950910
Sample chapters: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/ElfyinBigTrouble_ch1.html
(Check here for Barb's prior visit with the first Elfy novel, An Elfy on the Loose .)
Thx for spending time with us! Come back soon.
It's Wednesday again, booklovers!
Bridges DelPonte, author of mystery, fantasy and scifi novels, is joining us for this week's coffee break and book talk.
Welcome, Bridges! What may I pour you to drink?
BRIDGES: The aroma of coffee is great, but I drink tea, caffeinated and black. In the morning, I usually drink Irish or English breakfast. Earl Grey is my favorite for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Ally: While I get our drinks ready, please introduce yourself to readers.
Bridges DelPonte has published two novels and short stories in the fantasy, mystery and science fiction genres and three non-fiction books and numerous articles in the legal, travel and business fields. Her paranormal contemporary fantasy, Bridles of Poseidon - The Last Emissary Series, was a finalist for a Royal Palm Literary Award for Florida writers (unpublished fantasy). Her mystery, Deadly Sacrifices - A Marguerite Montez Mystery, won a Royal Palm Literary Award (2d place – unpublished mystery). When she is not writing, she teaches law courses, creates educational game apps and lives happily in sunny Florida.
Something unique about Bridges that isn't in her regular bio: "One summer, I lived and worked on my own in Australia after a divorce. I didn’t know a single person in Sydney so I was definitely outside of my comfort zone. It was quite an adventure and a personally-transforming experience. Did amazing hikes (“bushwalks”) in the Blue Mountains, Northern Territory and Tasmania (Hobart, TAS ends up as a location in Bridles). Snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef several times, but thankfully never ran into a Great White Shark."
To learn more about Bridges DelPonte and her writing, please visit her
Author web site: http://www.bridgesdelponte.com
Amazon Author Central page: http://www.amazon.com/Bridges-DelPonte/e/B00BW7BZYU
Author blog: https://bridgesdelponte.wordpress.com
Author e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ally: Since you write in so many genres, what type of book did you bring today? Is there romance?
BRIDGES: Bridles of Poseidon is the first book in a paranormal contemporary fantasy series. Our fierce heroine, Aquan, a shape-shifting Triton, faces a growing attraction to a “bad boy” dive boat captain, Dave Cutter. Any romantic attachments to humans (“Surface Dwellers”) are strictly forbidden in her undersea culture at Rapture’s End. Aquan is conflicted between her culture’s taboos and her growing attraction to Cutter. Personally, I prefer romances that leave more up to the imagination so my heat rating is mild/moderate.
Ally: Talk about your main character and her unusual abilities.
BRIDGES: Aquan is a shape-shifting Triton, raised by her aunt and a mentor, Mopsus. Mopsus helped her to develop her ability as an Emissary to shape-shift into real and mythical sea creatures and any living thing, including humans. As the last known Emissary, she thrives on her independence and her ability to travel between land and sea. Although 100 years old, she is a young woman in her world where Tritons live thousands of years. Like any young person, she is impatient with the restrictions of the Elder Council and the demands of being an Emissary. Despite being in her first mating season, she is not interested in any of her peers, preferring to make her own rules and go on her own adventures.
Ally: What came first, your shifter or the setting? How do they complement one another?
BRIDGES: The setting definitely came first. I am an ocean person, having grown up with family vacations on Cape Cod. A couple of years ago, I got lucky and rented a small apartment in Jacksonville Beach, FL, right across the street from the beach. I can’t resist the salty scent of ocean air and the hypnotic roar of the waves—they totally relax me. I’ve always enjoyed the Irish myth about Selkies or Seal Women, but I wanted to update it to an independent, kick-ass mermaid—Jason Bourne with gills.
Ally: Who had the greatest influence on your writing and in what way?
BRIDGES: As a kid, I enjoyed reading Greek and Roman mythology. The intricate world-building, the mysterious powers and the complicated personal relationships always drew me in. I think they fired my young imagination and got me writing both fantasy and mystery stories. Bridles of Poseidon is definitely influenced by those elements of classical mythology. The fact that people across the globe still read them today is a true testament to the power of their story-telling.
Ally: What's your next writing project?
BRIDGES: I like to alternate between projects to keep things fresh and moving along. I’m dabbling in my first children’s picture book about magical little creatures with a friend who is an illustrator. I am also writing the second novel in my Marguerite “Monty” Montez mystery series and scoping out the next volume in Aquan’s Last Emissary series. So I am busy stoking the pipeline while balancing my fiction writing with my teaching job.
Ally: Try your hand at a few short answer questions:
- a. favorite shade of lipstick: Divine Wine is my favorite—red, but understated.
- b. what's at the top of your TBR pile? I like to sample some of the best work in a given field because I learn more about the craft of writing and can discover new authors to seek out. I have a stack of “Best of” anthologies in the fantasy, mystery and science fiction genres calling my name.
- c. a memorable vacation: This year, my husband and I travelled to Mesa Verde and Chimney Rock in southwest Colorado. There is stunning and diverse natural beauty at every turn and the mystical vibes of these ancient places are truly tangible and profound.
- d. favorite holiday: Thanksgiving rules! Sitting around the table with people you love, sharing good food, wine and conversation, can’t be beat.
- e. a guilty pleasure: Getting a big bucket of popcorn and going to the movies in the middle of the week is such a guilty pleasure. I don’t do it enough, but I feel like a kid playing hooky from school when I do.
Ally: What an enjoyable visit! Thank you for coming. Let's finish today with a look at your book, Bridles of Poseidon...
Aquan, a fearless Triton, uses her unique power to transform into real and mythical creatures to police the boundaries of land and sea from rebel forces. When her fellow Tritons are savagely massacred on the eve of her first mating season, Aquan reluctantly teams up with Key West dive boat captain, Dave Cutter, and marine biologist, Jen Ortiz, in a world-wide hunt across the lost sister cities of Atlantis. In this thrilling adventure, Aquan must not only unlock her true power, but confront disturbing revelations about the deaths of her parents and dangerous political intrigue in her once-peaceful society at Rapture's End. Ultimately, this young Triton faces a terrible choice between preventing another Great Deluge or destroying the future survival of her own underwater community, now torn apart by discord and treachery. Set in exotic locales, this paranormal contemporary fantasy is the first installment in The Last Emissary series. Rebooting traditional myths about mermaids, Aquan will intrigue readers with her shifting identities, genders, races, and species—real and mythical—immersing readers in a truly unique and exciting underwater world.
Bridges’s Buy Link: Print and Kindle e-book
Come back soon!
What is Urban Fantasy?
I remember reading my first vampire urban fantasy, Blood Price by Tanya Huff. The heroine homicide detective Vicky was interesting, but I was fascinated by the vampire, Henry Fitzroy. I'd always read and loved fantasy stories, but other than Dracula, this was my first vampire fiction. I was hooked.
As I continued to read in the genre and saw the variety of supernatural beings and storylines, it finally dawned on me that part of the lure of these books was the setting. The authors had superimposed their incredible characters on a universe I knew and understood. A urban city, where supernatural beings interact in a human world, is at the heart of urban fantasy, even although much of the action occurs in areas most of us rarely see, the back alleys, underground caverns, and cemeteries..
Is it that simple? Does any story with paranormal creatures—like werewolves or dragons or vampires—set in a city, qualify as an urban fantasy. Not necessarily. Beyond the required urban setting, the fantasy elements must dominant the other storylines (typically romance and mystery). The deciding criteria are (1) the extent of interaction with the human world, and (2) whether the paranormal is essential to the main plot. In other words, does the Otherworldliness impact the human environment for good or bad, and does it influence the story's outcome in a significant way? If not, it may be one of the popular related genres of paranormal romance, supernatural mystery or horror, but it isn't urban fantasy.
Below is my list of examples of true urban fantasy novels. They're also some of my favorite books and authors.
- Tanya Huff's Blood Books, with Vicky Nelson and Henry Fitzroy, set in Toronto;
- Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, set in St. Louis. The first one, Guilty Pleasures, IMHO is a classic;
- Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, set in Chicago;
- Kim Harrison's Hollows series with Rachel Morgan, set in Cincinnati;
- Patricia Briggs' Mercy series, set in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State.
- Clare Cassandra's Mortal Instruments series, set in New York City.
There is also a wonderful subset of light-hearted urban fantasies represented by writers like Mary Janice Davidson and HP Mallory.
Now, it's your turn. Who are your favorite urban fantasy authors? Did I miss someone? Are there newcomers I should be reading?
Revised and reprinted from an Ally Shields 2014 copyright.
Happy Wednesday, booklovers!
We're joined for book talk today by Paty Jager, who writes the Shandra Higheagle mystery series. This is Paty's second visit. If you missed the first, you can still read it here.
Welcome, Paty! What may I get you to drink?
PATY: I love the smell of coffee but have never acquired a taste for it. My pick-me-up first thing in the morning is hot chocolate. That is followed by either hot or cold green tea the rest of the day.
Ally: Since it's still early, I'll get that hot chocolate for you while you tell readers something about yourself.
Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western historical romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Romance. Her first mystery was a finalist for the Chanticleer Mayhem and Mystery Award and is a finalist for the RONE Award in the mystery category. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”
All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
Something she doen't usually include in her bio: "I have been thrown or fallen off a horse five times in my life, suffered a dislocated collar bone and rib and a broken finger, but I still can’t wait to climb into a saddle and ride."
blog / website / Facebook / Paty's Posse / Goodreads / Twitter
Ally: When you decided to use a Native American protagonist, what kind of research did you have to do to make her personality real?
PATY: I made Shandra Higheagle, my Native American protagonist, half Native American so I could have her growing up in a white culture as a white to make it easier for me to write her and discover more about her heritage right along with her. I also interviewed people who were half Native American to discover their feelings and how they were treated in a modern society. It was and wasn’t shocking to discover that these people felt they didn’t belong to either heritage because of the way they were treated. Shandra was kept from her Nez Perce family by her mother and step-father. She is just getting to know them and discover more about her roots and the “visions” her grandmother has passed down to her as the series begins. I also have a writer, who lives on the reservation where I’ve set Shandra’s family, who helps me get the secondary characters thoughts, emotions, and actions realistic.
Ally: Under what conditions do you do your best writing? Do you require absolute quiet? Night? Day?
PATY: I prefer to write during the day, preferably first thing in the morning for 3-4 hours. I’m too tired at night. When I’m writing my first draft, I like music. For the Shandra Higheagle books I listen to Native American music and jazz. No lyrics, or at least not ones I understand. ;)
Ally: What is your least favorite part of writing? How do you get yourself through it?
PATY: There was a time I despised revisions. But I’ve learned it makes a better book and that makes me look forward to perfecting the story. Now, my least favorite part of writing is the promotion. I try to do things that I like. One of those is blogging. The other is Facebook parties.
Ally: Tell us about your next writing project.
My next writing project is the 6th Shandra Higheagle book. It’s titled, Reservation Revenge and takes place on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State. My writer friend took me on a tour of the reservation, filled me in on things, and I took off with a story line about Shandra’s cousin being accused of murdering another young man who accosted the young woman Shandra’s cousin likes. It will be filled with family, misdirection, and revenge.
Ally: Ready for a few quick answer questions?
a. top on your TBR pile: Nearly Departed in Deadwood by Ann Charles
b. current favorite song: Something’s Got a Hold on Me by Hannah Huston
c. favorite childhood book: Lois Lenski’s Strawberry Girl
d. a vegetable you love: carrots
e. do you have brothers or sisters? Two brothers
Ally: It's been a pleasure getting to know more about you and your writing. I hope you'll let us know when the next one is released! In the meantime, let's not get ahead of ourselves. First, they need to read Killer Descent...
Thanks for stopping! Have a great week.
Good Morning, Booklovers!
Welcome to this week's Coffee Chat. Thriller writer Marilynn Larew is visiting today with her book, The Spider Catchers.
Thanks for joining us, Marilynn. What may I get you to drink?
MARILYNN: Unfortunately, caffeine makes me dizzy, so I drink decaffeinated diet Pepsi, but not when I’m writing.
Ally: Not a problem. While I grab your soda from the fridge, please introduce yourself to readers.
Marilynn Larew is a thriller writer who is trained as a historian and uses that training to shape her writing. She wrote her dissertation on the Cincinnati bank that caused the panic of 1819 and retains a strong interest in the way money behaves. Her love of architecture comes from a stint at the Historic Site Survey in the Interior Department, and her interest in terrorism during the days of the Red Brigades led her to teach a course in the history of terrorism. In her Lee Carruthers series, Lee is a CIA specialist in money-laundering who gets involved in cases about terrorist funding in Morocco and the illegal arms trade in Dubai. Marilynn watches the headlines for new plot lines and new places to take her heroine.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "My most unusual nonfiction publication was an article about Vietnamese military history in 300 BC."
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/marilynn.larew
Newsletter signup: http://marilynnlarew.com/newsletter/
Ally: Let's set the scene for our chat by reminding readers of your genre and giving the heat rating of any romantic scenes.
MARILYNN: I write thrillers, and my romantic scenes are very mild. I find it difficult to write about sex, so I don’t.
Ally: What is the basic theme(s) of your stories? Why did you choose to write about it?
MARILYNN: I’ve always been interested in how money works, and I became interested in terrorists during the days of the Red Brigades, so I taught a course in the history of terrorism. I like to take my plots from the headlines and locate them in foreign places. I made Lee Carruthers a specialist in money-laundering and terrorist funding. In The Spider Catchers, I added human trafficking to the mix. I located the book in Morocco, because there was a rapidly growing Al Qaeda franchise there. Dead in Dubai is about the illegal arms trade. Many of the dealers hang out there. All of these topics are frequently in the headlines and most are ones I once taught, combined, of course, with some deep research. The Internet is such a marvelous invention. In the old days, I never could have done the kind of research I’ve done for my books without renting a room in a library. Now I can do that work in the comfort of my own office.
Ally: What inspired you to write fiction, especially for publication?
MARILYNN: I’ve always loved to read, and it wasn’t much of a stretch to decide to write. I’ve written all my fiction with a view to publication. I wrote my first short story when my first child was a baby and my first novel when I finished my PhD. During my teaching career, I had very little time for fiction writing. It was only after I retired that I began the serious work of learning how to write a novel. That first novel, The Spider Catchers, went through a great many versions before I settled on the one I finally published.
Ally: What are the easiest and hardest parts of the writing process?
MARILYNN: For me the easiest part of writing is imagining the beginning and the end. The whole story is there. The hardest part is that middle. They call it a “sagging middle,” and for me the middle often does sag. Does it want a new character, a red herring, a new plot line? All of the above? Sometimes I have to take my mind off that middle and look at another project for a while before I can go back to the middle with a fresh mind and fresh eye, and then I can usually find a solution.
Ally: What's your next writing project?
MARILYNN: Charlie Magee is about a Baltimore PI working two cases that involve problems left over from the Vietnamese war.
Ally: Try your hand at these short answer questions:
- a. a favorite author: Barbara Cleverley and her Joe Sandilands series
- b. do you sing in the shower? no
- c. last movie that made you laugh out loud: sorry, I’m not a movie fan.
- d. your favorite pet's breed and name: My cat, Hun, was a brindle - I guess an American short hair. His name reflected his youthful desire to slice and dice the house.
- e. someplace you'd love to visit: I’d love to go back to Hong Kong, Hanoi, and Istanbul. I’ve never seen everything I want to in any of those places. A new place? Singapore. If I could only stand the climate.
Ally: A pleasure to chat with you, Marilynn. Before you get back to that work in progress, I'd love to hear more about The Spider Catchers.
Thanks for spending time with us. Come back soon!
Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!
This week's guest on the Coffee Chat is PJ MacLayne with her Free Wolves series.
Welcome, PJ. What can I get you to drink?
PJ: I don’t drink coffee. I even gave up drinking soda on a regular basis a few years back. I drink orange juice in the morning, and water the rest of the day. I prefer my water to be ice-cold.
Ally: While I pour your iced water and my hot coffee, please introduce yourself.
Author Bio: Born and raised among the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania, P.J. MacLayne still finds inspiration for her books in that landscape. She is a computer geek by day and a writer by night who currently lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. When she's not in front of a computer screen, she might be found exploring the back roads of the nearby national forests and parks. In addition to the Free Wolves’ stories, she is also the author of the Oak Grove series.
Something I don’t normally include in my bio: I’m one of nine children. My parents had five boys and four girls spread out over eighteen years. No twins. But two of my brothers share the same birthday—thirteen years apart!
P.J. MacLayne can be reached on:
Google + https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PJMacLayne/posts
Ally: What is your genre, your romance rating, and the reason you chose this genre?
PJ: I write in two different genres, but Wolves’ Knight is urban fantasy/paranormal romance. (My other series is mysteries.) Heat level is a three— definitely not sweet, but not blazing hot either.
I didn’t choose this genre- it chose me. Seriously, I didn’t plan to write paranormal. But I had a dream that led to the first book of the series, and I planned to stop there. But Tasha, one of the minor characters from Wolves’ Pawn demanded I write her story, and Wolves’ Knight is the result.
Ally: How did you go about creating your main character? Did she appear full blow or only as a name? How did you choose her personality? Did that change as you went along?
PJ: So I knew some basic stuff about her before I started. But Tasha had grown in the space of time between the end of Wolves’ Pawn and the beginning of Wolves’ Knight, so I had some catching up to do in exploring her personality. And frankly, she surprised me, which is a good thing. She’s a lot stronger and more outspoken than I realized when I started writing her story.
Ally: What's the best marketing advice you've been given?
PJ: Marketing is hard. I still don’t have a handle on it. The best advice I’ve been given? Keep at it. And darn it, write the next book.
Ally: What's your next writing project?
PJ: I’m currently writing the third book in the Oak Grove Mysteries. (That’s my other series.) Frankly it’s giving me a hard time. Harmony, my main character, is having a tough time personally, and it’s difficult putting that on paper. But we’re getting through it, and I’m hopeful that I’ll get the first draft done soon.
Ally: Let's try your hand at a few quick answer questions:
Ally: It's been a pleasure chatting with you. Before we let you go, please tell us a little more about Wolves' Knight...
- Favorite dessert: A rich chocolate cake with mounds of chocolate icing.
- Favorite movie: I’m not a big movie fan, but I really enjoyed the original Star Wars movie as well as the most recent release in the Star Wars franchise
- A book I’ve read more than once: The White Dragon by Ann McCaffrey. Actually, I’ve read most of the books in the Pern series more than once.
- Any pets? I don’t claim the cat that lives with us as my pet. It’s my husband’s. The cat just tolerates me.
- An item on your bucket list: I actually don’t have a bucket list, and refuse to make one. But something I’ve always wanted to do is have a guide take me to a wilderness area of the Rocky Mountains that you reach by horseback, and camp for a week or so. Think how much writing I could get done with nothing to distract me but birds and other assorted bits of nature.
Thanks for spending some time with us! Come back soon.
Have a wonderful 4th of July!
Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!
Welcome to this week's Coffee Chat, a chance to meet another author and discover a book you might have missed! This week we're having coffee with Kay LaLone.
Nice to have you here today, Kay. How do you take your coffee?
KAY: Just black, thank you.
Ally: Well, that's easy. I'll grab our mugs while you introduce yourself.
I’m Kay LaLone, author of Ghostly Clues, my first MG novel, and Family Secret is my first YA novel, both published by MuseItUp. I live in Michigan with my husband and teenage son (two older sons and a daughter-in-law and my first grandbaby live nearby) and two dogs. I love to get up every morning and write about ghosts, the paranormal, and things that go bump in the night. I write PB, MG and YA novels. No matter the books I write, I want my readers to feel like they have met a new friend. I’m an avid reader of just about any type of book (mystery, paranormal, and ghost stories are my favorites). I do reviews and post them on my website and blog. I love to collect old books, antiques, and collectibles. You can find many of my antiques and collectibles selling on ebay and at fleamarkets.
good reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6580388.Kay_LaLone
Ally: The novel you brought with you today is a paranormal called Family Secret. Can you tell us what inspired it?
KAY: Family Secret is not based on a secret from my past or from my family. The idea for Family Secret came from a picture I saw for a writing class. The writing assignment was to look at a picture and develop a story from it. In the picture were a train and a boy and girl.
I asked the question, What if? What if this boy was running away from something? What if he felt like he wasn’t wanted? What if a secret was being kept from him? Asking what if gets the imagination flowing. Over the years (it took fifteen years before Family Secret became published) I just let my imagination run wild and soon it developed into the book it is today.
Ally: This novel is classified as YA or Young Adult fiction. What are some of the elements that separate this category from adult fiction?
KAY: The elements that separate this category from adult fiction is the age of the characters, the theme of the story is geared toward teenage boys, and the language. When I wrote this book, I had the reluctant reader in mind because I have a teenage son who doesn’t like to read.
Ally: Tell us about the most interesting writing or researching experience you've had.
KAY: The most interesting writing experience I’ve had is when the words flow from my mind onto the screen. It is like a wow experience.
Ally: Do you have another writing project underway? Can you describe it?
KAY: I have two writing projects that I am currently working on. One is about a girl with visions and the other is about a girl who finds her name on a gravestone.
Ally: Ready for some short answer questions?
Ally: It was a pleasure visiting with you, Kay. Before you go, please tell us a little bit about your YA novel, Family Secret...
- a. manicure or pedicure: pedicure
- b. a book you'd recommend: I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie books
- c. something you've always wanted to do: open an antique shop
- d. a person you admire: My parents
- e. best movie you've seen in the last year (theater or tv): Grease
Happy Wednesday, Booklovers!
It's time for this week's Coffee Chat and a chance to meet another author. Today's guest is crime writer, Stefania Mattana.
Welcome, Stef! Why don't we start by introducing you to readers?
: Ally: Tell us what type of books you write, your intended audience, and why you chose this genre.
STEF: When at first I started writing Chase’s stories, my goal was to create a series of cozy mystery novels, short stories and novelettes. I grew up idolising Agatha Christie, so it goes without saying that I’d liked to imitate her writing and settings. All went as planned with Cutting Right to the Chase Vol1 and Into the Killer Sphere, which both respect the rules of the cozy mystery.
However, after I wrapped up Cutting Right to the Chase Vol.2 and Vol3, as well as Pull the Trigger (the book No2 of the Chase Williams murder mysteries series) I realised they hadn’t much of the cozy mystery. My character and the plots twisted in a way they can’t be labelled as ‘cozy’ anymore. They went down a thriller road, although I can’t label them as pure thrillers. It’s safe to say that my novels and short stories are detective stories with mystery and suspense.
The reading target remains quite wide; anyone of any age can enjoy my books as there are no gore or sex scenes, nor violence.
Ally: What is your editing and publishing process? From the time you complete your first draft to its appearance at booksellers, what happens to your book?
STEF: The process is pretty much the same for both the fiction (in English and Italian) and non fiction (in Italian only) I’ve written so far.
I normally write a first draft, then leave it alone for a couple of weeks. After some rounds of revisions (usually 2 or 3), I send it to my alpha reader Chiara, who is also the Italian translator of my mystery books. After she leaves her notes, the last draft goes to my editor Steph for the English version (I write in English and she edits what is too Italian). The final writing is pushed then to my beta readers, who read and review it. At this point the book is ready to be officially published and launched.
Ally: When and where do you do the bulk of your writing? Do you have a writer's cave? If not, what would your ideal cave be like?
STEF: I like being quite structured in everything I do, especially when creativity is involved. It may sound like a paradox (and maybe it is) but following a strict process allows me to plan my writing sessions and deliver my drafts in time for their official launch. I find the writing process easier when the plot pillars are in place.
I usually first draft a concept (or two), then develop every scene so to create a storyboard, just like a movie. I use Ginko App for that - it’s spot on and can be used for everyday tasks as well, so I suggest anyone to give it a go ;)
Once everything is ready and storyboarded, I can go banana with my writing.
I don’t have a specific place for writing: my upcoming new mystery novel was drafted during a holiday at Canary Islands. My ‘cave’ is my sofa in my living room, where I like lying with my computer on my lap, plug myself in and get my writing done.
Ally: Give us a few hints about your next writing project.
STEF: I am writing two stories at the moment.
The book No3 of my Chase Williams murder mysteries series which is going to be a long length novel, and a short story about a real event that happened in Tursenia in 1500 in which Raffaello Sanzio painted one of his famous painting.
And now for a few short answer questions:
- a. favorite sport: All of them! If I have to pick some, I’d say athletics, rugby, football, tennis, gymnastics, skating
- b. a book you wish you had written: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- c. a tv program you hate to miss: Gotham & Silicon Valley TV Series
- d. What is the name and breed of your pet? Giuliano is a chihuahua and pinscher mix breed.
- e. an event you'd love to attend: A Gland Slam final
Ally: I looks like our time is up, but it was a delight having you visit the blog. Before you go, show us one of your book covers.
Cutting Right to the Chase
Short stories Vol. I
What if you are an ex Scotland Yard British detective stuck in a stunning medieval Italian city?
Chase Williams's life seems to be filled with crimes and mysteries to solve, even if he is not working at Scotland Yard anymore. In Tursenia, a pretty, Medieval city in the heart of Italy, Chase tries to live a normal life as an import/export executive for an international cashmere firm, but it's not as easy as it appears.
Chase's investigative eye never stops catching glimpses of crimes despite his career change. Throughout these six detective short stories of 1000 words each, Chase deals with a sequence of mainly minor but baffling offences that anyone could stumble upon.
Strange flights, teenagers at the mall, quirky neighbours and a special mission with Chase's childhood friend, Inspector Angelo Alunni, will introduce you to the Tursenian world, where other, nastier crimes can happen.
All links on Author's Website:
CUTTING RIGHT TO THE CHASE VOL.1 CUTTING RIGHT TO THE CHASE VOL.2CUTTING RIGHT TO THE CHASE VOL.3INTO THE KILLER SPHEREPULL THE TRIGGER