Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Spotlight on: Borealis II Anthology - Character Interviews


#1 - What's it like running a space station like the Borealis?

The first several months I was here, I didn’t sleep more than three hours at a stretch. As soon as I’d try to drift off, I’d be called about some riot, break in, con artist or smugglers working their trade. Either that or some fool overdosed on Uudon. I’ve got just enough of a bad attitude about this whole situation that I don’t much care what people think so I don’t cut them any slack. Iron fist is what keeping control is all about. Until some damn Rebel gets it in his head to try and shoot us up.

#2 - Do you have any friends besides Max on the station?

Until Summer and her brother came along, I pretty much limited my social time to the occasional drink in the bars. Places like Korn are too loud for talking, but I find the cacophony oddly relaxing and mind clearing. Sure, I have a few I drifted to more than others, but I don’t play favorites. These days Summer keeps me too busy for hanging out.

#3 - What's your favorite bar on the station. *wink

Ah, ah, ah. No favorites I’ll admit to in public. Can’t afford it. But if I drop by one or two more often than others, well, I can justify it by saying that’s where the biggest troublemakers hangout.

#4 - What level on the station do you live in?

One down from the station arboretum. Yeah, it’s high and mighty, but I didn’t design the station to place the Commander’s quarters so far above the masses. I’m sort of stuck there because it has nearly all the same gadgetry as the Command Center in my den. The previous station commander also had it decorated in a way no one else wanted to live there. Thankfully Summer has fixed that problem, but I did convince her to save out one or two of the most, um, interesting items. The previous commander’s taste wasn’t all in his, er, mouth.

#5 - Do you have a favorite flower?

Funny you should ask that. Have you ever studied the delicate beauty of a simple bluebell? I’m told the sight of a bluebell wood in spring is a sight to behold. Someone has recently told me my eyes are the same color of blue. Anyhow, in the next couple of years there should be quite the display of them popping up around the station. Rumor has it the Bluebell Bunny, kind of like Earth’s legendary Johnny Appleseed, has been hopping around.



#1 - What is your favorite sandwich? What do you drink with it? Do you serve it in your bar?

I'm a meat eater because of the unique makeup of my body's chemistry and metalabolism. I need a lots of iron and zinc, so I like sandwiches with a lot of meat. My bartender, Viv, makes a killer sandwich with roast beef and argula on rye. It's available at the bar.

#2 - Tell us something about your home planet, Pith. What's the main attraction, what is it best know for?

Pith falls in the life zone of the star, Xeres. There's another planet just outside the life zone, Pylon, that could probably support life. Pith is unusual because the planet is on a tilt, much like the Sol system's Uranus. The provence where I come from, Hadon, is near the north pole, but the pole is on the same "line" as Earth's equator. Because of this tilt, the magnet properties are off the chart in Hadon. People from Hadon have developed telekinesis to keep the harmful rays away from our bodies.

The capital is Ares. There's a major space port there. The planet was rich in heavy metals and gemstones, but the TPP has it's tendrils into the mining processes.

#3 - What do you love most about Elijah or what does he do that drives crazy?

Elijah isn't intimdated by my telekensis or my limited telepathy. Most men are. He accepts me for what I am and that's what I love about him. That and his lips. He has the most kissable lips!

#4 - What was your favorite toy as a child?

A metallic sensor ball. It's the size of a baseball. I honed my telekinsis playing with it.

#5 - What were you doing five minutes ago?

Eating breakfast with Elijah!


Enjoy a story teaser for "Shadows & Light" On You Tube:


4.5 BOOKS From Long & Short Reviews:

"This is highly recommended for those who like equal doses of romance, science fiction and danger, with some humor thrown in to ease the tension. "

Here's a link to the review:
"Persephone Talon" image curtesy of Dreamstime.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Spotlight on: Borealis II Anthology

SHEA MCMASTER talks about how she got involved in the Borealis:

I’ve been asked, how was it I came to be involved in the Borealis anthology. Simple. J. Morgan. My beloved blog partner pegged me right off the bat. Originally five stories were planned. He was to write the first story, and I was to bring up the rear, wrapping up the five story Anthology. Well, like all fun things, the project grew. And a few stories got swapped around. Still, though I whined, the anchor position remained mine. Seriously, writing a 25-30k story and include wrap ups of everyone else’s as appropriate? It’s an intimidating prospect.

So, for inspiration, I read Gail’s story. Then I brainstormed with Jmo. I twisted the story lines around in my head and slowly Kal came to me, followed by Summer. I read a few kick-ass writers, such as Jennifer Crusie and Linnea Sinclair, and they fueled my imagination. Around mid-May, I felt the pressure to write. At that point I thought the deadline was June 30. Someone forgot to tell the Book II people it had changed. But that’s okay. The pressure was on and the story came alive. In fact, I finished before Jmo, which allowed us to ping ideas off each other. I love writing with that man at my back. He keeps me fresh.

Anyhow, once I got going, that’s all she wrote. Um, well, I guess you know what I mean. I started writing and didn’t stop until the characters let me go. Actually, they haven’t entirely let me go, but they did shove me out of their quarters. Just as things were getting really interesting too. Maybe my alter-ego, Morgan O’Reilly, can follow up there.


STEPHANIE BURKHART talks about how she got involved in the Borealis:

I was at lunch with Gail and Jen and Gail was talking about her story for the Borealis. I listened intently. I love Sci-Fi, but had never tackled it in my writing. Gail went on to talk about the Borealis with such gusto I wanted to be a part of it. At that point, all the stories were taken but she said she'd keep me in mind for a future project.

About two weeks Gail tapped me on the shoulder. Want to write a story for the Borealis? I said 'yes!' Gail gave me the outline for my story: Elijah Kess was dispatched to the Borealis to gain info on the Uudon trade. Heroine was dispatched by Sarina and neither know about the other's mission but they keep stepping on each other's toes.

I started writing the story around Easter and finished mid-June. The heroine was mine to come up with. So I sat back and looked at Elijah Kess. Elijah was such a Biblical name. He was a good guy, well trained, a soldier. A true hero, filled with light and believing in his cause. What kind of woman would attract him? The opposite of what he was. And it would play into the "theme" of the story, stepping on each other's toes.

Persephone Talon was born. Think Kellan Lutz for Elijah and Frieda Pinto for Persephone. Both are attractive, but "opposite" in looks. Persephone's name was inspired by the Greek goddess of the underworld. She runs an "underworld" bar, Korn and she comes from the Hadon Provience of Pith. I sprinkled a little Spock on her and gave her unlimited bank account and a heroine was born.

Then I gave Esther Mitchell a ring. "Esther, can I have Libby in a couple of scenes?" She said sure. I coordinated with Esther and Shae on some subtle point crossovers and if anything that was the hardest part because you want to be true to their characters they're writing.

Overall, I had a blast. The Borealis rocks.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Spotlight On: Borealis II Anthology


#1 - What's your Borealis story about?

Kal Raines is the war hero in disgrace who has been shunted to the armpit of the universe and tasked with keeping the dying station under control of the TPP. His world revolves around holding the station together with bubble gum and baling wire despite the prison on the lowest levels, Uudon addicts running around, pirates and thieves passing through and the occasional Rebel attack. It’s one administrative headache after another until he comes across Merri Sumner meditating in his arboretum. Little does he know she’s the infamous Rebel Agent, Bella Bleu there to do some networking and to determine if he’s convertible or beyond redemption.

#2 - How long did it take you to write?

About a month. The first draft flew by in two weeks. This one practically wrote itself. One day I was out running errands and found myself impatient to get home and finish reading my book. Then I realized I was chomping the bit to finish reading the story I was writing! Now that’s fun J

#3 - What attracts you to writing sci-fi?

I love the versatility of world building. The imagination has no bounds within the rules you create.

#4 - What's your favorite Sci-Fi TV show or movie?

I’m a Trekkie. Especially bonded with TNG. Love me some Picard and Ryker men. Rwarr.

#5 - Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

I have a Sony, which I love to carry in my purse. At home I read most of my ebooks directly from my laptop, that way I can knit or crochet while reading. I feel guilty sitting down to “just” read. Doesn’t stop me from buying books, though!



#1 What's your Borealis story about?

Elijah Kess has been dispatched by the Rebellion to investigate the Uudon Trade on the Borealis. Persephone Talon has also been dispatched by Sarina Laroux to do the same thing. The story opens with an exciting chase as Elijah, deep undercover as a TPP enforcer chases an Uudon OD. Only Persephone finds the OD and they discover a patch. Soon, the two are trying to figure out what the patch does and how it relates to Uudon - and they step all over each other to do it.

#2 How long have you been writing and what's your inspiration?

I've been writing ever since I was 5, but seriously for publication, about 10 years now. I have a very active imagination and Juliet, my muse, never lets me sleep. (so to speak)

#3 What do you write besides Science Fiction?

Right now, I love writing paranormals, but I prefer to tackle werewolves and witches. The Hungarian is a paranormal romance set in England and Hungary in 1901. It's sequal, The Count's Lair, will be released in Feb 2011 and I have another paranormal, a bit darker, The Wolf's Torment, releasing in May 2011. I have a steampunk called Victorian Scoundrel coming out in July 2011. I have a horror short story in the Etheral Gazette that has a Lovecraftian influence called The Scorpion Temple, and a contemporary Christmas story called "Christmas in Bayeux" in the Victory Tales Press anthologies coming out. I try not to limit myself to any particuliar romantic subgenre.

#4 Do you have any special writing rituals? Candles, music, chocolate, coffee?

Coffee. Definately coffee.

#5 Do you read a specific genre and is it different from what you write?

I typically read romance, but I also like biographies and memoirs and new age stuff. I just finished reading Patrick Swayze's "The Time of my Life" and Sylvia Browne's End of Days. I love JK Rowling. I wouldn't consider her Harry Potter stuff romance, more fantasy adventure. As you can see, I get around in my writing - and reading.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Author AR Norris shares her thoughts on Thanksgiving.

To really describe Thanksgiving at the Norris Household, I'd have to bring you back two days prior to the day. Not too much happens for us without the presence of the ocean. Within short order we found ourselves walking over the sand mound to look out at the Bay and hooking beyond the jetty, stood the Pacific Ocean. Right behind us, tucked away behind the heart of the peninsula, was the harbor with all its colorful boats, rickety piers, and leaning dock houses. The morning fog slithered in the distance, its misty fingers caressing the hillsides.

Hubby and my eldest son went off to catch the Thanksgiving crab while the rest of the crew and I headed on our hike, facing off the strong winds and biting chill, to explore the beach. Just down the main arch of the beach the signature rocky cliffs stood guard to the fields and pastures above. The thirty foot waves rolled in and crashed against the cliffs, sending a firework of water into the air and leaving behind the residue of the ocean's will in the form of foam.

Thanksgiving morning hailed with aromas of roasting Turkey and a house warmed by the pot belly stove. I walked into the kitchen to find my husband already busy at work. There's nothing more attractive than a man helming the stove. He's got that glint of warrior in his sparkling green eyes from the success of preparing food for his family.

Now, here I have to pause and disclose a process that happens at the end of summer. My sister and I bid for who's getting which holiday. Most of the time I can wrangle Thanksgiving -- which is my favorite, favorite holiday -- but sometimes, like this year, she gets a hold of it. So, needless to say, we packed up our part of the menu, piled up the kids, and drove the three blocks over to her house.

A line of cars already filled up the block. Grandmas, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, in laws, first cousins, second cousins, nieces, and nephews filled up the front yard and the house. Laughter and argument -- er…debates -- welcomed us. As sets of hands freed us of our offerings, little arms hugged our legs and big arms hugged our shoulders. Looking around I still felt like those who have moved on were still present somehow. I expected the snickering laughter of my father-in-law, and even the old boisterous laughter of my grandpa.

Throughout the day there were lots of laughter, giggles, teasing, loud voices…and lots of stories. Stories from last week and stories from before my time. Stories that made us laugh and those that made us cry. No matter the time span or the emotions behind them, they were a subtle reminder of what we all have here together.

Cuddled on the couch with Hubby as my Grandma told another story from before our time, it all came full circle. Generations ago I was on a couch as a child, cuddling into my mother and listening to Grandma's old stories.

It brought me comfort and filled my heart with thanks. Life may not be perfect, but its not supposed to be that way. The bumps in the road make for the stories and remind us of the support we have around us, making the moments like Grandma's storytelling, laughter and hugs, and those sentimental tears more rich and meaningful.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Author Spotlight week - Excerpt from Aloha, My Love

Our story so far: Adam Whitford, smarting from being rejected by the woman he pursued, has been deputized to go over to Delaine Bishop's home and find out why she isn't at church. The singles group is about to take off for a winter holiday in Hawaii, and he can't understand why she didn't show up...

Delaine answered his second ring, wearing jeans and a ski jacket. "Good, you're ready," Adam said. " Come on, the bus won't wait."

She lifted her chin. "I'm not going."

"Sure you are." Easily he lifted the single duffel bag sitting ready-packed by the door. "You're all set. What happened, you lose your bathing suit?"

"Adam, I don't want to go."

"'Course you do. Everybody who's fun is going." He gave her one of the goofy expressions that never failed to win a laugh from her. She stared solemnly at the floor. "Even me."

He didn't get the chuckle he hoped for. Instead, her fair complexion turned a shade whiter. Adam peered more closely. Why wouldn't Del meet his eyes?

"A lady has the right to change her mind."

"Aw, come on. It'll be great." He let his voice soften, getting to yes. "Sherril and Brad are already there. Ellen and Aubrey are going. Mike's coming, and that new guy is there, and Terry decided to come. It'll be a riot with that bunch. You can't tell me you'd rather stay here and shovel snow when you could be drinking pineapple punch with us."

He followed her into her kitchen where she fiddled with the stove knobs. It was unlike her to say nothing, so he filled an awkward silence. "Good. Checking to see if the gas is off is a good idea. It's off, so let's rock. I told 'em I'd have you back there in ten minutes."

She whirled. "Nobody says no to you, do they?"

Nobody except the woman I loved. "I try not to let that happen too often." He gave her his best grin. "Tends to inconvenience me when I don't get my own way."

She chewed her lower lip, a characteristic Del-gesture when thinking something over. That lower lip she abused had a soft curve, a pretty pale pink color. For an insane moment, he wondered about its flavor. Oh sure, he'd kissed her, carelessly, usually over some witticism, occasionally for a friendly good night. Why couldn't he remember how her mouth tasted?

That image softened his voice. "Come on, Del."

She stayed frozen for a moment, then lifted one shoulder in a helpless shrug. "Okay, then."

"Attagirl." He flashed her an encouraging grin, wondering what had put her into such a snit. Probably the money. Health care didn't pay beans unless you had M.D. behind your name. "You'll have a good time, we all will. Hey, you finished scuba classes last summer, right?" She nodded, turning off lights in the front room. "You certified yet?"

"No. All I need is my open-water dive."

"Great. I got a magazine. Look here. Sport Diver. Says there's lots of good places off the Big Island. Want to dive with me?"
Finally acquiescent, she turned off the hall light and snatched her small purse off its hook. "Maybe."

He threw her duffel into the back of his SUV. "Aw, come on. What's got you in the dumps?"

She allowed him to open the car door. This acquiescence in being treated as a lady by a gentleman was also new. What on earth was bugging her? His concern grew.

"Maybe it's just the winter." Del shivered. "It's dragged on too long. Too cold. Too much snow."

"Gotten any skiing in?"

"Not as much as I'd like, with all these blizzards. We're doing a computer conversion at work, so I've put in some really brutal hours."

"Then you owe yourself this trip." He slammed her door and bounded around to his own side. "I decided I owe myself, too."

Now why say that? Too revealing. I keep going like this, she might figure out that I'm a little sore over Stephany.
"Working a lot?"

He turned the heater to high, put the SUV in gear and pulled out of her driveway. The rear wheels slid a little then regained traction. "Not the long hours I did in my old job, would you believe it? Working less and making more."

Her laugh sounded more natural. "Sounds like a dream come true."

He nodded, signaling for the turn from Coventry onto Kensington. "Too bad everybody can't do it."

"I sure can't. The more complex things get, the more hours I need to be there. The department's going well, it's not that, but I'm salaried."

"Another promotion? Good for you."

"I'm called manager now." Her smile seemed genuine, this time. "That just means more accountability without an equal amount of authority."

He laughed. Her mood appeared to lighten -- but not enough. He decided that during the trip he'd get to the bottom of that long face. After all, just because she'd spent the last four months avoiding him, didn't mean their friendship was over.

All women had their flighty times, or so Noah claimed. He grinned again as they pulled into New Hope's parking lot. "Ready to fly?"

"Guess so." Her back straightened. He grabbed her duffle and slammed the trunk. As she approached the church hall, her determined expression called up a woman steeling herself for some huge and terrible trial. He wondered why, as they burst through the doors.

Yells of joy greeted them. "Del!"
"Thank goodness you're here."
"Now can we get on the bus?"

Terry encircled Del's slender shoulders with a big burly arm. Adam didn't often have to look up at anybody, but at Terry he did. At six-five, the new assistant pastor topped him by two inches. Adam watched, grinning in triumph as Del gave Terry a helpless look somehow mixing gratitude and apology. "Sorry. Got cold feet."

Terry squeezed her comfortingly. "In this weather, I can't hardly blame you. But those feet will be warming themselves on a white sand beach before long. Besides, we took a secret vote. It was the whole group or none of us. We decided not to budge an inch toward Hawaii without you." He waved for their attention. "Let's have a word of prayer." The group bowed in silence as Terry offered thanks for the trip. "Okay, Jared. Get that bus open, and let the loading begin."

Adam grabbed a seat on the bus next to Kee-Yung, a fellow businessman he liked to chat with. Kee-Yung ran his own computer consulting firm. Adam often picked his brain when refining his hunter-killer software. Del found a seat far back near Pam and Aubrey. Sherril and Brad occupied the spot in front of the girls. Del had thanked Adam gracefully for coming to pick her up and persuading her to make the trip. He scowled at the distance. It looked as though she wanted to put as much real estate as possible between herself and Adam.

He'd discover the reason for that, too.

On the jumbo jet, the group deployed in much the same way. Except Adam made sure to take the seat right in front of Del's. That way he'd overhear if she mentioned her strange reluctance to go on holiday. It wasn't eavesdropping if it helped his friend out of whatever quenched her sunny nature. Unlikely he'd be able to do any serious snooping anyway with Kee-Yung chatting about wireless access, DSL lines, and ferret programs.

"Hey." His seat mate poked him. "Buckle up. We're about to take off."

"Oh, yeah." He settled his long legs as well as he could in the insufficient leg room, anticipating the thrill of take-off. No matter how often he traveled on business, he never grew tired of gaining the air. He said as much to Kee-Yung. "Someday I'm gonna get my pilot's license and see what the real thing feels like."

"I'd like to do that. You need perfect vision, though." Kee-Yung tapped his glasses. "It doesn't stop me from doing everything else."

"You dive, don't you?"

"Yep. I put my prescription goggles in my bag. So I can see the fishes." He laughed. "People tease me about diving at the ocean and missing it, without my specs."

"Great. We'll get some diving in." Adam pulled Sport Diver out of his carryon bag. Kee-Yung was fast becoming a friend. A second generation American of Taiwanese origin, his parents had tacked Keith onto his Chinese name. He'd chosen the latter, explaining that with his Western upbringing and speech, he felt American enough already. He used his Chinese name to honor his ancestors' hunger for freedom. Adam liked the idea. Maybe he'd honor his Scottish heritage that way, if ever he had a son.

Yeah, as if that's likely to happen. Not too enticing a prospect, for Noah's to be the only Whitford genes carried forward into the future. He thrust that melancholy idea down alongside others that hurt too much to examine. Paging through the magazine, he found the article about wreck diving. "Look here. Up to try it?"

"Sure! Maybe we can get some of the girls to go along." Kee-Yung winked. "Give it a little flavor."

Adam waved a hand in the air. "Most of them won't want to get their hair wet. Might be one or two who are woman enough to try it, though. Del's all but checked out on scuba, maybe Pam is, too."

"We'll find out. Run a test. Mention seaweed in the hair and see whose nose wrinkles up. The ones who don't, why they're the ladies for us."

More laughter. Later on, talk turned to computer systems and Adam's own business. Kee-Yung planned to build his own PC, so they discussed that. As the flight stretched out, Kee-Yung opened a novel. Adam closed his eyes to doze off.

"So what gives?" He had trouble hearing Pam's quiet voice. If he breathed soundlessly, he could catch her words to Delaine sitting alongside. "Why did you change your mind?"

"I didn't change it. Not quite." Del's voice sounded too quiet. "Then a Mack truck crashed in and changed it back for me." He grinned in secret amusement at the simile. It wouldn't be the first time he'd been accused of lacking subtlety. "Oh, I did want to go, still do. I need a vacation, I've been going at the job too hard. It's just -- the wrong timing really."

"Because of--" Pam dropped her voice further so he couldn't make out the rest. He squirmed in frustration.

"Yeah." Delaine's voice flattened on an unusual note, almost sorrow. No, that couldn't be. Basically Del was a light-hearted type, now like always. Right? Sorrow didn't suit her voice. "Mostly that, I suppose."

"You said you're over it."
"I am."
"But not quite."

He disciplined himself to close his ears and listen no more, but he couldn't help speculating. Some guy, no doubt. He knew she hadn't been seeing anyone when he'd left for Jacksonville. Who had she dated since? Plainly it hadn't worked out, and she'd been hurt. Just getting past it. Grief flattened her voice, stupid grief for some klutz who'd breezed into her life and then just as easily out of it. Heartily Adam wished the unknown man engine failure at five-thirty on the Kennedy expressway.

Leave a comment/post and you'll be entered to win a PDF copy of Aloha, My Love when it goes on sale, 1 DEC from Desert Breeze, curtesy of Moderator Steph here on the blog!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Author Spotlight week - Deborah Kinnard shares her favorite author

My favorite author varies with what I'm reading and enjoying at the time. I have several, including the late Judith Merkle Riley. Her "Visions of Light" and sequels get the story down in a way that seems inevitable. Likewise Anya Seton, whose "Katherine" tells the story of a real-life 14th century woman, an ancestor of the current Queen and umpteen other notables, both British and American. Both these authors influence me to reach for the magic in the stories I tell.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Deborah Kinnard shares her favorite movie

My all time best movie is "Chariots of Fire." I watch it every couple of years or so, just to remind myself how this pure, and true, story was told. No explosions. No gimmicks. No dissing Abrams or Liddell for their very different beliefs.

Some years ago I was privileged to vacation in England. My host at one of the B&Bs talked of Eric Liddell and lent me his biography overnight. I read fast to get it done, but it was so interesting I didn't care! My favorite part was the bit toward the end of the movie where Eric's and Harold's fans met the team at the boat train. Eric was being cheered, adored, fawned upon for his gold medal -- and he just ate it up. Whooping, hollering, enjoying all the hooplah in its moment.

Then, the biography states, once he'd enjoyed all that to the fullest, he shucked it all and went to China to fulfill his lifelong goal. A very good way to take things, in my opinion.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Deborah Kinnard shares her passion for Romance

I think romance appeals to me because it gives me the chance to relive that wacked-out, stressful, hopeful, wonderful time in my life -- before I met Mr. Right. Every encounter started out loaded with possibilities. Anything could happen! The adrenalin, the rush and up-and-down of falling in love -- stressful, yes, in both good and bad ways. Granted, God has more for us to do in life than to meet our chosen life partner, and some folks live as singles. But who wouldn't want to go back and experience falling in love all over again, this time from a safe and fictional distance?

Monday, 22 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Deborah Kinnard

Deborah Kinnard's latest book, Aloha, My Love, will be avail on 1 DEC, but we thought we'd gush about it this week on the blog. Here's a great Q&A with Deborah.

STEPH - I don't know much about Aloha, My Love. Can you tell us a little about the story?

DEB: Sure! It's a "second chances" story, in which a guy who's just been disappointed in love gets to try once more with his best (female) friend. A lot of healing occurs in this book, because these two "made for each other" people have been dancing around the love they have for each other for a long time...

STEPH - Aloha is set in Hawaii. How did you choose the setting?

DEB: It almost chose itself! My husband took me there for my 10th anniversary, and I loved it so much I knew I would set a story there. If you're listening, hon, I'd sure love to go back for our 25th!

STEPH: - How long did it take you to write Aloha?

DEB: It went very quickly. I'm not the fastest writer on the planet, but once I thought of the church singles taking a winter getaway to Hawaii, I knew exactly the story I wanted to tell.

STEPH - Have you ever been to Hawaii?

DEB: We went to Oahu and to the Big Island. I'd recommend the Big Island for sheer beauty against almost any other place on earth.

STEPH - Do you cast your characters? If so, who are the leads?

DEB: I never have. I prefer to visualize them as they take shape in my mind, and let my readers do the same as they read.

STEPH - How long have you been writing?

DEB: Non-seriously, since age 10. Seriously, since the late 80s. I first sold in 2002, so I guess I'm a 40 year overnight success.

STEPH: - Are you a plotter or a panster?

DEB: Totally, 110% pantser. I rarely plot anything out beforehand. I prefer to write "character-driven" fiction, and the characters don't always tell me what they're up to. The one time I tried to outline, the book bogged down and still isn't finished.

STEPH: - Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

DEB: I don't ... but family, if you're listening, Christmas IS coming!

STEPH: - What was the last novel you read?

DEB: I've been writing so much, I can't think of the last one I picked up and then finished! LOL. I'm currently reading Carla Capshaw's print book GLADIATOR and Richard Mabrey's MEDICAL ERROR. I doubt I'll be finishing those anytime soon!

STEPH: - Any Holiday traditions you'd like to share?

DEB: My tacky plastic candle always goes on display every Christmas. My grandmother had one, and it was very dear to me. I suppose this was because it was hers...my mom used to give her a hard time about it. So naturally when I got my first home, I found one as close to Grandma's as I could. It's still plastic, still tacky...but it's what we do.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Author Spotlight week - Excerpt from In All Things

March 17th, 1949

Meri crept into the bedroom after getting her baby boys down for the night. Eight months
old and the twins were finally sleeping a full six hours in a row. Jakob lay sprawled out on top of
the bed covers, listening to the broadcast of the Shamrock Hotel's grand opening. He'd marveled
over its architectural design during the final months of the building's construction, saying it was
a delicate balance of bulk and elegance, a modernistic French chateau. Whatever that meant?
At $42 per ticket, attending the event was beyond the realm of possibilities. She knew
that he ached to see inside, though. Maybe after the hubbub died down, they could dress up and
sneak into the lobby. Pretend to be guests as they strolled about.

Meri crawled onto the bed and snuggled close. "Anything interesting?"

"Oh yeah. This thing is huge. Did you know that's Dorothy Lamour?"

Meri listened closely to the full-bodied, charismatic voice emanating through the
airwaves as it introduced a host of celebrities -- Errol Flynn, Ginger Rogers, Robert Preston.

"Wow, sounds like some party they're having."

"A little while ago she announced there were fifty thousand people outside the hotel. That
can't be right. Do you think?"

Meri shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe."

Jakob rolled onto his back. Meri laid her head on his chest as he ran his hand through her
hair. Neither spoke as they listened to the increasingly rowdy festivities. It sounded like
champagne was flowing in abundance.

"You should be there," Jakob said.

Over a year of marriage and the birth of their boys, and Jakob still punished himself as
though he deprived her of something important. There was a strong possibility that her parents
were at the opening. It was being touted as the biggest social event in Houston's history, so her
mother wouldn't want to miss it. But Meri didn't care. All she wanted was Jakob. He fulfilled her.

"No. I should be here with you."

Miss Lamour broke out in song, and several not so talented voices joined in. Meri

"I meant that you should be a guest of honor, a celebrity -- invited to celebrate."

"Don't be silly."

He stopped playing with her hair and tipped her chin up toward him. "Let's move to Los

"I want your dreams to come true."
"What are you talking about?"
"You want to be an actress."

"Oh, Jakob. That doesn't matter anymore." She laid her head back onto his chest. "I'm a
wife and a mother. You've got your job and school. Besides, we wouldn't even know where to

He lay still for a minute, and then his fingers ran through her hair again. "What if I
figured something out?"

"Such as?"
"I don't know yet."

Meri giggled. She pushed herself up and kissed him on the lips. "I love you." Jakob's
deep blue eyes held her gaze. Wheels were definitely turning in there. "What are you thinking?"

"I promise you, Meri. Somehow, I'm gonna make it happen."

A buzz of drunken laughter crackled through the radio at their bedside, drowning out
Dorothy Lamour as she continued in song. Then a single word burst through the noisy clamor.

Meri covered her mouth. "Did he just say..."

The broadcast cut off and static buzzed from the radio's speaker.

She and Jakob looked at each other with widened eyes.

"I think so." A smile covered his face. He wrapped his arms around her, and rolled her
beneath him as they laughed. "I wonder how they'll write that up in the papers?"

"As a warning against live broadcast in the excess of champagne." Meri fought to catch
her breath. "I can't believe that happened."

Jakob hovered over her with a gentle smile and tender eyes. She reached up and brushed
his cheek with her fingers.

"Believe in me, Meri. Will you believe in me?"

It seemed so crazy. What did he plan to do? Knock on Louis B. Mayer's door. This is my
wife. She wants to be an actress. Yet, the conviction in his eyes overwhelmed all reason, and
from her lips she heard the words, "I do." And it was the truth.

Shawna K. Williams will be chatting at the Yahoo Connections Yahoo Group today from 8-1130 am. Pop on in and say "hi." to her!


Thursday, 18 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Shawna K. Williams shares her favorite Desert Breeze Authors

Fall, near Shawna's home, taken last year

Some of the well known authors I enjoy most are J.R. Tolkien, Tess Gerritsen, Nicholas Sparks, Tom Clancy, Francine Rivers, Beth Moore and Stephen Ambrose. I really hate that evidence of plagiarism, inaccuracies and exaggerations tarnished Ambrose's career. Band of Brothers is one of my absolute favorites! I know, this list is varied, but it reflects my reading interest, which is just as varied.

Something I've enjoyed so much about being published with Desert Breeze is the exposure to lesser known authors of IMMENSE talent. Because my reading interests are so varied I've sampled every genre offered by DBP and I've found that the authors here are fully capable of holding their own against the authors I mentioned above. Vijaya Schartz and Gail Delaney write fantastic science fiction. Jennifer Hartz, Esther Mitchell, and Nicole Zoltack all transported me into another world through their fantasy novels. I haven't had a lot of experience with the paranormal genre, but Stephanie Burkhart's book, the Hungarian, blew me away. I'll definitely be reading the next. DB has a great inspirational line with authors like, Michelle Sutton, Carie Lawson, Diane Craver, Michelle Levigne, K. Dawn Byrd, Regina Andrews and Deb Kinnard. I probably shouldn't list names because there have been so many great books by talented authors (Tami Dee and J. Mo) that I don't even know where to begin, and I can't list them all (Danielle Thorne and Anne Patrick)! Needless to say (Melanie Atkins) I feel honored and inspired to be published among (Tina Pinson) these many fine authors (Barri Bryan and Celia Yeary). J Here's a link so you can check them ALL out. http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-template/Authors/Page.bok

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Shawna K. Williams shares her favorite movies

This question is probably the hardest for me to answer. I can't really say that I have a favorite movie. I have a lot of movies I like – for different reasons – and like my reading preferences, the list is extremely varied. I can say off the bat though, one genre I can't watch is horror. I absolutely hate being scared! Hate it! I like suspense, but even those I have to watch parts of from the other room, peeking around the door. Or at least hiding under a blanket.

Probably the only scary movies I like are the Alien movies, and they're really science fiction/action/suspense, and yes, I hide, but I still enjoy them. Since I'm on scifi, I'll go ahead and add all the Star Wars movies to my list of favorites, even Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. I like all six.

This leads me to Galaxy Quest, which is a science fiction parody. I quote this movie more than any other. It's great! Totally clever, addictive and it gets better every time I watch it. "Never give up. Never Surrender." My second most quoted movie would be another clever parody, and that's Oh Brother Where Art Thou. When I get frustrated it's all I can do to keep from blurting, "Damn, we're in a tight spot." Then I follow it up with the Galaxy Quest quote. My third most quoted movie isn't quite as clever, but it's still a "classic" (to some) and that would be Wayne's World. "If you hurl and she bolts, it was never meant to be."

Where was I? Other favorites movies are The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, because...Whoa... it's Epic! (Shwing!) I also love Titantic because it puts me on that ship when it went down. Some of my favorite character-driven movies are Fried Green Tomatoes and The Green Mile. My favorite childhood movie is E.T.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Shawna K. Williams shares her passion for Inspirationals

I write Inspirationals because my faith is a tremendous part of me. It affects how I process every experience in life. It's a beautiful thing and I enjoy including it in my stories. I guess it's along the lines of write what you know, or as I've been saying in some recent interviews, 'write who you are'. That way it’s genuine. What I mostly want to do is just write life stories about regular people. Some of my characters are Christians, so their faith comes into play in how they see the world and the decisions they make. It's where they find comfort and strength. Just like me. So, that's why I write what I do. It's what I know and who I am.

I absolutely plan to write stories other than Inspirationals. I want to write science fiction someday. There will still be faith elements; I don't think I can separate that out completely. My brain is always pondering the 'meaning of it all'. But the stories will be broader in scope; more focused on action and plot, and less of a character journey -- which is what my inspirationals are. Likewise, faith elements within the story are likely to be less personal, broader and possibly allegory.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Shawna K. Williams

STEPH: I'd like to welcome Desert Breeze Author, Shawna K. Williams to the blog. Shawna, I don't know much about In All Things. Can you tell us a little about the story?

SHAWNA: In All Things is the sequel to No Other. The story picks up with Jakob and Meri ten years later. Jakob has put all of his effort into fulfilling his promise to Roger by making Meri's dreams come true. They've moved to Hollywood and Meri is a successful actress. But what you have to ask is this; was this really Meri's dream, or was it what he thought was her dream, and by achieving it was he really trying to prove himself?

Meri on the other hand has her own set of issues. She's tried to put the past behind her, but a part of her still craves her parents' approval – something most children want even when they come from an abusive home. She hopes that time and her success have brought a change of heart to her parents, but when she finds that it hasn't she sets out with determination to shove her success in their faces and shame them that way.

Both Meri and Jakob are faced with coming to terms over the fact that success has proved dissatisfying. Likewise, an unhealthy nature to their relationship has stifled their growth in Christ, and they have to overcome that, too.

Along with Jakob and Meri's story is the story of healing that takes place in Jakob's family. Though, some things get worse before they get better. This story is actually more literary in that sense than romance. It's very focused on the characters' personal journeys.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story?

SHAWNA: It was inspired from the same dream that inspired No Other. Then a lot of things evolved just from things I have experienced and observed of human nature. Like Meri and Jakob both wanting to be successful just to "show" someone. If they can't win their object's approval, then they'll ignite their jealousy, right?

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

SHAWNA: Off and on for almost nine years, with one of the 'offs' being two years long. I've always had a knack for it, but it wasn't until three years ago that I decided to really commit to learning and to make a serious effort at getting published.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

SHAWNA: A little bit of both. I have to have an idea of the overall theme. So I initially write a loose summary of the story. Before each scene I also like to have objectives in mind – meaning, what do I want to accomplish with this scene. How I'm going to do that though is complete panstering, and I always leave room for the unexpected. Sometimes entirely new levels of characterization are discovered this way.

STEPH: Are you doing NaNoWriMo? What are your thoughts on National Novel writing month?

SHAWNA: I would love to participate in NoNoWriMo, but I wish it wasn't in November! This year there was just no way, not with one book just releasing and another coming out in December. But I love the idea, and when I can set aside the time I'm actually a fairly quick writer, assuming the story if fermently cemented in my mind. I wrote over 30,000 words in Orphaned Hearts in four weeks, and that was polished. It's not a stretch to think I could do it in 50,000 in a month. I'd love to try. I'd just need to stock up on frozen meals and be sure the family is all set before I enter my cave.

STEPH: Cast the characters: Who is Meri? Jakob?

SHAWNA: Hmm... this has changed numerous times over the years. When this story first came to me the movie Pearl Harbor had not been out that long, and for some reason I could easily see Josh Harnett as Jakob. Charlize Theron was who I saw as Meri back then. However, as the years trickled on, both of these actors started to seem a little too old to fit Meri and Jakob in No Other anymore, because in that book they are 20 and 22. When I started rewriting No Other to get it ready for publication it was season 8 of American Idol. I'm from Arkansas, and our state had a contestant, Kris Allen, in the contest. He went on to win – something that made Arkansans very proud. There was a lot of publicity surrounding him in our state, and physically, except for his height, he fit the description of Jakob. But manner-wise, he really fit! I even had a friend in Florida, who was familiar with Jakob's character, email me to say so. To top it off, Kris Allen's wife, Katie, fit the description of Meri spot on. So all during the rewrite of No Other these two were who I saw as Meri and Jakob.

BUT, when it came time to rewrite In All Things I ran into the opposite problem. Jakob and Meri were older, now 31 and 33. Kris and Katie Allen seemed too young to picture as my characters. However, Josh Hartnett and Charlize Theron didn't. Sooo, I went back with my original cast. The story had caught up to their ages. Weird.

STEPH: What's your favorite place to go on vacation?

SHAWNA: I love a cabin in the mountains in winter, surrounded by woods. I think I'd pick that over almost anything everytime.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

SHAWNA: Yep! I have a Kindle. I love it! My daughter has a Nook. She loves it! Sometimes we swap, but she always likes her Nook more and I always like my Kindle more.

STEPH: What attracts you to writing early 20th Century?

SHAWNA: It's hard to say. Something about the era evokes warm-fuzzy feelings in me. There was less clutter, and I think an innocence pervaded that seems lost in many way. But even as I say that, I'm fully aware of the dichotomy of the statement. One of the major story elements in No Other is the internment of Jakob's family based solely on their heritage in WWII, and this was something that really happened to many Americans of German, Italian and Japanese decent. Orphaned Hearts is inspired by my granddad's experience growing up in an orphanage. The indifference, or outright cruelty toward orphans was something he endured. These are both horrible things, and not something to feel all warm and fuzzy about. It does seem though, that at people's core there was something more solid... connected. Maybe that's what pulled them through such trials as what I just mentioned. I'm not really sure I can give a concrete answer to this question Steph, other than to say that something pulls me there, over and over, and whispers in my ear.

STEPH: Fun question: Who is your favorite: Picassco, Monet, Renoir?

SHAWNA: Renoir and Monet. I like Renoir's paintings a little bit more, but these two guys were friends, and there is one painting Renoir did of Monet painting in the garden that I love because it shows their relationship. And he didn't take his work too seriously all the time. There is this beautiful painting of his called, "The Thought." I don't think he actually named it, but I could be wrong. The painting is impressionists style of this lovely young girl looking lost in thought, and Renoir was thoroughly amused at listening to the endless chatter of people speculating about what she was thinking of. Apparently he knew the girl, and according to him, "She never had a thought in her life."

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Author Introduction - Welcome Author JoAnn Carterl to the Desert Breeze Family

STEPH: JoAnn, welcome to Desert Breeze. Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up?

JOANN: Thank you for the warm welcome and for inviting me to join you today. I'm a native Jersey girl who grew up in the Pine Barrens, not far from Fort Dix. I worked as an LPN until our second son was born.

STEPH: Who were some of your favorite authors growing up?

JOANN: Janette Oke and Frank Peretti

STEPH: What genre do you write?

JOANN: I write mostly inspirational fiction—contemporary romance, romantic suspense, historical romance and general women's fiction. I also have one children's fiction, a few short stories, and some non-fiction articles.

STEPH; You have an upcoming release with Desert Breeze. Can you tell us when, the title, and let us know what it's about?

JOANN: Yes, I'm so excited about this Historical Fiction series. The first story is called, The Floating Palace. This will be released on my husband's birthday—July 15, 2011.

Here's the blurb~
ELLIE DUNKLING’S life long dream has been to work on one of Lake Champlain ’s steamboats, the Ticonderoga . There’s only one problem. Men, not women, are hired to work on steamboats. Ellie however is determined to change that. After all, it is 1923 and far from the dark-ages.

Captain PHILIP LAWHORN is a man’s man. When Champlain Transportation Inc. informs him that a woman has been hired to work on his ship as stewardess, he’s anything but pleased. First of all, he doesn’t appreciate the fact that someone’s been hired as part of his twenty-eight member crew without his knowledge. Secondly, how is he supposed to handle this company mandated sure to be disaster?

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

JOANN: Oh, I wish! Unfortunately, I'm still in the dark ages. I download books to my computer and read them from there. I'm still saving up my pennies though. Perhaps one day I'll be able to purchase one. J

STEPH: Do you have any other books that are available?

JOANN: Yes. Teacher's Plans, By the Book, Sweet Rest, Smuggler of the Heart, Daniella, and a few "free read" stories are available as well. (There's more information about this on my website.)

STEPH: . Can you tell us a little about the state you live in?

JOANN: Although I grew up in NJ and lived there most of my life, about nine years ago, our family moved to Vermont. We love the beauty of this place and are really enjoying our time here, ministering in a small town called Jericho.

So lets see, what is interesting about VT? It is the home and birthplace of our 30th president, Calvin Coolidge. We have lots of dairy farmers (Cabot Cheese) and great coffee (Green Mountain.) The Ethan Allen homestead is right here and this is where Snowflake Bently discovered in the late 1800's through photography that there are no two snowflakes alike. We have beautiful fat Maple trees that produce yummy syrup. And how could I almost forget to mention skiing? If you enjoy winter sports, this is a great place to be.

STEPH:. Just for fun: pick your favorite: Monet, Picasso, or Renoir?

JOANN: Hmm—I think I'll go with Picasso.

STEPH: . Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done it in the past?

JOANN: Funny you should ask this question. I was just thinking about NaNo WriMo. I'd love to try, but it always happens in November. The long Thanksgiving Break, when the boys are home, would set me too far behind schedule. So, instead I just plot along at my regular pace. Perhaps once they are all out of school, I'll give it a shot.

STEPH: . Where can we find you on the web?

JOANN: http://home.comcast.net/~jo.glenncarter/site
Thanks for having me here today!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Author Jillian Chantel talks about Veterans Day

Armistice Day now known as Veterans Day was first decreed by President Woodrow Wilson on November 11, 1919. It was to mark the anniversary of the armistice agreement between the countries involved in World War I.

The Armistice itself was signed in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918. This Armistice ended the hostilities on the Western Front of The Great War, or World War I. It was the precursor to the Treaty of Versailles which ended that war for good.

When Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day, it was with the intention of a short two minutes of no business being conducted at 11 am on November 11. Parades and public gatherings were also encouraged. Oh what a long way we have come from that! There are still parades but we also have the whole day off for other pursuits.
In 1920, Wilson proclaimed the Sunday nearest November 11 as Armistice Day Sunday. He wanted churches to hold services for international peace. One year later, on November 11, 1921, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was established at Arlington National Cemetery and dedicated. If you ever get a chance to see the changing of the guard, go. It is an amazing thing to watch. Very moving and respectful.

Armistice Day became Veteran’s Day in June 1954, when Eisenhower signed legislation to change the name to honor the veterans that had served in World War II and Korea as well as those World War I veterans.

One interesting little fact about this holiday is that when Congress passed the Federal Monday Holiday Law, Veteran’s Day was to be moved to the fourth Monday of October. Many of the states changed theirs initially but went back to November 11 and so the law was changed in 1978 to put this day of honor back to November 11.

I personally like the symmetry of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. How awesome is it that our forebears signed a cease fire/armistice at such a date and time? For sure, this date was easy to remember in high school history class.
Speaking of history class, I love the history of the early 20th Century. So many changes happened during the twentieth Century, it boggles the mind. A person born in 1900 saw many dramatic changes from then to the end of the century. Desert Breeze Publishing is the go to publisher for this time period. I recommend a search of the website for some awesome stories set in the 20th Century. My own book, "Redemption for the Devil" will be available next summer and it’s set in 1920.

Many of the Desert Breeze writers love the 1900s for inspiration as much as I do and I hope you’ll check them out.
Thanks for letting me bring you a history lesson today and I hope you enjoyed your holiday in memory of the real life heroes.

Jillian Chantal

Friday, 12 November 2010

Author Spotlight week - Excerpt from Behind the Scenes

Brenda stayed after rehearsal that night to get Tony's opinion on her latest short story. She and Max hung up costumes while he read. Max knew better than to watch him and try to predict his opinion from his face. Brenda hadn't learned that lesson yet, and she kept running into Max because she didn't watch where she went.

To make matters worse, every time they ran into each other, Brenda contorted her face, obviously trying to communicate something without speaking. Finally, Max caught her by the arm and led her around the shelving to give them a little privacy.

"What?" she whispered.

"He loves you." Brenda smirked and crossed her arms and leaned back against the shelving full of glassware.

"What?" Max barely remembered to keep her voice down, instead of shrieking it.

"You said that if Tony really loved you, he would jump on the next plane and come back from California. And he did that, didn't he?"

"He drove. No plane."

"Details, details." She slid an arm around Max's shoulders, drawing her closer. "So? How was it?"

"How was what?" She felt a little breathless, and about two steps behind. Nothing else. She couldn't seem to get her brain to keep up with Brenda. Maybe that was a good thing?

"The kiss." Brenda groaned and shook her twice. "I figure when a guy confesses his all-consuming passion, that demands a great kiss. So, was it great?"

"He didn't confess anything. And the way he smelled after driving all that way without stopping... no way was I going to offer." Max shivered, remembering how close she had come to kissing Tony. If her brothers and Rose hadn't been there, she suspected even the aroma of dirty clothes and hair wouldn't have stopped her.

"He didn't..." She scowled. "Well, did you confess to him?"

"Are you nuts?"

"No, but I think both of you are hopeless." Brenda sniffed, turned sharply on her heel, and stalked back to where Tony read and waited.


Don't forget to visit Michelle at the Yahoo Connections Group today from 8-11:30 am PST for a chat with some great giveaways.


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Michelle Levigne shares her favorite author

Aarrgghh! I hate this question. It's like asking a writer what her favorite book is, or a parent which one is her favorite child!

Okay, it'd have to be C.S. Lewis -- he wrote serious stuff, but he also wrote for kids and adults. He wrote fantasy and SF and poetry and some experimental stuff.

But it was his apologetics and his essays on writing that influenced me even more than his fiction. He stated in an essay once that he thought science fiction (I think he referred to it as "scientifiction" because this was still in SF's infancy) would be a great tool for the Kingdom of God. He in essence issued a challenge for other writers, future writers -- especially those who loved SF and fantasy -- to use fiction to serve the Kingdom.

And I essentially took up that challenge. I imagine meeting up with him in Heaven someday and asking if he thought maybe my stories measured up to his challenge.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Michelle Levigne shares her favorite TV Series

Favorite TV series .... current or old?

Old series .... M*A*S*H -- after BJ and Col. Potter joined the cast. The writers explored a lot of issues, dealt with real questions of ethics and responsibility. Before those 2 characters joined, most of the episodes were ... stupid, focused on sex and drinking and flouting authority whenever possible. After ... the characters grew and changed. I liked how Margaret changed, her relationships, her friendships with the nurses. I liked how Hawkeye learned to play nice, to get off his high horse and listen and let Col. Potter teach him about what really matters. All the characters were good people with rough edges, thrown together in a horrid situation, and trying to do some good. I can still remember how life effectively STOPPED short on campus, when that last episode of M*A*S*H aired. Every single TV in every single dorm was watching it. (Okay, almost every TV was tuned to Luke and Laura's wedding, too, but honestly ....) That says something about the pervasiveness of a show that has something to say to everyone.

I was always irritated that I never got a chance to propose a script to the producers. I was a drama student, still learning screenwriting, but I had ideas!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Michelle Levigne shares her passion for Inspirationals

I think part of the fun of writing inspirationals, the attraction is the freedom to write openly what I believe, and to explore issues that question or challenge that belief.

Inspirational fiction allows me to talk freely, to preach without words -- to borrow from St. Francis. It allows me to stage a drama to show my faith in action, and explore the questions and problems. Because it's staged as fiction, there's a distancing, a safety zone, so to speak, and people are more likely to read stories than to read essays or listen to lectures. People who don't share my moral and spiritual beliefs are still likely to read my stories because they're good stories ... and some of what I believe might infiltrate, plant seeds, touch their subconsious.

Subversive, huh?
Like the old Mylon LeFevre album -- Sheep in Wolves' Clothing.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Michelle Levigne

STEPH: I don't know much about Behind The Scenes. Can you tell us a little about the story?

MICHELLE: BEHIND deals with the Randolph family "crisis" that is mentioned in several other Tabor Heights books -- Joel and Emily, the parents, were hit by a drunk driver in a construction truck, and the university and church community rallied around them to help out, including staging a Shakespearean production at their theater, Homespun.

Readers also met Joel and Emily in the short story, "Homespun," which shows how they met and fell in love during summer stock.

Max, 4 years old in the short story, is now 25/26, and making a name for herself in writing novels and screenplays and stage plays. She is left in charge of the theater and her half-brothers while her parents are in the hospital. Her best friend and writing partner, Tony Martin, is in CA as a writer-in-residence when the book opens. He hurries home to support Max, and is stumped how to share with her the insight he gained while he was away: He's in love with her. He knows, from writing romance with her, that Max won't appreciate him breaking the news at the wrong time -- but what IS the right time?

Things get complicated when Joel's sister, Rose, shows up, and essentially moves in with him. And Max has a production of "Taming of the Shrew" to stage. And a book that is going to miss its deadline. And a temperamental actor to deal with. And the big problem of a film fellowship that she won -- that will take her to California, right into the path of her birth father, who doesn't even know Max exists. Thanks to Max placing in the fellowship, using her mother's maiden name as her pen name, and the sudden media attention from the accident, Max's natural father knows she exists now. And that, along with someone trying to steal her writing identity, might destroy her career before it can get started.

How's Tony going to convince Max that they belong together, as more than writing partners, when she has so many distractions?

STEPH: What was in the inspiration for the story?

MICHELLE: I honestly can't remember the exact germ of the idea, but it originally started as a series of half-hour scripts for a TV series I proposed to the Family Channel, back when CBN owned it. And the original story began after Joel was killed in that traffic accident, leaving Max and her two brothers running the theater. In the original story, Emily had been dead several years. And Rose showed up for Joel's funeral, having been kicked out of the house by their tyranical father. So she moves in with Max and her brothers because she has nowhere else to go.

So you can see, I changed a LOT of things when I turned it into a book!

As for the TV series ... the production company chose "Big Brother Jake" instead of my series. Does anybody remember "Big Brother Jake"? Nope! Their loss....

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

MICHELLE: Seriously, aiming toward publication ... my sophomore year of high school. I'd been scribbling story ideas, sometimes tending toward fan fiction, since junior high. I remember a Star Trek-type story I tried to write. I had one of those 3-prong folders, that you put reports in. I filled it with notebook paper, and wrote the opening couple of scenes -- stranding the captain's daughter on an alien planet. Then I couldn't figure out what came next, so I flipped to about halfway through the stack of papers -- maybe 50 pages, and started writing the scenes where the ship comes back to the planet. I figured I'd fill in the middle later. Yeah, right!

STEPH: How do you create your characters? Do you cast them? If so, who are the leads?

MICHELLE: Sometimes I cast characters. For BEHIND, I cast Jim Burnes (Joe Dawson, from the Highlander TV show) as Joel Randolph. And Ricardo Montalban was Carlo Vincente, Max's natural father, right from the TV series writing days. Emily was kind of nebulous, as were Joe and Jeremy. I was Max, of course. I always make myself a character in lots of my books -- at least, at the beginning. Then as it grows and solidifies, I take off the mask, so to speak, and step back and let the characters do what they want.

STEPH: How did the story find a home with Desert Breeze?

MICHELLE: I had my Mafia cousin, Guido, make Gail an offer she couldn't refuse.

Actually, I just pitched the first story, "The Second Time Around," and wrote on the cover page, "A Tabor Heights, Ohio Novel." Gail asked if I had any other Tabor Heights books, and if so, what were they about .... and from there it was history. It's kind of intimidating, the responsibility of trying to make sure each subsequent book is just as good as the one before.

STEPH: What's your favorite place to go to vacation?

MICHELLE: Y'know, I don't really go on vacations. Because that kind of means doing things other than writing, and I'm kind of addicted to this thing, y'know? When I was working, and I had paid vacations, I usually used my vacation time to go to conferences. I'd do the sightseeing thing sometimes, but there's always this guilty feeling of "Why aren't you writing?" that kind of ruins any goofing off time.

That's awful, isn't it?

I like the Lake Erie islands. Just for a day. And there was this canoeing trip we took to Canada when I was in high school -- just the quiet and cleanness and scenery. And I liked the inland passage in Florida - we traveled it by water taxi/ferry.

If I went away for a week, you know I'd have my computer open and writing at least four hours every day, and what kind of vacation is that?

STEPH: Fun question: If you were a NASCAR driver, who would you want to sponsor your car?

MICHELLE: Hmmmm, they usually have a few sponsors, don't they?
How about .... TJ Maxx, Target, Fictionwise/B&N, and Hershey's!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Author Introduction - Welcome Author Jillian Chantal to the Desert Breeze Family

STEPH: Jillian, welcome to Desert Breeze. Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up?

JILLIAN: I spent my elementary school days in Virginia about thirty miles outside of Washington, D.C. where my father was in Federal Civil Service. We moved to Pensacola, Florida when I was in the sixth grade when his job relocated him. I loved living in Virginia where there was a distinct change of seasons. The move to Pensacola was kind of a shock- the two things I remember having the most impact on me were (1) the friendliness of the people. People would greet me on the street and say hello (or hey, in the vernacular) even if they didn’t know me. (2) The shocking lack of clothing. I came from a place where we wore knee socks, mid calf dresses and real shoes. I moved to a place where everyone had bare legs, flip flops and mini skirts. And most shocking of all, bare midriffs. I’m happy to say it took me less than a week to acclimate and, to this day, I abhor panty hose.

STEPH: Who were some of your favorite authors growing up?

JILLIAN: I adored all of the British writers. Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Noel Streatfeild.

STEPH: What genre do you write?

JILLIAN: I call it romantic adventure with an international flair. I think traditionally, it would be romantic suspense. I usually stay in the contemporary arena but my Desert Breeze Publishing upcoming release is a historical set in 1920.

STEPH: You have an upcoming release with Desert Breeze. Can you tell us when, the title, and let us know what it's about?

JILLIAN: July 2011 is the release date. It’s called Redemption for the Devil. It’s a 1920 historical. The hero is a member of the Irish Republican Army on a mission against the English. The heroine is an Irish lass that signs on to work on the RMS Mauretania to earn her way to America and a new life. Most of the adventure takes place at sea between Southampton and New York Harbor but there is an element of Chicago gangsters and Arctic exploration as well.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

JILLIAN: Yes, I have the Sony.

STEPH: Do you have any other books that are available

JILLIAN: I have a release in January 2011 called Solo Honeymoon. I also have a few short stories published under both this name and my real name. I use this pseudonym for my romance stories and my real name for the general fiction.

STEPH: Can you tell us a little about the state you live in?

JILLIAN: Florida is unique. It’s a huge state and from where I live, I can drive to North Carolina faster than I can get to Miami. I actually live eight miles from the Alabama line going toward Mobile. My part of the state is green and has lots of trees. The southern part is much more tropical. My hometown is a casual, fun, beach town. I love living here.

STEPH: Just for fun: pick your favorite: Monet, Picasso, or Renoir?

JILLIAN: Renoir- I like the fact that he uses people in his works. It is very hard to paint people that look realistic and I like realism.

STEPH: Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done it in the past?

JILLIAN: Last year was my first time doing NaNoWriMo and I had a ball with it. I got the 50,000 words written in 21 days. I later edited the story to 75,000 words and I’m proud to say it’s the story that Desert Breeze Publishing is releasing in July 2011. So, I’m definitely in again. This year, I’m writing a story that’s tentatively called Obsession. Who knows, it could be my next release with Desert Breeze!

STEPH: Where can we find you on the web?

JILLIAN: I have my own blog/website at http://jillianchantal.wordpress.com/ and I’m also part of a group blog called the Southern Sizzlers where I blog every Saturday about the bad boy of the week, it’s called Badurday http://southernsizzleromance.wordpress.com/ You can email me at JillianChantal@gmail.com

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Author Introduction - Welcome Author Theresa Stillwagon to the Desert Breeze Family

STEPH: I'd like to welcome author Theresa Stillwagon to the blog. Her Desert Breeze Release is Saving Pale Moon and will be released 15 April 2011.

Theresa, welcome to Desert Breeze. Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up?

THERESA: I was borned and raised in a small town in Ohio called Conneaut. I lived there most of my life until I went into the Air Force in the late '70s. The older I got the colder it seemed so my husband and I decided to buy an RV in 2006 and start traveling. Right now we're living in Savannah, Georgia. This new lifestyle is both a blessing and a curse, but I'd never change it for the world.

STEPH: Who were some of your favorite authors growing up?

THERESA: I really can't remember anyone specific. I did read a lot though.

STEPH: What genre do you write?

THERESA: I write contemporary romance,

STEPH: You have an upcoming release with Desert Breeze. Can you tell us when, the title, and let us know what it's about?

THERESA: I have a western contemporary coming out April 15, 2011 called Saving Pale Moon. Basically it's about a woman unsatisfied with her life who decides to meet her birth mother. In the process, she also meets the love of her life. He doesn't really trust her. He doesn't understand why she showed up at the ranch twenty years after finding out about her birth mother. Pale Moon is a stallion that she evidently gets to trust her. Watching her with the horse, the hero realizes he can trust her to.
I loved writing this book.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

THERESA: No, but I want one. The only thing I've wanted for Christmas for the last two or three years is an ebook reader. Maybe this year.

STEPH: Do you have any other books that are available?

THERESA: Yes, I have three other romances out now. I write for two other epubs.

STEPH: Can you tell us a little about the state you live in?

THERESA: I live in Georgia now. I love it here even though it was a culture shock when we first moved from Ohio. After living in the north for so long, it seemed like a completely different country to me. I don't notice that difference now. I love the history of the area around here. Savannah is a beautiful city. My husband and I haven't seen many sites around yet but we plan on traveling around the state in the next year or two.

STEPH: Just for fun: pick your favorite: Monet, Picasso, or Renoir?

THERESA: It's between Monet and Renoir I'm thinking. Isn't Picasso the guy who paints weird symbolic stuff? If I'm looking at a picture of a tree, I need to see a tree.

STEPH: Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done it in the past?

THERESA: No, not this year. I did do it a few years ago. I actually enjoyed it. Nothing like putting yourself under pressure to get some work done. The book may be far from perfect but at least you can put 'the end' on it.

STEPH: Where can we find you on the web?


My website --

My blog --

Friday, 5 November 2010

Author Spotlight week -Excerpt from Black Jaguar

Kahuel of Yalta, nicknamed Black Jaguar like his emerald-eyed feline, volunteered to sail away on his brother's Galleon go get away from his roguish past, and prove his worth as a blood prince. When a typhoon hits, and he realizes the powerful Mutant who commandeered the expedition has ulterior motives, his world is turned upside down.

Talina of the Chosen has never seen a foreigner, until destiny brings to her shores a group of baffling strangers who cannot read minds… among them a prince, and the Lost Daughter of the prophecy. She knows her fate is about to change, but the Star People protecting her clan view the outsiders as a threat to their crucial experiment.

Can Black Jaguar, with his few warriors and felines, simple weapons and Human ingenuity, save Talina and her people from a horrible fate? Against impossible odds, can he prevail upon a highly advanced enemy?


When the tall, dark man emerged from the thick vegetation, so close, Talina thought her heart would stop. He paused and stared at her with deep emerald eyes.

Sitting on her favorite stump, Talina stiffened and averted her gaze to the waterfall beyond him. "I called you here, Black Jaguar."

"You speak our language?" His eyes rounded in surprise. He looked pleased. A light touch on his mind told her he was pleased to see her... and more. "How do you know my name?"

"That's what your people call you, isn't it?" She didn't dare meet his striking green gaze.

"Indeed." He strode closer, the scabbard on his hip clicking against high leather boots. He wore short blades on his belt as well... forbidden blades. Up close, he smelled of sea spray.

Talina jumped off her stump and took a step back, keeping the stump safely between them. "I saw your people bring you the boar they killed."

Black Jaguar grinned, revealing strong white teeth. "It's a great way to start the day, knowing that we won't starve."

"Killing land animals for food is cruel and cowardly." Talina detected no shame in his mind. He was proud of what he was, and that scared her. "They have no defense against your metal blades."

"Believe me, the boar had a fighting chance." Black Jaguar chuckled. "Have you seen his tusks?"

Talina shuddered. How could anyone be so mean? "You should be ashamed of yourselves."

"We have to eat, and meat is best for a warrior's strength." He straightened his spine, exulting pride. "We Zerkers are warriors."

"Warriors?" Talina understood the word, but the implications were too odious to comprehend.

"It's easier to fight on a full stomach." Black Jaguar exuded a lusty happiness.

"Fight? Fight what? Fight whom?" All Talina believed to be good in this world would be trampled by a people who glorified fighting.

Black Jaguar froze and frowned at her. "Why are you looking at me as if I'd killed your best friend?"

"That boar was a friend." Talina choked on the words. "All the animals in this jungle are my friends." Anger clouded her mind. "Your people are truly evil, like my brother said, like the Star People said."

"The Star People?" His eyes narrowed as if he struggled to understand. But of course, he didn't. He couldn't read her mind.

Talina steeled herself. "I didn't want to believe them, but now I see why they want you and your people dead. You do not deserve to live."

Black Jaguar's dark face hardened and his jaw clenched. "Only the Great Engineer decides who lives and who dies."

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Author Spotlight week -Vijaya Schartz shares her favorite authors

Author Victor Hugo

When I came to America (I was born and raised in France) I discovered the fantasy section of the bookstore and my greatest fear was that I wouldn’t buy enough books to last me the entire week. From Terrence Brook, Anne McCafrey’s dragons, and historical fantasy sagas, like The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. But when it came to pure science-fiction literature, I loved the stories, like the Dune series by Frank Herbert, but some other sci-fi was a little too out there and unbelievable, and I missed the romance. And in literary Science fiction, the ending is often dark, not always satisfying, or it’s an open ending. I hate that.
From my childhood, I still love the French classics, Antoine de Saint Exupery (The Little Prince is his best known work in America but he wrote incredibly beautiful novels) Victor Hugo is a god in my eyes, the nineteenth century equivalent of Hemingway, and I love Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers). All have a special place in my heart.

In romance, I love Diana Gabaldon (although she doesn’t consider herself a romance author), but I read across the line and one of my favorite authors is Richard Bach (his airplane stories remind me of the French author St.Exupery).
Maybe because I am French, I bring something foreign to my stories, and that’s why I fit so well in sci-fi.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week -Vijaya Schartz shares her favorite movie

When it comes to sci-fi, I would have to say there are more relevant TV shows than movies. If you do not count horror movies (like the Alien series) true sci-fi movies are rare. There was THE MATRIX series, of course, a little dark but very interesting intellectually, like most good sci-fi movies. There was the blue flying creatures of Avatar. I loved that one, but mostly for the special effects. The last sci-fi movie I saw in a theater was with Leonardo Di Caprio, a tangled mess of dreams within dreams. I liked it, but found it a little too twisted. My husband didn’t get it at all.

But my favorite kind of sci-fi movies are space operas, like Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate. These are the movies I really enjoy without having to twist my brain cells into knots. After all, I go to the movies to relax and see the good guys win. But that’s just me. I’m a sucker for popular fiction. And that’s another reason why I write romantic sci-fi. I’m definitely partial to good endings, and I hate it when characters you’ve learned to love don’t get the happiness they deserve.

TV, though is where I find my regular sci-fi fixes. From Battlestar Galactica to Caprica, from Stargate SG1 to Stargate Atlantis and now Stargate Universe, even daily reruns of Star Trek the next generation, I have to have at least one hour of sci-fi to enjoy before I can go to bed. In the summer, I also watch Eureka, whimsical and inventive. To think of it, no wonder I write sci-fi. All these shows are running in my head while I sleep. LOL

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week -Vijaya Schartz shares her passion for Science Fiction

I've been a sci-fi fan since childhood. I was reading it from the school library, hiding behind my bed, driving my mother crazy. Of course, I was also reading detective stories, and adventure stories. But I watched all the sci-fi movies and TV shows. It was like a drug. I couldn't wait until I could go on a spaceship myself and explore the universe. Turns out I was born a little too early for that. Do you know that if you fly high enough in a plane, you can see the curvature of the Earth? Well, I’ve seen it. But I’m also watching the progress of Virgin Space Flights (they have regular update documentaries on the Science Channel) and I hope it will be possible for anyone to travel in space in the next few decades. It’s definitely on my bucket list.

So, naturally, when it came to my own writing, it made sense that I would write sci-fi. At first, it was straight sci-fi and weird fantasy, then my stories took a more romantic turn. Why not have the best of both worlds. All women like romance (whether they admit it or not). So now I write sci-fi romance. it's still a fully developed science-fiction plot, with a love story throughout. But even without the romance element, the story would stand on its own. That's what makes what I write sci-fi romance, and not futuristic romance, where the future is only a backdrop for a sizzling love story, with not much of a realistic plot.

I like to sprinkle a lot of action and adventures in my books, and dangers, and difficult situations. I love to get my characters in jeopardy, then figure out a way of getting them out of there (or leaving them stuck together long enough, so they can learn to appreciate each other). And what better place for that than being prisoner on a spaceship? Of course, that’s what happens in Black Jaguar.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Vijaya Schartz

STEPH: I'd like to welcome author Vijaya Schartz to the Spotlight this week. Vijaya has an awesome series, the Chronicles of Kassouk which I enjoyed very much. I hope you get a chance to check it out.

Black Jaguar is your latest release in the Chronicles of Kassouk. Can you tell us a little about the story?

VIJAYA: This particular story is one of exploration. At this point in the series, the Human population has grown, and for the first time crosses the ocean on a Galleon. They do not expect people, even less mind-readers, and the hero soon realizes that there is more at stake than a culture clash. As usual in my books, there is plenty of adventure, and some cool but sinister aliens with an important agenda, who are going to make life extremely difficult for my hero and heroine. But this is also a romance, so there is a developing relationship throughout the book, and all the expected romantic rewards... but you'll be wondering until the end.

STEPH: What was in the inspiration for the story?

VIJAYA: I definitely had in mind the plight of the conquistadors, isolated, away from home, and the plight of the indigenous tribes coming in contact with a technically more advanced people. I do not take sides, history is what it is. But since it's science-fiction, why not imagine a better world, where people try to get along despite enormous obstacles.

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

VIJAYA: I've been writing since childhood, but for publication only since the mid nineties. My first paperback came out in 2000 and I had many books published since. After a dozen, I stopped counting. Many of my older titles are now out of print, but I intend to bring them back to light in eBook very soon.

STEPH: How do you create your characters? Do you cast them? If so, who are the leads?

VIJAYA: Sometimes a novel is the heroine's story, and sometimes it's the hero's. In this case, Kahuel, aka Black Jaguar, is the hero. He starts as a young, inexperienced, roguish prince, thrown in a position of responsibility by extraordinary circumstances, but he learns and grows in wisdom and tolerance. By the very end of the book he is completely transformed. The heroine is already wise, but she has problems of her own, the most important being cultural. She is an animal lover, a vegetarian, and he is a hunter and a meat eater. But when it comes to bonding rituals and mating rules, Kahuel is up for a big surprise...

STEPH: What attracts you to writing science fiction/futuristic?

VIJAYA: Sci-fi is the last frontier of fiction. Anything is possible, there is no limit to the imagination. There are no boundaries or rules, other than those you impose yourself on the world you create. Besides, I've always been for progress, technological advances. My husband says I must come from the future. I was inventing epads with GPS, blue tooth, and instant picture transmission in my books years before the technology came out. I think the ipad stole my idea - just kidding :-) Although Sci-Fi writers do influence technology. Where do you think they got the idea of a flip phone? If you watched the first Startrek series, you know where.

STEPH: How did the story find a home with Desert Breeze?

VIJAYA: Actually, Desert Breeze contracted this title way before the book was written, as it's parts of a series. This is Book Three, and two more books will follow. I'm actively writing book Four, Blue Lioness, scheduled for release in 2011, and book five is scheduled for 2012.

STEPH: Do you have any hobbies you'd like to share with us?

VIJAYA: When does a writer find time for hobbies? I don't know. But there are a few things I love to do, although I don't have much time anymore. I love martial arts (no wonder most of my heroines are butt-kicking warriors). I sometimes jump out of perfectly good planes (and I am terrified of heights). I have an eye for color, and I used to paint, but not for a long time. Writing is taking up all my free time (event my sleep when I dream).

STEPH: What's your favorite place to visit in Arizona? A festival? A town?

VIJAYA: Arizona is wonderful. I love the many national parks, with the Anasazi ruins in particular (which inspired some of my past stories), also love the Grand Canyon (I did some rough water rafting on the Colorado river), and the red rocks of Sedona full of ancient myths and legends.

STEPH: Fun question: Who is your favorite cat? A Tiger, Leopard, or Jaguar?

VIJAYA: Like in my books, when readers ask me who is my favorite hero, it's always the one I am writing at the time. So, although I loved to write about Rascal the leopard, and Diablo the black jaguar, I would have to say that my favorite feline at this particular time is a silver blue lioness named Hellion.

Thank you Steph, for your insightful questions.

STEPH: It was great to have you here today, Vijaya. You can find her on the web at:

Vijaya Schartz
Award-winning Sci-Fi, Guns, Swords, Romance with a kick

Vijaya's paperbacks, kindle, and audiobooks at Amazon.com:

Vijaya's eBooks at ARe:

STEPH: PS - Did I mention, Vijaya's first book in the series, "White Tiger," won the Arianna Award from EPIC for best cover? Kudos to Vijaya for writing a kick-ass story and to the cover artist, Jenifer Ranieri for bringing Vijaya's vision to life!