Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Challenge: 2011 Reading Challenge from Goodreads

Challenges


2011 Reading Challenge



2011 Reading Challenge

Heidi has


completed her goal of reading 25 books in 2011!


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This was a good reading year!! I set the goal of 25 books back in January not knowing if I could make it, and I surprised myself with 30.

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Why is less than one book a week such a big deal? Because after grad school, I had a difficult time balancing reading and writing...and being overly critical. Every book I picked up would be like an assignment to me, rather than a pleasure. I used to go into critiquer and editor mode immediately upon starting a book, and quite honestly, it never allowed me to see the story for all of the criticisms I had.

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But this year was a break-through for me. I let head-hopping slide--for the most part. I skipped over grammatical errors and forgave copy editors. I smiled at what I considered silly language and kept my focus on the plot and characters. I reminded myself that, even if I would have chosen to have a plot point play out in a certain way, the author had his or her reasons for doing it this way. And, I was very patient.

Goodreads Collage 2011_4, Good reads Collage 2011_4

In the end, I was rewarded with some real gems and a renewed love of reading that I haven't felt since I was in my teens. Some of that has to do with the convenience of my Kindle. But, mostly, it's because I learned to relax and allow myself to be absorbed completely into new worlds and live vicariously through some awesome characters.

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My reading interests are diverse with a leaning toward speculative fiction--that's how it's always been for me, from the days of those G. I. Joe Choose Your Own Adventure books. (And, yes, I included my own book in this list because I read it no less than a dozen times during revisions. It counts!!)

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What have you read this year? Share it in comments!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Cary Caffrey

HEIDI'S PICK SIX


Cary Caffrey


1. Which of your characters is your favourite?
Ooh...! You can't ask that! Isn't that like asking which of your children is your favourite? Each of them are so dear to me. But if I have to pick...

Sigrid is the obvious choice. She's the main character in The Girls from Alcyone, but that's not why I picked her. When I first started writing TGfA, Sigrid was a secondary character, but from the moment I put her on the page I started asking all these crazy questions. I realized I wanted to know all about her and how she became the hero that she clearly was. I instantly tossed everything out (I'd already written about 20k), and started writing Sigrid's origin story. It was only supposed to be a short story; something I could use as the prologue to the existing novel. But even that idea got scrapped. The 'short' story was suddenly 25k, and I realized that this was the book.

So, I'll definitely pick Sigrid Novak as my favourite.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
I've always played all kinds of instruments (most, very poorly). These days, you can always hear me clattering away in the basement, usually on my drums. Thank goodness they're electronic and don't disturb the neighbours. Drums are very therapeutic; especially when the writing isn't going so well.


5. Who are you reading right now?
You! I'm reading Ambasadora, and loving it. Your book has been a real treat.

I'm actually quite the cynic. I hate almost everything (gah - it's true), so encountering your book is both a treat and a relief. Most books I read end up leaving me really quite angry and frustrated - I'll shout at the books as if author's in the room with me. My wife is the same way. We're a hilarious duo when it comes to critiquing stuff. When we don't like something, we despise it quite passionately. But when we find something we like, we embrace it whole-heartedly, and we'll sound the horn from the ramparts.

So, I'm happy to say, I'm really enjoying your book, and I'm looking forward to passing it along to my wife. I can't wait to see the HBO mini-series. Who's playing Sara?


6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
There's a scene in TGfA that involved some pretty serious bullying. (I have to be careful; I don't want to give any spoilers away, here). I had to ask myself many times, "Can I do this to her? Is this too far? Too much? Can I really show this?" I had to talk to my wife about it a lot, along with my sister and a lot of my friends.

It was an odd experience; I felt kind of sick writing it. It was based on something that happened to me when I was young, and played on my own adolescent fears and anxieties. I learned that it's one thing to write a violent action scene, but it's an entirely different matter to show real violence and cruelty on a personal level.

I'm very happy with the results, but I definitely prefer writing the fun stuff. I'm much happier writing scenes where the girls enjoy a good pot of tea.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I used to do very detailed outlines, but I find that too restrictive now. These days, I'll have a very loose outline with some rough ideas of certain way-points I need to hit. I definitely let the characters take me along for the ride. I love it when they do things on their own that completely surprise me.

I write a lot more this way too. But I also end up throwing out tons. My 'deleted scenes' folders are longer than the finished novel - doh. I tend to be very critical in going back over everything. I'm constantly cutting and rewriting, but I find writing this way really helps me discover the critical plot elements. I've always been a harsh task master when it comes to plot and narrative structure. I'm always asking, "does this scene really need to be here? Yes? Really? Okay, prove it!"


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Totally! The one I'm really into is Claymore. It's a Japanese Anime about a group of women demon hunters that are, themselves, infected with demon blood. It's the demon blood that gives the women their strength to fight evil. But the girls are doomed, for eventually, the demon blood will take over their bodies and their minds, and they in turn will need to be hunted and killed. Gah! It's brilliant.




Cary Caffrey grew up reading vintage science fiction from the 60’s and 70’s, loving the works of Harry Harrison and Joe Haldeman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Andre Norton and, of course, Douglas Adams. He still thinks The Forever War may very well be the best Science Fiction novel ever written. "If Ridley Scott ever gets off his can and makes this movie, we're sure to be in for a real treat (favourite director, meet favourite writer. Favourite writer meet... Well, you get the idea. Wild)."

His novel The Girls from Alcyone is out now.


Find Cary online at these links:
WEBSITE - http://www.carycaffrey.com


- http://www.amazon.com/Cary-Caffrey/e/B006GP52DS



- http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cary-Caffrey/114213192009103



- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5354569.Cary_Caffrey



- http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/carycaffrey



- http://www.twitter.com/CaryCaffrey

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Jennifer Allis Provost

HEIDI'S PICK SIX


Jennifer Allis Provost


1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
In Heir to the Sun, my favorite character is Caol’nir. He’s young, impetuous, short-tempered, and lazy. He hates his role as a temple guard; in fact, the only reason he remains in the position is because his father is the Prelate. Then Caol’nir meets a priestess from the east, Alluria, and realizes that if he wants to be near her, he must leave his childish behavior behind. When it is made apparent that priestesses are in danger he takes matters into his own hands, and is instrumental in saving Parthalan.


2. Tell me about your travels.
I’ve been up and down the East Coast, as well as to California and Las Vegas. (No, I didn’t win big) I’ve also been to Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, The Czech Republic (back when it was Czechoslovakia), Lichtenstein, and the Virgin Islands. The places I’d most like to return to are Prague and Ireland, the former because it’s such a rich destination, the latter because we weren’t there for very long and there’s so much more to see! But then, the good destinations are like that.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Oh, coffee. Most definitely coffee.


4. What else can you do besides write?
I sporadically make and sell jewelry. I own a violin (it’s purple!) but when I play it sounds like I’m torturing cats. I dabble in painting and graphic arts, yet I can’t manage to repaint my bathroom.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Everywhere! My current WIP, tentatively titled Copper Girl, was inspired by a twisted pine tree in my former employer’s parking lot. I wondered if it could be a door to the Otherworld…


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
My characters have a great deal of free will. I start with a basic plot sketch, then I plunge in and start writing. I always end up with many cut scenes, but I feel that just contributes to backstory.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?





Jennifer Allis Provost is a native New Englander who lives in a sprawling colonial along with her beautiful and precocious twins, a dog, two cats, a parrot, and a wonderful husband who never forgets to buy ice cream. As a child, she read anything and everything she could get her hands on, including a set of encyclopedias, but fantasy was always her favorite. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior.

Her novel Heir to the Sun is available in paperback.



WEBSITE - http://jenniferallisprovost.com/Home_Page.html


- http://www.facebook.com/jennallis



- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2975887.Jennifer_Allis_Provost



- http://twitter.com/parthalan

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Eric B. Thomasma

HEIDI'S PICK SIX


Eric B. Thomasma


1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee. Black. Unsweetened. Decaf.


4. What else can you do besides write?
I’m pretty good with computers. I have a half-dozen active computers running in my home, and I set up and maintain the computer network at my church. I do some computer programming, although I haven’t been able to keep up with the ever changing (and costly) development software, so it’s mostly just applications to help me with my own needs. My most recent project was to help me track and prepare tweets in support of other writers on Twitter. There are now over 1100 writers that I give introduction and promotional tweets for, and more are added every day. I can only do a portion of that list every day, so the software helps me track who’s been done and who hasn’t, to make sure everyone gets their turn.


5. Who are you reading right now?
Technically no one. But I just finished Carl Ashmore’s second in the Time Hunters series, The Time Hunters and the Box of Eternity. It’s a great book in a great series. I highly recommend them.


6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Describing the action in the zero gravity sport, ZeeGee. It’s not like anything that could seen on TV or movies, or of course, planet side sports, so fairly detailed descriptions were required. But ZeeGee is a fast-paced exciting sport, so I didn’t want to bog down the action with tedious explanations. It took several rewrites to reach what I thought to be a good balance.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
Oddly enough, no. I’m not a fan of sports of any kind and if I attend any type of sporting event it’s usually because someone I know is participating, so I’m there to support them, not the game. My oldest son is a sports aficionado and was truly shocked after reading about ZeeGee in my first book. I believe his reaction was something along the lines of: "How could you, someone who doesn’t like sports, create a game that I REALLY want to play?"


11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Selectively. I don’t care for much of what’s shown these days, but there are a few I really enjoy. Jane and the Dragon and Futurama to name a couple. And Christmas specials. I just recently was lamenting the fact that they don’t seem to broadcast Mr. Magoo’s A Christmas Carol anymore. Then within days I came across it on DVD, so I bought it. Now I don’t care so much that it’s not being broadcast.



Eric B. Thomasma was born and raised in West Mitten, USA. He still lives in the area with his wife of 33 years, Therese, and together they raised two sons, Eric Jr. and Nicholas. Eric spent most of his adult life working as an electrician and service technician in the telecommunications industry, with side interests in computers and video production. He has written and self-published three novels, SEAMS16:A New Home, SEAMS16:Arrival, and And So It Begins..., and two children’s stories, Sam and the Dragon and Billy’s Family. You can learn more about Eric and his writing at these links:

WEBSITE - http://ericbt.webs.com

BOOK WEBSITE - http://www.seams16.com



- http://www.amazon.com/Eric-B-Thomasma/e/B003OIRHDS



- http://www.twitter.com/seams16

Monday, December 19, 2011

ASK THE REVIEWER: My Tower of Books


My Tower of Books


This is the seventh in a series I'm hosting where I talk with reviewers who have reviewed my books. Today I welcome Jackie Miller from My Tower of Books! She was kind enough to take time out of her reading and blogging schedule to answer some fun questions about herself, her blog, and about my novel Ambasadora.

To read My Tower of Book's full review of Ambasadora visit: http://mytowerofbooks.blogspot.com/2011/11/review-ambasadora-by-heidi-ruby-miller.html

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

1. What types of books do you review most often?
My reviews vary pretty widely. Mostly I review Paranormal, Sci-Fi and Fantasy within Young Adult and Adult. I like to mix things up :-)

2. Are there any types of books you won’t review?
I don't do non-fiction. It has its place . . . but it just doesn't interest me. I prefer to escape to another world when I'm reading.

3. Do you review more books you've come to on your own or those from authors/publishers?
I started out reviewing books I owned or borrowed from the library. I've been really lucky lately to have a steady stream of requests from authors and publishers. It's been really great getting to meet all these hard working people living the dream :-)

4. How long does it usually take you to get to a book once it makes it into your TBR pile?
Arg! It can take anywhere from one week to one month. I try to get a good turnaround, but my reading time is pretty limited at the moment. I have three young kids that are all home with me during the day which means I only read at night (or during naptime if everyone is asleep at the same time by some miraculous turn of fate).

5. What is your favorite book ever?
I have a hard time pinning down just ONE book that I love. It has changed over time. If we're going by how many times I've re-read a book, it would have to be Pride & Prejudice. That is some good stuff right there!


ABOUT AMBASADORA

1. Who was your favorite character?
Definitely Sean! I loved his character, and I wanted to take care of him :-) I am always drawn to the quiet, wounded type of guy in books.

2. Who did you picture as the characters?
Hrrm . . . I kind of pictured Sean as John McAvoy. I'm not sure why exactly, but I don't need a huge reason to picture him. He's pretty yummy!

3. What is your favorite setting within the Ambasadora-verse?
I really liked the Underground. I could feel how gritty and illicit it was while reading.

4. Would you rather have a character or a place named after you?
Probably a character. I love putting myself in the shoes of the female characters that I'm reading about.

5. What would you like to see in future books within the Ambasadora-verse?
More V-side! The glimpses of it in the book were really cool.

6. Would you ever want to travel to the V-side?
As much as I liked it in the book . . . No! I'm too chicken. You have to give up control of your physical body while there, and that would probably make me too nervous :-)

To read My Tower of Book's full review of Ambasadora visit: http://mytowerofbooks.blogspot.com/2011/11/review-ambasadora-by-heidi-ruby-miller.html

Want to know more about My Tower of Books? Leave your question in a comment below and check out these links:


- http://mytowerofbooks.blogspot.com


- http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5632732-jackie-miller



- http://twitter.com/MyTowerofBooks


If you would like My Tower of Books to consider a book for review, e-mail jumackie@yahoo.com.

If you would like to review Ambasadora, email Heidi at heidirubymiller@gmail.com.

Friday, December 16, 2011

SFFS: Snippet from GREENSHIFT #2

SFFS Snippet


TALES FROM THE AMBASADORA-VERSE: GREENSHIFT

Greenshift is a novel set in the Ambasadora-verse one month before Ambasadora begins.

DESCRIPTION: David Anlow, a fleet captain forced into early retirement and jaded by an ex-lover, now spends his lonely days shuttling around a group of scientists for hire.

Boston Maribu, Mari to her friends, is one of his passengers, a young botanist who is as beautiful as she is naïve and innocent. When Mari asks David to teach her about more than just piloting the Bard, nights on their ship heat up and their feelings for each other mature into a relationship neither expects. But a suspicious new client shows up with wicked plans for Mari, and the soldier inside David comes alive, ready to fight for the young woman who stole his heart.

Click on this link for SNIPPET #1.

--

SNIPPET #2:
Killian and David's brother Ben had had a run-in last year at a bar here at the Hub. What was the name of that overpriced dive? The Atlas or Atlatl or something that started with At. Though David had been there when Ben and Killian went at it, and eventually jumped in by his brother's side, the likelihood of the contractor remembering him was remote.

David could stave off this confrontation a bit longer by heading back to the Bard, make them come knocking at the ship's gangway, but why invite trouble into your home? Though he still hadn't settled into the idea that the pleasure cruiser turned science vessel was home. Maybe in another few weeks.

"Anlow, how's your brother? Did he jump ship, too?" Killian's voice was smooth and confident.

--

Find more snippets from other wonderful authors at Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

PATHS TO PUBLICATION: Patti Roberts

PATHS TO PUBLICATION


Paradox - Progeny Of Innocence


Being a self-pubbed Indie Author, writing, marketing, designing covers etc. is a lot of long hours spent sitting on your PC. But in the end - so worth while and rewarding in so many ways. You certainly learn as you go!

-Patti Roberts
December 2011


On any given day you can usually find me sitting at my desk in front of my laptop pounding away at the keys writing another chapter in the Paradox series. That would be a run of the mill kinda day for me!

A packet of Cruskits and a water bottle, that is now at room temperature, is sitting on the desk beside me. There is also a mass of USB cables, notepads, bills to be paid, bills to be filed a bunch of pens and a printer that is forever running out of ink. Sound familiar?

On most days I have to remind myself to eat and drink. I should be thinner!!!

I am sure my housemates are very thankful that I still manage (usually at some ungodly hour) to bathe, brush my hair and clean my teeth.

I don't know about you. But I am usually mortified when visitors just pop around, only to find me sitting at my desk and still in my PJ's. I don't even want to broach the hair situation! Did I remember to put last nights dishes away???

Now, they say to be a good writer, you must read, read, read. Then read some more...

Thankfully, due to the invention of the electronic reader (I have a Kindle and love it) I get to read more these days. Correction. I have my Kindle read to me! The only thing is, I have so many great books on my Kindle that it is so hard to know where to start. So many choices.

PARADOX - PROGENY OF INNOCENCE SYNOPSIS
Two Worlds. One Ancient... still reeling from the ravages of a War. A World where powerful Beings from Ancient Civilizations rule. A Realm Where Gods, Angels, Myths and Magic still exists.

And One New... Grace is not a little girl anymore! And as a teenager, Grace’s visions become more frequent, urgent, torturing her life further still. The answers she hopes to find in her visions only leave her asking more questions... Who is Juliette?

When the charismatic Damon Draco begins to take an interest in Grace, it doesn’t take long before Grace falls for his alluring charm. A charm she doesn't quite understand.

However, when Riley Rivers turns up in Grace's class one day, she starts to question the feelings she has for Damon.

Then death comes knocking...and when three of Grace’s school friends are found burned to death, and their parents die in a fatal car accident that same weekend, some start to wonder if it really was just a coincidence, or a contrived plan to wipe out an entire family?

And if so, why, and by whom? And more importantly, will evil strike again?

You can bet your soul on it!

--

Read chapter 1 of Progeny Of Innocence here:
http://theangelsarehere.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/progeny-of-innocence-first-excerpt-from-book-2/

See the book trailer here:
http://theangelsarehere.wordpress.com/book-trailer-book-1/

BUY PARADOX - PROGENY OF INNOCENCE


- http://www.amazon.com/Paradox-Progeny-Of-Innocence-ebook/dp/B006H1U8QM/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_3


- https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/107641



Find Patti online at these links:


- http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Paradox-Series/150822348341990


- http://twitter.com/PattiRoberts7


- http://theangelsarehere.wordpress.com

Monday, December 12, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Scott Nicholson

HEIDI'S PICK SIX


Scott Nicholson


1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
I am a serious organic gardener and heirloom seed saver. That fits in my with my philosophy of compassionate self-reliance and ability to live outside the mainstream, and it allows a little more time for reflection.


5. Who are you reading right now?

6. Pop culture or academia?
I am usually 10 years behind the times, although I do have an addiction to funny memes like Pepper Spray Cop and Disaster Girl. I think they are a great way to bring up serious topics without taking yourself too seriously. My favorite is “Conspiracy Keanu” and I just started making my own memes. Who knows, maybe there’s a fun way to promote books that way.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Usually my own sense of mystery about the world is enough to get me going, and then I see injustice, exploitation, and unhappiness and I want to tackle it. Writers have a bigger mission than just selling books. Not to be self-aggrandizing, but we’re the shamans, the people who put the idea out there and let people turn it over. Of course, people in all fields do that, but we’re the ones mining the dream realm while others dig for gold or copper.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I am way uncool because I still like most of the stuff I liked 15 or 20 years ago and find a new band every few years. I like quirky, emotional, lyric-driven stuff like The Cure, Paul Westerberg, Elvis Costello, The Eels, Natalie Merchant, Robyn Hitchcock, and Kate Bush, and I think John Lennon was one of the great shamans of the 20th Century.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I only outline when somebody makes me, and then I generally ignore it. In the modern era, you don’t convince people to buy your book before it’s written, unless you’re running a Kickstarter campaign. I love the journey of discovery that a writer and a reader makes. Even with the same roadmap, we arrive at different places.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
This could take all day, but I’ll start with Dr. Seuss—perhaps the most gifted English writer ever. I used to go through binges so my main progression probably looks like Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Patricia Highsmith, Ray Bradbury, Ira Levin, William Goldman, Richard Brautigan, James Lee Burke, and on through today where I rarely read more than one or two books by the same author because there are so many trays at the buffet table.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Thanks, Heidi!




Scott Nicholson is author of Creative Spirit and more than 20 other books, as well as children’s books and screenplays and story collections. His thrillers Liquid Fear and Chronic Fear will be released by Amazon on Dec. 20.





Connect with Scott at these links:

WEBSITE: http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/


- www.amazon.com/Scott-Nicholson/e/B001HCX30O


- http://hauntedcomputer.blogspot.com/


- http://www.facebook.com/authorscottnicholson


- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/97045.Scott_Nicholson


- http://www.librarything.com/author/nicholsonscott


- http://twitter.com/eScottNicholson


Friday, December 09, 2011

SFFS: Snippet #2 from AMBASADORA BOOK 1: Marked by Light

AMBASADORA BOOK 1: Marked by Light

DESCRIPTION:If everyone told you love wasn't real, would you still be willing to die for it?

Sara Mendoza is captured, tortured, and falsely accused of treason by the Embassy, but she is given a chance to win back her freedom. She only needs to charm information from one of the fragger leaders, then kill him. But by the time she figures out the Embassy's intel is flawed and that Sean Cryer is her true mark, she's already in love with him.

Sean knows why Sara is on his ship from the start, but as a lonely, anti-social doser, he doesn't value his life, only his ideology within the fragger organization. Against his better judgment, he becomes her protector, each day caring more about a future he was always afraid to hope for.

SNIPPET #1

--

SNIPPET #2:
This little scene begins one of my favorite parts from my SF Romance novel Ambasadora because we'll see how much Sean cares for Sara, even though he knows she was sent to kill him.

The lights of her intra-tat bounced around in erratic pulses in a frightening way that wasn't alluring like when he first touched her hand. Tonight they were a physical sign of whatever horror she was experiencing.

He brushed her damp hair back with his fingers and whispered words of reassurance, knowing this could be the biggest mistake of his life. She had been sent here to flush out a fragger operative, that much he knew. Right now she and the Embassy thought David was their man—he didn’t know whether to laugh at the absurdity or be insulted. If that's what her Embassy intel was saying, then it might be easier to bring down this government than he thought.

"Sean." She reached out to the empty space beside her.

He put his hand over hers. "I'm here."

--
Find more snippets at Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday.

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Karen Toz

HEIDI'S PICK SIX


Karen Toz


1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That is such a hard question because I really love all of my characters. Of course I love Nate, but I think Nate’s mom is my favorite. She tries so hard to cook and sew be the perfect mother and housewife, stumbling every step of the way. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a little bit of me in her.


2. Tell me about your travels.
I don’t travel very much anymore, but I was very fortunate to be able to travel a lot when I was younger. In high school, my parents took me to Israel on vacation. That was amazing. In college, I participated in a study abroad program. I lived in London for three months. I travelled all over England, visited Scotland, Ireland, Amsterdam, and Italy. Later I spent a week in Paris. I’ve also been to Jamaica, and many beautiful places in Canada, as well as here in the United States. There is a lot to see in our own backyards – sometimes it is just fun to play tourist in your own city.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee definitely! Back in August when Hurricane Irene was approaching, most people were making sure they had enough water on hand. I was making sure I had enough coffee. I brewed and filled several thermal carafes full. Priorities people!


4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday?
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I’ve really mellowed out ... I used to be an alternative rock DJ back in college. I listened to what was called “industrial” – Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, - - sort of punk meets grunge I guess. What ever you want to call it – it was loud. No more. These days, I seem to gravitate toward calmer music – At the moment, Adele is at the top of my list.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
They definitely take me for a ride. I have a very broad idea of what the story will be about, but for the most part, I let the characters take control. Every now and again I have to gently nudge them in the right direction. But for the most part, they behave. I love when a moment comes along and everything clicks. I think you miss that if you are working off an outline.


13. Celebrity crush?
It’s no secret I have a thing for John Cusack. Ever since “Say Anything...” in the 80s and it’s still going strong. I still expect to see him outside my window one day holding up a boom box that’s playing “In Your Eyes.” Yes - my husband is aware of my obsession.


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Karen Toz is giving away an e-copy of NATE ROCKS THE WORLD to one lucky reader!

Just comment on this post and include your email. And if you Tweet the follwing, you'll get an extra entry:
@karentoz @heidirubymiller Meet author Karen Toz on Heidi's Pick Six and enter to win her book! http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com/2011/12/heidis-pick-six-karen-toz.html - The link will automatically be shortened in the Tweet.

Giveaway closes on December 24, 2011.


Karen Pokras Toz is a writer, wife and mom. Karen grew up in Orange, Connecticut and graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Finance. She also attended the University of Richmond, where she studied law and business, receiving both a JD and an MBA. Karen has spent the last several years working as a tax accountant, writing in numbers. She recently discovered a passion for writing with words. In June 2011, Karen published her first children’s novel Nate Rocks the World. She is currently working on the second book in the Nate Rocks series to be published in 2012.

Karen is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), Association of Independent Authors (AIA), and the Independent Author Network (IAN). Karen enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and three children.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: J. D. Stroube

HEIDI'S PICK SIX


J.D. Stroube


1. Which of your characters are your favorite?
This is a difficult question to answer, but one of my favorites. I've read other authors' answers to this question and many of them relate their characters to close friends and family, but in my case... I view them as a part of me. Each character is developed with a piece of my personality and filled with aspects of my loved ones. At some point during the writing process, I stop looking at them as characters and begin to view them as equals. Each character has aspects I favor in them, but choosing a specific character would be like choosing which of my toes is my favorite. :)

I have written approximately 12 novels, but I have only published the first. So, in the case of Caged in Darkness... Izzy's quirky personality and her ability to liven up any situation has a way of brightening my day. Willow's loyalty and responsibility makes me feel for her because she is always worried about everyone else, but even in her darkness hour... she never takes time for herself. Ash is my ideal male on one end of the spectrum and Liam is my ideal male on the opposite side. Maye is the supporting guardian, who I can't help but love. If I get down to the root of my preference, it would be Savannah. I took such care in my creation of her. She's strong and steadfast. Her worry that she is tainted, but her constant need to be worthy of the amazing people in her life, is inspiring. To take a child raised in evil and place them in a whole new world is baffling, but Savannah embraces the change and recognizes it as a gift. I admire her courage, faith, and morals. Savannah would have to be my favorite. Although, it may surprise everyone to find that I also really like Griffin.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else do you do besides write?
I am a psychology major, which means that classes take up a lot of my time. However, I also own a business called "Dreamscape Covers", which is dedicated to providing affordable book covers to self published authors. I run a graphic donation program that allows artists to give away their graphics for free, if an author is struggling financially or has another reason to qualify. I also do monthly contests for authors to win a free book cover that I have designed. I place pre-mades on my website that are available for purchase and I take on commissions. I recently finished an ad campaign and website creation.

In addition to all of this, I created a group on Goodreads called "Book Haven", which is a haven for authors, readers, publishers, reviewers, etc. I co-moderate another group specifically dedicated to authors. I have taken on a mentor ship for some authors who have reached and asked for my help, which includes advice, editing, formatting, etc. I suppose I look at it as taking them under my wing and trying to help in any way possible.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Every scene is a challenge. However, the most difficult scene I have ever written is in my fantasy series that has yet to be released. Magic comes naturally to me, but describing a battle scene with actual weapons was beyond difficult!


8. Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! I have lucid dreams, which often give me ideas for books. Sometimes my inspiration comes from a single word that a person says. It is as though the words trigger a domino effect that leads me to an entire plot. Television, music, dancing, and books are classic ways to pull at my creativity chain when I have writers block. I never know when or where inspiration will strike, but it happens constantly. My senses are aware of everything going on around me and my brain recognizes signs that are processed to create a seed that begins an idea for a whole new book.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What type of music speaks to you?
My parents raised me around oldies music, so it tends to lighten me up. It makes me feel happy. However, I love any music that starts delicately and builds with passion. I love Evanescence, Sara Bareilles, Annie Lennox, Janet Devlin, Michael Buble, Lonestar, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Keith Urban, and many, many, more.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
It depends on the book. I have a fantasy series that I literally spent a year researching before I began the outline. Otherwise, I do a vague outline. If my outline is too detailed I lose my creativity and sound like a robot, but no outline makes it difficult to direct the plot. I look at the plot as my reminder that I have a new scene to reach, but it is merely a hand to hold through the writing process and it often changes as I write.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

J.D. Stroube is a debut author, who is coming out with her first novel on August 1st. Caged will be her first series. J.D. will be coming out with three more series and a stand alone novel within the next year and a half.

She is a psychology major, who attends Roosevelt University and intends to open her own practice in the future. She lives in Naperville with her husband and is extremely close to her family. She began telling people stories when she was three years old. Although, those stories mostly consisted of scribbles on the back of menus. She began writing short stories at age six and her first novel at 12, which was a horror story that was accidentally tossed with the trash.

SYNOPSIS of Caged in Darkness
A witch raised in a cage of darkness...

Savannah Cross was born into a life of isolation and abuse. As a child, she witnessed her parents perform acts of malevolent evil, and now feels permanently tainted by their dark deeds.

When a coven discovers a tear stricken child, wounded on their elders lawn, they offer her a sanctuary she has never known. Savannah spends the next several years shattered, continuously looking over her shoulder, waiting for the darkness to claim her.

On her 16th birthday, Savannah’s life takes a drastic turn. She is consumed by overwhelming power that forever alters her emotionally and physically.

She must choose between two loves; the one who taught her to smile or the darkly seductive stranger who tempts her towards another path. Savannah must decide between the coven that was her haven and another one vying for her initiation. Just as Savannah begins to grasp what fate has in store for her, an evil looms over her loved ones; coming to claim an unbreakable debt.

How will she choose and survive the greatest evil she has ever witnessed... long enough to have a choice to make?

IDEA BEHIND Caged in Darkness
My whole life I have been a dreamer. I would stay awake at night and daydream about other worlds and what it would be like to live in them. When I am asleep, I tend to have lucid dreams, which are complete plots to a book. I often write these dreams down, as ideas for future book. I have a dream journal designated for this purpose. Sometimes I find my ideas, while watching a show or reading a book. The idea for “Caged in Darkness” came to me, while browsing the Goodreads website for a new book. I had a strong urge to read a book about witches, but most of the books I came across did not satisfy my craving. Instead, I wrote down a plot for the kind of book I wished I could find. I then incorporated some other unique aspects to it and created a recipe for what I believe is an amazing series!

QUOTES
The day I first came to Meadow Falls is little more than a dream, though that little girl plagues me everyday. I still hear her crying out, and my skull fractures as pain is inflicted on her. She remained frozen in an eternal chamber of torture, and I did not know how to help her escape. Though, I would never escape her. She would follow me around for the rest of my life; a ghost waiting in the wings for me to acknowledge her. Her soft trailing fingers would continue to attempt a connection that I refused to allow; that I couldn’t allow if I wanted to survive. That ghostly girl was weak and insecure, while I needed to be strong and confident.

"What you are or where you came from is not important. It is who you are and the choices you make, that determine who you will become. If you can look inward and be satisfied, the opinions of others should melt away."

"All that is left to bring you pain, are the memories. If you face those, you’ll be free. You can’t spend the rest of your life hiding from yourself; always afraid that your memories will incapacitate you, and they will if you continue to bury them."

"No one has freewill until they are an adult, and by then the choices that were made for them, have already set them on a course that gives limited freedom in the choices to be made."

Caged in Darkness is available in paperback through Amazon. It's also available in ebook format through B&N, Amazon, Smashwords, etc.

Find J.D. online at these links:

WEBSITE: www.jdstroube.weebly.com

WEBSITE: www.dreamscapecovers.com


- http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/JD-Stroube/186338091413684



- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4846190.J_D_Stroube



Wednesday, December 07, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Shawn Hopkins

HEIDI'S PICK SIX


Shawn Hopkins


1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I think I relate to most of my characters in some way or another so it’s hard to pick just one… I tend to like secondary characters more than the primary, maybe because we don’t get to see them in the same revealing light and so there’s more freedom to imagine what they are or are not. For some reason that I can’t explain at all, I really like the character Paul in Progeny. I have no idea why. Maybe because Paul is my cousin’s name and relate the two, maybe because he’s the complete opposite of me, maybe because I sympathize with him, maybe because I want to be him on some boyish level, I don’t know… He just intrigues me. In fact, he’ll most likely be the main character in the sequel.


2. Tell me about your travels.
My travels... Let's see. I've been to Bermuda twice, and it is by far my favorite place on the planet. In fact, I love it so much that I had to write about it, my novel Progeny being set there. If I could move there, I would in a heartbeat. Both times I went were on cruises, so I would love to stay there much longer some day. My wife and I rented bicycles and rode from one end of the island to the other and it was incredible. The people there are the nicest, friendliest people I’ve ever seen. And not just to the tourists, but to each other as well. When elderly people stepped on to the bus, younger men and women jumped to their feet to offer their seat. Everyone waves to each other with huge white smiles. It was a far cry from what I’m used to here in Philly where it’s almost polite to keep your eyes on your feet as you walk. I've also been to the Bahamas, Cancun, and Jamaica. I've been to Ireland twice, and that may be my second choice of where I’d like to live… It was beautiful, and I love the weather there. Other than those places, I’ve been to Mexico about four times to help build houses for the impoverished people there, and of course those were trips that were of the life-changing variety. But the one place that I really want to visit that I haven’t been able to yet, is Washington state. Maybe someday. :)


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
My inspiration to write mostly comes from reading great authors. When I’m reading a great writer, I develop an itch that can only be scratched by writing. That’s how I know a book is one of my favorites. If it makes me want to get to the chapter break so I can jump on my laptop and pound out a scene, then the book usually ends up on my shelf and is revisited for future times of needed inspiration. For example, Danielle Trussoni’s Angelology was so inspirational as far as her writing style goes, that I read the first half of it twice before moving on to the end. At the time, I was working on Progeny (there’s some similar themes there) and reading her made me want to write my own story. And Lee Child’s writing was inspirational during the time span I wrote Even The Elect. So I’d have to say that who and what I read proves to be the greatest inspiration.


9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I used to be very much into sports. I loved playing football, and until a few years ago, I was still playing some pretty intense tackle football with my friends. But as most of my friends get older, married, have kids, and tend to get out of shape or run out of time, those days have become a thing of the past. It’s now a chore to try and get just a few guys together to do something physical. I played tennis the other day, and that was probably the first sport I’ve played in two years. I’ve been trying to run, but that’s hard for me to stay consistent with, and I’m just now finally getting back into the gym. I used to spend hours a day in the gym, but after my daughter was born, that slipped away too. But now I’m back, baby! Hopefully. But yeah, I love sports. And, except for the last couple of years, I’ve always been a very athletic person.


11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Since I’ve been writing, this has kind of evolved into different expressions of both. My first novel, Noahic, I just sat down and started writing. I loved writing it because I had no idea what was going to happen next. But afterwards, I wasn’t too happy with it, so I crafted Progeny to be what that novel should have been. With Progeny, though, I was working off the central plotline of Noahic, so it was easier to outline, especially since there were things that I wanted to hit harder and tie up better. I had tons of information to try and get into Progeny, so that needed to be plotted in such a way that I wouldn’t find myself writing chapters of only information. I needed to know what I wanted to say and how to spread it throughout the whole book, rather than force feeding it to the reader all at once.

My novel Even The Elect was also a story that took me along for the ride, but again, I wasn’t completely happy with the end product. So The Solomon Key, which should be released in a couple weeks, is the second edition of that. So, I guess I like to write not knowing where things are heading, but in the end, I think it tends to work against me. What I’m finding that helps me now is a very basic outline (that is constantly changing as I write), having some sense of how I want things to wrap up, the information I want to use, and a specific evolution of at least some of the characters. Now before I start writing a scene, I try to imagine the whole thing in my mind, and then I examine it from different angles to make sure I’m not missing anything or compromising the story down the road, and then I sketch out a pretty crappy comic of the scene. Then I start writing… So I think it’s a combination of both, but definitely now, working on my 5th novel, I’m much more in favor of outlining and planning than when I first started. It’s not as fun, but it saves a lot of rewriting in the end.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Well this goes back to the other question, but I guess Lee Child, Dean Koontz, Steve Alten, Michael Chrichton, and David Morrell have been the most consistent influences on my writing over the years.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Shawn Hopkins is an independent author who lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and daughters. Fascinated by humanity's mysterious past (and future), his four novels find their inspiration via some of history's stranger instances of the unknown. Paranormal and conspiratorial, Shawn's writing has been called "an action-packed thrill ride." He is currently working on a sequel to Progeny and a prequel to The Solomon Key.

Find Shawn online at these links:

WEBSITE: - http://etenovel.com

INDEPENDENT AUTHOR NETWORK: - http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/shawn-hopkins.html


- http://www.amazon.com/Shawn-Hopkins/e/B005BKPPKY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1322679332&sr=8-3



- http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/shawn-hopkins



- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1391220.Shawn_Hopkins


- http://www.twitter.com/shawnahopkins