Monday, October 26, 2015

Skye Malone, Touch Me





AUTHOR: Skye Malone
BOOK TITLE: Touch Me
GENRE: New Adult Paranormal Romance
PUBLISHER: Wildflower Isle

Please tell us about yourself. I am a paranormal romance and fantasy author who lives in Washington state in the United States. I’m also an avid reader, and a fan of all things fantasy and science fiction, including (and perhaps most especially) Doctor Who.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? Full-time. I try to write in the mornings, usually early, pretty much every day of the week. 

When and why did you begin writing? I began considering writing as a career in eighth grade after a wonderful English teacher gave us the assignment to write a story. I’d loved storytelling for a long time before that, however. In my childhood, my mother would make up fantasy stories, which inspired me to tell stories of my own.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing? Sleep, I guess! I don’t particularly have a time when I’m not either thinking about stories or writing/editing stories. They’re always in my mind, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I learn something from every book, but the most important lesson I keep learning over and over again is to trust wherever the story wants to go. Just trust it. Go with it. Every book seems to teach me that all over again, because the worst thing I can do is second guess the heck out of myself (and the story and the plot and the characters and did I do that right and oh my God, what about…). It never helps. It usually hurts. And in the end, it’s almost always turned out that the path the story wanted to pursue in the first place was actually the better road.

What are your current projects? Currently, I’m hard at work on a new series of YA paranormal romance novels featuring mermaids. These books are a follow-up to my Awakened Fate series and take place one year after that series ends. I’m also working on Touch Me, a New Adult paranormal romance serial.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.? Thanks for asking! You can find me at any of the places below. Please come by and say hi!


What genre do you write in and why? I write currently in New Adult and Young Adult, both in fantasy and paranormal romance. I love the age range that those areas provide, since both are such windows of discovery and change in a person’s life, and the opportunity to add magic into the mix is simply too much fun for me to pass up!

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. Currently, I’m promoting the Touch Me series, which is the story of Caitlin Faire, a young woman who discovers that she is half-succubus.

What comes first: the plot or characters? It’s often a bit of both, at least in regard to the main plot and characters. They sort of develop simultaneously. With smaller, side characters, though, it’s absolutely a matter of plot. The story dictates what characters are needed.

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why? It depends on the book! For the trilogy, The Children and the Blood, I loved and pitied and was sickened by the main villain, Jamison. I could sympathize with the struggle that drove him to choose the road he did, and yet ultimately, his response to the challenge he faced was terrible. For the Awakened Fate series, I adored the hell out of Ellie. I loved her shyness and quiet strength, and her actions at the end of the series were something I greatly enjoyed writing. In Touch Me, I love and pity Amar so much. He struggles to balance two worlds and all that he knows of how deadly they can be, all while falling for a girl who has thrown his own world upside down. My characters are a collection of so many emotions for me!

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?  Why or why not? No, they don’t. I grew up on action movies, so violence isn’t really an issue for me. It can be a part of a vivid, visceral story if handled well. And sex is a part of life. Why shouldn’t fiction explore all the ways it can be wonderful, awkward, beautiful, or difficult? I believe that as long as violence or sex are there to benefit the storyline and show you something more about the characters’ personalities or life, they’re valid and valuable.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release? Currently, I have eight novels and three novellas available.

-       The Awakened Fate series (YA paranormal romance with mermaids – completed).
-       The Children and the Blood trilogy (YA urban fantasy, non-romantic – completed).
-       The first two novella-length installments of the Touch Me series (NA paranormal romance with demons and other supernatural creatures – ongoing).

You can find them all at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Skye-Malone/e/B00KFOF4AM

The third installment of the Touch Me series will be coming soon as well! 
           
What advice would you give a new writer starting out? Trust yourself. Trust your story, your thoughts, your plans and what you enjoy. Put those first, not other people’s opinions, because if you like what you’ve written, chances are someone else out there will too.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun? I read just about anything, from fantasy to mystery to non-fiction. That said, I think I probably look for the same thing that most readers do: an intriguing blurb followed by a first few pages that just suck me in. The best books are the ones where I reach the end of the sample on Amazon and realize that not only have I forgotten I was reading a sample, but that I must know what happens next right now, oh my god!

Describe your writing space. My writing space is a wooden desk with Christmas lights all around the top, cloth flowers in a wine bottle to one side, and a pair of little figurines of a Dalek and the Tenth Doctor. I have corkboards and dry-erase boards behind me for notes, though usually the notes never quite make it that far, since they end up on post-its scattered nearby!




 Excerpt 

Dark eyes meet mine.
Everything slows, like the world melts into molasses and in it, I’m stuck. A guy stands in front of me, his body only inches away, and suddenly, he’s the only one in the room. The dancers fade into shadows and mist. The music is the low thrum that underscores the world. And there’s just him. Black skin, dark as I’ve ever seen. Sculpted arms hinting at a strong body, as if everything of him is muscle and sinew. He’s about my age, at least six-foot-two, and easily the most gorgeous man I’ve ever laid eyes on. And he smiles like he knows me. Like he’s saying hello.
His hand reaches out. Brushes a shadow, a girl, and shimmering mist ghosts away from her to caress his arm like a lover. His smile broadens.
The mist absorbs into his skin.
He nods to me, still friendly. Still like we’re acquaintances who’ve simply run into one another on the street. And then he’s gone into the shadows and the crowd comes rushing back again.
I gasp. Bodies buffet me on all sides, crushing me, and my exhilaration is shattered. The music is too loud. The lights spin like deranged kaleidoscopes, blinding me. I’m hot, covered in sweat, and the emerald green dress is glued to my skin. My pulse is flying but my body keeps moving like it can’t help itself, like it’s lost to the rush of swirling lasers, pounding music, and fog.
Fog that’s pouring into me.
My eyes go wide. Flecked with sparks of color and light, clouds of it rise from the dancers like mist over a pond. Tendrils stream away from those nearest to me, moving like charmed snakes to coil around my body, slipping over my dress, my skin, and then vanishing inside me.
It’s so not a fog machine. Not this. Sweet God, what’s happening?


Monday, October 19, 2015

Charles Suddeth, Eighth Mask



AUTHOR: Charles Suddeth
BOOK TITLE: Eighth Mask
GENRE: mystery
PUBLISHER: Library Tales Publishing


Please tell us about yourself. 
Widowed. I live alone (2 cats) a quarter mile from Tom Sawyer State Park, near Louisville, Kentucky. I write full time and sneak to the park whenever I can. I was born in Indiana, grew up Michigan, and I’ve spent my adult life in Kentucky. I’m a graduate of Michigan State University. I belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), International Thriller Writers, and Green River Writers (also their Contest Chairman).

What was the toughest criticism given to you? T
he original title was The Eighth Booger Mask. Booger is an old word meaning ghost or evil being, but women hated the word and the title. 

What was the biggest compliment?
My girlfriend loved Eighth Mask. She’s not afraid to speak her mind.

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel? 
I run my titles past at least 2 critique groups. 

Compliments and hates? 
I only use them for the final drafts to see if I’ve done my homework.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I always learn from writing a book. I learned about the enduring power of grudges. And how history affects generations afterwards. And how courage comes in different forms.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them? 
Library Tales Publishing. I found their advertisement in Publisher’s Weekly, which impressed me. I sent them a query and they connected with the storyline.

What do you plan for the future?
I write whatever genre that interests me. If I don’t feel the emotion for a storyline, my writing falls flat and will never see daylight.
 \
What genre do you write in and why? 
I write mysteries, but not regular mysteries. Mine are dark with touches of magical realism. I don’t write who-dun-its, because I like to explore/discuss issues without preaching or teaching.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. 
Eighth Mask: After being accused of a murder he did not commit, Deputy Sheriff Charlie Yuchalla plunges into a mysterious world of supernatural giants, ancient priest orders and Cherokee mystics as he attempts to uncover the true identity of the person responsible for murdering a masked dancer at a Cherokee Booger Dance.

What gave you the idea for this particular book? 
I contacted some third cousins, who gave me a family genealogy, but they deleted my great-grandmother’s branch. Her father was a Union Civil War veteran, but she had the audacity to marry into a Confederate family (20 years after the war ended). I realized that people can hold onto grudges for an incredibly long time.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind? 
Yes, but I have researched Cherokees for years, including learning some of the language. I have dozens of Cherokee books, and I made countless trips to Cherokee North Carolina. Online language lessons helped.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I write mysteries and thrillers, but writing about the actual deaths is hard emotionally, because the characters are real to me.

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process? 
Sometimes I outline, which takes longer, but it saves time editing. It takes me about a year, if I outline. Editing takes anywhere from six months to two years before I feel confident enough to show it to an agent or an editor.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out? 
Write what you want, but get help: critique groups, workshops, courses, writing books.

What books have most influenced your life?
John Steinbeck’s books. Dr. Doolittle. Michael Crichton’s books. Tony Hillerman’s Navajo books. Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books
.
What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
Impulsive, mathematical, dreamer, experimenter, patient, poet, funny.


What has been your favorite part of being an author? 
Making stories that people enjoy reading. 

What has been your least favorite? I hate pushing my books. If you meet me in person, I’ll probably recommend a writer-friend’s books.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Amberly Kristen Clowe, Axel and Theo: My Dog is the Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy




AUTHOR: Amberly Kristen Clowe
BOOK TITLE: Axel and Theo: My Dog is the Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy
GENRE: Children’s Chapter Book – Science Fiction, Adventure
PUBLISHER: Tadpole Press…4 Kids.



Please tell us about yourself.
I have been writing since elementary school but decided to pursue it as a career nearly a decade ago. I adore the science fiction genre for early readers and am having a total blast with the Axel and Theo series. I taught second grade before staying home with my babies, so I’m pretty partial to the 7-10 aged readers. I am happily married to a one-of-a-kind who listens to plot twists, accompanies me to book signings and is just as eager to peruse our local library shelves as I am. We have two hilariously curious and adorable children who love my book signings just so they can visit their Nina and Papa.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I am a part-time writer, full-time mom. I furiously write during nap time and at night when needed. My desk sits in the corner of the living room and beside a lovely window, but I’m forever hunting down stolen sticky-note pads. I don’t mind really. It’s become a bit of a game. 

What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book is a rhyming picture book about a little girl who has a serious passion for fashion. At the time I was teaching, and I was amazed at how much my second-graders loved fashion: shoes, clothes, jewelry. They loved it all. They were about as cute as kids get. That’s how Katie Ling Fashion Queen was born. The book signings and parties for that were awesome. I lost count of how many little girls showed up dressed to the nines.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
We have quite the active family. I workout daily. I’m one of those goofy jazzercising moms who thinks she’s hot stuff. What happens in Soul Grooves, stays in Soul Grooves. Haha. I enjoy kayaking, fishing and biking, but I also love a good shopping trip with the girls. My husband and I enjoy teaching a seventh and eighth grade Sunday school class at our church. They’re an awesome group and have been such a blessing to us.
  
What are your thoughts about promotion?
It’s kind of a love/hate thing for me. I enjoy meeting and connecting with readers. That part is my favorite. But all of the promoting on social media can be a bit overwhelming. It feels so vulnerable to be constantly sharing myself along with my works. Thankfully, now, I have a seriously awesome publicist who is a promotion ninja.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
My toughest criticisms were that, in the beginning, I was incredibly weak grammatically and technically. I had no idea. So that was difficult to hear. But I had many writers and agents telling me how strong my voice was and that it’s way better to already be so solid in this and to work on the other. I’m so grateful that what people were telling me wasn’t all bad. That would have been much more discouraging. I have learned so, so, so much about sentence structure, grammar and the many story elements that I had just never thought about before. It’s crazy to read a manuscript from years ago. The no-no’s really stand out.
  
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is the amazing Tadpole Press…4 Kids. This is an imprint of Smooth Sailing Press. Actually, it’s kind of an interesting story how we connected. My former agent had sent several manuscripts to them, but those didn’t work out. My agent decided to drop her children’s authors because she was doing much better financially with her romance authors. I was pretty bummed. My husband and I were driving through Huntsville, TX on a trip to see my parents. We stopped at a Bucky’s there, and I stumbled upon several of Tadpole Press’ books. They were such beautiful books, that as soon as we arrived home, I submitted a picture book manuscript to them and very quickly received a yes and a contract. This picture book will be published this year, actually. Even funnier, my publicist/editor/numerous hat-wearer rep with Smooth Sailing, was following my many writing ramblings over on my Facebook page and showed interest for the Axel and Theo manuscript. As soon as I finished, I zipped it to her and here we are.

What are your current projects?
I am currently working on the second book in the Axel and Theo series. It has been way too much fun. Miss Clara Lily’s Gift, my first picture book with Tadpole Press will be out in 2015. I can’t wait for that one. It’s such a special story about how we all have individual gifts and, when used together, can create such beauty.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?



Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
My debut chapter book, Axel and Theo: My Dog is the Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy, is about a fourth-grader, Theodore Howard, who discovers his very best friend in the world, Axel, his weenie dog, is actually an alien from a distant galaxy. Early on, Axel is kidnapped from the bad guys, the cats from the planet Catlat. After he sets out on a rescue mission, Theo soon learns Axel isn’t just any alien, he’s an emperor. It doesn’t get cooler than that!

What genre do you write in and why?
I have so enjoyed writing science fiction for chapter books. I grew up watching sci-fi with my dad. It was our thing. He also loves to read as much as I do. So this genre just makes sense to me. It feels like home.
  
What is your experience working or being around children or teens?
I taught second grade for several years and read many, many books to my students. I fell in love with Beverly Cleary’s humor, among others. And when kids laugh during a story, it just pulls me in.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
Joy. My main goal is for newly independent readers to continue to read on their own. I want to help young people become lifelong readers. That’s why I included all the things that I love to read about: creepy creatures in crazy settings, friendship and wild adventure.
  
Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
I am definitely an outliner. Often, the outline strays or changes as the story progresses, but the outline helps me have an idea of where I want the story to go.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
It depends on the genre. For chapter and middle grade books, I enjoy humor. The setting and characters don’t really matter. For young adult and adult, I enjoy a sweet romance. And with all of the above, I definitely prefer fiction.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?

Fun, Artsy, Happy, Determined, Caring, Funny, Loyal

Monday, October 5, 2015

Domestic Violence Awareness: Robert Uttaro, To the Survivors, plus #giveaway, #free ebook





October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  To honor the survivors of this on-going brutality, the featured author this week is a Domestic Violence Advocate who brings true stories to life in the pages of his book.  He is offering a free copy of his book to one commenter.  Please be sure to leave your contact information if you are interested.

AUTHOR: Robert Uttaro
BOOK TITLE: To the Survivors
GENRE: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHER: CreateSpace Independent Publishing


Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Robert Uttaro. I love music, cooking, basketball, and teaching. I was also fortunate enough to write To the Survivors.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I am a part-time writer. Finding time to write is challenging, but I still prioritize making it a significant part of my life. I will often write at night after work, some times during the weekends, and anytime I am inspired.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I did not consider myself a writer and never once tried to write a book until the experience of an intensely vivid dream one morning changed my life. I woke up from this dream and said, “I have to write a book.” I interpreted this dream as a vision from God. I prayed to God, moved from the bed to the computer, opened up Microsoft Word, and continued to pray. That is how To the Survivors began. In other words, God inspired me to write To the Survivors.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I have writer’s block quite often. I am able to get through writer’s block through prayer, meditation, and music. God and music help me to fight all negative thoughts and insecurities. Eventually all blockage is shattered and I am able to write.

What is your marketing plan?

I get the word out about To the Survivors and issues connected to sexual assault by teaching at high schools and colleges and by spreading the word in conversations in my daily life. Word of mouth is truly a powerful vehicle as many people share the book with others. In terms of online communication, I outreach to libraries, schools, rape crisis centers, and domestic violence shelters through emails. I have been very fortunate to be listed on blogs and magazines. I have also shared information through interviews on national and international radio programs.

What do you plan for the future?

I am currently writing a second book, but most of my focus right now is on teaching, working, and spreading To the Survivors to as many people, schools, libraries, rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and religious/secular organizations as possible.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

People can find more information about To the Survivors or myself at:

Email: info@robertuttaro.com
Website: http://www.robertuttaro.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/To-The-Survivors/172523809579943

Tell me a little about your book.

To the Survivors is the story of my journey as a rape crisis counselor along with true stories of sexual violence shared by survivors in their own words. Readers will encounter uncensored stories from women and men who have been sexually abused plus my advocate voice that weaves their experiences together. The survivors are diverse in age, gender, and ethnicity, yet each gives a similarity raw and heartfelt account of his or her victimization and recovery. I believe that the authenticity and vulnerability with which survivors speak resonates profoundly. Messages within To the Survivors are very hopeful -- to the pleasant surprise of many readers -- and I am humbled to find it continues to positively affect people’s hearts and minds. I believe anyone can benefit from the words in these pages, rape survivor or not.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I have many hopes for what the book might achieve in the lives of others, probably too many to list here. I will try to answer as best as I can:

I hope people keep breathing and do not choose to kill themselves.
I hope people understand that they are not alone.
I hope people will not feel shame for being raped or sexually assaulted. 
I hope people will not blame themselves for being raped or sexually assaulted.
I hope people connect on some level with at least one person in To the Survivors.
I hope people understand that they can grow and heal from any pain they experience.
I hope people who have not been raped or sexually assaulted become more educated on how to respond to incidences of sexual violence and the suffering of survivors.
I hope people stop raping and assaulting.
I hope people understand that God loves them more than they can even fathom, even if they do not believe in God.
I hope people talk to God and listen to God.

These are some of my many hopes.

What draws you to non-fiction writing?

God.

Where can people learn more about this topic if they want to pursue it further?

People can go to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s (RAINN) website for more resources in their state:


For anyone interested in resources specifically for male survivors, you can go to MaleSurvivor’s website:


Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction?

Follow your heart and write what you care about. Write, write, and write some more. It is imperative to not be nervous, to not fear anything, and to fight through whatever blockage one may have. Believe in yourself and your abilities, and don't stop writing if you have the desire to write.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I am not writing or working, I am relaxing. I love to cook and listen to good music. I love live music and am always up for seeing a show. I also try to exercise when I can, and I love playing and watching basketball.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

I love books that convey truthful aspects of peoples’ lives and books that make me think of new concepts I have never thought of before.




SYNOPSIS
To the Survivors is a deeply-moving, empowering, and brutally honest book about one man’s journey as a rape crisis counselor with true stories of sexual violence shared by survivors in their own words. Gently and beautifully constructed, To the Survivors is moving, tender, sharp, and piercingly true all at once. Readers will encounter uncensored written stories, poems, and interviews from women and men who have been sexually abused, plus the advocate-author voice that weaves their experiences together. The survivors are diverse in age, gender, and ethnicity, yet each gives a similarity raw and heartfelt account of his or her victimization and recovery. The authenticity and vulnerability with which survivors speak resonates profoundly. But this book is not just for survivors of sexual violence. Robert Uttaro believes anyone can benefit from the words in these pages, rape survivor or not.
To the Survivors is a timeless resource for a world that struggles with the repercussions of sexual violence.