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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sounds of nature inspire Layla's writing dream

Hello Layla, and welcome to Adventures in Authorland. Please get comfortable and tell us about your writing adventure.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
This didn’t occur when I first started to write a story. This realization came when someone reacted to what I’d written. Since I started writing, I’ve worked within various critique groups. In my early years, the group met in person on a weekly basis, and we brought hard copies to line edit. When a critiquer laughed in the correct place, I knew that the characters I’d created were real enough and I’d presented the situation in the right light for the person to react to the situation. In that moment, I considered myself a writer.
What book are you reading right now?
I lolled about this morning and finished reading Richard Castle’s third novel, Heat Rises. I am an avid fan of the television series, Castle, and really like the quality and depth of writing in the novels that are an offshoot of the series. I love the inside jokes connected to the show and have the image of Nathan Fillion in mind as I read the scenes where journalist Jameson Rook appears.
In what genre do you prefer to write and why?
Everything I write has romance at its base. I write erotic romance because I want to explore the steamy side of the sexual relationship between the characters I’ve pitted together who need to overcome their conflict to reach a goal. No matter if I’m only writing about a couple’s overnight adventure which starts with no expectation for more than a dalliance, or I’m exploring the dynamics of a couple who are looking to build a future, the sexual component of a liaison has impact and I don’t want to be constrained in language or action.
What place inspires you most?
Early in my writing career, I worked fulltime and wrote late at night when the family all slept. In those years, I wished for the chance to live in the mountains among the boulders, pines and cedars, and to work fulltime at creating stories. I love the feeling of being in nature, of sitting on a fallen log or a rock, being completely still and just listen to the sounds that come forth. Buzzing of insects, skittering of squirrels and chipmunks, tap-tapping of a woodpecker, whistling notes of a songbird. Often, while in committee meetings or watching the kids at swim lessons or athletic events, I’d dream of being in the place that inspired me. The kids are now adults living their own lives.  Last year, when my husband had the opportunity to take a job in a mountain setting, my wish came true.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? Writing, or something else?
I always wanted to be a librarian. To be able to read books all day long—that had to be the greatest job in the world. (remember, kid thinking.) I ended up getting a degree in Business Administration, but I have always loved research. My love of learning--about the specifics of a certain place, its history, how many people lived there a hundred years ago, what did they do for a living—led right into doing research in order to plot a story. In fact, sometimes I get lost in the research and have to drag myself away to start writing pages.
What historical person would you want to meet and why?
This might be a stretch on the word “historical”, but I’d love to meet Scheherazade. What storytelling talent the woman had to keep her captor entranced and willing to suspend carrying out his threat to kill her. Maybe by chatting with her, I might pick up some tips. Sigh.
On a dare from a close friend, Layla Chase challenged herself to explore the steamier side of romance and discovered all sorts of characters whose stories needed sharing. She writes contemporary and historical stories from her mountain home in California that she shares with long-time husband and two dogs.

BLURB for Whirlwind:
Unveiling tattoos with a stranger has never been so dangerous…or sexy
Hosting her first booth at a national tattoo convention is nerve-racking enough for artist Senna Whitefeather. But then she runs into another Native American—one with a smoking hot and firm body—a man she soon realizes is following her. Appreciation for art takes on a new meaning when a challenge to unveil their tattoos escalates into a passionate encounter in the back of her booth. But will Senna’s brazen attitude of going after what she wants backfire?
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Writer's block a luxury Devon can't afford

Hi Devon, thank you for joining us today. So sorry about the Blogger problems. Please get comfortable and tell us a little about your adventure

Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely.  It's how I pay the bills.  Writer's block is a luxury for the unpublished or under-published.  I don't show up at the desk every day and do the work, I can't pay the bills, eat, or keep a roof over my head.  It's insulting to go to a conference or a dinner with people who call themselves writers who moan about "not having time" to write, or "I don't expect to make money from my books, I just want to see them out here."  Yes, writing is a passion, a vocation, a calling, but it's also a highly-skilled JOB.  It's the fusion of skill and imagination and talent.  It's a career, and I look to the long term as well as the short term.  Besides, there's no such thing as "no time to write."  Writing is ALWAYS a choice.  Not writing is ALWAYS  a choice.

What book are you reading now?

More like "books"!  ;)  I'm taking an online archaeology class from Sue Alcock at Brown University, and our text book is by Colin Renfrew, so I've got that.  I like his writing, so I also have another book, and a stack of archaeology and geology books that are fed into the book that's currently on submission, and to an adaptation I'm finishing up this summer.  I just finished reading the Gaslamp Anthology, QUEEN VICTORIA'S BOOK OF SPELLS, which was fantastic, and I'm reading Erin Hart's THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN, and I just started T.J. Brown's SUMMERSET ABBEY, which I'm enjoying enormously.  I also have a stack of other books that feed into various projects on my plate.

Can you give us some details about your recent release?

OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, the second Jain Lazarus Adventure, recently released from Solstice Publishing, with the first book in the series, HEX BREAKER, now available in print as well as digital.  The first book in the series was from Jain's POV.  This one is from Wyatt's -- Jain disappears after a romantic weekend in Vermont, and he's the main suspect, yet her boss hires him to find her.  Wyatt, who's far too practical to go for paranormal what-not, uses old-school detective work to find her, although he's surrounded by mermaids and shapeshifters and paranormally-gifted teens.  The bulk of the book takes place off the shores of Cape Cod, which is great, now that I live on the Cape!  The third book in the series, CRAVE THE HUNT, is told from Jain and Billy Root's points of view.  Billy was a supporting character in HEX BREAKER and became a fan favorite.  CRAVE THE HUNT is Billy's coming of age -- even though he's thirty!  Late bloomer.

I also have some non-fiction in release, a series of Topic Workbooks out on Smashwords, developed from some of the most popular writing courses I teach.  They include SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM, THE SERIES BIBLE, CREATIVE STIMULUS, and THE COMPLEX ANTAGONIST.  I'll have some more of those workbooks coming out over the next few months. I also have two short mysteries featuring Nina Bell out on Smashwords, "Too Much Mistletoe" and "Tumble" and a comic/fantasy/romance as Ava Dunne called "Just Jump in and Fly."  I'll have a steampunk story called "The Ramsey Chase" going up soon.

My paranormal romantic suspense, set backstage at a Broadway show, ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT (as Annabel Aidan) is still available in print and digitally from Champagne Books.

My agent is shopping a few projects, and I've got a few things out on submission, so hopefully I'll have even more good news soon!

In what genre do you prefer to write and why?

I write across genres.  I do a lot of paranormal, because I find the world a magical place, and I like to explore possibilities.  I'm writing more mystery again, because I love it, as a reader and writer.  I like to see smart characters figure things out and have to struggle with their notions of "right".  I'm doing more steampunk and gaslamp fantasy lately, because I love the possibilities in there.  I think you can explore a lot of emotional truth in fiction in a way that connects more with readers than you can in non-fiction, if you get up on a soap box.

What place inspires you the most?

Many places inspire me.  I'm a big believer in setting as character (I teach a class on that topic), and in emotional geography along with physical geography.  I use New York City in a lot of my work -- I lived and worked there for many years, on Broadway, and I know it very well.  Cape Cod has always inspired me, and that's one of the reasons I live there now.  Other inspirations:  Scotland, New Orleans, Iceland, Prague.  Those are the places that I feel most deeply connected to.

Have you ever travelled  to a place and come away with a story unexpectedly?

Everywhere I go inspires stories.  A trip to New Bedford planted the seed for a series of books set around whaling -- which will take me years to develop, but will be worth it.  Last weekend's trip to a gallery opening, also in New Bedford, spurred the idea of a short story (or maybe novella) set during an art gallery walk.  When I was in NY a few weeks ago, visiting the Hatshepsut Sphinx at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I came away with the idea for a ghost story.  A walk through the gardens of Yaddo in Saratoga inspired another piece.

EVERYTHING is inspiration, if you look and listen.  We're so lucky, as writers.  Nothing we experience is ever wasted.

Do you have any advice for new writers at the beginning of their adventure?

Write every day, at least five-six days per week.  There's no substitute for showing up and doing the work.  Deadlines are sacred.  Once you are on a publishing contract, you don't have three weeks to write a chapter.  You have two weeks to turn around the revision on your book.  Get into the habit now: 1000 words a day, five days a week, for the rest of your life, as Carolyn See says in MAKING A LITERARY LIFE.  Hold your boundaries.  If someone in your life sabotages your writing, it's not a sign of love.  It's a sign of disrespect that goes far beyond writing.  And remember -- there's no such thing as "no time to write."  If you constantly "don't have time" to write, it means you don't really want to. Which is fine, but own it.  No excuses. 


     Detective Wyatt East finds himself the primary suspect when hex breaker Jain Lazarus disappears after their romantic weekend in Vermont.  In spite of the suspicions, Jain's boss, Maitland Stiles, hires Wyatt to track her down, forcing him to face aspects of his own painful past and revealing more about hers.
     Saddled with two rebellious runaway paranormal teens, he's embroiled in a shapeshifter pack disagreement, and must learn to work with both a caustic dragon and a cantankerous mermaid to not only find Jain, but help her help an old friend who's in over his head.   Wyatt learns he is not without psychic abilities of his own, although he prefers old-fashioned detective work.

         “Again, Mr. Collins,” said Wyatt.  “What can I do for you?”
         “When did you last see Jain Lazarus?”
         “We spent a four day weekend together about six weeks ago in Vermont.”
         “Have you spoken to her since?”
         “I left a few messages on her voice mail, but I haven’t heard back.”
         “Yes, we know that.  We have her phone.”
         Wyatt felt a chill run down his spine.  “Why would you have her phone?”
         “Was she in good health when you parted?”
         “We went skiing in the morning.  We went back to change.  She got a phone call – on the landline, not her cell, and said she had to go.  She left before I did.”
         “No one’s seen or heard from her since that weekend in Vermont.”
         “Are you looking for her?”
         “Yes.  She was due in our office the very next morning to get briefed on a new assignment.  The proprietor of the inn tells a different story.”
         “What do you mean?”
“He says the two of you left in the morning, but you came back alone.”
         “That’s not true.”
         “And there’s no record of a call going through to your room.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
         “Did you argue with Jain that weekend?’
         No.  We had a great time.”
         “Don’t lie to me, Detective.  I’m every bit as capable of discerning a liar as you are.”
         “Then you know I’m telling the truth.”
         “Either that or you’re even more talented than Jain believed.  You are the last person we know who saw Jain before her disappearance.”

Devon Ellington is a full-time writer, publishing under a half a dozen names in fiction and non-fiction, and providing business writing and editing services to an international client base.  An internationally produced playwright, she also creates mission-specific entertainment for non-profits such as the National Marine Life Center.  She teaches online and in-person all over the world, and her work appears in a wide range of anthologies.  Her blog, Ink in My Coffee, deals with the daily ups and downs of a writer's life:

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Topic Workbooks on Smashwords:


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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Unwanted jewelry class launched Becky's career

Hi Becky, welcome to Adventures in Authorland. Please get comfortable and tell us a little about your adventure.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

BANKING ON TEMPERANCE is the third book in my Cotillion Ball Series. The fourth one, THE TEMPESTUOUS DEBUTANTE, will be released in the fall, also through Crimson. These books are historical romances, each set in America in the decade leading up to the Civil War. I also write contemporary romances, the first of which, Blame It On The Brontes, was released in May, through Soul Mate. As for my favourite, I’m going to steal Eloisa James’ line as say it’s the book I’m working on right now, which happens to be the fifth in my historical series.

In which genre do you prefer to write and why?

I think switching gears from historic to contemporary each time I start a new project allows both genres to be better. Writing a period book requires a large amount of research to get the facts straight, so leaving that world and that type of writing, and doing something contemporary, offers me a fresh perspective on things. Falling in love hasn’t changed that much from the 1800’s to today, just the trappings of society.

Can you give us some details about your upcoming release/s?

I currently have one contemporary being shopped around. It’s about a 41-year-old woman who is suddenly an empty nester for the first time since she was 18. She takes an impetuous road trip to celebrate her independence and runs smack dab into a tornado—and a man named Cyclone. The fifth book in the historical series is my current WIP. It’s about the eldest brother in the Fitzpatrick household, Halwyn, who is a clueless knight in shining armor.

Have you ever travelled to a place and come away with a story unexpectedly?

My debut contemporary came about in just such a manner. My sister hijacked me into going to a jewelry-making class, which I really didn’t want to go to. This particular class was on constructing a necklace from sea glass, and, between instructions on how to make it, the instructor gave us some history of the glass, and told us stories about her own family and how they search the shores as a group to gather the glass. I very quickly decided I needed to write a story about sea glass and jewelry-making, and gathered up all the handouts this woman provided. When we left the class, my sister asked me if I was inspired, and I said yes, but I never wanted to make another necklace! I came home and wrote the story in a matter of months.

What historical person would you want to meet and why? 

This one’s easy for me. I’d like to have dinner with Thomas Jefferson and talk to him about the western expansion of the United States that he set into motion. What a fascinating time, and what a progressive man!

If you could time travel back, or forward, for one day, where would it be and why?

Also an easy question. I’d want to be living in America in the 1840s, and head to Oregon in a covered wagon. My dad reminded me of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s father. He always wanted to move when the neighbors got too close, so I’m sure if we lived in that time period, we would have been a member of a wagon train.

BANKING ON TEMPERANCE—Book 3 in the Cotillion Ball Series

     Basil Fitzpatrick was born into a life of privilege. In 1856, at 23 years of age, he is the owner of the St. Louis branch of the family banking business. He has his pick of the ladies and life by the horns. Temperance Jones and her family are far from privileged. Her father is a circuit-riding preacher from Pennsylvania. But the rumblings of a war between the North and the South force the preacher to move his family to Oregon rather than to take up arms against his fellow man. However, hardship and sickness have slowed their pace, and they are forced to spend the winter in St. Louis, waiting for the next wagon trains to leave in the spring.

     Basil is drawn to the large family the moment they roll into town, partly because they remind him of his own big family in New York. But also because of the eldest daughter, Temperance. She is a tiny, no-nonsense spitfire who is bent on fulfilling her father’s wish to get the family safely to Oregon. Basil is only interested in finding a mistress, not a wife. He knows if he allows Temperance into his heart, he is accepting the obligation of her entire family and their quest to settle in Oregon. He wants Temperance like he has wanted no other, but the burden of her family may be too much for him. And he can’t have one without the other.


     Temperance sputtered and fumed, breathing fire as the door to Basil’s apartment staircase closed behind him. That no-good, self-centered ass! How dare he say their friendship had been destroyed by her ambition! If they’d truly been friends, he would have stood by her and championed her clever attempts to get her family moved westward. But once he introduced her to Jake, it was as if he’d turned his back on her. She could take him turning his back on her as a woman, but not as a friend. She yanked open the door and ran up the stairs.
     “How dare you!” She didn’t bother to knock at the top of the steps, she was so angry.
     He turned to face her, but didn’t reply.
     “Well? How dare you say that I’m the one who turned away from your friendship? You’ve become my best friend here in town, Basil, and I miss our good times. You never come to the restaurant anymore, and you barely talk to me at all here. Do you want me to quit? To leave?”
     “Yes, what?”
     “If you know what’s best for you, leave, right this minute.”
     “Why? Because you’ll tell me something I don’t want to hear?”
     Basil crossed the room to her in two strides. He placed his hands on either side of her face and growled, “Not because of what I’ll tell you, but because of what I’ll do.” He lowered his mouth to hers, crushing her tender lips beneath his own.
     Temperance stood still, in shock at what was happening. The breath whooshed out of her lungs. Her arms hung by her sides, but her mouth and tongue were doing battle with Basil’s. She moved her arms finally, and wound them around his broad shoulders, welcoming him. Her back was up against the wall as Basil continued to kiss her with all the pent-up passion that had been building between them for months. She pulled him closer, reveling in his scent of spice and man. She tasted the tobacco on his breath, along with mint, and thought there had never been so delightful a combination.
     This is where I belong. Not Oregon.
     A small moan drifted from her mouth as she sunk her fingers into his hair. He ran a row of scorching kisses from the left corner of her mouth up to her temple, then down to the pulsing vein in her neck. As he tugged gently, her whimpers became stronger. She was desperately kissing his hair, his forehead, anything she could touch. His moans matched hers as the torrid, sensual dance continued.
     His hand drifted to the buttons running down the front of her dress. He slowly unbuttoned each one, taking the time to kiss each inch of new skin he uncovered. Temperance thought she would surely combust from the sensation of his mouth on flesh that had never before been touched by a man. She squirmed and wrapped her fingers into his hair.  “Oh, sweet Lord,” she cried out.
     Basil pried his lips from her, and backed off a step. He ran his hand through his hair. Temperance couldn’t talk. She couldn’t breathe. Her senses were still writhing out of control. He backed away one more step, staring at her with lust-filled eyes.
     “That is why you should never set foot in this apartment. If you come near me again, I’ll not stop. I will have all of you, and ruin all your plans for marriage to Jake. And that is why we can no longer be friends. You’ve made your choice, Temptress. Now leave me alone.”

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 Thank you for stopping by Becky. Good luck with your sales.