Guest Post: Jimena Novaro and the release of Blue Rabbit

If you like books and use social media, you’ve probably come across Jimena Novaro. Today she joins me as part of her week-long blog launch of her novel, Blue Rabbit. Our conversation takes us from Star Wars rock fights to Malcolm Reynolds quotes with a splash of Lord of the Rings, but you’ll have to read the interview to find out how it all fits together.

Jimena Novaro author picHi, Eric! Thanks for hosting me on your blog!

Hello, Jimena. Tell the people who don’t know you a little about yourself.

I’m a bilingual, bicultural writer who lives with one foot in the United States and one foot in Argentina. I love science fiction and fantasy literature more than air. I also sing a lot and love chocolate.

I’d like to visit Argentina someday. I’ve seen some amazing photos of waterfalls I would love to see with my own eyes. And with any luck, I could take in a soccer game (or football, if you prefer) while I’m there.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing stories as soon as I could write complete sentences, but I started telling stories much earlier than that! Funnily enough, the same friend who did the cover art for Blue Rabbit also did the cover art for the first “novel” I wrote, at the age of nine.

Tell us about your current project.

Right now I’m putting the final touches on Blue Rabbit, a YA urban fantasy novel, before the release and continuing to write a chapter of my epic fantasy serial The Withering Sword every Sunday for my website.

How did writing Blue Rabbit differ from writing The Withering Sword?

I didn’t have anything resembling an outline for Blue Rabbit―I didn’t know what would happen past the first few scenes when I started writing it. With The Withering Sword, I’ve had the most important plot points planned from the start, since people are reading along as I write it. For Blue Rabbit I drew more directly from my past experiences as a teenager and with southern US culture. Also, no one else read a word or knew much about Blue Rabbit until I’d finished the first draft and revision, which is pretty much the opposite from what I’ve done with The Withering Sword―let a bunch of people in on a prettied-up first draft.

What’s next for you?

My next project is a YA/NA science fiction psychological thriller. I’ve put it on hold until Blue Rabbit is out and the madness recedes, but I already have over half the first draft written. I’m having a blast working on it.

The best advice I can give you is don’t put off the next project too long. I’m speaking from personal experience here when I say promoting the current project can turn into an inescapable vortex. Now I’m having trouble getting the rhythm reestablished on my next project. But I’ve got three books of which I want to finish at least the first draft before April.

Do you have a writing schedule? If so, what is it?

I occasionally stick to a schedule for a few days straight, which mark my most consistently productive periods, but most of the time I have to squeeze in time for writing between other life-y things. The time of day that works best for me is early in the morning.

I know you like symphonic metal and opera. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

Oh, definitely! I couldn’t write without music. Much of Blue Rabbit was inspired by the music I listened to―in fact, all of the chapter titles except for one are either titles of songs or fragments of lyrics. The Factory of Dreams album Melotronical is one of the ones I associate the most with Blue Rabbit. I also listened to Xandria, Epica, Nightwish, After Forever, and Kamelot while writing it.

Where do you get your inspiration?

From everywhere. I listen to people talk about their lives and past experiences. I research history, current world events, science, and philosophy. I people-watch. I record particularly weird dreams for later adaptation and use.

What have you done to promote your writing?

I’m active on social media, blog semi-regularly, and have a series of videos on YouTube about my love of reading.

I’ve seen one of your YouTube videos, the one we’ve discussed about the mysterious destruction of books… or the physicality of books, if you will. I’ll have to check out the rest. I don’t use YouTube for much besides introducing my kids to the shows I watched as a kid. I’d take Voltron over Power Rangers any day.

You have some short stories on your website, and a story in The Adventure of Creation. Tell us a little about them.

The stories on my website are an odd little collection. You have Othello, a magic-realism piece I wrote as a sort of angry letter in response to argentine author Julio Cortázar’s story Circe, which I saw as a demonization of women. You have Burial Clothes, a short story about a young man struggling to cope with his father’s death, which was shortlisted for a national contest. And you have Half-Humans Anonymous, actually my favorite of the bunch, which addresses such themes as identity, adolescence, and loneliness through a sort of whacky contemporary fantasy world.

My story Worlds of Clay was selected for publication in The Adventure of Creation anthology, which came out earlier this year. Also magic realism, it combines my love for creating with my personal experiences about the loss of my grandfather.

These sound like a great way for people to sample your writing while they wait for Blue Rabbit’s release.

Where can people find you online?

You can find my blog here: http://www.jimenanovaro.com

My favorite place to connect with people is Twitter: http://twitter.com/JimenaNovaro

I also have a Facebook page: http://facebook.com/JimenaNovaroWriter

A Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7170198.Jimena_Novaro

And a YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF0ENPPqpWet3lPryOpObzQ

Have you ever liked a movie better than the book? If so, which one and why?

I liked The Lord of the Rings trilogy by Peter Jackson about as much as the book. Excellent casting, gorgeous music and visuals, and about as faithful as an adaptation can be. Plus, hunky dudes!

Elvis or the Beatles?

The Beatles. J I grew up on them, and I still love them.

What’s your favorite quote?

Can I have two from vastly different sources?

“Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” ― Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract. It introduced me to the world of philosophy, and it still gives me tingles just thinking about it.

“You can learn all the math in the ‘verse… but you take a boat in the air that you don’t love… she’ll shake you off just as sure as the turn of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she ought to fall down… tells you she’s hurting before she keels. Makes her a home.” ― Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity.

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching Firefly/Serenity. I’ve bought two copies for people who had never seen it. And it’s such a quotable show. I’m a big fan of Jayne, but most of the people I know can’t stand him.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars―the original trilogy, of course. It was one of the obsessions of my childhood. I once got into a fight with my best friend over Luke Skywalker. The fight involved rocks!!! I’ve only seen a couple of seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, though, so it seems like an unfair comparison.

How do you take your coffee (or tea)?

I take neither! I’ve only had coffee once, and I ended up sobbing uncontrollably… in public.

Thanks for joining me today and letting me be part of Blue Rabbit’s launch, Jimena. I wish you all the best.

Blue Rabbit final coverBlue Rabbit Blurb:

In Knoxville, Tennessee, there’s a bridge to another world.

When they first cross it, Erika and her friends feel like they’ve stumbled into a dream. Magical and mysterious, the other world becomes their little paradise, a place to explore and escape from their everyday lives. Until one night a boy from school, Mike, follows them to the other side―and he’s kidnapped by strange and powerful Creatures.

Back home, everyone thinks Erika and the gang are responsible for Mike’s disappearance. The dream has become a nightmare. How can they negotiate with these Creatures to rescue Mike and clear their names? And why are the Creatures fixated on Erika, who feels drawn to their world even as she senses the danger?

 

About the author:

Jimena Novaro always knew she would be a writer. It just took her a few years to realize that she wanted to do it full-time, and relegate things like going into outer space and being an opera prima donna to hobbies. She loves reading and writing science fiction, fantasy, and YA. A self-proclaimed geeky sort of nerd, she spends a lot of her time fangirling over her favorite shows, books, and bands and educating herself about super-important topics such as how to survive an arrow wound and whether or not you can shoot a gun in space. Sometimes she gets super serious and rants about some socio-political issue or other.

She’s a member of the awesome fantasy authors group Mystic Quills. You can find her free epic fantasy serial, The Withering Sword, on her website (a new chapter comes out every Sunday!) Her first book, Blue Rabbit, a YA urban fantasy, comes out this December!

 

 

 

Guest Post: Cover Design by CK Volnek

Anyone who knows me, or who has come across this blog before, understands how happy I am with the cover of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. I’ve even entered it in its first contest on Facebook. You can find the contest here, and vote by liking and commenting. I hope to enter more contests soon.

After I signed my contract with Muse It Up Publishing, I started browsing their catalog. The first books to catch my attention did so with their covers. My editor was Katie Carroll, so I would have read Elixir Bound anyway, just to get an idea of who I was about to work with… you can learn a lot about someone by reading their writing. But I also read Beware of the White, The Acadian Secret, and Julius Caesar Brown and the Green Gas Mystery. All of these books have one thing in common, CK Volnek designed the cover. So needless to say, I hoped I too would get Ms. Volnek as my cover artist. And I did.

She is here to talk about the importance of cover design and some of the behind the scenes work that takes place with the author, and I will share the early versions of Unveiling as we worked to get the beautiful final product. And you can see her other amazing covers on her website here.

Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover?

We, as a society are judgmental. For instance, if you go into a fancy restaurant you might expect to see photos of elegant steaks, seafood or desserts, presented on fine china and sprinkled with spices.

But what if, instead, you were shown images of slop, spilled onto chipped or broken plates. You probably wouldn’t eat there. A restaurant would never advertise such unpleasant photos. They have an image to build, a reputation to keep. And so, with fine images to portray their menus, they are promising a delectable dining experience.

It’s not really so different for books. At best, an author has but a few seconds to grab a reader’s attention and make them want to know more about your title. An author must create a cover worthy of the words written on the pages.

A book cover is also a promise. Just as with the images on a menu, an author is pledging the reader his time will not be wasted within the book’s pages. Nothing is worse than getting a book you did not want or enjoy after being misled by its cover.

So, what makes a great book cover? Ultimately, the best book cover is the one that makes the reader buy the book!

Think of the cover as a billboard. It is trying to catch the attention of drivers as they speed by. Most billboards have 6 words or less. The driver has to ‘get it’, at speeds up to 75 mph, before passing the sign. A book cover should do the same thing. At first glance, the readers should know:

  1. The genre of the book.
  2. The general subject matter or focus
  3. And some idea of the tone or mood of the book. Is it a thriller? Sci-Fi? YA or Middle Grade? An instructional manual or non-fictional biography?

Before I begin designing a cover, I need to know two important things…the emphasis of the book, and the audience. (I wouldn’t create a cover for a dark murder mystery in shades of pink with lots of frilly lace, nor would I put a couple kissing on a book intended for third graders.) I must know enough of the mood of the book and who it is intended for to be able to sell it with a cover design. I too, am an author, so these are the first elements I focus on.

Here are a few rules I concentrate on as I design a cover.

  1. Make everything count—If I am going to introduce a graphic element, I need to make sure it helps the cover communicate with the reader.
  2. Use the background—I really try to avoid white backgrounds, which will disappear on retailer’s white screens. Using a color, a texture, or a background illustration instead helps draw the eye.
  3. Make the title large—I reduce a cover design on the computer screen to the size of a thumbnail on Amazon and see if I can read it or make out what it’s about? If not, I need to simplify.
  4. Use a font that’s easy to read—See above. There’s no sense using a font that’s unreadable when it’s radically reduced. I particularly watch out for script typefaces, the kind that look lacy and elegant at full size. They often disappear when small. I also try to stay aware of ‘leading.’ This is the space between the letters and the lines.
  5. Find images that clarify—I try not to find images that are not too literal. I look for something that expresses the mood, historical period, or overall tone of the book.
  6. Stay with a few colors—I have found that using fewer colors makes a more effective cover. Using more of the colors of the rainbow can be effective though if you are aiming for a juvenile feel to the book. But if the story is dark and full of passion or mystery, keep to a simpler color palette.
  7. Look at lots of great book covers—I may not be able to mimic all the techniques in one cover, but I’ve found by looking at great book covers provides a tremendous source of inspiration and fresh ideas.

I also am proud to maintain a close relationship with the authors I design for. I need their input. They know the story better than anyone else. So I rely on their input to make sure I design their cover to sell their book.

I first have my authors fill out a Cover Art form, clarifying the genre, mood and style of the story. I ask them what they like on book covers and to offer a few of their favorite covers so I can get a feel for what they like. Most times they select covers that are similar in mood and style of their story so this helps me craft a cover they will be happy with. This CA form also clarifies the elements of the book they deem most important, whether it be characters, a place, or a particular thing such as a necklace or instrument.

This is the first mock-up. I didn't intend for her to scrap the whole thing, but I wanted some darker elements added, plus my main characters never ride horses.

This is the first mock-up. I didn’t intend for her to scrap the whole thing, but I wanted some darker elements added, plus my main characters never ride horses.

After I have designed my cover I send a mock-up to the author. Do I get it right on the first mock-up? Sometimes. But many times, we will go back and tweak the images to compliment and complete the characters or other important features of the story. But as long as I have a complete and thorough CA form, the tweaks are usually rather minimal. When we finalize our visual, I then complete the cover and supply the author with three sizes of jpegs to use for all their promotional needs, whether it be a cover to use on blogs, or one to create bookmarks and posters with.

From this cover I just wanted a few changes. I thought the character looked too old, so I asked if his face could be obscured by a shadow, I wanted the dragon over the castle smaller so you could barely tell it's a dragon--this has a significance at the end of the book. And finally I wanted the star over the castle exaggerated so the reader would know it's a star not a moon.

From this cover I just wanted a few changes. I thought the character looked too old, so I asked if his face could be obscured by a shadow, I wanted the dragon over the castle smaller so you could barely tell it’s a dragon–this has a significance at the end of the book. And finally I wanted the star over the castle exaggerated so the reader would know it’s a star not a moon.

Here's the final cover with all the changes in place.

Here’s the final cover with all the changes in place.

To wrap up here, I want to ask you, the reader, do YOU judge a book by its cover? I bet you will find that unless you are smitten with a blurb before ever seeing the cover, you DO put a high precedence on the images of that book cover. We never get a chance to make a second ‘first impression’ so it’s important to get it right the first time.

Thank you for joining me today!

C.K. Volnek.

Guest Post: Buffy Andrews

buffy2011Meet my colleague Buffy Andrews. She is an author, blogger, journalist and social media maven.

By day, she’s a journalist, leading an award-winning staff at the York Daily Record/Sunday News (York, Pennsylvania, USA), where she is Assistant Managing Editor of Features and Niche Publications and social media coordinator.
By night, she’s an author, writing women’s fiction, young adult and middle grade.

In addition to her writing blog, Buffy’s Write Zone, she maintains a social media blog, Buffy’s World.  She is also a newspaper and magazine columnist and writes middle-grade, young adult and women’s fiction. Check out her author page.

She lives in southcentral Pennsylvania with her husband, Tom; two sons, Zach and Micah; and wheaten cairn terrier Kakita.

.

Her Books:

ginamikecoverThe Yearbook Series: Gina and Mike

9781472054777_CoverThe Moment Keeper

ChristmasViolinCoverThe Christmas Violin

SueTomCoverThe Yearbook Series: Sue and Tom

Upcoming titles:

The Yearbook Series: Sue and Tom (coming soon)

The Lion Awakens YA (2014)

Ella’s Rain YA/crossover (2014)

Freaky Frank MG (2014)

Will, Middle Name Trouble MG (2014)

Connect with Buffy

Twitter

Facebook

Linkedin

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Google+

Google+ Author page

You Tube channel

Pinterest

Goodreads

Rebel Mouse

Rebel Mouse/authorbuffyandrews

Storify

Tout

NewHive

Instagram

Buffy authorFive quick questions

Q. What do you do when you need to think or are stuck in your writing?

A. I run. For some reason it frees my mind and I often find that it provides the clarity and direction I need.

Q. Are you one of those people who stop writing while you know what’s coming next?

A. Absolutely. Just like Hemingway. Does it always work out? No. But it’s what I aim for.

Q. First person or third?

A. It depends. I write in both. And sometimes, as in The Yearbook Series, I write alternating POVs.

Q. Coffee or tea?

A. Coffee — lots of it!

Q. What are you most proud of?
A. My sons and the fine young men they have become.

Thanks for joining me, Buffy. Looking at all the ways you have for people to connect to you, I think you could teach me a thing or seven about social media. Congratulations on your published titles and all your upcoming titles.

Guest Post: Kai Strand’s Takes on Publishing

Today, I’m very lucky to host one of my friends (at least in the online sense of the word) who happens to be one of my favorite authors. Shortly after I signed the contract for my book, I started cyber-stalking. No, not in the creepy, obsessive, you-need-to-get-professional-help-before-you-hurt-yourself-or-someone-else sort of way. Instead the subtle, and more socially accepted, way of passively observing what other authors were doing. When I cam across Kai, her book Beware of the White caught my attention. First, it had an outstanding cover (CK Volnek, who did Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud’s cover, also did Beware of the White). The story also sounded interesting, so I read it. Not only did I enjoy it immensely, when I finished it, I realized it also had the same editor as my book, Katie Carroll. Maybe that’s just one of the fun quirks of being with a small press. I’ll let Kai tell you more.

Eeny, Meeny, Miny Moe – Today’s Publishing Options

It used to be that you could be a fantastic writer, but if none of the big six publishing houses or any of their imprints wanted to publish your work, your story was dead in the water. Today there are more small presses than ever before, including many that are taking advantage of electronic publishing and doing a good job of it, and there is accessibility and affordability in self-publishing. It is a great time to be a writer. The power of publication has shifted more into the author’s hands than ever before.

A book is a collaborative deal regardless of which route you take. With a small press, the collaboration is more intimate than if you were with a large publishing house and less over-lording than if you self-publish. You usually have good communication with your editor, input into your cover design, and can get answers to your questions from the senior editors or the publisher.  Though it is less likely you will get an advance from a small press, your royalties might be slightly larger, especially on the ebook. Their overhead isn’t as big as a large publisher, so they tend to give more back to the author where they can.

Of course there are drawbacks. Because small press keep their staff lean, the employees are often overburdened and might miss deadlines, pushing back your release date. Small presses often don’t even provide a solid release date because of this, leaving the author unable to prepare a ‘launch’ for their book or having to postpone a previously planned one (that can be embarrassing). Small presses usually don’t provide much support for promoting your book. Sometimes not even a Facebook page or Twitter, which costs the company nothing if they can get their authors to add the content for them. While small press can be the answer for publishing a niche story, they can often be limiting for the author as their career progresses, which is why I am published with four different presses. Not one press I’ve published with publishes all the books I write because their line up is more specialized than a larger house. And finally, small presses go out of business frequently, which can result in your book rights bobbing around for a while or your publication never coming to fruition. Do your homework on the company before submitting to them and if you choose to accept a contract and the company isn’t what you thought…move onto the next book with a different publisher. You usually will have a chance to snag back your rights after three years and then you can take the book elsewhere or self-publish it.

Small press fits my current publication expectations. I like working with people who know more about the aspects of publishing a book than I do. I love that I can have multiple books being prepared for publication at the same time while I keep writing new stuff. Last year I had two books publish within a few weeks of each other and this year there were only a couple months between book releases. It is much harder to do that if you are self-publishing, because it is all up to you.

Going forward, I don’t know that I will only publish with small presses. I hope my career will be long and fruitful, and my goal is to hit all the options eventually. However, I am enjoying my experience publishing with small presses and I’m learning a lot about the business of writing for children.

Thanks for joining me today, Kai. I had hoped to finish reading King of Bad before this went live so I could spend a paragraph saying great and wonderful things about it. Alas, I failed. But I will say I’ve enjoyed the first quarter of the book before moving on to your blurbs.

Beware of the White FinalBeware of the White: middle grade fantasy adventure

As is tradition, Terra learns on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday that she is a Natures Spirit. It is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe…that part breaks tradition.

The Trepidus are the death janitors of the Underworld, responsible for delivering fatalities with a smile and cleaning up after themselves until Blanco, recent leader of the Trepidus, decides the day of reckoning for his species is coming. He begins organizing the creatures and leads them toward an uprising. The prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.

With Spirit of Security, Frank, protecting her, Terra attempts to complete her training and discover her Spirit talents. Together, they go on a rogue investigation to learn how to defeat Blanco. In the end, it comes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord is at stake. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new Spirit earn back the peace of the city?

Buy It:

MuseItUp, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Or look for it on iTunes

King of BAD COVERKing of Bad: young adult fantasy

Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.

He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?

Buy it: Whiskey Creek PressAmazonBarnes and Noble Add it to Goodreads

Kai StrandAbout the author

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died, the end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for younger children Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Visit Kai’s website, www.kaistrand.com, to browse her books, download companion materials or to find all her online haunts.

Bullies, Witches, and the Supernatural: an Interview with Stuart West

It’s always exciting to meet a new friend. I had the good fortune of getting to know Stuart West this past week or so. Sure, our books are with the same publisher, so I had come across him on message boards and other people’s blogs, but this is the first time I’ve interacted with him directly. And let me tell you, our similarities don’t end with writing for the same publisher. We live in the same geographical region. We don’t care for cats. We love horror movies. We even both prefer the Spanish version of Dracula… I didn’t know anyone else had seen it.

So today we’re doing a blog swap. We’ve read each other’s books. Now, I grill Stuart about his book here, and he puts me over the coals about Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud on his site. And to increase the incentive to read these posts, and because we are generous, he has a copy of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud to give away, and I’m offering up Tex, the Witch Boy. You have to leave a comment to enter, but we made it a bit more interesting than that. Read on to learn the details.

_MG_0556 - Version 2Hi, Stuart. Tell us a little about yourself. Where you grew up, where you live, how many countries you’ve visited, why there are so many cats in your book.

Dang it, Eric, first of all, I don’t like cats. Like my protagonist, Tex, I’m allergic to cats. Plus they’re just too danged independent, thus making not for making good pets. And they can scratch you without notice. Okay. Had to get that out of the way. But you can’t have a book about a witch without cats.

I live in Kansas. It sucks.

I’ve only been to the Kansas City/Overland Park area, but I didn’t have such a bad time. I had some good Bar-B-Que at B. B.’s (on the Missouri side) and some ice cream at the best Cold Stone Creamery I’ve been to. I know some people go to that area to shop. I’m not much for shopping, but I can hold my own when it comes to eating.

Other than the cats (I’m not a fan, either. We have two indoor, two outdoor, and that’s at least four more than we need), what else can you tell us about your books?

Eric, the Tex, The Witch Boy series are all murder mystery, paranormal, suspense thriller, romantic comedies. Whew. And they all deal with current topical issues teens deal with. In a non-preachy manner. The first book tackles bullying (a large part of which is based on my high school life, as awful as it was).

I’ve only read Tex, The Witch Boy, but Tex and the Gangs of Suburbia is available (I’ll be getting it soon) and Tex and the God Squad comes out Friday the 13th of December (working for Muse is going to break my piggy bank).

Yes, indeed. Tex and the God Squad is actually based on an incident that happened at my high school two years ago. It’s about the sudden and shocking violence that happens in high schools. It’s awful, very frightening. But, it’s not all doom and gloom. This book introduces my stand-out character, Elspeth. She’s a fan favorite, even gets her own book next year. Can’t tell you too much about her now as she’s shrouded in mystery.

Tex and the God Squad is out in a couple weeks, actually. This one I’m a little concerned about. My bad guys are obviously based on the heinous Westboro Baptist Church. Bring it! It’s about teen suicide, gay and lesbian issues, and, the daddy of ‘em all, religion. Hope I do the topics justice. It’s the biggest and baddest-a** book of the trilogy, I think.

The best way I’ve learned to offend someone is to start talking about religion. I think it even outweighs politics–though in recent years, the two terms have almost become synonymous. Good luck with that.

In Tex, The Witch Boy we learn Tex is somewhat dissatisfied at being a witch, as opposed to a warlock or wizard. Without giving anything away, do we ever learn a reason why he’s a witch, or is that just how it is?

Eric, I actually did some research (I know, right?). Witches, regardless of gender, are all called “witches.” Warlocks are apparently the thing of fiction. One witch liked what I did; the other? Not so much.

You learn something new everyday. I even worked with a Wiccan  once. We had some interesting conversations.

Speaking of a Friday the 13th release date, and you writing books about witchcraft, do you believe in the supernatural? As Dr. John Markway said in The Haunting, “Look, I know the supernatural is something that isn’t supposed to happen, but it does happen.”

Well, thanks for name-dropping one of my favorite horror films. But, alas, no, I’m not a believer. I’d love to be, though. So, if any ghosts are out there, waiting for a house to haunt, come on and get me. Please?

I’ve never seen anything to make me believe in ghosts (human spirits walking, or floating, around), but I did have an extremely strange experience once. When I recount it, most people think I’m making things up (writers get that a lot), so I won’t go into all the details here. The short version goes something like this:

Either my senior year of high school, or sometime when I came home from college, I got off work from the evening shift and went home. My parents and sister were all asleep when I got there so I quietly headed to my bedroom in the basement. I got about halfway down the stairs when I felt something… evil. It was like the air grew too thick to walk through. I couldn’t take another step down, so I went up and slept on the couch. I didn’t feel anything bad upstairs, and I didn’t feel like I was in any kind of danger. I just knew I couldn’t go downstairs.

A few hours later I awoke. I felt the strangeness pass through the house and leave. There was no question in my mind it was gone. I went to my room and slept the rest of the night there. The next morning, in the family room adjacent to my bedroom, I found a Ouija Board my sister and her friends had been using the night before. I’ve never experienced anything like that again, and I’m not saying the Ouija Board caused it, but I’ve stayed clear of them since… just in case.

Sorry, I feel like I tried to steal the show there for a minute. Let’s get back to you, Stuart.

I’ve always been a huge fan of horror (books and movies), and the scene where Tex conjures the spirit of a murder victim is straight out of classic horror. Are you a fan of the horror genre?

Oh, believe it, brother. My favorite genre. Can’t get my wife to watch horror films but I definitely subverted my daughter at an early age. Father and daughter bonding time is sitting on the sofa, freaking out. Not much into gore and the new-fangled torture films, but the classics? Yeah.

I’m with you 100%. I don’t do ‘gorror’ but I love the classics.

Did you ever consider making the Tex, The Witch Boy series a horror series?

As much as I love horror, I couldn’t do it. I think it would’ve detracted from the story and characters. And, really, that’s what the books are about—the characters.

Yes, I think characters are the most important part of a story. In my mind, the plot doesn’t matter a bit if it’s not happening to people you care about.

I’ve been pondering a historical fiction book about the Salem Witch Hunt, and this book did nothing but stoke that fire. To write it like I want would require extensive research, some of witch (get it) I started years ago. How much research into witchcraft did you have to do for this series?

Talked to a couple of witches. The internet is a writer’s best friend.

Tex, The Witch Boy is about bullies. You’ve mentioned before that all of the examples of bullying are taken from real life experiences. Does that include the examples of adults as bullies?

Yeah. Sadly, bullying doesn’t stop at the high school level. Maybe the physically violent level of it does. But having spent most of my life in corporate America, they’re still an unwelcome presence.

Red is an interesting character because we’ve all known those adults we felt attached to as kids. I even remember a few school janitors I respected and learned a thing or two about life from. Did you base Red on anyone from real life?

Yep, Red was a janitor who did, indeed, bust me for egging my school, just like Tex does. Now, he was a junior high janitor, but still…

Finally, just for a silly question and for a nice number like ten… Do you like the Wicked Witch of the West? (Hey, I had to. You played a question on my last name.)

No, I think she’s a total beeyotch. Always’ve been more partial to the bubbly witch. Oh, crap, who am I kidding! Yes, I like the green witch! Especially when she melts.

Thanks for visiting us today Stuart. I invite everyone to leave a comment telling Stuart what you think. And for extra fun, tell us a little about your favorite witch. Who is she, or he, and why? Someone who does will be taking home a copy of Tex, the Witch Boy. And if you don’t win, for a limited time Muse it Up is offering Tex, the Witch Boy for FREE if you buy Tex and the Gangs of Suburbia. And it’s even on sale for $4.50! Seriously, you can’t go wrong with this.

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Tex and the Gangs of Suburbia 200x300

Guest Post: Penny Estelle’s Unwanted Christmas Guest

Today I’m one of about 20 people involved in the launch party for Penny Estelle’s first Christmas story, The Unwanted Christmas Guest. I haven’t read this story yet, after all, it just came out today, but I have read one of her stories. I can tell you it was gripping and well written; I can’t imagine this one would be any different. So here’s Penny to tell you a little about it.

I can’t tell you how excited I am that my very first ever Christmas story is being released today.  The Unwanted Christmas Guest is a story about Elizabeth McMurphy, an up and coming high-powered attorney, who is after vengeance.  Her sights are set on one of the richest and most powerful families in Colorado. Steve York is an obnoxious reporter that thinks the ice queen has gone too far and does all he can to get under her skin.

When one of the worst blizzards in history, hits Colorado and leaves a hurt Steve York, stranded with Elizabeth in a mountain cabin, she must decide to either take care of him, or throw him out to fend for himself.

The Unwanted Christamas Guest 200x300Excerpt

“What’s going on here? Where the hell are my pants?”

Elizabeth practically jumped out of her skin. Steve stood in the bedroom doorway, wearing only some tight fitting pink sweats.

“I found you after your car went nose to nose with a tree.” She crossed her arms. “The question is, what were you doing up here in a snowstorm? Were you coming up here to spy on me?”

“Jesus, my head hurts.” Steve groaned and sat at the kitchen table. “And don’t flatter yourself.” He brought up his hands to rub his eyes and push on his temples. He started to say something when a giggle and a round of undistinguishable sounds caught his attention. Steve stared at the little girl, a whisper of a smile on his pale face. “You have a daughter?”

She chose to ignore the question. “Again, Mr. York, you were headed…where?”

“I was going to see some friends in Granby, then on to Steamboat to spend the holidays with my family.”

“You figured on taking a short cut on Badger Springs Road?”

“Basically,” he muttered. “I had a phone in my pants pocket…” Steve looked down at the pink sweats. “Yours, I presume?” At her nod, he asked with a smirk, “And you’re the one that took my clothes off?”

“Junior, my neighbor.”

“If you’ll allow me to use your phone, I’ll call Triple A and get myself and my car out of your life.” He reached over to Katy and she latched onto his finger, the brightest smile ever illuminating her sweet face.

Elizabeth quickly picked her up, as if he would contaminate her by his touch.  “Phones are out.”

“Internet?”

“Nope.”

“How the hell do you live here?” he asked irritably.

* * *

Please find The Unwanted Christmas Guest and my other stories with MuseItUp publishing @

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=146&Itemid=82

Feel free to stop by and check out my other stories and/or leave me a message.  I love visitors!

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http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5820078.Penny_Estelle

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http://www.amazon.com/Penny-Estelle/e/B006S62XBY

Guest Post: Heather Greenis author of the Natasha Saga

With just over a week until the second book in Heather Greenis’ Natasha Saga, Natasha’s Diary, comes out, she stops by to talk about curling, gardening, and maybe even a little about her writing.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born raised and live in Ontario, Canada.  Married, we don’t have kids, but do have a very spoiled dog.

We love to travel and people watch.  When we aren’t seeing what the world has to offer, I enjoy gardening during the summer and curling during the winter. I’m on the ice 3 times a week, once competitively, once for the social and once managing our junior league and coaching our future generation.

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Summer of 2013 Gardening (this sunflower was planted complements of the birds, or squirrels. Critter spit must spur on growth).,

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Promoting curling during the summer, the game “rocks ‘n’ rings” The game is great to demonstrate the strategy of the sport.

I support ‘the Healing Cycle’. Palliative care is one of those services people don’t want to think about until they need it. I plan to get more involved with our local hospice next year. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to pass with dignity.

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Volunteering with the healing cycle (I was on dispatch for cyclists to contact, and my buddy was road support. Working together as part of the 100km ride team.)

How long have you been writing?

I began writing about 14 years ago.  It was my husband’s idea.  I got off to a slow start, once I got inspired, well, I kept writing.

Tell us about your current project.

I’m in the process of a 4-part saga. The first book was published in June, the second is due to launch in December, the third in March and the conclusion in June 2014.

I’ve got some other projects on the go, but they are really rough and need some dedicated hours and attention.

How hard was it for you to find a publisher for your book?

Hearing others speak, I’ve learned I’m incredibly lucky. I did a lot of researching of publishers on-line.  I emailed my first 3 chapters to a publisher in Calgary who wrote back they didn’t want this saga, but would be interested in seeing other work from me.  I took that a a soft decline and very positive. I emailed my full manuscript to two others. Nine months later, I received that glorious email and began working with editors and then finally a cover artist and one by one sent the remainder of my saga. All four books in my saga are under contract.

You and I are in the same boat there. I haven’t had nearly as many rejections as most authors seem to get. Muse must have a strong sense for talent, right. Or they like to take chances with wildcards, but from the four or five books I’ve read from the Muse catalog, I’m going with talent. They’ve all been top of the line.

What’s next for you?

That’s a good question. Go back and play with the other books that I have on the go.  No need to rush knowing I have two still to launch.

Do you have a writing schedule? If so, what is it?

Not really.  I write when I’m inspired. If I’m not, I don’t push it or get mad.  That said, I’m at my computer every day unless we are busy with family or friends and I lack the time.  I enjoy writing, allowing my mind to wander, trying to make my story the best it can be.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what do you like?

I listen to talk radio, CBC is great.  They have great interviews with incredible, intelligent people. Sometimes a comment can spur my imagination. I listen to jazz, and classical, just background stuff. Listening to classical, I’m able to picture cartoons in my head. I’m just a big, well no so big, kid. I enjoy modern music as well, but I start to sing along and that makes it impossible to work. The dog plugs her ears.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Anywhere and everywhere. I go for walks, and I watch people. Listening to people is a wonderful way to develop a character.

What have you done to promote your writing?

Not enough. I’m shy so this is the tough part. My friends hosted a book launch for me.  I had to read a short passage. That was the worst 3 minutes of the night.

I made post cards with the cover of my first book and info on the back which I hand out. I’ve joined some social network groups, Goodreads and through those I’ve joined some review exchange groups. There verdict is still out on those.  I also had our local newspaper put an article in for me. Other than that, I hope people enjoy my story and talk about it.

I like the post card idea. I may have to copy it. As far as the review groups, I’ve had better luck with the ones on Facebook than on Goodreads.

Tell us about any other published stories you’ve had.

This is my one and only, so far. Natasha is a saga as opposed to a series. One big story that has been broken down into 4 separate books

Natasha’s Dream

Natasha’s Diary

Natasha’s Hope

Natasha’s Legacy

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Where can people find you online?

my website http://heathergreenis.weebly.com

my book is available at al the major distributors

amazon, barnes and noble, i-Tunes kobo and MuseitUp my publisher’s site of course.

Fun Questions:

Elvis or the Beatles?

Beatles – Four talented men collaborated and made unforgettable classic music that is still appreciated today.

What’s your favorite quote?

“Can’t take it with you” – If you look on my website, you’ll see I’m charitable.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Yikes – neither.  I liked R2-D2, C-3P0 and Darth Vader from star wars, and Data the android from Star Trek, but haven’t seen a 5 full episodes.  Hubby is a trekkie fan.

How do you take your coffee (or tea)?

Black and clear – Why ruin the flavour?  I drink far more tea than coffee.