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jane-jordanJane was born in England, and grew up exploring the history and culture of London and surrounding counties.  After some time spent in Germany in the 1990’s she immigrated to Detroit, USA, eventually settling in South West Florida. She returned to England after a fifteen-year absence, to spend six years in the South West of England living on Exmoor.  Here, inspired by the atmosphere, beautiful scenery and the ancient history of the place, she began writing.

Jane is a trained horticulturist, and also spent time working and volunteering for Britain’s National Trust at Exmoor’s 1000-year-old Dunster Castle.  Gaining more insight into the history and mysteries surrounding these ancient places, and having always been intrigued by the supernatural, inspiration came for her fourth novel, The Beekeeper’s Daughter, a supernatural thriller.

Jane Returned to Florida in 2013, and lives in Sarasota.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Beekeeper’s Daughter. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

 

A: The Beekeeper’s Daughter is a historical dark romance primarily set in the Victorian Era.  It combines the lives of the cottagers, blacksmiths and wealthy landowners in a story that is full of intrigue.

 

Annabel Taylor is The Beekeeper’s Daughter, she also has the ability to charm bees.  She has grown up on wild Exmoor, which lies in the South West of England.  When she meets Jevan, the blacksmith son, her life dramatically changes, they form an unbreakable bond, until they are forced apart when Jevan leaves for London.  Annabel is heartbroken, and believes her life is over.  By chance she meets Alex, the heir to vast estate lands and the foreboding Gothelstone manor house.

 

Socially they are worlds apart, even though Annabel is inexplicably drawn to him, she feels that Alex’s attention is merely a distraction from her true love.  Alex has other ideas.  When Jevan eventually returns, Annabel realizes just how precarious her situation has become.  When Jevan’s life is threatened, she has to make a heartbreaking choice that could mean Jevan will hate her forever.

 

But darker forces are at play. Alex and Annabel are merely pawns in someone else’s sinister plan.  Annabel must use her inherent ability to stop a diabolical plan coming to fruition, and destroy a powerful witch.

 

Q: What do you think makes a good Dark Romance? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

 

A: I would say three is a limited number, Dark Romance can have so many components to it.

 

cover-artAn important element is the central characters that have a love interest, which is often conflicted, a story that can enter the realm of horror, but still engage the reader.

 

Attention to detail, and dialogue is important.  Characters have to been portrayed as believable, if my characters are in love I want readers to feel that, if they hate each other, then, I want readers to feel the animosity and the conflict.

 

Dark Romance should be about anticipation, longing and hope. Questions should be raised. Are these people good and bad in equal measures?  Are they corrupt?  I like to explore these ideas, and this genre explores a world that is dark and mysterious, but it still has to have an attainable light in that darkness.

 

Dark romance is frequently linked to gothic fiction, and I do enjoy the gothic element.  For me, it’s as much about the mood of a place as the setting, which brings the whole story to life. The atmosphere sets the mood and gives an anchor to the story.  The mood can be anything that inspires your imagination from mist covered moors, a foreboding old house with secret rooms, to the presence of a raven suggesting an omen of bad luck.

 

The supernatural is often associated with dark romance and the classic gothic tale, and by weaving this through a story it gives the writer the potential to send a shiver up their reader’s spine.

 

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

 

A: I had the basic idea.  I wanted to write something of the Victorian period, and I completed a lot of research so that all the historical elements could be accurately portrayed.

 

I had the beginning for a long time, but Jevan’s character would not come until I had the right name for him.  As strange as that sounds, not only do I have to visualize the details, but the name has to be right or I can’t imagine that person, in turn the character then has to live up to the name.

 

There are so many different factors to this book, the love triangle, the bees and Annabel’s supernatural power over them, witchcraft, a Victorian asylum, the moors, and the city of Bath as well as society life, which made it a complex undertaking.

 

I found it useful to write and work to a timeline.  It changed several times, but it helped me tell the story and know how everything would happen, which was especially important, since the story started centuries before the Victorian times.  Ultimately, knowing the order of things and how they progress helped me see the bigger picture, and where to conclude the book.

 

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

 

A: Annabel is the protagonist in The Beekeepers Daughter.  I knew what I needed to accomplish in the story and for that role, she had to be confident, a little hot headed and unafraid as well as beautiful.  There had to be an underlying darkness to her character, because of her own heritage.  Even though, she is a complex character she was easy to write.

 

I like strong women, and their characters to be of substance.  Annabel had to be somewhat fearless given the adversity she has to conquer, but I do show her vulnerable side. Like many women, when it comes to romance, she still has a profound weakness for the man she loves.

 

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

 

A: Cerberus Saltonstall is the antagonist in The Beekeeper’s Daughter.  He was interesting to develop.  Darker and more wicked characters are complex on so many levels.  I portray him as evil, but evil is a point of view.

 

If Cerberus was asked why he behaves in this manner, he would answer: everything he does is borne out of love for a woman that has died.  The darkness manifests in Cerberus because he cannot accept that fact.  It is clear that he is driven by his own demons and dabbling in the dark arts has caused further corruption. His grasp on reality has become obscure, and part of the thriller of this novel is unravelling Cerberus’s evil plan.

 

I drip feed just enough information throughout the book to let readers realize that he has another agenda, but his scheme does not become clear until the appropriate time

 

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

 

A: I keep paragraphs and chapters relatively short. I don’t pad out my story with useless information, if I write it, then, it’s there for a reason.

 

One of the worst things when reading a novel is to become bored and skip pages. Some writers take two or three pages to write what could of actually be said on a single page, so I try to keep my story moving at a good pace.

 

When I worked with my first editor a few years ago, he cut 10,000 words from my manuscript, and I was horrified.  As a writer you invest so much time and energy into each and every word.  To my mind they were all needed and were all significant.  But that editor taught me so much by explaining why he cut the words.  He made me see how to write the same thing with less words and by doing so, have more impact.  So when I read through the story, I could see how much sharper and polished it had become.

 

The lesson learned was if you can say it in six words, don’t use twenty.

 

Although, there is always an exception to the rule, and some scenes just need a long descriptive, especially if you are trying to portray a place or setting you know your reader will have difficulty imagining. Even so, most everyday things can be simplified.  For example, I may want my reader to know that a character ate a sandwich, but I don’t need to describe the contents in detail, tell them if the bread was white or brown, or how big it was–too much information.

 

I try to write dynamic dialogue and have to immerse myself in the character of the people I am writing about.  One of the best ways to check your writing, is to read aloud to yourself.  Hearing what you have written has a way of telling you when something is not right.

 

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

 

A:  As this book is set on Exmoor, and there is a scene in the city of Bath.  I could draw on actual experience of these places.  I have walked around the city of Bath, and taken inspiration from the famous Georgian architecture.  I studied old pictures to see how it would have been without cars and buses in a time when there were only carriage and horses for transport.  I researched Victorian dress and fashionable clothes ladies used to wear when they walked around the Royal Crescent, or what it was like to be invited to balls or go to take the waters at the famous Pump Room.

 

I have lived and worked on Exmoor, so I know the places I write about well.  Exmoor is a land of extremes it has the highest coastline on the British mainland.  It is dramatically barren with heather covered moorland, and breathtakingly beautiful with deep wooded valleys.  It is a place where artists, writers and poets have been inspired to produce a myriad of work.

 

Gothelstone Manor house was an amalgamation of several different stately homes that I have visited, and the Victorian asylum was constructed from researching several of those harrowing establishments.

 

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

 

A: I knew my theme would be a darkly romantic tale with a mysterious gothic element, there would be supernatural and some horror.  My characters would be complex because of their connections to each other.

 

This theme does occur in my other work, primarily because I have used the moors as a setting before, but also London, because any city has a dark and dangerous aspect.  Scotland too is full of mystery and so I like to draw on all those aspects when I write

 

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

 

A:  Not if it is done correctly. Editing strips away the nonsense, and the repetition.  When you have written 120,000 words it’s hard not to say the same thing twice or even more, so editing highlights these repetitions.

 

Writing a substantial novel, takes a long time.  I don’t believe many authors start at the beginning, work through till the end, and finish.  It is more a matter of going back and revisiting chapters.  Writing a book is mostly about editing and re-editing, until you get it as perfect as you can.

 

I have been writing for long enough now that I can edit my own work, but I would always want a professional editor to look it over, no-one is infallible and I often find that I have misspelt something or my spell checker has changed a word.

 

My current editor did not change my story at all, she only corrected spelling mistakes and some grammar issues.  If you work with a good editor, then, you should be able to see that your editor’s suggestions make your work read better.

 

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

 

A:  1.  The ability to tell a story through written words that makes readers engage with the story concept, so that they become engrossed and don’t want to put the book down.

 

  1. The confidence to believe in your story and the idea’s, however obscure that go along with it. The confidence to put different or unusual things together and still come up a believable and interesting story.

 

I always marry different themes or places together. In my first book, I explored the idea of a vampire existing on Exmoor, I took my reader to London and to Stonehenge, I incorporated a love story and a few paragraphs about the Chinese opium wars and smuggling in the 19th century on the southwest coast of England.

 

In my second novel, I began on Exmoor, and then my readers discovered the hidden underground tunnels in London, then, India at the time of the British Raj, while exploring the roots of Italian witchcraft and the very beginnings of vampirism.  As well as writing about a significant train derailment, and the famous Brookwood cemetery in London.

 

In my third novel, I started in Scotland, and explored clairvoyance and tea leaf reading, the famous Green Lady ghost of Stirling Castle, a London opera house, a ballerina and a gothic stately home with its resident vampire and heartbroken ghost.

 

  1. The persistence to see it through, even when you hit a roadblock and cannot figure a way around it, but you have to keep going. Sooner or later you will know how to overcome the obstacle.  Some chapters are harder to write than others, they may take patience and passion in equal measure to make everything come together

 

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

 

A:  Yes that’s probably true.  I am always learning new things. I constantly research ideas or themes, which can be very time consuming, but the upside is that you find out interesting or obscure facts that the majority of people don’t know about, which makes for interesting conversation pieces at the very least.

 

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

 

A: The internet of course is an inexhaustible supply of research of both fact and fiction, as well as myths and legends from around the world.  I have read dozens of books in my pursuit of research, everything from period costumes to bee-keeping.

 

I don’t visit writing sites, as I believe that every writer is different, what works for one will not work for another.  It’s best just to find your own way of doing things. I am more interested in talking to other authors in person when I get the opportunity.

 

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

 

A: No book or website can tell you how to write.  They can improve your grammar and give you a formula to follow, but writing is so much more than that.

 

The driving force behind every good writer is that they have a story that needs to be told, and they have the passion and perseverance to see it through.

 

I believe that most people are capable of writing a story, but a novel is a completely different undertaking.  It requires a lot of emotional input and hard work to craft a story of 80,000 words or more that is capable of captivating an audience.

 

I also think that too many people write in a genre because of a current bestseller, instead of writing in a genre that they have a true understanding or connection with. The trouble with doing this, is by the time the novel is finished, the publishing industry will have moved on.

 

It’s far better to be true to yourself and to where your personal interests lie. Your writing will be so much better because of it.

 

 

 

 

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amsden_AuthorLarge (1)Christine is the award-winning author of the Cassie Scot series, the story of the only ungifted scion of a family of powerful sorcerers. Her latest novel, Kaitlin’s Tale, follows the trials of Cassie’s best friend as she falls in love with Cassie’s arch-nemesis. Christine’s other titles include The Immortality Virus, Touch of Fate, and Madison’s Song.

When she isn’t writing, Christine is often editing or coaching other authors. In recent years, freelance editing has become almost as great a passion as writing itself. Plus, it supports her writing habit. Christine is a wife, a mom, and a foster mom. She lives in Olathe, Kansas, just outside Kansas City.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Kaitlin’s Tale. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?  

A: Kaitlin’s Tale tells the story of an unlikely couple – a telepathic mind mage and a woman immune to mind magic. The inspiration for this tale is far, far from the work of a moment. Kaitlin came to me six years ago as I wrote Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, the first of a four-book urban fantasy series about the only ungifted scion of a family of powerful sorcerers. At the time, she was the sidekick, never meant to have a story of her own, but she soon grew too big to be a footnote in someone else’s story. Matthew, meanwhile, came to me in Mind Games, book 3 of the Cassie Scot series, as the villain of the piece. I don’t like two-dimensional villains, and the more I learned about why he did what he did to Cassie, the more I realized that he would make someone very happy – just not Cassie.

Q: What do you think makes a good urban fantasy/paranormal romance? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: Characters. Characters. Characters.

Look, the world building for most urban fantasy and paranormal romance is stock. I appreciate clever twists on the old tropes, fresh angles, and a few surprises, but a world isn’t going to win me over.

My favorite urban fantasies and paranormal romances pop because of character. It’s a certain tone and voice, an attitude and outlook on life. It works best when the author puts a little piece of him or herself into the book.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

KaitlinsTale-cover-front72.jpgA: I outline, write, reoutline, rewrite, reoutline, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite … Actually, for this particular book I went through more drafts than usual. It’s a complex story, with three main plots that intertwine, and getting the timing right, especially on the romance, was tricky. Luckily, I’m a firm believer in “Great books aren’t written, they are rewritten.”

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Kaitlin reads a ton of romance, but she doesn’t identify well with the heroine of the stories. She more easily identifies with the woman who “knows the score” and is cast aside in favor of the true heroine. There’s a world of hurt in Kaitlin’s past, hurt she wouldn’t even tell her best friend about. I had trouble getting it out of her! (And yes, I did interviews and first person journals.) Matthew, who can read her mind, is really a great fit for her.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: There are several antagonists in this piece, including Alexander DuPris, the would-be leader of the magical world. It’s important to know that he has good intentions. Most of my heroes have good intentions. It’s just that the road to hell and all …

Other villains of the piece include Xavier and Jason, the vampires hunting down Kaitlin. They were tougher to get to know because I don’t do sparkly vampires. Or even misunderstood humans. Mine are alien, with alien motives. But this wasn’t enough to drive a story, so I had to chip away at their motivations until I found something relatable. In the end, I created a conflict between Xavier and Jason to help make their desires more understandable (by contrast to one another).

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: I try to keep my characters on their toes throughout the book! I’m not a formulaic plotter, but when I outline a book, I do split it into quarters and make sure there is a major plot point near the end of each quarter. For example, in Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, there is a major family fight at the first quarter, a vampire attack at the second (also the midpoint), a family blowout at the third quarter, and I’ll leave the climax in suspense. Since I always have main plots and important subplots, such as a mystery, a romance, and family tension, it keeps me busy. Even outside the quarter points (which I only use as a general guideline) there is always something to do. Each chapter has to accomplish something. Each scene.

I have been told that my books cause insomnia. I think that means I’m doing okay. 🙂

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: Relevance. It’s my sonic screwdriver; I use it for just about everything. Setting comes to life when it matters to the people interacting with it and at no other time. Which isn’t to say that you should stick to the bare bones because the flipside of this is that when it matters, color it in! During one scene in Kaitlin’s Tale I had Kaitlin go to a magical nightclub with a friend. The place was crazy when she walked in! I know she couldn’t relate all of it to the reader, but I let her eyes drift around the room and I had fun with it … people dancing on air, a drunk man stumbling through another and starting a bar fight, some techno-mages messing with the laser lights for the fun of it … just a bit of this and that.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: There is a recurring theme in my Cassie Scot novels and the spin-offs: Love yourself. I knew this theme going in, because it is as important to Kaitlin as it is to her friends. Maybe more so. There did end up being another theme in the book that I recognized partway through: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Matthew, in particular, was misunderstood when he first appeared in the series. There’s more to him.

 

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: The answer to this question depends entirely on which stage of the creative process the author is in. There are four:

  1. Unconscious incompetence – in which you aren’t very good and don’t even know it.
  2. Conscious incompetence – in which you aren’t very good, but are coming to realize this fact and begin to work to improve.
  3. Conscious competence – in which you have begun to become a good writer, with a great deal of thought and work involved at every step in the process.
  4. Unconscious competence – in which your ability to write flows as naturally as breathing and you no longer have to think so hard about everything you do.

Let’s disregard stages one and two as part of the creative awakening process. You’re not really publishable until stage three, at which point over-editing definitely takes a toll on the sparkle of the original work.

But once you reach stage four, I think art and craft are inseparable. At this point, revision is rarely about scrutinizing your word choice anyway, and fresh revisions tend to improve the underlying plot.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Ego, humility, and insanity. (Not necessarily in that order.)

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: I don’t agree. My homework was never this fun.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Yes. And as the Internet is always changing, so too have the sites. But check out Savvy Authors. And The Elements of Fiction Series (except the one on dialog).

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Only write because you love it. No, you won’t love it every second of every day, but you should love the process and take personal pride in the results. If you’re in it for fame or fortune, you’re in for a serious disappointment.

Title: Kaitlin’s Tale

Genre: urban fantasy/paranormal romance

Author: Christine Amsden

Websitehttp://www.christineamsden.com

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Trailerhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcNgx7SoWy8&feature=youtu.be

Amazon / OmniLit

About the Book:

Kaitlin Mayer is on the run from the father of her baby – a vampire who wants her to join him in deadly eternity. Terrified for her young son, she seeks sanctuary from the hunters guild. But they have their own plans for her son, and her hopes of safety are soon shattered.

When she runs into Matthew Blair, an old nemesis with an agenda of his own, she dares to hope for a new escape. But Matthew is a telepath, and Kaitlin’s past is full of dark secrets she never intended to reveal.

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I was born and raised in Chicago. My father was a history professor and my mother was, and is, a voracious reader. I grew up with a love of history and books. My parents also love traveling, a passion they passed onto me. I wanted to see the places I read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated me. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. I am a retired police detective. I spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. My desire to write came in my early teens. After I retired, I decided to pursue that dream. I write three different series. My paranormal romance series is called, Knights in Time. My romantic thriller series is Dangerous Waters. The newest is The Bloodstone Series. Each series has a different setting and some cross time periods, which I find fun to write.I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband and four wild and crazy rescue dogs. 

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, In Time For You. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it? 

Sisters, Electra and Emily are horseback riding in the English countryside with Electra’s fiancé, Roger. The sisters go off to collect flowers and find themselves caught in a time warp. When no clue to their vanishing turns up, Roger, learns a disturbing truth about the specific area the women disappeared from: that there has been past incidents of a time passage opening and there’s a link to specific place and time. He realizes what has occurred. What neither sister knew, was Roger is a time traveler himself. He was brought forward in time from a medieval battle he was engaged in.

He knows he must go back and search for the sisters who face grave dangers in the medieval world they’ve been transported to. Complicating his search is the fact that they are in a time that England was a war with France and Roger is French. He was fighting the English when he was transported. If he is caught while searching for the sisters, he will face death as an enemy on English soil or imprisonment as a prisoner of war.

It’s the story of how the two sisters use their intellect and resourcefulness to survive and adjust to a very alien world. It’s about how in the craziest and most frightening of circumstances, love can make its way into our hearts.

*Roger was the antagonist in my previous book in this series, Knight Blindness. Although he was the antagonist, he was not a villain. He was a French nobleman fighting for his king and country. I liked Roger as a person and a character and at the end of Knight Blindness decided to give him a story of his own. Electra and Emily the two female heroines in In Time For You are sisters to the heroine in Knight Blindness.

In Time for YouQ: What do you think makes a good romance? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

For any genre, I’d say compelling characters. The author must be passionate about creating well-rounded fulfilling characters in order for the reader to be and that includes the antagonists. For romance, the story must show a genuine relationship between the hero and heroine. To me, it can’t be he’s so handsome and she’s so beautiful and the two are carried away by just the sight of the other. The two need to laugh and respect each other, more than making love in the story. Those scenes are a lovely addition but the story must show the love grow and develop. Third, I’d say a good romance has a well-rounded world for the characters to occupy. Whether it’s terrible or beautiful or both, they have friends and family and enemies, all sorts of people they come into contact with. They shouldn’t function in a vacuum, so to speak. I love giving a story a variety of characters. I also like to use setting as a character at times.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

I start with an outline. I’m not married to it. I usually veer far from what I originally put down and will let a storyline take me to a natural progression. I like being surprised by my characters and how they react. They don’t always do what I thought they would at the start.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

I have four protagonists in this story, which is unusual I know. Originally, I planned on the story surrounding Electra and Roger. I didn’t have to do much on them prior, especially on Roger, as he had a great deal of page time in Knight Blindness and a lot was known about him. Electra had several scenes in it as well. What I found was I couldn’t ignore or downplay Emily. I had not done a lot with her prior to the book, in fact, almost nothing. She grew in personality as I wrote. I needed to give her a hero and I gave her Simon. Simon was the best friend to Stephen, the English knight who came forward in time with Roger, in Knight Blindness. Simon is seen a great deal in Journey in Time. He became the perfect hero for Emily. They were the unlikely couple. Simon wasn’t always very nice in Journey in Time and he’s a bit of a tough customer. Emily is the youngest sister and is rather naïve and sweet natured compared to Electra. They both have a steep character arc, which I enjoyed giving them.

Roger and Electra are powerful characters from the start. For her, I was able to show how someone in her position (a modern woman) might handle being dropped in such an alien world. Medieval times were not kind to women. With Roger, I used the situation to show his intellect and resourcefulness.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

In Time For You hasn’t a antagonist/villain per se. It is the time and place that are the enemy of the hero and heroine. When I’ve written villains in the past, I generally don’t write a straight up evil person with no likeable features. I think the most interesting villains are those we occasionally find ourselves liking, men like Tony Soprano come to mind.  I like to give the villains a setting as well. They have associates, likes and dislikes, often they are men and women of great taste-think of the James Bond villains.

I will mention odd quirks they might have. In my book, Silk, the killer couldn’t stand to be around people when they were eating. The sound of people eating drove him bananas. In Golden Chariot, I named some of the music the villain listened to and the heroine, to her disgust, discovered she listened to some of it as well. I also gave him a surprise scene where, even though he’s a brutal killer, he shows extreme kindness to a down and out war veteran of his country who is begging.

In Knight Blindness, where Roger, the hero from In Time For You was the antagonist, I wanted to present a man who believed in his cause. He saw the hero as his country’s enemy and it was his originally intention to kill him.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

The first thing I do when I start a chapter is decide what event is going to happen that in some way changes the story, it has to change the character(s) in some way or change the world around them. That is a great way to keep up the pace as they, the characters, must react.

Second thing I do is ask whether a scene is really needed. What am I accomplishing? Not every scene will be action packed but again this plays to number one, if the two people or more are interacting then there must be a reason. If idle talk must be used, then it is only while I’m moving them from one point to another. That said, I try to limit those moments. Those are good places to add a line of humor or a romantic observation, if the story is a romance.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

As I mentioned in those same words, I see setting as a character. I like to bring in weather. With weather you get smells, sounds, feel, sight, and sometimes taste. If they’re in the woods, I use the trees: is there a canopy from the lush trees in bloom or is it winter? Does ice cover the bare branches and moonlight reflect off them or is it fall and the leaves are like an orange blanket, slippery when wet. Does the forest embrace the characters or drive them to find a clearing?

Are they on the water with a spray of salt hitting them, stinging them as they’re trying to escape somewhere? Is it making their desperation worse?

I like to bring in medieval architecture when doing time travels. The mix of natural light with torchlight, the smell of smoke from the torches and candles, the tall fireplaces with carved surrounds of mythical creatures, the imposing tapestries, this can be very intimidating to a person not used to that world. Does the room reek of body odor or smell like fresh cut grass from newly laid rushes on the floor?

Throughout my stories, I try to continually bring in the environment. I think how it affects the characters really helps bring the book to life for a reader. I want them to feel cold when the characters do and scared when the heroine is walking down a torchlight corridor of a strange castle. I want the reader to wonder along with the characters why the birds suddenly stopped chirping as they stepped from one place to another.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

I honestly don’t think of myself as writing a “theme.” I just will have a story in my head that I want to tell and hope to do it in an entertaining way. If there’s a theme, and I’m not sure this counts, my theme is about writing heroines with great strength of character, they all have a lot of intestinal fortitude. They aren’t women who cry and sob and do nothing while they wait for rescue. They’re proactive. I like to write women who are equal to the heroes in intelligence and courage.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

Tough question. I don’t write for a major NY publishing house. I know some who do and an author friend has her stories deeply “redone” after editing. To me, and this is just me, that dances a little too close to stepping on an author’s creative process.

I’ve also seen writers who are slaves to rules. I like to follow them up to a point, but at the end of the day, to me, I think many can be broken if done well. If the reader isn’t confused and the story isn’t harmed, then I don’t see the purpose to slash and burn rules. Sometimes a sentence fragment is a creative choice! I think it’s okay to start a sentence (once in a while) with ‘and’ or ‘but’.

One of my favorite authors is a major violator of head hopping. She does it very well. I wouldn’t do it. That is one of the rules I do tend to take heed of but she’s exceptional. I believe editing her out of her stylistic approach would have her craft.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

Commitment: be willing to sit your butt in a chair for hours and hours and write when there’s so many more fun things you might want to do.

Diligence/Learn the craft: diligence in doing research when it is needed and not just writing something off the top of your head and hoping it’s historically or otherwise correct. Diligence in learning the craft and learning what is lazy writing and what make compelling story telling.

Acceptance: accept that you must promote. Amazon has hundreds and thousands of books listed. You must promote to get your name out. Acceptance that not everyone will love your book and you will get bad reviews. Move on. Don’t lose heart.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

I like Oscar Wilde’s comments on writing. One of my favorites is: “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning and took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back again.”

I also like Hemingway’s: “All writing is rewriting.”

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

I like Stephen King’s “On Writing.” As far as workshops and books, Donald Maass has the best workshops IMO. I’ve been to his several times and they’re incredible. His books are available also. One is “Writing the Breakout Novel” and another is “The Fire in Fiction.” Another good workshop is taught by Bob Mayer. One of the best conferences I’ve been to if you write thrillers or mysteries etc. is Thrillerfest. They always have a great lineup of authors.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

I would strongly suggest to all that you get into a critique group. You really need to have other “eyes” see your work. Your story will often not be coming across the way you want and having the group look at it can help.

Read a lot. Definitely read books in the genre you want to write in to get a “feel” for what reader expectation is.

When you read a scene you find especially well done and compelling, dissect it. By that I mean, as a reader look at it and figure out what it is you like the most, what makes this scene special for you and keep those qualities in mind for your own stories.

Develop a tough skin. There’s a lot of rejection in this business. There’ll always be people who dislike your book and there’ll be bad reviews. It’s the nature of the beast. Let it go and move on and don’t let the negative aspects get you down.

IN TIME FOR YOU is available on:

http://www.amazon.com/Time-You-Knights-Book-ebook/dp/B019JKXR5G/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-time-for-you-chris-karlsen/1123235174?ean=9781522714033

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/in-time-for-you-1

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/606238

 

 

 

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Galanti, Donna 2 (1)Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is the author of books 1 and 2 in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, A Human Element and A Hidden Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road (Books 1 and 2, 2015). She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts.

Website: www.ElementTrilogy.com
Blog: http://www.elementtrilogy.com/blog/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/DonnaGalanti
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DonnaGalantiAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5767306.Donna_Galanti

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, A Hidden Element. What was your inspiration for it?

A: A Hidden Element is book two in the Element Trilogy. The novel that I was stumped on…and a dream. My readers asked for a sequel and I said, never! Then one day I woke up with a vision of that second book. I dropped the psychological suspense novel I had over-plotted and was stuck on, and got to work right away on the sequel. There’s a third and final one planned out, A Healing Element.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: Caleb lives an oppressed life. He has sons he can’t be a father to, he can’t choose who he loves, and he must carry out despicable acts just to survive. Yet Caleb finds he is pushed to the wall even further and must risk the very things he desires to save those he loves. Caleb is also a Watcher in a way, and Watchers are some of my favorite characters to write. Read an article I wrote about this theme.

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: I wrote this novel in a Write a Novel in 9 Months Class. We met once a week and it kept me accountable to get the story down in a certain time frame. One challenge was completely re-working some of the chapters to be in different voices from the original draft. I had to critically review each scene and really decide which character’s point of view was best to tell that scene.

?????????????????????????????????????????????Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A: I look at each chapter as a short story in itself. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end – and I love ending my chapters on cliffhangers that raise a question and (hopefully) beg the reader to keep turning the pages.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: Each day I sit down is like starting with a blank page all over again, so yes, there is some anxiety. The day before I try to finish writing in the middle of a scene or paragraph, and not end a chapter. This way I can easily re-read the scene’s intro and jump back into finishing it.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: There are many days each week that my alarm is set for 4:30am. Early morning hours are my best writing time when the skies are dark and the world is asleep – and my mind is not yet filled with the details of daily life. During the school year my day ends at 3:30pm when I pick my son up from school but I have a very understanding husband! I often spend a weekend day writing all day at my favorite spot in my local Wegman’s Café.

Q: How do you define success?

A: To me, success in writing is continuing to learn the writing craft, add it to my expanding toolbox, and apply all I learn along the way and see the fruits of that labor. Success in writing can also only truly come when you let go – let go of your ego that is. I believe that this is the biggest reason why I am published, have a wonderful agent as my champion, and have four books coming out in the next year. And this is the biggest reason I see writer’s fail because they do not accept criticism and are not willing to do the hard work to make their writing better. To succeed you cannot think your writing is perfect or that your story can’t change. You cannot take it personal when a developmental editor tears apart your manuscript for you to re-work. I love it! I am like – bring it on! Help me be a better writer. Why? Because I want to write a good book and then a better one and a better one. This writing business is hard. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. This writing business is not going to be easy – it’s going to be worth it!

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: Every writer has times when they hit lows in their writing and think, I can’t do this! Every time I debate whether I should be a writer and tell myself that I should just update my resume and get a real full time job with an actual weekly paycheck so I can support my family better – I remember how I sat down and wrote my debut novel A Human Element without knowing anything about writing a book. And I remember how it came from my heart and came from the deep places inside me where I most love, where I most hurt.

And I know that no matter how much I think I suck at times – I KNOW THAT I AM A TRUE STORYTELLER. And this is what I was born to do. And if you think that, then that’s what you need to follow. No matter how much you suck at times. No matter if others tell you that your writing sucks. Don’t let the negative thoughts – or negative people – stop you from telling your stories. We need your stories. We need to tell our stories. Be the true storyteller you are. Visit my Writers Corner for inspiration and resources to help you keep writing.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: Yes! If we didn’t have demons chasing us to write, why would we? Knowing what I know now about being an author I have to wonder if I would have gotten in this business at all. If someone told me all I would have to go through to get here I would have said “I can’t do that! It’s too hard and too long!” I’m grateful I was ignorant about it all when I started.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: I truly believe that something wonderful can come of something that threatens to break your spirit. I started writing books to survive the grief of my mother’s death. She died from cancer five years ago. But here’s the thing. If she were alive I would not have finished writing my first book – or any book. I would not be getting published. I took care of her in the final moments and when she passed away I knew I had to make my dream come true. For in passing away my mom gave me her own gift – the gift to follow my dream of becoming an author.

So every once in a while I say these words out loud. “Thank you, Mom.” I let them hang in the air like a gift to her. She defined who I am and who I hope to be. And she was always my #1 champion and now I have be my own champion – like all of us writer so. So, I may have started writing books from grief but eventually my grief turned to peace and then joy at discovering what I love to do. Be a storyteller.

ABOUT A HIDDEN ELEMENT:

Evil lurks within…

When Caleb Madroc is used against his will as part of his father’s plan to breed a secret community and infiltrate society with their unique powers, he vows to save his oppressed people and the two children kept from him. Seven years later, Laura and Ben Fieldstone’s son is abducted, and they are forced to trust a madman’s son who puts his life on the line to save them all. The enemy’s desire to own them—or destroy them—leads to a survival showdown. Laura and Ben must risk everything to defeat a new nemesis that wants to rule the world with their son, and Caleb may be their only hope—if he survives. But must he sacrifice what he most desires to do so?

PRAISE FOR A HIDDEN ELEMENT:

“Chilling and dark…a twisty journey into another world.” —J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of When Shadows Fall 

“Fascinating…a haunting story…”—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath 

“Will keep you up long past your bedtime…a pulse-pounding read.”—Allan Leverone, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Final Vector

BUY THE ELEMENT TRILOGY BOOKS:

Purchase Book 2 in the Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element: http://amzn.to/1p1YD1o

Purchase Book 1 in the Element Trilogy, A Human Element: http://amzn.to/1mNcyCO
ON SALE NOW FOR JUST $.99cents!

ENTER HER GIVEAWAY HERE: 

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Fallen Banner 851 x 315

 

laurieLaury Falter is a bestselling author of young adult romantic suspense and urban fantasy. She has three series out: the Guardian Trilogy, the Residue Series, and the Apocalypse Chronicles.

Website: http://www.lauryfalter.com

Twitter page: http://www.twitter.com/LauryFalter

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Laury-Falter/196033543803745

Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/lauryfalter

Q: Welcome to The Dark Phantom Review, Laury! Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Fallen. What was your inspiration for it?

A: In January 2009, Joyce Durham lost her battle to colon cancer. I am good friends with her daughter, Erika, who was then faced with the very difficult task of learning how to deal with the loss of her mother. Witnessing her struggle and that of the Durham family, I wished there was someone who could visit with those who had passed over to the other side and bring back messages to the living, reassuring them that all was fine with their loved one. And from it, Magdalene Tanner was born.

I went on to write FALLEN in just under two months, releasing it in March 2009.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: She visits the afterlife when she falls asleep, and she’s fully cognizant while doing it. She talks to others on the other side, passes through spirit’s realms, and trains to fight her enemies who are here on earth.

fallenQ: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: I wrote after work (I worked in marketing before becoming a full-time novelist) and on the weekends, typically for several hours at a stretch. Three hours could pass and it would feel like twenty minutes. I finished Fallen in less than two months. It poured from me, directly onto the page. The only bump I faced was that I couldn’t write fast enough. My sister, who insisted I write the novel, continually pestered me for the next segment before it was done. And I thank her as often as I can for being such a pest.

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A: I walk. Regularly throughout the day, I’ll leave my novel and walk around the building, the block, etc. This always clears my mind and when my mind is clear the narrative that I’m stuck on comes to me in a rush. It’s a good rush.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: Never. I might have too much going on in my life (moving or a buildup of chores) that keeps me from focusing, but I’m never nervous about writing. It’s a release for me, a movie in my mind, so it is more of a vacation than anything else.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I write, hard, for two to three months straight, never leaving my office darkened with blinds and drapes other than for sleep, food, and unavoidable necessities. During that time, sadly, I am void of family and friends. I live with my characters. But when the novel is finished, I open the doors, emerge into the sunlight, and rapidly fill up my calendar with visits to family and friends.

Q: How do you define success?

A: A healthy balance between all major parts of your life (social, romantic, financial, spiritual, etc) . In short, if you wake up with a fresh, invigorated expectation that the day will be a good one, you’re on the right path.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: Ignore them. Do what you want to do. It’s your life.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: He must have been having a bad day. Sure, writing can be challenging if you aren’t in the mood or have too many other responsibilities competing for your attention or you simply can’t get your head wrapped around the plot or a particular character. But to consider it painful sounds a bit melodramatic. My advice to him would be to grab a glass of wine, sip, and let it come to him.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: Nearly all of my young adult fantasy romance novels have been bestsellers on Amazon. Hopefully, you enjoy this genre and decide to give them a try. If you do, I hope you enjoy them!

About the Book

Fallen

Guardian Trilogy

Book 1

Laury Falter

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Romance

Publisher: Audeamus LLC

Date of Publication: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-9855110-3-6

 ASIN: B00280MFEY

Number of pages: 274 pages

Amazon

Fallen – the first book in the Guardian Trilogy…

Maggie is unaware of the terrifying fate that awaits her. It isn’t until she lands in New Orleans for a full year at a private high school and her unknown enemies find her does she realize that her life is in danger.

As a mystifying stranger repeatedly intervenes and blocks the attempts on her life, she begins to learn that there is more to him than his need to protect her and that he may be the key to understanding why her enemies have just now arrived.

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Demon cover brown-reducedThe Dreaming Demon is an atmospheric 14,000 word dark fantasy novella, inspired by the classic works of Haggard, Howard, and Lovecraft. My inspiration for this story came from the disappointment of reading too many formulaic modern adventures where ‘a secret that will shake the world’ is uncovered. I have always much preferred reading the classic old adventure tales, and was yearning for a return to this age of storytelling. In writing this novella my aim was to gently regress the reader back in time from the present day to the golden age of adventure, through the memories of the characters. This leads to the uncovering of a tale of adventure with a dark underbelly, as the protagonist gradually realises that something sinister lies behind the expedition he has been persuaded to undertake into the jungle. My work generally involves the uncovering of darkness lurking beneath the surface of our world, although the style of storytelling in the Dreaming Demon is a slight departure for me.

About the Book

In 1592 the monk Ferdinand de Castile set out for the New World to preach to the natives in the jungle without knowing about their Gods and the power they hold. All that survives is his journal, the ramblings of a tortured soul on the fringes of sanity, recounting tales of a forgotten city long since lost to the rain forest. Now an expedition led by Sir Albert is to attempt to rediscover this city and its secrets. What mysteries and horrors led to the city being deserted by its inhabitants and engulfed by the jungle? Why is the beautiful but enigmatic Lady Athelton so intent on following in the monk’s footsteps? Will the mission lead to the discovery of a city paved with gold and jewels, and fame and fortune for all involved? Or does something more sinister lie in wait in the depths of the jungle?

Alex Avrio

About the Author

Alex Avrio was born in England to Greek parents, and has spent her life living in both Athens, Greece and various places in the UK. Alex currently lives with her husband in Newcastle upon Tyne. Alex has always been a keen writer, but waited until she completed her PhD in e-business before finally realising that writing was her calling. She mainly writes in the Dark Fantasy genre, where dark forces or supernatural powers lurk beneath the surface of our world, unknown to the general population. In addition to The Dreaming Demon, Alex also has two novels in the pipeline, which are due for release in 2015.

Website  / Excerpt / Amazon / Smashwords 

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***Book One – Winner of the Compulsion Reads Quality Book Endorsement***
THE DISCORD TRILOGY
The Golden Apple of Discord – Book 1

Taralie Severin and her three sisters are a powerful coven of modern-day witches who banish mythical creatures in between classes and shifts at the police station. But when Taralie is kidnapped by vampires and converted into the undead, her sisters are ordered to execute her for crimes against the Milunfran order. Refusing, the sisters become fugitives from both their kind and vampires alike.

Ignorant and hunted, Taralie becomes entangled with unlikely allies, a band of vampires in hiding from the ruling vamperic government. With this new addition to their coven Taralie must balance duty with desire while learning not everything is as it seems, their enemies are worse than she knows, and she could be on the verge of ending a thousand-year-old civil war.

Abomination – Book 2

Taralie Severin and her sisters have secured a non-aggression pact with the rulers of the vampire world, the Noricum. Having relocated to Cannon Beach, Oregon, Alexander prepares to marry his beloved Tara. But when an encounter with average vampires goes wrong, the Severin coven’s fragile amnesty with the Noricum is destroyed. With the supremacy of their rule challenged, the Noricum set out to restore the balance of power, leaving the Severin family two choices – die on their feet, or live on their knees.

Rubicon – Book 3

Hidden away on a Caribbean island, Tara’s body survived abomination while her mind did not. Strangled from within by Verus’s accumulated memories, the eldest Severin sister struggles under the weight of so many conciseness inside her mind. But the Noricum are not idle, nor are they forgiving. Enraged by Tara’s murdering of their princess, they hunt the Severins relentlessly. After turning a powerful halfling and declaring open war, the Severin coven must choose between defending the Milunfran witches protecting humanity or their own extinction.

PURCHASE THE BOOKS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

I’m Lauren Hodge, a chemist turned author with three children, a lot of friends no one else can see, and a swearing habit. Writing is something I stumbled into on accident. laurenI was reading fiction for the first time as an adult and wondered if I could do it. It never crossed my mind to publish until my twin got a hold of my manuscripts and pressured me into it like the cool drug seeking kid from the After School Specials.

Because of that, my books are different. I don’t write because I have a story to tell. I write because there is a story inside my head and it’s merely using my fingers to get out. I enjoy writing protagonists that are flawed and enemies that aren’t. Not everyone is all good or all bad and I love the philosophical process of defining that grey area.

There are two parts of communication. What is articulated and what is received for only the latter can compel action. You, the reader, are more important than me, the author. I relish understanding what you receive from my articulation. To help with that, I have editors – lots and lots of editors. Editors are the heroes authors need, but not the heroes they deserve. As an author, I strive every day to be worthy of professional editors.

* Follow the full Discord Trilogy tour HERE *

** THIS BOOK TOUR IS COURTESY OF Worldwind Virtual Book Tours **

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