Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Meet Paranormal Suspense Author, Sandy Wright

Posted by Susan B James on 3:30:00 AM with 2 comments

 Meet Arizona writer, Sandy Wright whose debut paranormal romance Song of the Ancients was released May 18. Sandy also has a fascinating blog. http://www.writersandy.com/blog where I read about Building a Guardian Scarecrow. I want to try this.

Sandy, please tell us a little about yourself.
I moved to the Phoenix area 20 years ago from the Midwest. I have a Journalism degree and have held various corporate and freelance writing jobs. In college, I wrote a lot of poetry and short fiction, but I didn’t attempt a novel until a few years ago. Now I have so many ideas, so many characters chattering in my head, the plot ideas are endless. The good news is, as of last year, I can now write full-time. That's fabulous!

Tell us a little bit about your current book.
I write suspense, and Song of the Ancients is paranormal suspense.
They say write what you know. The idea for Song of the Ancients came from my personal evolution. The spiritual paths in this part of the country are so diverse. I had always been interested in Nature-based religions, so widening that study to encompass the Native spirituality of the area seemed a natural progression. Then I blended Wicca and witchcraft into my studies, and I am currently a 3rd degree High Priestess for a group in Phoenix.

My main character, Samantha, introduces the concept of witchcraft, seen through the eyes of an ordinary, non-magical woman. She moves to Sedona, Arizona to start anew after her divorce. Instead, she becomes the prey in an ancient power struggle to control the magic hidden in those red rocks. To survive, she has to learn the rules of her new world, and readers get to learn earth magic and witchcraft along with her.

Is your book a stand-alone or do you have a series planned?
Sedona is but one earth “power point” in the world. I will continue Samantha’s quest to other sacred sites. The second book in the series will involve the Goddess Pele's volcano on Hawaii. Future possibilities include the Mayan pyramids in Mexico; Machu Picchu; Japan’s Shinto shrine; Rousanou Monastery in Greece; the round towers of Ireland, placed precisely on the earth’s ley lines. Each place of power is surrounded by its own history and myths, energies and sacred practices, but do we really know why these places are so venerated? There’s a wealth of material here for a series.

Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre?
Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. He haunted me in Book 6. Good and evil, yin and yang. Then Rowling killed him off. I thought he’d been a fascinating, complex character, and…poof! Done in by a snake without even a decent fight. So I started fiddling around with that type of personality for my main male character, Nicholas Orenda, a man who is infinitely talented, but flawed. A character who will consider bending the moral codes to accomplish his goal. Is he a villain? No. Can you depend on him unconditionally? Well, you tell me: Have you ever loved a bad boy and been disappointed? Nicholas is Samantha’s nemesis, a thorn in the protagonist’s side. In her eyes–and maybe readers’ eyes also—he appears to be the bad guy. He acts like the antagonist, ferreting out Samantha’s inner weaknesses. But later, when he’s satisfied that she is worth saving, he will switch sides and root for her. Because, really, is love ever easy?

If it isn’t too nosy. How about the first time you kissed your true love?
My husband, Paul, was a blind date. A friend who played soccer with us both (on different teams) set us up. Six months later, we were married. And I was pregnant. At 40. My first marriage and first child. It happened really fast, but what a blessing! That didn't directly answer your question, but I'm pretty sure there was a kiss in there somewhere.

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?

I love to hike with our dog Teak, a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix we rescued three years ago. Love to read, of course. I also play the piano, quilt, make twig words out of found wood and other natural materials, design Tarot bags and give readings. I'm one of those people who always has a half-dozen projects going at one time. When my husband and I travel, I pack my writing, plus several other current projects to work on in the car.

How do you motivate yourself when inspiration takes a vacation?
Write anyway, whether is an outline, a scene, a blog post. As working professionals, most of us don't have the luxury of choosing whether or not to do our jobs each day. If writing is a job, as opposed to a hobby, guess what a writer should do consistently? Don't whine about writer's block, or an absent muse. If you're not feeling one scene, work on a different one. Or research. Or edit. Just keep moving forward on your project every single day.

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
People often ask writers, "How do you write a whole novel?" How do you put it all together? Write straight through? Prepare an outline first? Revise as you go? I was a journalist before writing novels. I've also been an English teacher. As a journalist, you research, then put your facts in order, then you write your lead. To write an essay, you follow the same process: Research your information, put it in logical essay order. Then begin writing.
So that makes me what fiction writers call a "plotter," as opposed to a "pantster," who sits down at the desk and starts streaming thoughts together as they occur. A lot of new writers who sign up for the annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) are pantsters, and they run out of steam right around 6,000-10,000 words. So, my advice to a new writer would be to come up with a plot idea you are passionate about, or a character who haunts your dreams. Research that plot, or that personality. Make it come alive, and give it/them a reason to exist. Then throw some increasingly difficult obstacles in the path of achieving that existence, and have fun observing how they react to and overcome the stress those obstacles cause.
Good advice. I am a pantser and I've done NaNoWriMo six times. Four times it got me first drafts that I wanted to follow through. One time I failed at the 12,000 word mark.
I tend to do my in-depth research as I go. As a journalist, research and fact-checking is drilled into my brain. Often that research changes the direction of the story, or the emotional motivation of a character. So I go back and tweak my plot outline, or my character's reactions, to make them more authentic. I love research!
Are you following the same rules for your current WIP?
Even more so. I’m veering from sacred sites and magic for my next book, tentatively titled Full Moon Crossing. It’s a suspense involving a philandering husband who plots to murder his wife and use the Arizona human smuggling border conflict as a cover-up. The topic is hot right now, I want to get this story out while the headlines support it.
I have to have a precise premise, major event, logical evidence gathering and believable ending in this one. My plot idea started with the crime, and the murderer's method for killing his wife. I then put all the other characters in place to thwart the achievement of his goal. His wife is murdered, and he is a prime suspect. But was he set up? Usually I hate revisions. But this time I'll get to add lots of clues and red herrings in the second draft, as well as fleshing out the character psychosis. Yummy!

Anything unusual you had to do for research on this book?
I get to work with a SWAT team trainer of my local police force. Also lots of research on human smuggling, as well as the ATF’s botched Fast n Furious weapons sting operation. The murder weapon is actually one of the guns from Fast n Furious that got away from the Feds. Wow!

And finally, where can we find you?
Facebook: Sandy Wright
Twitter @sinazAZ
Ebook Song of the Ancients
Paperback Song of the Ancients
Thank you so much for being here, Sandy. Sandy is offering an ebook copy of Song of The Ancients to one lucky reader. You know the drill, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Meet Therese Gilardi, and her YA novel, Narvla's Celtic New Year

Posted by Susan B James on 3:30:00 AM with 5 comments

novel, Narvla’s Celtic New Year. I am delighted that Therese is offering to give away a paperback to one lucky blog reader. I loved Narvla and didn’t want to give away my copyTherese, please tell us about yourself:
I am obsessed with Irish music, the Paris metro and blue cameos. I live in a sunny house with my Irish husband, fluffy dogs, Viennese hare and far too many paperbacks. I love biking along the beach and train travel. Although I hate heights my favorite place in Ireland is Slieve League Cliffs in Co. Donegal, which is not far from my mother’s ancestral home.
The moment a publisher said they wanted to print your book:
Although I am now a novelist, I began my writing career with short fiction pieces and creative non-fiction. I am also a published poet. I got “the call” in 2011 when Astraea Press offered me a contract for my paranormal romance “Matching Wits With Venus” which is the story of a Hollywood matchmaker who vies with the Roman deity Venus to see who is the real goddess of love.

Favorite writers in your genre: I adore the work of Stephanie Perkins. And I love Marian Keyes. Love, love, love her work. She is so adept at making me laugh and cry within the same paragraph. And I really like the work of Brenna Briggs, who is my idol in the world of indie publishing. All of these authors are unfamiliar to me. so I linked to their Amazon Pages. I want to explore them, when I have time.

Most exciting moment in your writing career so far:
An anthology I contributed to called “Knowing Pains” was featured on NBC’s “Today” show which was huge. I think the most exciting thing, though is coming in late July. I will be appearing alongside Brenna Briggs and several other Irish authors at the Dublin Irish Festival. I can’t wait! If you’re going to the festival, please drop by and say hello.

Favorite pastime:
I love the indie music scene. I really enjoy going to shows at venues all over L.A.

How do you motivate yourself when you need to?
How do I motivate myself? Lawyers don’t have trials postponed because they “lack motivation”. EMTs don’t refuse to wait for “inspiration” before they answer distress calls. So why should we writers be any different?
Advice for new writers:
Stick with it! Study your craft and read as often and as widely as possible. Write as widely as you wish – you can be a poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright if you want.
Your genres:
I am published in paranormal romance, as well as young adult. My upcoming works are young adult, new adult, and middle grade.
Latest release: “Narvla’s Celtic New Year” is the story of a step dancing champion who finds love, loss and adventure when she spends her senior year in Dublin after her mother is named
 U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. “Narvla’s life is as precisely choreographed as the routines that have made her a national step-dancing champion. She has a loyal best friend, a devoted boyfriend, and a lock on admission to her dream college, the University of Notre Dame. Until her mother is named U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, and her life unravels. First Narvla receives a disturbing picture of her boyfriend and her best friend. Then she struggles to qualify for the Irish elite step-dancing squad, and her grades plummet. But the biggest obstacle in Narvla’s new life is Dublin Boy, a cheeky musician with a disdain for academics and a distrust of Americans. Although Narvla is upset when she’s paired with Dublin Boy for the most important semester of her life, her real concern is the growing attraction she feels toward him. As the Celtic New Year unfolds, Narvla is pushed to abandon her lifelong need for control and embrace the charm of the unexpected.”
As you know, I love your book. I recognized many of the places you described in Dublin. Did you get to go to Dublin to research?
I wrote parts of "Narvla's Celtic New Year" while in Dublin and Co. Donegal. I'm married to an Irish man, with whom I lived briefly in Dublin (and for two years, he commuted between Ireland and France, where the kids and I lived).
Did you already have a connection to step dancing?
My connection to step dancing is that I love it - and could never imagine doing it myself, although I did take tap dancing as an adult.
Why did you decide to self publish?
I rescinded a contract for "Narvla's Celtic New Year" because I wanted to own the characters ("Narvla" is the first in a trilogy) and I wanted to control every aspect of publication.
Where did your find your editor?
My editor is a young woman who has worked with the big five in NY, I am using her again on "Fading" - she is really talented, and had me sign a confidentiality agreement I would not show anyone her corrections. I got her through a friend of a friend.
Where did your find your cover artist?
Elaina Lee is my cover artist. She is fantastic. She did the cover for my paranormal, "Matching Wits With Venus" which was released by Astraea Press in 2011. She has just completed the cover for my yet to be released MG "Isabelle The Imaginist" and will do the cover for "Fading In France" soon. 
Thank you for being here, Therese. 
I love to connect with readers! Please join me on Twitter @ThereseGilardi
My website is http://theresegilardi.com
Therese is offering a copy of Narvla's Celtic New Year to one lucky blog reader. You know the drill, peoples. Please enter below.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Spring Reading

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 2 comments
 Hi. My name is Susan and I am a bookaholic. I limit my reading to evenings or I would never get anything done.  Books are too delicious. I don't have an author post, so I thought I'd share what I've been reading in the past couple of months. Please share back.


Narvla's Celtic New Year by Therese Gilardi
Debut YA novel which I bought at the LA Times Festival of Books. The premise intrigued me.
Narvla’s life is as precisely choreographed as the routines that have made her a national step-dancing champion. She has a loyal best friend, a devoted boyfriend, and a lock on admission to her dream college, the University of Notre Dame. Until her mother is named U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, and her life unravels. I had a wonderful time reading it. 

Comedy Mystery
Annie Graceland's Cupcake Mysteries By Pamela DuMond

First one is Cupcakes, Lies and Dead Guys.  The title hooked me. After finishing the first one, I had to read them all.

Women's Fiction/Romantic Comedy

The Merchant of Venice Beach, A Comedy of Erinn and Much Ado About Mother by Celia Bonaduce.
When Angels Cry by Jennifer Edwards.

Both are Los Angeles authors and I knew all the settings. So much fun.

 Loved them.

Romantic Suspense

 Right now I am reading Imminent Danger by Dee J Adams. I hate to put it down to write this post. This is the first book I've read by Dee and it's number 5 in a series called Adrenaline High. Series title does not refer to a High School, but to the level of suspense she keeps gong in the book. I need to read the others. Really suspenseful.

Jayne Anne Krentz's Trust No One.  .

I adore Jayne Ann Krentz and am pleased to report I got Garden of Lies and Nora Robert's Liar for Mother's Day. Those are my next two reads. I have another plane trip next Tuesday and I will save at least of of them for that.

I also borrowed two romantic contemporaries by Kristan Higgins from the LAPL online resource department.
My One and Only and Too Good to be True I took Kristan's course on Starting your Story in the Right Places online at RWA University and she used My One and Only as an example. Kristan's sense of humor is wonderful and I love her characters.
Read anything lately you want to share?