Interview with Rhonda Parrish

Posted in Event at 12:28 am by Amber

Yesterday was the official release date for Shades of Green by Rhonda Parrish.  She was kind enough to agree to be interviewed by email about it.  You can learn more about Rhonda and her work on her web site at http://www.rhondaparrish.com.

Amber: Shades of Green takes place in Aphanasia in 1690.  This is a world you created.  How many stories have you currently written about Aphanasians?

Rhonda: A lot. I’m not trying to be vague, but I’m not actually sure of the number. In addition to Shades of Green only three others have been published (Sister Margaret, There’s Always a Catch and The Legend of the First Reptar) but I have more sitting on my hard drive.


Amber: How far along Aphanasia’s timeline do your stories take place?

Rhonda: There is a very long span. The Legend of the First Reptar takes place prehistory, as you noted Shades of Green takes place in 1690 and my current WIP takes place a couple hundred years after that. It’s a lot of fun to be able to write a story set in different points of a world’s life cycle. I hope to eventually have something written that is set in all the major time periods of Aphanasia.


Amber: The novelette mentions swamp fever, battles between races, and a curse that reanimates the dead.  Is there ever a Golden Age in Aphanasia?

Rhonda: What fun would that be? 🙂 The truthful answer is, not in any sort of universal way. Like in reality certain aspects of life, or specific races might have a golden age, but the whole world is never sharing in one great utopian period. The Reptars’, for example, lived their golden age long before the time period in which Shades of Green is set. At that time they were the most technologically advanced race in Aphanasia but now…well, things don’t look too good for them.


Amber: I enjoyed reading the scenes of the Reptars’ everyday life – they clean their dishes and eat dinner together as a family.  Did you purposely try to not make them foreign or alien-like?

Rhonda: I don’t know how conscious those things were, actually. I did want the Reptar to be somewhat relatable so I didn’t want them to be too foreign, but I don’t remember sitting down and actually thinking about ways I could achieve that. Perhaps I should have LOL The problem with a good interview question is that it makes you think, and now I’m wondering if perhaps I might have made them a little bit too human. Hmmm. Thanks, Amber, this one is going to be plaguing my brain for a while to come.


Amber: The main character, Z’Thandra, is the last Swamp Elf.  Did it ever occur to her to try and find other types of Elves or was Aphanasia only inhabited by Swamp Elves?

Rhonda: There are other types of elves in Aphanasia, but I don’t think Z’thandra could survive on her own outside of the swamp. It’s all she knows. She would be lost in anywhere else.


Amber: How did you come up with the brilliant title?  It refers to so many things in the story including the jealousy felt by Orga.  I think most readers can identify with that feeling.

Rhonda: Oh my goodness, the title was such a huge pain in the butt. Seriously. There’s a pretty long story there. When I first submitted it the story was called “A Love Story”. It wasn’t a title I was particularly happy with, but it seemed appropriate and referred (to me) to more than just the obvious ‘love’. My publisher, hated it. From the start he was like “I love this story, but the title? It has to go.” We batted some ideas back and forth and eventually settled on Shades of Green. I’m glad we did, I think it’s better suited to the story than “A Love Story” was and you picked up on exactly why. It touches on so many parts of the story, the colors of the swamp, or people’s eyes, or reptar’s scales as well as more intangible things like Orga’s feelings for Z’thandra. I’m glad you liked it 🙂


Amber: Many writers say the real writing begins with editing and multiple drafts.  How long did you work on the novelette before you decided to find a publisher?

Rhonda: Shades of Green was revised less than most of my work, but even so, I’d been working on it for quite a long time. It started out as ¼ of a novel-in-stories I’ve been working on for a couple years. I wrote the first draft as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2007. After revising the novel-in-stories I decided that it didn’t work in that format and tore it apart and re-revised it to be four separate pieces (including Shades of Green). It was after that point I decided to find a publisher for it and was incredibly lucky in that it was accepted by the first one I sent it to. There’s always micro-revision that goes on as well, of course, right up until the time it goes to the printers.


Amber: Your writing is available in various lengths and formats (short stories, novels, poetry, and so on).  Does the variety keep you energized to keep pushing ahead?

Rhonda: It really does. I have stories I want to tell, and if one format doesn’t suit a particular tale it’s fabulous to be able to move on to a different one that does. Also, I tend to have a short attention span so being able to do shorter pieces while I’m working on a novel, for example, keeps me (usually) from becoming distracted by a new novel idea and dashing off to write it while leaving the WIP to gather dust.


Amber: Are there any upcoming publications in the near future?

Rhonda: I have a short story, “Share”, which will be included in the Trafficking in Magic / Magicking in Traffic anthology from Drollerie Press. I’m incredibly excited about that because Drollerie has long been on the list of publishers I wanted to work with, and I’m pretty fond of my story too.


Amber: Is there a new project you’re working on?

Rhonda: There are three major ones at the moment. The first is a chapbook of zombie poetry, the second are extensive revisions on another ¼ of the novel-in-stories Shades of Green was once a part of. Lastly, I’m working on the first draft of a novel I’m very excited about. It’s also set in Aphanasia and is currently titled See The Sky Again.


Interview with J.R. Tomlin

Posted in Event at 1:42 am by Amber

It’s my pleasure to share an interview with J.R. Tomlin conducted via email earlier this month.  Author interviews are always interesting  because you never know what they have to say about their work or their work style.  Here’s my review in case you want to know more about A Warrior’s Duty before reading the interview.  You can visit Ms. Tomlin online at http://jeannetomlin.blogspot.com/.

Amber: Do you have any writing practices or rituals? 

J.R. Tomlin: Not really. I spend two hours a day writing new material and aim for at least 2000 words a day, but can’t say I’m always successful at the word goal. For me, it’s just, as they say, BIC at the keyboard.

Amber: I understand you’ve written short stories in addition to your novel, A Warrior’s Duty.  Did you change your writing practices for novel writing and editing?

J.R. Tomlin: I don’t feel that I’m very good at short story writing although I’ve had four published. I mainly concentrate on novels. The practices are the same, but all my short stories tend to get the same reaction from readers: That’s nice as the first chapter of a novel!  *sigh*

Amber: What was the inspiration for A Warrior’s Duty?

J.R. Tomlin: I have wondered about that. Maybe it’s that as a country we’ve spent so much of my life at war. We tend to not think about the costs and I often question when war is justified and when we really do have a “warrior’s duty”. But it wasn’t anything straightforward either since I tend to start my stories with a character. The first time I met Tamra was when she was in bed with Jessup–what was at one time chapter one. It soon became obvious that they had a story I wanted to tell.

Amber:  Several characters journey on horseback to get from one destination to another.  Did you have a sketch or a geographical map as reference when writing those scenes?

J.R. Tomlin: Yes, I did map the world. It’s hard for me to keep things right if I don’t do that. I don’t make as detailed maps as some writers, but distances and time of travel is important.

Amber: Did you have a playlist or listen to specific music when writing Warrior’s Duty?

J.R. Tomlin: I almost always listen to music when I write. It helps keep me in my “writing mode”. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics though. I listen to the LotR soundtrack and the Soundtrack to Last of the Mohicans among others.

Amber: Tamra, the warrior referenced in the title, is a pragmatic lady.  Why do you think she lets herself fall in love?

J.R. Tomlin: Interesting. I never thought of her as pragmatic. She experiences a lot of emotion in the terrific losses she goes through. But I suppose she is in that she tackles what she has to do. I’m not sure “letting herself” was quiet how she thought of it. She always knew that she shouldn’t love Jessup–he is such a classic bad boy in many ways. I had several beta readers who suggested (rather strongly) that he should be killed.

Amber: Was there one character you identified with the most?

J.R. Tomlin: Oddly enough, I don’t think I identify very much with my characters. I can frequently feel their emotions when I’m writing from their PoV but they aren’t “me”. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt I wrote a character that was based on me.

Amber: Your battle scenes are detailed but still easy to follow.  Do you have any experience with swordplay or archery?

J.R. Tomlin: Thank you. That pleases me more than I can say to hear.

I’ve done both, as a matter of fact. I strongly advocate at least trying out any weapon you write about using. So many people get it totally wrong–the concept that swords are very heavy is one that annoys me as a reader. Swords are not particularly heavy –although they feel it after you swing if for a few minutes. But the typical long sword only weights about 3 pounds!

Amber: When you’re not writing what do you enjoy most?

J.R. Tomlin: I’m an omnivorous reader, not surprisingly. I think that’s typical of writers. I hike also and do horseback riding when I can which isn’t as much as I’d like since I no longer own a horse.

Amber: Are you working on any new projects?

J.R. Tomlin: Well I co-authored a novel (Talon of the Raptor Clan from E-press Online) with C. R. Daems that is out and he and I have a novel which will be published by Double Dragon Press later this year. I also have another solo novel that is being “pitched” by my agent in a different genre. Meantime I’m working on two new novels. Well, three if you include the one that is finished but needs to be edited. ~chuckle~

I try to stay busy.

Amber: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

J.R. Tomlin: I just hope people enjoy my work. For writers out there, I recommend reading and abiding by Heinlein’s rules. It’s a tough market but worth the struggle.

Pleasurable reading to everyone.


Meet Tess Hilmo during Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Posted in Event at 8:00 am by Amber

You haven’t met Tess Hilmo yet?  Well, let me fix that for you.

She’s a writer!  Tess is currently revising her Middle Grade novel, With A Name Like Love, so her agent can begin submitting it.  Her blog is all about her journey to publication.  The agent is a new addition to her adventure.  After you read the interview you can read the words of Tess for yourself at http://tesshilmo.blogspot.com/.


Amber: How did you find out about Book Blogger Appreciation Week?

Tess: A thoughtful and sneaky writing friend nominated my blog for an award. I still don’t know who it was but will take this opportunity to give a shout out of thanks.


Amber: Do you have one or two books about writing that you recommend to all of your writing friends?

Tess: There are so many wonderful craft books out there and, honestly, I have friends who write in all genres so it is hard to choose one that is applicable to everyone.  My favorite instruction has come from conferences and from reading other writing blogs.  That is one of the best parts about blogging, we all share our ideas and insights and help one another stumble along this path toward publication.


Amber: A lot of published authors advise reading as a way to learn how to write.  Are there any authors or genres you like to read?

Tess: I read all things Middle Grade.  If you are unaware, Middle Grade fiction encompasses ages 7-13. Great novels such as The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Island of the Blue Dolphins and even the earlier Harry Potterbooks are considered Middle Grade.  Some of my favorite Middle Grade authors include (but are not limited to) Kate DiCamillo, Patricia Reilly Giff and Richard Peck.


Amber: Looking at your blog I found out you’ve spent six years sitting in your chair and writing.  Getting the writing done is often the hardest part about writing.  Do you write novels and short stories?

Tess: I write middle grade novels.  I have written three novels, but the blurb for my novel currently on submission is:

With A Name Like Love is a middle grade murder mystery set in Binder, Arkansas.  In the early summer days of 1957, Ollie’s daddy pulls their green and gold teardrop trailer into town with the intent of offering a three day revival.

On their very first day, Ollie meets a boy whose mother is in jail for murdering his father – and who asserts her innocence.  But, even if Ollie were to believe the boy, could she convince her daddy to stay long enough to help him?  And, if the Love family did stay, how could two thirteen year olds free a woman who has admitted to the crime and signed a full confession?

If you want to take a peek, I have a book trailer up on my blog for this particular novel.

Amber: This is the year you became represented by an agent.  Is it anything like you imagined?

Tess: It’s wonderful to have someone who believes in your work and who has the ability to help you toward the goal of publication.  Steven Chudney is my agent and he is fantastic.  He is communicative, insightful and encouraging.  Acquiring representation has been a true blessing.  But, it has also been a lot of work.  The saying goes no rest for the weary, but I think it should be no rest for the aspiring author!


 Amber: What is your favorite tomato salsa recipe?  (I am up to my ears in friends’ tomatoes and could use a good recipe.)

 Tess: I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you 😉


Interview with Elle Newmark

Posted in Event at 9:33 am by Amber

Last month I reviewed Elle Newmark’s book, The Book of Unholy Mischief.  She was kind enough to answer some interview questions via email.  Thank you goes to Tracee Gleichner from Pump Up Your Book Promotion for arranging the interview.

Amber: Your story is inspiring partly because it’s unique. You took a gamble on yourself and it paid off. It’s not usual to self-publish your novel, throw a virtual book launch party and walk away with an agent. To what do you owe your success?

Elle: Perseverance. Anyone who is lucky enough to find a passion in life should never never give it up. It might mean laboring for nothing but love—and I did for many years—but passion is the thing that gives live meaning.

Also, thinking out of the box. It’s true that I gambled on my novel by self-publishing, but if I don’t believe in myself, why should anyone else? Of course, I wrote four books before I self-published, and I felt I had found my literary voice. But I went through four agents unable to sell my work. That’s why I stepped away from traditional methods. When I invited 400 agents to a virtual book launch party, it started a buzz because it was a fresh approach. Many people looked a the website just to see what the heck it was.

Naturally, having a book with good reviews didn’t hurt. 


Amber: When your book was self-published it was originally titled Bones of the Dead and now it’s titled The Book of Unholy Mischief. Did anything else change?

Elle:Yes. I have the privilege of working with a wonderful and talented editor, Emily Bestler. With her direction, I tweaked characters and added scenes. It’s the same story, but better.


Amber: You lived in Germany for a while. Do you think Germany may end up as a setting for a future novel?

Elle:I have no plans for a book in Germany but nothing’s impossible. I loved living in Germany, and it’s certainly a setting to consider. However, right now I’m working on my next book, which is set in India. I spent last March in India, researching, and am in the process of organizing about 800 pages of notes for the final draft. I like rich exotic settings and complicated histories. It’s a challenge with a very satisfying pay off. 


Amber: The Book of Unholy Mischief had quite a book launch in Italy. What other fun experiences have come about because of your book?

Elle:The book launch in Venice was far beyond anything I ever dreamed. My Italian publisher had a Venetian chef recreate one of the dinners in my book and gave a lavish dinner party in a private palazzo. If that can happen, anything can happen.

Since The Book of Unholy Mischief was published, my life has changed. Instead of sitting alone in a room and writing for decades—literally—it’s been a nonstop whirlwind that has turned leisurely writing into a luxury. I now live in a world of deadlines, but it’s exciting.

Last year I went to New York to meet my agent, editor and publisher. It was a dream come true, everyone was simply lovely, and my feet didn’t touch the ground once while I was there.

In January I went on a national book tour. Meeting people in bookstores who were actually buying my book simply stunned me. Then came the month in India, the first research trip I’ve taken for a book that I already know will be published. It’s all quite astonishing. 


Amber: You recently held a fiction workshop at Lake Como in Italy. How do you feel it went?

Elle: It was fabulous! We had 5 great teachers and 12 very talented students. We had classes in a beautiful 200 year old villa, where I stayed with the teachers. The students stayed in a charming hotel on the Lake.

Students arrived at the villa every day around 10 a.m., broke for lunch and worked until about 4. To my surprise, they were so enthusiastic and the teachers were so generous that they usually came back to the villa in the evening for read and critiques that lasted into the wee hours.

By the end of the week, people felt quite bonded; at the farewell dinner on the lake we closed the restaurant and then hung around chatting. No one seemed to want to leave. It was a marvelous experience, and I hope to make it an annual event.

One student, Carol Nuckols, has posted pictures from the workshop on Facebook, and I will be putting more on my website.


Amber: Are you working on a new book?

Elle: My India book is a tale of two love stories, 100 years apart, both set against war in India. An American woman in 1947 India finds old letters hidden in her rented colonial bungalow. The letters hint at Victorian scandal in Anglo/India. Intrigued, she begins a search to uncover the story of the Victorian women who lived in the same house 100 years earlier. Struggling with her strained marriage to a Jewish veteran of WWII, she is looking for answers. Her quest takes her though Indian bazaars and the dying British Raj.

The two tales of love and war eventually dovetail. They echo universal themes against a backdrop of Himalayan peaks and curry scented air. The research has been utterly fascinating.


Amber: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Elle: Only that I am profoundly grateful to be a writer. Getting website mail from readers who enjoyed my book and were kind enough to take the time to let me know, well, it’s all I ever hoped for. And I truly believe my refusal to quit was the key. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. But never, never, never give up.

Visit me at www.ellenewmark.com


Meet Sylvia Weber – Author of The Wolves Keeper Legend

Posted in Event at 1:00 am by Amber

As part of the Pump Up Your Book Promotions tour for The Wolves Keeper Legend, Sylvia Weber was kind enough to take time from her schedule to answer a few interview questions via email.  You’ll find her personal blog, Rock the Cage, on blogspot.  I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did!


Amber:  You’ve lived in many places in Portugal. Is there any one place that you would call more beautiful than the others?

Sylvia:  The most beautiful place in Portugal, one that I sometimes remember with a certain sorrow in my heart, is Serra da Estrela. There, among the mountains, is a small place called Ponte das Três Entradas, which is truly unique. It has a small crystalline river, tall majestic conifers, grey boulders that seem miraculously balanced upon each other. There we can see the beautiful giant, Serra da Estrela dog, and taste delicious cheeses and bacons. The people are simple and gentle. I know people, nature lovers, from several places in Europe who like to spend there all their holidays.


Amber:  I noticed in your biography you spent some time in Scotland before settling in England. Did your stay in Scotland influence your use of Gaelic in the story or were you interested in Gaelic before then?

Syliva:  My first contact with Gaelic was through the books of Enid Blyton, when I was still a young girl. I remember that the Author defined this Language as a melody and it sounded very beautiful.

Then, I had a new contact when I was in University, studying Linguistics. I always had the idea of doing research for my Masters Degree in Historical Linguistics, by comparing the medieval languages and studying their branches of evolution, specially in what they are still connected to each other.

Being in Scotland certainly changed everything.  We went there decided to move to Aberdeen, the “all different; all equal; all together” city.  I fell in love with
Scotland and its people when we went there. While we were driving around, all night long, looking for a place to sleep, we met a man who worked in a reservation and were talking with him for a while.  That’s when I had the first contact with the real Gaelic, the spoken language. From there on, I decided to do more research.


Amber:  Was it a practical choice or an artistic choice to have the vocabulary words italicized each time they are used?

Sylvia:  At the beginning, there were some words that I italicized and some others that I didn’t. In one of the revisions, I was advised to use one only criterion and then I decided to italicize them all. It has something to do with the fact that most of the words I use, as I researched, are from archaic Gaelic, and Latin, not from the actual one. I found this technique in books that make references to archaic Languages, such as, for example, The Tutankhamun prophecies, by Maurice Cotterell or Secrets from the Lost Bible, by Kenneth Hanson. The real purpose was highlighting the differences, making the Language more visible to the reader and, at the same time, showing deference.


Amber:  Sealgair learned how to make fire from his father. Because of his curse he doesn’t know about the birth of his son. What do you think Sealgair would have taught Seanns?

Sylvia:  In my opinion, the biggest legacy that Sealgair could teach Seanns would be his Art, his work with clay.  There is something magic about clay, the primordial material. I’ve seen the clay being worked, when I was a child, and I consider it a fascinating Art. In a few years, unfortunately, it may be extinct.


Amber:  Seanns is a wise boy. Are there more tales in the works featuring Seanns?

Sylvia:  I love Seanns as a son, ever since I met him. I’m deeply interested in his growth and in his learning. I intend to make another journey with him… My journey hasn’t finished yet, nor has his. We’ll cross the ocean together. Who knows what we’ll find?


Amber:  It can take a long time between writing a novel and publication. You wrote this when you were 12. How did you feel when you finally had a
printed copy of your book in your hands?

Sylvia:  I felt fulfilled, finally. For the first time, and only so far, I felt that my journey was worth it. Leaving home, leaving everything behind, not being able to
find a job as a teacher, enduring so many difficulties. This publishing gave me a reason to go on. It gave hope for the future. It was like a breath after a long


Upcoming Posts and Visits

Posted in Event at 10:47 pm by Amber

I have several book reviews I need to finish writing before the end of the month.

This week though, you’ll see a guest post by Steve Luxenberg, author of Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey Into A Family Secret.  On Friday my review of his book will be available.  He’s doing an Author Chat on LibraryThing starting today until the 29th.

Next week on the 22nd you’ll find a review of The Wolves Keeper Legend and an interview with the author, Sylvia Weber.


Meet Rhonda Parrish!

Posted in Event, Giveaway at 12:05 am by Amber

I’ve known Rhonda Parrish for several years and am always amazed by her latest accomplishments.   In addition to inspiring other writers through an online writing community, she edits Niteblade and somehow manages to find the time to write original material.  Her story, “Sister Margaret“, was recently published by Eternal Press.  In celebration of the occasion, Rhonda allowed me to interview her.  She’s got a little surprise for you at the end!

Amber: Congratulations on your recent Rhysling Award nomination.  You write in many formats and genres.  Is there a specific piece you’re most proud of?  Or one you have a funny story about?

Rhonda: I am very proud of “Lovers” which is my Rhysling nominated poem. It’s a haiku, which I think is one of those poem formats which is easy to learn and difficult to master. I’m a very long way from mastering anything, but I think I have a very solid poem in “Lovers”. That someone else felt that way too makes me exceptionally happy.

By Rhonda Parrish

Where river meets bank
We linger, yet again, with
Your fin in my paw

Interestingly, I read “Lovers” at the World Fantasy Convention’s open mic poetry event and was quite surprised when people laughed. The story behind the piece in my mind wasn’t a funny one, it was a very sad one. I think that message got lost when I changed the title from “Cursed Lovers” to “Lovers”. That’s one of the reasons I adore that poem so much, it can be interpreted in many different ways.

I’m also incredibly pleased with “Sister Margaret”. It turned out exactly how I envisioned it and has been getting positive reviews, which makes me happy because I’m pretty much just an ego with legs 🙂


Amber: Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions?

Rhonda: I don’t. I kind of wish I did because that could make for more interesting writing sessions (and a better answer to your question). Really, I just sit down and write.

Maybe I should make up a ritual! 😉


Amber: Have you noticed an evolution or style change in your writing since you began writing fulltime?

Rhonda: Oh, absolutely. When I wrote my first novel for NaNoWriMo in 2005 I used then and than interchangeably, had no idea what active voice was and over used ellipses. Really, really overused them. And commas? Don’t even get me started on them.

I’ve come a long way since then, but I’ve still got loads of room for improvement.

I guess that sounds like the mechanics of my writing as opposed to style, but the two are related to one another. Without the ellipses, passive voice and misspellings my writing style is hugely different. The drawback of that, of course, is that sometimes when I go back and read things I wrote even a few months ago it can take a lot of willpower not to revise it. Again and again. LOL What stops me is knowing that if I kept doing that, I would never write anything new again LOL


Amber: “Sister Margaret” could have worked well in a contemporary setting.  Would you say Dungeons and Dragons has influenced your work in the fantasy genre?

Rhonda: Without question. The vampires in “Sister Margaret” are far more of the monster variety than the sexy or even the sparkly/sexy variety, and I think that’s a direct reflection of the roleplaying I used to do. In addition, one of the main characters, Bayne, is the child of my favorite Dungeons and Dragons character.

I know one of the unwritten rules of RP and writing is ‘No one else will ever think your roleplaying character is as cool as you do’ but surely writing about their offspring doesn’t fall into that category right? Right? 🙂


Amber: Did the story for “Sister Margaret” appear fully formed or did it take a few revisions to get to where it is today?

Rhonda: Both of the above. The skeleton for “Sister Margaret” appeared fully formed in my brain, but it took several revisions to get it where it is today. Heck, I had to do one revision solely to take out extraneous ‘thans’. Apparently I was very fond of the word than when I wrote the first draft LOL Just another example of how my style has developed I suppose.


Amber: In “Sister Margaret”, the narrator mentions dwarves, elves, half-humans, and incubi as some of the species that can be found in Haven.  What other species might be found in the city of Haven?

Rhonda: There are several different elvish races, and a few different varieties of demons in addition to the incubi. The demons, including full-blood incubi, aren’t welcome in Haven any more than undead are, though. There are several flavors of them too, zombies, vampires, lichs…


Amber: Will your readers get to explore Haven or other places with Michael and Bayne in future publications?

Rhonda: I hope so LoL.

I’ve written a few other stories set in Haven, or Aphanasia (the world in which Haven is set). I’m currently looking for publishers for the shorter pieces which feature Bayne, his sister and a few other very interesting characters. I’ve also written a novel called “Shadows” that is sort of a sequel to “Sister Margaret”. It features Michael, Bayne and a whole host of other characters. I’m seeking agent representation on that one. Keep your fingers crossed for me.


Amber: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Rhonda: I’d just like to thank you for having me here today and for this wonderful interview Amber. As a way to show my gratitude I’d like to give out a copy or two of “Sister Margaret” to your readers. Anyone who comments today or on my guest blog post tomorrow will have their name entered into the draw to win an e-book copy of “Sister Margaret”. I will hold the draw on May 2nd to give people a chance to pop by and enter, and if there are more than 15 comments (not counting mine) I’ll give away two copies.

Thank you again for having me here Amber. You rock!


Interview with Connie Arnold

Posted in Event at 12:05 am by Amber

Connie Arnold is the author of two poetry collections – Beautiful Moments of Joy and Peace and Abiding Hope and Love.  She lives in North Carolina with her husband Tom, and they have two children and three small grandsons.  Connie lives with the daily challenges of lupus, and the pain and weakness it causes.  I was fortunate enough to interview her via email while she is on her blog tour for Abiding Hope and Love.  Her web site is at Inspirational Poetry of Connie Arnold.

Amber: I read on your site that you began writing poetry as text for choir music.  Do you remember having an “ah ha!” moment where you thought to yourself, “I’m writing poetry!”?

Connie: No particular “ah ha!” moment comes to mind as such, but looking back it’s obvious that the text of many of the songs I wrote could stand alone as poems. Usually the words would come to me first, and I would compose music that fit with the words. When I first drew a blank on attempting to come up with a melody to fit what I wanted to say, that might have been the turning point where I was writing poetry and occasionally would compose music for a certain poem that seemed to sing to me.


Amber: Do you write in the same place such as an office or coffee shop?

Connie: Not all the time. One place I write most often is at the dining room table. That’s where I get my best start on poems often, when I’m eating. I guess food fuels my brain to be more receptive to inspiration and think more creatively!


Amber: You have two published books of poetry.  How do you decide which poems to include or leave out?

Connie: The first book, Beautiful Moments of Joy and Peace, includes my earliest poems and other more recent ones that fit with the theme. The second book, Abiding Hope and Love, has various poems on different themes, that when putting together I realized could be grouped into six categories of Hope, Love, Children, Music, the Bible, and Nature, with hope and love being the dominant themes throughout.


Amber: How do you feel your style has changed or developed?

Connie: My style has developed to include more different forms of poetry. There is more variety in the second book than in the first one.


Amber: Do particular themes keep appearing in your poetry?

Connie: Yes, in earlier poems the themes were of beauty, joy and peace which changed to an emphasis on hope and love for the second book.  Since then I have two more collections in the works, one with themes of grace and comfort, and the other poems of seasons with an emphasis on music. Beauty and joy are probably the most commonly recurring themes in all the poems.


Amber: Are you doing anything special to celebrate April as National Poetry Month?

Connie: This two week blog book tour was planned to be a part of National Poetry Month. It also comes at a great time before Mother’s Day in May, which is a popular time for giving beautiful poetry gift books!


Amber: Anything else you’d like to share?

Connie: I’d like to thank you, Amber, for helping me to share about my poetry books, and to invite the readers to visit my website, www.freewebs.com/conniearnold for further information and to read some poems. I look forward to reading and responding to the comments!


Meet Karina Fabian!

Posted in Event at 4:00 am by Amber

Last week you were introduced to today’s guest, Karina Fabian.  I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with her via email about her writing interests and the characters in Magic, Mensa and Mayhem.

Karina Fabian

Amber: I feel like I’ve known Vern forever because I’ve heard about him for quite some time.  I’m surprised Magic, Mensa and Mayhem is the first book featuring Vern and Sister Grace.  How long has Vern been in your life?

Karina: The first Vern story (as my kids call them) appeared in Firestorm of Dragons in 2008, but he’s pretty much taken over a huge hunk of my imagination. I have 12 stories in, shall we say, various stages of being published, plus one more book coming out in late 2009 from Swimming Kangaroo–Live and Let Fly, a super-spy spoof. I also have another dozen stories and books that are just waiting to come out. The DragonEye, PI world is a playground of amusement-park proportions!

Amber: In Magic, Mensa and Mayhem the reader comes across many types of Faerie.  It mentions that Vern is a rare sight.  Has Vern met other North African Faerie Wyverns?

Karina: There are only a set number of dragons in the Faerie world. They are immortal, but do not reproduce. Each has its own territory. Vern is the only North African.  I have a story coming about Grssla (called Gisselle in English), who is a Western European dragon. I hope to write that one to get it out for Valentine’s Day.

Amber: Does Vern have a working visa to live on the Mundane side of the Gap?

Karina: No. Vern is not considered a “person” under US Law–it’s a long story that has to do with bureaucracy in general and an overworked bitter bureaucrat in particular. That’s one reason he was working as a PI instead of doing something more academic. He can’t get a legit job. Before Grace, he was solving crimes and getting his pay under the table or in trade.

He wasn’t able to return to Faerie, however, because the Duke decided it’d be fun to tell the US, “You know that “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled souls longing to be free?  Here ya go. Keep him–or face an Interdimensional Incident.”  The Duke still laughs in his beer when he thinks about that one.

Amber: Do you think St. George may make an appearance during one of their cases?

Karina: Oh, no!  St. George is long dead, and neither Vern nor Grace are likely to have apparitions (visitations of the saints).  Vern did reminisce about him in the latest newsletter, “A Dragon’s Eye View.” If anyone’s interested, they can register on the website and get a copy: www.dragoneyepi.net.

Amber: I think it’s great the way Vern and Sister Grace balance each other.  Vern is so straight forward with his thoughts while Sister Grace is more tactful.  How did you get the idea to put them together as a team?

Karina: Actually, it wasn’t my idea. I wanted a mage for Vern’s partner, and Grace took the job. I guess he needed some Grace in his life.

Amber: You’re multitalented.  You’ve written short stories, novels and edited anthologies.  Each format requires different skills.  Is there one that comes more naturally than the others?

Karina: Not really. It depends on the needs of the story. However, I have greatly enjoyed writing Vern. He has an easy voice for me to write. Maybe he’s the personality I wish I could have sometimes. 🙂

Amber: You’ve been a presenter at the Catholic Writers Conference Online and The Muse Online Writers Conference.  It’s a lot of work to prepare for conferences and clear the time into your schedule for a week or two.  What do you find rewarding about being a presenter?

Karina: I love presenting and taking the workshops. I meet great people, share some fantastic ideas, learn as much as I teach, and usually develop some friendships in the deal. I highly recommend online conferences, especially for those who cannot travel easily.

Amber: There is already another novel featuring Vern and Sister Grace planned for publication by Swimming Kangaroo Books.  Do you have a writing schedule?

Karina: Yes and no. I have a schedule, but it tends to get tossed aside as outside demands or that idea I can’t shake intrude. However, I’m very good at meeting outside deadlines, and when inspired, I can write a novel in a month.

Amber: Where do you write?

Karina: At my computer in the study.  I used to be able to write in bed, but now my back won’t take that.

Amber: Any memorable moments while on book tours?

Karina: My first book tour was for Infinite Space, Infinite God, a sci-fi with Catholic themes. I had some incredible, intellectual people interview me. I found I had to do research to answer some of their questions. I loved the experience! www.isigsf.com

While touring Leaps of Faith last year, I had my first experience with what I considered a damaging review. (The person claimed to love the book, then said it alienated about half the audience.)  I was able to find ways to turn that review to my advantage, and even wrote a few blogs about the experience. www.leapsoffaithsf.com

This time, I’ve just been amazed at the number of people who love Vern!  I did a chat on The Writers Chat room and the number of attendees flowed off the page. We get some big names at that chat, too, so I was flattered.

Amber: Anything else you’d like to share?

Karina: DragonEye, PI, as you observed, is more than just a book or series of books. There are stories, a website, a newsletter, and a forum. I invite folks to come play in my world at www.dragoneyepi.net.

Also for those who get the book, I’m having a trivia contest. I’ll post the questions around April 15 and keep them up through May 15. Whoever answers them correctly gets into a drawing to win a free copy of Live and Let Fly.

Finally, in case you have authors who read this: if you are looking for some help in marketing, please go to www.fabianspace.com and check out the Marketing Mentor menu. I have some free e-books and offer classes and programs as well.

Finally, thanks for hosting me!


Interview With Carrie Vaughn

Posted in Event at 12:10 am by Amber

Today is Carrie Vaughn Day while she is doing a virtual tour for Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand and Kitty Raises Hell.  The series has been great fun for me to read and review.  I’m so pleased that I was able to send some questions to Carrie and be able to share her answers with everyone.  Thank you to Miriam Parker with Hachette Book Group for arranging it!

Carrie Vaughn

Amber: I love how the cover art shows Kitty with something or someone that is key to the book but doesn’t give anything away.  How collaborative are you with the cover artists?

Carrie: Not very.  Most of the development/discussion is handled by the publisher’s art department.  I’ve had a little bit of input and have made a few suggestions that were incorporated, but the artwork is mostly finished by the time I see it.  That said, last fall I did get a chance to talk a little bit via email with Craig White, the artist on all six of Kitty’s covers.  He’s great, and he’s definitely made an effort to make sure the covers match the spirit of the books.

Amber: The books always seem to be a logical next step in Kitty’s character arc.  Do you tend to write the next one while revising/editing the prior book?

Carrie: I always have ideas cooking.  I’ve pretty much always known what the next book is while I’m writing the current one, and I think that’s lent a sense of continuity to the series.  When I started, I had no idea the series would go this far, but fortunately each book I’ve written has given me ideas for the next.

Amber: Of all the songs you include on the playlists for each novel, is one song a particular favorite?

Carrie: I think I’d have to say Peter Murphy’s “I’ll Fall With Your Knife,” which is the last song on the playlist for the first book.  It’s not necessarily my favorite song, but it was the song that was playing when I figured out what Kitty and The Midnight Hour was about, before I even started writing the book. Because of that, it has a pretty powerful effect on me.

Amber: Have you had any memorable moments while on book tours?

Carrie: Not really, because I haven’t really done any book tours.  I have done some of the big conventions–New York Comic Con, San Diego Comic Con, and Dragon Con.  I remember sitting at my signing at Dragon Con, watching Eric Estrada flirt with some very scantily clad women.  This year at New York Comic Con, I sat two seats down from Lou Ferrigno.  I love people watching, and these venues offer great opportunities for people watching.

Amber: Anything else you’d like to share?

Carrie: Thanks for reading!  I feel that Kitty’s success has a lot to do with the great word of mouth the books have gotten, especially online.  I really appreciate that.

Carrie’s Bio: Carrie Vaughn had the nomadic childhood of the typical Air Force brat, with stops in California, Florida, North Dakota, Maryland, and Colorado. She holds a Masters in English Literature and collects hobbies-fencing and sewing are currently high on the list. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Here are the other stops on Carrie’s tour:

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