From Passover to Robert Louis Stevenson: An Interview with Janet Ruth Heller

PassoverSurpriseIt’s an honor to have award-winning author Janet Ruth Heller with me once again to discuss her new children’s book, The Passover Surprise (read my review), as well as her writing process and other literary insights.  It’s such a great interview, full of so many interesting tidbits, that I’ll jump right into it:

Tell me about your writing style? How would you describe it?

I try to write in a very clear and concise style.  I avoid extra words, especially adjectives and adverbs.  I want to communicate well with my readers, so I avoid ambiguity in prose.  I experiment with more ambiguity in my poetry, however.

Your writing style comes through in your most recent work, The Passover Surprise. How did you come up with the title?

I have always loved the Passover holiday because we used to spend it with my mother’s twin brother’s family.  My main character, Lisa, has conflict with her father, and I thought that Passover was a perfect time to resolve this conflict.  Passover also celebrates the Jews’ independence from Egyptian masters.  Lisa has learned how to cope with a difficult problem and is becoming a more independent young woman.  Therefore, Passover seems the right holiday to celebrate Lisa’s new maturity.

Almost all writers are also voracious readers. What books have most influenced your life?

My mother read Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885) to me when I was a child.  I loved the poems’ rhythm and imaginative details.  I was sick a lot as a child (so was Stevenson), so I especially identified with the poem “The Land of Counterpane.”  I read Teenagers Who Made History (1961) when I was a teenager in the 1960s.  Author Russell Freedman portrays young people who began to succeed in their chosen careers when they were teenagers.  He chooses both men and women from very different fields.  Because I was a young writer, I especially connected with the story of Edna St. Vincent Millay, the poet, who won a college scholarship after placing second in a national poetry contest.  This book helped to inspire me to become a professional poet, dramatist, fiction writer, essayist, and literary critic.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I learned from John Ciardi’s How Does a Poem Mean? (1959) to write concisely using specific details and images.  He helped me to make my writing less wordy.

And what are you working on now?

I’m revising a scholarly essay that I wrote about Jaimy Gordon’s novel Lord of Misrule (2010).  I share her love of horses, and I admire her ability to portray the diverse characters surrounding an obscure racetrack.

Looking back, do you remember when your interest in writing first began?

My first-grade teacher Mrs. Mesias did a poetry writing workshop with us.  She liked one of the poems that I made up so much that she dittoed 25 copies of it for the class.  The poem was about flying a kite with my father in a park.  I guess that was my first publication.  I was lucky to have fourth-grade teacher Marjorie Schroeder and high school teachers like Zelma May Oole, Barbara Gensler, and Margaret Sturr, who also admired my writing and encouraged me to develop my skills.

And now for a little fun with a few not-so-serious questions…

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

I love antelopes because they are graceful and can run fast even over rugged and rocky terrain.  In contrast, I’m rather slow-moving and I have wobbly feet.

You are given one superpower… What would you select?

I would like to be able to know what people are secretly thinking.  Sometimes, I misinterpret people, so I would prefer to understand them better.

And I couldn’t agree more–reading minds would be an excellent superpower and particularly useful for an author. As always, it’s been a pleasure to host Janet today, and I look forward to seeing what pleasant surprises her work brings to readers in the future.

 

 

Love, Lattes, and Danger: It’s a dirty job, but some mutant’s got to do it…

Love,Lattes,andDangerThe characters from Love, Lattes, and Mutants (read my review) are back in Love, Lattes, and Danger (available today!), and the timing couldn’t be more perfect for a summer escape into author Sandra Cox‘s imaginative world of genetic engineering, mysteries, teen angst, and, of course, a few frothy lattes.

Synopsis

Joel Eisler is a mutant with special talents. He can detect an oil leak in the ocean simply by tasting the water. Because of this unique ability, he’s been purchased by a large oil company, along with his dolph-sister, Amy. The upside of spending his days and nights in the ocean is that it gives him the opportunity to save the lives of his brother dolphins. The downsides are life as a closely monitored slave—and that he can’t be with Piper, the dolph-girl he loves…

To make matters worse, Joel discovers the lab he grew up in has extracted his sperm and Piper’s egg and created a baby, and his handler, Craven, is plotting to kidnap Amy for more experiments. Now Joel must rescue the infant, bring her to Piper, and find a way to save Amy. And if that’s not enough of a challenge, he needs to convince Piper she belongs with him instead of her all-too-human boyfriend—if Craven doesn’t get to them first…

Buy Love, Lattes, and Danger

EKensington ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo

Sandra2About the author

Multi-published author Sandra Cox writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal and Historical Romance, and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat. Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her screened in porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee and enjoying a good book. She’s a vegetarian and a Muay Thai enthusiast.

Find Sandra on the web

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Authors, Mothers, and Maugham

MoonspinnersDuring the summer of 1979, between morning and afternoon swim-team practices, I read my way through Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart, and Daphne du Maurier.

Rocking in my hammock, under a hot Idaho sun, I traveled to windswept moors dotted with heath, swooned over brooding lords of the manor, and identified with governesses, plain yet intelligent, full of thoughtful observations. They not only won over my heart but also the love of the lord, as well as solving mysteries.

But by July 31, having come to the end of my self-directed summer-reading program, I uttered the words that all parents dread.

“I’m bored,” I said. “There’s nothing to do.”

I cringe now. Nothing to do? Impossible with endless libraries to explore and subjects to study. But I was 13, restricted by immaturity and narrow-mindedness, which, of course, I never would have admitted at the time, let alone recognized.

OfHumanBondageMy mother, not one to accept boredom, took to me to the library and introduced me to another favorite author, W. Somerset Maugham. Of Human Bondage became the cure for my boredom.

I approached the book with skepticism, even though my mother had introduced me to Mary Stewart’s Moon-Spinners, the beginning of my summer-reading-binge. I soon softened, though, to the main character Phillip, and Of Human Bondage joined me in the hammock. Other Maugham novels followed. Then school began with its predictable reading lists, and I found myself daydreaming about ramshackle mansions and secrets hidden in attics.

So it was appropriate that, almost 35 years later, my mother, a life-long letter writer of extraordinary ability, sent me the following quote, taking me back to my hammock, piles of books, and endless summer days stretching as long and wide as an Idaho sky.

MoonandSixpenceFrom The Moon and Sixpence (Chapter 2) by W. Somerset Maugham: “It is a salutary discipline to consider the vast number of books that are written, the fair hopes with which their authors see them published, and the fate which awaits them.  What chance is there that the book will make its way among the multitude?  And the successful books are but the successes of a season.  Heaven knows what pains the author has been at, what bitter experiences he has endured and what heartache suffered to give some chance reader a few hours of relaxation or to while away the tedium of a journey.

And if I may judge from reviews, many of these books are well and carefully written; much thought has gone in to their compositions; to some even has been given the anxious labor of a lifetime.  The moral I draw is that the writer should see his reward in the pleasure of his work and in release from the burden of his thought; and, indifferent to aught else, care nothing for praise or censure, failure or success.”

Now another summer begins with a note on books from my mother, her ability to send the perfect message at the most appropriate time still finely tuned. Books gather around me in piles, waiting to be read. The only thing missing is my hammock, and the cupcake or two always waiting in my mother’s pantry.

Happy weekend everyone!

And if you have a moment, please share your favorite summer books and/or quotes from authors in the comment form.

Myth, magic, and a free ebook

Myth And Magic-highresMae Clair has joined me today to talk about her new books and a special upcoming promotion for her novel, Eclipse Lake—it’s free!

Now, here’s more from Mae…

~~~

Free June 8 to June 10: Eclipse Lake

If you enjoy romance, mysteries, and suspense, I invite you to take advantage of my limited time offer for Eclipse Lake. Grab your Kindle copy, June 8 to June 10 for FREE. This is a stand-alone full-length novel of old wounds, buried secrets, and sweet romance. It’s not part of a series, so you can enjoy the complete tale.

Description:

Small towns hold the darkest secrets.

Eclipse Lake FinalFifteen years after leaving his criminal past and estranged brother behind, widower Dane Carlisle returns to his hometown on the banks of sleepy Eclipse Lake. Now, a successful businessman, he has kept his troubled past a secret from most everyone, including his seventeen-year-old son.

But memories in small towns are bitter and long.

Ellie Sullivan, a nature photographer for a national magazine, has a habit of ping-ponging across the map. Her latest assignment leads her to Eclipse Lake where she becomes caught up in the enmity between Dane, his brother Jonah, and a vengeful town sheriff. When freshly-discovered skeletal remains are linked to an unsolved murder and Dane’s past, Ellie is left questioning her growing attraction for a man who harbors long-buried secrets.

Grab Your Free Copy from Amazon here

If you don’t have a Kindle, download a FREE Kindle Reading app for the device of your choice

I hope you enjoy Eclipse Lake and ask only that when you’ve finished reading you’d leave an honest review on Amazon. Authors love hearing what readers enjoyed about our novels (even what didn’t work). It’s a favored reward.

I’d also like to ask for your support in the release of my brand new Halloween-themed romantic suspense novel, Myth and Magic. There’s nothing like a little October spookiness for weaving a touch of magic into your summer.

Description:

Love and danger intertwine

AS CHILDREN THEY PLAYED GAMES OF MYTH AND MAGIC…

Veronica Kent fell in love with Caith Breckwood when they were children. As a teenager, she was certain he was the man she was destined to marry. But a traumatic event from Caith’s past led him to fear a future together. He left Veronica, hoping to save her from a terrible fate. Twelve years later, Caith, now a P.I., is hired to investigate bizarre incidents at the secluded retreat Veronica manages. Returning to his hometown, Caith is forced to face his nightmares—and his feelings for the woman he’s always loved.

THEN ONE DAY THE MONSTERS BECAME REAL.
 
After the callous way Caith broke her heart, Veronica isn’t thrilled to see him again. But strange occurrences have taken a dangerous toll on business at Stone Willow Lodge. Forced to work together, Veronica discovers it isn’t ghostly apparitions that frighten her, but her passion for a man she has never forgotten. Or forgiven. Can two people with a tarnished past unearth a magical future?

Release day for Myth and Magic is June 9, but you can pre-order prior to that. It’s available from all of these bookstores:

Amazon ~ Kobo ~ iTunes ~ Kensington Publishing ~ Barnes & Noble

Purchase Myth and Magic and grab your copy of Eclipse Lake  for free. You get TWO full-length books of suspense, mystery and romance for under $4.00! Either way I hope you will enjoy the free book. Both stories plus their characters hold special places in my heart.

Thank you for your support and I’d love to hear from you! You can find me at any of the following haunts: Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter (@MaeClair1) ~ Google+ ~ Facebook  ~ Amazon  ~Kensington Books  ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest

Mae ClairAbout the author:
Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back. Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.

Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with mystery and romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.

Hidden Fire Blog Tour and $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Congratulations to Deidra Eden on the release of Hidden Fire, the second book in The Watchers series! Everything about this book–from the cover to the characters to the plot and theme–screams page-turning summer reading…

Finding your own unique strength and courage is a major theme of The Watchers. The characters in this series are as diverse as they come: different nationalities, male, female, dwarf, human, dragon, pixie, noble, peasant orphan, young, aged. Yet, no matter the situation, whether tragic or triumphant, they find ways to grow and develop into something stronger.

The main character, Auriella (Aura), is born and lives in a society and time when girls, especially of her social status, didn’t have opportunities for education or growth, let alone a chance to be a hero. The Watchers must learn to work together, despite differences, to defeat Erebus and the Shadow Legion, just as we, no matter our gender, race, age, circumstances, etc., are capable of great things.

Strong men and women grow in all situations and become heroes when one is needed. They don’t think about it, they just do what’s right.Deirdra Eden, author of The Watchers Series

Summary

Auriella’s new life as a royal protector is in shambles. The new king ignores her warnings of a Shadow Legion invasion and he is determined to marry her off. Ghosts from her past, the discovery of other Watchers, and a handsome Scottish warrior throw her off guard and weaken her emotional defenses. Caught in a web of secrecy and betrayal, Auriella struggles to control and protect the devastating power of Starfire. A terrible truth and a fateful choice will lead her to her destiny as the fabled Lady of Neviah, or could shroud the entire world in eternal darkness.

Filled with action, romance, drama, and comedy, Hidden Fire is an addicting read that you won’t want to put down.

“Deirdra Eden has surpassed her earlier achievement in this daring tale of struggle between good and evil forces that exist in every universe.” Mark F. Cheney, author of Mark of the Jaguar.

“Thought provoking and full of action, I didn’t want to put the book down! I really loved the symbolism and it was a fantastic read.” Mary G. – age 15

Check out  the book trailer:

And be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

 

Hitting the Road with Blood Stitches

Gabby, Frank, Esperanza, and the rest of the gang from Blood Stitches are joining me on a tour, starting today, to every corner of the Webosphere in celebration of the novella’s publication. Finally!

Blood Stitches-highres

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~Kobo ~ Google ~iTunes

We look forward to seeing you at one of our stops… And be sure to the enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

May 12
Cate Masters
Calisa Rhose

May 13
Christa Maurice
Desiree Holt

May 14
Dani-Lyn Alexander

May 15
Mae Clair

May 16
Tracy Bilen

May 18
Sandra Cox
Jenny Colly

May 19
Krysten Lindsay Hager
Nina Crespo

May 20
A.S. Fenichel
Daisy Banks

May 21
Kristi Rose
Anise Rae

May 22
Pamela Turner

May 23
Patti Richards

May24
CD Brennan

May 25
C. Lee McKenzie

May 26
April Vine

May 27
Cindy Fazzi

May 28
Dark Faerie Tales

Writing the teen years: From frenemies to crushes to self-esteem

BestFriendsForever453x680Writing is never easy but trying to capture the teen years on paper is especially challenging, so I’m excited to have author Krysten Lindsay Hager on my blog today with a guest-post about just that.

~~~

The Landry’s True Colors Series is all about self-esteem, friendships, crushes, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, values, and self-image. It’s not always easy for me to go back in time and revisit those memories, but it’s part of the process. I knew I wanted to be a writer at a very young age, but I got serious about it right when I graduated from high school. The hardest part for me was finishing a story, but I did that for the first time in college with a novella while doing a one-on-one study. It was then that I decided to write young adult fiction and I started re-reading my old journals and going through old memories. When I got married I thought that even though I had started getting published under my maiden name, it would be easier to write about those teen years if I wrote under my married name. Then, one day after the wedding, I got an invitation to join Facebook and I was all, “What’s this? This looks fun!” Two months later and people I shared crayons with in pre-school were friending me and all possibilities of me using my own actual real-life experiences in my stories were out the window. Sigh. Stupid Facebook. So now I must write Landry’s experiences as her own. That’s not to say my own memories don’t infiltrate and inspire certain plotlines though. My mom saw a lot of things I had been through in a new character in the series.

Krysten Lindsay Hager
Krysten Lindsay Hager

I may not use my actual experiences word for word, but I channel those feelings into the books. Writing about the teen years means going back and sharing the awkward and insecure feelings I had like wondering why someone who was supposed to be my friend was saying passive aggressive things to me—the whole, “Just kidding!” statement made after a mean spirited comment was thrown my way. Or how I felt while modeling and then feeling expectations to always look a certain way. And, of course, all the boy drama. Nothing like hearing rumors about another girl going after the guy you’re with, right? There’s a part in the first book in the series, True Colors, where Landry has been left out by her two best friends. Landry has to get up and walk across the room and ask another group of girls if she can join them. I remember an editor told me, “My heart was in my throat as I wondered, would these new girls accept her? Would they let her sit with them?” As this woman told me how she felt emotionally connected with Landry, it hit me—that moment I had written about was based on my own feelings. I had done that incredibly long walk back in middle school to another table to see if someone would let me in their group after my own had stopped talking to me for a day (who knows why, but at the time it seemed catastrophic). That awkward, uncomfortable memory that I wasn’t even sure I should write about had brought up something in this woman who was reading it for the first time. It was then that I realized that Landry’s (and my) vulnerabilities were the only way to bring truth and honesty to the story.

However, I never could have written this story back then because you need time to process all of those things and realize why they happened and what you can learn from them. While writing the story, it hit me that Landry’s parents could share with her what they had gone through themselves when dealing with self-doubt and insecurity when Landry talks about her fear of failure. As a teen, I never really picked up on what my own parents went through even though I witnessed my mom have “frenemy” moments of her own. It began to hit me how all these things never really stop, they just change a little as you get older. Recently, I’ve had friends share emails that hurt them from other adults and honestly, they could have been written by 14 year old mean girls. I realize now how important it is to learn how to handle these things early on and to know you’re not alone in having to go through these situations. I wrote the books I wished I could have had at that age to let me know I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling and going through and I hope now it helps someone else.

About the author

Krysten Lindsay Hager is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series, a clean reads young adult series. Krysten writes about  friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image in both True Colors and Best Friends…Forever?

Krysten is an Amazon international bestselling author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Find Krysten online: Website ~Instagram Facebook ~ Twitter

Buy her books: Amazon ~   Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ itunes