Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Stories for children suffering from cancer

Hi, this is a great blog to check out - all for an amazing cause!

Danielle and Matthew Drake's Kourageous Kids Storybooks blog

"My wife and I have been writers for years. Recently, we were approached by a friend whose child was undergoing surgery. The idea was to write him stories to read while he recovered. This idea inspired us. We started Kourageous Kids Storybooks. We learn about each child, then write the story they will star in. They ‘defeat’ the ‘evil’ and ‘save the day,’ in a story perfectly tailored to them. Help us give these brave children stories that depict them as the heroes they truly are."

Monday, 30 January 2012

Small flash

Hi, I've been a bit quiet for a while... so here's some flash fiction :)

The haunted house by Vickie Johnstone

In the dark in the park by the tree that was the favourite of the lark, the haunted house glared. It spied through black windows, behind which shadows flittered. Footsteps unheard outside passed unbidden within. A spider stretched its legs across the stone floor on which no man had walked for years. Behind the heavy front door there breathed the ache of the ages. Long gone and long forgotten. A silent bell rang out. The silent clock ticked. The master of the house arose just as he had done a few hundred years before. Yawning, he walked outside the shimmering.

Forever by Vickie Johnstone

She follows the line of the wavering stream below the glow of the shimmering moon. Moonbeams speckle irredescent across her upturned face. Her fingertips trace the cold, dewy grass. Her bare feet tred softly. She relishes the quiet of the night. Going to meet her lover by the tree with their names carved. The wind blows her dark hair; feels like spiders scuttling across her cheek. Almost there. She sees him waiting. The mark of the noose never fades from his neck. Instinctively, she reaches to check the same welts on her own. She smiles. Their love overcomes even death.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

GREAT INDIE READS BLOG HOP - words with... Pandora Poikilos


Thanks to Pandora Poikilos for this interview
What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?
I’m lucky enough to write for a living. In my spare time I work on Orangeberry Book Tours and promote other authors. 

What books have you written so far? 
I have written quite a few. Two novels (Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out and Frequent Traveller) and two short stories have been published. 

What works in progress do you have?
More novels. I Am Not You will be published in April 2012, and another Cathy Dixon novel in November 2012.

How long did it take you to write your book/s?
Sometimes two months, sometimes more.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?
Linear and I plan. Unfortunately (sometimes) and fortunately for other times, I’m pedantic that way. I tend to have my chapters and plots all drafted out before I sit down to write.

Why do you write?
Because it’s the only time I am comfortable with myself.

How long have you been writing?
Decades. My first published article appeared in a local paper when I was 13. I’m 36 this year – you do the math.

Where and when do you write? ­ Do you have set times?
Yes, usually at night, and I stay away from phone calls and distractions.

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?
I’m a little bit of each of them I guess. Every time I write, a piece of me goes into the book.

What / who inspired you to write and still inspires you?
My other half, Peas, as he is known to my readers. I have a rare neurological disorder, which doesn't leave me with the best eyesight. On some days, he’s had to type up my notes for me.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?
There is a lot of hype about ‘good’ editing and formatting when it comes to ebooks, and I think these are essential ingredients for a good novel. But what is more important is the writer’s ability to reach out to his/her readers. Be it content, plot or writing style, there must be something the reader can take away.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life?
Yes, the Cathy Dixon series is based on incidences I have seen or heard of from my years of working as a hotelier.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song? holiday? book?
Dogs. Cereal. Red Wine. Baby blue. Beatles. Pearl Harbour Sucks. Island. Great Expectations. 

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
False Impression by Jeffrey Archer
Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?
Pip from Great Expectations. His view of the world changes as he grows up and I often find that picking up this book at different stages of my life provides a different interpretation of the story as well.

Who is your hero / heroine from real life?
Steve Jobs.

Which book do you wish you had written?
Little Women. 

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?
Salman Rushdie, Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?
I have been traditionally published and I do self-publish my work. At this age and time, things are changing very fast and it is sometimes hard to keep up. While being traditionally published offers you support in some ways, self-publishing provides flexibility.

How do you find the marketing experience? Any advice for other writers?
It can be challenging at times. I had both my novels appear in Amazon’s Top 100 over Christmas. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. Consistency is necessary, but it is also important to do what works for you and your book. So many times, authors do something because someone else has done it and this can work, but it is essential to stand out for what you have done.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?
Yes, my blog is Peace from Pieces.  It’s a compilation of all things inspiring, books, poems and authors from Orangeberry Book Tours. 

What other hobbies do you have?
Music and people watching.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
More time with family, a permanent address and my own in-house library.

 If you won the Lotto, what would you do with that money?
Buy a house, build a library, start a family. Not necessarily in that order.

What is the craziest thing or best thing you ever got for Christmas?
Craziest thing would be an empty box because the person forgot to put the gift inside. Crazy in a funny way, of course. Best thing is family at Christmas.

Just for fun, complete this story in 100 words or less…
It was the night before Christmas and Santa was loading his sleigh…
Everything seemed like how it always was until he realised he was one bag short. What would he do? There weren’t enough toys. Would the elves be able to finish a whole new bag of toys in time for Christmas morning? Santa feared the worst until he heard a giggle from behind a tree. Lo and behold, there stood little Angeline with a bag of toys.  She hurriedly sneaked a peek at the bag looking for her name. No one knew she had made it to Santa’s. “One peek, then I'll go home,” she thought just as she felt a hand grab her shoulder.

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?
What's my twitter handle? I love to tweet and it's http://twitter.com/#!/PandoraPoikilos 



Monday, 16 January 2012

Words with... Sabrina Sumsion

Thanks to Sabrina Sumsion for this interview plus book giveaway and competition... details at the bottom...

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?

My day job is home schooling my three children. I know, I’m a bit crazy, but I have to say it’s the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had. Before that I spent several years as a literary publicist, arranging media coverage for authors nationwide.

What books have you written so far?

My first book is titled Produce, Publish, Publicize. This book teaches authors how to create a good product, and avoid traps and scams in the literary profession, as well as gain attention for their writing. My new release, Jasmine: Energy Book 1, is a YA sci-fi/romance.

What works in progress do you have?

I can’t focus on one project at a time (writer’s ADD?) so there are several in the works. Of course I have the sequel to Jasmine in the works, but I also have a dark fantasy that I will probably publish under a pen name as well as an alternative future. Add to that several short stories I have floating around and when I have time to type, I get a lot of typing done.

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

Produce, Publish, Publicize took me 2 years to write. Jasmine: Energy Book 1 took closer to 9 months from the first word typed.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?

I tend to start at the back and work forward. I know where I want the characters to go, but how they get there is always a surprise to me as I write. I see vivid scenes in my head then type them out. I put them about where I think the scenes belong and do my best to bridge them together.

Why do you write?
I write because it’s relaxing. I enjoy losing myself in a storyline. I hope to give the same experience to my readers.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing about four years ago, after talking to an author who lost her house from debt, incurred trying to publish through a scam publishing house. I decided authors needed a guide and started writing Produce, Publish, Publicize.

Where and when do you write? Do you have set times?

I typically write after the kids are in bed. I turn on Jon Schmidt’s YouTube channel and type away.

 Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?

I like Jasmine the most right now. She’s quirky and passionate. Not to mention stubborn! She changed the plot details several times as I was writing!

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…

Anything by Brandon Sanderson
Victorine Lieske’s Not What She Seems
 J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?

I always loved Tika from the Dragon Lance series by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis. When she hit the bad guy on the head with a pan of potatoes, I cheered aloud.

Which book do you wish you had written?

The Magic Tree House books. Mary Pope Osborne is brilliant!

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?

I want to meet R.L. Stine, Stephenie Meyer and Tracy Hickman. Mostly because they seem like fascinating people.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?

I am self published. I created my own imprint for Produce, Publish, Publicize since it was a marketing tool for my publicity business. I published Jasmine on the same imprint.

How do you find the marketing experience? Any advice for other writers?

Time consuming. Seriously, when you release your first book, expect to spend many hours working on promotions. Make sure that you start contacting blogs for reviews and blog tours two months before you release your book. Reviewers are really busy and it takes a while for them to get to your book.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?

I have a blog integrated into my website. I write about other authors, books I’ve read, new projects I’m working on, home schooling and other random thoughts that cross my mind.

What other hobbies do you have?

I make lotions and jewellery, and I’m learning how to sew. I also like to renovate. I currently have one room in the farmhouse we live in ripped down to the studs. If it’s a big project, I love it!

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

In the next 5 years I want to publish 10 books. I have 8 books in the Energy Series, as well as 2 other standalone novels in the queue. As I’m doing this, I also want to keep learning about the craft of writing and improve my storylines.

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?

Hee hee hee. I have a spreadsheet for that. Honestly, I have an outline detailing how I would allocate funds if I came into a windfall. I made it years ago when someone asked that question in a chatroom. Basically, I would invest the maximum allowed by the IRS into a RothIRA, pay off all debts and then put the rest in a savings account. Every month, I would purchase a long-term CD, with the money in savings until I had 24-36 in constant rotation. Each month, if I need money, I can withdraw a CD that matured. If I don’t need the money, I can reinvest it in another long term CD. This way I can’t spend the money without thinking about it first.
     I know that’s kind of boring, but it’s a long term plan for financial security. I’m sure I would end up taking a trip to England or another dream location, but I would also have an eye towards the future.
     If it’s a publishing contract, I would also invest in a publicist. Large house publisher publicists don’t have time to contact all media. A second publicist can reach the secondary markets and help spread my name even further.

Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…
There was once a little rabbit called Jack… He had an itch on his back. He turned to scratch, saw the strawberry patch then scampered on over to snack.


Produce, Publish, Publicize
What you need to know to publish successfully

Energy: Jasmine – 
Jasmine just wants a place to call home, friends and love if it comes her way. Who knew aliens would stand in the way?

*** Book giveaway and competition to win a homemade lotion bar ***

Would you like to win a copy of Jasmine: Energy Book 1? All you need to do is comment with the answer to this question of Sabrina's: 
An alien walks up to you on the street and asks, “Hey you! Can you help me?” 
What do you do? 

To enter the competition to win one of Jasmine's lotion bars, simply post a link to this interview on any social media site (just comment where below!). 

Thank you and good luck! :)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

SampleSunday: Kiwi in Cat City - chapter five




Chapter five: Cat Crime

“Now I’m going to introduce you to a very special friend of mine and business partner,” said Kiwi, as they turned a corner.
“You work here?” asked Amy, gazing up… and up.
They were standing in front of the biggest building in Cat City. The top was lost in the clouds. It was a gigantic, grey building, which stood out from the rest of the houses and buildings in the city just because it had no colour. It looked very intimidating. The front door was also grey, but the knocker was bright red – and small – so small that you could miss it if you didn’t know it was there. It was shaped like a cat’s eye. Maybe the building was grey because it was trying to look scary, thought James. Perhaps it didn’t want any visitors at all.
A big sign turned around slowly on the patch of grass in front of the building. It read Cat Crime. And it was grey, as was the grass.
“Cool,” said James. “Is this the police station?”
“Police station and investigative agency. The only one in Cat City. Everyone comes here with their problems and we sort them out. We’re here to meet a friend of mine who is in a spot of trouble.”
“Ah,” perked up Amy, her whiskers flicking. “Are we going to help?”
“That’s the idea.”
They opened the door, which didn’t creak at all. Inside, a big hallway opened up, and a spiral staircase wound its way upwards, disappearing in the distance; it went up that far. There were no doors in the hallway, only an elevator. A big sign read Cat Lift. Everything was the same grey as the outside of the building.
“It’s the rule here. Everything grey, except the people,” grinned Kiwi.
They climbed the spiral staircase. James, being quite small, jumped up each one in a kind of bunny hop. Amy tried not to laugh and concentrated on keeping her tail from wrapping around the central pole. Kiwi walked up smoothly. Professionally.
They came to Level One of the building and stepped off the staircase. James’ vertigo kicked in – he was glad it was no higher. They pushed open a heavy door, watched by a big cat’s eye that blinked in a ball floating up and down the hallway.
“Don’t worry, it’s a camera.”
Inside the room were lots of pictures, a big fluffy rug, and rows of bookcases filled with books. A bright blue light hung from the ceiling. What looked like a water machine sat in the corner, but James could see it dripped a white liquid. He decided it must be milk. Everything was still grey, but in different shades. The blue light seemed to make objects change shade, so although everything was grey, they seemed to go through a rainbow of colour.
“Well hello,” said a voice.
Behind a big desk sat a thin, black cat with what resembled a very thin moustache, twisted at the ends. He had a big, cheerful smile. Amy gazed at the moustache. On his jacket was a little cat-shaped badge with the name Toby. “Can I help you?”
“Yes,” replied Kiwi, striding over. “I’m Kiwi. We’re here to see Inspector Furrball. He’s expecting us. Well, he was expecting us an hour ago, but we just got here. Are you new here? I haven’t seen you before.”
“Yes, I started working here a month ago. I transferred to Cat City from a small town. Police work there was a bit slow. You know what I mean? Okay, well, I cannot see you on his list of expected visitors. If you wait, I’ll just buzz him and tell him you are here… Right. Okay. Yes he can see you. Take the lift and go to Level Three and turn right.”
“Thanks,” said Kiwi. She knew the way, having been here hundreds of times. She wondered what had happened to Kip. He had worked here for years, and was a good catizen and friend.
The lift was, well, you can guess – very grey, but the orange light inside made it gleam different colours. The lift sped up to Level Three and stopped with a big shake and a massive bang. The walls trembled. Amy and James collapsed on the floor. Kiwi pinned herself up against the wall.
“Embarrassingly, we haven’t quite mastered lift technology yet. But, you’ll get used to it,” said Kiwi, as the kittens staggered to their feet. As they exited the lift – rather quickly, in case it decided to rush off – they noticed that the corridor was a faint red – under a layer of grey, it seemed – as were the floor, ceiling and doors.
“You may notice the red tint to everything here,” said Kiwi. “This is the very heart of the building. Remember how we got here. There is only one way. If anything bad happens, or someone finds out the route who shouldn’t, we change how you can get to this room.”
The kittens listened silently, their tails bobbing in weird directions. Amy wanted to scratch, but stopped herself.
They turned right and then left, and then left again, and finally right, walking until they came to a red door with a sign perched on it: Inspector Furrball. Kiwi knocked three times and entered.
Inside, the sound of music flooded their ears and a short, chubby, ginger tomcat bellowed a hello from the corner of the room. From behind a pair of round glasses balanced on the end of a big pink nose, two bright, golden, clear eyes beamed out. He wore a bright red waistcoat with a golden watch hung on the end of a golden chain. It glinted and ticked silently.
“So, who have we here?” asked Inspector Furrball, stroking his whiskers. Amy noticed a small mouse keyring on his desk and shivered. Surely, it must be a fake!
“These are two friends of mine – Ames and Jimster,” said Kiwi, pushing the bewildered kittens forward. “It’s their first visit to Cat City.”
“He-hello,” they stammered in unison.
“Funny accents,” said the inspector, peering forward at them. “Have they got passes?”
“Not yet. I was hoping you could help with that,” replied Kiwi.
“Shouldn’t be a problem,” said Furrball. “If you can vouch for them.”
The inspector peered closer at the two kittens. Something weird, he thought, and then waved the idea out of his head.
“Well,” said Kiwi with a cough, trying to distract the inspector, whom she knew was too intelligent to be fooled for long, “I heard that you need my help. I got the message by robin today.”
“Yes. But first things first,” said Furrball. “Are you thirsty?”
Kiwi looked nervous.
“No, I’m okay,” said Amy, wondering what Kiwi meant by message by robin. Did a robin send a message? Did he carry it in his beak, or could birds speak to cats here? And didn’t cats eat birds? This was confusing.
“Yessssss,” cried James with his tongue out, forgetting to purr.
Furrball looked surprised. He tapped the buzzer on his desk with his paw and asked someone for refreshments. Kiwi sat down on a red cushion and wrapped her tail around her. James and Amy copied, finding two unbelievably comfortable cushions on the red carpet. The door pushed open and a tall, grey cat in a green dress walked in, pushing a small trolley with running cat feet. “Milk, cream, rice pudding, mousie mousse, yogurt or biscuits?” she asked, handing round little red saucers. Amy stifled a giggle and took a saucer.
“Thank you Miss Kitty,” said Furrball, looking a little bit red in the face. She smiled and closed the door.
The inspector set a saucer on his desk, filled it with milk and quickly lapped it up, purring intermittently. The kittens stared. He didn’t make any mess at all. Kiwi did the same and lapped it all up with a big purr. Oh no, there was no other way to drink it. Amy and James looked at each other, bemused, before deciding to just go for it. They stuck their heads in and started licking the milk – and decorated the carpet, themselves and Kiwi’s tail with splatters of thick double cream.
Furrball stared at them with an odd glint in his eye.
Kiwi froze. “Ah kittens… what can you do?”
Silence cut the air.
“Well, what can I say,” replied Furrball, suddenly exploding into laughter. “I guess we’ve all done it. And I guess they’ve had a tiring day and a long journey…”
Kiwi stuttered. The two kittens looked up sheepishly, with white blobs of cream on their whiskers and noses. Amy wondered how she was going to wipe it off discreetly. This could mean having to spit on her paw and wash like Kiwi did – eeek! Never! She reached for the nearest napkin and dabbed her mouth, but it was hard to grip with a paw, and it kept dropping.
Furrball raised an eyebrow and looked directly at Kiwi. “Is there something you want to tell me?”
Kiwi paused. “So what has been happening in Cat City?” she enquired, changing the subject.
“You’ve been away a bit long this time,” said the inspector, sitting down and playing with his pen. This involved batting it around his desk with his paw loudly, but the kittens pretended not to notice. They still had cream-covered whiskers to deal with!
“The problem we have is that catizens are going missing – about five so far. This is worrying for us and the mayor.”
“Missing?” asked Kiwi surprised.
“Gone, vanished, we don’t know where. All five cases have happened in the past five weeks. That’s one a week. No trace. No clues. No ransom notes. So money is not the motive. It’s a mystery and really bothersome. As you know, we never have disappearances here.”
“That is strange,” said Kiwi, mystified. “Have you interviewed anyone?”
“We made a start, but we haven’t got anywhere so far. No one has seen or heard anything. We’re at a dead end. All of the disappearances happened when the catizens were on their way home from work. The last one was a Mr Katz.”
“Mmmm. I’ll see if I can help,” said Kiwi, concerned.
Furrball smiled. “I was hoping you’d say that. But there is one other thing…”
The kittens froze. This was it. He knew. They were about to be kicked out of Cat City for being fakers.
Furrball stopped smiling. “One of the five catizens who disappeared is Kip. In fact, he was the first. Five weeks ago. Then, one missing every week.”
“No!” said Kiwi. “I was wondering where he was. I hope he’s okay. We have to find him! I mean… them.”
Furrball looked serious. “I can let you have one of my Cat Squad to help you. If you need more, let me know. But keep things quiet. We don’t want to scare whoever is doing this.”
“And we want to get them back alive,” said Kiwi sadly. “I don’t need any help…”
The kittens shivered.
“It’s not a problem,” said Furrball, waving his paw. “Cat Squad is at your disposal. We have also been testing some impressive new guns. Errrm. Probably not a good subject to talk about right now in front of the young ones. Have you checked in at the Cat Motel?”
“Haven’t had time,” said the troubled Kiwi.
“I’ll ring them and book your usual room plus two extra cushion baskets in it. Do you want a scratching post?”
“Great,” said Kiwi.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door.
“Ah,” said Furrball. “The special agent. He’s all yours. I think you’ve worked with him before…”
Just then a furry, brown face poked itself around the corner of the door.
“Paws?!” exclaimed Kiwi. “Oh no,” she added, under her breath, “not him.”
“Now, I must get on. Have a kitty nice day. Paws will be your right-hand man,” smiled Furrball.
Kiwi groaned. “That’s what I was afraid of.” But she didn’t say it out loud, because that would be rude.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Kiwi in Cat City - now in paperback

Hi everyone!
Hope 2012 is treating you well so far and all of those lovely resolutions are holding up strong... I don't think mine are!

Just a quick one to let you know that my book, Kiwi in Cat City, which I self-published at the start of 2011 has now been republished by InknBeans Press. It is still selling on Amazon and Smashwords, and the usual places.

As you probably know by now, the story is about a magical cat who takes her owners and friends, Amy and James, on an adventure to a land inhabited by our feline friends. There they help to solve mysteries. I am currently writing book 4 in the series. 

It is now available in paperback.
The new version has a refreshed cover and contains some illustrations by the talented Nikki McBroom :)

Amazon had reduced the price, but I've just checked and it seems to be back up. Not sure what's going on there!

Thank you!

Monday, 9 January 2012

GIR 12 Days of New Year Blog Hop


As Part of the GIR 12 Days of New Year Blog Hop, today Ritesh Kala is interviewing Marie J S Phillips, author of the Furlites of Aroriel series 
Check out The Great Indie Reads website to find out all about the GIR 12 Days of New Year Blog Hop :)
Previous interviews:
Terry Simpson interviewed Jonathan Gould:
Robert Spiller interviewed Robert Stanek:
Donna Brown interviewed Cede Smith:
Author Interrupted interviewed Valerie Douglas:

Thanks :)
Happy reading :)

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sample Sunday: Pine Needles

Pine needles

In deepest forest glades
The rain smells green
Collecting in pools of mud
Dancing in shimmers unseen

Between scattered boughs
Realms of elfin light
Cast an eerie warm glow
Exotic birds take flight

This poem is a sample from Kaleidoscope 
copyright Vickie Johnstone

Friday, 6 January 2012

Anastasia Pergaki's Cleanse Fire! Special interview & book giveaway

Thanks to Captain Derac Vidor, hero of Cleanse Fire! and 
Blood Trade, by Anastasia Pergakis, for taking time out of his busy schedule for this interview...

What is your day job?

I am Captain of an elite military unit of elves, known as the Kinir Elite. We handle top secret missions, hostage rescues and other specialized missions that require a small task force, rather than the entire Kinir Army.

What missions have you completed so far?

There are so many and some I am not allowed to talk about. However, in our book, Cleanse Fire, our mission was to track down a traitor, our own Commander. In the end, we discovered he was not the mastermind of the plot to kill us. We also dealt with a powerful wizard who wanted us dead for his own revenge. He simply enlisted our Commander to help him accomplish his goals. Greed and lust for power caused him to betray his country. I'll never fully understand how or why he could do such a thing.

What other missions are in the works for you?

In our next book, Blood Trade, we will be working closely with the Kinir Army. The Vaxies attack our capital city and begin kidnapping people from all over the country. When we retaliate, we realize that fighting these new beings will be tougher than anything we've ever encountered before. You see, the Vaxies are very small creatures – almost like bats – and they swarm much like locusts do. We have to replan our entire history of warfare and strategy in order to defeat them.

Why did you join the Kinir Army and how long have you served?
Good question. Let's see, I grew up on a farm with two brothers and my twin sister. I didn't have any need to escape my family home or had feelings of wanting adventure. I joined the Army because someone needed to do it. It's a privilege for me to serve my country. I enjoy what I do and feel pride in wearing the uniform. Someone had to do it, so it might as well be me. At this point, I've served 20 years: 10 years in the Army, 5 years as a Kinir Ranger and, so far, 5 years as Elite. I must serve another 20 before I have the option to retire or not.

What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?

My father is probably my biggest inspiration. As a farmer, he taught me how to appreciate the land, plants and all the creatures in the world. I think those lessons helped me decide to join the Army, truthfully. I wanted to protect the beauty and good in Kinir, and what better way to do that in the Army?

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour?

I find dragons to be beautiful creatures, but I believe my favorite would have to be the Pegasus. My favourite food? Simple – steak and potatoes. We don’t have 'films' in our world and I'm not really sure what they are to begin with. My favorite color is green.

What other hobbies do you have?

I paint portraits, mostly of family and close friends. I don't have a lot of time to paint usually, but on the few occasions that I'm at home I find it very relaxing.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
To continue to protect Kinir. I'll do so until I can't do it anymore, whether that be by death or injury.


Complete the mission, no matter what…
Captain Derac Vidor has served Kinir for nearly 20 years. It’s his life, his blood, his soul. And then his Commander betrays everything Derac holds dear. Now he has to focus on his own life and his team instead of saving the citizens of Kinir.

Treason is only the beginning…
Fuelled by rage, the team chases the source to their Commander’s betrayal – a powerful wizard bent on revenge. The wizard seeks to destroy the Kinir Elite, in both mind and body. No place is safe, even among their allies.

The past holds the key…
Derac’s tragic past may be the key to saving the team, but can he face the gruesome nightmare in time?


Anastasia knew she always wanted to write. She began at a young age, writing little stories about the apple tree in the yard. Though her love of stories stayed with her through her poetry stage at high school, she didn’t begin writing novels until she was almost an adult. That’s where she found her true passion.

Her characters visit her dreams – and sometimes during the day – to share their stories with her. Anastasia is merely the writer, but the characters are really the storytellers.

Anastasia lives in Columbus, Georgia, with her husband and son. A stay-at-home Mom, she loves spending time with her son during the day, then writing furiously at night. 


Purchase Cleanse Fire!

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Anastasia is giving away a signed paperback copy of Cleanse Fire! Leave a comment on this post to enter into the random draw. She will draw the names at the end of her tour, on January 31, 2012. If you want more chances to win a copy, visit her website to follow the tour! The more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win!

All those who leave a comment will also be added to the draw to win a signed hardcover copy. This draw will also take place on January 31, 2012.

You can gain more chances to win by tweeting or posting on Facebook! Just leave a link to the tweet or post in a comment below!

**All winners will be announced on the Kinir Elite Website on February 1, 2012**

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A poem: hope

I haven't posted one in ages, so here's a poem :)

The optimistic side of me
Likes to dream
That rainbows follow rain.
There’s a little girl
I used to know,
Fair-haired and wide-eyed
Imagining elves and giants,
Ghosts and goblins,
Chasing the wind unseen
Her whole life unlived -
Does she still wander freely
In her dreams?

copyright Vickie Johnstone

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New Year Blog Hop

The awesome Kai Wilson of the fabulous Indie Author Group (and more) organised a New Year bloghop. I'm participating, as are a variety of authors and bloggers. I will be posting fuller details soon.

The first interview up - Donna Brown interviewed Cede Smith about all things books and a couple of surprise subjects! If you fancy a read, it's here... more interviews will follow in the bloghop - enjoy! :)) http://bookbagsandcatnaps.com/2012/01/gir-12-days-of-new-year-blog-hop-author-interview-cege-smith/

To do the Indie Author Group's hoppy-de-hop, simply click Mr Froggy down below on the left column. He's a bit bored waiting to catch some flies so make a little green amphibian happy... :)

Thanks :)
Hope 2012 is treating you well :)

Monday, 2 January 2012

An interview with me

Afternoon!!! I love my sleep so I think I only just crawled out of bed at midday today! Bliss. I love bank holiday lie-ins! Why can't we have one every week? Four-day working weeks are the way to go me thinks! Back to work tomorrow, but I'm not going to think about that. Oops I did!

Over the Christmas break, Ritesh Kala was kind enough to interview me on his blog, Ritesh Kala's Book Reviews. He also read all of my Kiwi books and reviewed them, and liked them - horrah and thanks!!!! 

His blog is full of lots of good stuff and author interviews and book reviews. At the moment he is running a weekly special with Michael J Sullivan. 

I was so swept up in Christmas, I think I forgot to advertise my interview... so here it is... if you fancy a read... http://riteshkala.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/interview-with-the-author-of-the-kiwi-series-vickie-johnstone/

Thanks!!! I've started writing Kiwi 4, so I hope to have that published by February.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Words with ... Jonathan Fluck

First of all, a big Happy New Year to everyone... good luck for 2012.

I'm kicking off 2012 with an interview ... a big welcome to Jonathan Fluck, author of
T-Bot and Peabody Explore the Zoo

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?

By day I am a software engineer. I write code for medical devices.

What books have you written so far?

So far I have only one published book – T-Bot and Peabody Explore the Zoo, a narrative non-fiction filled with vibrant photographs of animals in the zoo.

What works in progress do you have?

Currently I am working on book two of the T-Bot and Peabody Explore series, T-Bot and Peabody Explore the Ocean. The story is largely written and the illustrations are... well... coming along. 

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

For me the writing came quickly, not to mention it’s only a 20-page children’s book. I’d have to say that it took about 2 months to write and get it to a point that I was really happy with the flow of the story. I also do the illustrations and that took significantly longer.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?

My writing starts with a scene. I doodle out a scene, write the story for that scene, then build the scene and story before and after it. Once that is all done and my thoughts are on paper, I rewrite the story from the beginning, this time focusing on the flow. This approach helps me get my thoughts on paper before I forget them and allows me to rearrange them to get it just right. Now that I’m explaining it, this sounds both confusing and a little crazy, but it works for me and for the stories I write.

Why do you write?

I write because I enjoy bringing boring facts to inquisitive children in a fun and memorable way. I want to spark the interest of the reader and help create a lifelong amazement and admiration of nature, and the world around them. I also write because I love illustrating. I know that a love of illustrating should spark a career of illustrating, but for me it opened up the whole prospect of writing a story and creating the images to go with it.

How long have you been writing?

Honestly, about a year. I am a software engineer, I have a degree in engineering and I love math. Writing was never something I thought of doing. It was not something I thought I would enjoy. It wasn’t until my son asked me to make up a bedtime story for him that I even thought about writing. Once I told him the story and saw how much he enjoyed it, I wanted to make it tangible to him.

Where and when do you write? Do you have set times?

I carry with me at all times an Android tablet running my favourite app, EverNote. When an idea pops into my head I work with it for a bit, forming it into a full and complete thought, and then I make a voice note in EverNote, and then usually in the evening I type it out and continue to work on it.

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?

None of them. The two main characters from the T-Bot and Peabody Explore series are based on my two sons. I try to keep their questions, actions and interests rooted in the personalities of my sons.

What / who inspired you to write and still inspires you?

If it weren’t for my son’s bedtime request, I never would have started down this path. The characters, T-Bot and Peabody, are based on my two sons. T-Bot is based on my oldest son and Peabody is based on my youngest. My two sons started me down the writer’s path, but I start new adventures all the time – it’s finishing them that is an amazing feat and had it not been for the encouragement and help of my wife, Karen, T-Bot and Peabody would have remained an oral story that never made it outside of our house.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?

In my stories, I try to make sure I have a healthy blend of facts and humour. In the fictional stories that I read, I love stories that have twists and turns – something to really make you think and pay attention.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life?

T-Bot is based on my oldest son and Peabody is based on my youngest.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song?

Favourite animal would have to be the gorilla – they seem to have such strength and yet seem very docile. Favourite food would be fruit – any kind – I love it. Drink: coffee – nothing better than hot black coffee. Blue is my favourite colour. I have an eclectic taste in music. I’m going through a Black Eyed Peas phase right now, but I can’t neglect At The Drive In and Social Distortion.

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…

1984 by George Orwell
Thief in the Botanical Gardens by Diane Redfield Massie
The Universe in a Nutshell by Steven Hawking
Evolution or Creation by Albert DeBenedictis
The Bible

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?

The Count Of Monte Cristo. Let’s put aside the fact that Edmund Dantes, the count, was out for revenge and focus instead on this – he was presented with an insurmountable problem, he made a plan and followed it through.

Which book do you wish you had written?

The Cat in the Hat
. I wish I wrote The Cat in the Hat. Dr Seuss created worlds that have changed the lives of generations by aiding the young and the old in creating a deep, lifelong, love of reading. He told entertaining stories with whimsical characters that spark the imagination.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?

Alexander Dumas, he is an amazing writer. I’m in awe every time I read The Count of Monte Cristo. The story is so complex that I don’t know how he wrote it. Mark Twain would be a blast. I’d love to sit down and chat with him, and hear all of his sarcasm and wit. Finally, on my authors night at the pub, I’d have to invite Edgar Allen Poe. I love his stories and poems, and think it’d be very interesting to meet him.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?

I am self-published. I believe that I can do anything and I’m a control freak, so I thought self-publishing would be a good fit for me. Things are what I expected. The more work you put in, the better the results... and it takes a lot of work.
How do you find the marketing experience? Any advice for other writers?
Honestly it has been good. I enjoy the challenge of finding low-cost, high-yield marketing. I enjoy all the people I’ve met, and I’m grateful that one piece of my marketing helps charities and libraries with little or no funding.
--- Oooh what's that? More info please!

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?

I do not have a blog. I think blogs are marvellous and in the right hands they are one of the greatest tools. However, I get very distracted very easily and I think if I started to write a blog, I would spend too much time getting followers for my blog, and lose out on time writing and marketing my books.

What other hobbies do you have?

I love writing, I love graphic design, I love ‘family time’, and I love paintball.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

International fame and fortune! Just kidding, well, not really, but I don’t think that is a reality so I will stick with this: in the next five years I hope the T-Bot and Peabody Explore series becomes successful, I hope to travel and photograph for the books, I hope to turn it into a cartoon. I also hope to start a new series called T-Bot and Peabody Imagine, which would be a series re-telling fairytales and childhood stories, replacing the original characters with T-Bot and Peabody.

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?

After paying off my bills, I would start an animation studio and I would hire the best 3D artists the world has ever known, and we would make films and TV shows that put Pixar and Aardman to shame.

Please complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…

1. There was once a wee worm called Fred…
2. In the deep and darkest reaches of the dank forest...
3. One day Charlotte decided she was going to change the world...

One day Charlotte decided she was going to change the world. She took a long look at herself. She saw her talents, strengths and her weaknesses, and attacked the world’s problems with ferocity. It took more fortitude and determination than she had, but she rose to the challenge, and her love and determination forever changed the world.

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?

Question: Where can people go to learn more about you and your stories?

Answer: For more information about T-Bot and Peabody, ‘like’ our Facebook page (facebook.com/TBotAndPeabodyExplore). Here you will get T-Bot and Peabody news, updates, educational/parenting info, colouring pages and more. You could also check out some of our upcoming book projects on Kickstarter (http://kck.st/w1yVvh) where you can play a major role in getting our next book to the publisher. Of course you can follow me (@JonathanFluck) and T-Bot and Peabody (@TBotAndPeabody) on Twitter.