Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Words with... Kathleen Eakins

Thanks to Kathleen Eakins for this interview

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?
I am teacher, mother and wife. I teach elementary age children, but I love the middle and high school kids too. I get paid for teaching, but I do it because I love it. Like being a wife and mom, and unknown author, teaching is done from the heart. 
What books have you written so far?
I’ve written and published The Family Web. I’ve also written several other stories, which are being read by my close friends until I can find a new publisher.
What works in progress do you have?
I’ve complete a story called Harliquin Doll and another entitled Lost Truth, both are YA. I’m in the process of working through a new story, but it hasn’t been titled yet. I have a few others also, but they aren’t up to par yet.
How long did it take you to write your book/s?
The Family Web took several years. I began the idea in college and worked through it slowly, off and on. Lost Truth was the same way. The idea came to me just after I graduated and it took me some time to finish. Harliquin Doll came through very easily and quickly. I finished it in just a few months. If I have time to write, I can write one in just a couple of months, but usually my life is so busy it takes me much longer.  
Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?
I usually just write from the seat of my pants. An idea will come to me and I go with it. Typically, it’s a character or an event and I will write that down; then the story comes to life from that. I hardly ever sit down to write a book – I’m just trying to get the ideas out of my head, and what happens from there always amazes me.  
Why do you write?
I write because if I didn’t I think I would go crazy. My characters are like voices in my head. If I don’t write out what they are saying, they become more and more vocal until I don’t have a choice.
How long have you been writing?
I remember first wanting to write sometime in middle school. It was a good way to say all the things I wasn’t allowed to. But I didn’t start writing stories until I was in high school. That was the first time I remember using my imagination to create a character.
Where and when do you write? ­ Do you have set times?
I write whenever and where ever I have the time. Being a teacher, wife, and mother, I don’t have much time to and for myself, so I write whenever I can. I usually write a lot during the summers since I am not busy with school work. I don’t have set times or places. LOL... I wrote most of Harliquin Doll at McDonald’s and Chuck E Cheese!

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?
Most of my main characters have a little piece of me in them. But I think I am most like Harliquin from Harliquin Doll. I wish I was more like Justice from The Family Web though. She’s tough and spirited, and most days I want to be like her.  
What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?
The first author that I read and was moved by was SE Hinton. I was 12 when I read The Outsiders and I remember just being overwhelmed by the story. When I found out it was written by a woman, a girl no less, I remember wondering if I could write too. I am still amazed at her ability to tell stories from the view of the opposite sex.
What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?
For me, I think I enjoy stories with great characters. As a reader, I can forgive a rocky plot if I love the characters. After all, it’s the characters that we relate to as people, so if you can’t relate to the characters then the story means nothing. I try really hard when I write to make the characters believable and ‘real’.
Have you ever based a character on someone from real life? And did you tell them?
All the time! I use people from my own life as a mental picture for the characters I write. Usually, over time, they take a turn and wind up being nothing like the real person, but it helps me understand the characters until I get to know them more. I did tell the person who was my muse for one of the characters in The Family Web. He was surprised and said he was flattered.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song? place? item of clothing?
Animal: cats
Film: Star Wars
Book: The Outsiders
Colour: black, red
Band: Queensryche, Foo Fighters
Song: Walk by the Foo Fighters, Fire and Rain by James Taylor
Place: the beach
Clothing: pajamas
Drink: sweet tea 
When you were a kid, what did you want to do/who did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a teacher. I had some very influential teachers in my life when I was young, so I always knew that was where I wanted to be. I did dream of being an author in college, but knew that wasn’t a reality. I’ve also always wanted to be a bartender. Think of all the stories you could hear doing that job! 
Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?
I have been very blessed in my life. I know and am loved by some amazing people, I’ve seen and experienced incredible things, and I have everything that I wanted. I really can’t complain. But have my dreams come true? Not really. But I am very happy with what I have.
You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…
The Outsiders, Wuthering Heights, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Canterbury Tales and Star Wars. 
Who is your favourite character from any book and why?
Umm, this is tough. I have two. Johnny Cade from The Outsiders, because even though he had been through a lot and he knew the reality of things, he still saw the best in those around him. He was loyal and I always saw him as a caring character. The other would be Leah from the Star Wars series. She is written as a very smart woman who loves deeply. She is also very politically correct, but don’t piss her off because she’ll kick your ass! I love characters that are sweet, but tough.
Who is your hero / heroine?
My hero is Luke Skywalker. LOL... stupid, I know. But he’s naturally a good guy. He’s been tempted by evil and even did wrong, but still managed to come back to the ‘light’ side. He’s wise enough to look past himself and the immediate moment to see the bigger picture, and he keeps that in mind when making decisions. He handles pressure well, but can react in a big way when it’s needed. It doesn’t hurt that he’s cute either (I know, I’m a dork!).
Which book do you wish you had written?
Honestly, Twilight or Harry Potter. They have had such a cultural impact that I wish I could write that well. I wish I could write with the ability to touch so many.
Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?
Given no limitations:
1. Hemmingway. I want to know if he’s as big of an ass as he seems now. And I would love to hear how he feels about what English teachers are doing, making students pick apart his works. Did he really think about all those things when he wrote or did he just write to tell a story?
2. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). I’m a distant relative and I want to know about the family back then. I also think he had a great since of humour, so I would love to spend some time with him.
3. SE Hinton.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?
I am in a publisher/self-publisher nightmare. I thought I was signing with a publisher, but it’s more of a self-publishing company. I am being required to pay for everything. It been a nightmare, and has caused me to rethink writing.
How do you find the marketing experience?
Since I am being required to self-market, it’s not going so well. I work full-time and have the family to think about. I’m also struggling with a chronic illness that makes it difficult to do more than I am already doing.
What advice would you give other writers just starting out?
Grow a thick skin and a big bank account. Also, be realistic in your dreams.
Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?
I don’t have a blog. I wouldn’t know what to write about.
What other hobbies do you have?
I used to love to dance and sing, but now I just read. I still love to dance and sing, but I can’t physically any more, so I read a lot and enjoy watching movies at home.
What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
I would like to be able to write more. I would love to be able to sell enough books to get out of my contract with my publisher. I have a few personal goals too, but nothing too exciting.  
If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that cash?
LOL, it would depend how much. I’d pay off my bills first. Set some back for my son’s college fund. If it was big enough, I’d pay off my house. Dreaming big, I’d quite work to write full-time. Maybe spend some to fix up my truck – it sure could use it!
Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…
2. In the deep and darkest reaches of the dank forest... sat a small girl. She was huddled under a low-hanging limb of a tall, evergreen tree, shivering in the waning evening light. Her face was dirty, and her long locks tangled and matted with debris from the woods. Her tattered clothing hung on her skinny body like moss from the trees that protected her. She couldn’t remember how she had come to be here, and she wasn’t even sure she knew where here was. The only thing she did know was that she was cold, hungry and scared. She also knew that what she was scared of was close; close enough that she could feel its presence. As another wave of fear rolled through her, she grabbed the branch above her and pulled her trembling body up. Standing on wobbly legs, this waif of a girl gathered what little courage she had left. And she ran...
What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?
What is your chronic illness and how has it impacted your writing.
I suffer from an illness called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which is a form of Dysautonomia. Basically, my autonomic nervous system doesn’t work properly and it causes major problems in my body. Since becoming sick, I write more. Writing offers me a chance to sit and still do something, since being on my feet and moving isn’t always an option. I find that I look at the world just a little different now. I have a big understanding of hospitals that I use in my books more, LOL. I also enjoy spending more time in my head with my characters, allowing them to do the things I can’t. It has been one of the hardest things to handle in my life, but when it gets to be too much, writing allows me an escape.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Interview with Kiwi, Furrball, Amy & James

Hi cat fans! 
I did an interview on my friend Greta Burrough's new blog. 
It's a character interview with my 4 fave characters from the Kiwi Series and was lots of fun to write. 
 If you fancy a read, check it out. Thanks :)

A conversation with Kiwi, Inspector Furrball, James and Amy! http://newday-characterinterviews.blogspot.com/
Thanks to Greta - have a look at her cool blog!!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Indie book reviews: Wild Life by Susan Wells Bennett

Last year I read another book of Susan’s called Circle City Blues, which I enjoyed immensely, so I decided to try this one too - the first book in The Brass Monkey Series - and I wasn’t disappointed. The same good writing, tight plot creation and sense of humour is still there. I enjoyed the setting of the zoo, and the way in which the chapter names are linked to animals and the way they act.
The central character is Milo Crosby, a likeable character and a bit eccentric. When I began reading, I didn’t think I’d like him as he seemed a bit dodgy at the start, but then as you read on you learn his background story and his personality begins to fill out. I ended up liking him a lot. He’s funny and interesting, but has some flaws, like most of the characters. I found it funny when he began to realise that women still found him attractive – at his age, he didn’t seem to think this was remotely possible and I thought it was like someone had turned the light on for him! The not-so-central characters are detailed and nicely drawn, from Milo’s rather intelligent though young granddaughter to the trashy but fun Sondra Lane.

Family plays an important part with some of the characters coming to terms with things that have happened in the past and attempting to reconcile events or their own feelings. There are Milo’s relationships with his son, granddaughter Alice Marie, Claire and an ageing movie star, Sondra Lane, and ghosts from his past. And then there is Claire with her sister Beryl  and her parents.

I liked Claire and was rooting for her.  When I began reading I started realising there was more to her than meets the eye and an interesting background story emerged. You want to find out more about her. You know there's something there.

This book is a rich mix of fun, tragedy, love and loss. The relation of the past and the present is important – the way the past sneaks in to stop you living fully in the present and some characters have some ghosts to put to rest. At the end you wonder what the future holds for these myriad characters. So I’ve just bought the second book, Charmed Life, which, the blurb says, focuses on Sondra Lane – now that should be interesting!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Indie book reviews: Double-take Tales by Donna Brown

I really enjoyed reading this trio of dark stories with wry humour and some unexpected twists.

First up is Round Trip, in which an unassuming little £5 note passes through the hands of an interesting mix of characters with different ways of thinking. Like some crazy relay race, this begins with Suzy Taylor. Will it bring good luck or bad? As you're reading, you wonder where the note will go next and if any of the characters will be linked by more than you're seeing at the time. This was my favourite story.

Next is Poison, about an abused and lonely wife who is tempted by the idea of bumping off her husband, who is allergic to nuts. Will she, won't she? I like the style of writing and how the viewpoint of the narrator sucks you in - "There is something about the slow, insidious nature of disappointment that is so damaging." The woman has begun to feel invisible in her husband's life and in her own. How will she go on?

Ending the trio is Ç'est La Vie, in which the police investigate a murder, watched by someone unknown. "They didn't find the body for three days. I know because I watched and waited." The character pulls you in straight away and you find yourself questioning who they are, what they want and what part they may have played. Fascinating study of emotion in relationships. I was totally surprised by the ending.
I read this collection on the train to work and recommend it. 
Where can you buy it? Here...

Friday, 24 February 2012

The Swans

swans gather before the storm
the pitch of grace forlorn
they swim this way alone

a white ghost ship sails here
they honk their sound to clear
the way for the silken tide

their moonlit water wings
seem to glide shimmering
an eerie way through the calm

they bob their dark heads soon
knowingly, gathering the moon
in their clear eyes reflected

heat hangs lucid in the air
hovering on each dancing pair
they slice their way through

effortless without any fuss
this grace they bestow on us
the passing of ages flown

@ Vickie Johnstone

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Words with... Allison Bruning

Thanks to Allison Bruning for this interview


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

I’m the Executive Director of the Kentucky Young Writers Connection. I also sell Avon.

What books have you written so far?

Calico, which is book one of The Children of the Shawnee series.

What works in progress do you have?

Rose, book two of The Children of the Shawnee series, and Elsa, book one of The Secret Heritage series.

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

My first draft was completed in a summer. It took more time to find a publisher than to write my books.

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

I write in a linear pattern and by the seat of my pants. I do some planning, but mostly I allow the characters to take me where they want to go.

Why do you write?

I have a passion for writing.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was a child.

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

I have a schedule I like to follow in order to get my chores, errands and writing done on a daily basis, but sometimes that’s not possible. Generally, when I’m sick or at home on the weekends I get more writing done.

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

I have so many! My favourite male characters from Calico are Alexander (he has such an interesting backstory – he’s trying to behave, but that’s not always possible). Female-wise, I just love Creek (she is a great mother figure).

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

When I was younger, my grandmother and some of my teachers inspired me to write. They saw the talent I had for it and encouraged me. Nowadays, I’m inspired by the less frequently told stories. I am trained in cultural anthropology and have found that to be a great asset to my storytelling.

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

The secondary characters help move the story along. The story has to be believable and you need to keep your audience actively engaged.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life? And did you tell them?

If you ask my husband he would say yes! LOL! He thinks he’s Little Owl. There are some qualities of different people I know in each of my characters.

When you were a kid, what did you want to do/who did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an astronaut or an archaeologist.

Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?

I’m still working on them.

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

The Inheritance Cycle and Calico, of course J

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

I’m published through Page Turners Publishing House. At first I had been signed up with a subsidy-based publishing house in Texas that worked as an author incubator. $3,000 later, my book still wasn’t published so I left their house and went to Tate. I soon found out that Tate publishing is a scam. After a lawyer threatened to sue them on my behalf, they released me. I was so grateful when I found Page Turners. I love working with a traditional publishing house.

How do you find the marketing experience? 

Some days it can be intense, especially if something happens and I can’t work on it for a couple of days. Overall it’s pretty easy.

What advice would you give other writers just starting out?

Never pay to have your book published.

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

I do. I invite authors to do guest posts. I write about a wide variety of things. I have history, regional things, anthropology and other various notations on there. Every day there is something new and interesting.

What other hobbies do you have?

Photography, travel, spending time with friends and family, being outdoors, attending cultural events.

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

Be a famous author with children.

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

Invest it in a savings account and watch it grow. I would also pay off my mortgage and travel around the world. 

Book links:


Anyone who comments below will be entered into the draw to win a copy of Allison Bruning's book!
Read the Untold Stories!
See History through Her Eyes!
"A man whose heart appears pure shall deceive you. The power he holds over you leads you to evil. You shall denounce the ways of Our Grandmother. Another man comes, whose pure heart beats for you alone, and who has a pure spirit devoted to Our Grandmother. He shall defeat the evil and sets you free."
A prophecy has been cast against her. In a harsh world deep within the western frontier of Ohio and Kentucky, Calico Marie Turner must learn to survive among the Shawnee and the trust the one man who hates her the most, Chief Little Owl Quick as the Wind.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Book giveaway - including some paperback Kiwi :)

Today at http://goo.gl/tqtTY nine authors from multiple genres present a "Whitman's Sampler" of main characters from their books. 
17 book/ebook giveaways. Signed hardcover, paperback editions, too. Don't miss it!

Kiwi, the character from Kiwi in Cat City, has written a blurb and you can win one of two paperback copies of the book - as well as the other books :) 
Thanks, Vickie
 Happy reading and writing :)

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Words with... Katrina Byrd

With thanks to Katrina Byrd and her groovy feather boa for this interview

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?
One of the first things I was told when I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a writer was, “DON”T quit your day job!!” Well, I did quit my day job. I made the decision to do so mainly because, as I was making the decision to pursue my dreams, I was also learning a lot more about myself and how I do things. I have always been a hard worker. Always coming up with creative ideas and programs, etc. Always working, even when I was off work. I have a strong sense of loyalty to my work. For this reason, I felt I needed to quit my day job and pursue my dreams.

What books have you written so far?
So far I have written three small self-published books – Justice is Blind, One HOT Minute and Byrds of a Feather. One HOT Minute and Byrds of a Feather were released on January 6.
I am also a playwright and I’ve had several of my short plays performed locally. My most recent play was CPR Training. It is a play about diversity and tolerance. It was performed at University Medical Center’s annual Martin Luther King’s Service on January 18.

What works in progress do you have?
I am working on another book titled Portrait of a Woman, which will be released on March 11. Portrait of a Woman is a collection of short vignettes, monologues, essays, poems and short fiction, all centred around the female experience. On March 11, at Lumpkins’ BBQ, excerpts from Portrait of a Woman will be read by local actors. This reading is sponsored in part by Lumpkins’ BBQ, Mississippi Arts Commission, Cynthia Stuart and The Millsaps Principals’ Institute.
Annie Mae Jumps the Broom is another piece I’m working on. It is a collaboration between myself and Diane Williams. Diane wrote the book and I’m using it to write the play. I am quite excited about this piece. It is a story set during slavery. The goal of the piece is to illuminate the idea that the human spirit can prevail through love, strength, faith, hard work and survival skills. The piece will explore African American survival mechanisms that fortified African Americans during slavery and aided them in achieving their freedom. One of the main traditions featured in this piece is the African American tradition of jumping the broom. The story is centred around Annie Mae and Buster, a young couple who decide to get married – Jump the Broom. Their union not only changes them, but everyone around them.
I am also working on a novel titled The Unwanted Child. Essie Mae, a young, blind teen finds her mother lying dead in the kitchen of their small apartment in Detroit. It’s not until she is sent to Mississippi to live with an aunt she’d never met that her mother’s killer realises that Essie Mae was home during the murder. Essie Mae’s life is turned upside down by the cruel treatment from her aunt, the recent murders in the small community in Mississippi and her own betrayal of her cousin, Paula. The situation is aggravated when the body count in the small Mississippi Community continues to rise and Essie Mae’s mother’s murderer gets closer. Will Essie Mae make amends with her cousin Paula and flee the wrath of the killer? Or will Essie Mae crumble under the cruelness of Aunt Rena Bell, a formidable woman with influence in the small Mississippi Community? I guess I need to finish the novel so that we’ll find out!
I am also working on a children’s book titled Rufus the Roofer. This is a collaborative effort with Michelle Campbell, artist and illustrator. Rufus, a German Shepherd, runs a roofing shop in the small community of Huffington. Rufus’ main job is to repair the roofs of the doghouses in the community; though sometimes he is called upon to rescue little, curious, baby pups who climb the roofs of their homes and are unable or too scared to come down. But, lately, Rufus’ customer list has doubled in size. According to the Tails Tell Tales Times, many kitty cat families have moved into the area. Rufus decides to hire a partner to assist him with his roof building, but what he doesn’t realise about his new partner will change his life, his standing in the community and his business practices.
How long did it take you to write your book/s?
Well, that varies. One HOT Minute, which is a collection of flash fiction, took about a couple of months while Portrait of a Woman has taken a few years. So this is kind of a hard question to give a definite answer. I guess I would have to say each book has its own time schedule.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?
Girl, I am all over the map. LOL!! I write by the seat of my pants, I plan and sometimes I just flounce my boa and, voila, a wonderful story appears. LOL!! Honestly, I like to have structure, but I don’t like to be so structured that there’s no room for spontaneity. My first rule of thumb is to get an idea on paper. So, if the idea is girl eats cake, then that’s what I write, ‘Girl eats cake’. Once it is on paper I can then go back and edit or flesh it out some. ‘Danielle, a young teen from a broken home finds refuge from the chaos by sitting on the stoop outside her apartment eating cake.’ For me, if I don’t let the idea flow out and be written on paper, I block everything else and the original idea can’t come out. I hear so many people say, ‘I have a wonderful idea in my head, but when I write it I can’t get it to sound right’. This is because we try to edit first, then write, instead of writing what’s in your head, then editing.
I also like doing an outline after I’ve written the first draft. It helps me to kind of tame the story if you will. So it helps me give it some direction.
Why do you write?
WOW!! That’s a pretty tough question. It’s almost like asking me why do I breathe? LOL!! When I was a child I wrote to deal with being teased and bullied by my classmates. Then I started writing because it was fun and a way for me to express my humour and creativity. As I grew into adulthood, and experienced and witnessed some of the horrors of society, I started writing for social change. Today, in this moment, I write for me.

How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first piece at seven years old. It was a gripping drama titled Tony the Turkey. As Tony, a Thanksgiving turkey cooked to perfection, sat on the table next to the candied yams, cornbread dressing and turnip greens, he contemplates where fate will take him next.

Where and when do you write? Do you have set times?
For the most part I write at my computer, which is situated near a large window in my den. On a clear spring day I can see beautiful birds dashing from tree to tree, occasionally swooping down and lighting on the bird feeder near the deck.

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?
My favourite character is Justice Robertson. Justice is the leading character in my short story Justice is Blind. Justice is an intelligent, skilled, African American woman who is a former police detective. She has overcome discrimination, injustice and domestic abuse. She’s been shot twice – once in the head and once in the behind. The shot to the head was during a domestic altercation with her husband. He would’ve been ex-husband, but she shot him before she had a chance to divorce him! He’s now resting comfortably in the Pine Grove Cemetery. Justice is fearless, confident and she believes in equality for all. She believes in speaking her mind and doing what is fair, even if it means jeopardising her own safety. She thinks quick on her feet and she fights like a GIRL!!

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

As a child I loved stories. My mom listened to gospel and my dad listened to the blues. Both genres are soaked with memorable stories. I also loved the Disney Stories. My parents bought me a set of the Disney stories in audio format. I used to love listening to those stories. I loved the dialogue and the sound affects.
When I became an adult I didn’t write as much. Fourteen years ago I met a friend named Dora. One day she read one of my stories. I was so surprised by her enthusiasm. She encouraged me to continue to write. She encouraged me to attend Millsaps College, which has writing on the curriculum. While at Millsaps there were several professors – Kathi Griffin, Paula Garette, Robert McElvaine, just to name a few – who also inspired me to continue writing. I am also inspired by the many wonderful literary, visual and theatre artists in my community.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?
A great story arc, real characters that you care for as they make it through tough situations, and wonderful description that makes you feel like you’re right there in the moment with the characters.  
Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song?
My favourite food is eggplant. My favourite drink is Guinness extra stout with a shot of Evan Williams Black Label. I don’t get to have this often, but when I do all is right with the world. My favourite film is Blessed is the Match, The life and death of Hannah Senesh. My favourite song? Boy that’s a tough one. I love so many songs for so many different reasons. I just like too many to name.

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…
Okay, so I’m strutting in the forest with my three-inch green heels and matching plush green boa when I bump into an alien librarian from Mars. After he helps me get my green hair unit back on my head, he asks me for some book recommendations. “Well, honey,” I say as I make myself comfortable on a fallen tree trunk, “I would recommend The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Rose Madder by Stephen King, Run by Ann Patchett, Blood for Molasses: A Mississippi Massacre by Rick Ward and Think of England by Alice Elliot Dark.” Then I lean in and say, “Hey, Mr Alien Librarian Man, do the women on Mars strut boas like this?”

Which book do you wish you had written?
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kinsolver!! What an awesome book!! Great characters!! Awesome setting!! Amazing story arc.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?
Stephen King, Navada Barr, Katherine Stockett, Alice Walker, Alexander Brown, Erica Spindler. I guess that’s more than three. Maybe I could go to the pub twice?

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?
I self-published for the first time about a few weeks ago. I have three self-published books on amazon.com – Justice is Blind, Byrds of a Feather and One HOT Minute.

How do you find the marketing experience? Any advice for other writers?
Well, I’m just getting started with marketing so I’ve been taking it kind of slow. My advice to others would be to take advantage of a variety of marketing tools. So many people think that if you have no budget then good marketing isn’t an option, but I have found social media to be an excellent marketing tool. I would also encourage others to join groups like Indie Exchange and Book Junkies. Being in these communities of writers and readers has really been a great help to me!
Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?
I do have a blog!! http://2breal.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/some-times-you-have-to-stop-it-to-start-it/ I blog about a variety of things. I blog about cooking, acting, writing, my experiences… the list is endless.

What other hobbies do you have?
I like to knit, work in the garden, make handmade candles, dance and, of course, flounce my boa!!!

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
In the next five years I would like to have my novel, Unwanted Child, finished. I would also like to have more writing workshops developed and I would like to start a line of greeting cards.

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?
I would buy some land with a stocked catfish pond and a log cabin. I would also like to travel and, of course, I’d like to buy some new feather boas.
Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…
One day Charlotte decided she was going to change the world one feather at a time. So she bought herself a lime-green, plush feather boa, a lime-green hair unit and six-inch lime-green heels.
On a warm, sunny morning, Charlotte stepped from her apartment adorned in her new lime-green ensemble. As she moved confidently down the street on her quest to change the world, people stared and some laughed. One conservatively dressed woman standing near a tall office building stepped forward and blocked Charlotte’s path. Then she said, “You look like a fool.”
In that moment, that one defining, humiliating, degrading moment, Charlotte felt ugly, unsure of herself. She bowed her head as she began slipping the boa from her neck. She was uncomfortable with the idea of changing herself, her way of dress. She liked her boa. She carefully draped the boa over one arm as she turned to go home to change into a more conservative outfit. Before she took a step, she turned to the woman who stood with a scowl on her face and asked, “Why?”
The woman placed her hands on her non-existent hips and said, “Because anyone who wears loud colours is a fool.”
In one instant Charlotte draped her boa about her shoulders and made eye contact with the thin, hard-faced woman and said, “I like bright colours and I will wear what I want.” Then she strutted away, confident that being herself was vital to changing the world.

Book links:

Byrds of a Feather, One HOT Minute and Justice is Blind on Amazon

Byrds of a Feather, One HOT Minute and Justice is Blind on Barnes and Noble

Saturday, 18 February 2012

For the Love of Love - Love of Animals

As I posted the other day, Terri Guiliano has been hosting an event on her blog this week on the theme of love in its many forms. Guests have been joining her every day, writing on different themes: family love, friendship, passionate and contented love, compassionate love and love of food, music, animals, language and writing. 

The event doesn't finish until 22 February, so there's still time to turn to her blog and join in.

Today's theme is love of animals and guests have put together some posts to illustrate the strength of the animal-human bond. 

I have written a post about kitties and the other guests are Ramona (owner of Create With Joy), Annarita Guarnieri, Sean Keefer, Holly Robinson and Alan Tucker.

You can vote on the posts via an entry form at the bottom of the page. 
You can vote daily and one winning voter will get a character named after them in Terri Guiliano's next book, a signed copy of the new paperback edition, plus a $50 Amazon gift card.  Two runners up will receive signed copies of the new paperback edition of In Leah’s Wake, plus a $25 gift card each.

So, what are you waiting for? :)))

purr purr


Sunday, 12 February 2012

Sample Sunday: from Kiwi and the Living Nightmare (Kiwi Series book 3)

By Vickie Johnstone

Chapter 17: The Cute Squad

“Kiwi needs rescuing... and our world just went crazy!” summed up Inspector Furrball. Somehow his brain had accepted the impossible. “Moggie let’s get going. Hi again, Jimster and Ames. Let’s go!”
Siam opened his mouth to speak, but there really wasn’t anything he could say. His head went blank.
“Ok,” smiled Amy. “Glad we are all ok about this. We have a short journey to make. We have to cross this field and then we need to get to the house, which is inside this tree in the middle of a forest. It took us an hour before, but I think we can get there faster if we catch a bus.”
 “I think we should catch a bus,” suggested Amy.
“A bus?” asked Siam and Inspector Furrball. “What’s a buuusssss?”
 “Good idea!” said Moggie. “I haven’t been on one of those in cat years!”
Amy and James jumped up, trying not to frighten the Cat Squad’s finest police cats, and began to walk towards the road where the nearest bus stop was. Moggie ran quickly behind them, so she fell into pace with the children’s walking almost. Inspector Furrball sped along behind, while Siam half wobbled and half ran. His head ached. His brain ached. His whole body ached. Nothing made sense any more.
On the other side of the road, a white cat was walking, minding his own business. Siam glanced up and wondered why the cat was completely naked. He wasn’t wearing any decoration or protective clothing at all. At that moment, the white cat turned and looked at Siam. His mouth hung open and his ears went back, and his eyes turned into big round circles. He had never seen a cat before in boots and a jacket. Well, have you?
They only had to wait five minutes until the bus turned up, but it was five minutes too long.
“Ah, what cute kitty cats, Mabel,” shouted the old lady in the blue, fur-lined jacket. Her hair was also blue and she had socks that looked as if they had fallen down years ago. She must be half deaf, thought James, as she was shouting really loudly.
“Ooooohhhh I love the ginger one, he’s soooo cute. Look at those little booties Daisy, aren’t they just the cutest thing!” grinned the other old lady, showing a graveyard of teeth.
“But...” stammered Siam, cringing. His tail drooped.
James tried not to giggle as one of Daisy’s hands shot out and ruffled the hair on top of Inspector Furrball’s head. He froze. This was so undignified!
 “Urrk,” splurted Siam, who tried to hide behind Amy, but it was too late. Mabel bent down and tickled his ears. Oooch. That really did tickle. Siam flicked his head, but the old lady kept on rubbing his ears. It really tickled, but it felt weirdly not uncomfortable. In fact, it was sort of, kind of, kitty nice. Without meaning too, Siam started purring.
“Ahhhh, Daisy, he’s purring away. Can you hear him? Ahhh bless him!”
Inspector Furrball frowned. This was really too much. He was the head of the Cat Squad and an inspector. He had a reputation to uphold. Ooohhh. Ahhh. Mmmm, that’s rather nice! Suddenly, Inspector Furrball was purring too and flicking up his tail.
Siam grinned. Inspector Furrball pretended to look the other way.
Amy and James chuckled, and Moggie purred.
Luckily, the bus turned up, so they could all hop on, away from the two old ladies. However, their unusual appearance was not lost on the other passengers.
“Ooohhh, look at that... look at those little booties and little gloves...
“Wow, he’s just so cute...”
“Who would have thought they made booties for cats...”
“Ah, I should get one of those little baggies for my cat, Tinker. Imagine that, he could carry his own cat food around...”
The little old ladies laughed. And so it went on for the entire journey. Suddenly, Siam and Inspector Furrball were the all-time heroes to every little old lady on the bus. The whole neighbourhood was going to hear about this. Luckily, it was a very short trip.
“Thank you!” yelled the children as they leapt off the bus. The cats all bounced off. James waved at the bus driver, who looked really confused. He’d have a really interesting bus story to tell his wife and kids when he got home. Not the usual boring stuff, but cats in fancy dress costumes. Well, it was Halloween after all!
“Am I glad to be on solid ground again!” sighed Siam, licking his lips. “Even if this place is a bit grey.” He looked at the pavement, which was chipped, dirty, plain and lacking any colour at all. It was stained with something squishy and smelly. Eeuwww. He suddenly missed the colourful, clean, blue mosaic streets of Cat City. His home, sweet home.
“That was a very unusual experience,” said Inspector Furrball. He checked his pocket watch. Time was waiting for no catizen today. “They go very fast... faster than our cat-cars back home...”
“They’re called buses,” said James. “They run on wheels that go round and round, and we use petrol.”
“Petrol? What’s that? We use paw power,” laughed Furrball, sticking a leg out. “We peddle!”
“Petrol is made from oil and it’s not good for the environment,” said Amy. “People drill for it in places where you shouldn’t drill because it damages the landscape. Sometimes the ships carrying the oil leak, and this harms the birds and animals...”
Inspector Furrball looked at Amy. “I see this is a subject you feel very seriously about,” he said.
“Yes,” she replied, smiling. “Inspector, when I grow up I want to join Greenpeace and help to save the planet!”
“That’s a fine ambition,” said Inspector Furrball. “I imagine you will be very good at it.”
“Thank you!” said Amy. She had really missed the inspector.
“What about you, James,” asked Moggie. “What do you want to be?”
Siam grinned – “a computer genius?”
James thought hard. “I want to be a catizen!”
Everyone started laughing!
“No, seriously,” said James. “I want to be a catizen and live in Cat City, and be a detective like you!”
“Well,” said Inspector Furrball, looking up at the boy. “We’ll just have to see what the future brings! I’m sure you would make a fine detective, whether that’s in the human world or the cat world...”
“Or both!” laughed Siam.
“Wow!” said James. “I hadn’t thought of that... both worlds!”
Moggie smiled. She wondered too. Amy was still giggling and Siam raised an eyebrow, which made her giggle more. Siam was getting used to the children not being cat-shaped, but it was weird if he thought about it too much. Best not to think too much and just get on with things!
“Let’s go!” said Amy. “It’s not far to walk now.”
They were on the opposite side of the road to the forest. Lush trees rose up from the ground, their leaves a mixture of greens, yellows, oranges and browns. The day was still warmish, not too chilly.
“I think it will take us about 20 minutes to walk. Last time we went around in circles a bit, but I can remember the direct way,” said Amy. She took the lead and crossed the road, followed by James and the three cats, all walking in a line. They had just stepped on to the pavement when they heard a little, but high-pitched voice.
“Look mum! Look at those cats! Look!”
They all turned their heads to see a little, brown-haired boy pointing towards them from the opposite side of the road. His mother was walking quickly, holding on to his hand and trying to hurry him along. He dragged back and pointed.
Oh no, thought Amy and James.
“Look! That cat is wearing a red vest – can’t we get one for Smokey? He looks so cute and little black booties too... ahhh mum, mum, I want those!”
“Huh, I am not cute. I am Inspector Furrball, head of the Cat Squad!” announced Inspector Furrball, standing up on his back legs. He’d had enough of being cute for one day. He put his paws on his hips.
Amy didn’t know if to laugh or cry. Moggie sighed. Siam purred. James put his hand over his eyes.
“Mum! Mum! The cat just said something! Mum! He’s standing up! Mum! Mum!” the little boy shouted, pulling his mother’s hand.
“Have some respect for your elders, little boy!” said Inspector Furrball.
“Inspector! Get down on four paws and try to look like a human’s pet cat please!” meowed Moggie.
“Hmph!” said Furrball, obeying. Siam grinned.
“Now you know that cats can’t talk,” replied the little boy’s mother. “Come on, walk faster or we’ll be late for dinner!”
“But, but...” stammered the little boy. He continued to stare wide-eyed and open-mouthed as he mother dragged him along.
Siam waved goodbye. He felt that the little boy was owed something for the shock. But this just made the boy open his mouth even wider.
“Inspector, can we go now please?” mewed Moggie.
“Yes, of course!” said Inspector Furrball, regaining his composure. “Lead away young Amy.”