Monday, February 27, 2017

Interview with fantasy author Ebony Olson

Author Ebony Olson is with me today and we’re chatting about her new fantasy, Spectra.

Bio:
Ebony has always been different. Born a high functioning Aspie, and one of a small percent of the world’s population that is center brained, she could never be considered ‘normal’. Ebony holds a combined Education / Arts degree, with a major in languages and minor in drama, a Medical Science degree, and a post-grad in Forensic Anthropology. She has lived and travelled throughout Europe. Managed various science research laboratories and been in the army, but her favorite job by far included dissecting bodies at a university morgue.

After a devastating car accident wiped out her plans for the future, Ebony refused to give up and turned to her overactive imagination to escape her pain and reality whilst she built a new future for herself.

Ebony thinks outside the box. Her fictional worlds reflect her ability to take facts, interpret them, and expand on the ideas to create something new and unusual.

After years of keeping stories in her head and only sharing them with her closest friends, Ebony was encouraged to write those stories down. It took Ebony a month to complete her first draft novel Succumb. Succumb was dark and twisted and is available for reading on her Inkitt.

Within a year, she had drafted three more novels of the Hierarch Series and several independent novels. Including Best Man, which was published in September 2013.

Ebony enjoys making book covers and trailers for her works in progress as part of her creative outlet. She also makes videos of her cats playing which you can find on her YouTube Channel.

Ebony has a wicked imagination and a dark sense of humour. Her writing is full of witty one liners, characters, and storylines that will stay with you long after you’ve put her book down. She writes for the joy of writing and hopes you enjoy it as much as she does.

Welcome, Ebony. Please tell us about your current release.
Spectra is a book written from dual points of view set to in a paranormal fantasy with a romance backstory. Spectra is a female descendant of an angel, and one of very few people who can absorb a sorcerer’s power or shield against it. When the book starts, she is untrained in her powers. She hates predators due to her personal history, but when she meets Bay, a sorcerer who has been turned into a predator de Sang, she sees the chance to get the training she needs.

Bay is one of the oldest and most powerful sorcerers alive. He has spent years building his business and trying to have the different types of predators live and work together in harmony, overcoming centuries of hate for each other. His arch nemesis are a group of de Sang elitists called Essence. Essence wants to rid the world of any other predator and believe Bay holds the secret to doing this. Bay seeks out Spectra just to get forged documents for a business deal. However, once they touch, he realizes she is more than human, but he can’t work out what she is. He becomes fascinated with her and is determined to get to know her and reveal all her secrets. Secrets that make her a person of interest to Essence.

What inspired you to write this book?
The majority of my books are inspired by very vivid dreams I have. Spectra was one of those dreams. I woke up and started writing already knowing about Spectra, Bay, and Alexander. Mercury just turned up on the scene one day. I really liked him, so I let him stay.

Excerpt from Spectra:
The suit emerged from the crowd a few meters away, though he was tall enough that I'd been able to track his naturally dark hair through the crowd. He was pale enough, that if he ditched the suit, slipped into some black jeans and a heavy metal shirt he could have blended. He looked to be in his late twenties, early thirties at the most, but that meant nothing when it came to his kind.
"Thank you for agreeing to meet me," his accent was aged, Welsh. "I'm sorry I wasn't aware there was a standard protocol to engaging your services. I've heard you're the best."
"You should have also heard I don't work for your kind."
"I did, but I need someone good, and quick, and you come highly recommended."
"By who?" I lifted a brow wondering who was whispering my name in the wrong circles.
His ice blue eyes focused in on me a moment, weighing his response options. "I'll pay whatever price you ask."
"Your first born." I didn't smile with the sarcasm.
"Died centuries ago." His face stayed emotionally blank.
"Then I guess you're out of luck." I held his business card out in front and ripped it in half before dropping it on the floor. "Forget my name, forget we met, and whoever is using my name in your circles needs their neck broken. I don't work for predators."
I took two steps towards the crowded dancefloor. He grabbed my arm firmly but not aggressively. I met his eyes and noticed the strain around the edges. "Miss..." he looked puzzled for a second.
"Michaels," I answered for him. "Spectra Michaels. And you are?"
"Mr. Bay Ryder. I need a full set of documents in two days."
I closed my eyes in annoyance. "Damn it!"
I took the two steps back to the wall grabbing Mr. Ryder by his expensive looking suit jacket and pulling him hard against the front of me. He was surprised, but his eyes nearly left his head when I started pulling his shirt out of his waistband. He opened his mouth to object, and I gave him my best death stare.
"Shut it. You come here asking for me by name, with no formal introduction, and then proceed to state your business openly, even after I politely turn you down. You're not a cop, so I'd say you're NSIO." The Nachtwelt Security and Intelligence Office is the law in the Nachtwelt. It keeps the supernatural hidden from humans. Forging identification documents definitely impinged on human Federal law, but for obvious reasons, was a service the Nachtwelt utilized regularly. However, helping citizens of the Nachtwelt change their identity and disappear entirely, may just infringe on Nachtwelt law enough to get me in trouble. I had no intention of being busted by them.
I slid my hands in against his bare abdomen, caressing up with splayed hands to his upper torso, before circling around and searching his back. As I bought my arms back to the front, I started unbuckling his belt. Mr. Ryder grasped my wrists, his eyes fierce on me. While the search of his upper body seemed to bore him, this more invasive search angered him.
"I don't believe this is the place for a strip search, Miss Michaels."
I smiled, "See that girl over there." I tilted my head and watched as he turned to look. He found the man with his back to the room, his hips moving back and forth. I saw his pupils dilating when he realized there was a girl kneeling in front of the man, her face hidden by his body. "I don't think she's searching for a wire, so trust me, no one is going to think for a second what we're about."
I unzipped his fly as his angry eyes met mine. I maintained eye contact as I slipped my hand in smoothing down to the base of his flaccid member, circling around, feeling around his sacs, and down his inner thighs. I was impressed when the most he reacted was a slight pulse against my forearm. I slipped my hands around to check for anything at the back. When I was sure he was clean of any listening device, I withdrew my hands from his pants. He stepped back a small step to right his clothing. I took out the small bottle of hand sanitizer I kept in my bag and cleaned my hands till I could access the bathroom.
"You look disappointed I didn't get hard for you." Even his voice was tight.
"Relieved actually," I responded honestly. "Admittedly though you are the first of your kind who I've let get this close to me. So, I'm not sure if that's just a physiological thing for you, that you prefer men, or that you're so old you need pharmaceutical intervention."


What exciting story are you working on next?
I work on multiple books at the same time. When I wrote Spectra, I wrote it in a month at the same time I wrote another fantasy novel, and a romance novel. I tend to jump around between stories when I get stuck or the book doesn’t suit my mood. So I currently have around thirty seven books that I’m working on at different times, but I keep a writing schedule to work on set books that I want to finish.

The next book I’d like to publish is Dioltas. It’s a thriller / romance about assassins and spies. It’s probably my favorite book out of everything I’ve written and I really want to get it out there and share it with everyone.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Possibly in 2013 when I published my first independent novel Best Man. Even when I started writing, it wasn’t with the goal of becoming an author. Writing was my escapism and it became something I could share with my closest friends. My friends were the ones who pushed me to try publishing, I would never have done it otherwise. So if you enjoy my books, you can thank Ari and Luka. If you hate my books, you can blame Ari and Luka.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work at a university in the school of Medicine. I write at night when I should be sleeping and on the weekends in my spare time. I’ve had insomnia since I was a child and never sleep more than six hours if I do sleep at all. So I’ve put that quiet time to good use.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have so many quirks it’s hard to decide. I never write at my desk or on a computer. I am usually situated with my iPad somewhere with a cat curled up asleep beside me whilst I tap away.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Ooh, this was a toss-up between a teacher or an assassin. I tried the teacher thing, but it turned out to not be my cup of tea. I write about strong females, some of whom are deadly, so I guess you could say I went the assassin line.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m a friendly antisocial girl who lives in a comedy, but tends to write the darker side of human nature. I’m a mother, a wife, a crazy cat lady, and a walking contradiction (it’s all my rising signs fault). I’m on twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you want to read more of my insane dreams world, you can find me on Inkitt or read me raw on Wattpad.

Links:

Thank you for asking me to interview and showing an interest in Spectra.

Very happy to have you here today, Ebony! Happy writing.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Interview with Diane Keyes about her memoir To Wendy's with Love

Writer Diane Keyes wraps up this week with me. We’re chatting about her memoir, To Wendy’s With Love: The 22-Year Lunch.

Welcome, Diane. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve owned a staging business for more than twenty-five years—since before the name staging. I also have an eclectic background working as a book reviewer, editor, retreat director, grief group facilitator, and commercial floral designer, and I often speak at real estate functions and make appearances on local TV and radio programs.

As a child, I always told people that I wanted to be a race car driver and a writer. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 30 years old and I didn’t start writing till I was in my 40’s so I guess I’m a late bloomer. And even then I began writing only because every word of my first book, Spirit of the Snowpeople, came to me at a stop light between the red and the green. I couldn’t have even thought every idea in the book, much less composed it, in that short space of time. I believed then, and still do, that it was sent to me and I had an obligation to get it to print. It took twelve years before it was published but it was published exactly as it was given to me. It sold out its first printing three weeks after publication and I’m thrilled to say the book had the largest presale in the 60-plus-year history of DownEast Books. My second book, This Sold House, received two Best Book Awards, in the business and how-to categories, from the Midwest Independent Publishers’ Association (a twelve state region) and is endorsed by Joan Steffens, host of HGTV’s, Decorating Cents. It will be going into its 3rd edition later this year.

Please tell us about your current release.
To Wendy’s With Love: The 22-Year Lunch is the story of my weekly lunches with my mother, which I started in an attempt to heal my relationship with her. I needed a low energy way to spend time with Mom. I was carrying around a lot of baggage I’d had since childhood after a brain hemorrhage left me with painful memories, unanswered questions, and crippling depression. I found my healing in an unlikely place—Wendy’s fast food restaurant. Once we met in “the neutral zone,” she wasn’t doing the Mom thing and I wasn’t doing the kid thing and we were able to see each other outside of our accustomed roles. Along the way I discovered the power of gratitude, relationships, and family meals. The lessons I learned have changed my life as well as those of the family and friends who have joined mom and me each week around the Wendy’s table. Still going strong after 22 years, it now includes four generations of our family and some weeks we have as many as 15-20 people show up for lunch.

To Wendy’s With Love is just that—a love letter to Wendy’s for creating a congenial space in which to heal, along with good food and warm and welcoming staff who have become like family to us.

What inspired you to write this book?
Over the years, I’d occasionally think “I should write a book about our Wendy’s experience.” But I never felt compelled until one day when the local Wendy’s PR person came to take photos of our family. They’d finally noticed we’d been there every week for more than 15 years. (If you go to our Wendy’s in Roseville, Minnesota, you’ll find photos of us all over the walls). Anyway, my mom was bragging about me and telling the photographer that I was a writer. He asked me if I’d considered writing a book about Wendy’s and I said I had. He told me, “I think it would be a very good idea.” I started the book that week.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a juvenile fiction novel tentatively called The Legend of Bella Vie, about the woman behind Santa Claus. Unfortunately I’ve been stuck for a while, so if anyone has any ideas, let me know. I also have the first draft done of Sound Bytes of Relationship Advice. I’ve been married to the same wonderful guy for decades and I’ve learned some things it would be helpful to know right out of the gate.

I’m also toying with the idea of writing the back story of getting To Wendy’s With Love published—because a lot of interesting things happened in the 7 years between writing the bones of the book and getting it in print.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think that I probably didn’t really consider myself a writer until I wrote the Wendy’s manuscript. The children’s book was sent to me—I’m very proud that I stayed with Spirit of the Snowpeople until it was published 12 years later, but I did not write it. And the staging book, This Sold House, had more to do with my business than with my writing so I don’t really count that book either. But in the last 7-8 years, I’ve been doing a lot of editing and I’ve been told I’m a good writer; the trouble is I want to be someone grand and lyrical, not just good. Oh well, I do what I can with what I’ve got.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full time. I belong to a writers’ group for women; we started with 10 people and now have 300 members, and they often speak about their writing practices. I can’t relate to any of them. If I’m not in the middle of a book, I don’t write. When I do have something to write, I start and don’t stop, working 14-16 hours a day until I’m finished, I guess I’m a feast or famine writer. I love my writing process. It’s the same if I’m editing.

The rest of the time I’m a stager, which I also love. I love helping people get as much money for their homes as they can. It’s amazing what a little purging, painting and cleaning can do for the bottom line.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think my interesting writing quirk is that I LOVE writing but I am not obsessed by it. From my experience, many, if not most, writers hate writing but feel compelled to do it. If I have something to write, I’m on it but the rest of the time I’m busy with other things.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My grandpa told me I could either be a teacher, a nurse or a secretary, and I knew I was not cut out for any of those things, which is probably where I came up with the idea of being race car driver or a writer. If I was going to go off the grid, I guess I wanted to go WAY OFF.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Don’t EVER let fear stop you. Everything good that comes your way begins with saying “Yes.” Don’t let other people’s notion of what is impossible keep you from reaching for your dreams. Nike’s right when they say “just do it.” There is not a single desire in your heart that wasn’t put there by the Universe/God/Spirit. If you have the desire you also have the means, but you first must believe it.

Links:

Thanks for being here today, Diane.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Interview with best selling author Whitney Dineen

Today I’m chatting with best-selling author Whitney Dineen about her newest novel, a mommy lit / women’s fiction titled Mimi Plus Two.

Bio:
While attending the University of Illinois in Chicago, Whitney Dineen was discovered by a local modeling agent and began an unexpected career as a plus-size Ford model. She modeled in New York City before moving to Los Angeles with her husband.

During “The Hollywood Years,” Whitney was bitten by the writing bug and started creating characters that are inspired by strong women with a great sense of humor. Her first romantic comedy, She Sins at Midnight, won a silver medal in the 2015 Reader’s Favorite awards. Her second, The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan, is a finalist in the 2016 RONE Awards, won a silver medal at the 2016 Reader’s Favorite Awards and won Honorable Mention at the London Book Festival. Her third chick-lit book, Mimi Plus Two, is causing all kinds of controversy and who the heck knows where it will land.

In addition to her love of chick-lit, Whitney has also written a series of adventure books for middle readers. The first two books in her series, Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory and Who the Heck is Harvey Stingle? are both available now. Book three, Beware of the Basement, is due to be released in the spring of 2017.

Whitney and her husband, Jimmy, have relocated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest to raise their children, chickens, and organic vegetables.

Welcome, Whitney. Please tell us about your current release.
Mimi Plus Two is the much anticipated follow up to my award-winning romantic comedy, The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan. The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan is lighthearted and upbeat. It’s quintessential chick lit. It also won and placed in several awards and had fans chomping at the bit for the continuation of Mimi’s story.

In Mimi Plus Two, the tone starts our light and funny but then Mimi winds up with postpartum depression about two-thirds into the book. WOW! I did not anticipate the backlash that followed. First of all, I guess I thought women understand postpartum depression more now than they did twenty years ago. I no longer think that’s the case. I guess if you haven’t lived through it, it’s a lunacy you just can’t wrap your head around.

I suffered through postpartum depression twice, for a full year each time. My goal was to convey just how crazy making the experience is. I total achieved my goal, but wasn’t prepared for women not finding it believable or for their anger at me mad that Mimi’s life hit a bump in the road.

When I was in the midst of my postpartum depression it was paramount for me not to let people know how unhinged I was. If they knew the depth of what I was going through then it would make it true. Much of my experience was spent desperately trying to keep my struggle quiet, even while I slid further and further down the rabbit hole.

I think this book is written with much humor in spite of postpartum depression. It’s just a little bit different from what my fans were expecting. I even put a video up on Youtube trying to explain my side of things. 

The reviews on this book are positively schizophrenic. Five stars and one stars abound! Before buying this book I would definitely recommend checking out the video and reading the reviews. In spite of all the drama, Mimi Plus Two was a runner up at the London Book Festival and was a finalist at the Reader’s Favorite Awards. So I guess it’s not all bad.

I can whole heartedly and unreservedly recommend The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan. No scary boogeymen in the closet there, just pure fun. Then if you have the courage to venture into the land of postpartum with me, you’ll be prepared for what’s ahead. You do not have to read the first book to read the second. It’s a standalone as well and the continuation of the series.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to continue Mimi’s story but I also wanted to shed some light on postpartum depression.


Excerpt from Mimi Plus Two:
While we’re on the subject of horrific body betrayals during pregnancy, I’d like to issue a warning: Not all gas is just gas so be careful. Sometimes, especially when you’re taking a prescription strength stool softener, this trapped air is travelling with a friend. If you forget and try to push it out don’t be surprised if you fill your pants.

I grill Renée on all the disgusting things yet to come and she assures me there are many. Hurray! I can look forward to hemorrhoids, acne that would put a teenager’s complexion to shame and excessive sweating. If that isn’t enough, there’s heartburn, leg cramps, and not being able to sleep for more than an hour at a time without having to go to the bathroom. Dear God, we’d better love the heck out of this baby as it’s destined to be an only child. Elliot is never going to want to touch me again when this one pops out. Oh, and about that, Renée assures me her fifty plus hour labor was atypical. Let the good times roll.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on book three of the Mimi Chronicles which goes back to light and funny mommy stuff. Its working title is Mini Mimis.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
My first romantic comedy, She Sins at Midnight, was published in 2014 so I guess I’ve been a “real” writer since then.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a full-time writer, but I’m also a full-time mother to two young daughters, a full-time wife, laundress and housekeeper. I’m looking in to getting cloned.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I never know what my story is about when I start writing it. I’m as surprised as the reader with twists and turns as they show up. I guess I’m really more of a channeler than a writer.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a paleontologist until my mother ruined it by telling me I wouldn’t be able to wash my hair while I was out on a dig.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope I haven’t scared you away from reading my books! I think life and love are wild and ridiculously fun adventures that should enjoyed to their fullest and I do my best to write just like that. 

Links:

Thanks for joining me today, Whitney.