Author Interview with Jade Kerrion on her newest release, Perfection Challenged

I’m delighted to present an author interview with Jade Kerrion who’s here to talk about how she got into writing and her latest novel, Perfection Challenged.

1. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I started writing at the age of thirteen when my school essays were returned to me with a bunch of “A”s scrawled over the top. Teenagers are impressionable. Being much more impressionable than most, and believing that my teachers knew what they were doing, I figured I was destined to be a writer. It’s only taken me tens of thousands of hours of work since then to be halfway decent at writing (and I’m still learning each day), but one has to start somewhere.

2. When did you start taking writing seriously?

In November 2010, my husband challenged me to stop writing for fun and to start writing as a career. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2010 was the trigger. I spent that month writing Perfection Unleashed, my debut novel.

3. How many books have you written?

I released Perfection Unleashed in June 2012. To date, I have published six books; I’ve just released Perfection Challenged, the conclusion of my seven-time award-winning Double Helix series. I have another novel, Eternal Night, a paranormal romance/fantasy set in the future (sounds odd, doesn’t it?), scheduled for release in 2013.

4. What was your journey to becoming an author like?

Rocky, as most journeys are. For a while, I explored traditional publishing, but then decided I was too much of a control freak to take to traditional publishing. I preferred having creative control over my writing, artistic control over my covers, and process control over my publishing schedules. In the end, self-publishing made the most sense for me. That said, I do have a foot in the door of traditional publishing. McSill Literary Agency represents Portuguese rights for my Double Helix series.

5. Is there anything specifically that helps you write better/inspires you?

I think I’m past the stage of needing inspiration; writing is more of a compulsion now. In general, I have a compulsive personality; people like me should never get exposed to alcohol, cigarettes, or recreational drugs – we’re easy prey. Years ago, computer gaming and writing used to go hand-in-hand for me. My characters from my computer games inspired my writing. Since then, however, my characters have taken on a life of their own and thus, I have been freed to happily obsess about them without needing the occasional computer gaming boost to sustain them.

6. What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part is stopping. After multiple rounds of self-editing, several weeks of working with my editor, and several rounds of proofreading, I have to put the manuscript away and say “done.” I think it is entirely possible to edit forever, but at some point, you have to stop and send the book out into the world.

7. Do you have a specific writing style?

Third person past tense? To be honest, I’m not sure I know the response to this question. Some people say my style is much like one author or another (which would be an interesting feat, considering I’ve never read some of those authors.) Broadly, I’d say that my style tends to resemble serials or movies. I grew up writing fan fiction, and got accustomed to writing sections of chapters that almost inevitably ended on a cliffhanger just because that’s the way fan fiction is usually consumed on online fan forums. In addition, I write the movie I see in my head, and not surprisingly, people have commented that reading my books is like watching a movie.

8. Who is your favorite author?

Neil Gaiman is pure genius in his storytelling ability. I’m a huge fan of his Sandman series.

9. What are your favorite books and what genres do you prefer?

Science fiction and fantasy are my favorite genres to read and write. I’ve especially enjoyed the Belgariad and Mallorean series by David Eddings. To unwind, I settle down with a sweet and satisfying romance, preferably Nora Roberts. I also enjoy thrillers, especially some of Robert Ludlum’s novels.

10. What is some good advice/tips for young writers/aspiring unpublished authors?

Success in any new career takes time. Be patient. Invest in yourself – understand your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and be committed to continual learning and constant growth. It is said that it takes 10,000 hours of work to become an expert in a field. That’s approximately 5 years of full time 8-to-5 work, and you need to be prepared to make the investment of your time and resources for the long haul.

11. Advice for getting rid of writer’s block?

I think writer’s block is just an excuse. Writing is a discipline, like going to school or work each day, like exercising and eating healthy. It’s just something to have to do because it’s an expectation for achieving your career goals as a writer. Maybe that particular scene isn’t working out the way you want, well, work on another, but work on something. Thomas Edison said it best, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Today, you may not have the 1%, but you sure can muster up the 99% because that is under your control.

12. A favorite quote of yours you’d like to share?

Neil Gaiman’s character, Death, from the Sandman series, utters my favorite quote, “It always ends. That’s what gives it value.” That quote reminds me that what makes any experience, even life as a whole, valuable, is the fact that it ends. Because it ends, every moment is that much more precious and beautiful. Savor it.

13. What would you be if you didn’t become an author?

Well, I’m already several things. In addition to author, wife, and mother, I work full time in an education company in the area of business and learning strategy. I enjoy my job very much and don’t have any intention of quitting. People often ask how I find time to do everything I do. My response is always the same, “You’ll always manage to find time for the things that matter. Oh, and I don’t sleep much.”

14. Can you share some info about your current work with us?

Danyael Sabre’s hard-won normal life shattered the day Zara Itani freed the genetically engineered perfect human being, Galahad, from his laboratory prison. Three years have since passed. Danyael has survived months of brutal torture and the grind of quiet despite without losing the core of compassion that makes him the most compelling and infuriating man Zara has ever known.

Danyael’s greatest challenge, nevertheless, lies ahead of him. In Perfection Challenged,Danyael is forced to confront his own mortality and Galahad’s hate. At the end of his road, will he remain true to his convictions or sacrifice all to protect the woman he loves from the man who hates him?

15. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Only that I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed my novels. To every one of you, thank you for sharing this journey with me. Your enthusiasm, support, and love for my characters are the reasons I keep writing. I hope you keep hanging around. The best is yet to come.

“The best of the four books…the perfect ending to an amazing series.”

Perfection Challenged, the thrilling conclusion to the multiple award-winning, bestsellingDOUBLE HELIX series, is finally here. Grab your copy today.

If you’ve never picked up the DOUBLE HELIX series, keep reading for a special offer on the six-time award-winning novel, Perfection Unleashed.

perfection-challenged-600x800PERFECTION CHALLENGED

An alpha empath, Danyael Sabre has survived abominations and super soldiers, terrorists and assassins, but he cannot survive his failing body. He wants only to live out his final days in peace, but life and the woman he loves, the assassin Zara Itani, have other plans for him.

Galahad, the perfect human being created by Pioneer Labs, is branded an international threat, and Danyael is appointed his jury, judge, and executioner. Danyael alone believes that Galahad can be the salvation that the world needs, but is the empath blinded by the fact that Galahad shares his genes, and the hope that there is something of him in Galahad?

In a desperate race against time and his own dying body, Danyael struggles to find fragments of good in the perfect human being, and comes to the wrenching realization that his greatest battle will be a battle for the heart of the man who hates him.

E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple iTunes / Barnes & Noble / Kobo /Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK

PERFECTION UNLEASHEDPerfection Unleashed

“Higher octane than Heroes. More heart than X-Men.”

Recipient of six literary awards, including First place in Science Fiction, Reader Views Literary Awards 2012 and Gold medal winner, Science Fiction, Readers Favorites 2013.

FOR A LIMITED TIME, E-BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR JUST $0.99 (Discounted from $2.99)

E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple /Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

Connect with Jade Kerrion: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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An Interview With Jack Pellari, Member of G1 (Dept G)

This has to be regarded as the greatest privilege barring actually obtaining an interview with the Director of the Guardians himself.  Jack Pellari alone almost equals the phenomenal powers of that great man, but the likelihood of ever obtaining an interview with Siribahta Dhal equates with becoming genuinely immortal!

I tried to persuade Jack to meet me in the same hotel setting as when I interviewed Matt Carter but he refused, being acutely shy of public places.  Instead, by special permission, we’re in a small but comfortable sitting room of a cottage.  Due to the security methods employed, I have no idea where the cottage is located.  I’m not even sure of how long it took to arrive here!

Jack is nervous, wary.  I suspect that this will prove to be a difficult interview, despite all my special training…


*[EDITED FOR GENERAL DISSEMINATION – ALL CLASSIFIED MATERIAL REMOVED BY ORDER OF THE MINISTRY]*


Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Mr Pellari.

No thanks are needed.  I’m under orders.

I see.  I apologise if that makes you uncomfortable…  Can I begin by asking when and where you were born?

‘When’, I’ll keep to myself, but it was a long time ago.  ‘Where’?  In London, in a small cluster of homes surrounded by the expanding Docklands.  It was an ugly place to live, especially if you showed any hint of difference, or strangeness.  I only had to suffer it for two years, though, as we moved away as soon as my parents could manage it.

So your talents were revealed when you were very young?

Yes.  I’m what’s referred to as a ‘Brumby’, after the wild horses of Australia, meaning a wild talent.  Most Psychs learn to hide their powers but Brumbies can’t, with their powers best described as ‘volcanic’ – erupting unbidden and often at highly inappropriate times.  I have three brothers and two sisters who  are all Psychs, but I’m the only Brumby.  I ruined all their lives.

That’s a large family.  Where do you come in the order?

I was the youngest.  Things were really hard and my mother was badly malnourished while she was pregnant with me.  In fact, I spent two weeks being cared for by a nurse and my mother was in bedridden for nearly as long, after I was born.  They thought I was unlikely to survive.

If you were a ‘Brumby’, I suppose you had to move often?

Yes, almost every year.  The last time was to a house in the middle of nowhere, up in County Durham, Healdy House.  We had hopes of being able to finally settle down there.  My siblings would go to the local school but I was registered as being what’s called ‘special needs’ now, requiring home care and unable to learn.  I was about ten.  We were there for six years when there was another incident.  I’d wandered too close to the village, about seven miles from home.  A bunch of local youths knew me from rare glimpses.  They started throwing insults, and when they didn’t work, they got physical.  I left them rolling on the ground, blubbing and clutching their heads, and ran for home.

So another move was likely?

No.  My family decided to tough it out this time.  Four of my siblings had married and gotten homes of their own, and good jobs.  My father had been hurt in an accident and couldn’t get work, so finding the money for a move would be almost impossible.  The rest of us unmarried kids were supporting the family as best we could, and my mother had established a good seamstress business locally.  When this incident happened, though, there was real fear of what would happen, especially after the village policeman visited and warned of dark consequences – especially for me.

What happened?

Well, it seems that, even way back then, Siribahta had Psychs who were constantly scanning for psychic events.  They detected the spike when I lost control.  Two days later, Siribahta himself arrived at the house!  He offered to help.  He had an academy, far away in St Osyth, down in Essex.  He said that he could sort out things with the local policeman, mollify the families of the youths, and help me learn to control my powers.  Of course, it meant I’d have to go away with him and live in St Osyth Academy.  My parents, especially my mother, were arguing against it, my siblings were less defensive.  In the end, though,I begged to be allowed to go.  I couldn’t stand the harm I was causing them all!  After half a day of it, my parents finally gave in and consented.  Siribahta  went to the village and returned the next morning.  He’d sorted it all out, but we had to be away before noon.  It was a terrible wrench, and I saw my father cry for the first time in my life.  The excitement of the adventure, though, was growing inside me.  We left a few minutes before noon.

What was the Academy like?

St Osyth Priory It was a rambling old building, full of peculiar nooks and crannies.  If I’d been younger, I would have had a wonderful time exploring it!  It wasn’t far from the ancient Priory that St Osyth is apparently famous for.  And St Osyth is close to the coast, with the option of going to the seaside (at Seawick, Jaywick or Clacton-on-Sea) or to the broad reach of the River Colne, or even down to Flag Creek or Brightlingsea Creek.  There were regular unauthorised jaunts but I only went on supervised trips to populous places, fearing an incident.  St Osyth itself was a beautiful place back then, but I’ve heard that even there has suffered over the last sixty odd years, with blockhouses being built and even some of the historic buildings being bulldozed to make way for those vile places.  I understand that there’s a District Internment Facility at Jaywick, too.  And is it true that the pier at Clacton has collapsed into the sea?  [I nod and he looks very sad.]  I hate to think what has been done to St Osyth…

Anyway, the Academy had Psych ‘Coaches’, who trained us in handling our powers, from helping to bring out borderline latencies to teaching control to us Brumbies.  It was damned hard work, too!  I remember four of the students losing it and rebelling.  They caused total havoc and three of them ran off.  That is, two ran off and one just vanished- teleported away right in front of us!  The fourth was still hurling stuff with telekinesis and was about to do some serious damage to the Coach when Siribahta appeared, though none of us noticed his arrival until he was stood right in front of the kid.  In seconds, he’d calmed her down and she was sat sobbing on the floor, with Siribahta crouched beside her, soothing her gently.  She stayed to complete not only the General Course but  graduated with honours from the Advanced Course.  She was younger than me by at least two years, but she was well ahead of me in the Academy teachings.

What happened to the ones that ran away?

One just disappeared, never to be heard of again.  Another was shot down by police about twenty years later, when he was involved in a bank robbery.  The other one had to be dealt with by G5, some twelve years ago, when he *[TEXT REMOVED FOR SECURITY REASONS]*

How long were you at the Academy?

Oh, about nine years as a student, for both General and Advanced Courses.  I then remained there as an Assistant Coach, until I was appointed as one of Siribahta’s Aides.  With more contact with the Master, I learnt much, much more.  I had been fond of him, for his rescue of me and for his unshakeable gentility and calm.  Now, I came to think of him more as my grandfather.  I confessed as much to him and it’s become a kind of standing joke for me to call him ‘Grandfather’.

When did the Academy close?

Who says it has?  During the decades of internal strife in Britain, we had to go into hiding.  The old Academy was attacked and ransacked but we had already gone.  The Academy is still active today, but I’m not about to reveal where.  Just accept that we found a safe sanctuary.

So how did you come to be a member of the Guardians?  I would have thought that you would have made an excellent teacher.

I did, too. [A flash of deep grief crosses his visage.]  I was very close to accepting a position on the Academy faculty.  Word reached me that my eldest sister, Hannah, had been killed.  I assumed it was in a riot or something.  I was very wrong.  I had my bags packed and everything when I was summoned by Siribahta.  It was then that I discovered why he was in the habit of being absent for odd periods, without explanation.  By some fluke of circumstance, Hannah and her family had moved to a small hamlet in Scotland just as a local coven of Dark Witches raised an ancient entity.  The moment the thing appeared, it detected Hannah and commanded the coven to destroy her and her children!  Hannah fought, and even tried to call for help, but she had been isolated and she wasn’t strong enough alone.  Her husband, Douglas, also fought, with mundane weapons, and even killed three of the coven, but it wasn’t enough.  The police found what was left of the family in a burnt out ruin.  I lost it then.  I started hunting for any hint of evil.  Twice, I was nearly killed.  The fact that Siribahta and his people had reacted as quickly as possible to the rise of the thing that had ordered Hannah killed, and had sent it, and the dark coven, into oblivion meant nothing.  But the rage couldn’t last forever.  I suffered a complete breakdown.  Later, I heard that Siribahta and the finest Psych healers worked on me then, healing me of the grief, the rage, everything.

Well, anyway, when Siribahta was made Director of the Guardians, it was just natural that I go with him.  The madness was gone, but some debts can never be repaid.  Besides, I opted to be a soldier rather than a teacher.

Have you ever regretted that choice?

Regretted it?  Of course, but I wouldn’t change anything.

I understand that you underwent some very special training with an unusual teacher.  Can you tell us more?

 *[ALL DETAILS ON MISSIONS FOR OR OTHER ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE GUARDIANS ARE CLASSIFIED.  TEXT TERMINATED.]*

Fumbling Through Friday

MysteryBookCover.pngMy Conscience Is Being Difficult

I have been considering what to do about the short stories in my Thief series.  These have been available for free download for a considerable length of time, now.  I have, however, been considering withdrawing them from the list of free ebooks I have out there.  If I did so, I would place all of them in a single, omnibus, volume, possibly with the title The Thief of Ur’gavan.  This would allow something that I don’t think is viable while they are just short stories: release in paperback!  Obviously, there’s absolutely no way that I could do that for free!  So, that leaves Continue reading

Stephen Holland, Author – An Interview

A warm welcome to my special guest, Stephen Holland, Fantasy author.

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Steve Holland When did you first discover the desire to write was so strong in you?

I had always written songs, though had never considered writing a novel. It happened almost by accident. I just opened my laptop one day and started writing, I had no idea where the story was going to go, who the characters were going to be, or even what genre it was likely to fit in. It really took on a life of its own.

Do you usually write in the same genre you tend to prefer to read?

I write in the Fantasy genre I suppose, though my stories have no fictitious beings like Elves, Trolls and Orcs or any kind of magical element. It is fantasy only insofar as it exists in an imaginary world. My preferred genre to read has always been Sci Fi though I do enjoy Fantasy and Thrillers.

When reading, do you prefer traditional printed books or ebooks?

Printed for me, there is nothing like having a paperback in your hand (that’s probably an age thing)!

Have you been influenced and/or inspired by another writer, or writers?

I would love to say Tolkien, but in no way would I compare myself to that master.

Do past or current events in your life have an influence on your writing?

I don’t think you can avoid this; incidents within your life are bound to influence how you think whether consciously or subconsciously.

Have you got a favourite author, who stands well ahead of all others?

  1. William Horwood

In that order, Tolkien in my opinion ‘invented’ the fantasy genre, there have been many attempts to write in his style, but in my humble opinion none can compare.

Have you got both printed and digital books published?

I have both.

Do you try to write to satisfy what is fashionable, or do you write pieces that you would want to read?

I would be the last person on earth who would ever be fashion conscious so I write what I think I would like to read personally.

How do you fit writing into your life? Do you have set times for writing?

I cannot write to set times; I have to do it when I ‘want’ to do it. I can go weeks without writing anything then write 10,000 words in a day. It’s not ideal and I wish I was far better organised.

Do you keep every jotting of ideas, just in case they might be developed at some later date?

I tend to have a document at the end of my book in word format, so if I think of a good idea I put it in there and use it if it lends itself to the story.

Do you write freeform or do you faithfully plan every piece meticulously before you start on a piece?

I plan very little, certainly my first book Solace and Distress almost seemed to write itself, though I have tried to be a bit more organised with the sequel. I am finding the more I write about a particular story the more I need to keep a track of place names, rivers, mountain ranges and of course characters.

When writing, most authors now use a computer of some description. Which do you find more satisfying: writing using any means available, using a computer, using a typewriter or using a pen/pencil?

Always a laptop. My handwriting is almost undecipherable even for me!

Have you ever been somewhere and discovered a copy of a book that’s extremely difficult to find, and drooled over the discovery?

I once found hardback versions of some lesser known pieces of work by Tolkien in an antique bookshop in York. They have since been re-issued so probably more popular, but were certainly hard to obtain when I was collecting his work.

If you’ve had books published in print form, have you ever come across a copy of one of your own books by accident?

No, that hasn’t happened to me (yet)!

What is your greatest ambition in writing?

I am under no illusions, I am not about to become an international best seller. So long as there is somebody somewhere who appreciates my work then it is worth doing.

Where can readers find out more about your works?

Facebook
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk/Solace-Distress
Amazon.co.uk/21-Shades-of-Pale

Meeting Victoria Zigler – A Most Remarkable Lady

Tori Zigler  “My name is Victoria Zigler, but most people just call me Tori.”  So says my very special guest for today.  Tori is a remarkable lady, and I use that term meaning all it infers, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself…

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When did you first discover the desire to write was so strong in you?

“I’ve loved to read and write since I first learned how to. I was taught to read and write at the age of three because I wanted to do “homework” like my big brother. By the time I was in full time school shortly after turning four I was in love with the written word and already attempting to write short stories and poems. None of them were any good in those first few years, but by the time I was about seven I could write a good enough story to earn a medal in a writing competition. I still have the medal.”

Do you usually write in the same genre you tend to prefer to read?

“I’ll read almost anything, but my favourite books are fantasy books and children’s books, and since I write children’s books – often with a fantasy theme to them – I’ll have to say, yes.”

Have you been influenced and/or inspired by another writer, or writers?

“Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales, Beatrix Potter’s animal themed Peter Rabbit series, and both Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl’s books were a big influence to me growing up, and I think still influence my writing today.”

Do past or current events in your life have an influence on your writing?

“Yes, past events influence my writing. I think past events often influence someone’s writing. It’s something you can’t avoid happening. Although, with my Toby’s Tales series it was intentional.”

Have you got a favourite author, who stands well ahead of all others?

“I don’t think one author stands out. I have a few favourite authors, but if I pick one of them I’ll feel bad for not having picked the others!”

Have you got both printed and digital books published?

“No. I only have digital books published. It’s not that I don’t want to have my books available in print, it’s just that it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe one day, but not yet.”

Do you try to write to satisfy what is fashionable, or do you write pieces that you would want to read?

“I write what I have ideas for. If what I write is fashionable, great, but if not then I just have to hope it’s good enough to interest people. Besides, fashions change so quickly that keeping up with trends is difficult to say the least. Also, working with ideas that pop in to your head of their own accord is usually easier than working with ones that someone forces on you.”

How do you fit writing into your life? Do you have set times for writing?

“I don’t actually have set times for anything. I tried routines, but they don’t work for me, partly due to an irregular sleep pattern. The only way things get done at specific times in my house is if someone else sets the times (for example, medical appointments we have to get to, events we want to go to, or trains we have to catch to get to somewhere before it closes). So, I just write when I feel it’s a good time to write, which can be any time of the day or night.”

Do you keep every jotting of ideas, just in case they might be developed at some later date?

“Yes. I have my ‘notes and ideas’ file, with snippets of ideas for potential future stories and notes on ones I’m working on in it.”

Do you write freeform or do you faithfully plan every piece meticulously before you start on a piece?

“I write freeform. I’ll just let the words flow freely on the first draft, not even stopping to check for typos or spelling and grammar mistakes. Then I slowly go through it a few times until I think it’s done. Then I go through again just to be sure. I think I end up doing about five or six drafts before I’m completely happy with something. But one thing I don’t do is plan out the story. I tried planning, but I felt it took the life out of the story. I prefer to just go with the flow and see where the story takes me. I mean, I’ll have an idea in my head of where I want to end up at the end of the story, but how I’ll get there is usually a mystery even to me until it’s written.”

When writing, most authors now use a computer of some description. Which do you find more satisfying: writing using any means available, using a computer, using a typewriter or using a pen/pencil?

“I’ll write using any means available to me, but most of the time I use a computer. I have a laptop intentionally so I can have it to hand and take it with me if I go away somewhere. Not that I go away that often, but since my family is spread all over the place I want to have the option.”

Have you ever been somewhere and discovered a copy of a book that’s extremely difficult to find, and drooled over the discovery?

“Yes. I get unbelievably excited if I find a copy of a book I’ve been failing to get hold of. Discovering books you’ve been looking for is more exciting than Christmas!”

What is your greatest ambition in writing?

“I’d love to be a well-known author. I’m not searching for enormous amounts of fame or anything like that – though it would be nice. I just want to be well-known enough that there are several people waiting eagerly for my next book. And I’d love to be in the top sellers list somewhere.”

Where can readers find out more about your works?

Website
Smashwords
Goodreads
Facebook author page
Twitter

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Tori: In Her Own Words

“My name is Victoria, but most people call me Tori. I’m a blind, vegetarian author of children’s books and poetry. Born in the shadow of the Black Mountains in Wales, I now live in the South East of England with my husband, Kelly, a West Highland White Terrier named Keroberous, and four degus whose names are Jacob, Jasper, Jenks and Joshua.

“My favourite things to do are reading and writing, but I also enjoy watching movies and some TV shows, listening to music, doing various crafts (such as knitting and cardmaking), playing roleplaying games (such as Dungeons And Dragons), playing figure games (such as Monsterpocalypse and Classic BattleTech) and doing the odd bit of baking. I also have an interest in history (especially Stone Age and Egyptian history) and love almost everything to do with animals and nature (except spiders and creepy crawly bug things).”

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The Books of Victoria Zigler

The Magical Chapters Trilogy:

  1. Witchlet
  2. The Pineapple Loving Dragon
  3. A Magical Storm

The Toby’s Tales Series:

  1. Toby’s New World
  2. Toby’s Monsters
  3. Toby’s Outing
  4. Toby’s Games
  5. Toby’s Special School

The Kero’s World Series:

  1. Kero Goes Walkies
  2. Kero Celebrates His Birthday
  3. Kero Gets Sick
  4. Kero Celebrates Halloween (due for release October 2013)
  5. Kero Goes To Town (due for release November 2013)
  6. Kero Celebrates Christmas (due for release December 2013)

Stand Alone Stories:

Bluebell The Fairy Guide

Frank The Friendly Ogre

The Great Tadpole Rescue

Asha’s Big Adventure (due for release August 2013)

Snowball The Oddball Kobold (due for release September 2013)

Poetry Books:

Mr. Pumpkin-Head And Other Poems

My Friends Of Fur And Feather

The Light Of Dawn And Other Poems

Waves Of Broken Dreams And Other Poems

The Leaf Monster And Other Children’s Poems (due for release September 2013)

Summer Heat Blog Tour: Jennifer Garcia aka Forbes Arnone

Summer_Heat_tour

Welcome to the Summer Heat Blog Tour, 2013

I am delighted to welcome Jennifer Garcia, aka Forbes Arnone, to answer a few questions about herself and her work as an author.


When did you first discover the desire to write was so strong in you?

I think it was when I was little. I used to fill notebooks of lyrics, poems, and small stories. I did not realize how much I missed it until I started again after I raised my young family.

Do you usually write in the same genre you tend to prefer to read?

Yes, I love romance novels and I tend to write romances.

When reading, do you prefer traditional printed books or ebooks?

I prefer ebooks. After reading ebooks only lately, I recently had to read a printed book and found it very uncomfortable to hold. I know that sounds awful. How lazy, right? But ebooks seem to be more convenient and I can take a lot more with me on just one small device.

Have you been influenced and/or inspired by another writer, or writers?

Yes, the beginning of last year I found a book, The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani and fell in love with her writing style. I bought all of her books after that and read every single one of them. Her stories are written with many descriptions about the people, their clothing, the locations, and the homes. It’s something about how she does it that makes me feel as if I’m in the story. I can picture everything so clearly.

Another author that I recently found is Alan Brennert. I think his story telling style is a bit like Adriana Trigiani’s that is why I clicked with it so much.

Do past or current events in your life have an influence on your writing?

Absolutely, I may take a scene from any point in my life and build a whole story around it. Other times it may be something that happened around me in a time that is no longer and I want to capture it.

Have you got a favourite author, who stands well ahead of all others?

Adriana Trigiani is by far the author that stands well ahead of the all the others for me.

Have you got both printed and digital books published?

I will. *insert big cheesy smile* This summer I have two books coming out. The first one, In My Mother’s Footsteps, is releasing July 2nd and it is a novella that I worked on for a beach read compilation. The stories will be sold as an anthology and individually. The second book, My Mr. Manny, is releasing August 26th and it is a novel.

Do you try to write to satisfy what is fashionable, or do you write pieces that you would want to read?

I write what I would like to read. I find it difficult to write something I am not feeling just to be “in.”

How do you fit writing into your life? Do you have set times for writing?

Sort of. I write best when I am alone and the house is silent except for reruns on the TV. But that rarely happens, so I usually write at night after dinner and homework is done. It is mostly when my twelve year old goes to bed.

Do you keep every jotting of ideas, just in case they might be developed at some later date?

Not really. If an idea hits me hard, I try to work it out in my head first to see if it’s something I can even do (make a story out of). So, I’ll take the idea and run scenes over and over in my mind until I think it may or may not work. Once I have a scene or a synopsis then I’ll write it down.

Do you write freeform or do you faithfully plan every piece meticulously before you start on a piece?

I do not outline. I’m too lazy. I feel that it takes too much of my time to write the outline when it may not be valid once I start writing. So, I write the scenes in my head and just write, and sometimes the characters change course and write their own scenes.

When writing, most authors now use a computer of some description. Which do you find more satisfying: writing using any means available, using a computer, using a typewriter or using a pen/pencil?

Everything I do involves a computer. I have not written things in a long time. I think my hand would cramp if I tried. So, I stick with what I can do, type.

Have you ever been somewhere and discovered a copy of a book that’s extremely difficult to find, and drooled over the discovery?

No, but I was in Bath, England at the Jane Austen museum and in the gift shop they had a first edition of one of her books. Anyway, I wanted it so badly, but my husband thought spending that much money on a book was ridiculous. So, I just drooled over it for a while before he dragged me out.

If you’ve had books published in print form, have you ever come across a copy of one of your own books by accident?

Not yet, since my books are not out yet, but I hope to when it is my time.

What is your greatest ambition in writing?

I hope to entertain people, make them feel good. I would love them to walk away from one of my books with a profound feeling of attachment to it. I have felt that before and there is nothing like it in the world. Finding that book that hits all of your cords and sticks with you. That is what I want to do.

Where can readers find out more about your works?

My blog is the place I use to update everyone on the progress of my books. My novella just posted on Goodreads and I, excitedly, posted it on my blog for everyone to see. I’ll do the same with the cover reveal and all of the other fun stuff.

Blog
Goodreads
Facebook Page
Twitter
Amazon Author’s Page

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Bio:

Jennifer Garcia’s (aka Forbes Arnone) love of travel began when she traveled to the West Coast to visit her father at the age of three. Her home until she was sixteen was a small coastal town near Boston. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons, and two dogs.

Her lifelong love for reading and writing was put aside for many years while she made her way in the world and nurtured her young family. Even though she is older, and life never seems to settle, she’s finding her way while attending college full-time in pursuit of a B.A. in English Literature. She also runs a business, and is still caring for her family. Believing she can do it all, with the help of her family, she worked on her first novel during the late hours of the night while balancing the rest of her life during the day. Her hard work paid off, as her first novel, My Mr. Manny, will be published August 2013.

News and Questioning

Double Hit Saturday!

Today sees me being doubly honoured!  First up is an interview by Amanda Keeney author of A Whisper of Hope (to be released 1st October).  Next, and a total surprise to me, is a feature thanks to Chris, of The Story Reading Ape blog.  I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the kindness of these good people, and their generous support!  It is such things that demonstrate, over and over again just what a wonderful community authors enjoy online.

A Growth Into Uncertainty (WIP)

The latest book for the G1: The Guardians series has entered that mysterious borderland between being a novella and being a novel!  Currently a touch over 41,500 words long, the story is caught in a grey area, which may result in my not knowing how to classify it.  According to the guidelines on Wikipedia that I’ve been using, 40,000 words is the lower limit of novel length.  But the Wikipedia article also points out that some publishers consider the minimum to be 50,000 words!  I feel no desire to keep writing to simply pad out the story and thereby cross the 50,000 word boundary.  If it happens naturally, then there’ll be no problem, of course, but I have no idea, at this moment, where, or when, the story will conclude.  I’ll admit that the size of the story surprised me quite considerably.  When I started writing it, I never expected it to be so long!  There’s definitely a part of me that would be very happy, and satisfied, if the story does breach the 50,000 words.  It would, after all, be my first novel in the period since returning to serious writing.  To me, that’s huge!

Facebook(?) Fan Pages

Knowing just how limited the impact of Facebook is on bringing people to the blog, I’m unsure of whether to do more there.  I was, a few days ago, contemplating following the lead of other others and creating fan pages specific to individual books and/or series.  It’s very difficult to decide, though.  I think it would just be very sad if I created the page(s) and it/they received no traffic!  There is an alternative, of course.  I could create pages here, on the blog.  They would appear under the Works by Steve K Smy – Published Works menu options, with a page to each series, at least, and featuring some background, a list of the books available, and interactivity via the comments.  If you have any thoughts on the two options, I’d love to hear from you!

Do any of you use Facebook fan pages that are specific to works rather than general to yourself?  I only have the general flavour page at the moment and traffic fluctuates wildly from day to day and week to week.

~ Steve

In Conversation With: Matt Carter [Character Interview]

G1 TagWe’re sat in a warm, comfortable room in a small hotel.  I’ve no idea whether we’re close to The Manse, the Headquarters of the Guardians, or not, and there’d be no point asking my reluctant guest.  And yes, he really is reluctant.  If the Director hadn’t ordered him to co-operate, he wouldn’t be here and none of the following would ever be known.  Fortunately, the Director recognises the value of creating a biographical record of his people, though none of the most sensitive information will be known for a very long time.

So, let me introduce you to Matt Carter, Co-leader of G1, the elite team of the Guardians.  He doesn’t strike you as a particularly imposing individual, and he has a way of sitting that shuts people out, but I have a job to do.  So I’ll ignore the scowls and growls and simply set down the conversation…

*[EDITED FOR GENERAL DISSEMINATION – ALL CLASSIFIED MATERIAL REMOVED BY ORDER OF THE MINISTRY]*

Thank you for meeting me here, Mr Carter.  Let’s begin with your earliest years, shall we?

Sure, I guess that’s obvious.  I was born Matthew Thomas Carter, back in 1930.  That meant growing up during the Second World War.  My family lived in Aldershot, my father being a career soldier.  He was an NCO, training officers.  Well, he was until he was killed in an accident.  I’ll admit that I was a bruiser at school – no, not a bully!  I just didn’t let other kids walk over me.  I was good at sports, the more physical the better.  I wasn’t so hot on the academic stuff.  Truth be told, my mother and an uncle taught me so much, the school was behind me on that score.  And I’m not bragging or claiming to be some intellectual giant.  I just took to teaching outside school better than the rigid stuff in school.  When I left school, I caught a peek at my leaving report.  It said I ‘owned a wasted intelligence’.  That shows how useless they were.

What did you do when you left school, then?

There was only one thing I wanted to do.  You could, back then, too.  No nonsense about having paper qualifications.  I enlisted in the Army.  I loved it!  Ended up serving the maximum, like my father had planned on doing.  I made Sergeant, but got stuck there.  A couple of brief periods as CSM, but I didn’t always do well with the officers.

You’re known to enjoy significant longevity.  How did that impact on you at that time?

Well, there are ways to disappear from the System.  Always have been.  I was retired out but changed my name, moved to another part of the country, and enlisted again.  Things were a bit slack then.  That’s how I ended up getting married.  Then a dirty little war kicked off, I was posted, and off I went.  When I got back, my wife had run off with some salesman.  Good riddance.  We didn’t have any kids or it might have been different.  There were a few more of the brushfire wars.  Barely deserved the name ‘wars’, really.  Good times, though, with some damn good men.  Lost a few.  Eventually, of course, I got to too many years and had to retire again.

Can you give us a ‘potted’ view of the years that followed?

I guess so.  I moved on and ended up joining the Royal Marines.  I married again, then the Falklands War erupted. (His eyes cloud over and he says nothing for a long time.)  When that was over, so was my second marriage.  My fault this time.  I didn’t take Civvy  Street so well.  Still no kids, and that was an issue for her, too.  I pressured my way into the Royal Marine Commandos.  I was running a bit of a death wish, really.  That was until I met Ellen.  God, she was something!  Ellen Margaret MacDonald.  Well, we married and it really clicked this time.  We ended up with five kids – three boys and a couple of girls.  Lucky little blighters, all took after their mother.  As the years ticked over, I found ways of looking as if I was getting older, just like Ellen was.  When she died, it almost broke me.  But that was just before the Second Korean War.  That was a filthy war, and too many died in it, mostly from dirty bombs and such.  I hated that one, but it kept losing Ellen out of my head.  I lost myself for a long time, and lost the kids in the process.  I never saw them again.

You mentioned, when you joined the Guardians, that the European Experiment was involved.  How so?

Well, you’re too young to know, of course.  After KW2, the USA got heavy, worrying about their security.  They basically took everything in and around the Pacific.  The Act of Union between the US and Canada came at about the same time, and then Central America was absorbed, and the Caribbean islands.  One almighty empire.  Europe got scared.  With all that weight, the Americans could rule the whole world.  So they decided to try and copy the idea.  Idiots!  Western Europe was just creeping out of a bad run, economically.  Now they added all the Eastern states, including Russia and half of the old Soviet Union.  They even snapped up states bordering Turkey, and some along the North African coast.  They consolidated all the armed forces and then tore them apart by dumping thousands – mostly those with high salaries, of course.  We were just kicked out.  Of course, the whole thing fell apart, because there wasn’t enough money or resources.  A few conflicts in the Middle East, when Europe tried to grab the oil fields, saw the European forces soundly beaten.  The whole thing just collapsed, leaving nothing but a mess.  I, and most people like me, was as bitter as you could get.  It was about then that I was contacted on the quiet about the Guardians.

*[ALL DETAILS ON MISSIONS FOR OR OTHER ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE GUARDIANS ARE CLASSIFIED.  TEXT TERMINATED.]*


The books: Shade of Evil, Evil Under The Circle and The Sigil of Ahriman.

Delving Into Mysteries – Jan O’Kane

Jan O’Kane joins us to talk about how she came to writing and its delights.  She is a fan of crime mysteries and is currently close to her first novel making its appearance.  I’ll say no more, other than: A very warm welcome to Imagineer-ing, Jan!

Jan cropped When did you first discover the desire to write was so strong in you?

I was very young when I discovered I loved telling stories. I remember telling stories I made up to my Mom before I started school.

However, when I went to grade school, I discovered reading. It became a passion. As my sister would say, in a family gathering you would always see me in a corner reading a book. I think this is the natural progression to writing.

I started writing back in the 80s, but I wrote my novel in longhand. I still have it and I intend to rewrite it for publication, but it will take a great deal of updating.

Did anything in particular inspire you to embark on the writing path, such as an event in your life?

Besides reading, it would have to be the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980. It started my imagination going and I started writing soon after that event. Now, I use several different events to inspire a story.

Do you usually write in the same genre you tend to prefer to read?

Yes, I read mostly the same genre, but recently I found Traci E Hall books. Her work is a departure from my normal reading, but worth the switch.

When reading, do you prefer traditional printed books or ebooks?

I have to say I love printed books, but I have both. I have my own physical library of over 500 books, and growing, but have close to 350 books between my Nook and Kindle. I also have a stack of books on my nightstand.

Have you been influenced and/or inspired by another writer, or writers?

I remember as a child reading the Nancy Drew mysteries in the school library. After I read all of those books, I moved onto the Hardy Boys. I love mysteries, thrillers, and crime stories.

Today I would have to say Jack DuBrul, Clive Cussler, Jonathan Kellerman, Tess Gerritson, Simon Lang, Patricia Cornwell, CJ Lyons, and a newcomer to my list Traci Hall; I could go on, but these are at the top of my list.

Do past or current events in your life have an influence on your writing?

I use past events in my life for both my blog and in my stories. In my novels, they may not be the basis for the story, but I will filter something from my past into the story.

Have you got a favourite author, who stands well ahead of all others?

Jack DuBrul, Clive Cussler, Jonathan Kellerman, Tess Gerrison, Simon Lang.

Do you try to write to satisfy what is fashionable, or do you write pieces that you would want to read?

I can only write what is inside me to tell. I stay with the genres I love. I write crime, mystery, and I even have an adventure/medical discovery book in the works.

How do you fit writing into your life? Do you have set times for writing?

My husband and I own and operate a mailing service, so finding time can be a challenge at times. However, when I am not working, or reading, I am writing.

Do you keep every jotting of ideas, just in case they might be developed at some later date?

Yes, I keep a notebook and jot down just enough of an idea that I will be able to recall the story line when I need to do so.

Do you write freeform or do you faithfully plan every piece meticulously before you start on a piece?

Freeform. I have tried the structured method, but my mind must work in strange ways. I find myself changing things even with the outline. So freeform fits best for me.

When writing, most authors now use a computer of some description. Which do you find more satisfying: writing using any means available, using a computer, using a typewriter or using a pen/pencil?

I use a computer. I would rather use cursive writing, but publishers want the work already formatted.

What problems have you had to overcome in your ambition to become a published author?

Strange to say, but I believe I was my own biggest problem. I wanted to it to be so perfect, that I just kept putting it off. Now, I strive for excellence. Perfection is a costly and demanding master.

Have you found the online community of authors to be valuable in your endeavours?

As a member of LinkedIn, I have connected with many writers. Several have been helpful by reading my work and offering suggestions and constructive criticism.

Have you found a website or blog that has been particularly helpful or inspiring?

The LinkedIn community has wonderful groups that I have joined. I may not be visible in all the groups, but I read and I learn. I found “Author Den” to be a good resource

Do close family and/or friends find your desire to be published difficult to understand, or do they support your ambitions?

My family is very supportive. I can’t imagine doing this without the support or the freedom necessary to write.

As an unpublished author, have you decided what kind of book cover you would like to use? Photographic, custom art? Simple or dramatic? Generalised or descriptive?

I have been reviewing photographic work (ones without copy writes) for my first cover. I know what I am looking for in a cover, and again, my husband gives of his time freely to help me design the cover.

Also as an unpublished author, have you decided yet whether to follow the traditional or self-published route?

The jury is still out on this point. I have been reading materials on both options, and I have collected books on the topics. I want to see my book on a bookshelf in a store, but for newcomers this is hard to achieve so I am playing with the idea of self-publishing for the first few books. I understand that self-publishing also includes, self-marketing, self-selling and other “self” duties that become the writers responsibility. I am using one outside aid, an editor.

If somebody close to you asked you, have you any advice that you would give them on becoming an author? Is it an endeavour that you feel you could recommend to them?

I would say go for it and don’t let yourself hold you back. Don’t wait until you are in your 60s as I have. Do it while you can enjoy the process.

Have you ever been somewhere and discovered a copy of a book that’s extremely difficult to find, and drooled over the discovery?

I have to say I am looking for a copy of Lucifer’s Hammer by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven. I had the book, but somehow in our move from Wheeling the book has been lost. I still think it is among my books in my library. If I don’t find it soon, I will have to buy it again.

What is your greatest ambition in writing?

Telling a story people will enjoy reading. I write for escapism, so I hope I can provide that for someone else.

Where can readers find out more about you and your works?

I have a blog janokane.blogspot.com that will provide readers with a sample of my writing. However, I must be honest and say what and how I write for my blog is different from my manuscripts. I also do interviews for www.faithfilledfamily.com, but again, this is different from my manuscript.

My first novel is currently with the editor, and I am anxious to get it back to start the next phase. The corrections and rewrites will take time.

About Jan O’Kane

Born in Triadelphia WV, Jan O’Kane came from a family of 5 children, attended St. Vincent elementary school, Triadelphia High School, West Liberty State College (now University) with continuing education at Wheeling Jesuit College and University of Denver.  She holds 21 years of employment in the banking industry starting as a proof operator, moving to the loan department, bank support department, promoted to Personnel Manager, and then Assistant VP Business Support/Assistant Cashier.  Along this path she served on a consortium coordinating the ATM machines in the Ohio Valley among five banks, coordinated the merging of systems between two banks,  developed the Data processing division for the southern WV banks of West Banco Inc., and beta tested for Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh.

Moving to Durham NC in 1995, along with husband Michael, opened Always Remembered Mailing Services.  ARMS will celebrate 18 years in business later this year.

Jan started her writing career in 2011.  She is currently maintaining a blog janokane.blogspot.com. She does interview work for Christian E-magazine Faith Filled. Family.

Jan is also working on a novel that she hopes to have ready for publication sometime this year.

It’s Covered! An Interview With Ida Jansson, Graphic Designer

Book Cover Samples Today, I have a very special treat for you!  Ida Jansson, of Amygdala Design, creates some truly stunning book covers.  It is my honour to bring you an insight into her and her work.  You will find examples of her beautiful work scattered throughout the interview.  This is, I hope, just the first interview with somebody performing one of the many essential parts of bringing a book to publication.

When did you first discover the desire to create was so strong in you?

My road to becoming a Graphic Designer is a little different than most others. I actually have a Bachelor Degree in Biomedical Science, but have had photography as a hobby for a while. When I discovered Photoshop, along with DeviantArt, everything changed. I was stunned to see what a powerful tool Photoshop was, and how it could be used to create the most amazing artworks. I started experimenting with stock images and digital painting, and eventually added my own works to DeviantArt. After a few years, I was contacted by an author wondering if I would be interested in doing a book cover for her new book. And that is how it all started! Now I get requests for new covers every day, and design covers full time.

37Are you self-taught or did you study to become an artist?

I have a one year education in Graphic Design and Multimedia Design, but most of the skills I use in my daily work as a book cover designer were self-taught.

Do you work in a studio or simply anywhere in your home?

Right now I work from home to save money, but I hope to be able to rent an office soon.

What is your preferred art medium?

I prefer digital art in the form of photo manipulation and digital painting.

Have you been influenced and/or inspired by another artist/illustrator, or artists/illustrators?

I just love the work of Nathalia Suellen (Lady Symphonia), and she has been a great inspiration for me. Through my work for Amygdala Design I have developed my own style and technique, but my early works were influenced a lot by her.

517x808Do memories of times and/or places in your life have an influence on your art?

Absolutely. Even though I often get very specific requests from the authors I work for, I try to let my own style shine through. My style is naturally influenced by my own experiences in life. I generally tend towards a dark but colourful expression in my art.

Do you create illustrations/cover art for both printed and digital books?  Could you show us some examples, please?

Yes, I create about 50/50 of printed covers and digital covers.

Do you create artwork for web design purposes?

It`s not one of my main services, but I have done promotional artworks for authors to use on their websites.

Do you prefer to illustrate “fashionable” works, or do you prefer works that are more “traditional”?

I try not to think too much about being fashionable or original in my work. What is important is that the cover is true to the story of the book, and that the cover is not too crowded. And the cover has to have the eye-catching elements, like strong/contrasting colours and a clear title.

Anne Boleyn ECoverHow do you fit your art work into your life?  Do you have set times to work?

Since I work full time as a designer in my own company, I can adjust my schedule pretty much the way I want. However, I usually work a lot, 12 – 14 hours each day.

Do you plan every piece meticulously before you start on it?  If you produce concept sketches, are there any that you could share with us, please?

Because I work with stock images, the planning is done while I browse for stocks. After, I often try different images/image-parts together in Photoshop before deciding on what stocks to use in the final piece. Then I add the digital painting. So I don’t plan that much before I start, I have to see the elements together before reaching a decision about what will work and what will not.

Many artists who work with computers use graphic tablets so that they can still ‘draw by hand’.  Do you use such a device, or some other device that suits art in particular?

Yes I do, I use a Wacom Bamboo Tablet. I couldn’t do my job without it! Together with Photoshop, it is my most important tool.

Cherry Kisses Cover previewWhat are your impressions of the majority of book covers appearing on the books of self-published authors?

I think the problem with many self-published book covers is that they lack impact. They might be nice to look at, but don’t really stand out from the crowd. With the number of self-published books growing each day, it is extremely important to have an eye-catching cover. Investing money in an eye-catching cover will show the potential reader that you care about, and believe in, your book.

When reading, do you prefer traditional printed books or ebooks?

I love to have a lot of books in my bookshelf to look at and get inspiration from, but I prefer to read on my Kindle or listen to audiobooks. I read a lot, usually 1-2 books per week, and it inspires my work so much.

What is your greatest ambition in art?

Designing book covers full time has been my dream, and now I am living that dream! So in a way I have already reached my ambition. I have designed covers for small publishing companies, but I would love to do work for a major publisher, like Harper Collins or Penguin.

Entwined Tales From the City Cover v3Where can readers find out more about your works?

My website: http://www.amygdaladesign.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amygdala-Art/302917036483121?ref=stream
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmygdalaArt
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/14349847-ida-jansson