Q&A with Dan Klefstad #author of Shepherd and the Professor @danklefstad #SundayBlogShare

Welcome, Dan. Good to have you here today. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m the host and editor of the “Read With Me” book series on NPR station WNIJ (archive: http://northernpublicradio.org/term/wnijreadwithme-book-series). I’ve interviewed dozens of authors, two of whom inspired parts of Shepherd & the Professor. For me, each interview is a master class so I guess it made sense that I’d try to write my own stories.

What is your least favourite part of the writing process?

Starting. Staring at a blank Word .doc, trying to make order out of imaginary chaos. I consider it a victory if I write one sentence that first day. Some days I’ll settle for one word. But if it’s the right word, then I’m off to the races!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Look up the word “exposition.” Now find a more interesting way to do that. Continue reading

New Release ~ Blond Cargo by John Lansing. Interview and Excerpt

Ahead of the release of Blond Cargo (Jack Bertolino #2) on Monday 20th October, I’m very pleased to welcome John Lansing to Between The Lines.

John, where did the inspiration for Jack Bertolino’s character come from?

Jack Bertolino is an amalgam of all my favorite detectives that I’ve read about in books, written about on television, seen in film, met in real life, or just wanted to be. I’ve always been drawn to flawed characters that were interested in reinventing themselves. Maybe because of my own personal demons and varied career paths. 

I wanted to write about a detective who was standing at the crossroads, recovering from a nasty divorce, retiring from the NYPD, leaving the old neighborhood in Staten Island, and moving west to find some peace in his life.

It certainly didn’t work out the way he planned. Twenty-five years of taking down drug dealers, money launderers and thieves, came back to haunt him and shook up his newfound state of bliss in Marina del Rey, California.

What’s more important, character or plot?

This question also encompasses question #4.

When I first began writing, I was writing scripts for network television. In that arena, an outline was imperative. First of all, you would never get an assignment until a story, and then the outline was approved. And then once you were green-lit, if another script fell out of the schedule, you might be asked to turn in a finished script in a week’s time. An almost impossible feat without a concise outline. 

When I started writing books, my process changed. I began with a premise, which dictated the characters I’d need to tell the story, and they defined the plot. No outline. Flying without a net. Frightening and exhilarating, but it seems to be working. It’s not a better way, just different.

If you have well defined characters that people can empathize with, care about, you can lead them most anywhere. But ultimately, it’s the plot that shows the audience how your protagonist responds to conflict, how he thinks, what makes him tick, and why you should care about him.

So, long winded answer, I think it’s a 50-50 split.

This is your second novel, did you find the process any easier/different this time round?

The only process that’s been easier for me the second time around is the marketing of the book. When I wrote The Devil’s Necktie, I didn’t know what a blog was. I’d never heard of a blog tour. I didn’t have a clue what social media was all about, and it was damn intimidating. It was a difficult learning curve, but I’m starting get the hang of it. 

Writing a book is difficult work. There’s no other way to say it. It’s gratifying when you’re in the zone and the words are flying off the page, but it’s not for the faint of heart. But as I was telling someone, it’s the only discipline in the creative arts where you don’t have to be hired to ply your craft. You can write a book on a napkin, on a plane, in a one-room shack, all you have to do is commit to writing every day, and you can end up with a completed first draft. I think that’s pretty cool.

Could you describe your writing day, and do you work to a structured outline or where ever the characters take you?

When I’m writing a book, it’s pretty much a 24/7 kind of thing. The characters are bouncing around in my head most of the day. I’m problem solving in my sleep. I sometimes wake up with the answers and head for the computer. I write the scene, pour some coffee, walk the dog, and then rewrite the work.

My biggest production occurs in the afternoon. And then the dog demands another walk. I’ll get a little lunch, take a hard look at what’s on the page, and I might do a simple step outline for the next sequence, just to keep things straight in my head. It’s only a road map. Nothing is set in stone. I like to end the day, having some idea of the direction I want to take the next day.

Are you planning more Jack Bertolino stories?

I’m knee deep into the third book in the Jack Bertolino series. And in November, Chris Sulavik at Tatra Press is publishing my short story, The Test. It’s a coming of age tale, set on Long Island in 1963 that deals with race, violence, social politics, and young love.

That’s good to know! What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

This is a hard question. I began my career, out of college, as a theatre actor before getting into television and film. I started writing for television and moved behind the camera, creating for the first time in my life instead of interpreting. Writing novels is my third career.

I think the best advice I could give to my younger self would be to pick up a pen every day. Fight the negative voices. Make writing a habit. It might be the only habit you have that can enrich your life.

On your bucket list?

Bucket list, huh? To have ten Jack Bertolino novels published in the next eight years. Okay, and to find the time to travel more. There’s too much of the world I haven’t seen.

Best gift you ever received?

I think the best gift I’ve ever received was getting cast as an understudy for Danny Zuko in the first national tour of Grease. It was a life changer. I rode that train until I won the title role. I spent a year playing Zuko on Broadway. It was a gift that set me on a life course, which allowed me to become a writer. All of my past experiences come into play when I’m sitting in front of my computer.

If you won the lottery what would you do first? 

Well, now that I’ve won the lottery, I can afford to take that time to travel I was talking about on my bucket list. Maybe spend a few months at a time in another country where I can get Jack Bertolino involved in new cases in exotic locals.

Thanks so much, John, for taking the time to share your thoughts

BlondCargoJack Bertolino’s son, Chris, was the victim of a brutal murder attempt and Vincent Cardona, a mafia boss, provided information that helped Jack take down the perpetrator of the crime. Jack accepted the favor knowing there’d be blowback. In Blond Cargo the mobster’s daughter has gone missing and Cardona turned in his chit. Jack discovers that the young, blond, mafia princess has been kidnapped and imprisoned while rich, politically connected men negotiate her value as a sex slave. 

A sizzling whodunit for fans of James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell, Blond Cargo taps into the real-life crime world to deliver a thrilling, action-packed story that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the explosive, unprecedented finale.

Excerpt from Blond Cargo:

Jack carried a Subway turkey sandwich, a tall unsweetened iced coffee, a bottle of water, and a smile as he keyed the security gate that led to the dock in Marina del Rey where his boat was moored. The marina was always quiet during the week. Just the way he liked it.
He stopped to admire his twenty-eight feet of heaven before stepping onto his boat’s transom and then . . .
“Yo, Mr. B.”
Jack never forgot a voice, which explained his reluctance to turn around.
“Yo, yo, Mr. B.”
Miserably persistent, Jack thought. He turned to face Peter Maniacci, who was dressed head-to-toe in black. With his outstretched arms draped over the chain-link fence, Peter looked like an Italian scarecrow. The black circles under his eyes belied his youth. The sharp points of his sideburns, his boots, and the .38 hanging lazily from a shoulder holster added menace to his goofy grin.
So close, Jack thought. His only worry that day had been
whether to eat his sandwich dockside or out on the Pacific with a view of the Santa Monica Pier.
“How you doing, Peter?”
“How you doin’?”
Jack let out a labored sigh. “We could do this all day. What’s up?”
“That’s funny, Mr. B. How’s the boy? How’s his pitching arm?”
Jack’s face tightened. He wasn’t happy that Peter knew
any of his son’s particulars. When he didn’t answer, Peter continued.
“Hey, nice boat. I used to fish for fluke off the north shore. Long Island. I think I must be in the wrong business.”
“Count on it,” Jack said. “What can I do for you?”
“My boss was wondering if you could spare a few minutes of your time.”
As if on cue, a black Town Car materialized behind Peter and came to a smooth, silent stop. The car rose visibly when Peter’s boss, a thick, broad-shouldered man, stepped out of the rear seat.
Vincent Cardona. Expensive suit, the body of a defensive linebacker—fleshy but muscled. Dark, penetrating eyes. Cardona looked in both directions before leveling his feral gaze on Jack. An attempt at a smile fell short of the mark. A thick manila envelope was tucked under one beefy arm.
Jack had been aware there would be some form of payback due for information Cardona had provided on Arturo Delgado, the man responsible for the attempted murder of his son. He just didn’t think it would come due this quickly. He opened the locked gate and let the big man follow him down the dock toward his used Cutwater cabin cruiser.
As Peter stood sentry in front of the Lincoln Town Car, Jack allowed the devil entry to his little piece of paradise.
“How’s your boy? How’s the pitching arm?” Vincent asked bluntly. Just a reminder of why he was there.
“On the mend.” Jack gestured to one of two canvas deck chairs in the open cockpit of the boat. Both men sat in silence as Jack waited for Cardona to explain the reason for his visit.
Jack wasn’t comfortable with Cardona’s talking about Chris, but the big man had taken it upon himself to station Peter outside Saint John’s Health Center while his son was drifting between life and death. Cardona’s enforcer had scared off Delgado, and that might have saved his son’s life. The unsolicited good deed was greatly appreciated by Jack. The debt weighed heavily.
“It rips your heart out when your children have problems and you can’t do nothing to help,” Cardona said with the raspy wheeze of a man who had abused cigars, drugs, booze, and fatty sausage for most of his life.
“What can I do for you?” Jack asked, not wanting to prolong the impromptu meeting.
Cardona, unfazed by Jack’s brusqueness, answered by pulling out a picture and handing it to Jack.
“Angelica Marie Cardona. She’s my girl. My only. My angel. Her mother died giving birth. I didn’t have the heart to re-up. I raised her by myself.”
Mobster with a heart of gold. Right, Jack thought. But Cardona’s wife must have been a stunner because Angelica, blond, early twenties, with flawless skin and gray-green eyes, didn’t get her good looks from her father. Cardona’s gift was her self-assured attitude, which all but leaped off the photograph.
“Beautiful.”
Jack Bertolino, master of the understatement, he thought.
“And doesn’t she know it. Too much so for her own good. You make mistakes, my line of business. Whatever.”
“What can I do for you, Vincent?” Jack said, dialing back the attitude.
Cardona tracked a seagull soaring overhead with his heavy-lidded eyes and rubbed the stubble on his jaw.
Jack would have paid good money to change places with the gull.
“I shoulda never moved out here. L.A. I’m a black-socks- on-the-beach kinda guy. East Coast all the way. Never fit in. But I’m a good earner and the powers that be decided they were happy with the arrangement. Everyone was happy except Angelica and me.
“She turned thirteen, didn’t wanna have nothing to do with her old man. Turned iceberg cold. I tried everything— private schools, horses, ballet, therapy, live-in help; nothin’ worked. She closed up tighter than a drum. I finally threatened to send her to the nuns.”
“How did that work out?”
“I’m fuckin’ sitting here, aren’t I? On this fuckin’ dinghy . . . no offense meant,” he said, trying to cover, but the flash of anger told the real story. “I hear you’re an independent contractor now.”
It was Tommy Aronsohn, his old friend and ex–district attorney, who had set him up with his PI’s license and first client, Lawrence Weller and NCI Corp. But Jack Bertolino and Associates, Private Investigation, still didn’t come trippingly off his tongue.
And thinking of the disaster up north, he said, “We’ll see how that goes.”
“This is the point. I haven’t seen my daughter in close to a month. Haven’t heard word one since around the time your son was laid up in Saint John’s,” he said. Reminder number two. “It’s killing me,” he continued. “I’m getting a fuckin’ ulcer. Then this.”
Cardona pulled out the L.A. Times with the front-page spread reporting on the woman who had died when her boat crashed on the rocks at Paradise Cove. As it turned out, a second woman down in Orange County had washed up on the beach a few weeks earlier at the Terranea resort, scaring the joy out of newlyweds taking photos at sunset. Talk about twisted memories, Jack thought. As if marriage wasn’t tough enough. He’d already read both articles with his morning coffee and hadn’t bought into the pattern the reporter inferred.
“And the connection?”
“I got a bad feeling is all. She’s never disappeared like this before—not for this long anyway,” he said, amending his statement. “And then . . .” Cardona said, waving the newspaper like it was on fire. “It says here they were both blonds. Both about Angelica’s age. They could be fuckin’ cousins. Could be nothing.”
“Did you file a missing-persons report?”
Cardona gave him a hard side eye. “Jack, don’t fuck with me. We take care of our own.”
Jack thought before he spoke. “I’m not one of yours.”
“Semantics.”
“What about your crew?”
Cardona flopped open his meaty hands. “I get angina, I don’t call my cousin Frankie, who has a certain skill set but stinks when it comes to open-heart surgery. Look, I get it. You were on the other team. But this is straight-up business. One man to another. One father to another. I need you to find my girl. You got my number. Use it, Jack. Money’s no object. Find my baby.”
Strike three.
Jack didn’t answer. He stared out at the navy-blue water of the marina, past row upon row of beautiful yachts, symbols of dreams fulfilled, and knew they were empty notions compared to family.
Cardona hadn’t actually spoken the words you owe me, but they filled the subtext of everything he’d said. He was not subtle. The big man had reached out when Jack was in need, and Jack had accepted the offer. Now Vincent Cardona wanted his pound of flesh.
“This is everything I know. Last address, phone numbers, phone bills, e-mail accounts, bank, credit cards, friends and whatnot. The whole shot,” Cardona said, holding the manila envelope out in Jack’s direction.
“I have other commitments,” Jack stated.
“You look real fuckin’ busy, Jack, if you don’t mind my sayin’.” His eyes crinkled into a sarcastic grin. Vincent Cardona does charm.
Jack accepted the overstuffed envelope with a sigh.
“If she don’t want to come back, fine. No funny business, no strong-arm bullshit from my end. You got my word. I just need to know that my blood is alive. I’m fuckin’ worried and I don’t do worry too good. Sleep on it, Jack. But do the right thing.”
Cardona’s eyes locked on to Jack’s. Jack remained silent. He’d take a look. No promises, not yet.
Vincent’s knees cracked and the canvas chair squeaked like it was in pain as he stood up. He covered a belch behind his fist and rubbed his gut as he moved stiffly past Jack. The boat rocked when Cardona stepped off and walked heavily away, his Italian leather shoes echoing on the wooden dock.
The weight of the world. Jack could relate.
Peter Maniacci opened the gate for his boss and then the door to the Lincoln Town Car, which plunged to curb level as the big man slid in. Peter ran around to the other side of the car and tossed Jack a wave like the queen mum. He jumped into the Lincoln, which lurched forward before Peter could slam the door shut.
Jack walked into the boat’s deckhouse, grabbed a bottle of water, and downed two more Excedrin. He stretched his back, which was going into a spasm from yesterday’s violence, and chased the pills with a Vicodin to stay one step ahead of the pain that he knew was headed his way.
Jack had already decided to take the case.

About the author

JohnLansingJohn Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead role in the Broadway production of “Grease.” He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows. During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.” John’s first book was “Good Cop, Bad Money,” a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. “The Devil’s Necktie” was his first novel. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

The Devil’s Necktie may be found at Amazon US and Amazon UK and my review is here

Blond Cargo may be found at Amazon US and Amazon UK

 

HeartSong ~ Excerpt and Interview with Desiree Williams

To celebrate the release of the paperback edition of HeartSong we have the cover images, an excerpt and an interview with the author, Desiree Williams.

The book may be purchased from  Amazon USAmazon UK and CreateSpace

Ebooks are also available at B&N, Smashwords and iBooks
HeartSong6x9_Final

Cover_heartsong_final_ebook

Excerpt from HeartSong

Laelynn prepared herself for whatever was to come. She attempted to concentrate on her breathing, but pain radiated through her chest at each attempt to breathe. Shallow breaths were all she could muster. The Varkadons were engrossed in their meal, paying her no attention. Laelynn prayed Dustan and Alanna appeared soon before she became dessert.
Laelynn jerked, almost screamed, when the campfire burst out into a flaming whirlwind. It grew and rolled into the air, forming a towering mass of orange and red flames. Tongues of fire leaped at the Varkadons encamped around it. The grass capes that once aided them were their downfall as their armor went up in flames. Laelynn watched the scene unfold as many succumbed to the raging fire storm. The stench of charred flesh permeated the air. Bile rose into her mouth at the odor. Few had been successful to remove the grass-covered armor. Laelynn marveled as she took inventory. The attack took out half the soldiers.
The ground quaked beneath her tree. Abruptly, it cracked and groaned, forcing the tree to whip around. The act brought Laelynn face to face with a piercing set of green eyes. The girl before her looked lethal.
The woman—Laelynn assumed she must be Alanna, the girl the voice mentioned–used her sword to cut Laelynn’s binds. Her legs were too weak to hold her up, and she dropped to the ground the moment she was freed. 

Alanna sheathed her sword and put a shoulder under Laelynn’s arm. Together the two hobbled behind a large, thick tree. Alanna let out low bird-like whistles. Seconds later Laelynn heard a heart rattling howl that vibrated through her. Screams accompanied it.
“What was that?” Laelynn whispered to her rescuer.
“That was Dustan,” Alanna whispered, then offered her a calming grin. “I’m Alanna. I’m going to set you up in this tree to keep you a safe distance away. I’ll retrieve you once the remaining Varkadons are overcome.”
Without another word, a rush of wind surrounded them. The mighty wind carried both girls effortlessly into the tree. Alanna set her down and assessed her injuries. Compassion flooded the girl’s emerald eyes.
“I’ll heal you once we’re a safe distance away from here. However, I have to leave you for just a moment to assist Dustan. Please don’t be scared. You’re safe now.” Alanna jumped down, leaving her in the tree to watch the event unfold.
Laelynn gaped in amazement at what she saw below. An incredibly large wolf thrashed a Varkadon soldier back and forth. Laelynn couldn’t remember seeing a wolf that large before. She compared it to a horse, solid black in color. With a flick of its jaw, the wolf sent the soldier flying haphazardly into the air. The Varkadons left standing formed a semicircle, pushing him back toward the growing fire.
Laelynn saw no possible way for the wolf to escape as the soldiers corralled it closer to the ravenous flames. She knew it was all her fault. How could live with herself if she had to watch another die in their plight to help her? At that moment, it looked up at her, then winked. Since when did a wolf wink?

 

I’m very pleased to welcome Desiree to BetweenTheLines 

About Desiree: 

Author Bio PhotoDesiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.

You can find out more about Desiree and her books at http://www.desireewilliamsbooks.blogspot.co.uk, also on her Facebook page and Goodreads

Good to have you here, Desiree.

Tell us a little about yourself, what you do when not writing?

I’m a crazy madwoman trying to keep up with life. =) I juggle a family (husband and daughter), a church family, a job, self-publishing, and all the fun that goes in between. Sometimes I kick back and watch all the balls floating in the air, knowing there are times when I have absolutely no control over them.

What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses as a writer?

My greatest strength would be my determination. I love what I do and I strive to give it my all. And in regards to weaknesses … no one ever likes to admit their faults, but for you, I will. I tend to be a passive individual in life, so unfortunately that runs over into my writing. Thankfully I enlisted an amazing content editor and beta reader to help me kick out those passive moments.

What is your least favourite part of the writing process?

I can be impatient at times (another fault, yikes!), so when I have a great thought or scene playing in my head I get frustrated that my fingers won’t type as fast as I’m demanding them to.

Do you work to an outline or wherever the characters take you?

A little bit of both. I pinpoint on my story board the key points: where I’m going, what scenes are critical, and how I want it to end. But then I let my imagination get me to each point by dreaming in the moment. I put myself in the character’s shoes and journey with them.

What are you reading at the moment?

Betrayals in Spring, the third instalment of The Last Year Series by Trisha Leigh.

This is your first book, how was the whole process for you?

Amazing doesn’t even describe my life right now! =) Looking back I’m amazed at the courage it takes to really step out and publish something that you create from your heart. And I hate bragging on myself, but I seriously jumped out of a major comfort zone to do this. So worth it! Self-publishing is a lot of work, and there are some nail-biting moments, but you rise above all that. Nothing worth achieving ever came easy.

What’s on your bucket list?

Three things on my bucket list would be … 1) I would love to be a well-known, bestselling author one day. 2) Travel to a foreign country (which might be hard since I’m afraid to fly). 3) Remind everyone that they’re loved. That one might seem silly, but you wouldn’t believe the number of people out there don’t think they are loved. I for one, want to remind them that they’re loved and they’re valued.

That’s lovely..and quite sad because it’s true.

What do you fear the most?

Spiders! I hate those creepy, crawly, gross creatures. I once lived in a trailer that I swore was invested with new species. Quick story – one day I saw a wolf spider (so the size of my fist) in the hall but I was too afraid to step on it. So I hovered a text-book over it, dropped it, and successfully destroyed my enemy. But then I was too afraid to clean it up and left it there for my brother. Gut covered text-book and all.

An actor or book character you have/or have had a crush on

Okay, so I thought about this question wondering if I would brave answering it, knowing my husband could learn of my secret crush. But then I figured out I had more secret book crushes then I realized and knew I had bigger problems. HA! I picked out two: Costin from the Grey Wolf Series by Quinn Loftis, and Lucas from The River of Time Series by Lisa Bergren. I love a guy that can make me laugh. But I must say, my handsome hubby is still number one in my heart. =)

Thanks for having me!! I had so much fun with your questions!

Thank you, Desiree, for a great interview!

Fractured Blog Tour ~ Cover Reveal, Giveaway and Interview

 

Fractured

by Leanne Pearson
Publication Date: June 1, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance 

Amazon – Nook –  KoboiBooks

Synopsis:

For twenty-three year old Katrina Smith, the events of one day irrevocably changed her life.

Life in Christchurch, New Zealand, couldn’t have been better. She was in love with a wonderful man, had a job she enjoyed, and had her life mapped out before her…

What dawned as a typical summer’s day, changed into a day of devastation and overwhelming loss. An insidious danger lay beneath the benign land surface, seismic tension, like a ticking time-bomb, was counting down to a catastrophe. And Kate and her boyfriend, Daniel, were in its path. It took mere seconds for the world to be ripped out from under her. Suddenly, Kate was deluged by a vortex of Post Traumatic Stress, guilt and crippling anguish.

Dominic Dell’Antonio, an American marine working in New Zealand, was a man hiding from his own demons which lurked behind depth-less blue eyes that read so much, yet yielded so little. He kept himself aloof and isolated. Nightmares regularly plagued him.

As Kate slipped under a suffocating wave of heartache, she blocks out the world behind self-imposed walls, drowning in the torrents of grief. Quiet, yet commanding, Dominic connects with Kate on some inexplicably deeper level. He wants to protect her. He wants to make her his.

Two damaged and guarded souls drawn together through tragic circumstances. Two lonely hearts drawn to one another to find comfort.

 

Teasers

Dreamcast

Author Leanne PearsonAbout the Author:

Leanne Pearson grew up in Durban, South Africa. She later immigrated to New Zealand, where she now lives with her husband, and two children. During her down time, if she’s not reading, she can be found relaxing outside, sipping on an apple cider, soaking up the sights and sounds of rural New Zealand. Leanne has had a few feature articles published in the newspaper over the years and has had a flair for creative writing from a very young age.

Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads

 

 

Today I’m interviewing Leanne about her debut novel, Fractured. 

Welcome Leanne, what prompted you to write Katrina’s story?

There was so much tragedy surrounding the Christchurch earthquakes, innumerable personal accounts of loss and grief were told, yet despite the immense loss of life and the challenges facing the people of Christchurch, stories of optimism filtered through. I started thinking I’d like to develop a fictional tale of not only physical, but emotional survival. This is the heart of my story…finding love while walking the harrowing road of loss, and is what makes this an emotional read. As was said to Katrina by a side character in the story—love doesn’t have a set timetable. It’s all-powerful, and can come out of the blue at a time you’d least expect.

Can you give us an insight into her character, is there anything of yourself in Katrina

Katrina isn’t weak by nature, she’s just emotionally knocked for six by the intensity of the situation she finds herself in, and has gone through. She’s a one-man woman who doesn’t fall in love easily, but when she does—she falls hard. Her world literally comes crashing down around her on that fateful day: 22 February, 2011. I’d say a little of me comes through in Katrina. I share her fear of flying for one!

What was the greatest challenge when writing the book?

Time, always time! It’s a real juggle of my time between family, work and the my need to write. I had an emotionally compelling story playing out in my head, but often didn’t have enough down-time to translate these thoughts into words. Perseverance paid off, and it was a heady moment to finally type the words: The End.

Which writers have inspired you, given you motivation?

Kristen Ashley has been a favourite author of mine for years. One of her recent releases is entitled ‘Kaleidoscope’, and is a word which perfectly describes her stories actually, as they are filled with colourful characters, rich with emotion, and backdropped by spectacular settings and melt-your-heart, alpha characters.

Do you have a special time to write, how is your day structured?

I don’t have a set writing schedule. I write when I have the available down time, but when burning at both ends, I at the very least, set aside a period of time to write either first thing in the morning, or late at night after the family have been tucked in.

What would be your fantasy day if you could spend it anywhere, with anyone, past or present?

To meet the A-list dreamcast of every favourite book of mine to date, and personally thank them for enriching my escape world so much!

Ah, yes, I understand that completely! Is there anything you would like to add?

I’d be interested to know what songs on the Fractured playlist readers associate with certain chapters?

Thank you for your time and a great interview, Leanne.

Author Interview and Giveaway ~ Melissa A Petreshock

Name that Dragon Banner

As the 9th stop in the Name That Dragon Blog Hunt, this post contains a clue. It is your job, as the reader, to identify the dragon described. Please remember your answer to this puzzle, as well as any past and future ones within this tour. You will need to know ALL the answers to enter for the chance to win the Grand Prize of a sterling silver Celtic triquetra on a 16in chain and a pre-order code.

Rafflecopter link

Today’s guest is Melissa A Petreshock, author of Fire of Stars and Dragons.

  • Melissa A. Petreshock_ photographer Candy Ailstock_ smaller fileWelcome, Melissa. What gave you the idea for this book and how did you choose the title?

The concept of the Dracopraesi dragon mythology started the whole idea. Everything else is a matter of figuring out what other supernatural beings would exist in the world with them, how they would all interact, and how they would affect humans if they were “out”, known to the public. I liked the idea of a romantic plot but something complicated and deeply rooted in the fantasy element of the book.

The title was originally HONOR OF PENDRAGON when I queried the manuscript, but I wasn’t “in love” with the title. When my publisher offered the contract with the stipulation of a title change, I started thinking of other ideas. Considering I was signing with a romance imprint, I emailed her with the suggestion FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS, which is a piece of a quote from the book. She fell in love with it immediately, and so it was set.

  • Can you give us an insight into your main character and what drives her?

Cait is very driven by the need to survive in a world not very friendly to women and even less friendly to human women. She’s a woman of means thanks to inheriting her uncle’s fortune in his passing, but that does little to help her due to the sovereign laws in this world. She must marry and has two choices- choose between King Corrin (vampire), Dante (demigod), and Theo (dragon), who each have their own reasons behind offering, or face an arranged marriage. Cait may not like having limited options, but she’d rather have three choices than none at all if marriage is going to be forced upon her. Control and independence are things she craves but can’t ever seem to find without running into barriers. Sometimes those barriers are her own strengths and weaknesses working against her.

  • How disciplined are you in your writing and how do you work – to an outline or wherever the ideas take you?

I’m really not very disciplined at all. My household is in constant chaos, and so am I, but it works for me somehow. I work off a basic outline, knowing the overall arcing structure and major plot points then allow a lot of freedom for my characters to lead the way. They’re very strong and determined to do things their way, so it’s hard to fight them. 😉

  • Is there a message in your novel you want your readers to grasp?

There are a lot of messages throughout the trilogy if people want to read into them deep enough. Mostly, I hope everyone walks away from reading it with a sense of empowerment. No matter what life puts in front of you, you always control your decisions whether they’re in your actions or your attitude, even if you can’t change the outcome. Life may be out of your control, but your decisions aren’t. Oracle and Lord Regent of the Dracopraesi.

  • What was the greatest challenge when writing your novel?

Accepting the fact that no matter how much I loved it, and how much my beta team loved it, there was still the chance I wouldn’t be able to find a publisher willing to take a chance on it. It doesn’t fit exactly into any stereotypical moulds, so there were times it was hard to believe anyone in publishing would accept it without changing it to conform to what they found “acceptable” for the market. That can be very discouraging.

  • Who is your favourite character and why?

I won’t name any of the main characters since I don’t want to show favoritism, so I’ll tell you my favorite secondary character. Claaron Graywyne. He’s one of the Dracopraesi dragons. Claaron is a well-dressed badass, irreverent, snarky, and comes off as a bit of a cad at times, but his loyalty is unfathomable, and his friendship is true. When I finished writing up the character profile, I realized I basically created a dragon version of one of my best friends, so I anagrammed his name to create Claaron Graywyne.

  • What question have you always wanted to be asked?

Why shapeshifting dragons? My answer: because with all the myths and lore surrounding dragons, I could create a great mythology and history for my Dracopraesi and leave you wondering about the possibilities. That’s what I love about a really great fantasy. I want to be left wondering if it could be real.

  • Would you like to say anything specific to your readers?

The Stars & Souls Trilogy is comprised of three books: FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS, BLOOD OF STARS AND GODS, and ETERNITY OF STARS AND CROWNS. Don’t count your happily-ever-afters until you close the third book. (And the book titles have multiple meanings behind them from my POV as the author, so don’t make too many assumptions.)

Many thanks to Melissa for an insightful interview.

Fire of Stars and Dragons 1600x2400Synopsis from Goodreads

Following the death of her vampire uncle, twenty-one-year-old CAITRIONA HAYDEN finds herself in the midst of a trio of quintessential alpha male suitors in 22nd century sovereign America where human females should be seen and not heard.

Theo Pendragon claims her as his ward, ordained to guard her through to a long-awaited destiny unbeknownst to Cait, but finds more than he expected when passion ignites within the dragon for the first time. 

Always drawn to the pursuit of knowledge rather than the heat of desire, powerful demigod Dante cannot deny everything his future holds in Caitriona. America’s monarch, ancient vampire Corrin, has no interest in the frivolity of love, yet marrying Cait could be the answer to his continued survival.
Soon, Cait goes from studying for college exams to choosing a husband in seven days, knowing the consequences are eternal, the love undying, and the bond timeless.

Author Interview ~ Jo Bunt

I’m very pleased to welcome Jo Bunt, author of Daughter of the Winds, which is on offer from 14th to 20th February as a Valentine special! So grab one while you can 🙂

a4d5b5614ce30a22d17ad3.L._V368238849_SY470_Jo Bunt was born in Cyprus to British parents. It made sense to her that her first novel should be based there.

Following the family’s return to England Jo went to school in Nottingham, university in Hull and then worked in London as a Recruitment Consultant for PwC for many years. Following a family illness Jo moved to Derbyshire where she now lives with her husband and her twin sons. This has enabled her to focus on her two great loves in life; her family and her writing.

She remembers writing her first ‘novel’ when she was seven but spent her angst-ridden teenage years writing miserable and dark poetry. She mostly writes mainstream fiction but is also working on a series of children’s adventure books, largely guided by her own children. When she is not writing or looking after the children Jo is an avid reader and self-confessed food snob. If she can combine the two she is a very happy lady indeed.

  •  Jo, how old were you when you left Cyprus and do ever feel you’d like to visit again?

I was 5 when I left Cyprus.  We went back as a family a few times over the years for holidays and I took my husband to Cyprus before we had our children.  I have a huge fondness for the country and would love to visit again.

  • Is there a particular book or author that inspired you?

There are so many! I love Victoria Hislop’s books about Greece, especially The Island.  I like to learn something new at the same time as reading a gripping story.  

  • When did you decide to write Daughter of the Winds and how was the whole process for you?

After I had my twins I gave up work in the city.  I thought I could retrain in something – anything – but all I wanted to do was write.  After about a year of research and writing a few lines here and there (and getting nowhere) I went on a writing course at my local library run by local author Martin Davies.  He was wonderful in motivating me.  I came up with a plan at this time and stuck to it.  By the third and final module of his course I had a manuscript.

  • Do you work to an outline or run with the characters?

I always have a pretty good idea of where the story is going but sometimes the characters take me in a different direction.  Characters that were only meant to be bystanders sometimes steal the scene and end up sticking around.

  • What would be your perfect meal and where would you dine?

I love food and there are many contenders for the ‘perfect meal’.  It would almost certainly be seafood, and definitely by the ocean/ sea that it was caught in that day.  There’s not much that can compare to the Shrimp Roti with Bajan pepper sauce and a local beer in Cocomo’s on the west coast of Barbados.  Happy times!

  • That sounds lovely! Finally, do you have anything specific to say to your readers?

Thank you for taking the time to read Daughter of the Winds.  I would write even if nobody read my books but I am so happy to be able to share these characters with you.  Every sale excites me because it means someone else is going to meet Pru and Leni and they get to tell their story all over again.

51PmKho2wyL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_Synopsis from Amazon

When the Turkish invade Cyprus in 1974 Pru, a young British Army wife, has her life turned upside down. Two weeks later she flees the country with a baby who isn’t hers. Over thirty years later that baby, now a grown woman called Leni, returns to the island of her birth to find out about the chain of events that led her to be brought up as Pru’s child. She discovers the true cost of war, how the hurt still continues through the generations and what being a family really means. In this story of love and loss Leni will lay ghosts to rest in more ways than one.

Daughter of the Winds can be purchased here  also on Amazon US  and you can find out more about Jo here

Many thanks to Jo for agreeing to this interview.

Author Interview ~ Rival Gates

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Today’s guest is Rival Gates talking about his novel Quest for the Red Sapphire.

Rival was born in Port Huron, MI and was the youngest of four surviving children. At the age of five his father took a position as a magazine editor in Toronto, Ontario Canada. The family moved to a large city just outside Toronto called Mississauga. The different cultures and demographics to which he was exposed formed many of the ideas for his story.

Welcome, Rival. Can you tell us a little about the story?

Former General Linvin Grithinshield is summoned home from the Goblin Wars after his father’s disappearance to run the family trading empire. Soon his mother is murdered and he is on the run with a price on his head. As a faceless enemy pursues him he must seek out the mythical Red Sapphire. In the proper hands it could take up the cause of many unable to fight for themselves.  In the wrong hands he fears the worst.  Together with his wise uncle and intolerable cousins, Linvin strikes out to find the all-powerful gem.  In a world with enemies from without and within, he must fight his way through the dragons in the sky and cutthroats all around to fulfill his destiny or die in the attempt.

What was the greatest challenge when writing the book?

The greatest challenge was deciding it was finished.  I must have gone through and made changes one hundred times.  At a certain point, you have to stop writing and say, “I am satisfied with my work.”  That is a very hard thing to do.

When and why did you decide writing was for you?

It really started in middle school.  I loved to enter writing contests and excelled in creative writing.  When there would be a school play the teachers would always come to me to help with the script.  It was a real thrill.

What gave you the idea for the book?

I came up with a short story with a magical stone.  My sister told me a red sapphire was really a ruby and I liked the irony. So I began the story and kept adding to it until it was a novel.

Who is your favourite character and why?

Oddly enough, I would have to say my favorite character is Bander Greenlith.  He is one of Linvin’s fraternal twin cousins and begins the book as an antagonist to Linvin.  Later it becomes apparent that Bander is a pawn in his brother’s plans and is actually a very simple-minded, heart-felt young elf.  He cares about family, telling the truth (as well as he can understand it) and above all else, eating.  Bander always is thinking with his stomach.  He is not overly clever but he does know right from wrong.  As the book develops, he begins to see through the web of lies his brother has spun around him for years.  Overall, Bander is a loveable, big, strong teddy bear who provides some of the best comic relief in the story.

How did Linvin Grinthinsheild emerge

Linvin has the good fortune to be trained by the greatest military mind in their world.  Linvin has a real problem.  He is Commander of Valia’s armies but they are pitifully small in number in comparison to the Goblin hoards.  He must rely on the superior training of his troops and military tactics to outsmart the Goblin War Chief.  As if being outnumbered is not enough of a handicap, Linvin knows that the war will likely leave his force shattered and unable to fight again for some time.  The result is that he must come up with battle plans to not only win but annihilate the Goblin Armies so they cannot threaten Valia for years.  He has brilliant strategies which took me a long time to research and create.  At the end of the day, Linvin is battered and his army is almost nonexistent, but the Goblins are wiped out and will not challenge Valia for a good while.

Any tips for aspiring authors?

Never ever give up.  When you decide your work is ready, stand by your conviction.  Not everyone will like your work.  It is a fact.  That doesn’t mean someone else won’t find it wonderful.  You only fail when you give up. 

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Synopsis from Amazon

Former General Linvin Grithinshield returns home to find his parents murdered and a price on his head. Through his wise Uncle Anvar he discovers his destiny is to find and master the legendary Red Sapphire. In his flight from danger and ensuing quest he must fight man-eating wolves, goblins, bandits, a dragon and worse of all, his cousins. Will he find the gem before the murderers do? Will he prove worthy of the gem at all? Can one half-elf truly make a difference for many?

Thanks Rival!