Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mayra Calvani and Frederico,The Mouse Violinist

They say the publishing world is a small universe. I've found this to be true. Those who stick around become familiar to each other. Names chime memory bells and when we're all together for a conference, the number of familiar faces grows tenfold. Mayra Calvani is one of those people for me. She is a generous, wonderful person who often reviews books for upcoming authors, seemingly out of the blue. She did this for me, for my novel, My Biker Bodyguard. Her review was one of the first I got when I started out and I've never forgotten this.

When I recently joined Virtual Blog Tour (VBT) Writer's on the Move, I discovered Mayra was a member there, to my delight. Turns out, she's just had a fabulous kid's book published. Well, I was thrilled to return her favor and offered to reveiw the book. Today, I'm dedicating my blog to her and the book, Frederico The Mouse Vilonist. Please enjoy this very special post! ;)

Frederico is a little mouse with a big dream: he wants to become a violinist. Each day he watches as Stradivari makes his famous violins. Each night, he sneaks into the workshop to play. But the violins are too big! Then, unbeknown to Frederico, Stradivari sees him playing and begins carving a tiny device. Could it be a famous Strad especially for Frederico?
Frederico, the Mouse Violinist, teaches the parts of the violin to beginner players and entertains them with a fun, educational story about a little mouse that lives in Antonio Stradivari’s workshop. Activities at the end of the book included.

“A little mouse transports us into Antonio Stradivari’s magical workshop…Frederico conveys to us his love for the violin, while he introduces us to this marvelous instrument. Lovely tribute to a genius, whose exceptional instruments have delighted us for 300 years!”—Dorina Raileanu, violin teacher, author of the Dorina Violin Method

“Frederico’s story is adorable and touching. I’m sure it will entertain many children, teach them a few things about the violin—and who knows, perhaps even give them the desire to learn to play!”—Francine Engels, Suzuki violin teacher

My Review:
Frederico the Mouse Violinist by Mayra Calvani is a delightful story. I expected a fun read, but instead, found an enjoyable and educational story. Calvani hits that magical note where learning becomes exciting. The mouse is adorable as he discovers every part of the violin and when the famous Stradivari creates a gift just for our favorite furry friend, the reader feels the mouse’s joy. This is a book for the keeper shelf. Frederico the Mouse will become every young violinist’s favorite book and become the inspiration for others to play a violin of their own.

About the author:
Mayra Calvani is an award-winning author for children and adults. Her love for the violin has inspired her to pen multiple violin stories for children, among them The Magic Violin and the forthcoming, The Doll Violinist. Visit her website at www.mayrassecretbookcase.com. You may also contact her at mayra.calvani@gmail.com.

Frederico, the Mouse Violinist
By Mayra Calvani
Illustrated by K.C. Snider
Guardian Angel Publishing
Available on Amazon, B&N, Powells, and most online retailers.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Extreme Hauntings #3-Detour 2 Death

Hello all my readers! :) I've got a special sneak preview of Detour 2 Death to share with you. Enjoy the read!

Book #1: DFF: Dead Friends Forever
Book #2: School's Out 4-Ever
Book #3: Detour 2 Death

Chapter One

In her dreams, Kaylee walked a vast landscape of twisted trees and red sand. The wind pulled at her hair and filled every crease of exposed skin with grit. She squinted toward the familiar squeak of tortured, metal wheels. Davey. Her best friend suffered in this place, his wheelchair melded to his lower half. From one dune to the next, the wind took every sound in a different direction. He could be anywhere.

Up ahead, beyond a swirling veil of dust, the sound came again. A dark shadow, close to the ground, crawled toward her. She sprinted to his side. Davey’s dirty, sweaty hair stuck to his forehead. With hands covered in tattered cloth, he pulled himself across the hot sand. A black twisted tree dipped its dead branches toward them.

Sun beat on her, drawing sweat from her scalp. He saw her and brightened with a short-lived smile. She dropped to her knees and cupped his face. As her hands touched him, he turned to ash. The wind made him a cremation snowfall, spreading him in every direction, far beyond her reach. Ash blackened her hands. Davey covered her trembling fingers and landed on her eyelashes. She blinked, scrambling to gather the burnt tissues together, to make him whole, to heal him.

Too late, Reason, the small voice in the back of her mind, said. He’s gone and it’s all your fault. You left him there and now he’s dead.

Her sobs built, one on top of the other. Not Davey. Never Davey. Hands fisted, she pounded the dirt, her tears turning the sand to mud. She turned her face to the sky and screamed.

The panic from her dream followed her awake. Her pulse thundered. Where was she?

"Jesus," Vincent said. "You nearly gave me a heart attack. You okay?"

“Sorry.” The screams left her throat raw. She rode in a truck, a semi, with Vincent, the driver who picked her up back in Duluth. Her mouth tasted of the false heat blowing from the semi's vents. The dash lights illuminated the night-dark cab. Snowflakes blew vertically into the windshield.

"Bad dreams, huh?" His attention remained on the road, hands tight on the wheel. “Weather’s pickin’ up out there. I’m a good listener, though, if you feel the need to talk it out of your system.”

Kaylee shook her head. The winter coat she wore belonged to a dying woman. Now she really was a thief, a criminal, a crook. All the stuff they said about her, thought about her, came true. Before all this angel and demon business, she had been a law-abiding citizen. Maybe not the best or most popular, but definitely a girl with a future. The ghosts robbed her of that. Only one blessing might make up for it all. If she could help Davey, save him somehow, then this would all be worth the sacrifices.

She unzipped the jacket. What happened back at the girl's reform school couldn't possibly have happened just a few hours ago. Time felt suspended, as if the real world existed beyond a sheer pane of glass. Even Vincent, smelling of wet winter wool and French fries, could be a ghost if she didn’t know how freaky those things were.

“You sure you don’t want to talk?” He glanced at her then, his baseball cap popped back on his head to show warm eyes.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“I don’t know about that. I was young once. Though I wasn’t a girl, but I can guess it’s something we all have to deal with now and again.”

Uh, she didn’t think so.

“C’mon, it’ll pass the time.”

She sighed. “I dreamed about a friend of mine. He’s…was in trouble and I couldn’t help him. I got there too late.”

“Now what wouldn’t I believe about that? Everyone has someone they wish they could have helped. I’m sure your friend knows you will do what you can to help him.”

“I hope so,” she whispered. A sign read Marsden five miles ahead. They were almost there. She straightened in her seat, watching out the window. “I don’t know what I would do without him.”

“Oh, so he’s more than just a friend?”

“No, no. Not at all. Just friends. We grew up next door to each other, is all. It’s not like that. He’s in a wheelchair.”

“So you don’t like guys in wheelchairs?” He softened the question with a sideways grin.

“That’s not what I mean.” She smiled. “We’re just friends.”

“Yep, that’s what they all say.”

She chuffed. “Really, we are. Just friends.”

“Whatever you say, kiddo. See, passed the time just fine, didn’t it?” Vince flipped on his blinker and eased toward the freeway exit. A blue sign with a white H flashed past. "Won't be long now. Just a few blocks up the road. I'm sure your ma will be happy to see you. But you gotta promise me, no more hitching. A pretty girl like you could end up dead or worse."

"I promise." Unsure if Vince would be as eager to give her a ride to see a boy, she had lied and told him her mother was in the hospital. Back in Duluth, she knew when he would exit the freeway to get gas, knew he would take her to Marsden Memorial, knew Fate or Destiny or God, or whatever had its fingers in her life, sent him for her. She knew this the same way she knew things about people she loved, people she didn’t know…people who were dead. Psychic or witch or descended from angels, she couldn’t tell for sure one way or another. She only knew Davey needed her.

As they passed through downtown Marsden, familiar stores appeared strange in the falling snow at this time of night. They passed Madame Maggie's with the large neon hand hanging dark in the window. They passed Schmidt’s jewelry and the library. The hospital loomed large and bright beyond the darkened buildings.

Davey, I’m almost there. Hang on.

“Your town sure rolls up the sidewalk early.”

“Not much to do around here. Mom says it’s better that way. Less chance a kid can get into trouble.” If she only knew, Kaylee thought.

The semi's engine grunted as Vincent switched gears. Kaylee imagined glass storefronts shattering from the vibration. Everything remained in tact, and Vince pulled to a stop at the back of the hospital’s parking lot. The engine settled down to a distinctive grumble.

"Zip up. It's toasty in here, but out there, you'll catch your death." Vince nodded to the blowing snow. "Your ma wouldn't want you getting sick just on account of her."

Kaylee zipped the coat. "Thank you for the ride."

"My pleasure," Vince said, sticking out his hand.

She took his hand. The world tilted and images flickered high speed across her inner eye. A porch with a rocking chair, overgrown willows on a dirt road, a fish swimming in river water, skinned knees and tanned legs, a red bike with a rusted fender, all of this came on the sensation of old fashioned goodness. As she let go, an indefinable shadow clouded the warmth of those images. She put her hand on the door. She didn’t understand fully why she did a lot of things lately and this was another of those times. Kaylee said, “You’re a good guy, Vincent. Don’t let anything change that."

He grinned a little sheepishly. "Will do. You take care, kid. I don't want to see your face on the side of a milk carton one day. Keep that promise, okay?"

“Okay.” She opened the door and hopped down. She waved and slammed the door, stepping backward and burying her hands inside the deep pockets. The difference in temperature was startling. The semi rumbled back into gear and wobbled toward the exit. She faced the hospital, the six floors of glass and concrete and brick. In the whirling snow and whistling wind, the building seemed shrouded with foreboding. Any second now she expected to hear a ghoulish voice tell her to turn back, turn back before it’s too late. A line from some movie, she thought, about a girl beginning a journey into an unknown, dangerous labyrinth.

Kaylee stepped across the snow banks and headed for the emergency entrance to the hospital. She grimaced against the wind-driven flakes and kept her eye on the red emergency sign. How would she get inside? The last time she was there, after a mishap on her skateboard, a security guard manned the entrance and nurses worked a reception desk. They weren’t going to let her just walk inside, would they? Maybe they would.

Whatever messed up her whole life had a plan of its own. If that thing wanted her to get to Davey, somehow, someway, she would get into the hospital before he…got too sick. Her throat swelled closed a little, thinking of him in her nightmare. He suffered so much, but worse, he suffered all alone. Everyone might think they knew what it meant to be in a wheelchair, even she could try to understand, yet no one could know unless they had to live that way.

The doors opened as she approached. The vents between the outer doors and the inner doors blasted her face with heated air and she smelled that hot, desert place once more. Her ears burned from the change in temperature. A video camera, mounted in the corner, blinked a red light at her. She furtively glanced into the lens, realizing too late she should have hid her face. How long did she have before they knew she left Duluth? They could already be looking for her. If they put out one of those Amber Alert things, Vincent would let the police know where she was. Funny, she didn’t mind him giving her up as much as she minded upsetting him once he found out she lied.

That was the problem with good guys. They made you feel guilty if you weren’t as good as they were. Thinking about being bad, what would they do once they found out she skipped out on her sentence? The court ordered her to attend Barclay Hall. That made her a real outlaw, didn’t it? On the lam and she just turned fifteen.

To her surprise, the emergency room was deserted. No patients waited to be seen and no one manned the front desk. She strolled right on in, like they put out the red carpet just for her. Looking left to right for any oncoming security guards, her hyper-awareness picked up absolutely nothing. No sounds, no voices, not even a ringing phone. Her sneakers squeaked on the tile floors as she scurried down the hall and into the rest of the hospital. She peered around corners, growing more frightened by the minute. Where did everyone go?

When Davey first got sick, they put him in the pediatric wing with all the little kids. Since he had the same doctor, he must be in the same place. Near the elevator, she heard voices, finally and dashed for the sign marking the stairs. Part terrified they would catch her before she got to Davey, and part relieved this wasn’t some sort of alternate dimension, she hurried up the stairs.
On the second floor, the lights were all so low, that unless someone looked directly for her, she blended into the shadows. The dying woman's boring grey coat helped. If she wore red or leopard print or something wild like that, they would spot her for sure.

On the right floor and in the right place, she only needed to find Davey's room. She paused, inhaled deeply, and reeled out that sense, that little thread she could send out into the world when she concentrated. She pushed it down the hall, searching for Davey’s essence. Nothing down there. She turned the opposite way. Nothing again.

This is stupid, she thought, who do I think I am? Super Psychic Woman to the rescue? Maybe she needed to be locked up in her dad’s loony bin. She opened her eyes as a familiar sense slid in and out of her notice, the way a fleeting scent gives the expectation of a seeing the person who wears the cologne. She closed her eyes again and aimed that thread in the same direction. There. She knew then, absolutely knew with complete certainty that he was in the third room from the end.

Just in view of the nurse’s station.

Kaylee took a silent breath and braced herself. She started down the hall, moving slow and keeping her eye on the end of the counter. If a nurse came into view, she would freeze. If the nurse looked like she might head toward Kaylee, she would duck into the nearest room, hope the patient inside would stay fast asleep, and she wouldn't have to worry about freaking out some sick kid.

Her back to the wall, she slid closer to Davey's room. Halfway there, at an open door, movement inside the room caught her eye. Something shifted in the darkness, something furtive and not particularly human. Her lungs froze and her heart skipped a beat. Eyes wide, she held absolutely still and waited for the movement to repeat itself. When nothing happened, she exhaled—and saw her breath form in the air.

Not good. Not good. Not good at all.

By sheer force, she managed to sidestep away, her stare intent on where the potential threat came from. In her experience, ghosts were the least of her worries. The things that trapped them here, on earth, were far more frightening. Demons and monsters loved to keep a spirit at unrest. She couldn't risk getting distracted by the thing in this room when Davey needed her so badly.

Kaylee came for Davey, not some stranger. Fate, or whoever, owed her this much. She did what they expected of her, to her own detriment. She freed the ghost girl Isabelle and defeated the demon Asmodeus. She freed the ghost children at Barclay Hall and defeated the monster feeding on their souls. Her turn to use whatever power she had inside her, to help someone she…

Loved. Love, just say it, Reason, said in that practical manner. Reason didn't play games and shot holes in every theory Kaylee tried to trick herself into believing. Her father, Sir Shrinks-a-lot, would have called it her conscience. To her, it was just Reason. The practical part of her mind that didn't pussy-foot around.

So okay, yeah, she loved Davey. Did she love him like a brother, though? At seven, she once promised to marry him when they grew up. He thought it was sort of gross and from then on, they were just friends. Only lately, it didn't feel like that. Not since his voice deepened and he got taller than her. When he stood for those few moments between transferring from his wheelchair to another seat, his height amazed her. They used to see eye-to-eye, now it was more like eye-to-chin.

Once she got into his hospital room, he didn't look very big at all. He seemed shrunken somehow, like they drained him out and left just a husk. His damp hair fell back from his forehead and his olive skin looked deathly. His dark brows and heavy lashes were black slashes on a pale face. His lips were papery, cracked. A small light above his bed burned low.

Kaylee eased the door closed behind her, holding the handle to keep the snick of full closure barely audible. Walking carefully, she went around his bed. Another bed, this one against the far wall, sat empty, to her relief. The last time he had been in the hospital, a burned boy who whimpered and cried all the time shared a room with him. The pitiful mewling always made her feel guilty about how good it felt to leave that sound behind.

Davey breathed so quietly, she barely detected the rise and fall of his chest. His hands lay limp at his sides. His upper arms and shoulders were broad, tapering to a slender waist that ended in slimmer legs. Even with physical therapy, the muscles of his legs had atrophied. From the waist up, however, he was built—mostly from all the effort it took to negotiate a world with a wheelchair. She wished the strength in his upper body meant he would be okay.

Just be okay, Davey. Just be okay.

She gently touched his hand and watched for any sign her cool fingers registered on him, any twitch, any awakening, but he lay unmoving. Though the fear of what she might discover made her shake all over, she sent out that probing thing. She snapped her hand away, stumbling backward. Tears pricked her eyes and she covered her mouth with a trembling hand.

He isn’t there.

Davey had checked out, gone away, left the shell of himself behind and fled the scene. Her heart thudded heavier and heavier against her ribs. This wasn’t like with the head mistress of Barclay Hall, where she couldn't get any sort of read at all. This time, she felt no remnants of a personality she knew as well as her own.

A black void filled Davey, so cold and horrible, the iciness left her breathless.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chillin' with Martin Bartloff

Please welcome Martin Bartloff to my blog :)

House of Fear

Although you’re not really in the mood, you decide to turn on the radio or television. Turn on a couple more lights in the house ‘cause your friends just left and you find yourself all alone at home. Nobody else is there and you just have to kill a few hours before your parents or brother comes home.

You’re trying to watch TV, but your skin begins to prickle and your heart beats a few extra beats than it should. You pretend everything is just fine, however it’s not. You listen past the sound of the radio, and you hear a strange noise coming from somewhere downstairs. Your chest throbs and a cold shiver creeps up your spine.

You know you’re not completely by yourself at home because something is watching you and you’re not just imagining this. You wish you could tell somebody, but what would be the use, they’ll just think you’re a scared little kid and probably, by the time somebody gets home, you’re way too relieved to give it any more thought. You just don’t want to think about it anymore. Not ever again.

You guessed it!! I’m a firm believer of ghosts, spirits and whatever else creeps in the dark or hovers between the heavens and earth. What sets me apart from the average scaredy pants is that I could take a walk in a cemetery in the middle of the night or walk down a dark alley and neither would bother me. But, I remember coming home in the dark from a friend’s house while my mom and my brother went off to visit Grandma for a couple of hours and I would NOT go in the house. You may understand now why there are a few scenes in Torn From Normal where Andy is running out of the house.

Many of my fears and feelings as a teenager end up in my writings and my very next YA novel will entail many more clues to my childhood. I grew up living in two old houses. We moved to the second when I was nine. The house was haunted and even today, when I travel to Germany and drive by the old place, it spooks me out and I wonder what the owner might go through. Much like Andy I ran out of that house, one time even in the brought daylight.

I’d love to hear your scary-house stories and I hope I encouraged you enough to share some with me. I will stop back in through the night and share some of mine. Be aware though, when you hear the things that happen to me, you will know for certain that ghosts exist.

Martin H. Bartloff, born and raised in Werl, Germany adapted quickly when he immigrated to the United States in August of 1991. Being the youngest of five brothers, he ventured out to explore the United States after he finished trade school back home.

Martin worked hard for a few years, trying to establish dreams and goals he had since childhood. After a few years of hard work in the United States Martin opened his first own automotive business.

A decade later Martin decided he wasn’t challenged enough and turned to writing fiction novels. His debut novel, “Torn From Normal” was released in December of 2009. Martin’s next YA novel is already in the making.

Thank you so very much for sharing, Martin! :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The No Holds Barred Nancy Holzner

So excited to have Nancy Holzner with us today. I'm nearly finished with Deadtown and it's awesome!

Nancy Holzner is the author of the Deadtown urban fantasy series. Hellforged, the second book in the series, releases Decmber 28.

When a mysterious plague hit Boston, turning two thousand of its residents into sentient zombies, the quarantine zone became Deadtown, home (by law) to Boston's paranormals. It's also home to Victory Vaughn, a shapeshifter who kills other
people's personal demons for a living. In Deadtown, Vicky does battle with the Hellion who killed her father. In Hellforged, Vicky struggles to protect her friends and prevent a long-lost relative from unleashing an ancient power more terrifying—and deadly—than anything she's encountered before.

You can read the first chapter of Deadtown here and the first chapter of Hellforged here.

What Is Urban Fantasy, Anyway?

Back in 2006, when I began the novel that would become Deadtown, I thought I had a clear idea of what urban fantasy was. If anyone had asked me, I would've said that an urban fantasy is a gritty action/adventure story set in a recognizable contemporary (or near-future) city, incorporating paranormal elements such as vampires, werewolves, and magic. Simple enough.

Except “simple enough” often leads to oversimplification. The first urban fantasy novels I encountered—Laurell K. Hamilton's early Anita Blake novels, Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, and Kim Harrison's Hollows series—all fit that definition well enough. But as I expanded my reading in the genre, I fo
und great books that didn't quite fit my simple definition. Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse novels are set in a small town, not a big city. MaryJanice Davidson's Queen Betsy series has a strong chick-lit feel. Jeaniene Frost, Anya Bast, Yasmine Galenorn, and other authors bring in a strong romance element.

The more I read, the more I came to see urban fantasy as a dynamic genre that's always pushing its own envelope. Because it's so diverse, it appeals to readers of many other genres: fans of mystery, thrillers, romance, chick lit, and horror can all find something they'll like in urban fantasy. And because the genre keeps evolving, it doesn't get stale.

Recently, the genres of horror and romance have had a strong effect on urban fantasy. The influence of horror has led to some edgier, darker-tinged urban fantasy novels, including such series as Signs of the Zodiac (Vicki Pettersson), Downside Ghosts (Stacia Kane), and Twenty Palaces (Harry Connelly). Some readers say that urban fantasy and paranormal romance have become the same thing, but I still draw a line between these two genres. The way I see it, urban fantasy's primary focus is on fighting the bad guys or averting disaster, while paranormal romance gives equal or greater weight to the protagonist's love life. But even when romance isn't the primary focus, urban fantasy often has a touch of romance—as it should, since relationships are part of a well-rounded character's life.

Having a sense of the different genres and subgenres is helpful when you walk into a bookstore looking for something new to try. If you know you like romance or mystery, for example, you know which section you want to browse. But genre is a guide, not a straitjacket. These days, when I open an urban fantasy novel I want paranormal elements and a fast-moving plot with high stakes. The other genre elements that an author brings to the mix is what keeps urban fantasy fresh.

How do you define urban fantasy? Has your definition of the genre changed over time?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Wiley Jen Wylie

Today I'm turning the blog over to a really awesome lady! :)

Thanks to Jenny for hosting me on her most wonderful blog! She has asked me to share my inspiration for my upcoming titles, so here goes...

Jump -Official Release date Dec 15 2010 (Available now for pre-order at All Romance)

If you were told to jump off of a bridge would you? Perhaps it would depend on who was doing the asking. Our heroine has spunk, a sense of humor, however suffers from an extreme case of inappropriate clothing. When things take a turn from dangerous to worse what will she do when fantasy becomes reality? Warning: May include hot leather clad men, singing and demons.

My short story Jump I wrote in just a couple of days. The idea came after I'd been talking to my parents on the phone, and gotten a few lectures. :) Though “If someone asked you to jump off a bridge would you?” wasn't one of them, for some reason that phrase popped into my head and the story was born. I was in a rather silly, sarcastic mood at the time, which lent to the humorous aspects of the story.

The Forgotten Echo-Release date March 1 2011

Sometimes death is only the beginning…After a bad day Cassy is surprised to find her self shot, an innocent bystander in a drive by shooting. Bleeding to death in an empty parking lot she knows she is going die. What she doesn’t expect is the arrival of a strange, yet gorgeous, man who tells her he can keep her from passing on in return for being his forever. In desperation she agrees but afterwards she is beyond dismayed to discover she has died. To make matters worse the stranger has disappeared. Her spirit wanders, afraid and alone until she meets another like her and she discovers she’s not a ghost at all but something much more.

This short story was also written in just two days. Day one I wrote over 7500 words. The idea for this story came from the line of a song and grew from there. While writing this story I did some of my back and forth writing, starting with once scene and then building around it. Luckily this works for me! :) The title for this one has changed quite a bit over time, but I am quite happy with it now!
My debut novel Sweet Light due out in 2011 was actually written quite a few years ago. It is the first book I finished (and didn't lose to a computer crash!) Sweet Light and its sequel, Dark Madness, were originally one book. When I decided to give getting it published a go I realized the word count was way too high, so I cut it in half. The story has changed quite a bit over years of edits and more edits. I honestly don't remember how I originally got the idea. I am quite a romantic, so the love stories certainly stemmed from there. I'm also a pessimist, and that is why things rarely go right for my poor characters! An interesting side note, my favourite character Dric didn't even exist in the first version. He came to me in a dream and demanded to be added.

For the most part no matter where my initial idea comes from, something said, a song or whatever, before I write the scene appears in my head first, like a movie. Sometimes I'll let it stew for a while until it seems just right, and then will let my fingers fly.

Visit Jen at her website or at her blog.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Amazing Vivian Zabel

Hello everyone,

Please welcome my guest today, the award-winning author Vivian Zabel. She is the author of Stolen, an emotionally charged, fictionalized account about the kidnapping of her two grandchildren.

"Based on a true story, Zabel conveys much of the agony and utter despair that is evoked from having a father steal his children from their mother." Karen Cioffi

When troubles and tragedies steal the joy and happiness from life,
a person has two choices: to rebuild and find a way to continue living or to give up.
Torri faces adversity after adversity and finds a way to reconstruct her life.
However, when the most drastic tragedy hits,
she doesn't know if she can continue or not.

The inspiration for Stolen came from the fear, frustration, and pain caused by two of my grandchildren being taken by their father. For over 12 years, we didn’t know where they were, if they were all right, even if they lived or not. Very scary.
I couldn’t make the book nonfiction because some details would open me up for lawsuits, breaches between people dear to me, or hurt someone else. The events and details I did use were ones that allowed the despair and heartache to show as well as the helplessness, without causing more problems. Some details were true: such as the scribbles on the wall, dreaming one or both the children were hurt, running to check beds which were still empty, etc. I kept journals where I wrote messages to the kids for about the first six or seven years. I can’t find them now, and I do wish I could. Also we had stacks of Christmas presents put back for them for the first five years. We finally began to give those presents to Faris’ and Yameen’s nephew and nieces. However, I still have the huge stuffed lion the two loved to use for a pillow.

In February 2007, I opened an email and read, “I think you’re my grandmother.” Finally, we knew the two lived.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with my blog, Vivian. Thank you too, for the opportunity to be entered into your contest:
3 Contests For Bloggers:
1. The host with the most comments from different visitors will receive a hard copy ARC.
2. Send Vivian an email with a possible ending to the novel and two winners will receive an ARC.
3. Anyone not hosting a blog stop but who promotes the novel will have a chance to win an ARC. (ARC means Advance Reader Copy). Just email Vivian with the url to the promotion.Email Vivian at vivian@viviangilbertzabel.com Note: Winners of hard copy ARCs must have a U.S. address. Anyone outside the U.S. who wins will receive a PDF ARC.
I wish you all the very best, Vivian!


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Ever Inspirational Sean Hayden

Everyone, please give Sean Hayden a great big warm welcome!

by Sean Hayden

Everyone who’s a writer, a reader, or one of the multitudes of gluttons for punishment who work in publishing will tell you that writing books is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. What they never take into consideration is that without that 1% to spark the fire, all the perspiration in the world won’t get that novel planned, written, and published. I consider inspiration to be the pilot light on the stove of writing. Try bakin’ brownies without one. All you’ll end up with is goop.

Inspiration can come in many forms. What most people forget is that in writing you need two inspirations. Before you even need to consider finding an inspiration for a story, you need to find that one thing most important to you that will inspire you to write. Most people will tell you it’s because they have a story to tell. This is true to an extent, but every person in the world has a story to tell. So set that one aside and think about why exactly do you want to be a writer? Do you want fame? Do you want fortune? Do the words starving artist mean anything to you? Next time you meat an author, ask them what their day job is. If they answer author, congratulations! You’ve just met one of the .01%!

Now I know what you’re thinking. Okay, Mr. Smartypants, what inspired you to write? C’mon, I’m right, that’s what you were thinking. The truth is, I DON’T FRIGGIN KNOW! HA! I do know one thing, it wasn’t any ONE thing. I write for several reasons, and to list them all would take more megabits than I’m allotted for this post. So tell you what, I’ll give you my TOP INSPIRATIONS for being an author. Deal?

1. I’ve read sooo many books and after closing the cover thought, “Damn, I could do better than that. So I wanted to prove it to myself.

2. My kids telling people I am an author. Probably the best feeling in the world.

3. Hope. Anybody who tells you they don’t want to be famous is a friggin liar! I wanna be famous, but I just have realistic expectations.

4. My parents. Mom, Dad, I’m a fiberoptic engineer. Mom, Dad, I wrote a book and it’s being published. Which conversation do you think made them more proud?

5. Wanting to hold it in my hands. (My book you perv)
Okay, that about covers the inspirations for writing, let’s move on shall we?

Where do inspirations for stories come from? Are you DAFT? LOOK AROUND YOU! No, seriously. Look around you. Stories, and I mean every stinking genre of books out on the market, can be inspired by the strangest of things at the strangest of times. Think about it. You’re walking down the street licking a strawberry and vanilla ice cream cone when lo and behold! You almost step on a grasshopper. What if that grasshopper wasn’t a grasshopper? What if that grasshopper was really an automaton specifically created by your arch-nemesis Doctor Von Ricktenstein sent to steal your formula for Nutty Nougat Bars? HMMMMM? “What If’s” are the greatest inspirations you will EVER find.

I know, I’m crazy, but now you get it don’t you? Uh huh. I thought so.

I’ve written several books, have several more around the midpoint range, and several short stories, and I can tell you, the inspirations for them came from the simplest of daily routines.
The other thing that REALLY works for me is lying in bed. Yep. Bed. Loves me some sleep, but lying in bed just before you fall asleep, staring up at the dimly lit ceiling, and letting your mind wander is a DANGEROUS THING. Dangerous, and frigging awesome for getting not only inspirations for stories, but also running in tangents. If I have my character do this, then this will happen, but WHAT IF they do this instead? See?

My point (yes, I have one) is let your mind wander. Question EVERYTHING. Look for the WHAT IF’s in everything. Pick your child up from school and ask yourself, WHAT IF this school is really a top secret government institution for testing psychic ability enhancing curriculum and pharmaceuticals? Next time you’re in the pet store buying a briny shrimp and a chocolate tipped starfish ask yourself, WHAT IF these are really aquatic sea creatures, but rather fiberoptic camera enhanced bionic sea creatures planted by aliens to study day to day human behavioral patterns? If you start doing this everywhere, you will find the fodder for endless stories, countless novels, or end up wearing a white jacket with extra longs sleeves that cuff in the back.

Born in the suburbs of Chicago, he moved to the frigid arctic climes of south east Florida as a small child. The son of a fireman and a proofreader (that’s what they had before spellcheck) he fell in love with reading at a young age. When he hit the age of 35 he wrote his first novel, an urban fantasy about vampires and demons entitled Origins. Unsatisfied with one novel, he penned the sequel Deceptions and both titles of the Demonkin Series will be available from Echelon Press soon.

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