Thursday, August 30, 2012

Picklewiggle. The Name Alone Says It All

I just love that I do what I do.  I haven’t had a real job in forever.  Instead, I get to read, write, eat, sleep, and play with my kids all day long.  I love when all of these things come together.  They did over the last few days.  Amelia Picklewiggle’s children’s books did it for me.  I got to read them, write about them, eat treats with Abby, and play with her while she gave me her expert commentary on Tessa’s Troubles, Samuel’s Big Day, and A Day at the Circus.  The truth is, she’s too big for these books and has made her way into chapter books, spending hours devouring far more advanced stuff.  I think she’s happy for the time we spent on these ones, though.

Tessa’s Troubles tells the story of a rescued Dachshund shopping for Valentine’s Day presents with her owner, Mommy.  Abby says, “It’s a really cute dog, and dogs really are spoiled in stores.”  It’s a sweet story, and I quite enjoyed it.  I have to say that the art is playful and whimsical.  It’s a fine picture book, though I think Tessa’s troubles are far behind her by the time this book starts.  I enjoy the interactions between Mommy and Tessa, and anyone who’s ever had a rescued dog will recognize the situations.

Samuel’s Big Day tells the story of a dog waiting to be adopted and how a family chooses him from among other dogs at the fair.  Abby says, “Sammy was sad because nobody wanted him, but somebody did want him.  He just hadn’t met her yet.  Most people have somebody that want them, Dad [Somehow over the last year, I’ve become Dad instead of Daddy] and they just need to get out and find them.”  Pretty profound for an eight year old, huh?  The story is cute and heartwarming, and even though it touches on the cliché about the scruffiest or tiniest or ugliest dog getting picked, it doesn’t embrace it.  It was a great book, and any kid still in picture books will love it.

A Day at the Circus was another good one.  Abby, of course, immediately began bugging me to find a big top somewhere near us, and promptly lost interest in discussing the book.  Of course, the excitement itself was as good a vote of confidence as any quote could have been.  The art, like the other two books, is whimsical and fun, and I quite enjoyed the book and again think it would work well for younger kids.

I have seven kids, and all of them are past the point where these books will appeal to them fully.  Still, I remember reading books like these to all of them, and it’s highly likely that my oldest will be frustrated because of Picklewiggle because now I’m in all-out grandkid mode.  So come on, Zac, get off your rear, find a wife, and give me grandkids.  You, too Nate.  Nic, what’s up with that girl you took out?  Any hope for the pitter patter of little feet?  Get busy.  I want to hold little kids again (aptly named WJ after their doting grandfather.)  I’ve already got the books picked out I want to read to them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Slice of Heaven

Today, I’m fortunate to have a moment to interview Heaven Liegh Eldeen, a fine author and a remarkable person.  Get to know her.  Her story is inspiring and incredible.  I had a chance to interview her, and I’m more than glad I did.  I’ll be reviewing her book The Demon Side in a few days.

You have multiple genres and audiences.  Do you find yourself slipping into YA writing for your more mature projects, or the reverse?  Ever accidentally write an erotic scene into a YA novel and have to rewrite it?

I have a philosophy about something similar to what you’re asking. Don’t put porn in my movies and don’t put movies into my porn. If I’m writing an erotica tale, I try very hard to keep it in that genre. Last thing I want is someone expecting a YA story and getting the full Monty. So when writing my YA novels I tend to stay away from sex completely. That’s not to say there isn’t some hot make out sessions but I like to keep it clean. I have slipped up a few times with making those make out sessions too hot but the editing gods have caught me, luckily.

All that talent and beauty, too!  Heaven's Photo
Tell me your thoughts on the independent publishing movement.

I am all for it! Some of the most amazing authors and stories that I have found have been self-published works. The self-publishing world has come a long way. The bindings, the formats, the stories are everything you’d expect from a large publisher. And for those naysayers, don’t judge a book by its publisher.

Do you write full time or part time, and how do you manage it?

I have the pleasure of being what I like to refer to as being a domestic engineer or more commonly known as a housewife. People assume I have all the time in the world to write but believe me that is not the case. Between daily chores, kissing owies, and a million “Mommy, look at this” and “Hey babe, I can’t find…” it really leaves no room for writing. But, I have a found a method that works for me depending on the time of year.

When school is in, the minute I get home from taking my son to school I sit at the computer and set my timer for one hour. When that beep goes off I get up, stretch, and do the dishes. Then I sit back down, set the timer again. When it goes off, I get up, stretch and vacuum. And that continues throughout the day until it is time to pick up my prince of Bioncles. During summer vacation it’s not so easy. When possible my husband helps out a great deal. The times he can’t, well, let’s just say you have to have great junk food to bribe babysitters with.

I recommend introducing your babysitter to what I like to call ghetto chocolate fondue. Mix up a box of fudge brownie batter. Leave it in the bowl. Grab some marshmallows, strawberries, pretzels, bananas and let the bribing commence. Dip one item into that batter and let them taste it. In no time flat you have a babysitter until that batter is gone. One box usually lasts about three hours. Ha-Ha. It works every time!

Tell us about your latest book.

My young adult paranormal romance The Demon Side centers on Rahovart, a Demon banished to Earth over five hundred years ago. For centuries, he spends his free time feeding himself on the fear he creates by scaring Quantico, Virginia locals. A master of his craft, Rahovart doesn’t think twice when a new family, the Divad’s, move into the Victorian home he dwells in.

With a workaholic father, an alcoholic step-mother and a schizophrenic eighteen year old girl, the dysfunctional family unknowingly offers the perfect arsenal for Rahovart to plan his tricks. That is until he learns their daughter; Etta can not only see and hear Demons, but is already being tormented by Alastor, an incubus. What starts as a turf war between him, Alastor and the Arch Angels, soon becomes a battle deep within Rahovart of good versus evil and more importantly love versus hate.

How did you come up with titles?

I think about an aspect of the story and try to fit it in a title. When one strikes me as good, I repeat it over and over again using different voices to see how well it rolls off the tongue. And when I say different voice I mean every voice from valley girl to Yogi Bear. If it flows no matter what accent or voice I use to say it, it’s a keeper.

You’ve got a bunch of projects in the works.  Does it drive you crazy?  How do you keep up?

I am currently working on five other novels and at times it can be taxing. You have so many stories and characters in your head constantly squawking in your ear it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. But, I treat each one as if I were a hairdresser. I listen to them, then run and tell my husband everything they said.  We gossip about them as if they were real people. It helps keep them all straight and it keeps my mind busy. A busy mind is a happy mind.

Now, focus on one of the upcoming projects and give us a taste.

The Human Side (sequel in my Demon Side series) is currently in senior editing and will be releasing. I can’t tell you enough how excited I am. But I don’t want to give anything away to those who haven’t read The Demon Side. Don’t throw tomatoes at me yet! I do have another young adult paranormal suspense novel, Vineyard House currently in editing that I don’t mind sharing.

When Adesina Gower, an eighteen year old high school outcast thought life couldn’t get any worse than taking care of her Schizophrenic mother and ailing grandparents, she finds herself catapulted into a world of shape-shifting Druids, where no one; including herself, is what they appear to be.

 With the help of some unlikely friends, Adesina Gower or as she likes to be called Desi, soon finds herself being the only person that can save both the Otherworld and Earth from an evil grove of Druids known as The Defectors, who have summoned the god of the Underworld, Arawn, into the body of Desi’s estranged father.

Just as Desi begins to feel she has a handle on her abilities and everything happening around her, a wrench is thrown in the mix when Desi and her friends have to team up with The Seekers, a group of religious zealots created during the crusades for the sole purpose of eradicating Druidry all together, for a battle of the greater good versus evil.

What inspired you to be a writer?

It was a perfect storm of a multitude of events. It seemed all in one day the stars aligned and a writer had been born. My husband loves horror flicks. I absolutely hate watching scary movies. I do okay with the slasher films such as Friday the 13th and Halloween. However, movies that deal with the unseen, ghosts, and entities, flip me out! It doesn’t matter that I know the movies are completely fake and improbable. I can’t help but run through my house, turning on every light, screaming for my husband to hold my hand while I relieved my bladder during a commercial break. Of course, the jokester my husband is, never resisted cracking a few jokes about what a pansy I am or attempts to scare the poo out of me on our way back to our recliners.

Tired of pranks and jokes, I built a self-defense mechanism in my head. I keep my eyes on the television but send my brain into La-La Land. Well, they have scary monster in La-La Land too. Lucky for me, I set the rules for that amusement park.

Short story longer, one evening I snuggle into my hubby as he turns on what is not just a scary movie, but the worse kind of scary movie, one about demons and ghosts attacking you in your sleep. How do you defend against that? You can’t. So, my defenses raise and off goes my brain to stand in line at the tea cups, when suddenly a Demon stands in line behind him.

Being the cordial little guy, my ball of pink spaghetti happens to be, he strikes up a conversation with the mortifying beast. Next thing I know, Rahovart, Etta, John, Alastor, The Arches and Rene are at the snack bar, stuffing their faces with nachos, sucking down lemonade and trading stories back and forth while I sit in the background typing every word that passes between them.

Who is your favorite character in your books? Why?

The four main characters in my novella The Demon Side are all tied as my favorite. Each one represents a different part of me on my journey from the gutter to being a productive member of society. Rahovart the Demon is, well, all of my Demons. Etta is my innocence and strength. John is my fight and stubbornness. And Rene is my ignorance.

Tell us about the hardest challenge you had to overcome in writing?

The hardest challenge has to be not listening to those who said I couldn’t do it. Doubt and fear are easy seeds to plant. But you can’t nurture those even if they may be the easiest to grow.

What advice would you give to a writer just starting out?

Never…ever…never…ever give up! Make and Google your homepages! And remember, the scales of success can only be measured by what you put in them.

Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?

I have so many! I read mostly true crime novels, but dabble in a few other genres as well. If I narrowed the list down, I would have to say my favorites are, Ann Rule, Harold Schechter, Katie Harper, Benjamin Russell, Tina Folsom, Davee Jones, Ashley Robertson, Ciar Cullen, Richelle Mead, Bianca Sommerland and Kelley Armstrong. I can go on and on, but I doubt you want me taking up that much time.

How did you deal with rejection letters?

Oh that’s easy. I throw them away. A rejection letter doesn’t mean I didn’t write a great story. It simply means it wasn’t for them. And every no I get is one step closer to a yes.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

You must hone in on your gossiping skills. I’m not saying start running around talking about everyone in your personal life. But when you have more than one book in your head or a plethora of characters, being a great gossiper makes getting it all down on paper much easier.  Think of your characters as real people and you want to give your readers all dirt on them.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?

No laughing! My husband and I made paper swords, sheet togas, and cardboard wings. We fought around my living room for a few hours to make sure all the movements for a battle scene were right and possible. Of course as luck would have it, our blinds were open and now our neighbors think we’re more than a little off of our rockers.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Whole Lot of Blood for a Book Called "Bloodless"

How's that for a kick ass cover image?
I feel like I've been in hibernation over the last year.  Lots of family issues came up, the scariest of which was the diagnosis of cancer for my favorite nephew, Michael.  (Okay, I love all my niece's and nephews the same.  That was just an attempt to find out if any of my non-immediate family reads my blog.)  But everything is worked out now, including what appears to be full remission for Mike; so I figured it was time to take my blogs seriously again, and I'm back at it. Wow...what a book to start with.  Jody  R. LaGreca and Michael McCarty have produced a very good novel.  I received a pre-publication copy since it comes out in October, but you should definitely keep an eye out for it on J.R. LaGreca's Amazon Page.

I'm amazed.  Every time I'm tempted to believe the vampire genre has been completely played out, somebody comes along and proves me wrong.  In this case, two somebodies have done a fabulous job knocking me on the head with a literary hammer just to tell me, "Shut up, Rosser--there's a hell of a lot more to explore with the bloodsuckers."  This is a great book with a fine storyline and lots of excitement and fun.  It's cool enough that I'm terrified I'll be throwing out spoilers left and right, so I'm going to be very careful.

I like the way the authors write.  That's generic and non-spoiling, right?  Of course, when both authors are lauded in the writing community, what did I expect?  (I mean really lauded, too, with Bram Stoker nominations, and real industry recognition.  Read some of LaGreca's poetry and you'll figure out why.)  As an example of the clear but sensual writing, take a look at this excerpt:

Dressed in a black satin gown, its sheen reflected the melodrama of night, which
loomed as a backdrop all around her. Whether it was a nightgown or a slip looked uncertain. The
one sure thing remained; Annie’s shapely form looked liquid as it shimmered with sensuality.
There was no mistaking her intent. Her breasts swelled upward generously and her blonde hair
looked luminous against her glowing eyes. They shone with an electric power, which stopped
both men dead in a draw.
In a plea of surrender the men looked at her, only to notice she held a serving of
strawberry parfait in her slender hands. She spoke again in a sultry voice, pitted in the valley of
the undead, a voice that could steal hearts like a thief of dreams.

So you already get that this book is loaded with eroticism and deep sensual language.  Don't take that to mean that it's one of those swooning "Vampires are misunderstood sex toys, not killing machines" books.  The undercurrent of undead danger is clear throughout the book.  I'm not saying you don't root for the bloodsuckers, you do.  It's erotic and romantic; but it's also horrific.

Alright...if I write any more, I'm going to give things away.  Keep your eye out for the book and pick it up in October.  You'll be glad you did.