Monday, September 24, 2012

Author Spotlight...presenting the fabulous Jo Ellis!


(JLD) We are very, very lucky to have a certified best-selling author with us today! Joanne Ellis is perhaps best known for her best-selling novel Spoilt, but she's got a lot more than one book in her! Welcome, Joanne! Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? What do you do for a living?

(JE) I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia where I have lived most of my life, except for the six years I lived in the capital of Australia, Canberra.  I have two school aged children, a cat and two guinea pigs.  I am a bookkeeper by trade but find it isn’t really what I want to do, it simply pays the bills. I’m currently studying floristry and hope to move into this when I’ve finished at the end of next year. Of course, I would love to make a living from writing too, but my second love, after writing, would be flowers. I’m finding an artistic flair for it and the class is lots of fun! Seems I am creative in many ways. ;)

(JLD) What started your writing career?

(JE)  I always wanted to start but wasn’t sure I ‘had it in me’, so when I went through a difficult time in my life, I decided I’d try and see what I could do. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and found when I opened the door, the ideas flooded in. I just wish I had more time to do it. Writing has become my release, my solace, and I love to fall in love with my characters each time.

(JLD) What is the name of your book and what is it about? What did you want to accomplish when you wrote it?

(JE) I have several. Spoilt is a romantic suspense about a series of murders and the love story between Lucas, a detective, and Chelsea, who is a part of the investigation. It is the first in a series of four. The second, Twisted Fire, is about Charlotte, Chelsea’s sister and follows on from where Spoilt left off.  It involves arson, murder and a serious, yet dashing fire fighter! ;) The third, Womaniser, will be out within the next few months. My stray away from suspense to paranormal, aimed at YA readers, Folk Law is due out soon. I also write under a pen name and have one novel released under this name. Spoilt was my first, so I’ll talk about that as far as what I wanted to accomplish, at first, I just wanted to start and see how I would go. Once I’d written down a basic start point, characters and plot, I then started. Within two weeks the first draft, albeit short draft, was completed and I started on the next. It took me about two years of work to ‘finish’ before I signed with Night Publishing (Now Taylor Street Books). When I had a few more first drafts written, I decided to find out what I could accomplish, this is when I joined authonomy.com. I learnt a lot from this experience and I have come a long way since then and I still have a way to go!

(JLD) Is there a character you identify with? Who is your least favorite character and why?

(JE)I guess I identify a little with a combination of two characters thus far. Again Chelsea (who is a florist) and Charlotte have both of me in them. Charlotte is probably my favourite character and the easiest to write as she is like me. My least favourite character, well I guess I should say the murderers… for obvious reasons. Anyone I don’t like, I kill off. ;)

(JLD)I s your book based on real life or fiction?

(JE) Mostly fiction but using real life topics, eg murder, the impact on those around them, and people falling in love, however they aren’t based on real life events. ‘Love And An American Girl’ has aspects of real life. My experiences on authonomy helped develop the story.

(JLD) What do you want readers to take away after they’ve read your book?

(JE) The same thing I get from reading, something that draws me in and I can’t put it down. To fall in love along with and with the characters, and then want more! To ride the rollercoaster with my characters and have something stay with them, like the characters do after I have finished. I think that is why I write more than one book with characters I love. I want them to enjoy the time they spend reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

(JLD)  What is your favorite genre, and do you write in that genre? Will you ever write in a different genre?

(JE)  I guess I tend to favour romance and thus why I write in this genre, that being said, when it comes to reading, I will try anything. As there are many sub-genres within romance, and I have dabbled in a few, there is variety within the genre. I don’t know whether I would stray from the romance aspect... but I do have a few on the ‘drawing board’ that don’t…

(JLD) What’s the hardest part about being a writer? The easiest part?

(JE)The hardest part is finding the time, and editing, re-writing, re-reading, re-editing… it is time consuming. The easiest part is being in the story, in the zone with the characters, and the words flow. The thrill of falling in love with the characters, feeling everything with them, it is draining and exhilarating all at once.

(JLD) What advice do you have to new writers out there?

(JE) Read, re-read, find a writer buddy or buddies, and beta readers. Join writer’s communities and listen to advice.

(JLD) Excellent advice! If you could start your writing career over again, would you do anything differently?

(JE) Yes! I would write slower and edit as I go rather than just get it all down and fix it later. I now take much longer to write a first draft and I edit as I go, in the hope of having less work to do later.

(JLD) Which person, alive or dead, would you like to spend time with? Why?

(JE)Oh, there are too many to name! Friends who live interstate and overseas… relatives who are gone… and any movie star who will whisk me off to Castle Hollywood and make me filthy rich. ;)

(JLD) Thanks so much for joining us here today! If you'd like to read Jo Ellis, here are some links…


Passion turns to envy. Love to murder. One way or another, everyone is spoilt.

A sadistic killer is stalking the streets, carving his hatred into the bodies of beautiful, young women.

The murders are stirring up bad memories for Detective Lucas Hudson, as he struggles to remain focused - juggling the horrors of today with horrors from the past.

When Chelsea Summerville's best friend goes missing, she's unwillingly dragged into the race to stop the killer.

As Lucas and Chelsea find happiness together, Chelsea becomes the hunted rather than the hunter.

Can Lucas shake off his demons and save the woman he loves, or will everything he holds dear be spoilt?

From the international best-selling author of 'Spoilt' …

It may be a bit of a cliché to say that all firemen are hot, but Captain Jared Montgomery is in an intensely smoldering class of his own, which makes him somewhat explosive to handle.

When he first met Charlotte at the vet's where she worked, he immediately judged her to be breathtakingly beautiful, flirtatious, superficial and shallow. He didn't like her but he
couldn't get her out of his mind. She thought he was aggressive and rude, but she couldn't get him out of her mind either.

Then mutual friends and family forced them together at a wedding and suddenly they had a runaway fire going between them nobody was going to put out until the day Jared discovered Charlotte locking lips with Dr Shaw, the local vet and her boss.

She, of course, said it wasn't like that at all, but she would, wouldn't she?

And it might all have ended there if Charlotte hadn't nearly died in a fire and if Jared hadn't been the one to
save her …..

If you like your Romance as straight as your firemen, this is the one for you.

And Jo is kind enough to offer a free kindle copy of Spoilt to one lucky reader! To enter:
1) Comment on the blog post
2) tweet the interview
3) Follow the blog if you don’t already…

Friday, September 21, 2012

Author Spotlight...The talented Mr. Fripley!


(JLD)Today we have the delightfully funny George Fripley with us. George, you've written two wonderful tongue-in-cheek books that serve as entertainment as well as a gentle warning. What was your inspiration for"You Can't Polish a Turd" and "Dregs of History?"

 (GF) Hi Jess, it's good to be here! The inspiration for writing those books came gradually over time. "You Can't Polish a Turd (the civil servant's manual) was the result of a number of short articles that I  wrote as therapy  - to stop me going insane in my job as a bureaucrat. These three articles became the first three chapters in the book. I then began writing more and soon had about 10-12. It was then that I realised that I could structure a book, a tongue-in-cheek manual for all those wishing to work in the public service. The inspiration was all around me every day as, at that time, I worked in a very dysfunctional department. I couldn't go to a meeting, or read any documents without coming across something that made me smile. I always tell myself that if I see myself becoming the caricature that I wrote about, then it will be time to get another job.
The "Dregs of History" also had its genesis in one of those first three chapters of the "You Can't Polish a Turd". I invented four philosophers (Obstructius, Burocrates, Futilius & Dillayus) and then began thinking about people who were never included in the pages of history. Who were they and what did they do? All the people in "The Dregs" are anchored in history in one way or another, but they all failed to make an impression, however not for the lack of trying. Most of them do come to a premature end, although hopefully one that is appropriate! All of the characters have traits that people will recognise in those around them, some of them extremely irritating. So again, I only have to walk down the street to find more inspiration to write characters.

JLD) Do you think new technology hurts or helps a bureaucracy? What has it done to your particular office?

(GF) That is a very interesting question Jess. New technology can have huge benefits to a bureaucracy, but implementing that technology tends to get caught up in the bureaucratic system. Where IT is concerned, people argue about what is the best program, platform, system etc, and you usually get something that is a compromise. This often leads to it not performing as it should and causing a lot more money to be spent on trying to fix a system that is unsuitable for the environment it is in. I have seen this happen on numerous occasions. 
Of course, once you have a new system. you need to train people, and unfortunately the combination of poor training methods, uninspiring trainers, and the workforce is not always motivated or very technologically literate (many people hate change, too) can hinder the uptake. See this link for an example of such trainers  http://dregsofhistory.blogspot.com.au/2010/04/numbing-jane-thackeray-1980-2009.html.
 A plus side to new technology is that governments can communicate more efficiently. The embracing of Twitter, Facebook and other social media means that messages can be put out much more quickly and efficiently. The down side of improved communication is that there is an immediate requirement for action, and this puts a strain on resources. But que sera...this is the way we're going and the bureaucracy will have to adapt.
 In my office we are going through significant change at the moment - and the above is occurring. There is some resistance, but the reality is that it is happening and people need to get into the change mindset if they are to enjoy their jobs. The immediacy of work requirements has become an issue, but we are changing how we work to make sure we can cope with this. From a writing perspective it is fascinating to see how reliant we are on technology. When the power fails, I see people wandering around aimlessly, whereas in the past you'd just pick up a pen and get going on something. as somebody who still writes most stories by hand before I even look at a keyboard, I find this quite interesting.

(JLD) Which, if any, of your made-up characters were written specifically with your coworkers in mind and do they know they're the subject of your books? Or do you write using sweeping generalizations instead?

(GF) Very few of my characters relate to specific people, but every one of them has a grain of somebody in there, perhaps sometimes there are two traits from two different people in the character. I think the secret of writing characters that people can relate to is to give them common traits that everybody knows. For instance, the character of Hampton Y McCoy resonates as everybody has known a child who won't stop asking the question - Why?. He also comes to an appropriate end. And that is another of the ways of dealing with these annoying characters - I can give them all a suitable demise that is not too gory, but at the same time has people saying Yeah...they deserved that! 
In terms of my co-workers, I am currently writing a book called The Dunnyfunter which is all about the office environment - and there are characters in there that borrow significantly from people I have worked with over the last 20 years, although I have swapped a few traits around to maintain some sort of disguise! 
I would also have to say that many of The Dregs of History characters have bits of me in them. But I'm not telling you which ones!

(JLD) What is the easiest part of writing for you? The hardest part? And what genre would you consider your books to be?

(GF) I guess the easiest part of writing is when I have an initial idea in my head. It's why I take my writing pad with me everywhere and write anywhere at any time. I can be found scribbling away in cafes, on the bus, on the train, or at the beach, for example. I simply let it all flow out as a first draft as quick as I can without worrying about editing or character development. The novel that I am currently editing took only a couple of months to get out in first draft format. The editing has taken a lot longer - about six months so far.
The hardest part is being satisfied that the manuscript is indeed ready for reading by somebody else. I find the final editing a tortuous process, and by the time I have finished (for example) draft 3, I am already thinking that I need to go back and start draft 4 because of the new ideas I have had about characters etc.
My books to date have been humour / satire. In my mind they are the sort of lightweight things to read when you don't have time to concentrate for long periods. However, the novel Barmia is a fantasy novel, or at least my version of a fantasy novel. The next one will be a satirical/humourous (I hope) novel.

(JLD) What made you switch from satire to fantasy? Has it been an easy transition? Do you prefer one genre over the other? And do you write what you read?

(GF) I loved reading fantasy novels, but not all sorts. I was never much of a dragons and vampires fan. I read a lot of Terry Pratchett, and had devoured Lord of Rings in a weekend when I was about 14. Also David Eddings and David Gemmell. But then I also read science-fiction, cold war thrillers, Raymond Chandler, travel narratives, philosophy, and historical fiction every now and then.
 The reason I started writing satire was the work I do - in a bureaucracy. There is so much to say about the system. It's comic potential is immense. And it was excellent therapy after a frustrating day. But like anything, I think variation is good, so I thought about trying something different - hence the fantasy novel - although I have to admit to a smattering of satire in the story.
 To be honest, writing the fantasy novel was easier than trying to be funny. You never know if people will laugh, so there is a lot pressure where humour is concerned. I am scoping out a satirical novel at the moment, and that is quite difficult. To be consistently funny will be a challenge. I generally prefer whatever it is that I am writing at the time, I'm always up for new challenge.
 I think that what I read certainly influences my writing. I read so much that it could not be any other way. Although I hope that what comes out is definably me, and not a second class version of somebody else. But that's up to others to judge.

(JLD) Do you notice a big difference in US Humor versus UK Humour? Have you noticed any different feedback between US reviewers and UK reviewers?

(GF) That's a hard question, Jess. I used to think that US and UK humour was different, and I still do to some extent. However, I now think that there is simply the same mix of humour in different amounts, if you see what I mean. I have contributed numerous articles to The Politicus blog run by Dammand Cherry (in New York, I think) and they seem to have gone down well - so you never can tell. And also, I have a real appreciation that Australian humour is very different from both of the other two.  I think you just have to put it out there and see what happens.  It's a funny old world!
In terms of reviews, I think that people who have liked the Civil Servant's Manual have come from all around the world, and I noticing the same for the Dregs of History. I would say that my audience has come mainly from the US and Australia to date, but this has changed a bit in the last 6 months with more from the UK. I had some great coverage over here in Oz for the Civil Servant's Manual with papers running whole chapters as articles and some radio interviews. The heartening thing has been that most people in government who've read the book really relate to it no matter where they come from.

(JLD) Thanks so much for coming here and talking with us. I've really enjoyed it very much! Please tell us, where can we buy your books?

(GF) (GF) Thanks for having on your blog Jess. This has been a wonderful experience.
My books are available at my blog  http://www.dregsofhistory.blogspot.com.au/



You Can't Polish A Turd on Amazon:

The Dregs on Amazon:

George's blog, The Grumpy Commuter:


Monday, September 17, 2012

Author Spotlight...The amazing Teresa Geering!



(JLD) We are very lucky to have the amazing Teresa Geering, affectionately known as Tee Gee, with us today. Tee has crafted the most wonderful fantasy world in her two successful novels, The Eye of Erasmus and Shasta Summer. Please join me in welcoming her to my blog!  Hello, Miss Tee! Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? What do you do for a living?

(TG) Hey there, Jess, it’s good to chat again. So then in answer to your question I grew up in Hastings Sussex; a fishing town which is renowned for the winkle club. A winkle is a small, edible marine snail which is ‘hoiked’ out of its shell with a pin and eaten with bread and butter or such like. The winkle club is known worldwide and it includes many members of royalty both here and abroad. Also many stars of stage and screen joined up.

It was started by my grandfather and a few other fishermen back in the 1800’s over a few ales in the old town ale house. The idea was to form a club to give the impoverished children of the town (of which there were many) a party at Christmas time. They were stuck for a name until a street vendor selling winkles came into the ale house and voila. Every member has to carry a winkle shell regardless of status. If they are challenged and cannot produce said winkle they have to pay a hefty fine regardless of their standing in society. It’s given willingly of course because of the charity. Over the years it has grown into the world wide charity it is today and raised millions. It’s strange when you suddenly realise how little acorns grow into those mighty oaks!

What do I do for a living? Well I have health issues which make things difficult; but for the last twenty years I have worked as a volunteer for the Kent Police which clearly I find very rewarding and it enables me to give something back to the community. Just recently I was presented with an engraved crystal with the Kent Police Crest inside and an inscription on the front. The Chief Constable presented it at a ceremony at Police Head Quarters. It was so heavy the Police Officer I work with came over and helped me hold it. (I have issues of arthritis with my hands) It must have cost mega bucks I reckon and as an aside I did suggest to the Chief I could flog it for a fortune on eBay. Fortunately his sense of humour matched mine and he came back with an equally funny remark away from the microphone. And no, I won’t share the comment; (something you learn very early when working with the Police is to hold your tongue lol) but the Police like to show their appreciation and they ensured I was totally embarrassed by their lovely comments.

It was the Police who nicknamed me Mad Tee and apparently it’s part of my call sign! My other name is Houdini because in times past they constantly said to me “How did you get out of THAT one?” lol

(JLD) What started your writing career?

(TG) Oh! Come take my hand, Jess, as we wander through literary fantasy. I started writing a couple of short stories in my teens but my current books evolved when I was sitting in my garden one hot summer evening sipping wine(as you do) I was watching a spider spinning a web. The slowly setting sun glinted on the prisms sending out rays of rainbow colours. My mind wandered and I imagined faeries and a fantasy world and from there the story of Shasta and Erasmus evolved.

(JLD) What is the name of your book and what is it about? What did you want to accomplish when you wrote it?

(TG): I have two books published. The First is The Eye of Erasmus simply because he pushed in first when I wrote the trilogy. Everyones dream is to take a ride on a time travelling adventure right? Basically he is a time travelling lover with attitude who pursues Shasta through time. He is able to just will himself to another time span by thought alone. He is arrogant and treats women with scorn until Shasta is revealed to him in the smoke from a fire in his cave. His heart is softened and he pursues her but she has her own agenda…..
The second and third books are combined under the title of Shasta Summer. This was my publishers’ idea.

Part one - Enchanted Garden

           Erasmus by thought transference entices Summer to stay with her Aunt in the magical village of Shasta. Over a matter of weeks Summer ages from an eight year old into a beautiful young woman desired by Erasmus. By going through a time portal in her aunt’s Victorian garden, she discovers not only her past heritage but another lover. A constant in her present life - a changeling cat named Merlin who becomes human. To ensure he maintains his human persona Summer regresses to her past life with Merlin and embraces her heritage, knowing in her heart that she will also come up against Erasmus. Summer considers the risk outweighs the power of Erasmus.

  Part two is The Village                            

        Summer has now discovered that she is called Shasta in her past life and has many powers including clairvoyance, and she is also psychic. She is a travelling woman who comes upon Shasta Village by accident. Through her powers she wins over the villagers and turns there miserable village into a haven of tranquility and magic. The sun will shine all day and it will only rain at night for the benefit of the crop yield. Whilst living in the village she meets up with Merlin in human form and its love at first sight. They become betrothed and will marry in the Spring.

Erasmus is determined to have Shasta for himself and have Merlin killed. Something he cannot do himself as he will forfeit his own existence. He temporarily takes over the body of a farm hand (Seth) and by enticement he is finally able to taste Shasta’s lips. Seth fights against killing Merlin but …….
We’ll leave it there I think, Jess. J

(JLD) They sound wonderful! Is there a character you identify with? Who is your least favorite character and why?

(TG) In the Eye of Erasmus it would be Hesper as he is just as arrogant as Erasmus and also has a hidden agenda.

In Shasta Summer well….I love all the characters to be honest but Seth is a bit suspect at times.

(JLD) Is your book based on real life or fiction?

(TG): Oh how I would love to say it’s based on real life, but no they are purely a work of fiction. However…. Several of the characters have many characteristics of the guys and gals I work with down at the ‘nickery’. Shhh ….

(JLD) What do you want readers to take away after they’ve read your book?

(TG) Hm! that’s a toughie because each reader takes away something different I guess. I would hope they would think “Yes I enjoyed that. It was a ‘good un’. I must look out for the next in the series.” That would be good enough for me.

(JLD) What is your favorite genre, and do you write in that genre? Will you ever write in a different  genre?

(TG)  Actually my favourite genre is crime even though I write fantasy. However I have many short stories on the back burner which include several crime and most of them have got a twist in the tail.

(JLD) What’s the hardest part about being a writer? The easiest part?

(TG) The hardest part for any writer is first finding a publisher and then begins the laborious task of promoting your work. Gone are the days of that big fat cheque and sitting on your laurels. Oh and while you’re up pass me a grape please. It ain’t gonna happen.

The most difficult part for me is when I get sat down in front of the computer and suddenly everything dries up. Where were all those great ideas from yesterday that I couldn’t wait to get down?  Is there an easy part, Jess? I’m not sure. There are many variations on the theme of writing a good story. Some suggest ten per cent inspiration and ninety per cent perspiration. Add to that blood sweat and tears and that just about 
covers it.

(JLD)What advice do you have to new writers out there?

(TG)  Well I guess the easiest way to answer that is this. If it’s your first book, only write about what is familiar to you as it usually flows far easier. Do ensure you research avidly. If you just second guess something and get it wrong, there will always be someone who will pull you up. Never assume you’ve finished when you’ve written ‘The End’. Believe me, it isn’t; that’s just the beginning. Now the hard work starts. Edit until you’re sick of it, but don’t do it straight away, pop the story in a draw somewhere for a month or two so that you come back to it with fresh eyes. Once you’ve edited to your satisfaction give it to friends and family to read ensuring that they are critical and honest because our friends and family love us right? Don’t get put off by lack of enthusiasm and never ever give up if you have faith in it. If you lack faith then so will others.

(JLD) If you could start your writing career over again, would you do anything differently?

(TG)  No, Jess! I think as writers we all have to go on this writing tread mill regardless of what end of the board we start. It’s part of the passion and pain of being a writer.

(JLD) Which person alive or dead would you like to spend time with? And why?

(TG) Socrates I think. We could walk on the clouds drinking cups of nectar from the Gods and he could educate me on his philosophies of life. He was apparently the greatest sage of all, and to quote Oscar Wilde I think it was ‘Education is wasted on the young’. So yes Socrates she says with a smile.

(JLD) Please give me links for your books.

 (TG) Links: 


Blog: http:// tgeering.blogspot.co.uk

 The lovely Tee Geering has offered a kindle copy of her books as a giveaway! 
To enter:
1) please comment on the interview
2) Share the interview on Twitter
3)   follow the blog if you don't already               

Friday, September 14, 2012

Author Spotlight...Please Welcome Richard Rhys Jones!

Our guest today is a wonderful guy named Richard Rhys Jones. Richard, or Reggie to his friends (and Reggums to me) has written an absolutely fantastic novel called The Division of the Damned, combining two scary things: war and vampires. Sounds awesome, huh? Please join me in welcoming this fantastic author to the blog!


Author Interview Questions

(JLD) Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? What do you do for a living?

(RJ) Hi, my name is Richard Rhys Jones, Reggie to my friends and I hail from the sunny shores of Colwyn Bay, north Wales. OK, I lied about it being sunny but it is by the sea. I'm the wrong side of forty, the right side of fifty, married with two children, one cat and currently live in Salzgitter, Germany.
I grew up in the 70's, early 80's and saw the worst of a catastrophic Labour government and Thatcher's Britain, so it isn't really surprising that I left home at 16 to join the army. I stayed in the forces until I was 24 and then decided to have a look-see at how life is outside of that great institution known as The British Army. I'd met a nice German girl and rashly decided to live in Germany, regardless of the fact I couldn't speaka-da-lingo and didn't have a job. However, I'm an optimistic guy and soon found work as a security guard. I grew my hair, took up the drums in a band and basically did all the things most people do at sixteen, at the age of twenty four!
Since those wanton days of yore I've worked in a workshop servicing plant machinery, (graders, bull dozers, excavators, earth movers, lorries etc etc.) on the building sites doing EVERYTHING and now I work in a steelworks. I still play the drums but gone are the days of wanting to change the world with my music and now I settle for simply having a laugh while practicing with my band, (Due Vengeance :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xObzsiga3ls).

(JLD) What started your writing career?

(RJ) Mmmmm, well I always knew I wanted to write a book, it was like a subconscious setting in my head. However, unlike "Breathe", "Drink beer", "Worship the ladies" and "Eat", "Write a book" was a sort of advanced setting that only activated when I left the military, as was, "Punish my drumset".
Writing is like a drug; the more you write, the more you want to write. I’d written lots of short stories, poems, rhymes and song lyrics but I’d never actually tackled a full length book. It was always on the horizon but I knew that if I was to write a novel, I’d have to write about something that really interests me, something special. Vampires were always my favourite monster and I knew that if I was going to pen a book, then I would definitely include or write about ‘the children of the night’.
However, following vampire folklore could only lead to cliché and the regurgitation of old mythology and I wanted to do something new.
But what?
My interest in the Third Reich came about after a visit to Dachau in 1988. I’d never given much thought to the hows and whys of the awful calamity that befell the German people between 1933 and 1945, and Dachau was the epiphany that ignited my fascination.
How was it possible that one of the most cultured and civilised countries in the world could stoop to such barbaric depths? I refused to believe that all Germans were purely evil therefore there had to be another reason. So I dug deeper to find out.
The malevolent politics, the tragedy and the confusion of the Third Reich, I knew, would be the perfect vessel for any story I cared to create. But how could I write about something in the Third Reich that hadn’t already been covered?
This attempting to understand the background of the Holocaust led me onto another subject that spiked my interest; the Nazi obsession with the occult.
The Nationalist Socialist hierarchy had all sorts of fanciful notions about German Blood and Earth, the supremacy of the Aryan race and even Atlantis. However, none were so deranged as Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS. The architect of the Final Solution, who caused untold misery throughout Europe, was in reality a very sickly, small minded person who would sooner listen to his astrologer rather than his generals. The castle at Wewelsburg stands as testament to his penchant for pseudo-mythology and costumed ceremony. It was his unstinting belief in the supernatural, and all the fictitious possibilities it held, that lingered in foetal form at the back of my mind for a long time.
Then it happened, that Eureka moment. Whilst working with a German colleague I noticed that, though his German was flawless, he had an accent that I didn’t quite recognize. At first I’d placed him as being from Bavaria but the more we worked together, the more I was convinced he wasn’t German.
Finally I asked him.
His family originally came from Transylvania.
Transylvania, he told me, has a large German speaking community that uses German as its first language. These Transylvanian Germans are considered Auslandsdeutsche, or Foreign Germans, by the German government and therefore have the right to German citizenship.
His family came over to Germany at the end of the cold war.
A German colony in Transylvania.
Transylvania, the traditional home of the vampire. It wasn’t a great leap of the imagination for me to connect the Siebenberger Sachsen, (they’re known as the Transylvanian Saxons) with the vampire theme.
I had my idea and I started researching the book as soon as I came home from work.

(JLD) What is the name of your book and what is it about? What did you want to accomplish when you wrote it?

(RJ) My book is called, "The Division of the Damned" and broadly speaking, it's about Himmler sending a squad of SS to Transylvania to raise a division of vampires. However, I crammed in all the things that have interested me over the years and welded them into the story. Sumerian and Biblical mythology, Teutonic Knights, werewolves, the Concentration camp system, the Eastern front; you name it, if I'd read a book on it, I lodged it in there. I think they all go rather well together actually, but then again, I would wouldn't I?
What I wanted to achieve with it? Well obviously World peace, a cure for cancer and the second coming of Elvis. Unfortunately none of that happened but that was my original plan. No, seriously, I just wanted it to be out there, being read by like minded people and thanks to Taylor Street, it is.

(JLD) Is there a character you identify with? Who is your least favorite character and why?

(RJ) I think if I have a favourite character it's one of the SS called Rohleder. A survivor of a flame thrower attack, he's horribly scarred and very cynical. However, his mutilated outer shell hides an inner compassion and comically dry outlook on life. I had Rohleder fall in love, which was hard for me to write as I generally stay away from such goings on when I read. The woman of his affections sees through him and I feel that I struck the right balance in their relationship. I won't put down what happens though.
Least fave character has to be The Dracyl himself, the main vampire. He's such a bullying, psycho arse.

(JLD) What do you want readers to take away after they’ve read your book?

(RJ) Now that is a good question. I hope they just take pleasure in the meandering story line and the characters involved. I hope they simply enjoy it.

(JLD) What is your favorite genre, and do you write in that genre? Will you ever write in a different genre?

(RJ) Horror and warfare are my favourite genres. I don't really go for crime or romance. I do read an awful lot of factual books. I also like books about Rome and Ancient Greece.

(JLD) What’s the hardest part about being a writer? The easiest part?

(RJ) There is no hard part to being a writer. I see the word "Hard" and I think "Unpleasant", but it's not.  Proof reading sucks but it isn't hard, just time consuming; especially as I change everything I read anyway. I love research, (I do loads of that, believe me) and the writing, if I'm in the right mood and I find myself "in the zone", is a veritable pleasure.
The easiest part has to be pulling characters out of thin air. I've never had a problem with ideas, oh I've hit the Wall a couple of times but it's mainly because my research was wrong and I had to change the story to accommodate it, or I was simply tired after shift. It's never a good idea trying to write after night shift, lol.

(JLD) What advice do you have to new writers out there?

(RJ) Simply write. Just write as much as you can and tell your friends to read it and then prove to you that it's pants. Proof read like a robot, don't be carried away by the story, read from the back to the front and take lots of breaks. When you're ready to send it of, research how to do this, read the guidelines on every publisher's webpage and change your manuscript and covering letter to suit how they want it.
Or, if your novel is over 120,000 words and is cross genre, use Amazon and release it on KDP :-)

(JLD) If you could start your writing career over again, would you do anything differently?

(RJ) OMG, the list is endless!! Read the above, I wasted three years because a.) My manuscript wasn't good enough. b.) I never used to follow the guidelines and c.) I never realized how bad cross genre novels with a word count of over 120,000 words are for attracting an agent or publisher.
Research the business end and you'll probably save a lot of time. I wish I had done so now.

(JLD) Which person, alive or dead, would you like to spend time with? Why?

(RJ) Another list that has no end... well it probably does but not one I can see right now. However, I'll stick to  the one person who was always on my side, no matter how bad I was.
I'd like to meet up with my Gran again, simply because she ROCKED !!

You can find The Division of the Damned on Amazon at these addresses:
The link is for the paperback version but the Kindle download is also on the page.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Author Spotlight...please welcome Sarah DiCello!

A few months back, I promised you some more information about the truly fantastic new YA author who has taken paranormal YA romance by storm. Well, here she is! Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to introduce you to Sarah DiCello, a wonderful author who is just as sweet as she is talented.


(JLD) Sarah, welcome aboard! Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? What do you do for a living?

(SD) I grew up right outside New York City in a somewhat small town called Kearny, New Jersey (it’s where the Soprano’s is sometimes filmed if that gives you any idea). My family then moved to Pennsylvania – down the street from my grandmother and a mile from my aunt and uncle. We’re a big family and pretty tight. Now I live in the center of PA with my own family.
I’m actually a magazine publisher, mostly for trade publications. Believe me, being a magazine publisher didn’t give me any extra bonus points towards getting my book published. It was hard as hell and took almost two years and many rejections before Taylor Street Publishing gave me the chance and handed me my dream with a contract.

(JLD) What started your writing career?

(SD) I can directly link it back to my family newspaper I created when I was about 9-years-old. My cousin, brother, and I actually interviewed Johnny Depp . . . well, not really, but we pretended to. I’ve always been writing and went to Shippensburg University where I got my B.A. in Communications/Journalism. This fall I’m going back for my Master’s in Publishing at The George Washington University and can’t believe I’m actually excited for it. Terrified, but excited.

(JLD) What is the name of your book and what is it about? What did you want to accomplish when you wrote it?

(SD) My book is called, “As I Close My Eyes.” It is a young adult romance novel with some time-travel/historical twists. It is about a girl who has a rather freak accident. While unconscious, she dreams about a Victorian beach town, but the characters in the dream and the scenery around her seem too real to be a dream. Throughout the beginning of the book, Danielle Grayson (my main character), is trying to piece the puzzle together and figure out why those in her present day life in Georgia look and act like those in her dreams. “As I Close My Eyes,” will make you wonder if those closest to you have been with you forever, spanning all time.

(JLD) Is there a character you identify with? Who is your least favorite character and why?

(SD) I definitely identify with Dani. She is a typical eighteen-year-old and my own personality comes out in her dialogue. My least favorite is probably Brad, her somewhat obnoxious friend.

(JLD) Is your book based on real life or fiction? 

(SD) Some of my life comes through in the book but I’ve never had experiences like Dani has. I’ve always wondered what else is out there that we don’t know. How do we create the valuable relationships we have and why?

I believe in ghosts and the idea that sometimes our dreams are more than just dreams, so I wanted to research and write something that makes me question things. I like reading books that make me second-guess things.

(JLD) What do you want readers to take away after they’ve read your book?

(SD) I want them to just enjoy the story and I hope it makes them think about their own lives. I also want everyone to know that the sequel will be out this Christmas. I’ve gotten some criticism about the end from people who didn’t realize there’d be two. I ended it the way I did for a reason and I’m half way through writing the next one and I can’t wait for everyone to read it. I’ve learned so much through the whole publishing process and I think that’s reflected in the second book so far.

(JLD) Ooh! A sequel! Fabulous!!! Tell me, what is your favorite genre, and do you write in that genre? Will you ever write in a different genre?

(SD) I do love young adult romances with a bit of a mystical twist. I also like chick lit, so I wanted “As I Close My Eyes” to be a beach read but one that made the readers think a bit.

(JLD) What’s the hardest part about being a writer? The easiest part?

(SD) The hardest part would have to be the reviewers. It’s not the one or two stars that I care about; it’s the three stars that really get me. As if I almost had them, but the book just didn’t grab them enough and that kills me. I’m a people-pleaser so that can crush my day.
The easiest part is the excitement I get when coming up with the plot and all of its twists and turns. I have a great group of people around me who I can talk with about all of my ideas.

(JLD) What advice do you have to new writers out there?

(SD) Edit, edit, edit. Get readers who don’t know you or who are in the writing field to read and re-read your book. And don’t tell them the plot. Let them ask you all the right questions when they’re reading to see if the story is taking the path you want it to take.

(JLD) If you could start your writing career over again, would you do anything differently?

(SD) I would have taken my own advice in #9. I sent my book out to agents WAY too early thinking it was polished, but it totally wasn’t. No wonder I got rejection after rejection. It wasn’t ready. Make sure it’s ready and as good as you can get it.

(JLD) Which person, alive or dead, would you like to spend time with? Why?

(SD) I’d love to have lunch with J.K. Rowling and pick her brain about writing and marketing. I think she’s absolutely brilliant.

(JLD) Sarah, thank you so much for stopping by. It's been a real pleasure talking with you, and I hope everyone picks up a copy of your book. It's truly fabulous! 
Let me get some links up here...




Twitter: @sdicello


Sarah has graciously put a kindle copy of As I Close My Eyes up for a giveaway, so in order to enter, here are the rules:

1) tweet this interview
2) post a comment and tell us who you'd like to spend a day with
3) follow this blog

Good luck! The winner will be chosen on Friday, 9/14/12.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Please Welcome...the amazing Lilian Kendrick!

I have the extraordinary honor today of introducing you to an absolutely amazing author, Mrs.Lilian Kendrick! She's an accomplished author, and as you'll see, quite the wonderful woman besides. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Lilian!


Jess: Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? What do you do for a living?

Lil: I was born and brought up in Birmingham, England; the middle one of five children. When I worked full-time I was Head of Modern Languages in a tough inner-city comprehensive school. Nowadays I work as a supply teacher 2 or 3 days a week, going wherever the agency asks me to and teaching kids of all ages. I also work as a freelance editor and translator. I’ve been married …forever, it seems.  I have two grown-up children and two grandchildren.

Jess: What started your writing career?

Lil: I’ve written for my own amusement ever since I could first hold a pencil. I wrote my first love poem at six when I had a crush on the boy who sat across the aisle from me at school. I never showed any of my poems or stories to anyone until I was teaching. They just piled up in boxes. I got the idea for my first novel in 2004. My widowed mother-in-law was very ill and I was the only person she trusted to do anything for her, so I was rushing around to her flat as soon as I finished work, then back home to sort out my own family. Sometimes I’d get a phone call in the middle of the night, or at work and have to drop everything to go and deal with some new crisis for her. Then the title “Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife” came into my head because I realised that a lot of women are trapped by their ‘job descriptions’ and don’t get to live for themselves. I wrote the book without telling anyone except my niece who was my first beta reader.

Jess: What is your book about? What did you want to accomplish when you wrote it?

Lil: My first book “Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife” tells the story of Josie, a middle-aged woman who has devoted her life to family duties at the expense of her own happiness. Finding that her selfish, overbearing husband is having yet another affair, she finally makes a stand, but has to reconcile her desires and her religious beliefs before she can find true fulfillment.
I wrote it because the story wouldn’t let me go until I did. I wanted to get it published as an inspiration to women everywhere. I ended up rushing into self-publishing because I had a heart attack in 2009 and in the aftermath I was afraid I might never see it in print. (As it happens, I’m still here and still writing thank God.)

Jess: Thank God you're OK! And your story sounds amazing. Is there a character you identify with? Who is your least favorite character and why?

Lil: Most of my stories feature a leading female character who has elements of me in her, but is not exactly me. Sometimes they fulfill my fantasies and on a good day they get my happy ending.  My least favourite character is probably Rick – the husband in SDMW. He’s selfish, nasty, violent and unfaithful.

Jess: Is your book based on real life or fiction?

Lil: The stories are always fiction although I use my experience and knowledge of real life situations to inform my story telling.

Jess: What do you want readers to take away after they’ve read your book?

Lil: I’d love it if they said “I enjoyed that! I wonder if she’s written anything else I can read.” I have no desire to be considered literary, or to teach my readers anything. I just want to give pleasure. I’ll save the teaching for the day job.

Jess: What is your favorite genre, and do you write in that genre? Will you ever write in a different genre?

Lil: My favourite genres for reading are horror and crime fiction, but I don’t write either. I write “Hen-Lit” – romantic stories for the older woman. I also write erotica at times, but I have to keep that well away from my own name because of my professional position as a teacher. It would never do to have my pupils googling and finding out that ‘Miss’ writes porn. (Yes, folks – kids often google their teachers!)

Jess: What’s the hardest part about being a writer? The easiest part?

Lil: The hardest part is finding the time to do it. The easiest part for me is actually sitting down and writing. The stories almost write themselves. I get ‘into the zone’ and it just happens, especially when I write poetry.

Jess: What advice do you have to new writers out there?

Lil: Get on with it. If you want to write you just have to do it. Don’t be afraid to accept criticism and be grateful for all the help you can get. Oh and learn to spell and write grammatically. A lot of editors can’t!

Jess: If you could start your writing career over again, would you do anything differently?

Lil: Yes. I wouldn’t give in to those who try to stop me. I was born to write – everything else is almost irrelevant.

Jess: Which person, alive or dead, would you like to spend time with? Why?

Lil: Hmm. That would really depend on how we were going to spend the time…Nobody famous, actually.  There are a few writers I’ve met online that I would love to meet in the real world, and one or two I’d love to work with.  I work as a freelance editor and a couple of my clients really inspire me; meeting them would be amazing.

Jess: Lilian, you are truly amazing, and I thank you so much for appearing on my blog.

Lilian’s books:
“Through My Windows”  (A collection of Short Stories and Poems) - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Through-My-Windows-ebook/dp/B005MATE6O/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1346800599&sr=8-5

“Poeticising Chat” (Several poems included in a ground-breaking Anthology by a group of online poets) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Poeticising-Chat-William-Holt/dp/1461131960/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1346800599&sr=8-4

My latest WIP is called “Unspoken”:
At fifteen, the whole world lies ahead of you...at forty-four, has it passed you by?

Lydia had forgotten all about the list she made thirty years ago.
Now she has just six months to make her teenage dreams come true, before she turns 45.
Determined to turn her life around and achieve her goals she embarks on a series of quests for happiness, aided and abetted by her trusty sidekicks Trudi and Des.
Stumbling from one disaster to another, will she ever make it on time?
Is it ever too late to chase your dreams?
The opening chapters of this are posted on Authonomy.com.
If anyone would like to take a peek : http://www.authonomy.com/books/45954/unspoken/

I also have a collection of Flash Fiction  “Flash in the Pan” which is due to be published in the near future by That Right Publishing.
My websites: www.verse-artiste.weebly.com (Author website and blog)

And www.liliankendrick.weebly.com (Lilian Kendrick Writers’ Services)