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On the Spotlight: Somewhere I Belong, by Glenna Jenkins

SYNOPSIS

In Somewhere I Belong, we meet young P.J. Kavanaugh at North Boston Station. His father has died, the Depression is on, and his mother is moving them back home. They settle in, and P.J. makes new friends. But the P.E.I. winter is harsh, the farm chores endless, and his teacher a drunken bully. He soon wants to go home; the problem is how.

A letter arrives from Aunt Mayme announcing a Babe Ruth charity baseball game in the old neighbourhood. But Ma won’t let him go. P.J is devastated. The weeks pass, then there is an accident on the farm. P.J. becomes a hero and Ma changes her mind. He travels to Boston, sees his friends, watches Babe Ruth hit a home run, and renews his attachment to the place. But his eagerness to return to the Island makes him wonder where he really belongs.

PURCHASE

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Glenna’s Website / Goodreads / LinkedIn


I am a writer, editor and indexer who lives in historic Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. A true Maritimer, I was born and raised in Nova Scotia and my Prince Edward Island roots hail back to 1830. My short stories have been published in Jilted Angels: A Collection of Short Stories (Broad Street Press), and Riptides: New Island Fiction (Acorn Press Canada), the latter which was nominated for best Atlantic book of 2012 and won the 2013 Prince Edward Island Book Award. In addition to placing first in the 2014 Atlantic Writing Competition’s literary non-fiction category, I received a mentorship from the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia to study under award-winning writer, William Kowalski. I am also a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, where I studied novel writing under two-time Governor General Award winner, David Adams Richards. My first novel, Somewhere I Belong, is based on a true story and was released on November 1, 2014 by Acorn Press Canada.

As a published author and fiction writer, I offer developmental writing services, coaching, and copy editing, structural editing to emerging writers of fiction and non-fiction in short-story, novel or book format. As an editor, I revise scholarly works written by academics whose first language is not English and who wish to complete their master’s theses, PhD dissertations, or publish in English-language academic journals. I also completed an indexing course at the University of California at Berkeley and index books on economics, politics, history, and topics of general interest.

Brought to you by Worldwind VBT

Talking Books with P.I. Alltraine, author of ‘Heartbound’

P.I. AlltraineP.I. Alltraine is an award winning poet and author. She has won several international poetry competitions, and her poems have been published in separate anthologies.

She teaches English Language and Literature in London. She earned her degree in BA English from Queen Mary University of London, a Post Graduate Certificate in Education and Master’s in Teaching at the UCL Institute of Education, University of London.

Before moving to London, she lived in the Philippines where she was ensconced in the rich culture encrusted with dark myths and enchanted tales. She draws inspiration from these in her writing. Although she has lived indifferent places and experienced different cultures, she always enjoyed the constancy of writing in her life. Her favourite authors include John Milton, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.

Her latest book is the YA fantasy romance, Heartbound.

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About the Book:

Petyr has never found it necessary to consider the humans as anything more than distant, inferior beings–until now. They are the cause of the fatal disease that has plagued his realm, taking the lives of too many of his kind. As a future Heartboundleader of a realm in peril, Petyr must find a way to resist and cure the affliction. He must enter the unfamiliar realm, appear to be an ordinary eighteen-year-old human, observe, and learn.

However, things don’t exactly go according to plan. Instead of embarking single-mindedly on his sober mission, Petyr meets an 18-year-old girl who does things to his emotions that he can’t quite fathom or control. Petyr is falling in love, and he almost forgets the gravity his choices have on his entire world. Despite the risk it poses to his life and hers, he wants to know her, and he wants her to know him–and his world.

For More Information

  • Heartbound is available at Amazon.
  • Watch the trailer at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Heartbound teaser 1

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, P.I. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Heartbound is my first published novel, though I’ve had some published academic essays and poetry.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I chose a small press, Soul Mate Publishing, New York, to publish Heartbound. It was a very quick process for me. First, I did some research on credible agents and publishers that would be interested in my genre. I randomly picked one from the list, just to see how the process worked and what a rejection letter looked like. Two weeks later, I got a request for the full manuscript, and two weeks after that I was offered a contract. I had a difficult decision to make because I hadn’t really tried anything else at that point. However, from what I heard, querying agents could take months for a reply (even a rejection reply), and even if someone took me on, there was no guarantee they could sell it to a publisher—and I already had a publisher interested. In the end, it made sense to seize the opportunity.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

After I’ve signed the contract, the whole took about a year, including the rounds of editing, working with the cover artist, etc.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It felt great that I could officially call myself a writer. I celebrated with family and friends; they have been incredibly supportive.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I signed up for a blog tour. It’s really important to get the word out there!

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I learned a lot during the editing process. I’m thankful to my editors for all their invaluable advice. They definitely made me a better writer.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

It’s surprising how little control authors have in the process. I was lucky because, being published by a small press, my voice was heard (including the release date, cover art, etc.), but I know of many authors who had very different experiences and had very little control of what happened in the process.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Being able to share my work to people is incredible, and of course, being able to call myself a novelist whenever I feel like it. J

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Write for yourself and the rest will follow. It doesn’t matter if your style doesn’t fit the current trend or if some circles won’t consider it “good writing.” Write because you want to, and write whatever the hell you want. Writing is not a way to fit in or please others. It’s one of the very few things in the world that allows the liberty to be true to oneself.

Interview with ‘The Ark’ Laura Liddell Nolen

Laura NolenLaura Liddell Nolen grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent lots of time playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. They supplemented their own stories with a steady diet of space- and superhero-themed movies, books, and television. The daughter of a comic book collector, she learned how to handle old comics at an early age, a skill she’s inordinately proud of to this day.

Laura began work on her first novel, The Ark, in 2012, following the birth of her daughter Ava, a tiny rebel and a sweetheart on whom the novel’s main character is loosely based. Completion of The Ark was made possible in part due to an SCBWI Work-in-Progress Award.

Laura loves coffee, dogs, and making lists. She has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two young children, and their dog Miley, who is a very good girl.

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About the Book:

The Ark 2There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.

It’s the final days of earth, and sixteen-year-old Char is right where she belongs: in prison. With her criminal record, she doesn’t qualify for a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect earth’s survivors during the meteor strike that looks set to destroy the planet. Only a select few will be saved – like her mom, dad, and brother – all of whom have long since turned their backs on Char.

If she ever wants to redeem herself, Char must use all the tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they actually ever want to see her again, or not . . .

For More Information

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Laura. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

It’s my first time! Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I’m with Harper Voyager, the global science fiction and fantasy imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. A little while back, they put out a call for unsolicited submissions, and I sent in The Ark. I think Voyager received around 5,000 manuscripts, so it was never something I expected to “win.”

When I got the call, I was so excited. I jumped up and down like a crazy person.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

I signed last summer, and The Ark was published March 26. The paperback is out this fall!

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It’s fantastic. Like a lot of your readers, I’d been dreaming of getting to that point for a long, long time.

As for celebrating, it was more like a series of smaller celebrations than one big hurrah. Finishing the first draft was a tremendous accomplishment for me, even when I thought nothing might ever come of it. I wasn’t totally sure I had it in me to get that far. So was finishing the second draft! I’ve already mentioned doing my happy dance when I got the call from my editor that I’d been chosen. Signing the contract called for another joyous jig, and of course, there was much rejoicing the day the book finally came out.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Harper Voyager was kind enough to give me an interview and a guest post on their blog. You can find them here and here.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

So far, my time has been spent promoting The Ark. But it’s only been three weeks. Another difference is that although I was always trying my hardest, I am doubly inspired to put out my best work possible. Before, I never knew anyone would read it. Now, I know it’s going to be published! No pressure there.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I’ve said this before, but the single most amazing thing about the publishing industry is the support of my fellow writers. I’ve had a few readers reach out in the past couple of weeks to say that they enjoyed the book, and that’s really special, too. I even heard from a mother who told me her daughter hadn’t been so engaged by a book in awhile, and that was an awesome feeling.

I will admit that most of the people who reached out mainly just wanted to tell me not to end the next one on a cliffhanger, to which I say: THANK YOU for reading my book! And we’ll see…

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Knowing my kids, especially my daughter, will one day get to read the words I wrote. Wanting my children eventually to understand me as a person is a secondary goal in parenting, but it’s important nonetheless.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Keep writing! You can do this. I truly believe that anyone- anyone- can improve with practice. Practice involves reading as much as you can and thinking about the way better authors put their stories together. But, alas, it also involves writing.

So keep writing.

First Chapter Reveal: P.O.W.ER by Lisa A. Kremer

P.O.W.ER 2Title: P.O.W.ER
Author: Lisa A. Kremer
Publisher: Word Hermit Press
Pages: 291
Genre: YA Speculative Feminist Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

What would happen if women and girls joined their unique abilities together to change the world? In a world where access to the written word is reserved to men, Andra BetScrivener has been able to read and write ever since she was a little girl without anyone teaching her. She must keep her abilities a secret in the country of New North, or she could lose her hands, her eyes or her life. In fact, the only paths offered to her–and all young women–are to either marry or enter the government-run Women’s Training Program, where she’ll be taught “feminine” arts like drawing, painting, and homemaking.

On her seventeenth birthday, Andra discovers that her abilities extend beyond reading. She can write events to life. As she begins to explore her new ability, she must take care not to jeopardize her father’s job as head scrivener at the Ministry. Despite her efforts to keep her powers hidden, she comes to the attention of both the government and a rebel group, who each desire to use Andra for their own goals. At the same time, she begins to meet other gifted women who have never dared use their unique powers. With the help of her friends Brian and Lauren—who has the ability to read minds—Andra must find a way to unite the power of women to create change.

When one side manipulates Andra’s words into killing someone, and the other threatens her father’s life and her own freedom, Andra decides to use her writing to empower others to stop governmental oppression. But in a society ruled by lies, cruelty, and inequality her journey will not be easy or safe. For each book sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to causes that support women and children around the world.

First Chapter:

My stomach dropped as soon as Dad entered the kitchen scowling at a thick card embossed with the government seal. My hand started to shake so much that I had to put down my mug of tea. I knew this day was coming. After all, it was my seventeenth birthday, the first day of the last year of my life.

“That’s the letter, isn’t it?”

Dad looked at me with one of his half smiles, the one that never reached his eyes. I hadn’t seen him smile with genuine happiness for years, not since Mother died. This smile made no effort to cover the sadness and defeat in his face. “Pour me some cocoa, please.” He lowered himself into his customary chair next to me, “I’ll do my civic duty and read this to you.”

“I could always read it myself,” I said. I waited for him to respond the way he always did. I hoped that provoking him a little would reawaken the Dad who let me believe I could do anything, while still protecting me from the cruelty of our society. That Dad had disappeared over recent years.

“Andra!” he said, “You know I don’t like you to say that out loud. You never know if someone might be listening. If I could let you read everywhere, I would. We can’t let your secret get out.”

“I’m sorry.” I handed Dad his cocoa and watched as he took several sips. For a moment he closed his eyes and his face relaxed. The secret to giving him those brief moments was in the cocoa. I make it just like Mother used to. She left us too soon to teach me all her cooking secrets, but she taught me a few. She was a woman who turned everything she touched into something beautiful, warm and comforting. She could make people calm even in the most terrifying circumstances. Mother and Dad both made me believe that my future wasn’t set in the same stone used to build the giant walls that separated New North from the outside world. Mother believed that somehow they would find a way to return to some of the freedoms of the past and make a better future for all women. She never got the chance to do that. She died and Dad grew afraid.

“Ah, perfect as always. Now, to do my duty.” Dad put his mug down and brought my attention back to the thick card, or the envelope of doom, as I thought of it. The government seal—the Eye of the Lord—gleamed with a hint of gold ink as it caught the light from the sun shining through the window. It sent a shiver down my spine, as if the eye was really watching me.

Dad once told me the story of how the Eye of the Lord became the symbol of New North. More than 25 years ago, New North had been part of a much larger nation that suffered the delusion that it was the greatest nation on earth. For complicated reasons that I never fully understood, the country tore itself apart as men clamored for more power and control over women, money, and resources. Finally, civil war broke out and the country split into smaller nations led by the men who had the most money and could control the most media. Rom Sandovar, who would become the Supreme Prime Minister of New North, not only had money but also something even more powerful—the power of persuasion. He convinced people that he had a direct connection with the Lord. He claimed to have a dream where the Lord spoke to him while looking down from the heavens through flaming eyes. According to him, the Lord gave him guidance on a daily basis. People began to call Sandovar the Lord’s Eye on Earth. Sandovar commissioned artists to design images of that Eye to be hung throughout the newly formed nation of New North as a constant reminder that the new order was under the ever-present watch of the Lord. It flies over every meeting and can be seen in every building important to the government.

Rumors from the few people allowed to travel beyond New North’s borders claim the Eye of the Lord is even carved onto the outside of the wall that separates New North from the other Nations that surround us. I wouldn’t know because women are never allowed to leave. Actually, few men travel either. Since we have to rely mostly on renewable sources of energy, most of it is reserved for the basic necessities of life. Only the elite who can afford to own and pay for electrical vehicles or those who control commerce ever leave the safety of the walls.

I looked at the seal glinting wickedly over the announcement that my world was about to become even more confined. While I love art in all forms, thanks to Mother and her talents and love of beauty, I find the images of the Eye of the Lord an odd mixture of beauty and terror. I know so many girls who say they feel safe and protected under the watchful Eye and his representatives on earth. I’ve never understood how my peers could believe these things so completely. They practically worship the Supreme Prime Minister. I don’t.

My parents told me that things may not be as they seem, especially when it comes to faith. Of course, in public they put on the façade of true believers. After all, with Dad serving as Head Scrivener, our entire lives would be destroyed if anyone at the Ministry suspected he wasn’t a believer. That’s why, whenever we were in the lower levels of the house, Dad wanted me to be obedient. He worried that someone might be outside, listening, trying to catch him doing something wrong. Even though I was capable of reading the letter myself, it was forbidden. Dad had his duty to perform. He opened the envelope and read.

“To Joseph Scrivener and his daughter Andra, we wish to send many happy returns on this momentous day, the day when Andra turns seventeen and achieves the full status of woman.”

“Ugh!” I said

Dad gave me one of his strict looks. “I have to read this to you, please try to contain yourself. I know you’re not happy.”

“Sorry, Dad. Keep reading.”

He winked at me so I knew he wasn’t really angry. Then he cleared his throat and continued. “As you know, this is an important year for Andra. We hope that we will soon be able to celebrate her again in the coming year as she enters the sacred and important role of wife to one worthy of fathering a son to follow in the Scrivener’s illustrious footsteps. Of course, according to the laws of New North, if she should not be blessed by such an event, on her next birthday she will be welcomed into one of our prestigious Women’s Training Programs (WTP) where she will further develop her skills in proper feminine behavior and responsibilities. Again, many happy returns on this important day. We look forward to welcoming Andra into her womanly roles. Supreme Prime Minister, Rom Sandovar”

Dad folded the card. “Andra, are you going to eat that muffin or just destroy it?”

I looked down and saw the mess I had made of my cinnamon muffin without even knowing I did it. Crumbs stuck to my fingers and mounded on the table, evidence of my inner turmoil. I hate losing control in such an obvious way. It’s too dangerous. Dad has enough to worry about without me revealing my inner thoughts through unconscious messes. I tried to brush all the sticky crumbs back onto the plate.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “It’s just that I wish I wasn’t celebrating this birthday. Why celebrate the last year of life as I know it?” I pushed the plate away.

Dad reached across the table and grabbed my hand in his calm grasp. Callouses on his fingers, hardened by his years of writing with pen and ink, rubbed against my palms. Before the revolution he could have done work on something called a computer. He’d told me all about them but I’ve never seen one. Sandovar declared them tools of corruption, so people like my father had to perfect the art of writing things by hand.

My hand felt small in his. For a moment I became a young, scared child seeking strength from his touch. He’d always protected me. After Mother died, the government suggested I be sent away because his work was more important than his duties as a father to a girl. He stood up to the Ministry then and said, “I will raise my daughter. I’ve just lost my wife, nobody is taking my daughter.” I remember clinging to him when he said it. I was so afraid they would take me from him, and that he would be punished for opposing the Supreme Prime Minister. But Dad stood, rock solid, eyes looking from face to face, not backing down. The Supreme Prime Minister relented, and I went home with my father.

That day I believed he could win every battle. The only problem is—over the years he stopped trying to fight for reasons he won’t explain to me.

“We’ll think of something, Andra,” Dad said.

“What? You’ve been saying that for years and nothing has changed; it’s the law. By the end of this year I’ll have to leave you, give up my freedom, give up written words and become a slave to some man I don’t even love. Or I can join a training program and be turned into a mindless drone.”

“We don’t know that happens, Andra.”

“You weren’t there the last time I saw Lauren. She didn’t know who I was.” I tried to shake away the memories of my older friend when I last saw her in a tiny room at the nearest, and largest, Women’s Training Center. Gone was the idol of my youth, and in her place was a frail being—lost, alone, hopeless, and so terrified she could barely speak.

“Why does the world have to be like this, Dad? Why can’t I stay with you and make my own choices?”

“I don’t know. It wasn’t always this way. I remember when . . . You know I would fix it if I could.” He walked over to look out the window with his back toward me. “You also know the risks if I do anything.”

I was tired of his vague answers and my frustration bubbled up inside. I had to get away from him. The chair fell as I jumped up to leave while throwing words at him intended to sting. “So you do nothing and support the injustice.”

“Andra!” The agony in Dad’s voice stopped me before I left the room. “I can’t let you get hurt or disappear. I can’t lose you too . . . We’ll find an answer. You have to be patient.” His face filled with sadness and a hint of fear. I couldn’t bring him any more pain. [. . .]

 

Interview with C.H. MacLean, author of ‘Two Empty Thrones

C.H. MacLeanTo young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.” C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality.

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

  1. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

His latest book is the YA fantasy, Two Empty Thrones.

For More Information

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, C.H.. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Two Empty Thrones is my second published book and is the second book in the Five in Circle series. Fire Above, my third book, about a young man who dares to dream and starts the first dragon-human war, should be published in the winter of 2014/15. The third book in the Five in Two Empty Thrones 2Circle series will be released shortly after that.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

After a few nibbles but no bites from mainstream press, my research on the publishing world led me to a bevy of information about self-publishing. The information challenged my previous biases against it. I decided to self-publish for several reasons, the two main being the amount of control I have over my work and the ability to keep my book in print for as long as I want.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

Once I decided to self-publish, all the extra work such as formatting, cover art, and so on, took about six months.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I saw it lying on the counter and my first reaction was, wow, that looks like an interesting book. Then came the shock of, Hey, that’s my book! I’m sure the grin on my face was ridiculous. Of course I celebrated by giving my love a big hug and kiss!

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I started with requests for book reviews, including Goodreads and LibraryThing giveaways. I really wanted to have readers’ honest opinions of the book as my promotional foundation.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Having a real book out there, seeing my name on books only inspires me to write more. The stories just tumble out now, and I can see I’m getting good material down more quickly.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I was humbled when I realized how much work goes into publishing a book. I guess my idea of self-publishing deserved to be crushed. I hoped it just meant all you have to do is write, upload a file and poof, you’re published. But there are so many things that have to get done: formatting, proofing, cover design, book blurbs, sales descriptions, etc.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

I love knowing that someone out there is enjoying reading the story. I cherish reading and know how much I enjoy a good book. Hearing that someone else is having that same feeling from my book is the best.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Keep writing. Pour your heart and soul out for the readers. When you get tired or stuck, remember them and just keep writing.

 

 

C.H. MacLean: ‘Being published only inspires me to write more and write better.’

C.H. MacLeanTo young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.” C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality.

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.

His latest book is One is Come.

Visit his website at www.chmaclean.com.

About the Book:

One is ComeHaylwen doesn’t care who actually blew up the wall of the school library. With a chance to finally have real friends, all she cares about is if her suspension will make her parents move again. Her parents, forced to keep their own magical past silent, are shocked to learn that she is indeed a magic user. She tested negative. Twice! Desperate to hide Haylwen from the King of magic users, they flee, but their efforts thrust them all into mortal danger.

Haylwen’s parents don’t know about the prophesy of “The One,” or that the only one who doesn’t know Haylwen is a powerful magic user is Haylwen herself. The King and the dragon clans’ plans to remake the world are already in motion. As Haylwen struggles with her feelings of loneliness and unworthiness due to her inability to make a friend, she is completely unaware that the fate of the entire world rests on her choices.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, C. H.. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

One is Come is the only book I have published so far. It’s the first in the Five in Circle series, with the second in the series scheduled to be published in July 2014. My third book, about a young man who dares to dream and starts the first dragon-human war, should be published in the winter of 2014/15.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I self-published. After a few nibbles but no bites from mainstream press, I started researching self-publishing, which really challenged my previous biases against it. I decided to self-publish for several reasons but the two main reasons were the amount of control I have over my work and the ability to keep my book in print for as long as I want.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

Since I self-published, the only contract I signed was the one with myself to see it through. All the extra work that went into it, editing, formatting, cover art, and so on, took about six months.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

Seeing my book in the flesh was utterly amazing. When I saw it, my first reaction was, wow, that looks like an interesting book. Then the shock of, Hey, that’s my book!

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

The first thing I did was send out requests for book reviews, which included Goodreads and LibraryThing giveaways. I really wanted to have readers tell their honest opinion of the book as my promotional foundation.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Being published, having a real book out there, only inspires me to write more and write better. The stories just tumble out now, and I can see where and when I’m really getting good material down more quickly.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I didn’t go the traditional route, but I must say it was humbling to me to realize how much work goes into publishing a book. There is this idea that it’s so easy to self-publish and all you have to do is write, upload a file and poof, you’re published. But there are so many things that have to get done; extensive editing, formatting, proofing, cover design, book blurbs, sales descriptions, etc.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

I think it’s the idea that someone out there will get to enjoy reading the story. I love to read and know how much I enjoy a good book. Thinking someone else is going to have that same feeling from my book is the best.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Write what you love. Pour your heart and soul out for the readers. When you get tired or stuck, remember them and just keep writing.

 

Interview with Deborah Rix, author of ‘External Forces’

Deborah Rix 7Deborah Rix’s favourite position for reading a book is head almost hanging off the couch and feet up in the air with legs against the back of the couch. She’s been reading too much from Scientific American for research and ideas and needs to get back to some fiction. She has a long standing love of science fiction, some of her favourite authors include William Gibson, Philip K Dick, Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Douglas Adams, Iain M Banks. A bit old school.

Deborah enjoyed a successful career in entertainment publicity, live music promotion and event management. Which means she slogged through muddy fields for music festivals, was crammed into concert halls with too many sweaty teenage boys and got to go to Tuktoyaktuk (that’s in the Arctic Circle) for a Metallica concert. She lives with her family in Toronto, Canada, where she is the proprietor of The Lucky Penny, a neighborhood joint in Trinity-Bellwoods.

External Forces is her first novel.

Visit her website at www.DeborahRix.com.

External Forces 7Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Deborah.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

EXTERNAL FORCES is the first book I have published.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I went the indie publishing route. There is a certain amount of time that I devoted to researching agents and following their twitter feeds and writing the very best query letter with just the right amount of personal information about them to show that I really, really wanted them to be my agent. This amount of time is inversely proportional to the amount of time that any agent will spend actually reading my query. The form rejection is okay for them, the form query is not okay for an aspiring author. So I decided to spend my time more wisely and research how to publish independently instead. Also, my book is future fiction and the future was catching up to me. I was making things up that were coming true with every new edition of Scientific American. A sense of urgency overrode my desire for a traditional publisher.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

External Forces went live on Amazon on a Sunday and my parents happened to be coming by for a short visit. We opened a bottle of champagne and I showed the proof copy of the book to my father. He didn’t know, but I had dedicated it to him and his story-telling gene. And then my daughter taught my mother how to order a book from amazon. A good day all around.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I set up a giveaway on Goodreads and started running some ads there. It was a daily fascination to see how many people had entered to win. I ended up with over 1,000 entries.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I discovered that some readers read every damn word! There are a limited number of people that read my book before I released it into the wild so having complete strangers read it was exhilerating. It makes me want to be a better writer when I read the comments and insights that some readers have. It is humbling. And I’ve heard that before, it’s only now that I understand what that means.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I don’t know how true this is, because I’m looking in with my nose pressed to the glass, but traditional publishing seems surprising stodgy and rigid. The amount of helpful blogs and courses offered with advice on how to write a query letter or first ten pages or whatever, including the strict rules provided by the agents themselves, is astonishing. It’s ridiculous really, from both sides. I don’t have some brilliant solution because the sheer volume of activity is tremendous and would overwhelm anyone. Hence the slush piles. In Canada it’s even more exclusive because genre fiction doesn’t have a hope in hell up here. To be a Canadian author means that you must be a literary writer. And we have a lot of those and they are very good. But there is no interest from Canadian publishing in an author like me, which is surprising because it doesn’t seem that way for many of the other creative industries where I think Canada is quite open-minded.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

When people that I’ve known for a long time say “I didn’t know you could write.” “Yes, yes I can,” is a very pleasurable response.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Nope, I’m still trying to figure it out myself.

Character Interview: Tom Stevens from Eva Márquez’ YA debut novel, ‘Sweetest Taboo’

We’re thrilled to have here today Tom Stevens from Eva Márquez’ new controversial YA debut novel, Sweetest Taboo.  Tom is a 37-year old High School Teacher living in Los Angeles, California.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Tom.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Yes, I feel as if I were portrayed fairly accurately in the book. With that said, I do feel that some readers who have been prejudiced with preconceived ideas about his type of relationship will portray me as some sort of predator. I realize that to those particular readers, there really is nothing I could say or do that would sway their personal beliefs and opinions. To those who are a little more open minded, I hope that you can see the love that did shine between Isabel and myself, and although it was a student teacher relationship, it was NOT based on that fact, yet based on equal grounds.  There was nothing more to this than two people meeting and falling in love…despite age and the social issues regarding what is deemed right and wrong in this society.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Well, yes and no. Yes, because I was portrayed as a sensitive and caring man when it came to the one person in this world whom I was totally and completely unconditionally in love with. I would have died for Isabel, and there was nothing I wouldn’t have done for her. However, I do feel at times I was portrayed as some sort of whimpering pathetic man who couldn’t cope with the loss of Isabel, which as far as I am concerned is somewhat less than accurate.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I believe my strongest trait is being a giving person as well as being honest, also being a person in tune with himself, and having the ability to “see the big picture”.

Worse trait?

Hmmm…we all have traits we would like to not have. But if I could change anything I suppose it would be my desire to avoid conflict at pretty much all costs. I have paid a high price for conflict avoidance over the years, and knowing this…I also know that if I would have dealt with certain issues as they came up, life would have been much different for Isabel and myself. I have always lived my life for other people and never took the time to treat myself to life’s pleasures and rewards. I guess that would be the second worst trait.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Really? I have no idea. It would have to be someone who is age appropriate, and hot! Just kidding, I do think it would have to be someone who could actually portray sensitivity and love though their look, their eyes, demeanor, and their touch…while being strong and confident in themselves at the same time. I’ll let the readers determine who that should be.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Umm, yes…I think that would be Isabel.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

I was pretty much nervous about the whole book because of the subject matter, however, aside from that particular subject matter, I was really concerned up to the last chapter. I couldn’t be more thrilled by the way it ended.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I wouldn’t trade places with her good friend who ultimately stabbed her in the back. That is no way to be. Friends stick together, support each other, and in this relationship where both myself and Isabel were in a way, self imposed victims of our choices, there was no place for someone who was such a good friend and confidant to turn on her when in fact Isabel was in charge, doing her own thing, and really was in control all along.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Sometimes as a man, I hate being sensitive (you know…some macho sense that guys shouldn’t get all misty about things), but to be honest…I cried. Did I cry because it was a sense of relief, heartbreak, or joy? I guess you will have to read the book and come to your own conclusions.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Don’t change a thing…you developed a terrific story about a taboo subject. Keep your style.

Thank you for this interview, Tom.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Only if I am invited to show up.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, daughter of European immigrants, Eva Márquez has spent most of her life outside of her home country. At the age of five, Eva accompanied her parents to the United States, where the family settled permanently. After graduating from university, she went on to complete graduate studies in International Relations in Spain. Eva received her Master of International Studies degree from the University of Sydney and went on to work in the global health field in Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Eva currently resides in Southern Africa.

Her latest book is the YA/Adult Fiction, Sweetest Taboo.

You can visit Eva’s website at www.SweetestTabooBook.com

Isabel Cruz was fifteen years old when she met Tom Stevens. She was 15 when they started dating, and 16 when she lost her virginity to him. By the time she turned 18 and went to college, everything had fallen apart. This hadn’t been an ordinary love, though. Not a love between two dear friends, or even high school sweethearts. This had been the most taboo sort of love there was: a relationship between a student and her teacher. Isabel started her high school career as a normal student, but set her sights on Tom Stevens as soon as she met him, and pursued him with an intense – and sometimes reckless – fascination. When he finally approached her after swim practice and told her that he shared her feelings, it was the start of a forbidden and dangerous relationship.

Join Isabel as she makes her way through this dark love story, hiding from teachers, lying to her parents, and defying the authorities to make a life with the man she loves. Watch as she discovers the wonders of love and romance, and the terrible betrayal of jealous friends. And cry with her when she learns the hard truth about life and the people in her world. Sweetest Taboo is inspired by the true and tragic stories of students who fall in love with their teachers, and live with the hard truths of forbidden romances. In a world full of after-school specials on sexual predators, this touching book seeks a different path, casting both student and teacher in a gentle light, and showing that true love may lie at the base of even the most illicit romance.

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