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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Interviews, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 2,148
1. Interview with Lauren Layne, Author of Just One Night and Giveaway

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Lauren!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Lauren Layne] Snarky, yet hopelessly romantic.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Lauren Layne] Ten years of unfulfilled sexual tension are about combust into one very hot night — but will one night be enough?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Lauren Layne] Well it’s the third in the Stiletto series, and I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to tell the story of a woman with a VERY sexy reputation but none of the actual sexual experience!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Lauren Layne] Sam and Riley have known each other for years, so it was fun getting to skip a lot of that “getting to know you” stuff and get straight to what draws these two together for an entire decade.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Lauren Layne] What made Sam tick. He’s SUPER secretive, so it took me awhile to figure out that his crappy home life totally did a number on him.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Lauren Layne] It changes pretty much every week, but right now I’m going with Pink’s “So What,” because it’s very power-anthemy, and reminds me that I’m in control of each day.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Lauren Layne] A hair band thingy. There’s always one on my wrist or in my hair, and if it’s missing, I get obsessed!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Lauren Layne] Notebook, laptop and water glass (I’m a minimalist!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Lauren Layne] President Obama (“Nobody panic. I’ve got this.”)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Lauren Layne] I absolutely loved Tessa Dare’s Romancing the Duke. I couldn’t put it down.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Lauren Layne] You know, writing is pretty much always on my mind, but when I need a break, I love to have a glass of wine and cook with my husband.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Lauren Layne] I’m very slowly trying to get better at social media (GoodReads, Facebook, Twitter), but I LOVE email. Seriously, write to me about ANYTHING! Lauren (at) laurenlayne (dot) com

 

JUST ONE NIGHT: Sex, Love and Stiletto Series
Written by Lauren Layne
Published by Loveswept
ISBN: 978-0-34554727-9
On sale: April 22nd, 2014

Blurb

New York’s hottest “sexpert” has been living a lie—and it’s up to one man to keep her honest . . . all night long.

Riley McKenna knows sex – good sex, bad sex, kinky sex…Her articles in Stiletto magazine are consistently the publication’s most scandalous—and the most read. But Riley has a secret…all that sexy talk? Not an ounce of it comes from personal experience. Her own bedroom escapades are more limited than even her best friends know. When her editor requests that all columnists write something more personal for Stiletto’s anniversary issue, Riley turns to the one man she’s always been able to count on and calls in the favor of a lifetime.

Sam Compton would do anything for Riley McKenna. Anything except be her experimental sex toy. He refuses her request. At least until she tells him that it’ll either be him or she’ll go to someone else. And that, Sam can’t accept. Reluctantly he agrees to her terms—one night of completely meaningless sex in the name of research. Riley thinks she’s prepared for what awaits her in Sam’s bed.  After ten years of writing about sex, actually doing it shouldn’t be that different, right? So wrong. What starts as “one time only” becomes “just one more time.” And then one more. And before they know it, Riley and Sam learn first-hand that when it comes to love, there’s no such thing as just one night.

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Just-One-Night-Stiletto-Series-ebook/dp/B00F8F3JZK

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/just-one-night-lauren-layne/1116911372?ean=9780345547279

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/just-one-night/id725293406?mt=11

Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2013/10/now-booking-tasty-virtual-book-tour-for_29.html

Author Info

Lauren Layne graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Layne moved to New York City, where she now writes full-time. She lives with her husband and their plus-size pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.

Connect with Lauren: Facebook | Twitter | Website

Author links

http://laurenlayne.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LaurenLayneAuthor

https://twitter.com/_LaurenLayne

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Lauren Layne Prize Pack with: Review Copies of Stiletto Series, Loveswept Tote and Mug or $15.00 E-Retailer Gift Card of Winner’s Choosing )

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The post Interview with Lauren Layne, Author of Just One Night and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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2. Interview with Angela Dennis, Author of Shadows of Fate

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Angela Dennis] Charming, sarcastic, introvert who writes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Shadows of Fate?

[Angela Dennis] I would love to. Shadows of Fate is an Urban Fantasy with strong romantic elements. It revolves around Brenna, a Shadow Bearer from an alternate plane of reality, who has been banished to earth after losing control of her powers. She works as a hunter, policing the supernatural misfits that spilled on to the Earthly plane during a cataclysmic war. When she meets her new partner, something sparks her suspicions. Particularly when the people closest to her start turning up as piles of ash. As an attraction deeper than blood or bone flares between them, they must work together to put together the pieces of a killer’s macabre puzzle and avoid becoming the final victims.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Angela Dennis] There are so many. Telling you about my favorite scene would give away one of the biggest twists in the book, so how about my second favorite scene? One scene that always makes me smile is right after Gray has spent his first night at the boarding house. All of the residents have piled into the kitchen for breakfast and are deciding what to do with him. I have a soft spot for all of the secondary characters in this book, and this is a scene where you really get to see their quirkiness and how they interact.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story.

[Angela Dennis] The relationship between Brenna and Gray. I wanted it to unravel in an organic way. Because of this, and because I made the reasons keeping them apart so complex, they have a lot of issues to work through.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Angela Dennis] Coffee. I have a serious issue. My husband has tried to intervene a few times, but now he just hands me my mug.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Angela Dennis] Coffee, a Yoda bobble head (which everyone should have), and my cat (he’s a permanent fixture).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Angela Dennis] My son. He is a special little boy, with very special needs, so it would be fantastic to understand how he experiences life so I can relate to and with him more effectively.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Angela Dennis] Time Travel. I’m a huge history buff. I would love to go back and experience pivotal moments in the past (not interfere…just experience).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Angela Dennis] Right after I sold Shadows of Fate, my editor at the time suggested that I read Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series. Never one to ignore good advice, I immediately picked up the first book. I couldn’t stop reading until I had finished the series. There are so many things I love about it. But her world building is incredible. I was spell bound.

The most recent book I finished was Kim Harrison’s the Undead Pool. It was a great book, but reading it was bittersweet. The series is drawing to a close, and I’m not ready for it to end.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Angela Dennis] They can find me on Twitter @angeladennis, Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorangeladennis?ref=hl , Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/angeladennis779/ and Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7770902.Angela_Dennis

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Shadows of Fate

Shadow Born

Book 1

Angela Dennis

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Date of Publication: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61921-927-4

Number of pages: 247

Word Count: 87,000

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Samhain Kobo Amazon BN

Chapters iTunes Amazon.es

Tagline: Redemption lies beyond the veil between truth and lies.

Book Description:

After witnessing her husband’s brutal murder, Brenna Baudouin lost control of her Shadow Bearer powers and wreaked havoc on her home world. Her penance: one hundred years policing hordes of supernatural misfits that spilled onto the Earthly plane after a cataclysmic war.

She’s on a routine exorcism run when she learns she’s been assigned a new partner. But there’s something about this Shadow Bearer that sparks her suspicions. Particularly when people closest to her start turning up as piles of ash.

Gray Warlow holds tight to the glamour that allows him to get close to the woman on whom he plans to wreak vengeance for betraying his people. Yet as he skillfully manipulates his way past her distrust, he begins to see her not as the heartless monster he was led to believe, but a strong, vulnerable woman.

As they work to put together the pieces of a killer’s macabre puzzle, an attraction deeper than blood and bone flares between them. And they must reveal their deepest secrets to avoid becoming the final targets.

Warning: A thrill ride of supernatural proportions. Contains violent battle scenes, nail-biting suspense, crazy hot sexual tension, and enough twists and turns to make your head spin.

Excerpt:

Copyright © 2014 Angela Dennis

All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

Her gaze stretched to the bar. Beneath the glittering liquor bottles and burnt oak, a bottle of Jack in one hand and Grey Goose in the other, stood her target. Dirty blond hair brushed past his eyebrows, the rest tied back in a rubber band. He seemed innocent enough. As he flipped a glass bottle behind his back, muscles rippling on his shirtless body, magic seeped from his skin. It flowed around the women stretched across the bar, their assets on display as well as their lust.

Thankfully, he didn’t get much bang for his buck. This one was weak. Newly possessed, the demon hadn’t had time to gain a strong enough lock on the victim’s body. This shouldn’t take long. The piles of paperwork she had left on her desk might even get done tonight.

She pushed through the crowd, stripping her leather duster off her shoulders as she went. The black corset underneath, paired with tight leather pants, flattered her figure. She turned heads, especially the demon’s. She released the hair tie at the back of her neck. With a quick shake, her burnt copper curls slid down to her waist. She stopped at one of the tiny tables and threw her coat across the barstool.

Eyes closed, she pretended the music was something more aesthetically pleasing as she stepped onto the dance floor, keeping her mark at the forefront of her mind. She felt his eyes on her body as she swayed to the music. Hips gyrating to the heavy beat, she pulled on her glamour to blend in with the other dancers as she let her magic wrap his body. Losing herself in the music, she let him watch her move, feeling his desire amp. His energy vibrated as he made his way through the crowd, his power wild.

His hands draped her hips and he pulled her to him, his magic sliding over her body. Darkness tinged her aura, but she shrugged it off. Dealing with demon magic never got easier, but his wasn’t powerful. Grinning, she wrapped her hand around his neck, pulling him close until her lips brushed his ear. His burning skin jumped against her touch.

They stilled for a moment as the DJ switched tracks. “Think you could get me a drink?” she breathed, brushing a hand down his bare back. “I’m thirsty.” She grinned as he nodded, eager, the demon jumping beneath his skin.

“Anything for you, darlin’.” He wrapped a possessive arm around her waist, moving her toward the bar. “What’s your poison?”

“Whiskey. Straight.”

A grin played on his lips. “My kinda woman.”

Pushing past the other bartender, he grabbed a bottle of Jack and poured her shot. She caught it as it slid across the splintered wooden bar. Tossing it back, she reveled in the slow burn of the liquor. It was an old favorite. Just cause she was working didn’t mean she couldn’t treat herself.

She tossed back a second shot, thankful she didn’t have the ability to get drunk. Giving the demon her best longing look, she leaned forward. “Thanks. I needed that,” she murmured. “What’s your name?”

“Zed.”

Leaning forward, she traced a finger down her cleavage. “Do you think you could give me a ride home, Zed?” she asked. She bit one finger in a nervous gesture, knowing he was buying it. “My friend went home with some guy and left me here. I can wait.”

His eyes flashed, and she knew she had him.

“Sure.” He glanced at the other bartender. “Give me a second. I got off an hour ago.”

Sure you did, she thought.

A few seconds later he was back, pulling on a t-shirt as he walked. The gesture was surprisingly human. With the demon hiding inside, the brimstone dancing in his blood would keep his body uncomfortably hot, eventually burning him alive from the inside out. It may be the middle of winter, but he would never feel the cold.

He held up his keys as she rose to meet him. “My truck’s out back.”

She moved closer, letting him drape an arm over her shoulder. “Let me grab my coat.” The duster was where she had left it. She draped it over her arms as she turned on her psychic link with Xavier. The mage accepted, and Brenna turned to the demon, knowing Xavier was watching through her eyes. At this point, the mark’s lust was so inflamed he wouldn’t notice the slight change of color in her irises.

Wrapping her free arm around Zed’s waist, she led him through the mass of patrons to the exit. As they stepped into the wintry air, she noticed the bikers again. They stood beside their Harleys, watching her warily as she passed. She worried the tension might give her away, but Zed was oblivious.

She led him over the cobblestone to where Xavier waited. As they closed in on the shadows, she could feel Zed’s eagerness spike.

The darkness moved over them, hiding them from prying eyes. Xavier’s power sang in the night, a compass pointing her to the van. Leaving Zed to follow behind, she moved to the gray van and pressed her back against its side. Zed moved toward her, all pretense of humanity stripped away. The graceless stride betrayed his hunger as green scales peeled away his skin and his eyes turned to blood red slits.

Brenna waited until he was on her, scales chaffing the sensitive skin of her face, then she dropped her glamour. The demon jerked back as her magic wrapped around his body, but it was too late. In one swift movement, she pulled the blade strapped to her back free and ripped the already tattered t-shirt away from his chest. Shifting her body weight, she slammed him against the vehicle even as his body mass grew, the demon pushing its way to the surface. One hand held Zed steady, the other slipped beneath his jeans to feel the skin of his hip.

“A little to the left,” the demon growled, body shaking, titillated despite itself.

He shifted his weight and slammed her against the brick wall behind her. His body pressed hard against hers, he ran a scaly tongue across her cheek. “You don’t have to get hostile, darlin’. I don’t mind if you like it rough.”

She let her power surge and kneed him in the crotch. Sparks flew as her spell sent him flying against the van. Keeping him in place with a holding spell, her fingers found the rune carved on his hip. She ripped away the denim as she tried to control the squirming demon.

“A little help?” she called out. She had pulled back the spell. Her full body weight was pressed against the demon, but he was starting to get free. Her magic had to be focused on breaking the possession; she couldn’t waste it restraining Casanova.

She released the demon as Xavier stepped from the shadows and slammed it against the van again. Subdued, the creature glared at them, its red eyes filled with hatred. Another hard slam dazed the creature, but only for a moment.

A flick of her hand and the back of the van opened. Xavier shoved Zed inside. As soon as he was strapped into the harness, Brenna ripped off his jeans. His hips now bare, she was able to see the rune carving, fresh as she had hoped.

Her ceremonial blade pulsed in her hand as she charged it with her energy.

Zed spit at her. The saliva sizzled across the corset, burning a hole in the leather.

Damn. That had been one of her favorites.

“Stuff something in its mouth. I need to concentrate.”

“Deal with it. Even in the harness this thing is a bitch to restrain.” White lines creased Xavier’s eyes, and Brenna worried his injuries were more severe than he let on.

Zed’s fingers began to work the trappings of the harness, but Xavier pulled him back, one arm around his scaly neck. In an explosion of power, Zed pulled free, knocking Xavier into the side of the van. Saliva dripping from his fangs, Zed growled at Brenna, and snapped the other wrist free. Jumping across the van, he pinned Brenna beneath him. Spittle fell from his lips, scorching its way across her skin. She pressed her palm against his face and pushed with all her strength, ignoring her burning flesh. Then, suddenly, he was gone.

Getting to her feet, she saw Xavier had strapped the beast back into the restraints.

“You got it?” Once she started, she wouldn’t be able to help him anymore. All of her energy would go into the exorcism.

“Yeah. Hurry.”

A sharp giggle jarred Brenna’s attention. Looking up, she caught Hilda peering through the glass from the front seat. “If he passes out, I can help.”

“This isn’t a game.”

Zed slammed against his restraints. “I like ghosts. They burn like whiskey going down.”

“Shut up,” Xavier growled.

Tuning them out, Brenna let the words of the exorcism spell spill from her lips. Her hand pressed against the rune on the demon’s hip. The carving glowed and the green light grew until it filled the van.

Zed fought against the restraints. Obscenities, the kind only a demon would know or understand, ricocheted throughout the vehicle.

Xavier stuck a thick leather strap in the demon’s mouth, cutting off his tirade.

Brenna gathered her magic. It pooled through her and into the athame as she sliced the silver blade into the center of the rune. Blood seeped from the wound, spilling over the green light. It exploded with power, slamming Brenna against the van. Xavier fared better, still wrapped around the demon. He was surrounded by a musty green steam that reeked of brimstone.

Continuing the chant, Brenna pulled a pouch of blessed sand from the crevice between her breasts. Throwing a pinch onto the rune, she banished the demon back behind the Veil. Golden steam rose from the wound. It twined around Brenna thick and dense, but she continued to chant even as its foulness tried to seep inside her mouth.

Darkness teased the edges of her vision for a few moments, then the warmth of Xavier’s power wrapped around her body like a shield, pushing out the demonic essence. Time stood still as the final words filled the air. Then, in a flash, the beast was gone.

About the Author:

Angela Dennis lives outside Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, son and a sheltie with a hero complex. When she is not at her computer crafting stories, she can be found feeding her coffee addiction, playing peek-a-boo, or teaching her son about the great adventures found only in books.

You can visit Angela at her blog www.angeladennisauthor.blogspot.com or at her website www.angeladennisauthor.com . She loves to hear from her readers, so find her on Twitter for a chat @angeladennis

https://twitter.com/AngelaDennis

https://www.facebook.com/angela.dennis.7798

http://www.pinterest.com/angeladennis779/

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/26267274-angela-dennis

www.angeladennisauthor.blogspot.com

www.angeladennisauthor.com

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1 prize pack featuring a copy of Shadows of Fate, book swag (bookmarks) and coffee.

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3. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Julie Fortenberry


 
Illustrator Julie Fortenberry is visiting 7-Imp today, and as you can see above, she brought her breakfast along — Cheerios with blueberries and coffee with milk. It looks just right to me (and healthy to boot), and I’m ready to chat with her over coffee.

I should say that Julie, who started her career as an abstract painter, is an author-illustrator, actually. Earlier this month, she saw her writing debut, though previously she’s illustrated others’ books. You can read more below about The Artist and the King, her author-illustrator debut and what Kirkus calls in their review “a nod to art’s twin powers of subversion and of transformation.” It was published by Alazar Press (whom we have to thank for re-printing Ashley Bryan’s compilations of Black American spirituals, but Julie talks about that below too).

Those of you familiar with the work of Kar-Ben Publishing (a division of Lerner Publishing Group), who publish new children’s books with Jewish content each year, may instantly recognize Julie’s work. As you’ll see below, she’s illustrated many of Jamie Korngold’s stories about a Jewish girl, the cheery and ever-resourceful Sadie.

Let’s get to it, and I thank Julie for visiting. (I’d like to take this opportunity, by the way, to thank Julie seven-thousand-fold for her blog about children’s illustration, which she writes with artist Shelley Davies. Oh, how I’ve enjoyed it over the years.)

* * * * * * *


A painting by Don Fortenberry of Julie at work
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Julie: Author/Illustrator.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Julie: Illustrator of the following:

Author/Illustrator of The Artist and the King [April 2014].

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Julie: Photoshop.



Sketch and final illustration for High Five

magazine

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Julie: Pittsboro, NC. Population 3,743 (2010 census).

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Julie: I started my career as an abstract painter, and I still paint abstractions from time to time. I was once in a Whitney Museum exhibit with Carroll Dunham (Lena’s dad) and the Starn Twins. That was a lifetime ago.


River (oil on pine)


Julie’s portrait of her uncle, Martin Balow
(Click to enlarge)

As an illustrator, I’m self-taught. I started tinkering with Adobe software that a friend gave me not long after I had children. It was satisfying to be creative in a way that was accessible to my kids. In 2006, the High Five magazine and Boyds Mills Press editors found my illustration portfolio on childrensillustrators.com. The art directors and editors of Honesdale, PA, gave me my first assignments.


“Cotton candy, sticky sweet, on Pippa’s fingers—tasty treat.”
(Click to enlarge)


“Parade is over. Time for bed.”
(Click to enlarge)

Above: Spreads from Karen Roosa’s Pippa at the Parade (Boyds Mill Press, 2009)

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Julie: www.juliefortenberry.com.

My abstract work can be seen here.

Artist Shelley Davies and I blog about children’s illustration here. (Shelley finds the best stuff.) We recently started a Facebook page, too: www.facebook.com/childrens.illustration.9



More illustrations for High Five

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Julie: I have a new Sadie book coming out in September (Sadie, Ori, and Nuggles Go to Camp) and one more Sadie book in the pipeline. I’m also writing and illustrating an easy reader.



(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Work-in-progress pieces

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got more coffee, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Julie again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

Julie

: My process varies, depending on the editor. Some editors send layouts with the words in place and detailed instructions; others leave the layout up to me. For Eve Bunting’s Pirate Boy, I was free to create the page turns, to choose what to illustrate, and even to choose the dimensions of the book. I hand-drew little story boards to figure out how to pace the pictures. The sketches and final illustrations were done with Photoshop (using a mouse).


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


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(Click to enlarge)


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(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


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(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Sketches and final spreads from Eve Bunting’s
Pirate Boy

(Holiday House, 2011).

As for The Artist and the King, the project started when my husband recounted a tale about WWII. The Danes, he said, had made Nazi orders unenforceable when they all opted to wear the yellow star. Really this is a myth, but I wished it were true. That idea of people working together to undermine a tyrant became the seed for The Artist and the King, and the yellow star became a dunce cap.

Of course, because I was writing for children, everything else changed too. My friend, the writer Kathleen O’Dell, helped me with the first couple of drafts (and by “couple,” I mean twenty). Almost from the start, the illustrating and writing happened simultaneously. The pictures sparked the words and vice versa. In fact, the entire road to publication was intertwined with the writing and rewriting process. I submitted a dummy of the story (by emailing a link to a web slideshow) to several editors and received feedback. One editor in particular outlined ways for improving the story. Still, after revisions, she wasn’t quite ready to commit to it.


“Neighbors and friends asked for caps of their own. She began selling her caps in the marketplace, and trading them for exotic ribbons, gems,
feathers and buttons to make new caps.”

(Click to enlarge)



“One by one, the others followed. When the soldiers saw their families going, they followed, leaving the King alone in the market square. Daphne looked back at that cap, then at the King’s spear, hovering directly above it. That beautiful cap, crumpled in the dirt! She made a run for it. But she stopped short.”
(Click to enlarge)



“‘Come now, your majesty,’ said Daphne. ‘We can still bring everyone home.’”
(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Sketches and final spreads from
The Artist and the King


(Alazar Press, 2014).

Around this time I moved to North Carolina, and I saw Ashley Bryan’s work at the North Carolina Museum of Art. His beautifully illustrated compilations of Black American spirituals (Walk Together Children and I’m Going to Sing) were republished by Alazar Press, just up the road from me. I queried the founder of Alazar, Rosemarie Gulla, about the project. Rosemarie loved the story and agreed to publish it. The final edit was done by the wonderful writer and editor Jacqueline Ogburn. And the book designer, Julie Allred, adjusted the layout in a way that improved the flow of the story.

With so much help, it was a little like making stone soup. But in this version of Stone Soup, the villagers are extremely talented and generous.



Sketch and final illustration for Babybug

magazine

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.

Julie

: Big. One of the perks of living in a small southern town is that I can afford work space. My husband and I use the top floor of our home as a studio. His side is for painting and collage. It’s full of paint, glue, and bits of ripped up Life magazines. If I want a watercolor backdrop to scan into my work, I can find it over there.


(Click to enlarge)


Julie’s husband, Don, in the studio
(Click to enlarge)


Julie’s children

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Julie

: The first book I read alone was The B Book by Phyllis McGinley, illustrated by Robert Jones. I loved Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup (read by Captain Kangaroo) and my Little Golden Book Picture Dictionary illustrated by Tibor Gergely.

And then there’s The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese. I remembered the picture of the ocean being swallowed by the one brother and his struggle not to spit it out, because when he does spit it out, a little boy will drown — and that’s just the first brother. There are four more brothers and four methods of execution, one involving suffocation by burning whipped cream. I think it’s safe to say that they don’t write ‘em like that anymore.

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Julie: Lynda Barry, David Small, and Shirley Hughes.



Sketch and final illustration from Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast
by Jamie Korngold (Kar-Ben, 2011)

(Click second image to enlarge)

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Julie: Amy Winehouse, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Lily Allen, Nellie McKay, The Kinks, Madeleine Peyroux, Sly and the Family Stone.

I listen to music when the reading/math part is over, yes.




Sketches and more art from Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Julie: I’m a good dancer. Please, someone invite me to a wedding reception.


Spread from Jamie Korngold’s
Sadie’s Lag Ba’Omer Mystery

(Kar-Ben, January 2014)
(Click to enlarge)

7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

Julie: Who is your favorite writer for adults?

Anne Tyler. A review by Tara Gallagher accurately described Anne Tyler as a “master of the fine threads of human relationships.” I love movies about the fine threads, too. Mike Leigh’s Another Year is a favorite.


Illustration from Jamie Korngold’s
Sadie’s Almost Marvelous Menorah

(Kar-Ben, 2013)

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Julie: “Shoehorn.” It cracked me up the first time I heard it, and it still cracks me up.

“Flummoxed” is another good word.

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Julie: “Yummy.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Julie: A liberal arts education — what Sarah Vowell calls “that trap door to a bottomless pit of beauty.”

Jules: What turns you off?

Julie: Bean-counting.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Julie: Every word Susie Essman’s character, Susie Greene, has ever yelled. She has a talent for alliteration.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Julie: The wail of loons on a lake. The voices of my family playing board games as I fall asleep on the couch.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Julie: Eric Cantor’s voice.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Julie: Acting.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Julie: Anything where I’d have to pronounce French words in front of people, like waitressing at the Lord Jeffery Inn. Just ask my friend Jennifer Thermes about my pronunciation of the word giclée.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Julie: “It’s okay.” And then I’d like to hear Bobby Darin sing “Beyond The Sea.”

* * * * * * *

All artwork and images are used with permission of Julie Fortenberry.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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4. Five questions for Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia Leitich Smith Five questions for Cynthia Leitich SmithCynthia Leitich Smith’s urban fantasy series the Tantalize quartet did indeed tantalize readers with its vampire-themed eatery Sanguini’s: A Very Rare Restaurant (and, of course, the vampires and other supernatural beings involved therein). Her latest novel, Feral Curse (Candlewick, 13–16 years), is the second book in the Tantalize spinoff series Feral, which brings various species of werepeople (a preferred term for “shifters”) to the forefront with intrepid werecat protagonists Yoshi and Kayla. Despite the palpable suspense as her characters face bewildering magic, anti-were prejudice, and scheming yetis, Smith keeps the tone light and witty — a catnip-like combination for fans of smart supernatural romance.

1. The Tantalize and Feral series are populated with vampires, werepeople, angels, and yetis — a motley crew, to be sure. Any other supernatural creatures we should look out for?

CLS: My inner Whedonite relishes geek-team protagonists in a multi-creature-verse. Along the way, I’ve also unleashed hell hounds, dragons, ghosts, and sorcerers. Writing the series finale, I’m showcasing diva demons and my heroes’ metaphorical demons within. Not to mention the diabolical governor of Texas. But pffft! You probably saw that coming.

2. What kind of shifter would you be and why?

smith feral curse Five questions for Cynthia Leitich SmithCLS: I’ve been saying werecats, in light of their starring role in the Feral series. But as of late, I’ve become intrigued by wereorcas and Dolphins. I’ve lived a largely mid- to southwestern, landlocked life, so even though most of our world is covered by water, to me it’s as alien and fantastical as anything we’d find in fiction.

3. Will Quincie, Kieren, Zachary, and Miranda of the Tantalize books cross paths with Yoshi and Kayla?

CLS: Isn’t that what finales are for? Yes, they’ll all be back in Feral Pride (2015) along with heaven’s bureaucracy, Italian-Romanian-Texan fusion cuisine, and — of course — senior prom.

4. We can’t resist asking: what’s your favorite item on the menu you created for Sanguini’s? (And would you actually eat it?)

CLS: Chef Bradley’s signature dish: chilled baby squirrels, simmered in orange brandy, bathed in honey cream sauce. And I might, absent Brad’s secret ingredient. By the way, it’s inspired by a real-life historical Romanian recipe involving mice.

5. If you could live in the world of another YA fantasy series, which would it be?

CLS: The world of Ellen Jensen Abbott’s Watersmeet books, after Abisina saves it.

From the April 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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5. Interview with Bridget Blackwood, Author of Rising Shadows and Giveaway

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Bridget Blackwood] Quirky, loyal, straightforward, affable, jovial 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Rising Shadows?

[Bridget Blackwood] Non-humans trying to live alongside humans without being caught. Rising Shadows is a turning point for everyone because everything comes to light and there isn’t an option to hide anymore. Rachel is caught between two worlds, not belonging to either. She has a choice to make and her choice will tip the balance.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Bridget Blackwood] Oooh, choosing a favorite is hard. I think the end when Rachel steps up to be her own hero is my favorite. She’s comes so far from the beginning and the scared confused woman she was in chapter one.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?

[Bridget Blackwood] Show don’t tell. It’s the difference between telling the reader a character is nervous and showing them through descriptions like “he shifted from one foot to the other.”  I feel like I use the same words and descriptions over and over. I’m self conscious that my show sucks. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Bridget Blackwood] My cellphone. It’s my lifeline to just about everything and everyone. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Bridget Blackwood] Two baby dragons from How to Train Your Dragon, a large sweet tea from the local deli, and pink monthly planner.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Bridget Blackwood] Elsa Pataky. I’d send the kiddos to the nanny and spend all day locked in the bedroom with Chris Hemsworth. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Bridget Blackwood] Sweet! I’d choose speed. I could get soooo much done. I’d clean the whole house spotless and write a book a day. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Bridget Blackwood] I took a step away from paranormals and read a few contemporaries. Jay Crownover’s Marked Men series, Aurora Rose Reynolds’ Until series, I read everything by Bella Jewel I could find, and Teased by Jamie Begley.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Bridget Blackwood] Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/bridget.blackwood.9

Facebook fan page – https://www.facebook.com/BridgetBlackwoodAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/author_bridget

Blog – http://bridgetblackwood.wordpress.com

Website – http://bridgetblackwoodauth.wix.com/book

  

Rising Shadows

World in Shadows

Book One

Bridget Blackwood

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication: February 1, 2014

ISBN: 1494891751

ASIN: B00I6U2ARW

Number of pages: 107

Word Count: 32,404

Cover Artist: The Killion Group

Amazon Nook

ITunes Kobo

Book Description:

Rachel Ryan wakes up with no knowledge of where she is or how she got there. Thrown into a world she thought only existed in myths, she finds more questions than answers.

Shape shifters, faeries, and vampires hide in plain sight among humans. There’s a war quietly brewing in the shadows. Rachel stands between mankind and those creatures that live in the darkness.

Enhanced with power she doesn’t understand, she’ll tip the scales, but who is the real enemy?

About the Author:

Bridget Blackwood is a hopeless romantic and a fan of happily ever after. She grew up in East Texas where she met and married her high school sweetheart. Together they moved to Southern Illinois, it’s been home for over a decade now. Bridget began telling stories at an early age, she writes in self-defense because the characters in her head are loud and bossy. A social butterfly by nature, Bridget loves to talk and laugh. When she isn’t writing she enjoys watching horror movies, playing video games, and not cooking.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bridget.blackwood.9

Twitter https://twitter.com/author_bridget

Blog http://bridgetblackwood.wordpress.com/

Website http://bridgetblackwoodauth.wix.com/book

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/bridgetblackwoo/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7735464.Bridget_Blackwood

Booklikes http://bridgetblackwood9.booklikes.com/

Quotes from the Book:

Quote 1

“I whooped the personal guards of the Vampire big kahuna. Whoops. In my defense, it’s not like they wore nametags.” – Rachel Ryan

Quote 2

“Is your plan to make me stupid with your sweet hands so I’ll agree to anything? Because it’s working.” – Sebastien “Bastien” Bonvillian

Playlist:

1. My Medicine by The Pretty Reckless

2. Freak Like Me by Halestorm

3. Titanium by Madilyn Extreme by Valora

4. Not Strong Enough by Apocalyptica

5. Oceans by Evanescence

6. Echoes of an Empire by Picture Me Broken

7. Carnival of Rust by Poets of the Fall

8. Never Go Back by Evanescence

9. Secret Door by Evanescence

Excerpt

Gates is in the center of the club. I follow behind him curious to see what happens next. I should grab Livia and run. I look up at the loft. People are lined up against the railing watching the display below. My eyes are drawn to one man in particular. From my angle and with the low lighting, I can’t tell much about his features or height. His clothes and hair are dark, he rests one arm on the top rail and holds a pool cue in the other hand. His gaze is a penetrating green and I swear they glow, I have to make myself look away.

“Guns are not appreciated here, sir,” says a young woman behind the bar.

Liquid courage, come to mama! Moving around Gates, I walk over and take a seat in front of her. “Can I get a drink please?” I ask politely.

“What do you think you are doing?” Gates grinds out through clenched teeth. He is standing directly behind me.

“You folks had me locked up playing lab rat. I just want a few minutes of me time before the shit hits the fan.”

Gates doesn’t know what to say to that. Patrons watch me curiously. Let them. I am past the point of caring. The bartender grins at me. She has hair that’s a silvery lavender dancing around her shoulders. Her eyes are a mesmerizing shade of purple. She doesn’t seem real. I am spellbound. Not a shifter, what is she? I have to stop myself from reaching out and touching her.

“What would you like?” She asks me breaking the trance.

Back to reality, in a room full of doom. “What would you recommend for a woman’s last drink on earth?”

Tour giveaway details

2 personalized signed print copies of Rising Shadows

3 Rising Shadows chainmail charm key chains

US and Canada shipping only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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6. The Beat Podcasts! More To Come: MoCCA Fest 2014

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Straight from the offices of Publishers Weekly, it’s More to Come! Your podcast source of comics news and discussion starring The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In this week’s podcast the More to Come Crew – Heidi “The Beat” MacDonald, Calvin Reid and Kate Fitzsimons – discuss this year’s MoCCA Arts Fest and Emerald City Comic Con – with interviews from the MoCCA floor, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, new comics to screen deals including Federal Bureau of Physics and Sinister Six and more on PW Comics World’s More To Come.

Now tune in Fridays for our regularly scheduled podcast!

Listen to this episode in streaming here, download it direct here and catch up with our previous podcasts on the PublishersWeekly website, or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes

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7. Interview with Julie Ann Long, Author of Between the Devil and Ian Eversea and Giveaway

 

Please give a warm welcome to Julie Ann Long this morning!  I am so excited to have her visiting the virtual offices that I stayed up all night cleaning the dashboard in anticipation of her visit. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning!! Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Julie Ann Long] Curious. Intense. Eclectic. Amused. Observant.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Julie Ann Long] Inveterate rogue Ian Eversea finally meets his match in orphaned American Heiress Titania “Tansy” Danforth. And irony of ironies, the one woman who finally has him thinking about forever is the one woman he can never have—she’s the Duke of Falconbridge’s ward, and he has the last say in who she marries. And if you’ve read WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE, you’ll understand why.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Julie Ann Long] Readers have been eager for Ian Eversea’s story since he first upended the Duke of Falconbridge’s world in WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE (and really inadvertently, and in a roundabout way, helped the duke find his true love). And I knew it was time to tell Ian’s story and resolve his rather, er, tense standoff with the Duke of Falconbridge.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Julie Ann Long] Writing the perfect heroine for Ian Eversea—Ian and Tansy’s dialogue, banter, and growing relationship was just a pleasure to write, and the scenes between the two of them crackled as I wrote them—it felt so natural. I also loved setting up the ultimate confrontation between Ian and the Duke of Falconbridge. They legendarily, er, crossed swords in WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE. I’m very happy with how it concludes! I hope readers will be, too.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Julie Ann Long] You mean, the theme song they play when I stroll out onto the Tonight Show stage, that sort of thing? ;) Brick House, by the Commodores. Ha! Maybe “Glad Girls” by Guided by Voices? “Moby Dick” by Led Zeppelin? Too many choices!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Julie Ann Long] My house keys!! (not after that one time, anyway…)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Julie Ann Long] My cat. A cup of green tea. The number “11” in a tiny ornate frame.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Julie Ann Long] Hmmm…I think my cat. I wouldn’t have to cook—my meals would magically appear before me!—and I love back rubs and head scratches. And I’ve always wondered what it would be like to sleep in a nice pile of warm laundry.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Julie Ann Long] The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson were both brilliant reads. I’m also going through a strange little phase where I’m reading a lot of Faith Baldwin romances written in the 30′s and 40′s. She was the first Nora Roberts, if you will, and she’s a delightful writer.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Julie Ann Long] Reading! Naturally, right? I read a LOT. I love hiking/walking, great live music of all kinds, amazing food, museums, art shows, lectures, the ballet, just hanging out with good friends and laughing until it hurts.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Julie Ann Long] Readers can find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJulieAnneLong, Twitter at @JulieAnneLong, and on my website, http://www.julieannelong.com. I look forward to hearing from everybody!

 

Between the Devil and Ian Eversea

Pennyroyal Green Series #9

By: Julie Ann Long

Releasing March 25th, 2014

Blurb

She might look like an angel…
The moment orphaned American heiress Titania “Tansy” Danforth arrives on English shores she cuts a swath through Sussex, enslaving hearts and stealing beaux. She knows she’s destined for a spectacular titled marriage—but the only man who fascinates her couldn’t be more infamous…or less interested.
…but it takes a devil to know one…
A hardened veteran of war, inveterate rogue Ian Eversea keeps women enthralled, his heart guarded and his options open: why should he succumb to the shackles of marriage when devastating good looks and Eversea charm make seduction so easy?
…and Heaven has never been hotter.
When Ian is forced to call her on her game, he never dreams the unmasked Tansy—vulnerable, brave, achingly sensual—will tempt him beyond endurance. And fight as he will, this notorious bachelor who stood down enemies on a battlefield might finally surrender his heart…and be brought to his knees by love.

Link to Pennyroyal Green Series at Goodreads, https://www.goodreads.com/series/45155-pennyroyal-green

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DKZAVPG/ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=avonromancehc-20

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/between-the-devil-and-ian-eversea-julie-anne-long/1115558939?cm_mmc=affiliates-_-linkshare-_-mdxm68jzjz8-_-10%3a1&ean=9780062118134&isbn=9780062118134&r=1

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/between-devil-ian-eversea/id666055417?mt=11

Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2014/01/now-booking-tasty-virtual-tour-for_292.html

Author Info

The author of five popular novels from Warner and eight from Avon, Julie Anne Long lives in California with a fat orange cat (little known fact: they issue you a cat the moment you become a romance novelist).

Author Links

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20987.Julie_Anne_Long

Website: http://www.julieannelong.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieAnneLong

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJulieAnneLong

Giveaway (A Print Copy of Pennyroyal Green Series Book #8, IT HAPPENED ONE MIDNIGHT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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8. Interview: Kirsten B. Feldman

When I asked author Kirsten B. Feldman to sum up her book No Alligators in Sight in twenty words or less, she replied: "Lettie Endquist yearns to make herself a better life and travels from Provincetown to Key West to get it."

The main characters of No Alligators in Sight were in Kirsten's head for years. The tale actually began as a short story, "Squelch." That short story then became the majority of Chapter 1, and over the course of about two years, "a chapter here and a chapter there grew to become the first draft," Kirsten explained. "The story grew because Lettie had more to say, and so I happily gave her the opportunity."

In turn, I'm giving Kirsten the opportunity to tell us more about her writing process and her personal stories, as well as her fictional ones:

Did anything major change between the first draft and the final draft? Was that due to your own thought process, or were the changes suggested by an editor, your agent, or a beta reader?

I did have some terrific feedback from both an agent and several beta readers, including the suggestion to make it shorter, losing some minor characters, and get to Florida faster. Also, some early readers thought that Joel, her father, was too harsh, which was great for me to know, because I saw and heard him differently than he at first appeared on the page to readers. All of these changes made sense to me, and then other, smaller ones grew organically from there as I revised.

What were you like at Lettie's age?

When I was Lettie's age, I was consumed with the idea of going to high school and the changes that would bring to my life. I viewed high school as the bridge to where I wanted to go in life, which indeed it was, and as Lettie does. I saw the many open doors that high school offered, and I went through nearly all of them, at top speed and full volume. Lettie ultimately does the same.

The road to publication can be bumpy and tough, but you made it!

Why, thank you!

You're welcome! Insert virtual high-five here. (I love high-fives.) What was your favorite part of the publishing process?

My favorite part of the publishing process continues: engaging with readers about the book, Lettie, and life in general. The whole process also made me excited to do it all over again.

What can you tell us about your next book?

As I think you can tell from No Alligators in Sight, my website, and this interview, I adore the adolescent point of view. My yet-to-be-named next novel explores the world of Harry Kavanaugh, a girl named for Harry Potter who has lived her whole life on the grounds of her school, a prep school in Washington, DC, since her mother is the school's most revered teacher with on-campus housing privileges. For the nearly-six-foot Harry, a girl who loves black, alternative music, and large animals more than humans, this existence is stifling and unfulfilling, so she sets out to find what might better rock her world, especially now that Kurt Cobain has passed on. Helping her on her quest are her Great Dane Frances Bean, her older brother with issues of his own, and her oldest friend and neighbor who may want to be more. I hope to have it revised and ready for print this summer.

Best of luck with it! Which storytellers (authors, poets, musicians, artists, actors, anyone!) have influenced your writing?

Broadly defined as someone or something who shows me a compelling story, it is character that speaks to me more than plot or setting or any literary device. If I can feel deeply for any character, be it in a book, a song, a painting, a movie, or a poem, then that work will resonate and stay with me and thus with my writing. Some of my influences and inspirations include, in no particular order: Margaret Atwood, Sarah Dessen, Michael Dibdin, Julia Roberts, Kate Atkinson, Mary Oliver, Georgia O'Keeffe, Robert Frost, Billy Collins, Robert Downey, Jr., Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Matt Damon, Taylor Swift, Mark Rothko, John Dowd, Jim Forsberg, Dakota Fanning, Tom Petty, and, certainly not least, Jane Austen.

That's a pretty cool mix. Last question: What are your top ten favorite books?

So hard to pick, so many great books, but here are the first ten to pop into my head:

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
eleanor & park by Rainbow Rowell
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Watership Down by Richard Adams

Say hello to Kirsten at her website!

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9. Interview with Eliza Redgold, Author of Hide & Seek

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Eliza!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Eliza Redgold] Bookish, romantic, curious, (mis)adventurous.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Hide & Seek?

[Eliza Redgold] It’s about the birds and the bees…
Hope Buchanan runs Hot Tropics Bird Sanctuary in steamy Broome, Western Australia. When American hotel developer Sullivan O’Dare arrives and threatens the birds’ natural habitat, she’ll fight him any way she can … but is her heart really in it? Or has it taken flight?

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Eliza Redgold] When a stranger appears unexpectedly in a bird hide at Hot Tropics Bird Sanctuary in Broome Western Australia, and ruins the publicity ‘pin-up’ photo Hope Buchanan is taking of a bowerbird, she doesn’t exactly give him a warm welcome. To her horror, she discovers the good-looking man is her arch nemesis, Sullivan O’Dare, the head of O’Dare Property Developers, who has just flown in from New York.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?

[Eliza Redgold] Not putting in all the information I discovered during my bird watching research! Birders, also known as ‘twitchers’ and ‘bird nerds’ can become a bit obsessed, and I did too.  Bowerbirds and hummingbirds became my favorites, but don’t get me started.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Eliza Redgold] Binoculars :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Eliza Redgold] I am in New York right now, and not at home in Australia, so I’ll just close my eyes: A painting of a bird with the word HOPE scrolled beneath it that I found while writing Hide and Seek (with my bird-watching heroine being called Hope it seemed like serendipity) a photo of my daughter, and a feather quill pen.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Eliza Redgold] As I am here in New York city not far from the Algonquin Hotel where she used to hang out, I’d have to say Dorothy Parker. Who wouldn’t want to be that witty?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Eliza Redgold] To be able to fly! (Of course!) I’d love a bird’s eye view of the world. We could all do with a higher perspective sometimes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Eliza Redgold] At the moment I’m reading some old romances by Sophie Cole, who wrote the first ever romance novel for Harlequin Mills and Boon just over a hundred years ago. I found a dusty old copy of one of her books, ‘Witchery’ in a vintage shop. I’m reading the rest as e-books on Kindle.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Eliza Redgold] Webpage:
www.elizaredgold.com

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/ElizaRedgoldAuthor

Pinterest:
http://www.pinterest.com/elizaredgold/

Come and say hi!

Excerpt

Hope landed in Sullivan’s lap as if he was Santa Claus.

Water churned around them as he caught her in his arms. ‘It’s okay, I’ve got you.’

Helplessly Hope tried to find a grip with the soles of her feet. Her skin must have been as slippery as a fish as his hands glided over her hips and up to cinch her waist. For a moment she realised how neatly their bodies fit together, his lower body cupping hers from behind. Her toes slithering in the mud, she struggled to stand, but he kept hold, his fingers firm as they pressed into her bare flesh, before he plonked her back on her feet as easily as if she weighed no more than a small child asking for a pony.

Splashing to his feet he came around in front of her, his white teeth gleaming. A shout of laughter burst from between his lips, the same strong, confident laugh she’d heard when she first met him in the bird hide at Hot Tropics, arcing through the air as bold and raucous as a kookaburra.

The sound faded into the trees as their eyes met. The colour of his had turned from sea to sky, so clear and blue she wanted to soar into them.

She couldn’t say who took the first step beneath the waist high water. As they moved together his body pressed into hers, his hands wrenching her closer as their lips found each other. He tasted clean and water fresh, with another taste all his own that she hadn’t known she hungered for, until now. She opened her mouth; her hands sliding up his wet, muscled back and into the damp tendrils of hair at the base of his neck. In return his hands moved, his fingers tangling in her hair, and up to cradle her face, drinking her in like nectar from a flower.

Nothing mattered but that kiss just then, and what he told her with his lips.

He wanted her.

She wanted him too, she told him with her searching tongue, with something deeper than desire, more real, more powerful.

But this was Sullivan O’Dare.

Jagged breaths heaved through Hope’s body as she wrenched herself away. She couldn’t speak; she could only stare, as her hand went flying to her heart.

‘Hey — why are we stopping?’

His teeth flashed again, and his tone stayed light, but his eyes held a more serious emotion.

He’d felt it too.

‘I don’t think this is a good idea,’ Hope gasped.

His breathing sounded unsteady too. ‘No? It didn’t taste like such a bad idea to me. It tasted good. Very, very good.’

Hope hadn’t known she could flush when soaking wet. She discovered she could.

Drops of water went flying as she shook her head. ‘I don’t think we should…fraternise.’

Once more his laugh soared skyward. ‘Fraternise? Is that what we were doing?’

Around his muscled thighs water frothed up as he came closer. She backed away, keeping her arm diagonally across her chest, fending him off.

‘We should keep this trip professional.’ Sullivan O’Dare. O’Dare Luxury Developments. Silently she repeated the words to herself, as if they could halt her beating heart.

He raised an eyebrow. ‘Should we?’

‘Yes. No. I mean, it’s a business trip for both of us really, isn’t it? We don’t want to complicate things…’ Hot Tropics. She instructed herself. Think of Hot Tropics.

Laughter tilted his chin. ‘No indeed.’

Yet again his blue eyes searched hers without the laughter, sending her a signal that spelled more than desire.

Before he could mesmerise her again Hope turned and fled. Splashing through the water she clambered up the slippery stones and out of the hot springs.

Grabbing her towel and backpack she ran through the forest as fast as she could, away from Sullivan O’Dare.

About the book:

He thought he knew all there was to know about the birds and the bees, but he’s about to get schooled.

A little birdie tells Hope Buchanan that American hotel developer Sullivan O’Dare isn’t just in town for a holiday. As the manager of Hot Tropics Bird Sanctuary, Hope has more than a vested interest in protecting natural habitats.

Hope pulls out all the stops to convince Sullivan to come out with her to the WA bush, with its beautiful trees and unique wildlife. Surely the stunning scenery and a dose of ‘Broome time’ will show him what is at stake.  But what is initially about saving the Sanctuary soon becomes about finding a connection. Could it be that Hope has finally found the bird of a feather to form her own flock?

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10. Interview with Rebecca Zanetti, Author of Rising Assets and Giveaway!

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Rebecca! 

[Rebecca Zanetti] Thank you so much to the Manga Maniac Café crew for having me over to celebrate the release of RISING ASSETS!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Rebecca Zanetti] Crazy, fun, loyal, analytical author

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Rising Assets?

[Rebecca Zanetti] Absolutely! RISING ASSETS is a best friends to lovers story set in a small Montana town where everybody not only knows everyone else’s business but feels just fine getting involved in private matters. In fact, there are no private matters. So, when Colton Freeze starts to fall for his best friend, Melanie Jacoby, the town creates a bet on when they’ll actually get together. This is the third book in the series. In the first two books, Colton’s older brothers find their own sexy happily ever afters.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your favorite scene?

[Rebecca Zanetti] My favorite scenes are often the first kiss of the couple, and here it is:

His mouth was on hers before she finished saying his name. Heat and power slammed from the kiss, and her mind swam.

Fire lashed through her so quickly her knees weakened. Her nipples scraped his chest, and lava consumed her. Her eyes fluttered shut, and she fell into the storm created by a man much more dangerous than she’d known.

She kissed him back, her body alive, her mind shutting down.

There was nothing but the whirlwind of impossible need cascading around them, through her, into her, beyond her.

The kiss was hard, angry, and more passionate than she could’ve dreamed.

Many times, they’d come close to kissing, but one of them had always backed away. With a grin, or a joke, they’d escaped ever taking the chance. The one thing Melanie knew for sure was if Colton ever kissed her, if he ever showed her that side of him, there’d be no turning back. Ever.

As he released her mouth to pin her with a dark gaze, there was no question he knew it, too.

Determination filtered through his eyes, and his jaw firmed. Something new and intriguing fluttered alive in her abdomen. Satisfaction lifted his lips as her eyes widened.

Holy crap. Colton Freeze didn’t want to turn back.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?

[Rebecca Zanetti] This is such a great question! Let’s see…I guess it was the conflict between the couple. I mean, I knew they should be together, the reader will know…so why aren’t they together? I’ve always been a jump first and think later type of gal, and these characters had to be different than me, because they needed to think before leaping. I guess that was a little tough to write because I would’ve jumped. But with their backgrounds, they stayed true to their personalities. Although if you ask me, love always wins.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Rebecca Zanetti] Hmmm. I try to never leave home without a bottle of water. For some reason, when I’m in the car, I manage to get those sixty ounces in that we should drink every day. Yep. Water.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Rebecca Zanetti] My Maverick Montana large coffee cup that is now empty of tea

A cup full of Paper Mate colorful pens – I love these!

A print copy of Gina Maxwell’s Rules of Engagement that she was kind enough to send to me yesterday

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Rebecca Zanetti] Kate Middleton. ? I would love to be that poised for an entire day, and I’d truly enjoy being able to play with the palace’s jewels and wear a real tiara.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Rebecca Zanetti] Oh man, this is a fun question! I’d want the power to heal with my touch, and I’d go around and heal everybody I know of any ailments or illnesses they may have right now. And since it’s my power for a week, the healing would take effect, and those people would be healed forever.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Rebecca Zanetti] I just finished Robin Covington’s Sex and the Single Vamp, and it was awesome. Before that, I read Jill Shalvis’ Rumor Has It, and I loved it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Rebecca Zanetti] I love when readers contact me. Here are a couple of links:

Website: http://www.rebeccazanetti.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaZanetti.Author.FanPage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RebeccaZanetti

Thank you again for inviting me over to have some fun!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Rising Assets by: Rebecca Zanetti

Synopsis: Friends with benefits was never the plan…

Melanie Jacobs is in trouble. With three jobs—including running her ranch—and dwindling funds, she’s exhausted. Not to mention desperately trying to hide a secret. Unfortunately, her best friend Colton Freeze knows all too well that’s something is going on, and he won’t give up until he knows exactly what he needs to fix.

Then Colton learns the truth—that Melanie’s future happiness rests in the fickle hands of fate, and her chances for having a family are shrinking with every passing day. Her only comfort is Colton, but when a heated argument between them turns into an even hotter kiss, the boundaries of their friendship are erased, leaving only a scorching-hot hunger for more.

Every kiss—every touch—is a stolen pleasure. But will their new friends-with-sexy-benefits arrangement bring them closer together, or destroy everything they once shared?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18211781-rising-assets

Author Bio: USA Today Bestselling Author Rebecca Zanetti has worked as an art curator, Senate aide, lawyer, college professor, and a hearing examiner – only to culminate it all in stories about Alpha males and the women who claim them. She writes dark paranormals, romantic suspense, and sexy contemporary romances.

Growing up amid the glorious backdrops and winter wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest has given Rebecca fantastic scenery and adventures to weave into her stories. She resides in the wild north with her husband, children, and extended family who inspire her every day–or at the very least give her plenty of characters to write about.

Tagline: Friends with benefits was never the plan

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Giveaway Info: $25 Amazon GC

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11. Gabrielle Zevin: The Powells.com Interview

The American Booksellers Association collects nominations from bookstores all over the country for favorite forthcoming titles. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry not only received the most votes for April's Indie Next list, it received the most votes ever in the history of the program. You don't, however, need to work in a bookstore [...]

0 Comments on Gabrielle Zevin: The Powells.com Interview as of 4/8/2014 6:37:00 PM
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12. Guest Post by Scarlet Wilson, Author of Hollywood Temptation and Giveaway

Scarlet Wilson dropped by this morning to share the Top 5 requirements when hiring a receptionist. Colt Travers obviously disregarded each and every one of them!

 

Top 5 requirements when hiring a receptionist from Colt Travers

What they should be:

  1. Cute enough appearance for a plastic surgery clinic

  2. Pleasant telephone manner

  3. The ability to schmooze any demanding D list celebrity

  4. The ability to seek crazy items out of thin air for same D list celebrity

  5. Clerical and admin skills – if at all possible.

What he actually employed:

  1. Secretary with no underwear

  2. Secretary with no credible past experience

  3. A drop-dead gorgeous girl with a smart mouth

  4. A+ skills in flirting with boss

  5. The ability to set him alight with one smouldering glance.

Hollywood Temptation

Scarlet Wilson

About the book: Hollywood surgeon Colt Travers needs a new receptionist ASAP. When the adorable—and completely broke—Selena Harris comes in needing stitches, he takes a risk and hires her on the spot. She can pay off her bill, and he won’t have to answer the phone anymore. They’re opposites in every way, and she’s exactly what he doesn’t want in a woman—impulsive, carefree, and amusing. He’s trying to resist her, but the longer she’s around, the further he sinks into temptation.

Selena never meant to get herself in such deep financial straits. LA has way too much temptation, from high-end shopping to gorgeous men, and now her life is in chaos. But Colt is different—responsible and noble—and although their chemistry is off the charts, he’s keeping her at arm’s length. She’s determined to win his trust–and his heart–but will the secrets she’s desperately trying to hide ruin their chance for a big Hollywood happy ending?

Hollywood Temptation Links:

B&N Kobo Entangled Website Goodreads

Author Bio: Scarlet Wilson wrote her first story aged 8 and has never stopped. Her family have fond memories of ‘Shirley and the Magic Purse’ with its army of mice, with names all beginning with the letter ‘m’. An avid reader Scarlet started with every Enid Blyton book, moved on to Sweet Valley, and many years later found romance novels.

Her fiancé has never read one of her books but believes all the heroes are based on him. And because he’s never read any of her books Scarlet is quite happy for him to keep thinking that!

Scarlet writes for Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical and Romance lines and Entangled Publishing. Scarlet lives on the West Coast of Scotland with her fiancé and their two sons.

She can be reached via her website www.scarlet-wilson.com

Website Facebook Twitter Blog

Indulgence’s Links:

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/IndulgenceBooks

Twitter: @IndulgenceBooks

Excerpt:

She rustled some papers in front of her. “I left a few letters on your desk that need your signature.”

Her eyes kept flickering back and forth to him and she was biting her lip. It was obvious she wanted to say something else.

“What?” He folded his arms across his chest. “What is it?”

She tilted her head. “I noticed a few things in your office…”

“Such as?”

She spun her chair around so she was facing him, her arm brushing against his knee. There was a mischievous glint in her eye as she counted things off on her fingers. “Such as the Captain Picard figure next to your computer. The signed picture of Leonard Nimoy. The framed Firefly script on the wall, next to the Star Wars cast photo.” She leaned forward, “But what I really want to know is, is that a genuine Star Trek communicator you’ve got in the glass case?”

Unexpected. Totally left field. A fellow sci-fi freak. Fantastic.

This woman just got better and better.

He laughed. “You’re every guy’s dream date, aren’t you?”

She started playing with the top button on her shirt, deliberately twiddling it between her finger and thumb, almost as if she were about to undo it… “Well, is it?”

He leaned forward. “You mean you didn’t try and pry the glass apart to see?”

“Of course I did. Any self-respecting Trekkie would.” She held up a finger to reveal a slightly bent nail. “Unfortunately I didn’t have my sonic screwdriver with me.”

He wiped his brow in mock relief. “Thank goodness. You have no idea what I had to do to get that.” He lifted his eyebrows, “Or who I had to operate on.”

Her eyes widened, the excitement clearly visible. “Spill,” she demanded.

He shook his head. “Oh no. My lips are sealed. I could tell you, but then I’d need to kill you with my genuine from-the-set light saber.”

She let out a shriek and jumped up from her seat. “You haven’t?”

“I have.”

“Luke’s or Darth Vader’s?”

He winked. “I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you. Hollywood secrets.”

There was something so nice about this. Someone else who appreciated his love of all things sci-fi. And this wasn’t some ploy to try and endear herself to him. No woman could possibly know all these things without being a true fellow fan. Finally someone he could talk to about who was the best Star Trek captain, and which was the best Star Wars film.

The last woman he’d dated had given an obvious shiver of distaste when she’d seen his collection – the kind that made him feel like a high school geek. Not the most romantic turn-on in the world.

Selena collapsed into the chair next to him and threw her hands in the air. “If you’re not going to share, I’ll let you know right now I’ll find a way of making you talk.”

He laughed. “Told you, my lips are sealed.”

She shook her head. “I should be finishing up. I’m getting tired and want to get home and to bed.” She shot him a sideways glance. “Home to watch my favorite episode of Star Trek with the Borg.”

He tried not to grin. He couldn’t resist, no matter how hard he tried. “Do you always go to bed early, Selena? You don’t strike me as the type.” The smell of her perfume was drifting into his nostrils. It was sultry. Something sensuous and spicy. Their gaze met. That green again. Even in this dim light it was impressive. Kind of like the eyes you would expect on a temptress or a siren, wooing men in just by looking at them. He couldn’t stop smiling around her.

Nor could he stop the range of X-rated thoughts he was having about her.

Helen would kill me. Twice, without a second thought.

Then there was the fact she was paying off a bill and the fact she’d told him she’d just been dumped by her boyfriend. The last thing he wanted was a rebound fling.

But he wasn’t listening. Not at all.

There was a glint of fire in her eyes and a devilish grin on her face. She was an experienced woman. She definitely knew the art of flirtation. “What do I strike you as?”

He felt an instant response in his body—one that was entirely inappropriate for their surroundings. Since when did she sound so husky? Boy, she was good.

Giveaway: $25 Amazon giveaway

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13. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Jeremy Holmes

I’m pleased to welcome illustrator Jeremy Holmes to 7-Imp this morning for breakfast. Back in 2010, I wrote about Jeremy’s delightfully creepy and beautifully bizarre adaptation of the mother of all cumulative children’s folk songs, “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” (complete with a slip cover and closing eyes on the lady’s head when she kicks the bucket). This book went on to win him a Bologna Ragazzi Opera Prima Award.

And it’s this Old Lady, which Jeremy notes at his site, who opened his eyes to the “imaginative and playful world of the picture book” (from primarily the world of graphic design, that is).

Jeremy’s here today to talk about his road to publication and what’s on his plate now — and he shares lots of art, especially from his latest illustrated book, J. Patrick Lewis’ and Douglas Florian’s Poem-mobiles (Schwartz and Wade, January 2014). So I want to get right to it.

I’m very good with Jeremy’s favorite breakfast: English muffins toasted with a smear of salted butter; one egg over hard, heavily peppered; “some pancetta, if ya’ got it, but Canadian bacon will do in a pinch”; a small glass of OJ; and a cup of strong, slightly creamed and sweetened coffee. (He got the coffee JUST RIGHT!)

I thank him for visiting. Without further ado …

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Jeremy: I’m an illustrator trying to author.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Jeremy:


Jules: What is your usual medium?

Jeremy: My medium-of-choice is still up for debate. Currently, I’m working with pencil, charcoal, watercolor, digital color, and paper collage. Maybe I should list my non-preferred mediums? But I’m not sure I have any. Wait … I know. I’d never make anything using Limburger cheese.

[Ed. Note: All of the pencil drawings immediately below are from J. Patrick Lewis' and Douglas Florian's Poem-mobiles.]


Drawing the “Caterpillar Cab” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “Jurassic Park(ing)” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “Balloon Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “Bathtub Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)



Drawings for the “Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow” spread
(Click each to enlarge)


The “Dragonwagon” spread
(Click to enlarge)


The “High-Heel Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Jeremy: My family and I live in a quaint little 1920s’ bungalow just outside of Philadelphia, PA.


Cover


“Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow” and “Mini-Mini-Car”


“Fish Car” and “Eel-ectric Car”


“Caterpillar Cab”



“The Love Car”


“The Supersonic Ionic Car”

Above: Final spreads from Poem-mobiles (Schwartz & Wade, January 2014)
(Click each spread to enlarge)

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Jeremy: While in grad school, I took a publication class with the uber-talented designer Paul Kepple of Headcase Design, during which I created my first children’s book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. Once graduated, The Old Lady and I set out into the great wide world of publishing to see if anyone would have interest in making her. Everyone we met with revered the concept, but because of her complicated construction, no one felt she could be built for profit. So I sat her up on a shelf and began illustrating anything and everything that knocked at my door. Before I knew it, I was an editorial illustrator creating weekly assignments for the New York Times, Wired magazine, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and CNN. Not exactly what I set out to do, but it paid the bills, and I was satisfied (for now) with the level of work being demanded by my clients.


“THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A SPIDER that wriggled and wiggled and tiggled inside her. SHE SWALLOWED THE SPIDER TO CATCH THE FLY.
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly. PERHAPS SHE’LL DIE.”
(Click to enlarge)

Then out of the blue, I received a call from Victoria Rock of Chronicle Books. She had come across the elaborate marketing piece I had created for The Old Lady three years ago (yes, three years had passed) and wondered if I would send my one-of-a-kind mockup of The Old Lady out to her. They wanted to take her over to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair to see what type of response she’d garner. It had taken me over 100 hours of hard labor to build her, so I was a bit nervous to let her go but figured it would be best for us both.


(Click to enlarge)

A few (very quiet and long) weeks passed before I received another call from Victoria, saying she had some good and some bad news. Confused, I requested the bad news first. She went on to notify me that The Old Lady had been kidnapped, swiped, stolen from the book fair. Victoria immediately consoled my broken heart, saying everything would be alright, because soon there’d be thousands more of her out and about. And so it began.

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Jeremy: www.jeremyholmesstudio.com/; twitter.com/jeremysdesk; www.facebook.com/jeremyholmesstudio.


(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Jeremy: I’m currently working with the fantastic Rebecca Sherman of Writers House on my first author/illustrated picture book and a graphic novel, but it’s all still too raw to provide any pictures/pages.

But don’t fret, there’s still a few things I can share. I recently created a piece for Tiny Pencil




 

… and I’m neck-deep in the jacket and interior art for a chapter book for Simon & Schuster (all still a work-in-progress).

 


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, our coffee is ready, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with five questions over breakfast. (We’re too busy eating English muffins for all seven.) I thank Jeremy again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

[Ed. Note: All of the images in this response are from Poem-mobiles.]


A process wall
(Click to enlarge)


Exploring type
(Click to enlarge)

Jeremy

: I begin every project with a mind map. It’s quite simple: I just take a piece of paper and start writing down everything my mind knows about the subject at hand. Depending on the material, this can go on for pages. As I’m recording what I know, I highlight certain subjects or thoughts that fit the mood of what I’ve read; I’ll make doodles and note interesting connections. After this initial brain spill, I start gathering research from books, the internet and any other pertinent sources. I stuff all of this info deep down into my noggin and then just sit and let it marinate for a bit. I imagine it’s a similar process to what an actor goes through when getting ready to play a specific part. The goal of all this is to try and figure out the essence of the story — something I can bounce ideas and images off of to see if what I’m creating fits and feels appropriate.


Watercolors for the “Banana Split Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)


Coloring the “Paper Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)


Fine-tuning the “Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow” spread
(Click to enlarge)


Edits to the “Supersonic Ionic Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)

After this brief gestation period, my process is similar to many others. My sketches start as blurry thoughts and lines which, with the help of the art director and editor, slowly come into focus as tight sketches. From here I begin final art. I’ll spend time experimenting with a multitude of materials, trying to find the approach that best fits the mood of the book. Once I feel I’ve got something working, I’ll pick a spread, render it out, and share it with the publisher. If it works, I keep going. If it doesn’t, I go back to the board and start again. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that there’s always another solution. Never be scared to go looking for it.

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.


(Click to enlarge)

Jeremy

: My studio is my sanctuary. No matter where I’ve worked, I’ve always transformed my space into a place that’s warm, inviting, comfortable. Currently, my studio is in an old stone Methodist church from the 1820s that’s been transformed into small working spaces for creatives by the fabulous owner and designer, Val Nehez. I knew the minute I walked into the building that I could create here. It smelled like my grandma’s kitchen.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Jeremy

: Anything by Dr. Seuss.

Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little by E.B. White.

Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure by Bill Peet.

Anything by Roald Dahl.

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Jeremy: My body doesn’t respond well to meeting people I admire. My nose instantly turns to ice, and the heat that used to inhabit my schnoz goes straight to my hands and clams ‘em up, which makes for awkward handshakes. That said, I wouldn’t mind enjoying a delicious German beer at a bar where Lane Smith, Mac Barnett, and Jon Scieszka just happen to be sitting.

[Ed. Note: All of the images from here to the Pivot Questionnaire are early sketches from Poem-mobiles.]



Early cover sketches
(Click each to enlarge)



Early dustjacket sketch
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)



Sketches for “Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow”
(Click each to enlarge)





Bookmobile spines
(Click the third one to enlarge)


Concept sketch for “Mini-Mini-Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “Fish Car” and “Eel-electric Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “The Backwards Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “High-Heel Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “Balloon Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Concept sketch for “Hot Dog Car”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “The Egg Car” and “Hot Dog Car”
(Click to enlarge)

5. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Jeremy: I really didn’t draw that much as a kid. I just daydreamed a lot.


Sketch for “The Sloppy-Floppy-Nonstop-Jalopy” and “Grass Taxi”
(Click to enlarge)



Rejected Heart Car sketch
(Click to enlarge)


Possible sign for “The Love Car” spread
(Click to enlarge)


Sketch for “The Love Car”
(Click to enlarge)




Sketches for “The Banana Split Car”
(Click each to enlarge)

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Jeremy: “Scrumdiddlyumptious.” (Gotta love Roald Dahl.)

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Jeremy: “Disrespect.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Jeremy: Being with my family, the change of the seasons, time in the woods, odd and peculiar inventions, worn artifacts, live acoustic bluegrass music, color study, storytelling.

Jules: What turns you off?

Jeremy: Ignorance.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Jeremy: “Shit on a shingle” (also one of my favorite breakfast foods).

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Jeremy: Got two for this one: Rain and belly laughter.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Jeremy: Kids crying.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Jeremy: Chocolatier.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Jeremy: Anything dealing with Limburger cheese.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Jeremy: “Sorry. Not yet, Jeremy. You’ve still got a few more things I need you to make. But don’t worry. Yours is one of my best endings yet.”

* * * * * * *

All artwork and images are used with permission of Jeremy Holmes.

POEM-MOBILES: CRAZY CAR POEMS. Copyright © 2014 by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jeremy Holmes. Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, New York.

THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A FLY. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Jeremy Holmes. These images were orginally reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA, in this previous 7-Imp post.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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14. Amy Chu Kickstarts a Third Volume of ‘Girls Night Out’ [Interview]

For the last several years, writer Amy Chu has been a familiar face at comic conventions around the World – just last year I bumped into her at Thought Bubble! Among other things a contributor to The Beat, Amy is perhaps best known for her self-published anthology comics ‘Girls Night Out’, which have so far been printed into three volumes. Each of these tells six stories or so, loosely themed around an idea, or phrase, and with a starry line-up of artistic collaborators.

And for volume three, ‘Girls Night Out: The Way Love Goes’, she’s successfully headed to Kickstarter! At the time of writing she is well ahead of her target, making this her second successful Kickstarter campaign for the series. A self-publisher, she works with a number of great creators on this latest volume – including Larry Hama, Trish Mulvihill, Janet Lee and Craig Yeung. I couldn’t let this Kickstarter pass without taking the opportunity to ask her about the latest edition of her series – and thankfully she found time after Emerald City Comic-Con to offer some answers! Hurray!

ac1

Steve: You’ve studied comics pretty extensively – I know you’re a graduate of Scott Snyder’s writing class, among others. How do you approach writing a story? What’s your focus, or goal?

Amy: I studied architecture in college so I think there are some good analogies between buildings and stories. When I have an idea I want to build into a story, I do tend to focus on structure first, especially for a short, then I work on the layers of the narrative, the obvious and then the subliminal.

I’m very focused on what the reader experiences as he or she moves through the story- and the emotion that they come away with after finishing it. I also figure if someone is spending the money, they should get at least a couple reads out of it.

Steve: There’s a lot of experimentation going on in terms of writing, in these six stories. One is told entirely in tweets, for example. How do you go from an idea to a script? At what point do you hit on an idea and decide that’s the one you want to write into a fully-formed story?

Amy: Like a lot of creators, I have many ideas that float in the ether, at various stages of completion. If I have an interesting idea, I usually start writing it out until I hit a snag. On rare occasions, I’ll actually vomit out a complete story in one setting, but usually it’s a lot of back and forth. But every story has a different backstory in its genesis.

For example, the tweet story “Big City” was actually an improv experiment with artist Sean Von Gorman at Carmine City Comics in front of an audience. We basically came up with the story as people came in and out of the store and Sean sketched it out.

Steve: You also move from genre to genre, and tell stories from a range of different perspectives and viewpoints. Was it always your intention to use the theme of love to play around in different genres and styles?

Amy: I like playing with different genres and styles, but needed something to tie the stories together. I did this with”Tales of New York” and I think it worked creatively for me, and for the readers.

Steve: A six-page story is one of the most difficult things to pull off in comics. Is it daunting to tell a complete story within such a relatively short space? Or do you prefer that feeling of compression?

Amy: I never really thought of it that way. Some stories are suited to shorts, and others to arcs. I try to go with what feels right. You don’t want to squeeze in something that doesn’t fit.

Steve: Do you find that you tend to focus in more on character or story – or do you feel you hit both equally?

Amy: Hmm… I think the character needs to be fully fleshed out for the story to work most of the time, but the story needs to have a structure to go somewhere. I guess I’d ask the reader if they feel I hit both or not.

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Art by Larry Hama and Trish Mulvihill

Steve: There’s a whole range of impressive artists here – The Date has Larry Hama and Trish Mulvihill as the artistic team! How did you find collaborators to work with on the stories?

Amy: As a self publisher I can pick and choose who I want to work with, so long as they are interested in working with me.  But every situation is different, sometimes it’s “let’s do something together!” like with Janet Lee over drinks at the Marvel holiday party. Or with Louie Chin I walked by his table at MoCCA Fest and loved his stuff immediately. And with Trish I begged! I just couldn’t see anyone else doing the colors on Larry’s story.

Steve: Did you come to your collaborators with a completed script; or pitch a story to them and then write with their artistic style in mind?

Amy: It works both ways. If I don’t have a completed script that I think they would be interested in or matches their style, I’ll definitely write one for them.

Steve: This Kickstarter also brings a wholly new story to print as well – one written by Marta Tanrikulu and illustrated by Paulina Ganucheau. How did that story come about?

Amy: I have been thinking about including other writers in the Girls Night Out anthologies, and since the crowdfunding campaign started off strong, I figured this would be a good issue to add someone else’s story as a bonus. I had met Marta in the Comics Experience forums. She sent me the script for “Enduring Love” awhile back – the theme was right, but it needed an artist. When I saw Paulina Ganucheau’s work I thought it was a perfect matchup.

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Art by Paulina Ganucheau

Steve: As mentioned at the start, this isn’t your first Kickstarter, as you also successfully crowdfunded the original comics which make up this collection. How has your experience been with crowdfunding?

Amy: I love it for various reasons, and not just the ability to fund the project. It really does help build a fanbase and a level of awareness about the stories I do. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but if you’re somewhat organized and have some decent project management capabilities you should do just fine.

Steve: Have you changed the way you approached running this second Kickstarter, having already gone through the whole experience before? What advice would you give for anyone looking to run their own campaign?

Amy: Yes, not in huge ways, more like fine tuning. I have a better sense this time of what people like and don’t like.  Set reasonable goals and develop your reward tiers carefully – do your research and look at other successful (and not successful) campaigns.  You’ll see many campaigns meet their goals because of original art and commissions and not the actual book! Also, treat your backers as stakeholders in your project, not just sources of cash.

Steve: Once this Kickstarter wraps up, are there any plans for future Girls Night Out stories? Is there anything you can tease us about?

Amy: As long as the stories aren’t played out and people want them, I’ll write them. I’m actually working on the lineup for the fourth volume – the working theme is “Lost and Found.”

Steve: What else do you have coming up? Where can people find you online?

Amy: End of this month I have a bunch of stuff coming out- a short in the Vertigo/DC Comics anthology “CMYK” that hits the stores April 30. I also have two stories – one with CP Wilson III, and the other with Brian Shearer in ComixTribe’s SCAMthology I think also out around the same time. I’m also working on something with Wendy Xu and Larry Hama that will be available this fall.

I’ve been asked to pitch on a bunch of different titles- there’s definitely stuff in the works but I don’t want to jinx anything by talking about it until it happens.  I try to post updates on my work on my site, I’m on twitter here and on Facebook here!

-

Many thanks to Amy for her time! To find out more about Girls Night Out: The Way Love Goes, you can find her Kickstarter here!

1 Comments on Amy Chu Kickstarts a Third Volume of ‘Girls Night Out’ [Interview], last added: 4/7/2014
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15. Interview with Anne Hope, Author of the Dark Souls Series and Giveaway

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Good morning, Anne! Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Anne Hope] Dynamic, focused (bordering on neurotic), funny and friendly

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your Dark Souls series?

[Anne Hope] My Dark Souls series features the Nephilim, the cursed offspring of angels and humans. It is ripe with stories of forbidden love, good vs. evil, and characters who are forced to make impossible choices.

The heroes and heroines in this series are not the good guys in the classic sense of the word. They harbor a powerful darkness within them. One they fight each day to subdue in order to protect humanity from their own kind. In my opinion, this makes them even more heroic because they go against their very nature to do what they feel is right.

At the helm is Cal, leader of the Watchers, whose goal is to reunite the four sacred souls that are prophesized to stop the Apocalypse. Each book tells the story of one of these souls, leading up to the grand finale, and what could prove the greatest sacrifice of all.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Anne Hope] That’s tough one. I have so many favorite scenes. Can I give one per book?

In Soul Bound, my favorite scene is when Jace shows up at Lia’s house, injured, and ends up falling asleep in her arms. That’s the first time these two really connect on an emotional level, so it’s a pivotal moment in the book.

In Soul Deep, I love the scene where Regan is trapped in an airtight room, and the place is flooding. Faced with the real possibility of losing her, Marcus can no longer deny his feelings for her and must confront his greatest demon to save her.

In Soul Thief, I’d pick the scene where Angie finally confesses her secret to Adrian. I enjoyed writing his reaction—the tight, almost painful sense of control he displayed, while an emotional storm raged within him. I also loved the sweet promise he made afterwards. A promise that will still haunt him two and a half decades later!

And finally in Soul Chase, my favorite scene is when Adrian tracks Emma down, only to realize she is the reincarnation of his lost love (Angie from Soul Thief).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the series?

[Anne Hope] I’d have to say the hardest part about writing this series has been keeping track of the world and characters I’ve created. The series is populated with a cast of complex characters, all of whom are recurring. Every time I start a new book, I have to keep in mind the overall arc of the series, while crafting a story that can stand on its own.

I’ve recently begun plotting book four, and I sense this will be my hardest yet. Not only do I have to tell Cal’s compelling story and explain the role he played in the creation of the Nephilim, but I must also tie up all the loose ends and find a way to save the world, not to mention all the characters readers have come to love.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Anne Hope] My phone. I remember a time when the only telephone was the one attached to the wall. Now, if I leave the house without my cell phone I feel like I’m missing a limb.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Anne Hope] A coffee mug, a box of Ritz crackers and a bottle of nail polish!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Anne Hope] My daughter. It would be fun to be a kid again. Plus, I’d love for her to walk a mile in my shoes, as the saying goes. Think of it as my own personal Freaky Friday!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Anne Hope] Angelfall and World After by Susan Ee, the first two books in her YA series called Penryn and the End of Days. In a nutshell, angels are evil and have brought forth the Apocalypse. I truly enjoyed both the forbidden romance and the elements of horror the author weaved into the story. There was never a dull moment!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Anne Hope] Readers can e-mail me at anne@annehope.com, visit my website at www.annehope.com, or join my newsletter at http://www.annehope.com/contact.html.

They can also like, follow or friend me at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annehopeauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/772411.Anne_Hope

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneHopeAuthor

Thanks for having me over as a guest!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Soul Bound: Dark Souls Book 1 by Anne Hope

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-60928-948-5

ISBN: 978-1619211391

ASIN: B007HCWHAK

Number of pages: 338 e-book

312 paperback

Word Count: 111 K

Cover Artist: Scott Carpenter

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Book Description:

The one man she wants is the one man destined to destroy her.

Sooner or later we all end up dead. Jace Cutler doesn’t have the luxury of staying that way. After receiving a fatal stab wound, he awakens in a hospital room in Portland, Oregon, with no memory and a big hole where his soul used to be. Worst of all is the glow. Everyone is surrounded by a strange white aura he hungers to possess, none more compelling than the one enveloping Dr. Lia Benson.

Lia has always been ruled by reason, refusing to put stock in such nebulous things as destiny. Until Jace dies in her arms, then miraculously comes back to life. Whenever he’s near, her soul responds and her body burns. And she’s consumed by odd dreams she’s convinced are Jace’s lost memories.

When Lia is kidnapped, Jace tracks her and discovers a shocking explanation for who—and what—he is. Something no longer human, a dark legacy that until now has lain dormant within him. Something that could destroy the one woman he’d sacrifice everything to protect.

Warning: Contains bone-melting sexual tension, scary battle scenes, heartrending emotion guaranteed to keep you turning the pages well into the night, and a positively divine hero who may just steal your soul.

Excerpt:

He wasn’t in bed beside her. He’d slipped out of the room so quietly, she hadn’t heard him walk away, which was quite an accomplishment because she was a very light sleeper. A sense of loss she couldn’t explain swamped her, so she shot out of bed and went in search of him. He couldn’t have run off. Not again. Not before she could sort this out.

She found him in the kitchen, sitting at the table, staring at his joined hands. Relief flooded her veins. “I thought you left.”

“I considered it.” He refused to meet her gaze. “But I’ve got nowhere else to go.”

Heat again. Whenever she was near him, warmth spread around her heart like a pocket of sunlight. Crazy. Total insanity was what this was. Jace Cutler was all wrong for her. Hadn’t she seen what he’d done to Cassie? Even worse, her sister was still hung up on the guy.

“I can find out where you live, if that’ll help—”

“Can’t stay there.” He shook his head, ran his fingers through his hair until it stood out in uneven tufts that begged to be smoothed out. “First place they’ll look.”

Now it was her turn to be frazzled. “Who?”

“Don’t know. Them. The things that are after me.”

“Jace, you’re not making any sense. Let me take you back to the hospital, run that MRI—”

“No.” The finality in his voice silenced her. “If you don’t want me here, I’ll go. But there’s no goddamn way I’m going back to that hospital.” There was steel in his tone and a passion that bordered on fury.

He must’ve noticed the startled look in her eyes, because a mouthful of air whooshed out of him. “Sorry. I’m not myself today. Whoever the hell that is.”

Compassion prevailed over nerves, and she approached him. “At least let me take a look at that wound, make sure it’s not infected.”

He nodded noncommittally. Pulling a chair beside him, she prepared to help him the only way she could. Her spine tingled at the thought of what she would find when she peeled off the bandage. His was the strangest burn she’d ever seen. “Don’t move,” she ordered, then proceeded to unwrap the gauze.

Her hand suddenly stilled, surprise and disbelief lancing through her. The burn had healed. His skin was pink and virtually intact, marred only by a thin, silver scar where the wound had been. She traced the mark with her finger. An electric charge instantly traveled up her arm and shook her body. “I think I’m hallucinating.”

He slanted a glance at his arm, reached over to touch it. His fingers grazed hers, and the heat increased tenfold. “Then we’re both trapped in the same nightmare.”

“I don’t know how to help you,” she voiced honestly. “I don’t understand any of this.”

“Just don’t bail on me.” A river of pain, wrapped in a silent plea, swam in his eyes.

She felt him then, the boy in her dreams—felt his isolation, his self-loathing, the soul-ravaging desire to be something he wasn’t—and she knew beyond a doubt the flashbacks she was having belonged to him. Somehow, in that one moment when death had stood vigil between them, their spirits had merged—undeniably, irrevocably. Whether they liked it or not, they were connected, linked by an energy they couldn’t see or touch or taste but was more real than anything either of them had ever known before.

And it scared the crap out of her.

“Why you?” Emotion strangled her voice. “Of all the men out there, why did it have to be you?”

She didn’t need to explain; he understood. Need flared in his gaze, and for one endless heartbeat she was sure he was going to kiss her. His hands rose to bracket her face. His head fell forward. The world held its breath…or maybe it was just her. Some primal intuition told her that once his mouth covered hers, there would be no going back. The bond would be cemented, the deal sealed. Two independent entities would become one.

“If I asked you to kiss me, would you do it?” His words caressed her lips.

“Yes.” No hesitation. No doubts. Just honesty.

“Because you want to or because I told you to?”

She wagged her head in confusion. “Does it matter?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t know what’s real anymore.” He released her, and disappointment rippled through her. “I’m not what you need. I’ll only drag you down. That’s what I do. I don’t need my memories to know that.”

He stood, walked to the window and stared outside, where a blanket of clouds hovered beneath a flickering sun. “I destroy everything I touch.”

She wanted to refute his claim, but how could she, when everything inside her insisted he was right? What scared her was how little she cared. She needed to be near him, and damn the consequences. She’d always been the reasonable one, the responsible sister, the one who thought things through. But right now recklessness invaded her psyche, steamrolled every word of caution screeching in her mind.

“I’m not afraid of you.” He was dangerous, no question about that, but for some inexplicable reason she felt safe with him.

“You should be.” He took a few predatory steps toward her, then twined his fingers in her hair in a gesture that was passionate enough to be painful. “I can get inside your head, make you do anything I want.”

“I doubt that.”

“I’ll prove it.” A wicked glint deepened his eyes to emerald. “Take off your robe.”

She crossed her arms over her chest, dug her heels in, literally and figuratively. “Cassie told me you have a way of always getting what you want from women, but this shocking display of overconfidence is a little much. Even for you.”

Surprise clouded his features. “It doesn’t work on you.” She couldn’t tell if what she caught in his voice was pleasure or regret.

“What doesn’t work on me?”

“Nothing. Forget it.”

Irritation swept in to tighten her stomach muscles, followed closely by exasperation. “You can really drive a girl mad, you know that?”

A tight laugh resonated in his chest. “You’ve got no idea.”

Soul Deep: Dark Souls Book 2 by Anne Hope

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-61921-250-3 e-book

ISBN: 978-1-61921-681-5 paperback

ASIN: B009ZCG07Q

Number of pages: 301 e-book

304 paperback

Word Count: 100 K

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

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Book Description:

Save her life…or save mankind. His choice could cost him his soul.

For nearly two centuries, Marcus has been the Watchers’ most faithful soldier. Sworn to protect humanity, driven by an unrelenting compulsion to atone for past sins, he has rarely found a compelling reason to question his mission, let alone defy his leader.

His partner, Regan, is his exact opposite, an enigma he longs to solve. A free spirit and reckless to a fault, Regan acts first and thinks later. Her smart mouth and tender heart have fascinated Marcus for decades, but the Watchers’ strict vow of celibacy has forced him to ignore the sizzling attraction between them. Until now.

When Regan goes rogue to protect a very special little boy, Marcus is forced to make an impossible choice—commit an act of treason or watch the woman he secretly loves die.

Hunted by enemies and allies alike, Regan and Marcus run for their lives, fighting to thwart an age-old prophecy and guard a boy whose destiny may very well be to destroy the world…or save it.

Warning: Contains violent battle scenes, angels with twisted agendas, nail-biting suspense, intense emotion, burning-hot sexual tension, and a sexy, stubborn hero who would rather face death than admit what’s in his heart.

Excerpt:

Marcus found Regan standing at the top of one of the numerous cliffs that barricaded the Watchers’ complex, staring down at the sea, her features pinched with concentration. The rain had finally stopped, but dampness still hung in the salt-laden air. A thin mist hugged her feminine figure, making moisture bead on her skin. She looked intangible, as elusive as the fog encompassing her. Regan was so strong and capable, he sometimes forgot how delicate she was.

The sight of her standing so close to the edge triggered all his protective instincts, and something else—the forbidden desire to touch. “Penny for your thoughts,” he said, burying his fists in his jacket pockets, where they wouldn’t be tempted to stray.

She smiled but didn’t turn to look at him. “Is that all they’re worth?”

“You drive a hard bargain. How ’bout a quarter?”

She laced her arms across her chest as the sun slowly set behind red-hued clouds. “What’s going to happen to him, Marcus?”

He didn’t have to ask her who she meant. Ever since they’d found Ben cowering in that kitchen, the boy had dominated her thoughts, maybe even her heart. Marcus had never believed it was possible for their kind to love, but recently he’d been forced to revisit that assumption. He’d seen it firsthand with Jace and Lia, and now he was seeing it again with Regan. Maybe one didn’t necessarily need to have a soul in order to love. Maybe just the echo of it was enough, similar to a phantom limb that continued to throb long after it was severed.

“Cal hasn’t come to any decisions yet,” he told her.

A brisk breeze blew, sending her curls rioting around her face. Again, he was seized by the urge to reach out to her, to smooth back her hair, to run the pad of his thumb across her mouth.

A mouth meant to be kissed.

He gave himself a mental kick, focused his attention on the churning waves below. He had no business kissing Regan. No business even thinking about it. When he’d taken the blood vow, he’d made a conscious choice to swear off sex, same as all those who bore the Watchers’ mark.

Only Jace and Lia seemed exempt from this oath, and Marcus couldn’t for the life of him figure out why. He’d seen Cal punish his followers for far less a crime. If there was one thing his leader demanded, it was absolute loyalty.

Regan picked up a pebble, then flung it over the cliff into the restless ocean. “Do you believe in destiny?”

The question took him off guard. “I’m not sure. I know Cal swears by it.”

“I didn’t ask about Cal. I asked about you.” She ran her fingers through her hair, exactly as he’d imagined himself doing. “Cal’s always preaching about fate, and for the most part, I believe him. But deep down, there’s this inkling of doubt, and it gets me thinking sometimes. If everything really is preordained, what happens to free will? Does it even exist or are we just being strung along?”

“When did you go all philosophical on me?”

She inhaled deeply, drawing his attention to the gentle swell of her breasts. Ignoring the kick beneath his ribs, he looked past her, fixing his gaze on the rocky shore again.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve been having this feeling lately, like there’s something I’m supposed to do, but I’m not sure what that is. I only know it involves Ben. He’s important somehow.”

He’d been having the same feeling, but he refrained from telling her. The last thing he wanted was for her to grow even more obsessed with the boy. In their world, obsession and impulsiveness often spelled disaster.

“Regan, you need to trust Cal to do the right thing. You know the drill—no Watcher can deviate from the plan. If you do anything, anything that compromises the mission, you will be labeled a Rogue. And you know better than anyone how the Watchers deal with Rogues.”

They hunted them down and exterminated them. The idea of that happening to Regan tore a painful strip out of him. He’d spent too many years training her, working alongside her, fighting to keep her alive, to lose her now. Had she been capable of reading his thoughts, she would’ve argued that she was the one always bailing him out of trouble, and she would’ve been right. She’d saved him more times than he could count. They were a team, more in tune than most, able to regenerate each other with nothing more than a touch, thanks to the Watchers’ bond.

The truth was, he couldn’t picture his life without her.

Losing the battle, he clasped her arms and turned her to face him. “Promise me you won’t do anything stupid.”

She tensed at his touch, inclined her head to look at him. “Define stupid.”

Those sweet-looking lips hovered inches below his, too damn appealing to ignore. Right there and then, standing at the edge of a deadly overhang ensnared by Regan’s smoky gaze, Marcus understood the precise meaning of stupidity.

He was tempted to demonstrate, but he didn’t. Releasing her, he secured a safe distance between them. “Just think before you act. That’s all I ask.”

She visibly deflated, and he could’ve sworn disappointment momentarily flittered across her face. Above them, the sun’s dying rays struggled to pulse against a sky determined to suffocate them. Regan grabbed another pebble and sent it whizzing through the air with a note of finality. “Thinking is overrated.”

A bitter laugh rumbled in his throat. If he wasn’t so damned disciplined, he would’ve agreed.

Soul Thief: Dark Souls Novella 0.5 by Anne Hope

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-61921-836-9

ASIN: B00CZ8MCFQ

Number of pages: 151

Word Count: 41 K

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Samhain Amazon Amazon.ca

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Book Description:

Born to hunt and destroy…until the light of one soul reawakens his own.

Adrian knows he once possessed a soul, but it abandoned him the day he was murdered. The day he was reborn as a Rogue, shunned by humans and hunted by his own kind. By night he feeds the darkness inside him by finding and snuffing out corrupt souls, perfectly content to live as an outcast—until a random act of violence unites him with a woman who makes him feel.

Angelica Paxton believes everyone deserves a second chance. Even her rescuer, a mysterious stranger with hypnotic powers, an unsettling ability to invade her dreams, and a shocking secret. Much as her body wants to succumb to Adrian’s seductive charms, she can’t. Not without breaking his newly awakened heart.

Adrian swears to protect Angie from his kind, even if staying by her side means volunteering at the center where she works to reform the very souls he has vowed to crush. Even if it means abandoning the shadows for the light. Even if that light exposes the darkest threat he’s ever faced. One from which he is powerless to save her…

Warning: This book contains flying subway cars, a woman in jeopardy, a relentless villain who’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants, and a dark, sexy hero who could very well haunt your dreams and steal your heart.

Excerpt:

Blood snaked around their feet, leaking from the two corpses and saturating the air with a thick, coppery stench. Adrian hated the smell of copper as much as he hated the substance itself. At least it wasn’t angel’s blood. Thank heavens for small favors.

The girl continued to watch him with wide, expectant eyes that were speckled with green and gray and a hint of brown around the pupils. Those eyes sucked him in, distracted him. Again he wondered why she hadn’t fled the scene yet. What did she care if he killed the men who’d assaulted her? He knew what they would’ve done to her given the chance. They would’ve raped her repeatedly, then left her broken and bleeding beneath the subway stairs.

But she did care. He could tell by the way those deep, fascinating eyes misted. “No one has the right to decide who lives and who dies,” she whispered. “Everyone deserves a second chance.”

Her words awakened feelings inside him he’d believed long dead. Compassion. Guilt. The desire to see approval in another’s eyes. Adrian wasn’t ruled by compassion, he didn’t succumb to guilt, and he most certainly had no desire to impress anyone, especially a human. So this sudden gush of neediness and remorse jolted him more than the gunshot had. It threw him off his game, and he did something that surprised even him. “Go. Get out of here,” he rasped in a rare display of mercy. “Both of you.”

The delinquent didn’t budge, and neither did the woman.

“I’m doing you a favor,” he said, looking pointedly at the rough, unshaven youth. Around his head, the kid wore a red bandana, and tattoos bruised his neck and arms. “Don’t blow it. If I catch you hurting anyone again, if you as much as witness another act of violence and do nothing to stop it, I’m coming after you.”

The guy nodded feebly, finally awakening from his trance, then scampered up the stairs, leaving Adrian alone with the woman.

Exhaling the breath she’d been holding, she released his arm and collapsed against the nearest wall. She brought her hand to her mouth, tried to settle her racing heart. An ordinary man wouldn’t have been able to hear her unsteady pulse from this distance, but Adrian was no ordinary man. Her heartbeat pounded inside his skull like the choppy notes of a drum at the hands of an inexperienced player.

The surprising urge to comfort her gripped him. He wanted to reassure her that everything would be all right, but he didn’t know how. Adrian didn’t belong in the human world, had spent his entire existence policing its perimeter like a well-oiled machine. The human heart was as much a mystery to him as the universe itself.

“Are you all right?” Dumb question, but it was all he could think to say.

A thin stream of blood dripped from her nose, and she wiped it away with the back of her hand. “I’m okay.” Despite her assertion, her words lacked conviction. “Just a little shaken. Not to mention confused.”

She rummaged through her purse and pulled out a tissue, which she pressed to her bleeding nose. “How did you do that?”

“Do what?” He connected with her mind, attempted to convince her that what she’d witnessed was a murder-suicide and nothing more.

But to his dismay, she wasn’t as easy to influence as most humans. Hers was a perfect soul, powerful, untarnished and oddly familiar. Beautiful waves of energy spilled from her body to bounce off him and scramble his thoughts. The unease she elicited within him grew, as did his curiosity about her. He should’ve walked away from her and never looked back, but he couldn’t. He was fused to the spot, chained by an electric force he’d never before experienced and failed to understand.

“I saw a show once,” she said. “A hypnotist made this guy strip down to his boxers, then cluck like a chicken. Is that what you are?”

“A chicken?”

“A hypnotist.”

He couldn’t tell her what he really was. Humans weren’t wired to comprehend things beyond the scope of their mundane world. But he needed to give her some kind of plausible explanation, and this one was as good as any. “You could say that.”

Bewilderment clouded her gaze, as did a potent dose of mistrust. “He shot you. I saw him shoot you. Why are you still standing?”

“Bulletproof vest. I never leave home without it,” he lied.

Accepting his reply as truth, she clutched her fancy purse to her chest, hugging it like a baby. She had no idea what the men really wanted from her. As far as Adrian could tell, she thought this was a run-of-the-mill mugging.

He opted not to correct her misconception. Even if he did, she probably wouldn’t believe him. “What do you have in there worth dying for? And why are you out wandering around the subway past midnight?”

“I’m on a humanitarian mission.”

He lifted a sardonic brow at her unexpected reply. “How’s that going for you?”

“Not so well.” She stared regretfully down at the body twisted at strange angles at her feet. The other lay about two meters away, just as ravaged.

Adrian shook his head in disbelief. The woman was feeling sorry for them. If she knew the monsters they really were, the potential for brutality that had existed within them, she wouldn’t be standing here mourning their passing.

She squeezed her eyes shut, blocking out the ugly sight of death. Or maybe it was him she feared looking at. When her lids sprang open again, her gaze held such disconcerting awe, he was tempted to reach out to her, to gather her close and reassure her she was safe with him.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“Adrian.”

“Adrian who?”

“Just Adrian.”

Her throat worked as she swallowed. “I don’t know whether to thank you for saving my life or run away screaming.”

A dark current cleaved the atmosphere, warned him they were no longer alone. “Run.”

Soul Chase: Dark Souls Book 3 by Anne Hope

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-61921-890-1

ASIN: B00DUB2554

Number of pages: 306

Word Count: 90K

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Samhain Amazon Amazon.ca

Barnes and Noble Kobo iTunes

Book Description:

A man she’d die for, a world she was born to defend… Only one can survive.

For twenty-five years, Adrian has mourned the loss of his soul mate, Angie. He’s content to live as an outcast…until a series of abductions forces him out of seclusion and into the arms of the very woman he loved and lost. Angie’s reincarnation, Emma.

Emma is on the run, hunted by soulless creatures whose one goal is to possess her soul. They have taken everything: her home, her identity, her mother. Left with no other choice, she must trust her fate to Adrian, the enigmatic stranger who comes to her rescue. An immortal being whose illicit touch makes her blood burn and awakens an inexplicable desire in her heart.

Emma follows Adrian to his isolated community in Arizona, where she is assailed by visions of a past life. As passion ignites and her enemies close in, Emma is drawn into a world where nothing is what it seems and where love could prove the greatest weakness of all.

Warning: Contains a dark, tortured hero, a hunted woman who can’t remember loving him, a nasty villain hell-bent on destroying the world, and a timeless love story you won’t soon forget.

Excerpt:

The wind howled, and a branch whipped at the window. Emma shot up in bed, wrapping her arms around her legs. She flung a reassuring glance at the switchblade by her bed. A blade she’d coated with blood and placed on her nightstand, within easy reach should she need it.

Holding her breath, she waited for the familiar sound of glass shattering. But all she heard was the sigh of the wind and the gentle rasp of shoes scraping the pavement. It was probably one of the other motel guests, but Emma had been on the run long enough not to discount a potential threat. All her instincts went on red alert.

She grabbed the switchblade, flipped it open and slid across the wall toward the door. It was nearly dawn, and fog drenched the budding day. Drab gray light trickled through the window, peeling back the shadows.

There were only two points of entry to the room she occupied—the window and the door. Emma stood between the two, gripping the pitiful blade, trying to calm her racing heart. She couldn’t move, couldn’t so much as breathe. If she did, they’d hear her.

She closed her eyes, mauled her lower lip and waited. Branches tapped at the window again, and her stomach folded.

Just the wind.

A bird serenaded the imminent break of day, then grew suspiciously silent. Nature had a way of going mute whenever a predator drew near. Emma’s fingers tightened around the switchblade. Her lungs began to burn, and she had no choice but to inhale.

She hated this. Hated the clench of fear that gripped her, the dreadful anticipation coursing through her veins, the sense of helplessness that inevitably followed each attack.

What would it feel like to know peace, if only for a day?

The doorknob jiggled, and her muscles turned to stone.

Here we go again.

There was a time when weeks—even months—had elapsed between incidents. In the past year, however, the attacks had escalated.

The lock clicked, and the door swung open. Emma’s palms grew damp around the handle of the knife.

Come on. What are you waiting for? Show yourself, you bastard.

Just as she was about to burst out of her skin, a man’s elongated shadow spilled through the open doorway. Then he was standing in her motel room, his wide back turned to her, his dark head angled in concentration. Hatred saturated her bloodstream, fueled by pain and anger.

He was one of them.

She sensed the darkness inside him, the emptiness. No soul beat in his chest. Emma was sure of it.

With a sharp intake of breath, she gave in to the fury and pounced. The man sensed her and turned, skillfully deflecting her blow and sending her stumbling backward. Raising the switchblade, she launched herself at him again.

She wanted to hurt him, badly. She wanted him to pay for all the years his kind had stolen from her, for all the sleepless nights she’d endured, for all the worry and pain she’d suffered these past few hours. But above all, she wanted to punish him for being the inhuman creature he was.

His iron grip closed around her wrist, prying the blade from her fingers as he immobilized her against the wall. His hard body pressed into hers, a living barrier boxing her in, knocking the very air from her lungs.

Emma struggled, striking his broad chest with her fists, knowing she was no match for him but unwilling to surrender yet. She growled like a cornered animal, raising her leg and attempting to knee him in the groin. Anticipating her move, he took a step back, and Emma missed her target.

“Take it easy.” He wedged his forearm over her sternum, nailing her to the wall again. “I’m not here to hurt you.”

“Don’t lie to me.” She exhaled in short, quick puffs. “I know what you are.”

Her assertion surprised him, and his hold on her slackened. Taking advantage of the opportunity, she dropped to her knees and scrambled to retrieve the switchblade he’d wrestled from her grasp. Her fingers brushed metal just as he flung her around on her back and flattened her wrists against the grimy carpet.

“If you didn’t come here to hurt me,” she challenged, “what the hell do you want?”

“To help you.”

Dawn slowly swept in, and soft, pink light spilled from the window to illuminate his face. Emma’s lungs squeezed in surprise. He looked like an angel—a dark angel, with an angular jaw, sharp, chiseled features and eyes as blue as the midnight sea. Tousled black hair brushed his forehead and curtained one of his brows. His sensual lips hovered a few inches above hers, and she could feel the heat emanating from them…from him.

For a moment she lost the ability to form a coherent thought. He was beautiful, hard and defined, a Greek sculpture pinning her to the ground. His muscular leg was slung across hers, his fingers encircling her wrists like a pair of steel shackles.

She couldn’t stand feeling trapped, even if a dark angel was doing the trapping. “If you want to help me, let me go.”

He hesitated, his gaze capturing hers. Confusion pinched his brows as he studied her face. Then he did something so unexpected, so tender and intimate, Emma’s next breath snagged in her throat.

He reached up and caressed her cheek. Shock and affection gleamed in his navy-blue eyes, roughening his voice. “Angie?”

 

About the Author:

Anne Hope is the author of emotionally intense romances with a twist—a twist of humor, a twist of suspense, a twist of magic. All her stories, however, have a common thread. Whether they make you laugh or cry or push you to the edge of your seat, they all feature the redeeming power of love and the heart’s incredible ability to heal.

Anne’s passion for writing began at the age of eight. After penning countless stories about enchanted houses, alien girls with supernatural powers, and children constantly getting lost in the woods, she decided to try her hand at romance.

She lives in Montreal, Canada, with her husband, her two inexhaustible kids, a lazy cat and a rambunctious Australian Kelpie.

www.annehope.com

https://twitter.com/AnneHopeAuthor

https://www.facebook.com/annehopeauthor

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/772411.Anne_Hope

Tour Wide Giveaway

$100 gift card at Amazon and a digital copy of any book in the Dark Souls series.

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16. Meet Olivia Beckett from Fix You by Christine Bell and Giveaway

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Olivia!  Can you share a typical day in your life?

[Olivia Beckett] Sure. I wake up, usually around eight a.m., and make a chocolate covered strawberry smoothie (DO THIS. It’s DELICIOUS. ½ cup vanilla yogurt, ½ cup fat free milk, ½ cup frozen strawberries, 1.5 TBS dark cocoa powder. Blend. Drink. Rejoice.) Then, if I have morning classes, I go to those. If not, I try to hit the gym or go for a walk or something. In the afternoons, I do homework so that in the evenings I can hang out later on. Did I say drink a pot of coffee throughout the day? If I didn’t, add that in. I love coffee. What else? Usually, one night a week we hit the bar and play beer pong or pool. Lately, I go hoping to run into Bash. Although, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing any of those things. My parents are having some…financial issues so school might not be an option next semester.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Bash?

[Olivia Beckett] Gorgeous. Troubled. Gorgeous. Wait, did I say that one already? Okay, so the third one would be strong.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s his most appealing quality?

[Olivia Beckett] Physically? His mouth. Particularly his lips. They’re perfect. As for his personality, his determination.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s irritates you the most about him?

[Olivia Beckett] Probably the same as above. His determination. The same self-discipline that makes him a great boxer and a strong person able to overcome odds and succeed is also the quality that makes him stubborn and set on his course. That course is one that will take him far from Boston…and from me. So, yeah. As much as I admire it, that’s pretty irritating sometimes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Olivia Beckett] I’d go back to the day my abusive ex, Andy, asked me out and instead of saying yes, I’d kick him in the balls. Hard.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Olivia Beckett] Dental floss. I keep it in every purse I own. Nothing worse than having chicken stuck between your teeth and not being able to get it out. Well, I mean, not *nothing* worse. Like, drowning is worse, probably. And being infested by maggots. But no floss is still pretty bad.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Olivia Beckett] Me and Bash together forever.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Olivia Beckett] Thank YOU! It was fun. And try one of those smoothies. You won’t regret it, pinky swear.

“Fresh, sexy, and addicting–you won’t want to put it down!”—New York Times Bestselling Author Jen McLaughlin

FIX YOU is part one in the new adult McDaniels Brothers serials from USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Christine Bell. Fans of Monica Murphy, Jen McLaughlin, and H.M. Ward will be seduced by Bash and Olivia’s story and will look forward to a new installment in this ongoing family saga every month!

Want to learn more about FIX YOU? Be sure to check out this exclusive interview with Christine Bell!

Follow the tour and win some awesome prizes!

About FIX YOU, Bash and Olivia Book One (The McDaniels Brothers, #1)

Olivia Beckett’s once-charmed life is falling apart. Her family is about to lose everything, and she has almost no chance of continuing her college education. She can’t even seek solace from her high school sweetheart. He’s changed. She doesn’t recognize the boy she used to know— his violent behavior is escalating and it scares the hell out of her. Her whole world is crumbling, and she has no one to turn to……
Sebastian “Bash” McDaniels is an up and comer in the boxing world working nights at the local college bar until he can land the fight of his dreams that will get him the hell out of Boston and away from his family’s tragic past. He’s weeks from his goal when Olivia Beckett comes tumbling into his life in a flash of silky dark hair and haunted eyes. When he saves her from a potentially brutal beating, they begin to grow close, but Olivia’s ex isn’t ready to let her go so easily.
Bash can’t bring himself to walk away, but fixing Olivia just might leave him broken…
On Sale: March 31, 2014

Add FIX YOU to your TBR pile on Goodreads!

About Christine Bell

Christine Bell is the USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romances, and one half of the happiest couple in the world. She doesn’t like clowns or bugs (except ladybugs, on account of their cute outfits), but loves movies, football, and playing Texas Hold ‘Em. Writing is her passion, but if she had to pick another occupation, she’d be a wizard. She loves writing fun, sexy romance and deep, emotional new adult novels, but also hopes to one day publish something her dad can read without wanting to dig his eyes out with rusty spoons.

Subscribe to Christine’s mailing list for exclusive content, ARCs, giveaways and more!

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook


Prizes:

A $50 e-giftcard to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice, open internationally) and an opportunity to have a character named after the winner in serial #3 of The McDaniels Brothers series!

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17. Rhyming Picture Book Month: An Interview with Bad Bye / Good Bye’s Deborah Underwood

BadByeGoodBye Rhyming Picture Book Month: An Interview with Bad Bye / Good Byes Deborah UnderwoodA real post that has nothing to do with videos on a Sunday?  Am I out of my friggin’ gourd?  Maybe so, but today is a special occasion.  You see, today, I am pleased to announce that I wrote something . . . on another person’s blog.  Admittedly I don’t usually do that sort of thing but when Angie Karcher met me at an SCBWI Regional Conference in Indiana last November (my very first keynote!) she convinced me that this was a cool idea.

You see Angie’s been running a Rhyming Picture Book Month series over at her blog and she has some pretty darn big names involved.  Just take a look at the calendar and you can see a lot of familiar faces, as well as some newbies.  When she asked me to contribute something I was initially stumped.  Then an idea hit.  I have read a LOT of picture books in 2014.  Why don’t I just sift through them and find the rhyming picture book I liked best?

Easier said than done.  For all their charms, good rhyming picture books are near impossible to do.  At their worst they sound like Dr. Seuss in a blender.  At their best they shine like bright jewels in a sea of morass.  Fortunately, there is one book out in 2014 that struck me as particularly smart and beautiful.  None other than Deborah Underwood’s Bad Bye / Good Bye.

So I don’t interview folks very often, but Deborah was a doll.  Head on over to Angie’s site where I sit Ms. Underwood down (in the proverbial sense) and ask her the ins and outs of how one goes about writing something that rhymes while telling a complete story at the same time.  Then, when you’re done with that, take a trip to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast where Jules interviews artist Jonathan Bean and shows some truly cool behind-the-scenes sketches of the book in question.  Fun stuff for a pretty Sunday.

 

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0 Comments on Rhyming Picture Book Month: An Interview with Bad Bye / Good Bye’s Deborah Underwood as of 4/6/2014 4:45:00 AM
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18. John Ferguson on Saltire: “He’s Big, He’s Blue, and He’s Ginger” [Interview]

Scotland has been missing some good superheroes recently, and especially giant hulking shirtless ginger ones. Luckily that’s all changed thanks to Saltire, a new character created by writer John Ferguson, who’ll be the star of a series of graphic novels over the next few years. A proud Scot, Saltire is a centuries-spanning hero who starts in Roman times and fights for Scottish pride from then onwards.

Drawn by Gary Welsh and Tone Julskjaer, the first graphic novel ‘Invasion’ is out now in the UK, and will be arriving in the US later this year. A best-selling title in Scotland, Saltire marks a creator-owned attempt to revitalise superheroes, and a follow up called Saltire: Annihilation is promised for the near future. I spoke to John recently about the series – and more specifically, about the character himself. Who is Saltire? Is the World ready for a Ginger superhero? Read on to find out!

Saltire Front Cover

Steve: What is the basic concept of Saltire? What is the book about?

John: Saltire is the immortal protector of Scotland and Invasion is the first in a graphic novel series set in a pseudo history of the country that takes the reader through some of the great legends and myths, and the most climatic moments of it’s past. He’s big, he’s blue and he’s ginger, with quite an iconic superhero visual.

The first book is set in ancient history and tells of the famous Roman Ninth Legion, who have had many books and films in the last few years, championing their heroism. This however, comes from the Scottish perspective of an invading Imperial force to a peaceful land. The book also includes the origin story of Saltire, “Inception”, which explains the background to his creation and his reason for being.

Steve: To that regard, the book starts in post-Roman times. How did you decide the timeframe for the series? Without spoiling anything, the character *is* immortal.

John: To be honest, the history of Scotland dictated the time frame. So many amazing events have happened in its past that we wanted Saltire to cover them all, so we had to make him immortal.

Steve: There’s been a slight misreporting of the character – you call him “the first Scottish hero” and so people have raced to the internet to write about pre-existing characters like Wolfsbane and Ghost Girl (no? just me on that one?) Yet what you’re actually saying is that the book goes back in time chronologically before any other Scottish hero existed – Saltire is the first superhero in Scottish recorded history. Is that about right? I just wanted to clear that up!

John: Actually there has never been a lead comic book superhero from Scotland or a series set in Scotland, only comic strips, or characters who are supplanted into America like Wolfsbane or Fantastic Four’s Caledonia. So Saltire is first in a few ways. We know comic book fans like a good debate and I’m sure it will carry on for a while yet.

Saltire Map

The World of Saltire

Steve: The book is full of Scottish mythology, both real and (I think!) invented. Scottish mythology is not a subject which has been explored in comics, particularly. Was that part of the appeal of writing the story: that you could delve into this dense mythology?

John: Actually none of the mythology is invented. It is all based in some sort of belief or legend from the Picts, Scots or Gaels, with just a little tweaking to fit it all together as a cohesive world. Telling the story of Scotland’s legends and folklore in a modern, dynamic way is a huge undertaking, but it’s hugely enjoyable and the first book has been selling out all over the country.

Steve: Were there any particular myths or folk stories that you knew you particularly wanted to touch upon? It would have been tempting, I imagine, to immediately throw in Nessie and The Stone of Destiny and all the most famous references, but you hold back here.

John: Absolutely. The tale of Scotland’s otherworld (the spirit world) and the folk tales of the Blue Stones are central to the Saltire series. The records of Scotland’s history were destroyed twice, so our own past quite often reads like mythology because it is fairly unknown. This is not the story of tartan, bagpipes and haggis.

Steve: So what defines Saltire as a character? What’s his personality, what’s his ambition – what is he looking to achieve?

John: In a word, Scottishness. He’s aggressive, protective, believes in liberty and freedom but he has his flaws and one major weakness, one that Scotland is famous for. His ambition and purpose is to see the people of Scotland live in freedom and peace. Saltire will hibernate for centuries in times of peace, meditating under the mountains, to be called upon through the ancient Stone of Destiny, when a threat to the nation is at hand.

Saltire Page 16

Steve: Am I right in thinking the design for the character was run as a competition, and that artists Gary Welsh and Tone Julskjaer won said competition? What was it about their art which appealed to your sense of the character?

John: The prestigious Duncan of Jordanstone Art College in Dundee produces many of Scotland’s finest artists and also champion’s comic books and animation, so running a competition through them seemed logical. Gary and Tone have a great mix of dynamics and artistry and they have really captured the feel of Scotland and its scenery. It is a very beautiful style and looks different to the traditional Marvel and DC superhero style.

Steve: Did you deliberately want to find emerging talent from Dundee University – which hosted the competition – to help design the concept of Saltire? To make him contemporary as well as rooted in Scottish history?

John: We want Saltire to become quite iconic and recognisable, particularly in Scotland but also into the rest of the English speaking world. We don’t want Saltire to be seen as an old fashioned sword and sandals comic. Our artists will always look to bring a contemporary feel to all the books.

Steve: How did you pick the name for the character – ‘Saltire’?

John: “Saltire” is the name of the national flag but its etymology is ambiguous so we like to think the flag was named after the character in our pseudo history.

Steve: What are your plans with the character following Saltire: Invasion? Will you be continuing on for more stories with him?

John: Yes, the next book Saltire Annihilation is our later this year and is a bit of an epic, set in the dark ages of Scotland and Saltire has to deal with the threat of the Anglo Saxons and the legendary Ban Sith. We have four or five books in development. The script of the third book is almost complete.

Saltire Page 19

Steve: How can people find copies of the book? Are there plans to make it available for a US audience?

John: The book is widely available in book shops and comic book shops in the UK, and is one of the bestselling graphic novels in Scotland. We are looking forward to getting Saltire Invasion released in the US later this year along with a digital version for those unable to pick up a hard copy.  Invasion and Annihilation may end up with consecutive releases for the international market. Currently the book is available online worldwide on Amazon and directly from Diamondsteel Comics.

Steve: Do you have anything else coming up? Where can we find you – and Saltire – online?

John: We’ll be releasing the first book in Scots and Gaelic language editions later in the year, which allows people in Scotland to read the book in all of the countries languages. A lot of people with Scottish ancestry, particularly in North America, are keen to read new material in these languages, so it’s creating a bit of a buzz.

You can find us on Twitter, on  Facebook, and at our website www.diamondsteelcomics.com

-

Many thanks to John for his time! And thanks also to Clare, for arranging the interview! Saltire Invasion is available in UK stores right now.

1 Comments on John Ferguson on Saltire: “He’s Big, He’s Blue, and He’s Ginger” [Interview], last added: 4/4/2014
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19. Interview: Varsha Bajaj

If you liked the film What a Girl Wants, you should check out Varsha Bajaj's brand-new novel Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood. When 13-year-old Abby, raised by her single mother, learns that her father is a famous Bollywood actor, she travels across the world to meet him.

I got to know author Varsha Bajaj while working on her official website. Now this interview can let you all get to know her a little better!

You grew up in India, then moved to America when you were a graduate student. Had you ever visited America before?

I had not visited America before except through books and movies! American Universities were and still are highly respected in India.

What inspired the move?

I wanted to study abroad, see the world. I wanted more from life. I had been to England a few years before I came here and America felt like the next logical move.

Do you enjoy traveling?

I love traveling but I also love coming back home. In fact there is nothing like traveling to make you appreciate home.

Have any of your kids been bitten by the traveling bug?

We have traveled as a family since the kids were young and so yes, both kids want to travel. My son talks of doing a semester at sea, and my daughter talks of studying abroad too.

In your novel, Abby is very close to her mother and maternal grandparents. Were you close to your parents and grandparents when you were growing up? Which adult was your biggest confidant?

I was close to my parents and grandparents. My paternal grandparents lived with us when I was growing up. My grandfather first introduced me to Western literature. He would read Jane Austen aloud. I would say that my aunt was my biggest confidant. She seemed more accessible somehow.

What traits do you and Abby have in common?

Abby is optimistic and spunky. She absorbs new situations with enthusiasm. I like to think I do the same.

What would you like booksellers, teachers, and librarians to know about your book?

My book is heartfelt and addresses issues such as cultural identity and disparities in society without being preachy. I try to never forget what kind of book I would have liked to pick up when I was tween.

You've taught creative writing and spoken at schools. What do you enjoy most about working with young readers and writers?

They have such energy and joy. Sometimes as an adult you lose that magical optimism. Being around young people is a great way to stay young at heart.

What's the biggest challenge you face when writing a picture book?

I love picture books. The biggest challenge is to not overwrite, to leave room for the illustrator. It is not easy to make an emotional connection with your very young reader and the adult reading aloud with few words at your disposal.

How do you find your collaborators, your illustrators?

Once a manuscript is sold, the acquiring editor pairs you with an illustrator. The editor usually asks for your approval. I have been lucky that every time I have been blown away by the illustrator.

What's next for you? What other cool projects do you have on your plate?

I am working on my next middle grade novel. It’s too early to talk about the details. I also have a picture book manuscript that is out on submission. I have my fingers crossed. It’s exciting!

Good luck! What are your top ten favorite books?

Oh my! There are so many books and so little time. Don’t you agree? But some of my favorites are:

Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Click, Clack, Moo by Doreen Cronin
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon
Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt
You Read to me, I'll Read to You by Mary Ann Hoberman

I really could go on and on. I am a book addict and I don’t want to recover!

To learn more about Varsha Bajaj and her books, please visit http://www.varshabajaj.com

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20. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Petr Horáček

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair may be over, but I’m still on an international kick here at 7-Imp. Today, I welcome author-illustrator Petr Horáček, born in Czechoslovakia and currently living in England.

Horáček has been making picture books for over ten years now, one reviewer even describing his vibrant and textured mixed-media paintings and collages as “strangely beautiful.” It may not be surprising to many to read below that Petr gets great inspiration from the work of Eric Carle. In fact, he describes having first seen Carle’s work as a life-changing moment, indeed. Both illustrators work in bright colors and craft stories that are gentle and reassuring to the youngest of readers. In fact, as you’ll also see below, Petr has many a board book under his belt, including some new ones coming from Candlewick this Fall — and he has passionate opinions about the role of board books in children’s lives.

It turns out that breakfast is Petr’s favourite meal of the day and always has been. “Both my parents worked,” he tells me. “They had already gone when our neighbour woke me up. The large lady pushed her head around the door, said ‘good morning,’ and disappeared. I had to wake up, get washed, and go to the kitchen, where on the table was hot cocoa and bread, spread with butter, honey, or jam. The radio was playing music approved by the communist government, and a voice coming from the radio was telling us that it was nearly 7 a.m. and, therefore, time to go to school.”

Petr’s favorite breakfast was always these spreads with hot cocoa and Czech rolls with butter. But “I rarely have cocoa and bread for breakfast these days,” he says. “I have muesli with bran flakes, cinnamon, and cold milk. It is my second choice. It is a healthier option.”

I think today we should have some cocoa and rolls, though. I’m thinking we should be decadent. I’ll set the table while getting the basics from Petr before our seven questions over breakfast. I thank him for visiting and sharing lots of art.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Petr: I consider myself both.

I studied fine art and, therefore, working on the pictures is what I like best. I also like making up stories, but getting it right and making it work so that I can make a nice picture book out of it is a different story.

I’m very lucky to work with my editors, Denise and Louise, at Walker Books. They make my life much easier.



Spread and cover from What is Black and White?

(Candlewick, 2001)

I occasionally illustrate for some other authors. I don’t do it very often, and I find it very challenging. In my books I always start with a picture. The text is the last thing. Working on somebody else’s text is working the other way around. Starting with the text — for me, it is definitely harder.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Petr: PICTURE BOOKS:

BOARD BOOKS:

PHONIC BOOKS:

BOOK ILLUSTRATIONS:


Jules: What is your usual medium?

Petr: Colours and texture are important in my work. The materials I use inspire me, and I’m always ready to try something new.

I use pencils, coloured pencils, wax crayons, watercolours, pastels, and acrylics.

I also use collage in my work. I paint and print patterns on papers, which I then cut and use in my illustrations.

Pencil and acrylic are probably my favourite materials.




Spreads and cover from Animal Opposites

(Candlewick, 2013)
(Click spreads to enlarge)

Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?

Petr: I do board books, novelty and pop-up books, picture books — and I have also illustrated some early readers.

Board books are something I’m quite proud of. You hardly ever hear about authors who illustrate board books. In fact, you hardly see good board books in the shops. Board books are thought to be something too small to be taken seriously.

People think that board books are for babies; therefore, it doesn’t mater what you show them, as long there are some pictures. It’s rubbish, of course, and it makes me very cross when I hear that bookshops don’t want to keep board books, because they take too much space on the shelves and make little profit.




I take my board books seriously. A board book is often a child’s very first contact with visual art and literature.

Children may not have as many experiences as adults, but it doesn’t mean that they are stupid. They definitely deserve more than just a squeaky washable book with an image of a flower and dolphin. To this day, I have published about twelve board books and I’m working on more as we speak.

All of these books have some novelty aspects. Pages build up to a final picture as you turn the page. The pages have holes and cut-outs so that you can chase the mouse through the book and so on.




Spreads and cover from Run, Mouse, Run!

(Candlewick, 2005)
(Click second spread to enlarge)

I also like working on picture books. I like thinking and developing new ideas. The format of a picture book gives me the chance to paint more and play with the pictures.

I like to think that the difference between a board book and a picture book is similar to the difference between a poem and a novel. With board books, you have to think simple, trying to fit a story or message in to a very limited format. A picture book gives you more space.




Spreads and cover from Puffin Peter (Candlewick, 2013)


(Click spreads to enlarge)

Novelty books with holes and cut-outs are fun. You have to think about the book as a complete object, where every cut-out and detail has its place. So what you see through the hole of one page makes sense even when you turn the page and look back.

It takes time and lots of sketching. It’s almost a mathematical task sometimes. I enjoy it, which always surprises me, since at school I didn’t like maths and difficult logical exercises. Too much thinking always hurt me.



Spread and cover from Butterfly Butterfly


(Candlewick, 2007)
(Click spread to enlarge)

A very different experience for me is working on early reader chapter books. I don’t write these kinds of books, so I have to follow the text written by somebody else. My imagination is working but is usually preoccupied with too many details, and I find it quite hard to simplify the pictures. I like the challenge, but it can be hard work sometimes.




Spreads and cover from My Elephant


(Candlewick, 2009)
(Click spreads to enlarge)

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Petr: I was born and lived most of my life in the capital city of the Czech Republic Prague. Prague is beautiful but also quite busy, as you can imagine.

Now I live in Worcester in the middle of England. It’s a rather pretty and quiet city. I like that. It’s easy to travel anywhere from here. I cycle to the city, and it takes no time to go to the countryside if you wish to do so.



Spread and cover from Look Out, Suzy Goose
(Candlewick, 2008)


(Click spread to enlarge)

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Petr: I started to write and illustrate books around the time when my first daughter was born. At the time, I was working as an art technician in a high school.

The mother of one of the students had written a book and was looking for somebody who could draw. I had no idea about the publishing world, and neither did she, but we worked together. The books were self-published and, therefore, never reached a shop. I realised that I loved working on these books, and it inspired me to write my own stories.



Spread and cover from Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star


(Candlewick, 2010)
(Click spread to enlarge)

Probably the final point was when I saw the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. The book was given to my daughter, when she was born, by my friend. Coming from a different country, I didn’t know about the existence of this book. I didn’t know how well-known it was. I thought it was a true masterpiece, and I wished I could do something like this myself.

Over the next couple of years, I made some mock-ups and sent them to agents and publishers.



Spread and cover from The Fly
(Walker Books, 2010)

(Click spread to enlarge)

I must say I’m very grateful to my wife, who didn’t try to explain to me that I was naive to think that I could be published. She would have had a case, though. I didn’t have an agent, and my English was almost non-existent. Instead, she gave me all the support I needed. She helped me with my texts and letters to publishers.

I got a few nicely-written rejection letters, but one day I got a phone call from Random House. On the line was a very kind editor who liked my books. He gave me some tips and said that, once I re-worked some of my ideas, we could meet up for a chat. I was thrilled. The next day I received another phone call. This time it was Walker Books. They asked me to come to see them, and this is how I ended up with one of the best publishers of children’s books in England.

It was at just the right time, since I had already signed myself up for stacking shelves in a supermarket. Times were hard.

My first books were Strawberries Are Red and What is Black and White? I got my first award for these two books, “Newcomer 2001,” from Books for Children.



Spread and cover from Strawberries Are Red

(Candlewick, 2001)

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Petr: My website is at www.petrhoracek.co.uk. I do write a blog. It’s accessible from my website.

Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.

Petr: I do quite a few school visits every year. Those are well-organised for me by Speaking of Books.

I usually do one or two talks in the morning. I show lots of images and pictures, using a slide show. I talk about my work and about the books. I try to explain how the idea for a book develops, showing all the sketches and pictures which didn’t make it to the book. I try to inspire the children by showing them that is okay to mess up or not finish a story — and that we all have to go through the learning process. What is important is not to give up and start again, if necessary.





Some of Petr’s small canvases
(Click each to enlarge)

7-Imp: If you teach illustration, by chance, tell me how that influences your work as an illustrator.

Petr: I don’t teach. I’m still in the learning process myself.

Occasionally, I do talks for students or a panel with other authors. It’s always inspiring for me, and I always leave with the feeling that I still have much to learn.

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Petr: I’m always thinking about new board books.

I have finished a picture book, which is going to be called The Mouse Who Ate the Moon [to be published by Candlewick in the Fall]. It’s a sequel to A New House for Mouse.

Recently, I headed out to the Czech Republic, where in the countryside by the woods I wrote down some new ideas.




Spreads and cover from A New House for Mouse

(Candlewick, 2004)
(Click spreads to enlarge)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, our coffee is ready, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Petr again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

Petr

: I studied fine art, and things I see around inspire me. It could be an abstract painting in a gallery, a drawing done by a child, or an interesting photo in a magazine.


A Bit of Light


A Meeting Point


About a House


From the Garden


Funny Beetle


Home with Garden


In Layers


In the Clouds


Kingfisher


Midnight Garden

Petr: “[These are] samples of my paintings. I originally studied fine art,
and I still paint when I can.”

(Click each one to enlarge)

I start sketching the story first on separate sheets of papers. I draw twelve windows that represent twelve double spreads. Then I try to fit the story into those frames. I often have to draw a few more, because I can’t fit the story in. I edit the length of the story later. I keep changing and editing the story. Each time, my doodle drawings get better and more precise.

As I’m sketching, I’m thinking about how to do the illustrations and what materials I’ll use. I also start to write the text under the thumbnails.


Petr: “[This is] a sample of a storyboard and of how I sketch a book.
This one is
The Fly.”
(Click to enlarge)

I choose one of the spreads I want to illustrate first. At this point, I get quite excited about the book. The way that I paint the first picture is usually how I will deal with the rest of the book.

I use collage in my artwork. It gives me a chance to loosen up. I like shifting the images on the paper and finding something “extra.” I do each picture at least twice, sometimes more. I choose the best one for the book.

I’m lucky to work with two very good editors. I always listen to what they have to say, and I’m quite happy to do as many changes as necessary.



Petr: “This [is from] a book, which I’ve started many times
but never finished.”

(Click sketch to enlarge)

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.

Petr

: I work at home. I have my studio in the attic. I built it mostly myself. It’s not very big, so I have to be organized. I have a sky-light window, which faces south, and from my window I can see our garden and the gardens of our neighbours. I can also see the Malvern Hills, if I stretch a bit.


(Click to enlarge)

I work at the table, which has toughened glass on it. It’s rather practical and easy to keep clean. I have another table on my right side. It’s a table for the computer and printer. It’s always partly covered with things that belong to my children, such as bits of paper and printed homework that they don’t want anymore.

In front of me and behind the desk are steps downstairs and a wall with pictures and prints done by my favorite Czech illustrator, Jiří Šalamoun. There are also pictures and drawings done by my children. Under these pictures, you can see shelves in the length of the house, full of CDs.

Behind me is a hi-fi, speakers, and books. On the side where the window is are shelves and storage, where I keep papers and drawings.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Petr

: As a child, I never was a great reader. When I was little, nobody talked about dyslexia. I preferred to listen to stories on the radio — or somebody reading to me.

I liked books for the illustrations. I could look at a book with nice pictures for ages, but it still didn’t make me want to read it.

The books I grew up with were, of course, very different from books you know. I liked stories about a robber called Rumcajs. He was a nice guy who lived in the woods with his wife Manka and little boy Cipisek.

One character from Czech books people may know was Krteček, a little mole, whose friend was a little mouse. The author/illustrator was Zdeněk Miler.

We had lots of very talented people, such as Jiří Trnka. In fact he was a great puppet-maker, animator, illustrator, and writer.

I love very old, half-animated and half-acted films done by Karel Zeman.

Two of my favourite Czech illustrators are Jiří Šalamoun and, of course, Josef Lada.



Petr: “These are pages from my sketchbooks. I collage into the sketchbooks left-over drawings, bits of papers, drawings done by children, and so on. I look at them from time to time to get myself in a creative mood.”
(Click each to enlarge)

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Petr: This is a tricky question, since the creator of interesting art could be a quite boring person to talk to, but I would take a risk and love to witness a conversation between Josef Lada, Jiří Trnka, and Eric Carle. I know that you may not know Josef Lada and Jiri Trnka, but I’ve read their autobiographies, and—trust me—they were very interesting guys with very interesting things to say. And Eric Carle? Well he is one of the best, and I’m sure he would fit well.


Sketch
(Click to enlarge)

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Petr: Oh, don’t get me started. I’ve been always working with music, and I listen to almost everything, except perhaps pop music and jazz.

My wife comes from a musical family, she is a very good cello and viola de gamba player, and she is responsible for my likes and taste in classical music. I like renaissance and baroque music. I also like Stravinsky and some of the classical contemporary music. From Stravinsky, it is just a step to Frank Zappa and from there … well, everything.

When I need to think or relax, I can listen to Monteverdi, Buxtehude, or Glenn Gould playing Bach. When I’m working on the pictures, it could be anything from Pink Floyd, Sonic Youth, Radiohead, Jimmy Hendrix

, Laurie Anderson, or My Bloody Valentine. When I’m preparing papers or printing, I need to work fast and then I play something more energetic. Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, or The Mars Volta would do the job.

In my CD player at the moment are Patti Smith and Nick Cave.


Sketch
(Click to enlarge)

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Petr: I did mention my dyslexia. I can’t spell very well. In English or in Czech.

7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

Petr: I have no problem answering any questions people ask me, but at the same time I don’t consider myself to be so interesting that I need to shout outloud everything about myself.

Also, next to my table I keep little sketchbooks. When I have enough of working or when I feel like it, I do a little drawing into them. I fill them up with cut-outs from papers and with little collages. I also make little pictures about what I just heard on the radio or what I remember from my dreams. I like these drawings, since they are a kind of diary. I look at them from time to time for inspiration.











(Click each to enlarge)

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Petr: I’ve seen this question before, and I found it very strange that I can’t really answer it. I don’t really have a favourite word. Maybe the word “right” is the one I like to use.

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Petr: Same as above, but there is one phrase I truly hate: “What are you on about?” This drives me mad.

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Petr: A walk in the woods, being in the countryside, or a good art exhibition.

Jules: What turns you off?

Petr: A day by the computer, answering emails or writing explanations to something that should be obvious.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Petr: “Do prdele” in Czech. (It means “Bugger.”)

In English, “fuckity fuck!” (It means … oh, well …)

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Petr: I love sounds — the sound of a dog barking in distance, the sound of a train coming from far away, the sound of cockerel in the morning, a gentle knock on the door, the sound of an ironing board when somebody is ironing …

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Petr: Anything too noisy. Who likes the sound of a dentist’s drill?

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Petr: I would like to work with wood. Being a carpenter would be nice.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Petr: Accounting would be a nightmare.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Petr: “Hi, mate. Come in. It’s nice to meet you finally. I love what you do.”

I would say:

“Taa. I like your work, too.”

Him: “Coffee?”

Me: “Yes, please. Strong with milk. No sugar.”

* * * * * * *

All artwork and images are used with permission of Petr Horáček.

The black-and-white photos of Petr were taken by Anthony Pearson.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

4 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Petr Horáček, last added: 4/4/2014
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21. Interview with Wendy Godding, Author of Time After Time

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Good morning, Wendy!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Wendy Godding] A daydreaming, shopaholic chocolate addict.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Time After Time?

[Wendy Godding] Time After Time is the story of a girl who can remember her past lives through her dreams.  But those past lives always ended in her murder by the same man before she turns eighteen and now that same man has moved into the house next door.

I’ve always loved the idea of  reincarnation and what would it would mean if you could actually remember your past lives.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Wendy Godding] My favourite scene is definitely towards the beginning of the book,  where Penelope is making her way up to Broadhurst Manor and she sees the stranger on the horse on the hill watching her.  When I was writing that scene I had chills.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?

[Wendy Godding] Bringing the two time periods together and linking them so that there was a crossover between them.  I had to change and rewrite that many times. Time After Time as it is now is completely and utterly different from the original plotline.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Wendy Godding] Earrings.  I feel naked and underdressed without them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Wendy Godding] Happiness – a cute journal I picked up from Kikki K, an owl pen holder full of glitter pens (I have a thing for owls and glitter pens) and a massive faux diamond paper weight that was a gift from a good friend.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Wendy Godding] That is really, really hard.  I’m not sure I’d actually want to BE  anyone else in particular. But I would love to walk the red carpet of the Oscars, not as anyone in particular but just to have that Cinderella moment and wear a stunning dress.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been transported back in time to 1806.  What modern convenience would you miss most, and what would you like best about your new time period?

[Wendy Godding] I would miss my espresso machine!  I don’t know how I’d start the day without it and I won’t drink regular or instant coffee, I’m a bit of a coffee snob.  And I would LOVE the manners of the new time period.  And the dresses.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Wendy Godding] I’ve been reading quite a bit of dystopian young adult lately and have just finished These Broken Stars, by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth as well as Veronica Rossi’s third book in her trilogy, Into the Still Blue.  All were wonderful!  I’ve just picked up Wayfarer by Lilli St Crow and am having a lot of trouble putting that down to get on with my real life.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Wendy Godding] Via my facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/wendygoddingauthor or very soon via my webpage http://wendygodding.com/

Excerpt

‘I think Mr Lockwood has taken a fancy to you,’ Georgina informed Penelope as soon as they were alone. They walked the gardens of the Manor, enjoying the last rose blooms of the season.

‘I’m sure you’re mistaken,’ Penelope replied, hoping just the opposite. ‘I think he is only being polite.’

‘I see how he looks at you. He doesn’t look like that at me — nor Annie — and he is just as polite with us. No, I do believe, my dear cousin, that you have your very first admirer.’

Penelope flushed with pleasure as she recalled Heath’s dark brown eyes and how he’d looked at her with such…She couldn’t find the right word. It wasn’t interest. It wasn’t admiration. It was something else entirely.

‘You like him too!’ cried Georgina, eyeing Penelope’s coloured cheeks.

‘How could I not? You, yourself pointed out how handsome he is. And agreeable. Many times.’

‘Yes, I suppose I did,’ Georgina frowned slightly before continuing, ‘but you know, I simply cannot find out anything about his family.’

‘It’s a delicate subject,’ Penelope observed. ‘Being an orphan must be difficult, and it’s amazing to hear he has no other kin to speak of, save a brother.’

‘Yes, I thought so, too. That’s why I have sent a note to my aunt in London to see what she can find out about Mr Heath Lockwood.’

‘Georgina, you didn’t!’

Georgina shrugged, looping her arm around Penelope’s. ‘Of course I did. Father would not want someone of questionable character staying in our home, I am sure. And as for Mr Lockwood, well, there is no point keeping secrets — if he has any. Everyone knows secrets always come out in the end.’

Something about the way Georgina said that made Penelope feel uneasy, her stomach performing a small flip in the pit of her belly. But she ignored it, spying a bright orange rose bloom and hurrying across the lawns to inhale its scent. ‘Look!’ she cried, ‘Isn’t it marvellous? I’ve not seen one this colour before.’

Georgina eyed it sadly. ‘That bush was Mama’s favourite. It hasn’t bloomed since she passed away. I think it has been in mourning, too.’

Penelope felt for her cousin. ‘You miss her still?’

‘Every day,’ Georgina nodded, ‘I miss her counsel and advice. She would know exactly what to do about Mr Lockwood.’

‘I’m not sure anything needs to be done.’

‘Oh Penelope, you are so naive!’ Georgina admonished. ‘Of course there is everything to be done. Mama would find out in an instant who he was, where he came from, who his parents were, and how much income he has.’

‘Well…’

‘Mama would work him out well enough,’ Georgina continued confidently, ‘and advise whether he is good company to keep — or a good beau to pursue.’

‘I think it’s best to make a judgement when it’s not influenced by things such as money and family,’ Penelope said thoughtfully. ‘We should decide his character based on manners and countenance.’

Georgina sniffed. ‘Well, based on your theory we should all adore Mr Lockwood.’

‘Your father is a good, sensible man,’ Penelope continued, ignoring Georgina’s sarcasm, ‘and a good judge of character. He doesn’t seem to have any objections to Mr Lockwood, and neither does Harry.’

‘Harry would invite a tramp into the house if he thought it would upset me and give him a laugh,’ Georgina replied. ‘I’m not sure Harry is a good judge of character at all. But you are right about Father. He seems just as taken as the rest of us.’

‘Well, there you are,’ Penelope said, pleased and somewhat surprised by her eagerness to defend a man she barely knew. ‘And don’t forget you were singing his praises only a few days ago.’

‘I suppose I was. Still, I look forward to hearing from my aunt,’ Georgina added, ‘and I’m sure you are, too, my dear cousin. Despite your protests of good manners and countenance being enough!’

They had made their way back to the house when Penelope felt the slightest breeze rustle her skirts. She paused and turned, her arms traced with goosebumps.

‘What is it?’ Georgina asked.

Penelope’s eyes scanned the wide expanse of lawn: the gardens, the hedgerows, the rose garden and the late, splendorous orange bloom. Nothing. There was nothing to make her uneasy, nothing to suggest anyone was there.

Turning, she smiled at Georgina, pushing to the back of her mind the sudden chill, the inexplicable anxiety in her stomach, and the feeling they were being watched. ‘Nothing. It’s nothing at all.’

About the book:

She has died countless times before, and she is not going to let it happen again.

Abbie Harper dies just before her eighteenth birthday. It has happened before, more times than she can remember — and always at the hands of the same man. Her dreams are plagued with past lives, cut short.

But this latest dream feels different. Her past life as Penelope Broadhurst — an English pastor’s daughter in 1806 — keeps bleeding into her present life in ways both sinister and familiar. As Penelope meets and falls in love with the dashing Heath Lockwood, so too does Abbie meet the brothers Marcus and Rem Knight. One wants to love her; the other to kill her.

Time is running out for Penelope, but as Abbie mourns her inability to change the past, she chases the slim chance to save her future. To survive, she must solve the puzzle of an ancient love story…and Penelope just might be able to help.

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22. Margaret Trauth on Decrypting Rita: “I’m in an Intensely Experimental Phase Right Now” [Interview]

Every so often a comic arrests you on the spot, and you’re drawn wholly into a new world, style, and story. It happens sometimes completely by chance, which is what happened when I first came across the webcomic Decrypting Rita, by Margaret Trauth. Starting out with a single world, the series quickly develops and shows us multiple simultaneous realities at once – as the series is told in a horizontally scrolling format, Trauth is able to really experiment with the way stories can be told, and the use of design, colour, pacing is utterly engrossing.

I was left with a distinct need to find out more about how the story came about, and how this comic is put together. And happily, she was more than happy to talk to me about her work, and how she processes it. This is one of the most interesting interviews that I’ve had the pleasure to do for The Beat, I would suggest – and I hope you find it as fascinating as I did!

dr2

Steve: Probably your best known work currently is the side-scrolling webcomic – and Kickstarter success – Decrypting Rita. This is one of those stories which works best the less you know about it perhaps, but how would you describe the general premise of the story?

Margaret: It’s about a robot lady who’s dragged outside of reality by her ex-boyfriend. She’s got to pull herself together across four parallel worlds before a hive-mind can take over the planet.

That is, assuming it hasn’t already.

Steve: What first stands out is obviously the nature of the comic, which is told in a side-scrolling landscape format. What made you decide to use that format for the story?

Margaret: The core formal consideration here is that I’m telling two or more stories in parallel on every single page. That was one of the initial things I wanted to explore with this comic. Initially I was going to have more timelines splitting off from each other, ala Rebecca Dart’s lovely little book “Rabbit Head”, but the story didn’t end up supporting that very well. My initial doodles that became the seed for Rita were based around traditional portrait pages!

The landscape format comes from the medium I’m doing it for. It’s presented first on the screen, and reading portrait comics on a screen is a real pain in the butt. You’re constantly scrolling up and down, you can never really appreciate the design of the whole page unless you have a huge monitor. My last project solved this dilemma with square pages, which I largely thought of in terms of the double-page spreads; for this one, I just think about everything that way. I print each page you see on-screen as a spread when I make the books; there’s a big gutter down the center where nothing important to the story can ever be placed.

As the comic went on, it started sprawling across the page boundaries. I think that’s an inevitable consequence of those two choices; it’s really hard to fit anything like a complete thought into half of one landscape page. So the panels started slipping across the edges to hint to the reader that the thought continued after a page turn.

Steve: Do you see digital comics less as a like-for-like equivalent of the standard 20-page print comic; and more of a place to experiment like this on page layouts, formats, and structure?

Margaret: No. You can do some wild things in the constraints of the standard page. Dave Sim did some really amazing things in ‘Cerebus’ (I got lucky; ‘Reads’ coincided with a time in my life when I rarely visited a comic shop, so I could enjoy his experiments without the lingering taint of the raging misogyny that he really laid bare in that story arc.). Phil Foglio’s done some gorgeously designy layouts that really served the story. Matt Howarth’s early work really broke comics down into its component parts and reassembled it into something strange and glorious.

There is more freedom to experiment once you shed the unnecessary constraint of a standard size with its roots in what was the cheapest thing that worked. My early comics loves included broadsheet-sized comics like Little Nemo and Krazy Kat (thanks to the wonderful Smithsonian Book of Newspaper Comics), and all the Asterix albums I could get my hands on; I’ve been quite impressed by Chris Ware’s modern broadsheet-sized work, despite my disinterest in stories about sad, lonely people living empty lives. I’ve seen comics done as related panels on cards, that the reader is invited to shuffle. You can do all kinds of crazy things on paper.

I don’t think working digitally is inherently experimental. There’s lots of people doing very traditional stuff; a lot of the lore of How To Succeed In Web Comics is from people working in the form of the daily comic strip, which is an incredibly conservative and limiting format. There’s just no room to do wild layouts there. There are certainly exciting new possibilities in the computer – infinite canvas, limited animation, hypertext, minigames, who knows what – but for every When I Am King or Homestuck, there’s plenty of successful web-based work that obeys much the same physical limits as anything DC or Marvel publishes.

dr3

There’s also lots of things left to do in physical paper. I’ve never seen anyone do what I’m doing with spot gloss in the printed version of Rita. I suddenly wonder if anyone’s ever done a comic with pop-up elements, for instance! That would be totally rad. Turn a wheel to see a hidden succession of panels! Follow a character through a teetering house, opening doors along with them! Filing that idea away for, um, 2017 or so, unless someone beats me to it. Please feel free to beat me to it, because I really want to see this but don’t want to have to learn paper engineering and do it myself.

Steve: As the comic scrolls left to right, the reader is responsible for investing momentum into your story, in a sense – they’re actively involved in continuing the narrative. When planning the comic, was this something you had in mind? 

Margaret: Yes and no. Not explicitly, but in some ways, this comic is my response to the chapter on time in Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics”. The reader’s actively involved in continuing the narrative in every comic; giving you all these parallel timelines to read really makes it obvious. How do you read it? Do you try to read each page as a whole? Do you follow one timeline for a few pages, then jump back and follow another? Do you skip around in the book at utter random?

The whole story is laid out in space before you, already crystallized. It’s purely the observer that gives it any sequence of time. Every single comic book is like this. I’m just rubbing your face in it.

Understanding Comics p104

From Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud

It is possibly at this point that I should mention that parts of Rita come from sudden flashes of fully-formed imagery that I had while very, very stoned. I have spent time while stone cold sober trying to visualize reality from a point of view where time is merely an illusion created by our consciousness moving along the time dimension, and there’s definitely some of that going on in the comic.

I may have a hidden agenda in trying to get you to think this way – though at this point I think it’s mostly hidden from myself, as well. To borrow a line from the appendices of the Illuminatus! Trilogy, “This book has programmed the reader in ways that he or she will not understand for a period of months (or perhaps years).”

Steve: Momentum is typically described as one of the more difficult things to convey in art, and yet your action sequences seem incredibly kinetic. How do you lay out the pages? Do you work on paper first and then transfer to digital, or is this all done on a computer?

Margaret: It’s 99% digital. I’ll spend time doodling stuff in sketchbooks now and then, but it’s rarely more than just exploring the flow of the story. The real meat happens in Illustrator.

screenshot 1

Illustrator really comes at the task of drawing from a different place than most programs; one of the things I really rely on for Rita is the fact that it has a huge drawing surface to work on, of which the “canvas” is merely one small rectangle. I’ll put the previous page just to the left of the canvas, and my sketches and dialogue for one page will often turn into sketches and dialogue for several pages, sprawling off to the right. I’ll copy all of this stuff into the next page, move them to the left one page’s worth (I do that so often that I have a macro for it), finesse the arrangement to best fit on the page, and repeat until I’ve run out of sketch.

(Oh, and for people who’ve played with Illustrator and wonder how on earth I get all these fluid drawings out of what most folks find to be a very precise and pernickety program? Go watch this video, in which I explain my key settings and methods. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZE6e2UhQks)

A lot of the kineticness of the individual panels comes from my time in animation. A lot of animators fall in love with the “smear”, a kind of highly distorted drawing you’ll find when you start single-stepping a cartoon. It’s a stylized version of the blurs you see when single-stepping footage of fast real-world action; animators tend to start playing around and drawing, say, thirty eyes, twelve noses, and sixty-seven fingers in a single frame of a character crossing the screen. They can become these amazing pieces of abstract art, hidden beneath the surface. I loved drawing these, and I’ll take any excuse to stick one of these in my comics that I can.

More broadly, I kinda feel like my philosophy of drawing comics is that at least half of my action panels should be an inbetween rather than a key pose. Off-balance, in motion, distorted, fluid, alive.

Steve: The colouring as well comes across as a choice you made. This is a digitally coloured comic, and the colours separate – and conjoin – the various narratives which run alongside one another. How did you decide on the colouring palette for the series?

Margaret: A big part of beginning any large project, for me, is working out the limits of the colors; I’m often interested in using them as a channel for information and symbolism, rather than coloring things realistically. The number cards in my Tarot deck were done largely in black, white, and a color unique to the suit, with occasional mix-ins of the colors of the other suits. My unfinished comic “Five Glasses of Absinthe” has two (occasionally three) colors per spread mixed in whatever way I feel like, keyed completely off of the lead character’s emotional state.

Absinthe 1-25 Absinthe 1-27

For Rita, the initial image that popped into my head was what became the second page. A barely-defined Rita, climbing the side of a building. All in blues and whites. There was really no conscious thought to it; this was the fully-formed vision the Muses presented to me.

I decided to limit things to white and two colors per world, with no gradients, no transparency, and a minimum of hatching, in an attempt to keep things simple to draw. And then of course I promptly started doing some disgustingly complicated backgrounds now and then because I can’t keep things simple.

Steve: Thematically, was there an intentional purpose of your use for blue in the more sci-fi story, brown in the more [initially!] real-world story, and so on? 

Margaret: Not really. The blue was a requirement from wherever the story came from in the first place. The other colors were chosen to contrast with it. There’s a certain amount of “what feels right for this world” going on – the world where Rita’s a dragon is orange and brown because I wanted it to feel closer to the red/yellow normal world, and the Skylands are green because, well, that’s kind of the color of the lead of Five Glasses of Absinthe, which also takes place there. Not that I ever actually used representative colors in that story either.

Steve: The more I read of the comic, the more craft I notice in your structure and design. What’s your artistic background? Who are your influences?

Margaret: The short version is “Animation burn-out”. I spent some time in animation school, and ended up hanging around Spümcø for several years. In a non-drawing role, for a bunch of complicated reasons. Which is part of why I drifted out of the industry. As I mentioned elsewhere in this interview, a lot of the action drawings in Rita are me finding an excuse to do wild smear drawings. I still miss animation sometimes but I wouldn’t go back to it; it’s a colossal amount of work and it’s really hard to do a project that’s not full of compromises due to the sheer number of people and dollars involved.

Influences. Hmm. Let’s be alphabetical here:

M.C. Escher, Fleischer Studios, Phil Foglio, Edward Gorey, Walt Kelly, John K., Matt Howarth, George Herriman, Al Hirschfeld, Carol Lay, Winsor McCay, Mike Mignola, Ralph Steadman, WB cartoons.

Not all of these are influences I wear on my sleeve, but I think they’ve all been important in shaping my work. Rita, in particular, I’d say owes the most to Howarth, Mignola, and WB shorts out of this list. Matt’s work is full of parallel-universe shenanigans; “Savage Henry”, about a dimension-hopping music act, is my favorite of his various ongoing projects. I would love to see some major reprint efforts of his stuff someday.

Mignola, obviously I learnt a ton about chiaroscuro from his work, which I think really informs how I’m doing the three-color worlds of Rita. And the WB stuff, well, it’s just your basic solid cartooning with occasional crazy action, you know?

Steve: Where did the idea for this series in particular come from? How did you get the initial premise of the story together and then thread it together into a comic?

Margaret: Ah, this is a dense little knot of history.

The short version is “I got really stressed during a breakup, and hid in my studio smoking a lot of weed until I moved out on my own”. The long version…

I’d moved from Boston to Seattle with my boyfriends. We were living in a house with several of their friends. It turned out I really, really didn’t get along with these friends, and there was a nasty breakup when my boyfriends went back on their promise to move out with me if it didn’t work out – living with them turned out to be a thing he really, really needed, just as much as not living with them turned out to be a thing I really, really needed.

I’d been working on a comic with one of those boyfriends. “Five Glasses of Absinthe”, a story about a thief who steals something too valuable to sell, fucks up all her relationships, and has a lot of kinky sex. We’d done the first chapter, and had the rest of it in various stages of completion, from “loose outline” to “second draft script and full chapter thumbnails”. And loose ideas for two sequels set later on in the same world. I was getting ready to really get going on the second chapter of it when the breakup happened.

It was definitely time for me to be making comics, but there was no way in hell I was going to work on Absinthe any more. I mean, I held a lighter to the corner of the folder full of notes on chapter 2 of that at one point. Until I managed to move out, I spent a lot of time alone in my studio, getting very stoned, drawing stuff, and pondering what on earth I was going to work on. I wasn’t ready to work on “The Drowning City”, a dark angsty story I’ve been slowly piecing together since 1995. I didn’t think the other ideas I’ve had kicking around for a while felt worth developing into a full comic, not just then. So I just kind of let the back of my brain work on it.

I got the idea for doing a comic with several parallel worlds. I did some little doodles thinking about interesting things I could do with the panels in that. I liked it but didn’t have a story, so I put it away.

I bought a copy of the catalog from the 1965 MOMA exhibit “The Responsive Eye”, a major exhibition of Op art. I’ve always been fascinated with Op ever since reading Ed Emberly’s “The Wizard of Op” as a kid; I’ve done a few pieces using Op techniques over the years. I did a drawing inspired by Yaacov Agam’s pieces that change based on your viewpoint, called “A Moment Outside”.

Its imagery came, in part, from a brief vision of being surrounded by an infinite tessellation of color-cycling stylized eyes, of the kind that keep showing up in Rita. Did I mention that I spent a lot of my time hiding in my studio being very very stoned? For a while I was followed around now and then by networks of watching eyes whenever I’d close mine. I’m really not sure of the objective reality of those, but it’s certainly an experience that fed into what would become Rita. I don’t want to get all Alan Moore here, but I’ve dabbled in chaos magic just enough to be really unsure about what “reality” really is. Really.

a-moment-outside

I started attending Indigo Blue’s school of burlesque dancing and learning a lot about how to better inhabit my body. There is definitely something of what I learnt there in the way I pose Rita in the early action sequence. The blue may or may not be a coincidence.

And then I read a discussion on Sean Witzke’s blog about Steranko’s first issue of Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD (http://supervillain.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/seneca-vs-witzke-vs-steranko-vs-everything/). I took a healthy bong hit, and took a shower. As my mind wandered around, I had a sudden vision of what became the second page of Rita: a white, feminine silhouette – that I knew was a robot – climbing a building, rendered starkly in blues and whites. I finished my shower and went straight to the computer to draw this.

Then I typed “EDUCATING RITA” on it in a Saul Bass-looking font — I knew her name was Rita, I didn’t have to give this any thought, it was just there along with the image — and thought that sounded good until it was pointed out that there’s an Oscar-winning movie of the same name and maybe I should change it. I really don’t watch many movies. Maybe this was cryptomnesia, maybe not. Either way, I filled a page of my sketchbook with alternate titles; “Decrypting Rita” was the clear stand-out. It wasn’t until about halfway through the first book that I remembered that “Rita” is one of the several shortenings of my full name; I prefer the inexplicable short form of “Peggy” so it took a while.

I started drawing the next few pages and posting them on my blog. People liked them. So I started asking myself questions: who’s this woman? Who’s this voice giving her directions? What does she want? I really had no idea going in, but it feels like it came together surprisingly fast; it worked well with my vague ideas of doing a multiple-world comic, I pulled the eye images out of that riff on Agam and started using them for a mysterious Thing watching the goings-on from the space behind the panels. At times it really felt like it was writing itself. Tom was just going to be some hired assassin until he opened his mouth and revealed himself to be Rita’s crazy ex, then completely broke her reality for her because he thought she’d like it.

Ultimately, I think it may be some sort of exploration of various ideas of mystical transcendence and enlightenment. There’s a sequence I have planned for the end where I really hope to capture something of the slippery nature of the vast thoughts that can run through your mind when very high, and can’t be put into words afterwards. We’ll see if I can make it work in words, pictures, and the spaces in between them.

Somewhere in the first rush of pages I moved out of that bad situation to an apartment all by myself, alone in the University District.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, I mostly patched things up in that relationship. The ex I wrote Absinthe with is now my “ex with benefits”; I see him regularly, and he’s had some very thoughtful questions to ask about Rita’s story as it evolves. I’ll probably be resuming work on our collaboration once I finish Rita, along with doing that long-simmering angstfest I mentioned not wanting to work on so soon after a nasty breakup. Happy endings!

Steve: Do you think of yourself as an experimental artist? Your design – especially once we reach the second volume – seems to really expand, and you seem to always be pushing forward.

Margaret: Part of it is that I had to teach you to read the comic in the first volume! I made myself hold back and introduce the whole parallel worlds thing slowly, to give readers time to make sense of it.

I’m definitely experimenting in this comic; I keep on trying to find new ways to weave these storylines together that suit what’s going on in them at the moment, and to suggest that all these parallel worlds are getting increasingly tangled with each other. I often refer to it as my PhD thesis on the nature of time in comics. I’m not sure I’d classify myself as an experimental artist so much as someone who’s in an intensely experimental phase right now; my next project is going to play some other games with the form, but I’m going to really relish only telling one story at a time once I finish Rita. I won’t say I’ll never do another parallel-stories comic like Rita, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be a long time before I decide to do it for another 300 or so pages!

I also kind of need to keep surprising the reader in this story. I want you to sympathize with Rita’s utter lack of a real idea of what’s going on, even though you have more information than any particular incarnation of Rita has. At the end of the story, well, you probably won’t have a definite idea of What Really Happened, but if I’ve done things right, you’ll have two or three very compelling theories of that. So I have to keep on shaking up the panels just enough to keep you on your toes, without throwing you completely out of the story.

I’m also of the mind that I don’t want to stagnate. Some of my idols really aren’t producing work any different from what they were making when I was first discovering them in the eighties; I can see a lot more of their consistent flaws than I could when I was a kid. I still love what they do, I still eagerly follow some of them, but my eyes are so much sharper now. Some of them have even lost a certain edge to their work. I’m hoping to avoid that as long as I can; I want to keep myself fresh by playing with different techniques and ideas. That next project is going to be much more painterly than Rita, which will force me to confront some of the holes I know I have in my skills.

Take your best work so far. Put it where you can see it regularly. Try to top it. When you do, repeat this. That’s the advice I give beginning artists, and I try to follow that myself. I don’t want to rest on my laurels. Maybe that makes me something you could describe as “experimental”? And maybe eventually I’ll come to a place where I feel I don’t need to push myself any further in any particular artistic direction. I don’t know. All I know is that I’m not at that place yet, and I’ll be perfectly happy if I never get there.

dr1

Steve: The story speaks to the idea of an internal and external monologue, and of inhabiting different worlds. As a trans woman, do you see this as an element of autobiography, almost? How personal is the story to you?

Margaret: It’s… more about myself than I really intended it to be, I think.

Blue-world Rita is definitely my Mary Sue. I’m a transhumanist at heart, not just a transgendered person. I’d love to be able to separate my consciousness from the network of meat that it started running on and be able to pour it into different, stylish bodies, back it up, and play around with who and what I am. The whole story is quite possibly triggered by her difficult-yet-charismatic ex. There are lots of casual mentions of the kind of three-person romantic relationships I’ve had.

At times, I seriously wonder about the reality of the world I live in. It seems to be a lot more malleable than I thought it was as I was growing up. This story’s definitely about that slightly-paranoid PKD kind of place. The flashback to the conversation with the normal-world Kim was a way to talk to the part of myself that pretty much believes what she says there. A hundred pages later, it’s pretty obvious who won that argument – if life’s a game, I’ve decided to keep playing it and try to rack up the highest score I can. Assuming I’m not just a colorful NPC.

But I’ve taken deliberate steps to make it not About The Transition. Rita, no matter who she is, is happy in her skin. She’s very much the person she wants to be, whether that’s a robot, a skyfaring wizard, a normal human, or a dragon. Well, maybe normal-world Rita isn’t quite who she’d like to be; she and her friends are trapped in the same sorts of problems that most people I know are.

“The Drowning City”, my next project, now that’s gonna be a definite trans metaphor. That’s about a girl who’s slowly turning into a monster. That metaphor is quite obvious, and I’m willing to let it be there, what with the story also being set in my hometown of New Orleans and touching upon what it felt like to move back three days before Katrina. And some other bits of personal angst as well. And creepy rapey elves and magical graffiti and destined heroes and prophecies and magic swords and stuff. It’s not what you’d call autobiographical, but it sure is holding a funhouse mirror up to a lot of the things I’ve had to work through. I’m probably going to lose a lot of whatever audience I build up for Rita when I start doing that thing.

If Rita’s about the transition at all, it’s about what happens when the transition is over.

Steve: Do you feel that the American comic industry speaks to trans readers and creators? I was trying to think of trans characters in mainstream comics, and the only one came to mind at both DC and Marvel – and they were both created last year. 

Margaret: Oh god no, not at all. Not explicitly – there are certainly things that resonate by accident. I was a big fan of DC’s ‘Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld’ when I was growing up, for instance, in no small part because the basic setup of ‘kid gets magical gem that portals her to an alternate world where she’s a powerful and beautiful princess’ was a fantasy I could totally inhabit, despite a little voice in my head telling me that this was totally not supposed to be a fantasy that appealed to a boy. Adding a bit of cross-world gender-swapping wasn’t exactly a stretch when you were suspending your disbelief that far. Or now and then one of the kids in “Dial H For Hero” would get a cross-gender hero for one issue.

But really? Trans issues did not exist to most people until the past decade or two. It took me a good while to figure out what was going on and that I could do something about it; I really envy today’s trans kids, who can hear about it in their teens and see it as something they can actually do. Or even younger. I think as we start to see more trans creators ,more creators with trans acquaintances, and easier transitions, we’ll start seeing more trans characters, too. Ones whose transition is not really a subject for deep discussion or narrative interest, just something that casually comes up now and then.

I’ve only done an explicitly trans character once; the title character of “Five Glasses of Absinthe” is a woman with a penis. Nobody in the story cares about this in the least; she presents as female, gets female pronouns from everyone, and is generally considered hot and sexy (if you can look past the fact that she’s kinda crazy and incredibly self-centered). That’s mostly the world I inhabit, and I’d like it to be the world more people live in.

The only Marvel or DC comic I read right now is Hawkguy, so I haven’t seen how DC and Marvel have handled those token trans characters myself. I’ve vaguely heard good things about them; they certainly seem to be less sensationalistic and othering than, say, the transwoman in that one Sandman story, or Grant Morrison’s majgickqal drag queen persona showing up in The Invisibles!

(And tangentially? I’d kind of like to see not just trans minor characters or superheros in the cape books, but trans supervillains as well. For whom the transition is a side-note rather than the reason they’re a criminal. Which I’m quite sure will be hard to do without an uproar, even if the entire creative team involved is full of Pronoun Trouble.)

Steve: Decrypting Rita has now been successful twice on Kickstarter – for the first and second collected volumes. How has your experience on Kickstarter been? I note that your second Kickstarter hit a higher goal than the first, so is there a sense of progression there, for you?

Margaret: I LOVE KICKSTARTER. Kickstarter is the best thing to happen to small-press comics since whatever technologic/economical shift set off the B&W boom of the eighties. I basically use it as a pre-order system: this is how much it’ll cost me to do a print run of the book at a reasonable cost per book, if I can’t get that then OH WELL.

My first volume hit its very modest goal in two days, despite launching on a weekend (everyone says never do that), then managed to barely get close enough to my stretch goal that I shrugged and made next to no profits so I could have spot gloss throughout the story, which enhances it a lot. The second volume HAD to have a minimum goal around the final level of the first; it would seem really weird to have spot gloss be a crucial part of the story in the first part and not the second.

There’s a definite progression. I’m really hoping that my audience will have expanded enough by the Kickstarter for book 3 that I can pass 10k, mostly on just selling the book. That seems to be the point when a campaign takes on a life of its own just from the sheer inertia of all those people sharing it with their friends, and a few of those friends happening to be major connectors or tastemakers who can reach a huge new pool of potential buyers

I’m also kind of hoping that this progression eventually leads to someone being interested in taking over some chunk of pre-press, shipping, and promotion, whether it be a traditional publisher of books, or one of the new hybrids emerging out of online collectives. I had a taste of that when Lo Scarabeo dealt with printing my Tarot deck in China, translating the book into several European languages, getting it into stores all across Europe, and sending a big pile to Llewellyn here in the States.

There is no way I could get that kind of reach on my own without investing almost all of my time in that part of the business. I’d gladly trade 100% of the profits and 100% of the work for like 20% of the profits on a print run a couple orders of magnitude larger that just sort of happens without me doing much. But until then, I guess I’ll just keep trying to make each campaign build on the lessons I learnt the last time.

(I’ve also been playing with Patreon; after about a month of that, I’m pulling in a whole five bucks per page. Which is pretty good given that the extent of my promoting that has been a couple of tweets and a diffident link at the end of every fourth chapter. It is also turning out to be a surprisingly useful extra carrot to hold in front of myself sometimes – right now my id doesn’t care how little I get paid, it just cares that finishing a page means an external reward!)

dr4

Steve: What advice would you give for other creators looking to head onto Kickstarter? 

Margaret: You need one of two things: a serious track record, or a definite chunk of the final product.

Tim Schaefer could go onto Kickstarter, say “Hey guys, I wanna make a point and click adventure, wanna give me four hundred thousand bucks? I have no idea what it’ll be about, but I’m sure it’ll be cool!”, and make three million dollars. Tim Schaefer has also been making video games since 1988, with his name on some of the best-loved examples of the point-and-click adventure genre.

You are probably not Tim Schaefer. You will probably need to have a playable prototype of your game, a big chunk of your comic, half of your concept album, whatever, available online for people to check out and say “woo this is awesome I want to see more!” The link to that should be one of the first things in the text portion of your pitch.

Make a video. Tell people why your project is cool, tell people why you’re passionate about making it.

Don’t assume people know you, or your work. Sure, that’s your initial sales. And that can be a big part of them. But ultimately I think Kickstarter is great for growing your audience, as it asks all of your existing audience to tell their friends about this cool thing they pledged for and want to see happen. You need to sell your book or whatever to THOSE people, who are hearing about this thing you’re making for the very first time.

Reach out to new places. Part of why the second volume did better than the first was me getting a mention on Boing Boing, because I dropped them a note myself. Figure out the places where your audience goes looking for new amusements, and throw out a link to your thing – expect it to not get run, but be happy if it does. You should do this kind of thing now and then, not just before your campaign, but it’s not like I actually follow THAT advice myself.

The more work you do up front, the easier it is to set an achievable goal. I spent a year and a half drawing the first third of Rita; it was all there online when I launched the first Kickstarter. You could read it all for free and be done with it at that point. Or you could get it in a convenient single package that sits on your shelf, with some cool physical effects. (If you can make your thing a cool physical artifact, that’s a bonus.)

Either way, I wasn’t asking for enough money to support myself for a year while I drew the comic, with only chapter 1 on display; I just wanted $2.5k to completely pay for a modest print run. (About four times the number of people who pledged on the first campaign; I didn’t make much profit off that at all – but I had about 300 books sitting in my closet, and selling them has been a big chunk of why I attended ten cons in 2013, and broke even at almost all of them, including the one I had to travel all the way across the US to attend.)

If you’re gonna be making a print run, plan to print a lot more than just your KS backers.

I like to keep it simple. I’ve played with things beyond just the book, and they really don’t bring in enough money to be worth the extra hassle. The tiers for volume 3 are going to be “pdfs of all three books”, “volume 3 + pdfs”, “all three volumes” (limited by stock on hand), and a couple “volume 3 + drawing, some level of sponsorship, and I’ll throw in 1 and 2 if you want them as well”. No prints, no shirts, no stickers, no nothing. Because I have to draw that stuff, and I have to make it get printed, and I have to pack it and ship it, and ugh I just want it to all be over with and can I please get back to drawing the next comic instead.

There’s a nasty productivity sink there where I feel like I can’t work on drawing more comics until I’ve gotten the book out the door, and I really don’t want to work on the book because it’s boring, and suddenly it becomes drastically important that I complete this quest chain in Skyrim or something like that. Especially because I seem to end up printing in the dead of winter when I have no energy anyway.

If your basic deliverable is purely digital, then you probably need to hassle with some extra thing. I don’t have any experience with those so I can’t say for sure. I just know that I don’t EVER want to have to wrangle more than just the book ever again unless I have people to deal with that for me. Scale changes these things, if you’re planning a project that needs several people working for a while to make it happen then please ignore these last couple paragraphs and go talk to someone who’s done big multi-person projects with lots of add-ons and options.

Steve: Aside from the third volume of Decrypting Rita, which I believe is coming up later this year, what else are you working on at the moment? Where can people find you and your work online? 

Margaret: Let’s see. There’s a short story in the works for the back of Image’s ‘Prophet: Earth War’ about the power of massage, and a short piece about a demonic booty call for Heavy Metal. I’m also slowly getting things together for my next project after Rita, a dark urban fantasy called “The Drowning City”. That’s described more fully earlier on in this interview; the last piece of the puzzle came to me in winter of 2012. I’ll also be resuming work on “Five Glasses of Absinthe”, the sexy prog-rock fantasy I was about to get back to when my co-creator/scriptwriter/boyfriend became my ex-boyfriend, and I started Rita on my own instead. I will need to work on something silly while working on Drowning City.

The main place to find my stuff online is my web site, http://egypt.urnash.com. You’ll find Rita, the first chapter of Absinthe, and a bunch of standalone art, as well as my blog, and links to my presences on DeviantArt, FurAffinity, Live Journal, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

I guess that’s about it. Holy crap I sure can go on, especially given how stripped-down my comics are. Thanks for reading this far!

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23. Interview with R E Butler, Author of The Alpha’s Heart and Giveaway

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[R E Butler] Creative, fun, silly, loving, honest.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Alpha’s Heart?

[R E Butler] This story is about the alpha of the Wilde Creek pack as he comes to terms with changes he’s made to his pack and reconnecting with a woman from his past.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[R E Butler] My favorite scene takes place between Acksel and Brynn when she’s decided to set the record straight with him.

“I realized what’s been bugging me. You never asked me to be your mate; you just talk about us as if we’re already a couple. I’m pretty sure that things don’t work that way in the forest, so I think you’re taking advantage of me being human and not knowing the score.”

“I am not taking advantage of you,” he huffed.

“Really? So when was it exactly that you asked me if I wanted to be your mate? Because I don’t remember you doing that.”

A low growl rumbled in his chest and she waved her hand and rolled her eyes. “Oh, please. You know I’m right.”

Damn it. She was right. He’d made an assumption and it hadn’t occurred to him to actually ask her. Maybe because he’d been afraid of what her answer would be.

He inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly. “Brynn, would you—”

“Hold it!” she shouted, putting both hands up. “Are you serious? You’re going to just ask me now? How easy do you think I am? Wait, wait. Don’t answer that. What I mean is that you have to earn me, buddy, and I don’t come cheap. You might have been able to get me into your bed six weeks ago without all the fuss, but that ship has sailed.”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?

[R E Butler] Expanding the cast of characters. In the first book in the series, the focus is mainly on the hero and heroine, and their families. In this book, I had to bring in other members of the pack. I know that these characters will eventually have their own stories as well, so it wasn’t as simple as just slapping names down and moving on, I had to think about each character and create their back stories.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[R E Butler] My cell phone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[R E Butler] Coffee mug, ear buds, notebook

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[R E Butler] Angelina Jolie. Not only is she beautiful, but…hello! Brad Pitt!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[R E Butler] I’d want to be able to fly. I’d zip around to all the places in the world that are on my to-travel-someday list.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[R E Butler] Big Furry Deal by Celia Kyle, Mate’s Bite by Milly Taiden, and AgentI1: Tristan by Joni Hahn.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[R E Butler] My website: http://www.rebutlerautho.com

Twitter: @rebutlerauthor

Email: rebutlerauthor@gmail.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

SERIES SPOTLIGHT INFO:

Wilde Creek Series

The Wilde Creek series was created in an attempt to write a darker, more intense werewolf series.  The Wilde Creek Pack is archaic in their beliefs that humans and wolves should not interact, but the alpha’s sister throws a wrench into their lives and changes things forever.  Follow the members of the pack as they navigate this new world, find their mates, and make Wilde Creek their home.

 

Mate of Her Heart

Wilde Creek, #1

Publication Date: December 9, 2013

Print Length: 76 pages

ASIN: B00GT25GZC

Werewolf Eveny Moore is coming into her first heat at the age of twenty-five. Bucking tradition, she chooses to go through her first heat alone instead of choosing an unmated male from her pack. There is only one male that she wants in her bed and her life: her best friend, Luke Elrich. But Luke is human and doesn’t understand the consequences of her heat-cycle, so she hides out in a safehouse, planning to ride out the cycle alone and then ask Luke to be her mate.

Luke has loved Eveny forever, but something is going on between them. He’s afraid he’s losing her forever, until she promises to talk to him after her heat-cycle is over. He overhears her brother, the pack alpha, ask another wolf to go to Eveny and take her through the heat-cycle. What her brother doesn’t know is that the male plans to invite some of his friends along. And Eveny is alone in a remote cabin, unprotected. Luke will do anything to keep her safe, even if it means going up against four wolves.

This story contains a meddling brother, a human fighting a pack of male wolves for the only woman he’s ever loved, a female who thought she had a good plan, and bone-melting, skin-tingling hot sex between a male and a female who have loved each other forever.

Available for $1.99 at:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mate-Her-Heart-Wilde-Creek-ebook/dp/B00GT25GZC/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1390831231

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mate-of-her-heart-re-butler/1117391127?ean=2940045411752

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/mate-of-her-heart/id743066688?mt=11

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376415

The Alpha’s Heart

Wilde Creek, #2

Publication date: April 10, 2014

Print Length: 130 pages

ASIN: B00J2CJVI4

Alpha wolf Acksel wakes up one morning in the bed of the one human who was kind to him in school. Now, ten years later, Brynn Mara is snuggled up at his side, smelling like passion and sweet dreams. Even though Acksel has declared that his pack members can mate with humans from now on, he knows that any woman he takes as his mate will have a target on her back. Especially if she’s a fragile human. Deciding it’s better to cut things off than string her along when there’s no hope for a relationship, he leaves without a word and ignores her.
But it doesn’t matter if Acksel acknowledges her or not, because their night of passion has left a permanent reminder of what happens when one drunk wolf forgets protection. Angry, banished wolves from his pack discover Brynn’s secret and decide to use her against Acksel. His worst fears have come true, and the only woman who ever touched his heart is now suffering because of his mistake.
This book contains one ticked off, emotionally damaged alpha, the human woman who can tame him, and a sweet little surprise that no one expected.

Available April 10th:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Alphas-Heart-Wilde-Creek-Two-ebook/dp/B00J2CJVI4/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395233550&sr=1-9&keywords=the+alpha%27s+heart

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Alphas-Heart-Wilde-Creek-ebook/dp/B00J2CJVI4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395252864&sr=8-1&keywords=the+alpha%27s+heart+re+butler

Barnes & Noble:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/no/book/the-alphas-heart-wilde-creek-2/id835140926?mt=11

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/415845

AUTHOR BIO:

A Midwesterner by birth, R.E. spent much of her childhood rewriting her favorite books to include herself as the main character. Later, she graduated on to writing her own books after “retiring” from her day job as a secretary to become a stay-at-home mom.

When not playing with her kids, wrestling her dogs out the door, or cooking dinner for her family, you’ll find her typing furiously and growling obscenities to the characters on the screen.

Her best-selling series The Wolf’s Mate, Wiccan-Were-Bear, The Necklace Chronicles, Hyena Heat, Wilde Creek, and Ashland Pride are available now.

Connect with R.E.:

Website: www.rebutlerauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/R.E.ButlerAuthorPage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rebutlerauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5332306.R_E_Butler

 

Excerpt – R.E. Butler’s Alpha’s Heart

Standing slowly, she walked to the door.  “Who is it?” she called loudly.  Her mind raced.  Her dad and Mia both had keys to her place and wouldn’t be banging on the door in the middle of the night.

“Open the door.  I just want to see you.”

No.  Way.

There was no possible way on earth that Acksel Moore was banging on her door at this hour.  Or any hour, for that matter.

She flipped on the switch to turn on the porch light and drew in a deep breath.  The lock clicked as she turned it and pulled the door open.  Standing in the harsh light was the most gorgeous man she’d ever known.  The star of every dirty fantasy she’d ever had.

And he looked like someone had shot his puppy.

His gray eyes were red and he reeked of whiskey.  His strong jaw was covered with stubble as if he hadn’t shaved in days.  He leaned heavily on the door frame.

“I just want someone to care.”  His words were raw, his tone rough and full of despair.

Her heart cracked painfully as he slumped forward, too drunk to stay on his feet.  She managed to ease his fall to the floor so he didn’t get hurt.  Leaning over, she stroked his forehead.  “Oh Acksel, I always cared.”

TOUR GIVEAWAY PRIZES:

GRAND PRIZE: $25 Gift Card (Amazon, Amazon.co.uk, or Barnes & Noble), eBooks of Wilde Creek One and Two

1st Place: Signed copy of Wilde Creek One (US only)

2nd Place: $10 Amazon, Amazon.co.uk, or B&N Gift Card (Intl)

3rd – 6th Place: eBooks of Wilde Creek One and Two (4 winners – Intl)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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24. Jen Van Meter: The Powells.com Interview

Jen Van Meter writes comic books, which is quite possibly one of the most amazingly cool jobs that anyone can have. Her multi-volume hit series Hopeless Savages, from Oni Press, was nominated for an Eisner Award, otherwise known as the Comics Industry's equivalent of the Oscars. She also writes for Marvel, has a deeply hidden [...]

0 Comments on Jen Van Meter: The Powells.com Interview as of 4/3/2014 1:35:00 PM
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25. Interview with Alyssa Montgomery, Author of Echoes of the Heart

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Alyssa!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Alyssa J Montgomery] Creative, Manic, Organised, Loyal, Reliable

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Echoes of the Heart?

[Alyssa J Montgomery] Absolutely! Media Tycoon Jake and Legal Secretary Amanda were torn apart by circumstance. Both married others and it seemed hopeless that they’d ever find their way back to each other. Now Jake is divorced and Amanda is widowed. Having never forgotten Amanda, or forgiven her for walking out on him, Jake wants her back to achieve closure on their relationship so he can finally move on with his life. Meanwhile, Amanda hasn’t been leading the easy life Jake imagines. She’s been through her own private hell.

There are many twists and turns, lots of secrets revealed throughout the book that hopefully will keep readers wondering and wanting to turn those pages! Jake has to learn to trust and be prepared to make himself vulnerable rather than being set for revenge. Amanda has to stand up for herself and believe she’s worthy of love. Ultimately she’s rewarded with a hero she can lean on when she has been carrying the weight of responsibility for another for so long, and they both overcome the odds and achieve their happy ending.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Alyssa J Montgomery] Gosh, that’s a hard question! Maybe the opening chapter at the cemetery because it’s charged with emotion and there are a lot of questions raised there that are answered throughout the book. There’s a small glimpse of Jake revealing his heroic potential as he stands up for Amanda even though he really doesn’t like her at that point and is seeking closure on their relationship. The scene also starts to reveal just how much stress Amanda’s been under and gives an insight into her personality in that she can feel a little empathy for a woman who would attack her publicly. And…despite the setting (a funeral), there’s the sexual tension and awareness that still thrums between them and promises to heat up as the story moves along.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?

[Alyssa J Montgomery] Jake’s pain. He’s been devastated by what he believes is Amanda’s betrayal of his love. Carrying around that hurt has really stunted his ability to move forward and have a decent relationship. He’s bitter and twisted and hell-bent on revenge and he lashes out at her with some extremely unkind words and treatment. I went over and over it needing to strike a balance—hoping he wasn’t coming across as too nasty with his bitterness and that the reader would understand and forgive him because of the depth of his hurt. But I also wanted him to be cutting hoping that the reader would empathise with how Amanda was being gutted by his misconceptions. I want the reader to feel the pain they’re both feeling and to wonder how they’re ever going to heal all the scars of the past wounds they’ve suffered. I hope I’ve succeeded in bringing forward Jake’s heroic traits early enough so the reader knows he’s there unconditionally when Amanda desperately needs support and that the reader will end up loving him!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Alyssa J Montgomery] My iPhone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Alyssa J Montgomery] A vase of red and yellow roses; a photo of my three fabulous children at the Matterhorn Mountain in Switzerland posing with two St. Bernard dogs, and a long “To Do” List.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Alyssa J Montgomery] Maria Sharapova in a grand finals match of a Grand Slam Tennis Tournament (preferably Wimbledon). I love tennis and I’d love to be able to walk onto a court and experience her amazing range of shots and skill. I’d also love to feel super fit for a day (not to mention enjoying being trim, taut and terrific)!!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Alyssa J Montgomery] Supernatural Speed! The ability to physically zip around as if someone put me in fast motion. That would be awesome. Imagine how much I’d be able to achieve! The house might actually be spotless and the ‘To Do” List might end up just a blank piece of paper…although I can just imagine the dog watching me with a very perplexed expression and getting dizzy!

(I guess I’d just have to tone it down when I was driving or I might find myself broke from fines!)

If you have a number for a hotline that can grant this wish please forward immediately!!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Alyssa J Montgomery] The entire Anne Gracie series featuring “The Stolen Princess”; “His Captive Lady” etc {Berkley Sensation}

Michelle Condor “The Most Expensive Lie of All” {Harlequin Mills & Boon}

Lynne Graham “The Dimitrakos Proposition” {Harlequin Mills & Boon}

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Alyssa J Montgomery] I’d love to hear from readers. My webpage is www.alyssajmontgomery.com My email is alyssaj.montgomeryromance@gmail.com and I’m also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AlyssaJMontgomery and Twitter @Alyssaromance

Excerpt

Amanda Bennett is waiting in your outer office.

Jake froze as he read the note handed to him by his personal assistant. After Bennett’s funeral, he’d instructed her to notify him as soon as Amanda made contact. But he’d been expecting a telephone call, not a personal visit.

He was sitting in a meeting at a critical stage of negotiations that could seal the acquisition of a national television network into his media empire — common sense demanded he keep Amanda waiting. But his usual ironclad control deserted him and he couldn’t focus on the meeting any longer.

Amanda was here.

Each of his senses surged into an acute state of alert.

‘Jake, are you okay?’ his ex-wife asked him quietly. The other people in the room were too caught up in a troublesome clause to notice the exchange. Sophie was sitting in on this meeting as a representative of the Board of Directors. Upon their marriage, she’d taken her grandfather’s seat on the board.

He looked at her with regret. Sophie was a stunningly-attractive redhead. She was smart, sexy, talented, loyal and kind — everything a man could want in a woman. He wished with all his heart he could have felt the same degree of attraction to her as he did for Amanda.

‘Jake?’ Sophie pressed.

He passed her the message he’d received. The instant she read it, she turned troubled green eyes to his and shook her head. ‘You’re not going to see her are you?’

‘I asked her to come.’

It had been a month since Bennett’s funeral. In that time, he’d telephoned the Bennett household only to find the number was disconnected. He’d driven to the Bennett estate a couple of times but nobody answered when he buzzed for admission. Short of scaling the high, wrought-iron front gates and contending with the two Dobermans that stood growling at him from the other side, there was nothing he could do except bide his time and wait for Amanda to come to him.

He’d been sure she would. The passion burning between them was too hard to ignore. Hell! He’d tried and failed dismally. Amanda had been a thorn in his side — a lover he’d never been able to forget, or to forgive.

‘Jake, what in God’s name are you thinking?’ Sophie demanded quietly with a frown of concern.

‘Mr Formosa?’

All the men and women seated at the long conference table looked at him, waiting for him to respond to whatever it was that had been suggested. It was impossible for him to keep his mind on business proceedings. He had to go to Amanda.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll have to excuse me. An urgent matter requires my immediate attention.’ He glanced at his watch. ‘We’ll resume our negotiations after lunch.’

A peripheral part of his brain registered the surprised reactions of a few of his executives and a ripple of irritation from the representatives of the television corporation, but he didn’t care. Amanda was waiting for him. That was all that mattered. Finally she was here, ready to acknowledge their mutual attraction. Ready to become his lover again.

As he rose from his seat at the head of the table, urgency gripped him, making his heart pump harder. Barely able to contain his anticipation, it was hard to restrain himself from sprinting out of the conference room to meet her.

It was Sophie’s hand on his arm that made him pause.

‘No. Don’t do this to yourself,’ she pleaded in hushed tones as she waved away hovering employees who would have approached him.

‘I have to,’ Jake said.

She grabbed his hand, steered him into a small soundproof room off the conference area and closed the door. ‘Just what do you hope to achieve, Jake?’

About the book:

 

She betrayed him and left him to be with another. Now that she’s alone again, nothing is going to stop him from coming for her.

Australian media tycoon Jake Formosa does not believe in forgiving…or forgetting. So when he discovers that Amanda — the woman who once broke his heart — is newly widowed, he immediately enacts his revenge.  Jake is intent on making Amanda remember him, and making her suffer for what she did. He will leave her broken and alone, and finally have his closure. 

But Amanda is not the sweet girl that Jake remembers, and her life is far from perfect. As the web of lies surrounding her begins to unravel, Jake finds himself once again ensnared. Can he learn to overlook the past and risk his heart again?

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