Contest Author Interview – Annette Lyon

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see the entry details, as well as the 50+ different prizes, and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you yet another entry!)

Besides being a terrific editor, Annette Lyon is an award-winning author and grammarian extraordinaire. After winning Utah’s Best of State award for fiction and being a Whitney finalist in 2007 for SPIRES OF STONE, Annette won the Whitney in 2010 for BAND OF SISTERS. Her book, PAIGE, came out recently as the third volume in the Newport Ladies Book Club series.

Me:  I want to know what you wrote on your mother’s typewriter when you were in second grade and if you still have it. Also, was your mother a writer? Is that why she had a typewriter?

Annette:  My first attempts at writing were inspired by Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle, so I typed up things like Mean Marvin the Mouse (second grade) and Raymond’s Runaways (third grade). The latter was about a group of mistreated hamsters trying to escape their horrid owner. Alas, I don’t have either anymore.

Mom has always been an avid scholar of the scriptures, and she used the typewriter to record her studies. (Me: A woman after my own heart!) She had a bookshelf beside the desk, filled with three-ring binders, all with scripture stuff inside. I remember when she upgraded to a fancy typewriter that beeped if you spelled something wrong and even had a mini computer memory so you could type faster than the keys moved. I loved writing a sentence fast then sitting back to watch the keys finish after I did. That was seriously cool.

(I’ll say!)

Me:  In what way is writing therapeutic for you? And in what way is it stressful?

Annette:  Writing has always been a dream and passion of mine, but I didn’t realize how therapeutic it is to me until, during my years with small children at home (and before I got published), I decided I was just too busy to write. I took two months off, and my life pretty much fell apart. Then I took about 20 minutes 2 days in a row to write–less than an episode of “Sesame Street” all together–and the entire cyclone calmed right down. That’s when I realized that I couldn’t wait until my children were grown to write–I had to do it while they were young for their sakes. I’m a more balanced mother and just more me when I’m writing.

The stressful parts come in largely on the business end and in trying to keep it all in balance with family. Among the stresses: rejection (still get those), deadlines (as happy as you are to get a book out, the deadlines can be killer), the constant treadmill of promotion, worry over reviews, and so on. (Me: I hear you there!) My current stress (although it’s a blessing too) is that I do so much freelance editing that I have a hard time finding a chance to work on my own stuff.

A different stress was when I went through two or three years of a personal writer identity crisis, which I never expected to. It was a troubling period–very hard and very dark; I felt I’d lost a part of myself. But I kept trying to walk through it, and eventually, I came out. Or, I think I’m out. (Me: You’re out, Annette! Come on, you won the Whitney! How can you doubt yourself?) The whole writer psyche is a funky thing sometimes.


Me:  Tell me about your children. Have you put any of them, or your husband, into your fiction, and, if so, did it bother them?

Annette:  I have four children: a boy followed by three girls. They’re at such fun ages right now–becoming their own people who love to talk and discuss ideas, who have their own dreams and hopes and fears. They’re also starting to understand what Mom does. (NOT just type a lot, but write actual books with stories!) It helps when they have friends who’ve read my books–it’s as if that’s when Mom’s books are suddenly real. (Me: I hear you there!)

I’ve never put any of my children–or my husband–into a book, maybe because my characters usually show up almost fully formed. The one time I attempted to loosely base a character on someone real (not a family member), the character came up with her own identity. She ended up hardly resembling the original model anyway.

Me:  If you had to give up Facebook or Twitter, which would it be and why?

Annette:  I love both, but if I had to give one up, it would be Twitter. Facebook is how I stay connected with a lot of people I care about who aren’t on Twitter and probably never will be. At times, Twitter is more fun–the banter, the hash tags, the news, the industry links–but it’s somewhat more about my professional side. Facebook is where I can see what my nieces and nephews are doing, check in with aunts and uncles, drop notes about things my kids say, and keep in touch with old friends.

Me:  How is the sequel to your award-winning novel, BAND OF SISTERS, coming along? And are you still keeping it in a woman’s point of view or has one of the returning husbands become your main character?

Annette:  The sequel will be on shelves in January. The revisions are done, and I should be getting edits back any day now. It’ll be called BAND OF SISTERS: COMING HOME. I decided to keep the same format I used in the first book, which went between the five different wives’ points of view, because each of them has different challenges to face when the soldiers come home. It worked in the first one, and I hope it works in the sequel!

(I’m sure it will. Loved the first one.)

Me:  Having just released PAIGE in the Newport Ladies Book Club series (with fellow authors Julie Wright, Josi Kilpack, and Heather Moore), what’s next for you in that series?

Annette:  We’re in the process of getting the next set of Newport Ladies books finished up and turned in. These ones will focus on the next four months after the first set ends, and will feature the other four women in the club, who were mostly cameos in the first set: Shannon, Tori, Ruby, and Ilana (which I’m writing). If all goes well, we should see the first one of those come out in the spring.


Me:  Tell me what you were like as a teenager at Timpview High, and which teacher there had the most impact on you. (I’d love a picture, but I’ll understand if you refuse.)

(Fortunately, she didn’t . . . Here’s one from her graduation. I’m sure you’ll recognize her in the middle.)

Annette:  The first part of high school, I was really shy and introverted. Then I made some friends who essentially ripped my shell open, something I’m eternally grateful for. I was the straight-laced kid, which means I was probably boring. I never skipped class. I got good grades. The time I stayed out the latest past curfew was with permission, and it was spent watching a video of Hamlet. (SO rebellious!) I was part of the choir, drill team, literary journal staff, Russian club, and honors society. Because even then I was a nerd. (Me: All the best people were.)

I had a fantastic high-school education; several teachers had a profound effect on me. The one who made the biggest impact is easy: Miss Drummond, who I had for English for both my sophomore and senior years. She’s the person who first made grammar and punctuation accessible. She explained it so the rules made sense. She taught me how to write; I had no idea how well she’d prepared me for writing in college until I got there and realized I was way ahead of my peers. On top of all that, she had a great way of looking at literature. The only boring days in her class were when she was forced to have this awful student teacher.

(Doesn’t everyone have an awful student teacher experience?)

Me:  I’ve got to know about your office or writing space. Please describe the best and worst parts about it (and provide a picture). Also, any secret hiding places there for chocolate?


Best parts: It’s a devoted spot for my work, and it has a DOOR. Not that either prevents interruption, but it’s a nice thought. I love the built-in shelves my husband made, and the wood floor (okay, fake wood, but it’s so pretty!). I have an extra chair that my kids use all the time. They come in to hang out, talk about their day, or unload whatever is on their minds. No way will I take that chair out.

The worst part is that my office tends to be the kids’ dumping ground. It’s perpetually cluttered with school notes, dishes, homework, toys, bobby pins (can you tell I have teenage girls?), and even clothing they’ve dropped along the way. (Me: Clutter? I don’t see any clutter in this picture. She must have cleaned up.) But I guess that means they’re comfortable there and know they can interrupt Mom whenever they need to. One day, I’ll probably miss their messes.

(Here’s a look at those built-in shelves.)

I used to hide chocolate in the bottom left cupboard of my desk. (Gulp! How weird. I hide mine in the bottom left drawer. Is chocolate a leftist snack?) The kids know me so well that they eventually found it. I still keep treats there sometimes, but I’m under no delusion that it’s hidden. (Alas.) Lately, it’s been healthier snacks.

Me:  Finally, when and why did you help found The Utah Chocolate Show, and where in the world can you get the BEST chocolate, in your opinion?

Annette:  The Utah Chocolate Show was my older sister Mel’s idea. She used to both cater and produce events, but she always enjoyed the production end more than the catering side. Back in 2003 when she was moving up to Utah from Arizona, she pondered what would be the most enjoyable event to produce. By the time she reached Provo, she’d come up with an expo show about all things chocolate. She gathered me and our younger sister, Michelle, around our parents’ kitchen counter and told us the idea. We pulled off the first show the fall of 2004.

(Okay. I’ve finally found a reason to move to Utah.)

At first, my role was supposed to just be the writer–web copy, press releases, and the like. But producing a show of that size was so much bigger than any of us had anticipated–shows are usually created by corporations, not three sisters. Next thing I knew, I was assistant director, working with sales and marketing, making executive decisions, handling contracts, going to a TV station to discuss commercials and air time and so much more. I even did my first TV spots.

After a few years of the show, I was so busy that I knew something in my life had to go. It couldn’t be my family, and it couldn’t be my writing. So I stepped back from the show, and by then others were around to fill in. A year or two later, my sister sold the show to another company, and they promptly dropped the ball. As a result, the show doesn’t exist anymore, which is really sad. (There goes my reason to move to Utah. Oh, well.) It was a fun experience that I learned a ton from.

One fun thing I learned is that Amano is the best chocolate company based in Utah, and one of the few anywhere (the only one west of the Mississippi) that makes chocolate directly from the cacao bean themselves. (Most small companies take chocolate made by another company and use that for their own products.) Amano has won a ton of big-time chocolate awards. Theirs isn’t chocolate you inhale and eat tons of; a savored bite or two is plenty.

But my all-time favorite is Finnish chocolate, specifically the Fazer Blue, which (of course) has a blue wrapper. MMMMmmmmm.

And on that note, I encourage you all to check out Annette’s website and blog, while I go have a bite of . . . what else? . . . CHOCOLATE!

Originally posted 2012-09-14 06:00:31.

Contest Author Interview – Cindy Hogan

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see the entry details, as well as the 50+ different prizes, and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you yet another entry!)

I’ll have to admit up front that this was my toughest interview. Why? Because Cindy doesn’t have anything about herself on her blog. Either she’s old-fashioned and doesn’t believe in bragging . . . or . . . she’s just too busy. Personally, I think it’s more the latter, topped off with a touch of humility. Anyway, I had to research other interviews to even get an idea of what makes this terrific indie writer tick. She’s definitely into suspense and, as you know, I LOVE suspense! (Why do you think I have a whole article about it in my menu?) Let’s stop the suspense for now and get to know her a little better, shall we?

Me:  You and I have something in common besides writing. As children, we both wanted to be archaeologists. I had to pick up a lot of dried sheep droppings before I found something of value on a tel outside Baghdad. How about you? Did you ever find anything ancient? And has your interest in history carried over into your writing?

Cindy:  I used to dig in my parents’ back yard and found a ton of stuff buried under the old pine trees: bottle caps, bottles, keys, unknown metal objects, bags that used to have the family pet in them (not ours, luckily) and bottle openers. Once I even found some money. I cherished all my treasures and made up stories about the people that lost them. I did find some animal bones a couple of times, but never found out what animal they came from. The hunt for something more is all over in my writing. Discovery always plays a role. One day, I will be writing a suspense novel with archaeology in it for sure.

Me:  I get the idea you’ve traveled a lot. Tell us about your most favorite and least favorite vacations.

Cindy:  You might think I’d say my adventures to Europe, but actually, my favorite vacation ever was in the good old USA. My hubby and I stayed in Tuscon at the Sheraton Conquistador resort. (Me: Nice!) It was more than amazing. I could walk straight out to the pool from our room and order whatever I liked poolside. I read and read and read.


The worst was a trip to New York. We planned to go for a day (My husband loves to do that), so we caught the red eye. Unfortunately, I can’t sleep on planes. My husband snores away. We went to a fun café, T-bones, for breakfast and then explored the city. I was so tired and beat by the time we flew home that I got totally sick on the plane and barfed all over in the bathroom. That was the worst.

(I can only imagine. Three days in NYC wore me out.)

Me:  You’ve lived in the southeast and the northwest. What are the biggest differences between the two areas, and where do you tend to set your stories?

Cindy:  The south is muggy and hot and outdoor activities are brutal. In the summer it’s too hot and in the winter it’s too cold. It’s a cold and a heat that goes right through you. Not my favorite place because I love the outdoors. There are too many awful bugs there, too.

I loved Oregon but in the end, I need four seasons and Utah is the place for that.

A novel I’m working on right now is set in the south and the first book in my new series is set in Oregon. The second book in this new series is set right here in Utah. I also have plans for one in New York and one in Germany. So many stories to tell and so little time.

(I knew she had the travel bug! Even in fiction. Here’s a look at the first in her “Watched” series, which is being offered as a prize for my contest:)

Me:  What would be the top three books on your Suspense list (besides your own)?

Cindy:  Crud. I hate this question. (Me: Oops, sorry.) I read so many books, it’s hard to pick favorites. I did just listen to THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR by Daniel Silva and really liked that.

(Hmm. I’ll have to check that out.)

Me:  Is your life as fast-paced as your fiction and why or why not?

Cindy:  This past year has been a whirlwind for sure. I’ve always had my hands in multiple things at one time. I don’t slow down often, but sometimes I have to. I like to be busy. I start my day at five and end it around eleven. There’s no time for TV or playing around these days. I’m either writing, reading, or critiquing.

Me:  Please describe your writing space (and provide a picture, if possible).

Cindy:  My writing space is perfect for me. I’m surrounded by windows so there’s no chance of claustrophobia setting in.

(We got lucky. She provided two pictures. The first, I suppose, as her desk looks before she sits down, and the second after she’s turned on her computer. Am I the only one curious about what is in that glass dish to the right of the monitor? It looks like bags of something.)

Me:  What exactly is in your big writing bag and why does your husband hate it? (I’d love a picture of that, too.)

Cindy:  Everything is in my writing bag. You’d be surprised at what I can stuff in there. Feel privileged, not everyone gets a sneak peek. :D 

My husband hates it because it is so darn huge.

Chapstick, pens, pencils, notebooks, loose paper, stapler, tissues, meds, gum, laptop, Nook, ward calling list, 2 calendar books, newsletter sign-up, sunglasses, lotion, sanitizer, bookmarks, sunscreen, iPod, headphones, digital recorder, jump drives, band-aids, mirror, glue stick, sticky notes, cell phone, keys, wallet, pictures, folders, and other miscellaneous spy items that if I disclosed would put us all in danger.

(Okay, then. But glue stick, really?)

Me:  Finally, what are the most important characteristics for writers who want to be successful going the indie route like you?

Cindy:  Hard-working, friendly, curious, and flexible.

And there you have it. The keys to success in indie publishing.

(I should have asked her what kind of daily exercise regimen she goes through to keep strong enough to carry around that bag. No wonder she got sick in NYC! Can you imagine what the TSA people thought of that bag when they screened it at the airport?)

Originally posted 2012-09-12 06:00:28.

Contest Author Interview – Ali Cross

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see the entry details, as well as the 50+ different prizes, and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you yet another entry!)

The award-winning Ali Cross writes YA and middle grade fiction and is best known for her YA paranormal Desolation series. On top of that, she’s one of the “Indelibles”–a group of indie authors who write middle grade and young adult fiction–not to mention a member of the new LDSIndieAuthors group (to which I also belong). I think you’ll notice her independent streak pretty quickly in my interview. :D

Me:  Okay, a Royal Canadian Mountie I can understand, even a pilot, but you wanted to be Prime Minister of Canada? Seriously? What would be the first law you’d try to pass as PM?

Ali:  You’re assuming I remember anything past last week. Sometimes I feel like I lived my life as different people and their memories are not always my own. Like a dream you only vaguely remember when you wake up but when you try to tell someone about it, you realize you don’t remember anything at all.

I do remember that I was very passionate about Native Canadian rights and probably would have wanted to work on improving their lives and their assimilation into Canadian society and workplaces.

(Good answer! Have you done beauty pageants or something?)

Me:  Tell me about the family you grew up in and how it encouraged (or discouraged) your creative tendencies.

Ali:  I was definitely an “accident” baby, so I was eight, ten, twelve and fifteen years younger than my siblings. My parents divorced when I was four, putting my sister (eight years older) in charge of me. I remember her better than I remember my mom.

There was a lot of ugliness in my childhood. Sexual abuse from both inside and outside the home, violence, poverty.

To escape my world, I read a lot of books (Anne McCaffrey and Lloyd Alexander come to mind) and wrote dark, angsty poetry.

Writing was always just a means of coping for me, never an ambition.

My siblings mostly thought I was a dreamer (which I was) and wouldn’t amount to much (I wanted to prove them wrong), but they’ve all been very supportive of my now that we’re all grown up.

Me:  So what is with the whole Ninja stuff?

Ali:  I have had a thing for the martial arts for as long as I can remember. I’ve watched every martial arts film I could get my hands on (and there are a lot!). For the longest time I wanted to grow up to be just like Cynthia Rothrock (except, maybe a better actress). 

(Okay, this is new territory for me so I had to look her up. She’s an American martial artist and actress, specializing in martial arts films. Here’s what she looks like. Can’t you just see Ali doing this pose?)

But martial arts are hard and it was always too easy to quit. So I always did before I achieved much of anything.

Fast forward to my life as a mom and I find myself married to a guy who loves the martial arts as much as I do. We enrolled our boys in karate as soon as they were old enough, and we also joined.

However, I have Fibromyalgia (Me: Ouch! I know what that is.) and I soon discovered that my body couldn’t handle the sport. I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to earn my black belt, but I was just in too much constant pain.

One night I cried to my husband about how sad I was to have let myself down on the karate thing. I wanted to be a black belt more than anything. *Darn my body!!!* But my husband loves me and is kind and pretty darn brilliant. He talked me through what it meant to me to be a black belt (to be committed, dedicated, to be exceptional at something, to do something hard, to prove to myself that I can be amazing at something).

And then he said, “Sunny (that’s what he calls me), you already are a black belt.”

To which I replied, “Wha???” (I’m a brilliant orator when I want to be.)

Then he talked me through all the things in my life where I have achieved “Black Belt Excellence”–and at the top, was my blogging and writing life.

Simultaneously, I’d been searching for my own “brand,” a way to stand out amongst the sea of blogs, and so . . . the dojo and my ninja alter ego were born!

(What an inspired husband!)

Me:  Did singing opera have an impact on your fiction in any way?

Ali:  Absolutely, 100%! I tend to write my stories very much like operas–a lot of drama, angst, and tragedy.

Opera taught me how to work hard at one thing for a very long time–for instance, I would work on 3 to 6 pieces of music a year. That’s hundreds of hours of practice on just a handful of arias. Long after I thought I had the music “perfect” we were still working on it. That kind of dedication to detail and perfection has taught me how to be persistent and dedicated in my writing.

So from rich and colorful characters to dedication to the details, opera has impacted my fiction writing on every possible level.


Me:  What color is your hair really?

Ali:  LOL! Um, that would be brown.

I’m sad that I had to go back to boring brown when my husband lost his job last April. Not to say that brown is bad, but for me, my hair has come to represent a standard or something. A statement about how I feel about myself and what I hope for myself.

On Monday I’m getting my brown roots touched up, but I’m having her add back in a streak of red–maybe that’ll be enough to help me feel like I’m really me while not breaking the bank. :D (She wanted a smiley face there, but that was the best I could do.)

By the way, I changed my name, too. So between my name and my hair, I’ve created myself just as surely as I’ve created any of my characters.

Me:  Please describe your writing process from the germ of an idea to the finished product.

Ali:  Whoa! You’re not asking for much here, are ya? My heart does this little skip thing and my palms get damp just thinking about answering this! What if I get it wrong? What if I don’t sound intelligent? Because my writing process is kind of visceral and not terribly well thought out. But . . . I’ll give it a go.

Usually I come up with an idea–just a thought or a one-liner. Like, BECOME, was literally, “What if the devil’s daughter wanted to be good?” Then my husband and I will play the What If game . . . until I have a story fleshed out.

I’ll usually write a one- to three-page synopsis based on what we “discovered.”

Usually, I’ll just dive in and start drafting until I get to about fifty pages–then I stop and “beat it out” á la “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder.

I’ll keep drafting, without stopping to edit or correct, until the book is done. Usually, I can accomplish all of this in four to six weeks.

From there, I begin the revision process–first I start with a basic read through, taking notes as I go with questions I need answered, spots where I need to fill in more, etcetera.

I’ll make those changes, then read through again, this time usually for voice. Do I stay consistent throughout? Can I choose better words? Build better sentences?

Then I’ll do a read-through for setting. I tend to be more emotional in my writing, without paying much attention to the outside details–so I need a revision pass just for that.

Then it’s off to beta readers, back for another revision, then off to my editor!

(Sounds very well thought out to me!)

Me:  Where do you see the future of publishing going and how does indie publishing fit in?

Ali:  Wow, that’s a good question. This will be the first time I’ve actually said what I think in a public forum–I tend to keep my opinions pretty much to myself.

I think we can all agree that publishing is changing. I think indie publishing will continue to grow and will gain more respect as more excellent and well-prepared authors publish that way. I think more authors will be “dually published”–straddling both the traditional and the independent.

I would like to see a publishing world where independent authors are as well respected as the traditionally published, and are judged on the merit of their books alone–not how they came to be.

(Well said.)

Me:  I love writing spaces and can only imagine that yours must be wild. What’s the wildest thing about yours and is it closer to heaven, earth, or hell? (Oh, and I’d love a picture to share with my readers.)

Ali:  My writing space is not wild at all, LOL! I think the only thing that sets me apart from a lot of writers is that I prefer to write during the daytime, and love to see the sun shine in through my window!

And my space is definitely closer to Heaven. :D

(She’s right. It is. And look how organized she is. Boy, was I wrong!)

Me:  Finally, what is the most ninja thing your cat ever did? (I’d love a picture of the cat, too.)

Ali:  Oh my poor cat. She’s a lot like me. You can tell she wants to be an amazing, awesome ninja cat, but the truth is that she’s a big ol’ fraidy-cat!

The most ninja thing she does is move at the speed of a bullet so it’s impossible to catch her in the act of either ninja-awesomeness or fraidy-cat glory. So, sadly, no pics of her and her mad cat skills.

(Aw, well. I can’t have everything.)

Still, I’d be amazed if you didn’t learn something new about Ali in this interview. In fact, I can tell I’m going to have to interview her again some time because this lady is fascinating! Don’t forget to check out her website and blog for more information.

She’s offering a few copies of both BECOME and DESOLATE as prizes in my contest, so comment here and earn another entry.

Originally posted 2012-09-10 06:00:14.

It’s Available!

A NIGHT ON MOON HILL is now available for sale at the Kindle Store! Here’s the link. What a wonderful early birthday present! It would be amazing if it became available on Amazon ON my birthday, which is tomorrow. Not likely, but amazing!

Remember, if you buy it, read it, and like it, I would LOVE for you to post a review there on its Kindle page…as well as on Goodreads. (Later, it would be great if you would copy your review to the Amazon page once it’s finally up there.)

If you REALLY want to help guide people to my book, hit the “Like” button near my name and then scroll halfway down the Kindle page to the part that reads: “Tags Customers Associate With This Product” and click on “Agree with these tags.” The more agreements I get, the more likely those tags will pull in readers interested in those things.

Thanks for all your support!

Originally posted 2012-09-08 17:36:14.

Contest Author Interview – Adam Glendon Sidwell

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see the entry details, as well as the 50+ different prizes, and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you yet another entry!)

I’ve only become acquainted with Adam recently, but it’s clear he’s a very funny guy with a lot of energy–perfect for middle grade readers! Also, I came to discover that he used to home teach my niece AND he lives right across the street from the apartment building where my husband and I used to live (and manage) in West Los Angeles. How’s that for small world stuff? While he used to have a day job in the movie industry, his new book, EVERTASTER, has been so successful that he’s working full time promoting it and writing its sequel.

Me:  Please describe one of the most formative experiences from your childhood, one of those that put you on this path to creativity and writing.

Adam:  I think it had to be due to going to bed early. I used to lie awake, dreaming of the books I’d read. It was a wonderful time to think, and going to my imagination was always a favorite place to be.

(I still do that, only now I do it with someone next to me snoring; at least he snores softly.)

Me:  At what point did you decide to get involved with movies and why?

Adam:  It was either that or engineering, and I had this feeling that if I became an engineer, I’d have to follow the laws of physics. As much as I love those laws, the laws of story were a stronger draw. I was in my sophomore year at BYU, and I saw a spinning 3D sphere on the computer screen and I thought, “Wait, you’re telling me I can make dinosaurs for a living?” Turns out I could! In fact, I built most of the dinos in this Nintendo commercial:

(Cool, eh?)

Me:  Which are more fun–monsters, robots, or zombies?

Adam:  Monsters. They have skin that wrinkles and muscles that flex, while robots are hard surfaces that are much easier to build. Ultimately, monsters are more of a challenge. And Zombies? Well, they’re really just humans with fewer limbs. Not quite as fun as monsters, but still better than sharpening toothpicks for a living.

Me:  Are you still working on movies and, if so, what’s your current project and who’s in it?

Adam:  I am currently working full time on writing an EVERTASTER novella and touring with EVERTASTER. Who knows? I may work on another film soon, but I’m having so much fun being an author, we’ll see. The most recent film I was working on was “Pacific Rim,” directed by Guillermo del Toro. Who is in it? Mosters. Giant robots. Man, that was a hard job to leave.

Me:  What does your wife think of your detour into writing?

Adam:  She thinks I better get home in time for dinner. This touring is an adventure! She’s been wonderfully supportive. We discussed this kind of scenario before we ever got married. And now it’s actually happening, so we consider ourselves lucky.

(Smart pre-nuptial verbal agreement!)

Me:  Were you a picky eater as a child like your main character, and what were your least favorite foods?

Adam:  I was not, actually. I ate everything. I even got paid 10 bucks to eat a moth in the 9th grade. But I did a lot of research and observation of picky kids to understand Guster so I could tell his story.

(First of all, I think you should consider trying out for “Survivor.” Secondly, my son, Jason, would have made an excellent research subject.)

Me:  Could you describe your writing process? I mean, given your background with film, do you storyboard or follow some kind of outline method?

Adam:  I do think in a traditional 3 act structure, but sometimes I’m not so sure I end up following it. I usually take months to brainstorm a project and take notes on it then when the log jam breaks, it all comes flowing out and I write an outline and begin work on the first chapter. After that, I write furiously at 2,000 words/day until I’m finished. Sometimes, when I’m trying to nail down a particular description for a character, I do my own “visual development” like we do in the film world. In my case, often a simple sketch suffices. I sketched out most of the characters in little thumbnails for EVERTASTER. It’s similar to how we did the cover art, as well.

Me:  What are you currently working on?

Adam:  Currently, I’m writing EVERTASTER – THE BUTTERSMITHS’ GOLD, a delightful and short novella about a couple of Viking ancestors many years ago who must defend their clan at all costs.

Me:  Finally, have you become a true Angelino and fallen into the sea yet?

Adam:  There was a magnificent earthquake the other night. After those we usually just go back to bed. I do fall into the sea at times, but mostly willfully. I’ve taken up spearfishing. It’s a great way to put food on the table in case people lose interest in buying mystery and adventure books.

(Since that is not likely to ever be the case, I bet the spearfishing will remain a hobby.)

Come on by my Facebook page and check out some of the cool concept art that led to the book cover. It was done by Dreamworks artist Goro Fujita. He did concept art for “Megamind” and “Madagascar.”

(Ahhh, that’s why your cover seemed kind of familiar.)

Check out Adam’s awesome trailer for EVERTASTER, made with the help of some of his movie buddies:

If you want to buy the book, click here, and you can always learn more about Adam and his writing on his website.

Originally posted 2012-09-07 08:35:57.

Contest Author Interview – Danyelle Ferguson

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see the 50 different prizes and entry details and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you yet another entry!)

Not only is Danyelle a talented writer, but she’s a brave organizer. Along with her husband, she founded a non-profit organization (more about that later) and is helping the LDStorymakers group better serve more of its members by taking the lead in instituting a second conference in a week and a half, located in the Midwest in a place called Olathe, Kansas (a place I’ve just finished reading about in one of my thrillers–Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood…as it turns out one of the two real-life killers in the book holed up in Olathe before they committed their crimes). But I’ll give my review of that story in a few weeks once my contest is over. Now, on with my interview!

Me:  Tell us about the first article you had published when you were in 6th grade. Do you still have a copy of it?

Danyelle:  I do have a copy of it! My mom saved it in a manila envelope along with other articles about me from the time I was young until I graduated high school.

I was lucky enough to have an incredible 6th grade teacher–Mrs. Seasholtz–who encouraged my love of reading. One book was about a boy named Charlie, the poor crime-filled neighborhood he grew up in, and his relationship with the city sheriff. Rather than write a book report, my teacher suggested I invite our city sheriff to visit our class. I met with the sheriff, then he came to talk to my class about our city, crime, and how we could help with crime prevention. Afterwards, Mrs. Seasholtz sat me down at her computer and had me write my very first newspaper article. She included a picture of me and the sheriff. It was the neatest thing ever to see my article appear in our city newspaper. It made an even bigger impression on me when lots of people started calling, stopped me at the store or in the school hallways to congratulate me and ask more questions about the book or presentation. It definitely hooked me into not only writing, but being brave enough to share what I wrote with others.

(Now that’s the kind of teacher we all want our kids to have, isn’t it?)

Me:  I see that you’ve written everything from poems to short stories, not to mention your nonfiction. Which form of creative writing do you enjoy the most and why? On the other hand, which is the most challenging?

Danyelle:  Short stories are definitely the most challenging. It’s hard to fit in a beginning, middle, and end, as well as character development, in a small limited amount of words! I admire writers who specialize in short stories.

My poetry is very special to me. I only write poems when I’m dealing with really emotional situations. I started writing them when my mom was first diagnosed with cancer then continued through two more diagnoses. When she passed away just after my high school graduation, I wrote one final poem for her and tucked it into her casket. I’m honestly not the best poet – not even a really good one – but it’s the creative expression that fills my mind when life is swirling around me.

Me:  As my book includes a young boy with Asperger’s syndrome, I’m particularly interested in hearing about your oldest son who is autistic. Could you share briefly the journey you and your husband had in discovering and coming to terms with his autism?

Danyelle:  Oh wow. I don’t know how to briefly describe that. =) Actually, we thought our son just had speech delay. Looking back now, we had a rather typical experience. From birth, our son always tested early in all of his childhood developments. He started walking and talking at seven months old. He laughed, played with our friends’ kids. All the normal things you expect from a baby. Then somewhere between 12-18 months, he gradually stopped talking. We talked to our doctor about it, but he said that just happened sometimes and to wait until he was two years old. We took him back when he turned two – at which time he didn’t speak at all. The doctor said to wait another six months and we said no way. So he referred us to the local early intervention center. The center sent out someone to evaluate our son for speech delay. A few days later, they called to ask if they could come back for another visit with one of their specialists. This time after the observation, the specialist asked us if we had ever heard of autism. Neither my husband nor I knew anything about it. Little did we know that question would lead to a life-changing journey for our whole family. We made an appointment for our son to be evaluated at our local Children’s Hospital. He was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. (Me: That stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified…which really doesn’t tell you much.) All of his results came back in the severe range, except for his motor skills, which were incredibly advanced.

During the first four to six months after our son was diagnosed, I couldn’t handle reading anything about autism. I was so overwhelmed, wondering what kind of future my son would have. Instead, I dived into training sessions with our Early Intervention therapist. I attended a parent/child group therapy class twice a week. The parents in the class were incredible, helped me through those rough beginning months, and are still some of my closest friends today. Meeting families who had older kids with special needs, seeing the progress they made, helped me to have hope for my son, as well. In my opinion, coming to terms with autism–or any other special needs–is a lifelong process. We never know what challenges we will need to face as our kids become older, teens, and eventually adults. It takes patience, a commitment to learning new techniques, a sense of humor, and lots of prayer.

(Amen to all of that!)

Me:  How did that journey help to bring about your recent book, (dis)Abilities and the Gospel, co-written with Lynn Parsons?

Danyelle:  During my son’s preschool years, my husband and I were the head of the school’s parent support group. Families often asked me to help them figure out how to help their child attend church or help their church leaders understand and love their child. As I researched on the Internet, I realized there were very few resources available about disabilities and church. Over the following four years, I spent quite a lot of time working with a variety of individuals, families, specialists, and church leaders to create the resources and information found in (dis)Abilities and the Gospel. Four years is a long time to work on just one project. But my son, my friends’ children, and people I met at conferences were a constant reminder of why the book was needed. It was truly an inspiring project to work on.

Me:  Tell us about the non-profit organization you and your husband founded in relation to autism and how my readers might contribute, if they so choose?

Danyelle:  Our son attended a private autism preschool called GIANT Steps. During our time there, my husband, myself and Karen Fairchild (one of the original founders of the school) created a Friends of GIANT Steps (501c3) to raise funds to supplement the school and its curriculum. We have put on sensory-friendly Christmas concerts, benefit concerts, held auctions, and a variety of other fundraisers. Thus far, we’ve been able to add a Kindermusik program (teacher training, equipment and materials) to help the kids with sensory issues and motor skills, bought playground equipment, sent teachers and paras to specialized trainings, and brought in speakers to help parents learn tips for raising their children and developing strong family relationships. Our goal is for the kids to have the best learning experience available and for families to have the resources they need. You can learn more about FOGS or donate through their website.

Me:  My son has Asperger’s and I know it was difficult, at first, for his older sister to deal with the social ramifications. How have your other children responded to your son’s autism?

Danyelle:  My son is our oldest child. So for a long time, our younger kids didn’t think anything about him being different. Even now, for the most part, they just think of him as Isaac and that’s the way he is. But as they have gotten older (3rd grade and above), they have asked more and more questions. We are very open about Isaac’s abilities and quirks. I’ve talked to the munchkins about how sensory issues or comprehension difficulties can frustrate Isaac and signs to look for so they know when to back off and let him decompress. One thing I want my kids to understand is that it’s okay to sometimes feel embarrassed or frustrated by things their brother says or does. It’s a natural human feeling, but I ask them that when they feel that way to remember he’s their brother and they are his best friends. So it’s okay to need a break, but they should always remember that they love him too.

My oldest daughter is especially empathetic to kids who are different from their peers (no matter if it’s a disability, language difference, etc.). She’s also in our school’s gifted program and pretty analytical–a trait she completely gets from her dad. last year for her big project, she chose to write a book about various disabilities, their causes, and spotlight examples of how people who have those disabilities made an impact on their community (whether through work, service, or challenges they overcame). I was impressed with how she took a personal challenge and turned it into a way to learn, grow, and find positive uplifting outcomes too.

(Sounds like her mother too, right?)

Me:  As I’ve noted before, I’m curious about authors’ writing spaces. How would you describe yours at present as if you were putting it into a novel?


Danyelle scooted her wooden chair up to her desk, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine streaming through the bay windows. She sighed as she looked over at the pile of dishes that needed to be washed. Should she do them first? She calculated how many plates she needed for dinner that night before finally deciding she could safely ignore the ones in the sink. This was definitely one of the drawbacks of having her writing space in a nook off the kitchen. She quickly stacked her kids’ school papers into a pile and set them off to the side of her desk.

As she waited for the computer to boot up, she looked around at her little office space. She loved the trendy dark green walls with lime and white accents. Her favorite part was the white wall shelves filled with girly stuff – glass purses, Raine designer decorative shoes, and funky picture frames. She pulled out a sticky note and wrote a reminder to re-hang one of the shelves that came loose when the roof was repaired last fall. Maybe she’d actually get it done some time in the next year. She replaced her sticky note and pen back in the sparkly crystal crown that held her business cards, stamps and other office supply odds and ends that only writers loved and obsessed about. A variety of colored paper clips, cute binder clips, and multi-colored pens.

The computer chimed, signaling that it was ready for her to login and begin work. Danyelle nabbed a piece of chocolate out of her clear glass candy dish, popped the delicious treat into her mouth, then got ready to dive back into her current work-in-progress.

(And here’s the picture to show how well she described it!)

Me:  What are you working on at present?

Danyelle:  Right now, I’m working on one of the awesomest projects ever. The very first Storymakers Midwest Writers Conference! It’s Saturday, September 15th and in my backyard (well, almost)–Olathe, KS. Of course, that’s because I’m the one organizing it. We have an incredible line-up of authors coming to present. I’m honored to have Lisa Mangum (Deseret Book Editor & best-selling YA author), as well as Josi Kilpack (award-winning culinary mystery author) as our Keynote Speakers.

Along with the conference, we’re having a huge Authorpalooza. So if you’re in the Kansas City area, please stop by!

Friday, September 14th; 7-9 pm 

Authorpalooza Book Signing (Oak Park Mall Barnes & Noble, 11323 W. 95th Street, Overland Park, KS)

Authors include:  Lisa Mangum, Josi Kilpack, Heather Justesen, Don Carey, Karen Hoover, Traci Hunter Abramson, L.C. Lewis, STeve Westover, Danyelle Ferguson, Lynn Parsons, Tamara Hart Heiner, and more!

Me:  Finally, what are some of your favorite songs to sing while in the kitchen and how do your children react when you start belting them out?

Danyelle:  I have very eclectic musical tastes. I love everything from Natalie Cole to Bon Jovi to Katy Perry, with a healthy mix of my kids’ favorites–Justin Beiber, Hannah Montana, and Taylor Swift. I have a Kitchen Music playlist and sing along with whatever comes on. My favorite moment is when my big band music comes on and my hubby and I teach the kids our favorite swing dancing moves.

What do my kids think? They’re just as nutty as me. They dance around in the nook where my office desk is (also where the music is streaming from) and sing right along with me.

If you want to know more about Danyelle and her writing, take a moment to check out her website or her blog. Right now, she’s donating $5 from every sale of her disabilities book from her website to one of two worthy disability-related causes.

Originally posted 2012-09-05 06:00:35.

Contest Author Interview – Julie Coulter Bellon

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see the 50 different prizes and entry details and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you yet another entry!)

I came to know Julie while working under her on the board of directors of LDStorymakers. She was chair that first year I was a member of the group and very open and supportive of  my ideas for the new website. Both of us share an expatriate kind of background and appreciation, therefore, for international thrillers. All of her novels are now available as ebooks.

Me:  Let’s see . . . Eight books, eight children. Which was harder? And do you get any rewrites on your parenting?

Julie:  Well, since my children are so unpredictable and my characters generally do what I tell them to, I’d say that raising children is harder. Parenting is so rewarding, though, and I get to laugh a lot, so I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I wish you all could be at our dinner table each night. It’s so fun to have a big family. As for rewrites on my parenting, thankfully my children are pretty forgiving and give me lots of chances when I mess up.

Me:  Personally, I have a thing for the number 9, but why do you prefer 8? Does it have any significance beyond your children and books?

Julie:  Eight has been my lucky number my entire life. Good things always happen to me when I’m having an “8” birthday like 8, 18, 28, etc. I can always count on my lucky number eight.

(Hmmm. As it just so happens, I only prepared eight questions to ask you, so I guess this is your lucky interview!)

Me:  What is the biggest difference between a Canadian and an American? Please tell us about where you grew up and whether you return to Canada often to visit.

Julie:  For me, there’s subtle differences between being Canadian and American. My critique group tells me all the time that my Canadian comes through in my writing because I’m too polite. Canadians are pretty laid-back, but that’s probably because they have the best food in the world to eat. Canadian chocolate and cereal are to die-for. Thankfully my mom sends me care packages in the mail so I don’t have to go too long without them. Our family also gets to have two Thanksgivings because I celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with them in October and we also celebrate American Thanksgiving with my husband and his family. I’d say we’re pretty lucky!

I grew up in Alberta and I don’t get home as often as I’d like. My entire family still lives there and I miss them terribly.

(Now I’ve heard of–and tasted–Swiss chocolate, and I’ve even heard of the wonders of New Zealand chocolate…but Canadian chocolate? Who knew?)

Me:  Are you still practicing the bagpipes and why?

Julie:  Sadly, I haven’t practiced them recently. I only know one song (Amazing Grace) and so I obviously need to expand my repertoire and practice a little more. I plan to start up again as soon as the baby’s a little older and I can explain to him why he needs to wear earplugs. Ha!

Me:  How did you get acquainted with Ms. Shreditor? Please tell my readers what they can do to avail themselves of her services.

Julie:  I have this wonderful feature on my blog called First Page Friday where I have my national editor friends, Ms. Shreditor and Angela Eschler (president of Eschler Editing), critique aspiring authors/published authors’ first pages. Two years ago when I was listening to a panel of agents and editors talk about the fact that if the first page doesn’t grab them, they usually reject it, I thought I would use editing contacts I had to help authors polish those important first pages. It has been such a learning experience both for me and my readers. I’m so grateful for Ms. Shreditor and to Angela who put in so much work to give back to the writing community.

(Here’s an example of what she’s talking about.)

Me:  What exotic locale are you planning on taking your readers to next, and what’s the basic storyline (if you’re that far into it)?

Julie:  Well, I have a book coming out in a few weeks, ALL FALL DOWN, that is set in Connecticut and Afghanistan. It’s about a hostage negotiator, Claire Michaels, who ends up in the middle of an international incident with a Navy SEAL and his brother. I loved writing this story!

(Let’s interrupt the interview for a moment to share the cover of Julie’s new novel, as well as the back cover copy. After all, it comes out at the end of September!)

Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies,

ashes, ashes we all fall down . . .

That simple rhyme turns negotiator Claire Michaels’ current hostage situation into an international incident. Claire just wants to help get everyone out safely, but as the crisis escalates she realizes she’s dealing with an al-Qaeda operative who has the means to become another bin Laden–with the potential to attack America. Claire has her own personal reasons for wanting to stop al-Qaeda, but time is slipping away as negotiations break down. Can she overcome her scars of the past in order to get the hostage out alive and possibly stop an assault on U.S. national security?

Navy SEAL Rafe Kelly is on leave to recover from a knee injury he suffered during his tour in Afghanistan and he doesn’t expect to be fighting terrorists on his home turf. But when he is taken hostage and his brother is kidnapped, Rafe teams up with a hostage negotiator in order to stay alive and get his brother back. The terrorist is always one step ahead of them, however, and the situation quickly turns from desperate to deadly. Will Rafe be able to save himself and his country without anyone he loves getting caught in the crossfire?

(Okay, back to the interview)

I’m working on a sequel to my novel, RIBBON OF DARKNESS, and it will be set in Greece. I loved visiting Athens and the island of Crete and I can’t wait to make the setting come alive for my readers. Basically, it’s Kennedy’s story (from RIBBON OF DARKNESS), and she’s still trying to solve her sister’s murder, but as an international journalist, she’s also covering some of the chaos going on in Greece. She gets caught up in a volatile situation with a Greek terrorist group and it will take everything she has to come out of it alive. That one should be released next spring.

Me:  As a former chair of LDStorymakers, can you tell us how that position impacted your writing, if at all?

Julie:  Being the chairman of LDStorymakers gave me the opportunity to work closely with a committee of incredible authors I admire and I loved getting to know them better. I’m glad we have organizations that support writers and help inspire us to become better at out craft. It was a lot of hard work because in addition to my responsibilities to the board, I also had a baby during my tenure, and released a book. But it was an experience that I wouldn’t trade because of the friendships I made.

Me:  Finally, would you please describe your office or workspace in the point of view of a spy who has broken into your home to find an important document.

Julie:  Well, my workspace is in between my family room and kitchen, so if they were looking for a document, they could expect to find it fairly easily (well, they’d have to go through my pile of permission slips, emergency contact forms, and disclosure documents from the schools that I got this week). Since I have so many kids it would probably have a food stain of some sort or be wrinkly from a drink spilled on it, though. (Okay, okay, it’s not all the kids’ fault. I do like to eat at my desk. So, the spy would probably be able to see some clues as to what I ate for lunch.)

Thank you so much for interviewing me. This was one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever done.

Me:  My pleasure. (Blush)

You can find out more about Julie and her books on her blog or her website, and you can follow her on Twitter (@juliebellon). Feel free to “like” her on Facebook, as well.

Originally posted 2012-09-03 02:05:36.

Contest Author Interview – Janette Rallison

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see all the prizes and details and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you another entry!)

I first got to know Janette when she was the keynote speaker at the 2010 ANWA Northwest Writer’s Retreat. Two years ago, she seemed a bit concerned that she might never break out of the mid list as an author. Since then, she has taken on a second identity (C.J. Hill) and seems to be really expanding her reach among YA readers. Not only that, but she is the current president of ANWA (American Night Writers Association). Through it all, she retains that sense of humor we all love about her–author and reader, alike.

Me:  Are you writing these days more as C.J. Hill or as Janette Rallison, and how do you keep it all straight? Do you wear two different, actual hats . . . or play different kinds of music for each kind of writing? In other words, what is the great secret to multi-task writing? (If you haven’t heard that term before, then I made it up.)

Janette:  I never play any sorts of music, as I would concentrate on that instead of writing. The secret to my multi-task writing is that I eat lots of chocolate while I try to get things done. At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

(Ah, but then how does she stay so thin? I should have had a follow-up question. Darn it!)

I’ve been writing more as CJ Hill lately (action-adventure with some romance, of course) because I sold two of those books and this year I’ve been writing sequels to both. It’s harder for me to write action than romantic comedies so this has been a challenge for me. I prefer witty banter. In action books, you’ve got to think of creative ways to do fight scenes. It’s hard to come up with a shootout that hasn’t already been done a jillion times. (And yes, there actually have been a jillion shootouts.)

Me:  As a fellow cat person, I’d like to know how you cats influence your writing (beyond blocking the screen, which my cat, Peach, is a pro at? Or does the dog steal the show there?

Janette:  The dog is good (unless I’m driving somewhere in the car, and then she wants to be my co-pilot). I have a cat, though, who thinks her place in life is to sit on my lap. It’s hard to write one-handed while petting a cat, but it can be done.

I have a scene in ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE, WAR, AND HIGH SCHOOL where my main character is in a car with a freaked-out cat. That scene was inspired by a trip to the vet with one of my cats. For some reason, she thought she should spend the ride sitting atop my head. So yeah, I guess you can say my cats have influenced my writing.

Me:  I know you think you are old, but I have it on good authority (your own website and Wikipedia) that I’m a good bit older than you. (And I’m not the one who’s on Wikipedia, by the way.) That being the case, you are obviously young, at least in my eyes. Still, do you foresee writing YA fiction for the rest of your life? Or do you itch to write for a different audience?

Janette:  I actually have no idea. I still have a lot of book ideas that are young adult, but I also have ideas for romances and fantasies. So who knows? That’s one of the nice things about writing. You can reinvent yourself. I never thought I would write four action books in a row (five, if you count the one that’s still with my agent) and that’s what I’ve spent the last couple of years doing.

Me:  Do any of your children aspire to write, and if so, do you encourage it or not?

Janette:  My oldest two daughters both love to read and tinker with the idea of writing a novel someday. I encourage them–but I also tell them they need another career skill. Very few writers can support themselves right off, if ever. One of my sons wants to do a comic strip. He’s the most serious about it. He has a drawer full of comic strips he’s done (while he’s supposed to be paying attention in church) and just started putting some of them up on a blog. You can see them here.

Me:  Which, of all the characters you’ve ever written, was most reflective of you? And which was most reflective of your husband?

Janette:  Hmmm. There’s a little bit of me in all of my characters. Ellie from WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED is pretty much me (well, you know, me if I was younger, thinner, and prettier) and Jessica from FAME, GLORY, AND OTHER THINGS ON MY TO DO LIST was a lot like me as a teen.

I tried to make my husband the male lead in WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED since I’d put myself in as the heroine. It was supposed to be this really sweet gesture on my part. Unfortunately, I had to fire him after about two pages. My husband is really laid back and he would never argue with the heroine.

Notice yet another Nom de Plume?

Ironically, in my paranormal romance HUNTERS AND HUNTED (this is the book that’s still with my agent, because publishers think paranormal romance is dead) the heroine has two love interests. One of them, Jack, is probably the most like my husband of any male lead I’ve ever written. After my husband read the manuscript, I asked him what he thought of Jack.

“He’s a jerk,” my husband said. “He kills people.”

Well, yeah, there is that. Jack isn’t at all like my husband in that way.

(Good thing!)

Me:  What are you working on right now?

Janette:  Revisions for the ERASING TIME sequel (ECHO IN TIME) and then I’ll be working on revising the SLAYERS sequel. But never worry, Janette Rallison fans. I’ll be starting a new fairy godmother book in a couple of months.

(Talk about multi-tasking!!! But while we’re on the subject of ERASING TIME, check out her terrific trailer here.)

Me:  With all the writing you do, I am most curious about your workspace or office. Please describe it in a YA voice.

Janette:  Imagine a teen girl blinking up at you from an office chair. “What do you mean my feet aren’t supposed to go on the desk? Where else am I supposed to put them?” She sighs in exasperation and grabs a half-eaten brownie. “Never mind, I’ll just take my laptop to my bed.” Another dramatic sigh, because that’s what teens are good at. “Now, like, everybody leave me alone. I’ve got stuff to do.”

(I think we get the picture…no space on the floor…half-eaten brownie. Sound familiar, anyone?)

Me:  And finally, could you please describe (in your mother’s voice) your bedroom as a teenager.

Janette:  Imagine an older woman shaking her head with something akin to despair. “Have you ever thought about hanging up your clothes instead of leaving them in piles everywhere? You’re going to step on those books and those records, and whatever else is under that pile of clothes. And will you please take down those posters of Richard Hatch? It’s creepy the way his eyes always watch me when I walk in here.”

A lack of floor space. Some things apparently never change.

Seriously, if you want to know more about Janette, you can try the Wikipedia article (which doesn’t have nearly enough, by the way) or, even better, her website . . . or her other website!

Originally posted 2012-08-31 04:00:34.

Off to the Big Apple!

Just a quick note here to say that those of you who have signed up for my newsletter will have to be patient a little while longer. I figured I’d wait until mid-month to send it out, so that you can be the first to see pictures from NYC…and hear how the book launch is shaping up.

We promised our son, Jason, a trip to New York to see some Broadway shows after he graduated from high school, since he did so well. Besides, it’s our 25th wedding anniversary on September 1st, so we figured we’d combine the celebrations.

I know, you’re thinking, “What? You’re taking your son with you on a wedding anniversary trip?”…But, hey, when you’ve got an Aspie in the family, such considerations are moot. Besides, Jason’s a ton of fun, AND I want him to see the sites Daphne visits in A NIGHT ON MOON HILL. (I want to see them, too. I only researched them from afar.)

I promise to get all the relevant (and some irrelevant) pictures, some of which I’ll only share in my newsletter.

The real questions are: Will Jason survive the crowds? And will he stubbornly survive on bananas, Cheerios, and cinnamon cookies for 5 days straight (with maybe a grilled cheese sandwich here and there), or will he finally succumb to a more varied diet? (Keeping my fingers crossed.)

We’re going to see “Wicked,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “The Lion King,” as well as the 9/11 Memorial, Central Park, and a few MOON HILL sites.

If you’ve been to New York City, what must we absolutely not miss?

Originally posted 2012-08-30 06:00:13.

Contest Author Interview – Jewel Adams

(NOTE: If you haven’t yet heard about the contest I’m running through September 24th, go here to see all the prizes and details and please think about entering. After all, there’s no limit on number of entries and there are many ways to enter. If you’ve already entered, remember that leaving a comment about this interview earns you another entry!)

Jewel Adams has been writing for about 20 years and though she’s tackled different genres, her heart keeps leading her back to romance–clean romance, that is. It’s no wonder that she’s the president-elect of Utah Romance Writers of America. Let’s get straight to the nitty gritty, shall we? And by that, I mean snack food. Any writer worth his/her salt needs regular supplies of snackage. Jewel’s snack of choice is a bit different.

Me:  Okay, when and why did you get hooked on orange Tic Tacs? Usually, female writers have a thing for chocolate? Why doesn’t chocolate do it for you?

Jewel:  Well, I’ve always enjoyed popping a Tic Tac or two, but a few years ago, I decided to save money and buy the big 4-packs of orange Tic Tacs. I found I enjoyed them so much, I started popping ten at a time, and though I still enjoy chocolate, there is just something about the burst of flavor that comes with a small handful of those little orange jewels. My thought process speeds up, I type faster, jump higher, all kinds of things. My family calls it my drug of choice:-)

(I see…Excuse me while I unwrap another Hershey’s Miniature.)

Me:  You’re mainly known as a romance writer. What sets your romances apart from the usual romance?

Jewel:  I do interracial inspirational romance. At first, I wrote it because that is what I know (my husband is white), but I discovered there was an untapped market for BW/WM romance novels. My stories are clean but passionate and I’ve been really blessed to gain the die-hard fans I have.

Me:  How long have you been writing, and how did you manage to fit it in while having and raising 8 children?

Jewel:  Oh, a long time. My first book was traditionally published in 1998. It was an interracial YA romance that I’ve since pulled apart and integrated parts of the story in other novels because the writing was so terrible. Since I’ve always home-schooled my kids, I used to do a lot of noon-time and late-night writing. I only have two left that I am still teaching, but since they are older, I basically fit it in anywhere I can. But I’m still a night owl because that’s when my thoughts really flow.

Me:  I’m not a romance reader, so I may be displaying my ignorance here, but have you ever written a romance in which the hero was less than handsome, or is that just not allowed? If not, why not?

Jewel:  For the most part my heroes are pretty smashing in the looks department, but I did write a novelette about a woman who falls for a disfigured man. He was once a firefighter until he was injured on duty, and half his face was badly scarred, like Phantom of the Opera scarred. But the woman fell in love with his heart, and to her, he was beautiful. It’s one of my favorites.

(In case, you’re doubting the “pretty smashing” phrase, have a look at her latest)

Me:  What other genres have you tried and are you still writing other genres?

Jewel:  I have a couple of chapter books that have gotten great responses from both kids and adults. It’s an adventure series that was a blast to write. I also do romantic fantasy, which I thought would be pretty challenging, but in both series I was pleased with the finished product.

Me:  Okay, let’s say it’s time to start drafting yet another romance. What do you do to get yourself in the mood to write about love? And is there a particular location, either inside your house or outside, that is more conducive to penning such stories?

Jewel:  I always tell people my husband is the reason I’m such a romantic because he is. So I’m always in the mood . . . to write, that is:-)  Every time I get done with a story and tell myself I am going to take a break, my brain doesn’t listen, so I usually end up having an idea pop into my head just as I am about to turn off the lamp and go to sleep. I just have to jot it down before I can sleep.

(I think it may have something to do with all those Tic Tacs . . .)

Me:  Please describe your writing process at least up to the point before which your brain feels fried.

Jewel:  When I get a new idea for a story, I begin and just let it take me wherever. Sometimes I begin, and then skip to the end before coming back to the beginning. As long as I know where the story will start and how it will end, it’s easier to fill in the rest, especially with novellas and novelettes. I don’t really have a set amount of time I write. I just do it until I need to stop to do other things, like clean the house, cook, do laundry, and other things I try to avoid:-)

(I hear you. Laundry? What’s that?)

Me:  Finally, which writers inspire you the most?

Jewel:  Wow, there are so many, but some of my favorites are Dorothy Keddington, Phillipa Gregory, Carol Warburton, Marcia Lynn McClure, Richard Paul Evans, Melissa de la Cruz, and so many more.

(Carol, are your ears burning?)

If you’d like to learn more about Jewel and her writing, check her website or her blog.

Originally posted 2012-08-29 06:00:45.