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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Seventh Anniversary

The insane happiness of true love 
Today is our seventh wedding anniversary. If I were to write down everything that is wonderful about my husband, no one would ever believe it. It seems impossible that so many cherished qualities could reside in one person. Just take a look at this guest post he wrote about love on the occasion of Valentine's Day, 2014, and you may get some notion of how close he comes to perfection in human form. For the purposes of this blog, it's relevant that he's my biggest fan and proofreads everything I write, from epic novels to correspondence. I couldn't have kept up this blog, written two novels, and had them published without his unflagging support.

I wish I didn't have to report that the love of my life passed away at the end of July.

Forgive my writing if it's less than perfect these days.

I dedicated Awash in Talent to him, and he was very proud to have had a part in my little book. I also wrote a big thanks to him in the back of Seven Noble Knights, but I'm sorry to say I was saving that little gift for "later," so he never got to see it.

He was ill for a long time and we never knew. He always seemed like the picture of health and youthful vigor until that last nightmare week. Even then, covered head to toe in tubes and wires and restraints to keep him in the hospital bed, when doctors would ask how he felt, he responded, "I'm fine." Maybe he was sticking to social convention, but I prefer to think he was responding on the basis of the health of his soul. It was always unencumbered and beautiful. Never had a sick day in its life, even as his body gave out.

I wrote a blog post for each of our anniversaries. Some are all about how great our marriage was and some are more tangential. Some are long and detailed and others are short for lack of adequate words.

2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010

As I read these over, I'm struck by how little time was required for our love to become exponentially truer, bigger, and better. The love of your life is the love of your life, no matter how little time you get to spend with him. It's appropriate that time never seemed to touch my husband. He was always as fresh and new as the first bloom of springtime.

Believe me, I appreciate that not everyone gets even a chance at something as great as our marriage. I don't know if it's possible, but I hope the slight inconvenience of death won't stop our love from continuing to grow and improve the world. It is my greatest achievement that I love and am loved by such an extraordinary human being.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Kindle Unlimited Swap Meet with $100 Giveaway

I’m participating in a Kindle Unlimited Swap Meet this month with over 20 other authors. We're some the great picks of the Kindle Scout program, published by Kindle Press. ALL of our books are available to read for free through the Kindle Unlimited program. 

If you’re not already a KU member, you can sign up for a month-long free trial and read as many books as you want — for FREE!

One of the books is Forest of Demons by Debbie Cassidy.  

If you liked my paranormal urban fantasy novel, Awash in Talent, I think you’ll like Forest of Demons. It’s another great addition to the fantasy arena. Be sure to check it out and start reading today for free

And if you haven’t read Awash in Talent yet, you can also read it for free this month through Kindle Unlimited, or if you are part of the secret society of Kindle Fire owners, watch your device on September 15 for an exclusive 99-cent deal (70% off!).

And then check out ALL the books in the Swap Meet this month. Many of them are up to 70% off, and there is something for everyone, from fantasy, to mystery, to romance. Read them all!

While you’re there, be sure to enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card. You can enter by helping to spread the word about these great Kindle Unlimited books.

I hope you find a new book this month that you like! Let me know if you do — I’ll add it to my TBR list as well.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hoppin' Around the Blogosphere with Awash in Talent

Awash in Talent, the little novel that could, is celebrating a super secret Kindle Fire sale on September 15 with a week-long blog tour with some great author hosts.


Today, finally hear what Beth has to say when you meet her without her overpowering sister, Emily, in a character interview at A.J. Culey's blog!

On Tuesday, delve into the fraught world of people who can read minds at Cara McKinnon's blog with an excerpt!

Andi Adams finds out how this sweetly weird book came into being—the characters made me do it!—on Wednesday.

Thursday, J.L. Gribble asks me probing questions about trying to keep paranormal fiction in line and the universal nature of YA, complete with an excerpt at the archaeological dig site!

Jennifer Loring ends the madness on Friday with Emily's zany antics in a character interview. Can her author get her to sit still long enough to answer?

Extra unexpected bonus: scary good author Norman Prentiss features Awash in Talent in an author spotlight (you may have to scroll down to September 2016 if you're reading this in the future). This goes nicely with an intelligent and much-appreciated new review at Amazon.

Many thanks to these terrific authors for hosting me and the crazy, underdog-filled book I dedicated to the love of my life. Thanks for stopping by!

And you didn't hear this from me: If you have a Kindle Fire, don't tell anyone, but Awash in Talent will be available to you and you alone for 99 cents on Thursday, September 15. Look for it then!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mozarabic Art at Unusual Historicals

The author stands with her villainess
in Barbadillo del Mercado, Spain 
Today at Unusual Historicals, I get to rhapsodize about the unique art phenomenon of Mozarabic manuscript painting.

It's the art form my characters in Seven Noble Knights would have been most familiar with.

Yes, lots of bizarre, brightly colored pictures! Check it out!

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Interview with Versatile Author Andi Adams

Andi Adams writes, teaches, gets excited about performing random acts of kindness, invents words, and talks with strangers, as often as she can. She loves learning about the world, about others, and about herself, and uses that knowledge to write realistic fiction – everything from YA Fantasy to Women’s Lit. She has a passion for travel, for all things Harry Potter (of course!), and for her two dogs, who are also incidentally her biggest fans. The Girl in the Glass Box is Andi’s first novel. For a daily dose of crazy or to see pictures of her cute fur-babies, follow her on Twitter and on Instagram.

What are five things people may not know about you?
1.     I lived in Paris and went to the Sorbonne to study French Civilization and Phonetics.
2.     I have a Harry Potter tattoo on my ankle. (And I'm pretty sure I'd be sorted into Ravenclaw.)
3.     I sang in an all-girls a cappella group in college and still keep in touch with many of them. (SOP Shout Out!)
4.     I've competed in four Sprint Triathlons over the past five years and I hope to do another at the end of this month.
5.     I'm really crafty and love creative artsy stuff. Painting, party-planning, cooking – all of it. (My brother-in-law swears I should open a food truck that serves enchiladas and key lime pie, two of my specialties according to him.) I also paint canvas shoes for fun. I painted myself a pair of Harry Potter shoes and get stopped all the time about them. This penchant for creative pursuits lends itself well to my obsession with Pinterest (aka – the time vortex.)

Have you written any other books that are not published?
I have written a children's book series and am working on getting them published. And I've written a bunch of poetry, some of which has been published here and there.

What do you think about the ebook revolution?
Ebooks are awesome, especially for those who travel and need to have a bunch of books with them. I will always prefer reading a printed copy, but there are many instances when I've been grateful to have a number of books with me when I'm away from home. In addition, I feel like they've really liberated certain reading demographics. Many times people have felt embarrassed to read certain book genres or topics for one reason or another, but e-readers have eliminated that fear of judgment, which is really awesome.

What is your writing style?
I really love writing dialogue. Actually, I like it so much that I've given a lot of thought to writing screenplays. I mean, I love movies and I love dialogue. Sounds like something I should attempt, right? And I also really think it's important to incorporate female characters who are diverse, well-rounded, and dynamic. But never at the expense of men. Empowering women and treating them like, you know, humans, should not be done in an effort to bring down another group of people. Characters should be individuals. There are bad men and bad women, just as there are good men and good women. Generalizations and stereotypes don't belong in realistic fiction.

Do you write alone or in public?
It's really hard for me to stay focused when I'm home and family and friends are around. I hate having to excuse myself from what's going on to get work done (I have a little bit of FOMO, "fear of missing out," when it comes to that.) But usually, I like to take my work elsewhere, out of my apartment to limit my distractions. For instance, there's a conference room in my apartment building, so sometimes I'll go sit in there and work. Or I'll grab my computer and head to a coffee shop. For someone who works from home, it's almost like getting up and reporting in for work when I have to leave the comfort of home. That simple act of leaving makes my working time while I'm out more focused and uninterrupted. But of course, on rainy or lazy days, it's nice to work on my couch in my pjs.

Do you set goals for writing a certain number of words a week or do you only write when inspiration strikes?
Writing only when inspiration strikes is a recipe for never completing anything. Truth be told, I wish I was more diligent about keeping a daily writing goal, but for sure, I write more regularly than only when inspiration strikes. When I was in my MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction, I had a pretty stringent writing goal per month. It was incredibly difficult and stressful to keep, especially while teaching full-time and completing the rest of my coursework.

What do you think is the hardest part about writing?
I used to think, "Writing the first draft is the worst! This is definitely the hardest part," until I finished my first draft and had to begin revisions. Then I thought, "Ugh, revision is so difficult. Where do I even start!? Okay, so revision is definitely the hardest part." Haha. So I guess any part you're currently working on can be considered the "hardest part." But in truth, I think the most difficult aspect of writing is just getting your butt in the chair. Trying to not find excuses or moving writing to the bottom of the priority list is what's most tricky. Even if you're only writing 15 minutes a day, you need to make writing important enough that you carve out that time to write or else it just won't get done. If you're writing as a hobby and only pick it up when it's convenient or easy, then that's fine for you. But if you are looking to pursue writing as a career and actually turn out completed, published works, there is no time for excuses. Just get your butt in the chair and write.
What have you put most of your effort into regarding craft and writing?
            Attaining my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction was along road to hoe. As I mentioned, I completed my MFA over the span of two and a half years (the full duration of the program with no breaks), while I was working full-time as a teacher and I had a second job. The coursework, the deadlines, the stress – it was all pretty brutal. For as much as I loved the content and the material I was learning, everything was a great deal of effort and nothing was easy. In addition, most of our coursework was done online and, though I loved being able to complete my work from wherever I was living (London at one point, as a matter of fact), I certainly enjoy a classroom environment much more.
            Outside of finishing the MFA, I would say that I put a great deal of effort into reading, both works of fiction and craft books. I am always reading. Seeing how authors I admire construct their stories is such a great way to understand craft in practice. I wrote a guest blog post about craft books and there are a ton out there that are really wonderful. Sure, no one can tell you how to write in a step-by-step guide, but there is always something new to try and practice in order for you to develop your own style.

Does your book have a moral/lesson?
            Absolutely. A couple, actually. But I think the one that is most prominent and the one I want most people to take away from the book is that everyone has the power to create their own "happily ever after" and that happily ever after is a relative term. In any story, mine included, the villain strives to create her version of HEA through a particular course of action, which of course, many people would find reprehensible. But to her, it is what she wants/needs in order to be happy. Life is like that. Everyone believes themselves to be the hero of their own story and that their motivations for their actions are justifiable. It's all about perspective. There are two sides to every story and everyone is just trying to find their own happiness. If we take a minute to realize that, we may find ourselves to be a little more empathetic to others.

What is your favorite part of the book?
            Hmm… that's a hard one. I really like the first chapter. After I finished writing the first draft, I ended up deleting pretty much the first third (about 100 pages) of my manuscript and writing them over. It was painful to just pitch all of that hard work, but I am so glad I did because what I wrote in its place is so much better than it was before. It is a first chapter that (hopefully) really grabs a reader's attention and sets the story up as a Dark Fantasy. I like the action, the pacing, the twists. It turned out to be one of the sections of which I'm most proud.
            So that, and the part where Grog gives Genevieve his slippers. I just think it's so cute and such a turning point in their relationship. I have to be honest, I love all of my characters for different reasons, but Grog is my ultimate fav. He was so fun to write and I think some of his lines are laugh-out-loud funny. And his shift is incredibly meaningful.

What is your favorite book? 
Anyone who knows me can tell you I am obsessed with Harry Potter for oh-so-many reasons. I am beyond impressed with Rowling's ability to world build, write dynamic and well-rounded characters, and hide information in the text to be used later. She herself is a wizard (well, umm... witch) to have created such magic. I could only hope to influence even half the number of readers she has.
I also used to teach high school English for almost 10 years. And I can honestly say that I am a huge Shakespeare nerd. I also love Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Frankenstein. As far as genre fiction, my favorite book is Jurassic Park Michael Crichton. I'm not even a big sci-fi fan, but that book is just AMAZING. In that same vein, The Martian by Andy Weir was equally awesome. The voice in which that book is told is funny and witty and clever and just plain great. Oh man, we've opened a can of worms talking about favorite books – I'm pretty sure I could go on forever about this. 

The Girl in the Glass Box:
A witch. An apple. A mirror. That’s all most people think of when they recall the story of Snow White. But the truth is rarely so simple. What if the Queen wasn’t born evil and the princess wasn’t always so pure of heart? Is it possible that these two women could have ended up in one another’s place? 

The Girl in the Glass Box tells the story of Agrippine and Genevieve, two women who are not all that different, but who quickly learn through a series of choices, encounters, and devastating losses that the course of their fates can change in an instant. Through the influences of the people they love and lose, both are redefined as their stories head for a different sort of happily-ever-after.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Character Interview with Alex from Jennifer Loring's What's Left of Me

WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Jennifer Loring
The Firebird Trilogy, Book #2
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Release Date: July 26, 2016

Recovering from years of living the superstar hockey life wasn’t easy, but now Aleksandr Volynsky finally has everything… 

He’s married to the love of his life, expecting a daughter, and has a new job as an assistant coach with his old team, the Buffalo Gladiators. His happiness is short lived, however, when a sexual assault allegation surfaces, and Alex is forced to cooperate with an investigation for a crime he didn’t commit. 

Stephanie Hartwell is juggling her dream job with marriage and motherhood, but she’s not convinced she’s doing any of it well… 

Stephanie’s stress level goes from bad to worse when she’s diagnosed with a serious illness. Battling declining health and the critics who question her commitment to Alex in light of the allegation, she makes a decision that could change their relationship forever. 

Alex is afraid he’s about to lose everything—especially when he sees Stephanie’s friend kiss her… 

Devastated that his life is spiraling out of control again, Alex turns to his friend, Natasha, a Russian pop star. Convinced that Stephanie and her friend Brandon are having an affair, Alex resumes his self-destructive behavior. 

What Alex doesn’t know is Stephanie has been conducting a secret investigation of her own. She learns the truth behind the sexual assault—a truth no one, especially Alex, expects. 

With everything now out in the open, can Stephanie and Alex commit to a fresh start for the sake of their daughter, or will the ghosts of their pasts finally tear apart everything they have left? 


Author Jennifer Loring interviewing Aleksandr 
Interview with Aleksandr Volynsky –Model, Singer, Former Hockey Star

1. What’s your favorite color?
Really? That’s what you’re asking me? Khristos. For the record, it’s blue. Also for the record, I hate interviews.

2. Sorry. Can I ask you what your family is like?
My family is amazing. My wife, Stephanie, is the most incredible woman in the world for putting up with me. And my baby girl, Anya…she leaves me speechless every time I look at her. I still can’t believe I get to be her father. My parents live in Russia, so I don’t get to see them very often, but it’s because of everything they did for me that I was able to become the hockey player I was. So da, I have the greatest family in the world.

3. What do you most want in the world?
I already have it. My two girls. And I want Anya to have the best life I can possibly give her. The things her mother should’ve had growing up.

4. If you could change something about your past, what would it be?
It’s tempting to say I’d change what happened the night of my injury, which ended my career. But if that hadn’t happened, maybe I wouldn’t be where I am now. So the only things I’d really change are the times I’ve hurt Stephanie, although I guess those sort of led us to where we are now, too. In that case, maybe I wouldn’t change anything, no matter how hard it’s been.

5. What do you most admire about your wife?
She doesn’t realize how strong she is. She’s overcome so much, but she doesn’t always see it. I’m just so in love with her, every day is like I’m sixteen and seeing this beautiful American girl for the first time all over again.  

6. What drives you crazy about your wife?
I hope she doesn’t read this. She thinks she’s weak if she has to ask for help. She thinks she can and should be able to do everything herself. No one can, but she’s been doing it for so long, it’s a hard habit to break.

7. What do you most like about yourself?
I didn’t like myself for a long time, and neither did a lot of people. Now, I think the best thing about me is that I’m completely devoted to those I love, and I’ll do whatever it takes to protect them and provide for them.

8. What do you least like about yourself?
I don’t like having bipolar disorder. I’ve learned to accept it, although certain aspects have been hard for both Stephanie and me to deal with at times. I just have to keep telling myself it’s a part of me, but it doesn’t define me.   

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Jennifer Loring has been, among other things, a DJ, an insurance claims assistant, and an editor. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, webzines, and anthologies, including Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales from the Lake vol. 1 and Black Mirror Press’s Snowpocalypse. Longer work includes the novella Conduits (DarkFuse, 2014) and the novels Those of My Kind (Omnium Gatherum, 2015), Firebird, and What’s Left of Me (Limitless Publishing, 2015 and 2016). Jennifer’s novella No One on Earth (After Glows Publishing) will be released in late 2016. She lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, their turtle, and two basset hounds. 


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Awash in Talent Tour Continues

Today Awash in Talent is making a brand new stop on its media tour, this time with gracious host James Jackson.

Previous stops have been hugely fun and informative, with some of the kindest and best authors I've ever met. Find them here:

“Kindle Scout Success” with Kristin Gleeson

“What If The Abolitionist Had Telekinesis?” with Kim Rendfeld

“Author Spotlight” with Teresa Roman

“Jessica Knauss: She’s Awash in Talent” with Linda Sands

Author Interview with Rachelle Paige

“Jessica Knauss—Awash in Talent” with Katherine Hayton

“A Conversation with Jessica Knauss, author of Awash in Talent with Seymour Hamilton

“Jessica Knauss Interview” with Craig A. Hart

“Interview with Author Jessica Knauss” at Today’s Author

“Writers Reach: Jessica Knauss with Awash in Talent" at Musings of Orientation with Jennifer Skutelsky

Indie Spotlight with author Ricki Wilson

About the Kindle Scout campaign with The Crazy Mind

If history is more your thing, tomorrow I'm at Unusual Historicals telling what little I know about thirteenth-century Spanish astronomy. If it has to do with Alfonso X, you know I'm there!