Monday, July 14, 2014

Aerenden Series by Kristen Taber - Interview and Giveaway

Kristen Taber is joining us at the Pavilion today as part of her virtual book tour. Kristen will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC and 10 copies of The Gildonae Alliance (Aerenden #2) Audible Book. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Tell us a little about how you got started as an author and how you came up with the idea for this book?

I’ve been writing since I was a child, but I started writing novels around seven years ago and began publishing them in 2012 after repeated requests from friends. The Ærenden series (the third novel, The Zeiihbu Master, is my most recent release) developed from a joke that a friend and I shared in high school. We pretended we were twins from another world (an idea stemming from a short story assignment we never finished), though we both forgot about the joke after a few weeks. Many years later, the idea came back to me in a dream and I fostered it from there. The twins became one young woman, Meaghan, who discovers her true identity after she witnesses monsters murdering her parents. Although I’m sure my friend would find Ærenden unrecognizable to our twin story, it’s still the reason my fantasy books exist today.

Where do you get your ideas for characters? In particular, did you steal some characteristics from yourself or people you know for the main characters?

None of the Ærenden characters are inspired by real people, though I have borrowed characters from people in the past. One example that comes to mind is a detective from the second book of my unreleased Molly’s Tears romance series. When I lived in Florida, I served on jury duty for an attempted murder case. The case lasted a little over a week, so my fellow jury members and I got to know a lot about the bailiffs on duty in the court house. One of them, an older gentleman with a great sense of humor, became a particularly good friend of ours. He loosely influenced my detective character and I can’t help but think of him every time I read the book.

Which author/authors or particular books have inspired you?

There are four authors who come to mind when I think of my writing inspirations. Stephen King, of course, since I grew up not far from his house in Bangor. I’ve aspired to his brilliance from the moment I first picked up one of his books in third grade (though I know I’ll likely never reach that bar; few people could). JRR Tolkien is second. After reading The Lord of the Rings, I fell in love with fantasy and knew I wanted to invent worlds with the same rich detail and inventive creatures as Middle-earth. David and Leigh Eddings are my third and fourth inspirations. The Elenium series is still one of my favorite reads, and I credit it with drawing me onto the epic fantasy path I currently walk.

What were some of your favorite reads of the past year?

I’ve been on a nonfiction kick lately, so my list leans more toward books like The Rough Guide to the Titanic by Greg Ward than mainstream stories, though two novels have really stood out to me over the past year: The Room by Emma Donoghue and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Although I had some gripes about The Room, I found Ms. Donoghue’s story both haunting and brilliant. I don’t think many people could handle such a disturbing subject matter and pull it off as well as she did. Similarly disturbing, but for different reasons, The Book Thief is one of those rare novels that left me in complete awe when it was over. Mr. Zusak’s writing style can be described as nothing less than incredible. I would put The Book Thief as one of my top twenty reads of all time.

For the aspiring writers out there, can you tell us something about how you develop your plot?

I’m probably not the best example to follow when it comes to plotting. Although I start out with a general outline—I know where the book will end and what milestones I have to meet along the way—I tend to sit down and begin typing, trusting my characters to lead me as we take the journey together. Initially, I had outlined the entire Æerenden series as one book, but learned the hard way that my characters (and subconscious) would not tolerate the outline I’d worked so hard to construct. As I fought to keep the book on track, more characters and deeper plots surfaced, and I realized my outline belonged as a road map for a series instead of a limited plot. It’s not really the most advisable way to write if you don’t want to spend twice as long editing (following characters means significant time tightening a manuscript after the first draft is complete), but it works for me. I should add that I’m not completely willy-nilly about the whole process, though. Every plot and sub-plot in the series has a line item on a white board in my office, and I know how it all needs to be tied together. I do have some control over my characters, after all. Or at least, they’re letting me think so!

Tell us about your future? Next book?

I’m working the last two books in the Ærenden series and I want to release a book of short stories as a tie-in for the series. When that’s complete (or alongside it, if I can manage the time), I intend to launch my romance series, which focuses on the members of a popular rock band. Afterwards, who knows? Life has a way of presenting opportunities where I least expect them.

Book One: The Child Returns

Seventeen-year-old Meaghan has no idea her perfect life has been a lie — until she witnesses her parents’ brutal murders at the hands of red-eyed creatures.

After nearly sharing their fate, she escapes with her best friend, Nick, who tells her the creatures are called Mardróch. They come from another world, and so does she. Now that the Mardróch have found her, she must return to her homeland of Ærenden or face death.

Left with little choice, she follows Nick into a strange world both similar to Earth and drastically different. Vines have the ability to attack. Monkeys freeze their victims with a glare. Men create bombs from thin air. Even Meaghan’s newly discovered empath power turns into a danger she cannot control.

But control becomes the least of her worries once the Mardróch begin targeting her. When Nick confesses he knows the reason they want her, she learns the truth behind the kingdom's fifteen-year civil war — a long-buried secret that could cost Meaghan her life.


Book Two: The Gildonae Alliance

Several months after Meaghan’s return to Ærenden, the kingdom’s war has taken a turn for the worse. The Mardróch army hunts the new King and Queen, destroying villages in its wake. And Meaghan and Nick, training for battle in their remote section of wilderness, are far from safe. Danger hides in shadows and behind innocent faces. Allies become foes. Each day is a fight to survive. But in the end, only one threat matters. And it’s a threat they never see coming.


Book Three: The Zeiihbu Master

Separated and on opposite sides of the kingdom, Nick and Meaghan face different pursuits which could change the balance of power in Ærenden forever.

While Nick trains the villagers to be soldiers, Meaghan and a small rescue party venture into Zeiihbu to find Faillen's young son, before Garon can use the boy's power to destroy those still fighting against his rule.

Everyone knows Meaghan could be on a suicide mission, but when Nick stumbles upon a secret concealed in one of the southern villages, he realizes that Garon might not be Meaghan's greatest foe. The enemy most likely to kill her is someone who has also promised to keep her safe.

About the Author:
Kristen spent her childhood at the feet of an Irish storytelling grandfather, learning to blend fact with fiction and imagination with reality. She lived within the realm of the tales that captivated her, breathing life into characters and crafting stories even before she could read. Those stories have since turned into over a hundred poems, several short tales, and five manuscripts in both the Young Adult and Adult genres. Currently, Kristen is completing the five-part Ærenden series from her home office in the suburbs of Washington D.C.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

What is a "Writer's Voice?" by Ginger Marcinkowski, author of THE BUTTON LEGACY: EMILY'S INHERITANCE

What is a "Writer's Voice"?

It is amazing how many people I have run into lately that are talking about how they love to write! I was in Texas today, Houston to be exact and talked to someone who said his dream would be to quit working and just write. We talked back and forth about the kinds of writing he enjoyed, etc. He told me he was working on a historical fiction book set in Wyoming. It was about a family who was left motherless in the early 1800's.

I asked him if I might read a short bit of his piece so I might be able to "see" his "voice". He gave me the same puzzled look I had given one of instructors at Wilkes University the first time I heard the term.

The writers voice is the way you, the writer, uses dialogue, character development, punctuation, etc. Are your sentences short and choppy or long, dissertations of flowery language? Do you always seem to use slang? Unusual dialect?

Your voice is what makes you different from other writers! We can't all have the beautiful language skills of Shakespeare, in fact, most of us don't. But what I have found after reading my cohorts stories and poems over the past year and the wide variety of books and authors, each of them have a distinct writing style that tells me immediately as a reader, who wrote the story.

So the next time you pick up a favorite author, pay attention to the "voice" of the book. Is it certain words the author uses that make you know who wrote the book? Is it the visual aspects of the language? Is the way they write the reason you continue to go back to the same author when a new book comes out?

My friend is reading a series of books one after the other because he loves what he calls "the way the author writes". What he described to me was "the author's voice."

So go on out there and find yours! Thank you for joining me today!

The Marquesa's Necklace by P.J. MacLayne

Even with a late start, the parking spot I found near the library was one of those that let you load the meter for long-term parking, so I wouldn't need to run outside every two hours to feed it. A good way to start the day, especially if the dark clouds carried through with their threat. As I slid the laptop out of the passenger side seat, a stray sunbeam escaped the heavy cloud layer and lit up the front of the building.
I'm rather proud of our library. It's one of the Carnegie libraries, and although Oak Grove has shrunk, population-wise, the town has managed to keep the library going, and not turn it into a museum like some cities. The original building is an imposing four-story sandstone structure. The town has added on to the building, but managed to retain its character.
Even as a little girl, I felt awed by the steps leading to the main entrance. Most of my time was spent on the fourth floor, which housed the children's books. Now, I practically lived on the first and second floors, where the non-fiction books are shelved. Once in a while, a trip to the basement, where the old magazines and newspapers are kept was necessary. The space served as a bomb shelter back in the 1960's, but all that old food is gone now, and the space has been remodeled and made useful again.
I climbed the stone steps, smiling, counting them as I had habitually done all those years ago. As a teenager, the library became my second home. One, two, three … fifteen. There is now a wheelchair ramp in the back, but the steps are unchanged. It might be a good day to make a trip to the fourth floor for old times’ sake.

Excerpt from The Marquesa's Necklace

The setting for the book is one of those small towns in the Northeast that has seen better days, but is still struggling to stay alive and provide needed services to its aging population. It's made-up , of course, but having grown up in such a town, it was easy for me to create a world for Harmony and her friends to spend their time in. Even though I've moved away from the area, like so many others, I still enjoy my occasional visits back.

But even though the town may appear quiet on the surface, the people of Oak Grove have the same issues as bigger cities. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try to build yourself a bubble and ignore the rest of the world, the world comes to you. And that's what happens to Harmony.

I enjoyed writing Harmony's story, because she's fun to hang out with, and I hope you'll enjoy meeting her as well.

The Marquesa's Necklace is available at major ebook retailers and will soon be available in paperback as well.AmazonNook, Kobo iTunes,  Mobile Devices

I can be found on Facebook and on Twitter

THE BUTTON LEGACY: EMILY'S INHERITANCE/ Writing for the Senses by Ginger Marcinkowski

Think back to a place that was or is your favorite place in the world. Jot down three or four things that make you think of that place.

My favorite place is in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick for simple reasons. As a child it was the only place on earth I ever felt safe and really loved. So I used this setting in my latest release, The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance. I didn’t just describe how it looked; I described how it made me feel.

I visualized with words the falling of a tree, its death in the woods, how the dirt mushroomed up around it when it hit the ground, lifted then settled into the smell of sweet pine. I gave a picture of a Belgium horse tethered to the felled log, its nostrils flaring, the bit clanging in his mouth as he anxiously awaited the command to run. Back then; I felt the power of the hard work that went into foresting the logs from the woods. Now I hope to make you feel it as well. That’s part of the craft of writing. Taking ordinary parts of life and making the reader “feel” like they are part of it.

So how do we do that? We use the senses. We look for words that evoke feeling. Instead of saying, “It smelled outside,” we’d say “the air smelled like licorice, dark and sweet.” With taste, instead of saying “it was sour,” we’d say, “he closed his eyes as the liquid hit his tongue, his face puckering”. You get it!

We “show” not “tell”. Wow was that an eye opener! I think every writer still fights to make their work more “showing” than “telling”, but before I didn’t realize it was part of the many “secrets” to writing!

Spotlight on--"Always Proper, Suddenly Scandalous" by Christi Caldwell!!!

Thank you so much for joining me at Goddess Fish. My name is Christi Caldwell and I'm the bestselling author of Historical Romance novels and novellas set in the Regency era.

Tonight, I'm sharing an excerpt from my latest release in the Scandalous Seasons series, "Always Proper, Suddenly Scandalous"!

I'll be offering one free copy to one commenter!

Warm Regards,
Christi Caldwell

Geoffrey Winters, Viscount Redbrooke was not always the hard, unrelenting lord driven by propriety. After a tragic mistake, he resolved to honor his responsibility to the Redbrooke line and live a life, free of scandal. Knowing his duty is to wed a proper, respectable English miss, he selects Lady Beatrice Dennington, daughter of the Duke of Somerset, the perfect woman for him. Until he meets Miss Abigail Stone...

To distance herself from a personal scandal, Abigail Stone flees America to visit her uncle, the Duke of Somerset. Determined to never trust a man again, she is helplessly intrigued by the hard, too-proper Geoffrey. With his strict appreciation for decorum and order, he is nothing like the man' she's always dreamed of.

Abigail is everything Geoffrey does not need. She upends his carefully ordered world at every encounter. As they begin to care for one another, Abigail carefully guards the secret that resulted in her journey to England. 

Only, if Geoffrey learns the truth about Abigail, he must decide which he holds most dear--his place in Society or Abigail's place in his heart.

Author Biography
Christi Caldwell blames Judith McNaught's "Whitney, My Love," for luring her into the world of historical romance. While sitting in her graduate school apartment at the University of Connecticut, Christi decided to set aside her notes and try her hand at writing romance. She believes the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections and she rather enjoys tormenting them before crafting a well-deserved happily ever after! 

Christi makes her home in Southern Connecticut where she spends her time writing and being a full-time wife and mother!

And Now an Excerpt!!!

Geoffrey took a step toward a liveried servant bearing a tray full of champagne, when the tip of his black Hessian boot snagged upon the hem of a young lady’s skirt.

The tear of fabric ripping blended with the din of conversation around them.

The lady gasped, and pitched forward. Even as the glass of ratafia in her hand fell to the floor, her hip collided with the passing servant who teetered on his feet. The young man’s serving tray tilted precariously, and for an infinitesimal moment Geoffrey thought the servant had steadied his burden.
But the servant’s tray slipped from his fingers. Champagne flutes careened to the floor, and sprayed the bubbling liquid onto the gown of several matrons standing nearby who cried out in shock, and scurried off.

“Pardon me,” Geoffrey murmured to the servant, and then returned his attention to the woman he’d inadvertently sent reeling. A mere five or so inches smaller than his six foot frame, she stood tall like a Spartan princess. She smiled up at him. “Forgive me. Are you all…?”  His question died upon his lips. The unknown woman who’d unwittingly beckoned from across the ballroom mere moments ago, stood beside him. His eyes traveled the high planes of her cheekbones, the steel gray irises of her eyes, her full red lips.

…and then her slipper met the moisture upon the marble floor. Like one of the skaters at the Frost Fair on the River Thames, she slid forward, into the nearby pillar. “Ouch.”

Geoffrey’s arm shot out and he sought to steady her.

“Thank you,” she said. She shook out her sea foam green skirts and unlike the horror that wreathed the faces of the surrounding ladies, wry amusement fairly glittered in her gray-blue eyes. “I am not injured,” she assured him.

His eyes widened and with alacrity, released her.

She cocked her head to the side. “Are you injured?”

Her flat accent did not possess the clipped proper tones of a proper English lady. He blinked. “Injured?”

“You appear unwell , sir.”

By God…

“You are an American,” he blurted.

A mischievous smile played at the woman’s too full, red lips. “I am.” She looked around and then back to him. “Never tell me you’re scandalized by me being an American?”

He was scandalized by the wicked direction his thoughts had wandered that involved an American woman. Geoffrey shook his head. If his mother was outraged at the prospect of a Scott assuming the Redbrooke title, what would she say to an American lady having ensnared Geoffrey’s attention?

“Ahh, you do smile,” the young woman said.

Geoffrey frowned. “I beg your pardon?”

“Alas, it is gone,” she said with an exaggerated sigh.

Geoffrey suddenly noted the appalled stares of Polite Society’s most respectable peers, trained upon them. From across the room, his mother who stood alongside Lady Tisdale glared at him with blatant disapproval. It was the much needed reminder of past failings and inner weaknesses that had wrought much agony upon his family. By stand here engaging this…this…stranger, in the midst of Lord and Lady Hughes’s ballroom, he opened himself up to public censure. His intentions were marriage to Lady Beatrice, and any hint of untoward interest in another would not be countenanced by the Duke of Somerset or his daughter.

Geoffrey folded his arms across his chest. This American upstart might have a face and body to rival Helen of Troy, but possessed the uncouth manners one would expect of an American. “Miss,” he said from the corner of his mouth. “We’ve not been properly introduced; therefore, all manner of discourse between us is improper.”

Her lips twitched in what he suspected was mirth. “I would say toppling over the host’s servant and spraying his guests with champagne and glass is also improper, but you’ve done that, sir.”

Geoffrey felt heat climb up his neck, and resisted the urge to tug at his suddenly tight cravat, shamed by the accuracy of her charge. He did not create scandals. Not anymore. He was proper. And poised. 


She arched a brow.

Well, in this instance he’d created a small scandal. Still, he needn’t raise further eyebrows by talking to the vexing miss.

Even if he wanted to.

He needed to go. Immediately. Anywhere but within mere inches of the lady who smelled like lilacs and lavender and now champagne. “Again, forgive me for causing you distress.” He bowed deeply and beat a hasty retreat.

Geoffrey had made a fool of himself once over a young lady. He’d not be so foolish again.

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It is so much fun to spend time with readers as they get to know you! You'll learn a lot about me this week, but I wanted to share an answer to a question I often receive from people who know I love to write.

A couple of weeks ago, a woman asked me, "Where do your stories come from?"  That was a simple answer. They come from everywhere! I went on to explain by asking her to tell me a bit about her family.  She had a brother who was married to a woman who took him for every red cent he had, and then ran off with a man who owned a Barb-B-Que pit.

Right there, I jotted down the beginning of her comedic story.

Next, she told me that she went to a Catholic school where the head nun liked to dance while she was in the shower. Her mother went bald at 35 from using real "bleach" on her hair. (Yes, she was a blonde.) Her father drove a milk truck. Her sister loved to dress as a man.

Can't you just see a hysterical story? She even had to laugh when I pointed it all out! Story ideas are all around us. Your best bet in remembering them is to carry a small notebook with you wherever you go and write own things you observe or hear. Eavesdrop on conversations. What people say might be great dialogue for your next book!

How about this one?

Recently, I purchased a "Jawbone" to give me motivation to lose a bit of weight. The Jawbone is a calculator of sorts. It monitors, via an armband you wear on your upper arm, the amount of calories you burn in a day. At night you sign on to your Ipad, and log everything that goes into your mouth. You then plug the Jawbone into your computer and it syncs to calculate how many calories you ate and how many you burned!
When it quits screaming, you've done okay.

The next day, I got on a plane to Chicago from Norfolk. I would soon be speaking at a conference and was feeling full of energy. For those that know me, that's not always good. I arrive at my row on the plane to find a distinguished looking man, a bit older than I am, sitting next to me. He politely lets me into my seat. I take off my jacket and my Jawbone shows. I see him looking at it, but he says nothing. Curiosity finally wins him over and he asks, "What's that thing on your arm?"

I say, "A jail monitor."

"What did you do?"

"Murder." I say matter-of-factly.

He gets quiet and turns away. A few minutes later he looks at me and says, "You look like a nice enough person. It must have been a long time ago."

I read the hope in his eyes, but I can't resist.

"Yeah, it was. 'Bout two weeks now."

His eyes widen. "Why are you on this plane then?"

"Going to meet my parole officer in Chicago. She thinks I'm a flight risk."

He cranks his head sideways and gives me a good long look.

"But you're on a plane, doesn't that mean you are a flight risk?"

"Naw," I say. "The police put me on this plane. Actually, I was more of a driving risk. Got out of Colorado ten days ago in a golf cart. Made it clean to the Oklahoma border before someone stopped me."

"Why did they stop you?"

"I still had a mans set of clubs on the back end of the cart and there wasn't a golf course within two hundred miles."

By now, I'm barely able to contain my laughter, but the businessman is so intrigued I have to play it out.

"Yeah, even stopping for gas didn't raise anyone's suspicion," I said. "I told them I lived down the road and had forgotten my purse. Everyone helped me out."

"How did it end?"

"How do these things always end, Mr.,” I said straight-faced. "Speed trap."

He stares at me for the longest time, and then burst out laughing.

The rest of the flight was hysterical and gave me a great scene for my next cozy mystery! When he got off the plane, he walked right up to the woman greeting me and gave my "parole officer" a big hug!

And THAT's how scenes can be made! Keep looking at life. There's a story there!