A Far Traveler nominated for Global Ebook Award

A Far Traveler cover imageA retired professional engineer and one-time college math instructor, W. Blake Heitzman now writes science fiction and fantasy for the ebook market. His stories target young adult and adult readers. His first novel, A Far Traveler, has been nominated for a Global Ebook Award.

The Global Ebook Awards honor and bring attention to the future of book publishing: ebooks. Now in its second year, the Awards are in 72 specific categories. They are open to all publishers large and small so that a winner is the best in its category not just the best of small or regionally-published ebooks.

Ebooks can be read on everything from the desktop computer to the iPhone. Many devices, such as the Kindle and the Nook, are compact and have the capacity to store large volumes of reading material, making them perfect for travelers and people on the go. The convenience of electronic readers have led to their expanding popularity among readers of all ages.

On the publishing side, ebooks are less expensive to produce and deliver. The convergence of low costs and high demand attracts many writers to the ebook market, sometimes bypassing the traditional book process completely. Heitzman is one such author.

Science fiction and fantasy have surged into vogue. Along with them and just slightly this side of reality are alternative histories and paranormal investigations. One wonders if our palate will ever tire of it. While there is nothing new under the sun, A Far Traveler might just break the monotony. It’s the tale of an ancient shipwrecked alien who seeks the protection from psychic humans, and how modern-day searchers discover the truth about his fate.

A Far Traveler is available as an ebook for $3.00 at Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, and other on-line bookstores.  You can also access many of Blake’s free stories at his website: http://shamangene.com/BLOG/. He can be reached by email at: ringringBlake@hotmail.com

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A Far Traveler is currently available until mid-February on Smashwords for free using the coupon code ZE68Z. Reviews would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for visiting!

Interview: John Paul Davis

Joining me today is John Paul Davis, author of The Templar Agenda, an action-packed thriller, and also two non-fiction books, Robin Hood: The Unknown Templar and Pity for the Guy – a biography of Guy Fawkes.

 Pauline: Was being a writer something you always wanted to be? How did you get your start?

John Paul: When I was at school, I used to love writing stories. I’ve always had an extremely vivid imagination and never struggled to come up with ideas. Sadly, I never saw anything through back then, but I did enjoy English literature, particularly having to write a story based on some sort of theme – mine always seemed to be about pirates.

Growing up I never believed I would be a professional writer, though it had always been a dream. Throughout my childhood I often enjoyed reading books with an adventurous protagonist and found it easy to imagine their work as though I was watching a film. When I graduated from university I knew I wasn’t cut out for the corporate environment. I graduated at a time when it was becoming harder and harder to walk into a great job – now it’s almost impossible. For that reason, I decided I wanted to follow my dream. Early 2007 I began writing a novel based on an idea I’d had since the late ‘90s. It was awful, but the process had a huge effect on me. Also, as fate had it, during the research I came up with an original thesis on Robin Hood. I submitted it to 7 publishers and 1 came back straightaway with real enthusiasm. The book was contracted and I spent six months writing my first work of non-fiction.

Pauline: What books do you have available to-date?

John Paul: I have 3 books out at the moment: 2 are non-fiction and 1 fiction. The non-fiction are both histories: Robin Hood: The Unknown Templar (Peter Owen 2009) is my theory on Robin Hood; Pity for the Guy – a biography of Guy Fawkes (Peter Owen 2010) is the first ever full length biography of Guy Fawkes. I have also released my first thriller, The Templar Agenda, as an e-book.

Pauline:Your books seem to have a lot of historical content. Have you considered working in other genres?

John Paul: Although The Templar Agenda was definitely history related, for me the politics and banking themes were of equal importance. My degree was in Business Economics and Finance and I used to work for the British Ministry of Defence so neither aspect is totally alien to me. History is my first love, but I do plan to write other thrillers that take on a more political or financial theme. That said, the past is always important to a plot.

Pauline: For The Templar Agenda, how much research did you need to do for the historical aspects of the story?

 John Paul: A lot. Off and on it took 5 years to write, edit and proofread, and even when I was writing and editing I never really stopped reading. While some of the research was quite intense, some was just reading books on conspiracy theories and other non-fiction books. Also, I watched a lot of documentaries, both on TV and online, which were of great interest. I think, all in all, most of the research was for the more modern bits rather than the historical.

Pauline: You’re stuck on a deserted island with ONE thing to eat – day in and day out. What is it?

John Paul: I’m guessing sand.

Pauline: Okay, let me rephrase. What’s your favourite food?

John Paul: Unfortunately I’m something of a carnivore so anything that comes from a cow or a pig. I love almost any kind of steak. I guess if I were on a deserted island I could learn to spear fish. That’d work for me.

Pauline: What are you working on now?

John Paul: Until July, I’ll be concentrating on my next non-fiction book, an historical biography of King Henry III of England. King Henry was the longest reigning king of what was once the Kingdom of England, which comprised England, Ireland and parts of France (in later years the 60-year reign of George III surpassed him but his reign came after the fall of the French fiefs and unification of Great Britain). He was the king who first had the Magna Carta inflicted on him – his father John annulled the Runnymede Charter almost immediately and died in the subsequent war. His reign was also complicated by war with Wales, France and rebellion from his own barons. Away from the conflict, he was at the forefront of the construction or development of many great castles and gothic cathedrals, including Westminster Abbey.

As soon as Henry III is finished, I’ll be finishing off my second thriller.

Pauline: Do you write every day or on a set schedule, or just when the muse strikes you?

John Paul: I write pretty much every day. Every now and then I’ll have a day off, but even then I’m usually thinking about something random. I always keep notebooks on hand, just in case the muse does strike. To be fair to the lady she stays in pretty regular contact.

Pauline: For your fiction, do you plot everything out or are you a “pantser”?

John Paul: No, I plot everything; in fact I try to imagine the entire story in my head first. Obviously when you’re writing and in flow the story can take on a world of its own, but I always try to figure out where I’m going. Only then can I be sure I’m on track to meet my objective. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

Pauline: What’s the most unforgettable thing you’ve ever done or has happened to you?

John Paul: I can’t remember 🙂

Pauline: Do you have an agent and/or publisher or have you gone the self-published route?

John Paul: A little from column B and a little from column C. My non-fiction work has been published in the traditional way and the Henry III book is also contracted to come out with the same publisher: Peter Owen Publishers. The Templar Agenda I released as an e-book. I did submit the first three chapters to about 40 or so agents in the way the writers’ and artists’ yearbook suggests, but the responses were pretty standard. A couple of agents were kind enough to say that they liked it but didn’t know where to place it. Since its release it’s been in the top 20 e-books in the UK and in the top 5 thrillers, so, you tell me.

Pauline: Are your books available as print, e-books or both? As a reader, do you prefer e-books or paper?

John Paul: The non-fiction is available in print; The Templar Agenda for now is just on kindle. My publisher is targeting 2012 releases for The Unknown Templar and Pity for the Guy on e-book, which is great news. As a reader, I do like kindle a lot, and I really love the indie process. Indie writers are able to produce real writing. Most write for love, not money. There is no interference or contamination. No industry politics.

As a reader, I’m really starting to love e-books. It’s not only great to be able to download something and not have to wait for Royal Mail, but to have so much on something so little.

That said, I love holding a book and enjoy collecting them.

Pauline: Any advice for aspiring writers?

John Paul: Yes. No matter how good you are 2 things are certain: Rejection and criticism. Neither can be avoided, but neither should be feared. Anyone can write a book, but some people write because they think it’ll make them rich or famous. Do that, you’re 99% certain to fail – and even if you succeed you probably won’t enjoy it. Write because you feel a need to and keep going. Benjamin Franklin said it best: ‘energy and persistence conquer all things.’ It might take a while, but persevere and keep true to yourself and I think you can have a great life.

Pauline: What are your favourite things to do when you’re not writing?

John Paul: I love to read, particularly thrillers and histories. In similar vein I love watching films and documentaries. I love travelling; I think had I been alive five hundred years earlier I’d definitely have been off trying to discover the unknown. I love the past and thoroughly enjoy visiting castles and other places of interest. I have a very active imagination and I try to stimulate it: I’m very bad at just sitting around and doing nothing. I love being out and about; I’m very sporty and often work out. I also love watching sport, particularly football, rugby league, and American football.

Pauline: Where can we find out about you and your work?

John Paul: My website is www.theunknowntemplar.com
My author pages at Amazon UK and Amazon US.
My non-fiction publisher’s website is http://www.peterowen.com/
I am also on twitter, @unknown_templar

About John Paul Davis

In short, John Paul Davis is an author of thriller fiction and historical non-fiction. My debut work, Robin Hood: The Unknown Templar, has been the subject of national attention in the UK, including articles in The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Yorkshire Post and Nottingham Evening Post, mentions in USA Today and reviews in the Birmingham Post and the Medieval History Journal. The Telegraph article caused a stir when they claimed the book implied Robin Hood was a loan shark. According to the Independent, a Conservative MP, in a tax related speech, referred to Robin Hood as not being as generous as people think. The journalist suggested the MP was influenced by my book. (That one really made me giggle!)

My second work, Pity for the Guy, is the first full length biography of Guy Fawkes and was featured on The Alan Titchmarsh Show in November 2011.

My first novel, The Templar Agenda, has been ranked in the top 20 bestsellers on Amazon UK. It has also been #4 in UK thrillers and has so far spent over 3 weeks at #1 in religious fiction. It has also been #75 in religious fiction in the US.

As mentioned, I am currently working on my second novel, another thriller, and third work of non-fiction, a biography of King Henry III of England.

I have worked for the Ministry of Defence and I have a BSc in Business Economics & Finance from Loughborough University. I live in Warwickshire.

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John Paul, thank you very much for taking the time to join me today, and a huge thank you to everyone who visits!!

Interview: London Cole – Whisper Walker

Joining me today is London Cole, author of the young adult paranormal dystopian novella Whisper Walker. Set eighty years after WWIII, this story will draw you in from the very first page with action, adventure, and mystery.

“After turning seventeen, orphan Drake Adair discovers he can see ghosts when he falls into a pit of human remains while running for his life. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s stumbled onto his destiny.

Kelsie Blake, Drake’s roommate and closest friend since she fled her filicidal father, has secrets. Secrets she keeps even from Drake. Sneaking outside the Gates into the wild, she risks everything for a little excitement. Her lies now threaten everything she cares about most in her life.

Drake unearths a plot by an enemy Guild to tear apart life as he knows it. The very people closest to him may be pawns in the grisly scheme, leaving Kelsie and Drake with no one to turn to as they struggle to find answers before it’s too late.

Set eighty years after World War III, Kelsie and Drake pair up to protect the only life they know in a harsh and unforgiving world. They must each come to grips with his abilities, her secrets, and their mixed feelings for each other. Will they make it? Or will the very foundations of their lives be ripped from beneath them.”

Pauline: Was being a writer something you always wanted to do? How did you get your start?

London: Well, I’ve always been a big reader. As a kid, I would take any fiction book I could find and go climb a tree, reading the book while hanging upside down. I was more fascinated with the idea of the author’s and their lives than becoming one myself.

I first really got my start when I was in Jr High. I was homeschooled and forced to take this history class with a bunch of other homeschoolers (it sucked). In that class we were given the task of journaling a week in the life of whatever project we were given. Mine was the Lusitania and the day she was sunk. I had so much fun fabricating what it must’ve been like to go down with the ship and the teacher really thought I had something. But after that class, I didn’t think about writing again for a long time.

Pauline: Okay, I seriously won’t be able to pick up a book for a while without picturing a kid hanging in a tree!

What was the inspiration for Whisper Walker?

London: I had a random memory pop into my head where I remembered playing a game of “Assassins” with my friends at night in high school. We were playing at an old concrete fort leftover from WWI and I was getting chased by the assassin. I fell into a pit and couldn’t see, though I could feel debris all around me. I imagined that I was surrounded by bones, etc. So when that memory popped into my head, the very first scene of Whisper Walker was born, though it has gone through many changes since.

Pauline: Thank goodness for that pit! (Hope it didn’t hurt too much 🙂 )

Did you do any special research for the story?

London: I had never considered writing a YA Paranormal dystopian before. Once I decided to, I bought a bunch of books in the genre and genres similar. I wanted to know the feel they had. That was the main research I did.

Pauline: Now that’s my kind of research!

Is there a particular scene, or character, or other aspect of Whisper Walker that’s a particular favorite of yours?

London: I love Kelsie’s first fight scene. It’s probably my favorite part of the book.

Pauline: You’re stuck on a deserted island with ONE thing to eat – day in and day out. What is it?

London: Oh, crap. Toughie. I want to say grilled chicken, since it contains like everything you need to survive. But that’s boring. I’m going to go with fish and chips. Yes, I’m counting the package deal of them as one. 🙂

Pauline: LOL. Works for me…anything with “and chips” should be consider a package deal!

Do you write every day or on a set schedule, or just when the muse strikes you? Any writing quirks?

London: I write every single day. Even if it’s only a couple hundred words (though it’s normally a thousand or more). I find that the more consistently I write, the more my creative juices flow. The whole line of thinking “I write only when my muse strikes my fancy” is a load of bunk. If I waited till my muse showed up, I’d still be writing the first chapter. Sure, when the muse pops up, it’s great. When it doesn’t, who cares. I write anyway.

Pauline: Do you plot everything out or are you a “pantser”?

London: I started as a pantser. I thought outlining harshed on my creative flow. But then it came time to rewrite my first manuscript. Total nightmare – subplots everywhere, a through-line that was hard to follow, etc. Starting then I became more and more of an outliner. The more detailed of an outline I make beforehand, the less rewriting and revising I do later. It’s all around easier. I’m finding I have a hard time functioning without an outline now. It’s like that first day of college when you wake up without parents around. With no one to tell you to get up, you might not do a thing that day. My outline is like my boss. It tells me what I need to get done, and when I need to do it.

Pauline: What’s the most unforgettable thing you’ve ever done or has happened to you?

London: I’ve had so many of those situations that they all blend together. Probably the one that sticks out the most is when a couple of girls came up to me after my band played a gig and gave me a hug while crying their eyes out about an acoustic song I’d sang/written and told me how much it’d meant to them.

Pauline: Multi-talented – nice!

What books do you have available to-date?

London: Whisper Walker is it, right now. Though the sequel is coming along strong.

Pauline: Are your books available as print, ebooks or both? As a reader, do you prefer ebooks or paper?

London: The ebooks are available as of April 9, 2012 on Barnesandnoble.com and Amazon. The print version will be available within two weeks, though I don’t have an exact date for it yet.

As a reader I’ve gotten to the point (I never would have thought I would say this) that I prefer ebooks. I know, I know. I’m ashamed.

Pauline: I was an early convert to ebooks and never looked back! 🙂 Now I buy two or three times (at least) as many ebooks as I ever bought print books and only buy certain special books, autographed, in print.

What are you working on now?

London: The Whisper Walker sequel, and two other projects that I’m very excited about.

Pauline: Any advice for aspiring writers?

London: Sit down and write. Don’t wait for the mood. Don’t say you don’t have time. We all get the same 24 hours in a day. It’s how you use it that counts. I work fifty-sixty hours a week at my day job and still find time to be in a band and write books. So stop talking about doing it and just do it.

Pauline: Good advice for anything. 🙂

What are your favorite things to do when you’re not writing?

London: Write/play music, fish, mountain bike, rock climb, backpack, pretty much anything outdoorsy and non-redneck. Oh, and find new breweries.

Pauline: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

London: Um, I’m really hungry and it’s 3 am and I have to be up in three hours. Yeah, that about sums it up.

Pauline: From the sounds of it, you have to be up that late to get everything done!

Where can we find out about you and your work?

London: My website: http://www.londoncole.com
Follow me on Twitter: @londoncoleYA
My book is available at Amazon and will soon be available at Barnes & Noble and in print.

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Thanks so much for joining me here today, London,
and thank you all for stopping by to visit!



Interview: Sharon Hannaford – A Cat’s Chance in Hell

Sharon Hannaford

Sharon Hannaford is here today to talk about her new urban fantasy, A Cat’s Chance in Hell. The first book in the Hellcat series, it’s an action-packed adventure as Gabi fights to protect her city from the supernatural.

“Gabi has some extraordinary talents. Some might call them supernatural, but for her they’re just part of everyday life. What she knows about the supernatural would give most humans nightmares forever. Ridding the streets of bad-ass creatures of the night is Gabi’s other job. Taking up the mantle of her father’s legacy, she is a Hunter for the Malus Venatori. If she had a choice it would be her only job, but a girl has to make a living, right?”

Pauline: Was being a writer something you always wanted to do? How did you get your start?

Sharon: I had some great encouragement at school level to pursue writing in some form, as creative writing was a really strong subject for me and one I absolutely loved.  In junior school it was all I wanted to be, but I’m one of those odd literary types who is also good with figures and analytical stuff, so I decided in high school that I would pursue that strength as I felt it offered me better career prospects.

I saw myself being a high powered executive type, in a business suit and flying to meetings around the country.  I guess I really didn’t know myself very well in those days. 🙂  When I did get into that environment I realised I hated it, I couldn’t deal with being away from home, I hated meetings and the whole corporate environment in general.

Luckily for me, my husband and I found ourselves in a position to buy a business for the two of us to run.  We chose farming and we absolutely loved it, despite the huge challenges and hard work.  In farming though you get some down time in winter, and this was when the writing started knocking on my door again (I’m not much of one for sitting around twiddling my thumbs).

My husband encouraged me to do a correspondence course in writing for children, which was what I thought I would be good at.  My intention was to develop a “Famous Five” or “Nancy Drew” type series for the new generation.  In the end, the course lead me to writing a hand-guide to owning a pony in South Africa, as I had owned and ridden horses most of my life, and it came to my attention that nothing specific to South Africa had ever been published.  I failed to find a publisher, and about 3 years later I decided to self-publish the book in print.  It came out in 2009 and has only been mildly successful so far, but has given me valuable experience in the self-publishing field, and I’m glad it’s out there to help people if they need it.

The move to New Zealand, more spare time (due to no longer owning businesses or farming) and a re-kindled interest in the exciting developments in paranormal and supernatural fiction lead to me trying my hand at adult fiction for the first time.

Pauline: What was the inspiration for A Cat’s Chance in Hell?

Sharon: It probably sounds rather cliché, but it was dream (probably a result of reading too much Laurel K Hamilton or Kim Harrison).  I saw a section of the book as though watching a movie, and it stayed in my mind for weeks afterwards, finally forcing me to make up a plot to explain the scene and a back-story to explain the dialogue and it all snowballed from there.  The scene was the first meeting between Gabi and Julius.  After turning this over in my mind for ages (and noting the exponentially increasing public interest in Vampires and Werewolves) I finally decided to give adult writing a try.  It had taken 30 odd years to find the genre of adult fiction I was passionate enough to write about.

Pauline: I could do with a few dreams like that!

Did you do any special research for the story?

Sharon: Oh yes!  I spent nearly 3 months of my spare time (I was working part-time at that stage) researching dozens of things.  I sent many “thank-yous” into the universe for the invention of the internet I can assure you.  I researched demonology, medical terms, weapons (and the myths surrounding them), martial arts styles (there are far more than most of us ever dreamed of), names for Gabi and her sword, as well as history (I was a terrible history student at school) so that I could refer to wars and battles that Julius had been in, what was happening at the time of his birth, and his first years as a Vampire.  I have a file an inch thick of printed research material!

It seems like a strange juxtaposition, but I wanted to keep the ‘real’ stuff in the book absolutely real.  I think that by doing that I can draw the reader into my world; make them feel like this story could be happening right in their own City, under their own noses without being aware of it. You can check into anything about Gabi’s training or the weapons mentioned or the demons mentioned and the internet will validate it.

Pauline: I think you’ve done a wonderful job of giving enough history to add a richness to the story and blending it seamlessly into the story so it doesn’t slow the story down.

Is there a particular scene, or character, or other aspect of A Cat’s Chance in Hell that’s a particular favourite of yours?

Sharon: I love the scene in the van when Julius and Kyle are discussing Gabi – they kind of dance around each other a bit, and you get to see more of Kyle’s true character, not the one he shows to the world on a daily basis.  And, without saying it, they both know that she’d flay them alive if she found out what they’d discussed.

My favourite side character is Fergus, he’s a gem to write about, and I hope he makes more appearances in future books.

My favourite parts to write are the fight scenes – there is just something innately satisfying for me in writing fight scenes.  If I find myself in a slump or with a touch of writer’s block, a fight scene is my cure-all.

Pauline: Fight, fight, fight!! There are definitely some exciting scenes in A Cat’s Chance in Hell and I can see why that would get you fired up.

You’re stuck on a deserted island with ONE thing to eat – day in and day out. What is it?

Sharon: Oh NO – you’ve just made me shudder in horror!  That is one of my pet hates, eating the same thing day in and day out, I crave variety.  I guess it would have to be potatoes, at least you can cook them in a variety of ways…

Pauline: I love potatoes. I definitely think I could eat those every day – oh wait, I do eat them (almost) every day, just not by themselves!

Do you write every day or on a set schedule, or just when the muse strikes you? Any writing quirks?

Sharon: I am one of those sad, horribly organised people that other people like to throw things at, so now that I’m writing with some seriousness I have set days that I write, and I set myself weekly word count goals to achieve as well.

I can’t write when my son is home (I have a fire-cracker temper if I’m disturbed when I’m writing – just ask my husband) so I write during his school hours.  I prefer to write in utter quiet, even the birds chirping outside get on my nerves, though I can write with music playing, and will put headphones in if my husband is home so that I can write undisturbed.

Pauline: I guess we know where Gabi gets her temper!

Do you plot everything out or are you a “pantser”?

Sharon: I’m not sure what a “pantser” is, but as I don’t do much plotting I must be one. 🙂  I know the general direction of my story, I know what character developments I want to happen, and I usually have a few scenes that are set in my mind, but the rest happens as I write.  My characters often manage to surprise me by doing something stupid, or having something unplanned happen to them.  But when I look back, those unplanned bits often solve a problem or create an opening that I’d been mulling over, so I guess it’s just the subconscious at work.  I don’t even necessarily write a book in order, if a scene is calling to me, I’ll break away and write it, and then fit it in later (probably contributing to my editor’s grey hairs at the same time 🙂 ).

Pauline: Pantsers “fly by the seat of their pants” when they write and you’re it. I am in awe of writers who can sit down and write and the story just happens.

What’s the most unforgettable thing you’ve ever done or has happened to you?

Sharon: That would have to be moving from South Africa to New Zealand.  It is the most exciting, nerve-wracking, sad, difficult decision we’ve had to make.  We left friends, family, pets, financial security and our support-structure and moved half way around the world to get away from what we felt was an innately unsafe environment.  Seeing our son grow up in a safe, education-orientated, caring country has made it all worthwhile, but leaving South Africa was not an easy thing.

Pauline: I hated moving across town. The thought of moving to another city, let alone another country, leaves me shuddering. Kudos to you (and hubby) for having the guts make such a life-changing decision!

What books do you have available to-date?

Sharon: Owning a Pony: The South African Way (only available in South Africa) and A Cat’s Chance in Hell (Hellcat Series Book)

Pauline: Are your books available as print, e-books or both? As a reader, do you prefer e-books or paper?

Sharon: My pony book is only available in print, but I may look at converting it to e-book in the near future.

Cat’s Chance is currently only available as an e-book, but I am planning to have it available as a print book by the middle of the year.

As a reader I love both – as long as it has a good story on I’ll read it!  I do find that the e-books offer so much more choice right now, and that is always a great thing for any reader, but I still find myself browsing second-hand book stalls regularly.

Pauline: When I first started reading e-books, I also still shopped for new and used books regularly, but as more and more titles became available digitally, I found myself reading a chapter or so in print and then looking for the e-book version to finish it. Nowadays, e-books are all I read and I only buy print books that are autographed.

What are you working on now?

Sharon: I am working on Hellcat Book 2 (so far untitled, but playing with a few options)

I am also developing a series of toddler books, using rhyme and meter, and I’m looking at turning them into e-books as well.  I’ll be using a pen name for these though, to avoid confusion.

Pauline: Yay for book two. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Gabi next.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Sharon: Start saving money when you start writing.  Finish a project.  Spend saved money on professional editing for your finished project, and setting up an internet presence for yourself.  If you go the “indie” route be prepared to spend any leftover money on advertising.   Write about something you’re passionate about (and remember you can love passionately, and you can hate passionately).

Pauline: Great advice!

What are your favourite things to do when you’re not writing?

Sharon’s Tiger

: Annoying my 5 year old son like he annoys me, playing chasey-chasey around the house and hand-snakes with my overweight rescue cat, Tiger (who isn’t much like Razor, except that he occasionally growls at strangers and my husband), reading, Skyping family, having coffee with my husband or BFFs (just not at the same time), passing on bad joke e-mails and getting on my husband’s nerves.

Pauline’s Tiger



Pauline: We have a Tiger, too! He’s a 3 ½ year old black lab and collie mix. Paranormal being the theme today, here he is doing his best vampire impression.




Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

Sharon: Any film producers out there??? I think Hellcat would make one hell of a movie. 😉

Pauline: LOL!  Where can we find out about you and your work?

Sharon: The Kindle version of A Cat’s Chance in Hell is for sale on Amazon US and Amazon UK or view my Author Profile.
Connect with me on these sites:
Hellcat Series Blog
Facebook page

Manic Readers profile

Sharon Hannford’s biography:
Born and raised in South Africa I’ve been living in New Zealand since 2008 with my husband and young son. I have had many jobs over the years, but have finally been able to fulfil my life-long ambition of being an almost full-time writer (housewife, mother and cat servant are my other job titles). I am an avid reader as well as compulsive writer, and read traditional fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and anything similar. I am a passionate animal person, and my life is always filled with animals of all shapes and sizes. I have owned cats, dogs, mice, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, horses, miniature horses, pigs, cows and sheep. I have worked on farms and petting zoos and have handled everything from porcupines and warthogs, to ferrets and hedgehogs. I have hand-raised kittens, lambs and an eagle owl. If I ever give up writing I think I’ll study animal behaviour or open my own menagerie.

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 Thank you, Sharon, for joining me today, and many thanks to all our visitors!

Interview: Leah Spiegel – Foolish Games

Leah Spiegel is joining me today to talk about her book, Foolish Games. This YA romantic suspense novel is an exciting romp across country as Joie Hall gets drawn into love and danger while following a rock band on tour.


Pauline: Was being a writer something you always wanted to do? How did you get your start?

Leah: I accidentally stumbled upon writing when I was in middle school. Once I discovered the places writing could take me, I was hooked. I remember searching the house that summer for any paper I could find because I had more stories to write than we had paper in the house.

In the early years, I only wrote short stories, but as I grew older my English teachers really responded to my writing. At the time I was torn between drawing, acting, and other creative outlets, but I was by far a better artist than writer in high school.

Still I enjoyed writing very much, and by the time I graduated college I started to think larger in scale when it came to concepts and the length of my stories. It wasn’t until I moved down south about five years ago though that I was actually able to complete my first full length novel about shape shifters.

Pauline: What was the inspiration for Foolish Games?

Leah: I have so many ideas that inspired me to write Foolish Games. By that time I had been following the Dave Matthews Band around for ten years, so I knew everything I needed to know about the backdrop of my scenes and what concepts I wanted to tackle when I wrote it. The idea of three friends following a band around, sleeping in their Volkswagen Van at Walmarts, and basically driving from concert to concert was something I actually dreamt of doing, but couldn’t afford, so writing it was the next best thing for me.

Pauline: I’ve been dying to go on a road trip since finishing the book! Unfortunately, it was the middle of winter so we’re waiting for warmer weather.

Did you do any special research or use personal experience for the story?

Leah: Riley writes reviews for the Grimm Brothers Band in the story which is something I actually had the privilege to be selected to do as a contributing writer by a website linked to official Dave Matthews Band homepage. A site dedicated to posting anything newsworthy about the band.

Pauline: Is there a scene, or character, or other aspect of Foolish Games that’s a particular favourite of yours?

Leah: I have two scenes that I love the most: one involves a meadow and the other involves a stage. But I really love any scene that makes me laugh like the ones between Hawkins and Joie.

Pauline: You’re stuck on a deserted island with ONE thing to eat – day in and day out. What is it?

Leah: I’m not sure I can live off of fruit rollups, but it is a staple in my diet. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that because I’m pretty sure they’re for kids, but I try to eat somewhat healthy snacks which comes in handy when you’re sitting all day and writing!

Pauline: Wow, I haven’t had a fruit rollup in years. We used to buy them in the mega-boxes at the bulk store.

Do you write every day or on a set schedule, or just when the muse strikes you? Any writing quirks?

Leah: I am constantly writing especially when I set out to write a certain story. If anything I have a problem stopping myself from writing and have tried to set a schedule so I’d stop writing, but that only lasted for like a week. When I say that I sat down to write five years ago, I mean like every day. I’m a little obsessed. I guess a quirk would be asking your sister to hide your computer so you can get a break!

Pauline: My computer goes everywhere with me. It would take hiding it to keep me from it but I probably wouldn’t be pleasant to live with!

Do you plot everything out or are you a “pantser”?

Leah: I do a combination of both. I usually have a general idea of where I want a story to go in the first drafts and then let the characters take me through the journey I’ve outlined. Sometimes I find that if I plan too much when I finally write the scene it doesn’t meet the expectations I had in my mind. Sometimes the surprising scenes actually work out better because I didn’t ruminate over them. As for Foolish Games, I edited the story so many times and rewrote most of scenes that it came out very deliberately planned.

Pauline: What’s the most unforgettable thing you’ve ever done or has happened to you?

Leah: I have three. I got bullied my eighth grade year by my entire class and it really showed me what I was made of and how strong I am. The next would be falling in love in for the first time in high school because love is the thing that drives all the stories I write. The third would be, being blessed to have a family who so supportive of everything I do; they are everything to me.

Pauline: What books do you have available to-date?

Leah: Foolish Games, Night Crossers, and South Hills Sidekicks: Uninvited.

Pauline: Are your books available as print, ebooks or both? I was an early convert to ebooks. As a reader, do you prefer ebooks or paper?

Leah: My books are available in both and I love different things about each one. I love how easy it is to access an ebook, but I love the feel of paper in my hands.

Pauline: What are you working on now?

Leah: I’m working on the second book of the South Hills Sidekicks Series. I love the chemistry between Shane and Alley in the second book which rivals that of Hawkins and Joie in Foolish Games.

Pauline: Now that’s something to look forward to! South Hills Sidekicks: Uninvited was a delight to read and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Leah: Don’t let anyone get in the way of your dreams and just keep in mind this is your unique journey so it may not always resemble other authors.

Pauline: What are your favourite things to do when you’re not writing?

Leah: Hanging out with my family, listening to music, and shopping!

Pauline: Where can we find out about you and your work?

Leah: I’m on Twitter. @Leah_Spiegel and @leahspiegel
I have a website that I update with relevant articles about what’s new. www.leahspiegel.com
I just started a new blog that I love! www.leahandmeg.blogspot.com

Many thanks to Leah for taking the time to answer a few questions here today. Now I’m off to find a mega-box of fruit rollups! Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

Review: Orpheus by Dan DeWitt

OrpheusOrpheus by Dan DeWitt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Zombie lovers don’t miss out on this one. This book has lots of zombie action, but the main focus is on the characters. Their struggle to survive and reunite with their loved ones makes this a much more interesting read than your average zombie thriller.

Book Description
“Cameron Holt is fortunate enough to survive the initial outbreak that turns his New England island community into a hive of the undead. So is his son, Ethan. Now, the only thing keeping Holt going is the determination to rescue his son from the undead…or remove him permanently from their ranks. Unfortunately, zombies aren’t the only thing getting in his way.”

My review of Dan’s collection of short stories: Underneath: Short Tales of Horror and the Supernatural

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Review: Baby Teeth by Joshua Grover-David Patterson

Baby Teeth: A Blood Calling NoveletteBaby Teeth: A Blood Calling Novelette by Joshua Grover-David Patterson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love a good horror and this is a delightfully creepy and disturbing little tale. It’s definitely one of my all-time favourite horror short stories. At approximately 13,000 words, it’s a quick read. It’s written in an earthy style and some may find it disturbing so you might want to sample it first.

Book description:
“When a father discovers his newborn has been turned into a vampire, he’s forced to make a choice: Hide his child’s secret… or end his family line.”

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Review: Red Rain by Aubrey Hansen

Red RainRed Rain by Aubrey Hansen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book which is actually a novella at approximately 35,000 words. It is one of the most intriguing books I’ve read in a while. I had to set it aside for a couple of days because of my schedule and found I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Usually under circumstances like this I would keep reading a book in bits and pieces but with this one I wanted to save it until I could give it my full concentration.

In addition to an engaging storyline, there are a couple of interesting themes running through Red Rain. One is that the ultimate separation of church and state has occurred and any who refuse to renounce their religion are forced to live in internment camps. The other is that the internet is a global, cloud-based network and it’s illegal to have a device that is not connected to the cloud.

I would have liked to have seen this story be rounded out to full book length. There were a number of aspects that could have been explored more fully without adding fluff. The ending in particular seemed a little bit rushed, although perhaps I was just sorry to see it end. 😉

Not only are there print and ebook versions of Red Rain, but it is also available in audiobook format. The audiobook is available for free until the end of October 2011 from Aubrey’s website. Red Rain Audiobook. As of this posting, up to Chapter 9 is available (which is a little over halfway through the book) and a new chapter is released two to three times a week. The audiobook is narrated by Grace Pennington. Grace has a very pleasant voice and I’ve listened to the chapters available so far a couple of times even though I had already read the book.

Book description:
“When the government allows her to accompany her father to Mars, 17-year-old Philadelphia knows she must keep her head down or be sent back to Earth. But when a search for her deceased brother’s belongings leads her into a hallway that isn’t supposed to exist, Philadelphia is faced with a question she doesn’t want to answer – the choice between returning to Earth or destroying it.”

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Red Rain by Aubrey Hansen

Red Rain Audiobook

Red Rain is now available as an audiobook and Aubrey Hansen is releasing a new chapter on her website every few days. She is offering them free until October 31, 2011. Chapter 2 was released yesterday.


I confess, I’m impatient and bought the book (a novella). I’m about halfway done reading and really enjoying it! Look for a review in a few days.

Review: The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin

The Cold EquationsThe Cold Equations by Tom Godwin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an excellent collection of good old-fashioned science-fiction stories. Rarely have I come across a short story collection where I have enjoyed every story but this is one of them. They are mostly stories of survival and humanity’s triumph over adversity. I particularly enjoyed the first story (more of a novella) and the last story.

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