Monday, 29 April 2013

What Now? & Rhiannon Frater's Siege

Today is the penultimate post for this year's A to Z. I hope all those who have taken part have had a fun-packed month, though I'm sure that most of you will be exhausted and ready for a break. I know I was in 2011, but boy was it worth it. My blogging break has just come to an end, and I will be back to the day job on Wednesday. So the question for me is, what now?

As per usual I have a myriad of writing projects competing for my attention, and I really need to narrow down the focus to two or three. One of my main weaknesses as a writer is sabotaging the current project by starting on new ones. I shall be talking about this, and ways to beat it, in my Indie Life post 'Focus, Focus, Focus' on May 8th.

Here's what I will be doing over the next few months:

Finishing my YA dystopian novel.
Publishing my science fiction collection, Taking Time.
Publishing a six to nine part science fiction serial, starting in September.
Starting work on a post-apocalyptic novella.
Okay. So that's four and not two or three. But the post-apocalyptic novella can be one of those 'pick up and work on projects' for when I need a break. At least that's the plan.

What about you? As we approach summer, what are your plans?

Rhiannon Frater's Siege

Today I have the pleasure of helping to announce Rhiannon Frater's Siege, book three in her As the World Dies zombie trilogy. I only discovered Rhiannon recently, but I'm already hooked. Here's Rhiannon to tell us about the protagonist and much more: 

Q: What was your inspiration for Nerit’s character and do you know anyone with similar military background? 

I was inspired by three women I met at various points in my life. One was a young Israeli woman that inspired Nerit’s name, the other two were older Israeli women who were beautiful, intelligent, kind, and former Israeli snipers.  While speaking to one, she explained that women made better snipers than the men because they are better shots and she shrugged off her talent as if it was nothing really unusual.  She alluded to having taken lives, but didn’t seem particularly ruffled by this fact because she was doing her job. I marveled that someone so normal could have done something so extraordinary.

Nerit was born in a split second when I was writing the book and saw her standing on top of the old hunting store. I instantly understood the character and what she was all about.  I think she is such a popular and fascinating character because she is the person who does what no one else can do. She is the master of doing the monstrous and terrible, yet retains her dignity.  I love the fact that she’s 62, a woman, and yet a complete bad ass.

Q: Did you do any research on psychopathology to write about the after effects on your character’s psyche? 

A ton of research.  Both by reading and speaking to people who have gone through terrible calamities.  I was able to talk to survivors of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and it gave me enormous insight into the mind of someone going through a life-altering experience like a national disaster.

Also, I read up on historical events that adversely affected humanity and how we survived. I remember one article that really struck me was how humans survive through community. That was just a profound realization. Most of the time zombie fans are in love with the lone survivor, or the groups of people fighting and destroying each other, but the reality of our history is that in the end we survive because of community.

As for the personal struggles, I did a lot of research on battered women for Jenni.  The real challenge was Calhoun. Since Calhoun is schizophrenic, I had to understand how the illness affects his perceptions. I watched several videos where they depicted how someone who has schizophrenia and is unmedicated sees the world. It was extremely eye opening.

I’m a firm believer in creating realistic characters.

Q: You could have chosen any place in the world for your characters to hole up in during the end of days, yet you chose to keep your setting close to home. What were the perks & drawbacks to writing about a setting familiar to you, as opposed to choosing one you must research or create?

Actually, the characters are in a setting that is not familiar to me. I live in a big city.  I’ve not experienced the small town community that exists in the book. I observed how these small towns operate during my former job and was exposed to the reality of a small town. I remember marveling at how a city secretary knew the name of every person in her town and where they lived.  I was amazed.  During my travels, I absorbed the whole energy of these small towns and the people who lived in them and transferred that into Ashley Oaks.  It was a great experience.

I think the only book I have written so far where I didn’t have to do research on the location was PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES because it takes place mostly in Austin, Texas where I live.  That made writing a whole lot simpler!

Q: If you were stranded on a desert island (with electricity?) what 3 things could you not live without? 

My computer, my husband, my pets.

Q: What book would you absolutely have to have with you, and why? 

My novel THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE.  It is the one book I definitely wrote just because I wanted to read it.

Q: What 5 words would you use to describe yourself?

Texan, author, Goth, goofy, boring.

The Blurb

It’s the End of the World as We Know It 

But all is not lost.  A hundred or so survivors of the zombie plague have defended their new home—the fortified town of Ashley Oaks, Texas—against ravenous zombies and cruel bandits.  They have gathered supplies, established a civil government, and even found love among the ruins. 

An excellent tactician who has led the town’s defenders more than once, Katie has made peace with the loss of her beloved wife.  She is remarried and pregnant with her husband’s child.  Jenni, a zombie killer beyond compare, fled an abusive husband and formed a new, loving family with her stepson, his dog, and her new love.  Jenni’s still the first to volunteer for any dangerous mission—but now she has a reason to survive. 

A deadly supply run leads to the discovery of hundreds of survivors trapped in a failing shopping mall, their lives controlled by a power-hungry U.S. Senator and the military men and women who follow her.  News that there are civilians living in peace outside the mall is earth-shattering for all of them.

The final battle for the fort—and, in a way, for the soul of America—is about to begin.

About the Author
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the AS THE WORLD DIES zombie trilogy and the author of several other horror novels.  She was born and raised a Texan and presently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets).  She loves scary movies, sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dying her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes. 

You can find her online at:


Thank you, Rhiannon. I was particularly interested in your answer to the question focusing on setting, as I have a post-apocalyptic novella in the early planning stages. Setting is one of my biggest questions marks. Do I set it in a real town or not? In the UK or US? Your travels must have been an invaluable part of your research and inspiration, and I'm thrilled they worked so well for you.

Don't forget to call back on Wednesday, when this week's Speculative Fiction Writer is teen and young adult author, James Maxon. On Friday we have cover reveals from Donna Hosie and James Garcia Jr., and I'll be back on May 6th with How to Write and Take Part in a Successful Guest Post. Until then, Happy Writing.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Stacy Claflin - Speculative Fiction Writer

Before I introduce this week's featured Speculative Fiction Writer, I have to tell you about the awesome surprise I received this morning. As many of you know, I'm in the middle of a blogging break. For part of that break I've been abroad for a few days with my family. Unfortunately I was unable to check my emails while away and so missed one from Alex J. Cavanaugh telling me there was a surprise on his blog for me. I was honoured and touched to discover I was featured as one of his favourite bloggers. You can read the post here. Thank you, Alex. You rock!

Now on to to young adult fantasy writer Stacy Claflin, who graciously agreed to be interviewed for this week's Speculative Fiction Writer post.

Q:  Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you're not writing?

I live in the Pacific Northwest and I am busy running a home preschool and home educating my kids. When the weather is nice, we love being outdoors. The scenery around here is amazing - it's worth putting up with all of the rain!

Q:  You have published Deception and Betrayal, young adult fantasy novels from The Transformed series. Tell us a bit about them. 

Alexis is a brilliant girl who only believes in what can be proven by science…until strange things begin to happen to her that have no explanation. When she gets angry light bulbs start exploding and crows begin to follow her. That’s only the beginning. What she discovers will test not only her beliefs, but her strength, as she must stand up to one of the most powerful forces in the world.

As the story continues in Betrayal, Alexis learns more about her true identity and destiny. She must make some difficult decisions when her heart refuses to agree with the centuries-old destiny for her life. 

Q:  Would you share an excerpt with us? 

Here’s one when Alexis first discovers the crows : 

I was so startled by the sight of over a hundred crows flying in a massive circle directly above where I was sitting that I jumped off the bench.

They were all going around and around in a circle. As soon as one made eye contact with me, it began to caw. The rest followed suit and dozens of crows were orbiting around and around right over me, and all of them were shrieking at me.

I grabbed my purse and inched away from the bench without breathing. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them, and I noticed that as I inched along, the whole circle inched right along with me in the air above me. I stopped for a moment and finally took a breath.

As soon as I began to breathe again, every single creepy bird in the circling, cawing flock turned its eyes toward me. Each one was looking down at me while whirling above my head.

To make sure that I wasn’t losing my mind, I slowly walked about two feet. Each one kept its eyes fixed on me. They circled, cawing, and they stayed directly above me. Exactly as I moved, the circle moved.

I made a split second decision and ran to my car as fast as I could without looking up or back. Once I was safely locked in my car, I looked outside to see if they had followed me. I didn’t see them, so I inched myself forward so that I could see above the car without getting out. There they were, flying right above my car in their massive whirl.

Q:  You're getting ready to publish a book called Chasing Mercy next month. Tell us about it. 

It's unrelated to the Transformed series: 

The summer after graduation should have been the most exciting time of Mercy’s life. Instead, on the way to an exciting overseas trip, she barely survives an accident that kills the rest of her family. As soon as she’s released from the hospital, a creepy hooded figure with black skinny jeans begins to chase her.

At home, Mercy experiences other ghostly encounters. Kit, her neighbor who happens to run a paranormal blog, thinks that her brush with death has made her more sensitive to life on the other side. She discovers that the creepy hooded figure is holding her dad’s ghost captive so she enlists the help of Kit to rescue her dad from the ghost who’s chasing her. 

Q:  What are your plans for future books?
I'm writing the first draft of Forgotten, which is the next book in my series. I'm planning on five books in the series as well as a sequel to Chasing Mercy.  I have a lot of ideas for other books, including a couple of offshoot series from The Transformed. 

Q:  Now for the compulsory random question: What is the most unique award you've won?

In junior high, I won an award for having the school's "best dressed ears" because of my wild and crazy earring collection!

Thank you, Stacy. I must say I have great admiration for parents who choose to home school their children and especially for someone who is also making time to write. I shall be adding the Transformed series to my TBR pile. I'd also love to know who does your book covers  - they are stunning.

Today is my 400th post. Can you believe it? I shall be back on Monday 29th. In the mean time, happy writing to all.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Author Interview - Jessica Bell

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming contemporary fiction author and musician Jessica Bell to my blog. If you haven't read any of her books or listened to her music, you really should. My favourite album is Melody Hill: On the Other Side, which she recorded to accompany her book String Bridge.

Over to you, Jessica.

Q: What made you want to be a writer? 

I just realized one day that I couldn’t live without it. And figured, if I’m going to be writing all the time, I might as well try to get published.

Q: When and why did you begin writing?  

I started writing poetry first. I must have been about eleven, sitting on a rock by the sea in a little place in Greece called Monemvasia. I was so inspired by my surroundings that I needed a way to express it. Not long after, I started writing songs. My mother had decided to sell her twelve-string acoustic guitar to get a bit of extra cash. I saw it sitting by the front door. I think someone was coming over to take a look at it. I remember opening the case and thinking that it just looked so beautiful, and why would Mum want to get rid of it? I think she was in the music room at the time and I interrupted one of her recording sessions to ask about the guitar. When she told me she was selling it, I asked her whether I could have it. She said that I could if I learnt to play. From that day I had that guitar in my hands every single day until I moved to Greece in 2002. I taught myself how to play. The first song I ever wrote was played on one string and sung in a very high-pitched awful voice. I hope that cassette never gets dug up!

Q: How has your upbringing influenced your writing?  

Being the daughter of a semi-famous rock ‘n’ roll duo from Melbourne, Australia, I grew up surrounded by song. For a while it seemed logical to travel the musician’s path, especially when my first band, spAnk, hit it off in the Melbourne indie music scene back in the late 90s. Although I spent years writing and recording dozens of songs I decided I also had a love for the written word. So I guess music started everything off.

Q: What genre are you most comfortable writing?  

Contemporary fiction. Realistic. Not into fantasy or paranormal at all.

Q: What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? 

If I’m too influenced by other people’s ideas it will skew my own. So I only ever seek an opinion once I’m confident about the final result. And I will only ever change something, then, if the suggestion completely resonates with me. Of course, I always keep an open mind. Nothing is ever set in stone. But I find this a challenge because it’s so hard to keep things to myself when I’m excited about them. I just want to share it with everybody.

Q: Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? 

Absolutely. I usually take it as a sign that I’m burned out and give myself a break. It works.

Q: Can you share a little of your current work, Show & Tell in a Nutshell with us?  

Sure. Here is the first example from the book: 

~Scene 1~

amazing view


(feel) hot


(feel) tired 


Sandy stood at the foot of the Egyptian Pyramids. Though she was hot, tired and sore, she was awestruck by the amazing view and felt a sense of relief. Finally, she’d made it. 


Sweat ran between Sandy’s breasts and the soles of her feet burned from the two hour trek across the desert. Even though her shoulders ached from carrying her heavy rucksack, and her nose stung from the dry heat, it didn’t matter. She was standing right in front of something she’d been waiting to see her whole life. The Pyramids of Giza glistened through heat waves as if extracting all her pain. Sandy looked up, shielded her eyes from the sun, refused to break her stare. She stood, jaw agape, wondering how she’d kept away for so long.

Q: How did you come up with the title?

I wanted something that portrayed exactly what readers were going to get, so it was pretty straightforward from there. 

Q:Who designed the cover?


Q: Will you write others in this same genre?

Of course. This book is just the first of the “Writing in a Nutshell Series”. The next pocket guide is Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Perfectly Atrocious Adverbs, and Dull as Dishwater Clichés, into Gourmet Descriptions

Q: Do you have any advice for writers?

Learn the rules and then break them intelligently. 

Q: Finally, what do you do to unwind and relax?

You’ll always catch me reading when I go to bed. But I’m also a sucker for a great TV series. My favorites are Homeland, Grey’s Anatomy, Dexter and Fringe.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Non-Fiction / Writing Skills Reference
Rating – PG
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Jessica Bell on Facebook &  Twitter

Thank you, Jessica. It was a pleasure getting to know you better. I must admit I'm addicted to Grey's Anatomy myself.

I'm taking a blogging break between now and April 29th, so I can catch up with writing-related tasks. There is no Speculative Fiction Writer this week, but Stacy Claflin will be here on April 24th. I'll still be checking my emails, so if there is anything urgent please drop me a line. Happy writing.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Jadie Jones - Speculative Fiction Writer

If you are looking for my Indie Life post, please click here.

This week's Speculative Fiction Writer is Moonlit author, Jadie Jones. She's a star writer and awesome friend, and it was an honour to interview her for this week's post.


Q:  Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, and what do you do when you're not writing? 

Hi Ellie! Hello, everyone! My name is Jadie Jones, and I am Georgia born and raised. I left for a few years, sure I’d never come back, but that red clay called me home. I have to squeeze in time to write between being a mother of a very busy two year old, and two other jobs. I work as a trainer at a horse farm, and I handle online development for small businesses. I usually write between 8pm-12am.

Q:  On your blog you describe yourself as diving head first into the world of publishing. Now that you have a book coming out (congratulations!) would you say you’re learning to swim?

What a great question! The world of publishing still feels like an ocean, but I’m finding my rhythm. I might have even gained some sibilance of a compass, depending on the day. I felt a little blind going through the pre-release steps, but my publisher paired me with an amazing editor, who answered every question I had (and there were many.) Now I feel very prepared for the process with the sequel.

Q:  Your debut novel Moonlit comes out on April 16th. Tell us about it. 

I’m so excited and so nervous! It’s a strange feeling to watch a dream come true. Moonlit has been described as an intersection between The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Hunger Games. Farm girl Tanzy Hightower is a prisoner of grief over her father’s death, which she feels responsible for. She’s determined to hold the farm together in his absence. One night ride changes everything, and nearly costs Tanzy her life. She loses all of the blood in her body, and it’s replaced by something very… unique. An ancient darkness begins to manifest in Tanzy’s new life. In fact, the only thing more dangerous than Tanzy is who else knows exactly what she can do.

Q:  Would you like to share an excerpt with us? 

I would love to! In this excerpt, Tanzy is still in the hospital following a near-death experience. Her new friend, Vanessa, notices something very unusual:


“Somehow I don’t think that happened during your accident,” Vanessa says and reaches toward my sternum. I instinctively cover the necklace with my hand but she touches the skin just underneath. “Unless you got that before.”
“Got what?”
“That.” She traces three small interlocking circles that are scarred into my skin like a brand. The raised mark is still a fresh red.
“No. That wasn’t there before,” I answer in a strangled whisper. “What do you think it means? What’s happening to me?” The adrenaline coursing through my veins demands me to move, but my nerves flat-line and root me to the spot.
“I don’t know. I think it’s glowing.” Vanessa stares at the mark.
“Maybe it will go away.” I cover it with my hands.
“Maybe,” she agrees. But she sounds skeptical. “Can I see something?”
“Sure.” I drop my hands, expecting her to move closer, but she quickly crosses the room and flips the light switch.
“Oh, Tanzy. You are not going to believe this,” she gasps as soon as the light goes out.
“I can’t describe it. You’re going to have to see it for yourself.” Vanessa motions me over to the mirror. With a slow and careful hand, she lifts the bottom of the sheet that covers the glass.
 The scar looks like it’s glowing. Alive, even. The hot pink brand brightens and dims in time with my pulse. I trace it with my finger tip.
“It’s hot,” I say more to myself. Too hot. I can barely maintain steady contact with it. The overwhelming heat returns and begins to spread throughout my body. I dizzily take a step for the window.
“I’ve got to get this thing open,” I say, and search the frame for any kind of latch.
The instant the moonlight touches the scar it cools off. I let out a sigh of relief and rest my forehead against the cold window pane.
The sensation of someone watching drills a hole into my bare skin. I glimpse down at the courtyard below and lock eyes with Lucas. He stands like a statue in the center of the lawn. I stifle a gasp and press my hand against the glass.
What are you doing here? I thought you were all in my head.
“Tanzy! What if someone sees you?” Vanessa hisses from behind me.
I whirl to face her and back against the window so she can’t see past me. I don’t know whether or not he’s really there, and if she doesn’t see him and I do, I’m going to completely lose it.
“I forgot that I didn’t have a shirt on,” I mumble, covering myself with my hands. It takes every bit of self-control I have not to glance back out of the window.

Q: That is a stunning cover. Who did it and how involved were you in the creation process? 

I actually wasn’t involved at all – so I can take no credit for it! My editing team revealed the cover and title to me as a surprise. Steve Novak designed it. Isn’t he brilliant? The horses emerging from water is from a dream that Tanzy has, and that every image on the cover is derived from something in the story, which I absolutely love about it. I have a poster-size version in my office.

Q:  Moonlit is being published by WiDo Publishing. What would be the key piece of advice you would offer someone seeking a publisher? 

It is imperative you get someone else’s eyes on your work before you submit to an agent or publisher. As writers, we are too close to our work. Our minds fill in the gaps we may have left in the story. Find someone you trust who preferably enjoys reading the genre you’re writing, and beg them to tear your manuscript apart. I was very reluctant to do exactly this for a long time. I finally sent it to an old high school friend I hadn’t talked to in years. She’d been my editor for the school paper, and I knew she’d tell it to me straight. Boy, did she. But her feedback was invaluable, and actually changed the course of the story. Yes, it meant a COMPLETE rewrite, but the story was so much better for it.

Q: What are your writing plans post-Moonlit publication? 

My main objective is to complete revisions on the sequel and submit it to my publisher as quickly as possible. I don’t want a lot of lag time between Moonlit and book two because I don’t want to make readers wait. I also have signings and events scheduled for the summer, and I’m really excited to meet readers and other authors.

Q:  Now for the compulsory random question: do you have a favourite letter of the alphabet and, if so, why? 

Probably the letter “M,” because it’s what my friends and family call my daughter. And she’s one of my very favourite things in the world.

Moonlit Blurb

Eighteen-year-old Tanzy Hightower knows horses, has grown up with them on Wildwood Farm. She also knows not to venture beyond the trees that line the pasture. Things happen out there that can’t be explained. Or undone. Worse, no one but she and the horses can see what lurks in the shadows of the woods.

When a moonlit ride turns into a terrifying chase, Tanzy is left to question everything, from the freak accident that killed her father to the very blood in her veins. Broken and confused, she turns to Lucas, a scarred, beautiful stranger, and to Vanessa, a charming new friend who has everything Tanzy doesn’t.

But why do they seem to know more about her than she knows herself?

Book Links

Moonlit will be published by WiDo Publishing on April 16th, but you can purchase both the Kindle and paperback versions at a discounted rate from Amazon and Barnes and Noble this week. 

Author Links

Thank you, Jadie. I must admit I'm in awe of your time management. To be able to find the time to write with a young family and two jobs takes real discipline.

I will be back on Monday, when author and musician Jessica Bell will be joining me.

Indie Life: Passing Time One Month On

I've decided to join Indie Life, a monthly feature run by the awesome writers over at the Indelibles blog. If you're familiar with Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Group, you'll already have an idea of how this will run.

Every second Wednesday of the month those taking part will post something related to indie life, such the highs, lows, triumphs, struggles, and milestones of going it alone.

Today I'm going to talk about my first experience of indie publishing.

Passing Time One Month On

It's been just over four weeks since Passing Time: Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre was published on Kindle Select. It's been quite a journey, and full of many highs and lows. As I like making lists, I'm going to break down my experiences thus far into two groups - the good and the not-so good.

The Good
  • The joy of seeing my finished book on Amazon, after all the hours of work spent preparing it.
  • Affirmation that paying for a professional edit, format, and cover design was worth every penny.
  • Only having to worry about one sales format - Kindle.
  • Waking up on day two and finding my book at number seven in Amazon's Bestseller Horror Short Stories, alongside Stephen King. Then seeing it climb above the master of horror.
  • The amazing feeling when I received my first review and 5-star rating.
  • Signing into my author account and checking sales.
  • The amazing support and good wishes from my friends.
  • The willingness of my blogging and writing friends to promote Passing Time.
  • Spending two weeks on a blog tour, and reading all the positive comments my book received. 

The Not-So Good
  • Feeling totally out of my depth when it came to organising and maintaining a book tour, or using social media in general. I thought I had the time to do everything myself. I didn't.
  • Watching my book slide down the ratings, and seeing my sales diminish by the fourth week. If you're at number 112,000 in Amazon rankings, you're not likely to sell a lot.
  • Knowing offering it in more eBook formats than Kindle (such as Barnes and Noble and Smashwords) might have brought more sales.
  • Realising that whilst paying to promote some of my Facebook posts brought me new followers, it did not equal a rise in sales.
  • A confirmation of my belief that short story collections simply do not sell as well as novels, and that to make it as an indie writer you need volume.

So what now? And what, if anything, will I do differently next time around?

Passing Time is signed up to Kindle Select until early June. After that I can sell it elsewhere. I'm not yet sure whether I will take it off select or not. I am undecided. Though I have another short story collection coming out in July, I shall be focusing my attention on longer projects. I have a novella planned and a novel to finish. I will be looking at offering these both as an eBook AND in printed form.

I will definitely be using the services of a blog tour organiser. Other than writing the posts, I want to take away the worry and time needed to organise a tour. Instead of just two weeks of posts, I will go for a big release day and then a couple of guest posts a week over a longer period, hopefully sustaining interest.

So are you an indie writer? What was your first time like? What advice can you offer to first-timers like myself?

Monday, 8 April 2013

Laura Diamond's TSAVO PRIDE

Today I'm thrilled to be helping Laura Diamond announce the release of her spin-off short story, TSAVO PRIDE. How exciting is that?

Author Laura Diamond had such a blast sharing her PRIDE series with you that she’s decided to self-publish a spin-off short story. Set in 1890’s Kenya and based on the man-eating lions of Tsavo, this young adult paranormal short has a decidedly horroresque bent to it.

Here’s a teaser trailer on YouTube:

Rogue shapeshifters, Santamo and Legeny, believe they are kings blessed with the power to shift into lions. Using that strength, they brutally defend their land from the British building the Ugandan Railroad that threatens their way of life. On a particularly ruthless raid, Santamo meets his match—Naserian. He spares the girl’s life, a move that fractures his relationship with Legeny and blurs his visions of cleansing his territory of invaders.

While the pile of bones in Santamo and Legeny’s cave grows, so does Santamo’s attraction to Naserian. When she challenges him to give up his murderous ways, will Santamo stay on the path of death he believes is his duty, or will he choose Naserian, and love?

TSAVO PRIDE is NOW AVAILABLE via Amazon for $0.99! Amazon Prime members can borrow it for free. ;)

About Laura Diamond:

Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, and horror. Her Young Adult Paranormal Romance novelette, NEW PRIDE, and novel, SHIFTING PRIDE, debuted late 2012 from Etopia Press. A spin off short story based on the lions of Tsavo, TSAVO PRIDE, is now available. A short story, CITY OF LIGHTS AND STONE, is in the DAY OF DEMONS Anthology by Anachron Press and another short, BEGGING DEATH, is in the CARNAGE: AFTER THE END Anthology Volume One by Sirens Call Publications. Forthcoming novels include a young adult adventure, ZODIAC COLLECTOR, and young adult dystopians, ENDURE and EVOKE. When she's not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond--Lucid Dreamer and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion. She is also full-time staff member for her four cats and a Pembroke corgi named Katie.

Find Laura Diamond on the web:

Goodreads author page

Thank you, Laura. The cover and trailer are simply stunning - they make me want to reach right in and join the characters. I shall be downloading this one today.

Don't forget to call back on Wednesday, when I'll be interviewing this week's Speculative Fiction Writer, Jadie Jones. I'll also be taking part in this month's Indie Life, where I'll be talking about Passing Time One Month On.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Interview at Unicorn Bell

Just a quick post to say I'm being interviewed by the lovely Alicia Willette-Cook over at Unicorn Bell. For some reason I thought it was today but it was Thursday. Doh. We're talking about Hummus, desert islands, secrets skills, and Jolly Ranchers, among other things.

The photograph is of me at Durdle Door in Dorset, one of the more striking landscapes that forms part of the Jurassic Coast and World Heritage Site. Amazing to think a year ago it was shorts and t-shirts weather, and yesterday it snowed whilst I was walking home from work.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Catherine Stine - Speculative Fiction Writer

I'm thrilled to be interviewing teen and new adult writer Catherine Stine on my blog today. I don't often get the chance to interview writers, so this was a pleasure for me.

Q:  Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you're not writing? 

 I grew up in Philadelphia and live in New York City. I love Manhattan because there’s always a play, a reading or an exhibit to see. I teach creative writing and literature at the School of Visual Arts, at the Philadelphia Writers Conference and in my own private workshop.  

Q:  On your blog you describe yourself as a writer of anything that speculates on the future. What is it about the future that draws your interest? 

I’ve always been drawn to the new. I’m also an artist, and it seems that one role those in the creative arts play is to visualize, intuit and speculate on life going forward. One of my favourite things to read is the Science section of the New York Times. Bring it on! Medical breakthroughs, quirky inventions, hybrids, space travel, nanotech, and I’ll amuse myself with taking it to a “what if” level.

Q:  You have published Fireseed One, a young adult thriller. Tell us a bit about it. 

Sure, I’ll try something different and simply describe the characters: The year is 2089, and the location is a very changed earth. Varik, the brainy son of a drowned marine biologist must put his dreams of becoming a doctor on hold in order to save their ocean farms; Marisa is a beautiful but misguided terrorist who Varik tangles with; Audun is Varik’s trendy fashion-hound friend, who’s saddled with a terrifying responsibility; Nevada Pilgrim is a woodsy artist girl, in way over her head when she joins the ZWC, a murderous activist group; and then there’s the creepy Fireseed cult, who worship Varik’s dead father. They capture Varik when he ventures down to the Hotzone. The impetus for this story was the death of an old friend, murdered while snorkelling. I wanted to pay homage to her memory, and there’s a questionable drowning in Fireseed One that Varik works hard to avenge.

Q:  Would you share an excerpt with us? 

Here’s one for those who appreciate sparks between characters:

There’s an edge of danger to Marisa. I think I like the edge. It’s less boring than being with a good girl with mousy hair from Land D who reads all the right books and stays out of trouble. I only had that one other girlfriend. Even that felt nervy, although all we did was grope each other at the Stream flicks. What will happen next with Marisa?  I picture kissing her again, stroking her wild red hair that smells of violets and sweat, her pressing against me under the night sky. Not knowing how it will unfold, especially down in this untamed Hotzone, makes my breath come fast. She could’ve killed me, she could’ve run, she could’ve double-tricked me. But she’s done none of this, and now she’s helping me with her contacts. Audun was right—she was mesmerized by Bryan like those Lionfish disciples were. Conned by the clever rant.  It’s scary how even smart, rational people fall into traps. Our earlier argument seems far away. We’re both growing out of our old skin, like two desert lizards, and the feeling of connecting is amazing.

 Q:  You’re also a published illustrator, and Fireseed One contains your interior spots. How did you decide which scenes to illustrate? 

I choose ones that show drama or invention, and I rarely draw the characters, as I think readers like to imagine them in their own fashion. There are occasional exceptions to this.

Q:  You’re currently working with a cover designer for the sequel, Ruby’s Fire. Do you think the fact that you’re an illustrator helps with the design process? If so, how? 

Most definitely! I provide rough concept sketches, and function as the art director, a role that I’ve taken in actual jobs. I know the publishing world, and Photoshop. Jay is an amazing digital illustrator and we enjoy collaborating.

Q: Tell us a bit about Ruby’s Fire. When can we read it? 

Here are a few teaser lines to give you an idea. Lots of edgy terror and romance, and it launches in June!

If everything about you changes, what remains? 

Seventeen year-old Ruby, long-pledged to the much older Stiles from the Fireseed desert cult, escapes with only a change of clothes, a pouch of Oblivion Powder and her mute little brother, Thorn. Arriving at The Greening, a boarding school for orphaned teens, she can finally stop running. Or can she? The Greening is not what it seems. Students are rampaging out of control and as she cares for the secret Fireseed crop, she experiences frightening physical changes.

Q:  You teach creative writing. What is a piece of advice you give to your students? 

Slow down, don’t rush to publish. Craft a seamless plot and story. Chop the first ten pages off your manuscript, and then revise, revise, revise. After that, get a trusted beta reader to edit, and shampoo, rinse, repeat!

Q: You also offer manuscript evaluation and editing. How do you balance this and your teaching with your own writing projects? 

Who knows? I get a lot done in one day, and I’m a fast reader. I love all of my students, whether I’m editing for them, teaching them the nuts and bolts of plotting or the finer points of crafting lyrical prose.

Q:  Now for the compulsory random question: if you could go anywhere in the past, where would it be and why? 

I’m drawn to the “roaring twenties” when women were breaking out of their constrained roles and basically going wild with sex and fashion, and fighting to gain political power. And further back, I’m drawn to Europe during Chaucer’s time in the 1300s. This was also an era of great movement in society, with the merchant class gaining financially and becoming land barons. For instance, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath married five times, travelled extensively, and had her own thriving textile business. She is a funny, sexy and powerful character.

Fireseed One on Amazon
Catherine's Idea City blog

Thank you, Catherine. It was an honour getting to know you better. Chaucer brings back a flood of memories for me - I studied his Canterbury Tales for A level English Literature. I remember Wife of Bath vividly!

That is all for today. I will be back on Friday, when I'm being interviewed by the lovely Alicia Willette-Cook over at Unicorn Bell. Happy writing.

Monday, 1 April 2013

A to Z, Passing Time Offer, & Mark Knight's Blood Family

Today is April 1st, which means it's the first day of A to Z 2013. Thousands of bloggers around the world will be spending an entire month posting using the alphabet to inspire their post topics. I took part in 2011 and enjoyed every moment.

Sadly, I have made the decision not to take part this year. There are several reasons. I'm exhausted after my book launch and two-week blog tour. It's April 1st and I haven't written any A to Z posts. Finally, I need to start focusing on my next short story collection and my novel. Hopefully the organisers will have removed my name from the Linky, but if they haven't please accept my apologies.

Passing Time Offer

Up until this Friday (Midnight EST April 5th) you can get Passing Time for just $1.45 (98p). If you can, please share this on your blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc. I'd really appreciate it.

Now onto some awesome news.

Blood Family by Mark Knight

Blood Family by my good friend, Mark Knight, was published yesterday. If you want to read a vampire story with a difference, one that made Mark turn away from the Twilight-induced requirements of the big publishing houses, Blood Family is for you.

You may remember Mark was my Speculative Fiction Writer on March 13th. If you want to learn more about him and his book, you can find the post here

A vampire father, an imprisoned mother, and one perilous journey...

Lazy, goalless New England teenager Daniel Dark never intended his life to change so dramatically. It starts with the arrival of a mysterious package, and the revelation that his true father was a master vampire named Dominus.

As his own fearsome powers begin to emerge, he sets out to rescue his birth mother, still imprisoned in Dominus’ stronghold.

Strange clues take Daniel to the deep forests of southern Mexico and then to the mist-shrouded moors of England. Hot on his heels is his adoptive father – Pastor Nathan Dark, determined to find and kill he boy he had once called his son.
A new urban fantasy for Young Adult readers and beyond.

Available at and 

So, whose doing A to Z? Do you have a theme or are you winging it? If you're not doing A to Z, what are your plans for April?