Spooktacular Reads :)

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Happy Halloween everyone!

No tricks, just treats today. In the spirit of the season, I’m recommending a few books I’ve truly enjoyed over the years, featuring casts of characters that modern Halloween wouldn’t be the same without–vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches, warlocks, and more! Thrills & chills abound in these books, and should you choose to enjoy any of these sweet reads, you have the options of naughty…and naughtier. They’re wickedly good fun :) The only thing better than 1 deliciously decadent treat is several–so I’ve hauled up two of my favorite series for your paranormal reading pleasure on this sugar rush & costume-fueled holiday.

Option 1: Linda Lael Miller’s Vampire series~ My favorite paranormal romance series. Ever. These are the vampire romances I compare all others against–the gold standard. I’ve read both Anne Rice & Laurell K Hamiliton, and numerous other authors exploring romance with immortal nightwalkers…and Miss Miller’s take on eternal love among the creatures of the night is by far my favorite. These books are richly sensual, compelling, addictively good, with superb characterization, storyline,  pacing, and plot. Simply put–they are AMAZING.

Cover Art for Linda Lael Miller's Paranormal Romance Vampire Series

Cover Art for Linda Lael Miller's Vampire Series

Option Two: Angela Knight’s Mageverse Series~ Paranormal Erotic Romance–very heavy on erotica. These books are scorching hot! Suspension of disbelief is fairly important as the series combines Knights of the Round Table, vampires, werewolves, fey creatures, demons, alternate magical realms, and our own non-magic Earth in rather um–inventive–ways. However, while the plots and storylines may be a little far-fetched, the love scenes/sex scenes sizzle. These books are unabashedly erotic, undeniably stirring, and unashamedly inventive between the sheets, against the wall, in the shower…pretty much anywhere there’s a reasonably accommodating surface. There is a story, there is a plot, and there is character development…but 5 alarm sexual chemistry & its red hot release is the driving force & big draw of this series.

Cover Art for Angela Knight's Paranormal Erotic Romance Mageverse Series

Sampling of Angela Knight's Mageverse Series

I hope you have a fantastic Halloween! :)

And Though I’d Like to Stand by Him…

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I’ve had a spectacularly good time leading up to Halloween. I guest posted for Steph (aka: @fangswandsfairy) for her blog Fangs Wands & Fairy Dust while she had some well-deserved R&R, hammered out another couple thousand words on my latest work in progress, reached 600+ followers on Twitter, discovered Klout,  received a 5 star review of After Midnight on Smashwords, and was able to attend a costume ball at South Beach dance club in Houston in full SteamPunk Masquerade regalia.

Unfortunately, the latest work in progress is one extra life and a few 1,000 words short of where it was at the beginning of the week. Someone crushed the usb drive it was on under their wedge heel (and no, it wasn’t me–I prefer platforms). The backup file was 15,000 words behind, but I’ve been busily rewriting, and will continue to do so tomorrow during Halloween day. I’m trying to get the manuscript rough draft completed before NanoWriMo on Nov 1st, and the start of a new story.

In fact, the only thing that’s really getting me down is that this will be the first anniversary I’ve spent apart from my fiance.  A few years ago, we attended a Halloween costume competition together, had a blast, and decided to go from being friends to dating. Ever since, we’ve always managed to be together on Halloween. It’s an unconventional anniversary, to be sure…but it’s ours.

This year marks the 1st time in our relationship we won’t be able to spend at least some of the evening in each other’s arms. We went long distance at the start of the school year–He’s over 1,000 miles away, completing coursework for his second Masters…and I’m here, wishing desperately I could be by his side. It’s enough to that not even the glitter disaster following my little sister’s experiments with making her own fairy wings can truly restore shine to the day. No amount of pixie dust or candy is compensation for the absence of the one you love. In honor of the season, and my mood, I  give you Sally’s Song: sung by Amy Lee, with clips from the Halloween Classic: the Nightmare before Christmas.

On a lighter note, I’m planning to attend a fall festival complete with bungee runs, laser tag, dunking booths, and all the cakes, candies, and caramel apples I care to eat later today. I may have to spend Halloween & my anniversary apart from the man I love,  but I won’t spend all of it shut away in my writer’s cave, staring miserably at the word processor. Around 4-5pm, I’m going to try my best to have a good time, rock my costume, have a blast at the festival, and finish the night with Zombieland or Trick-r-Treat –two darkly humorous horror movies that truly capture both the fun & the fright of the season. I may even pass out some candy to the hordes of trick-or-treaters roaming in packs through suburbia :)

What are/were your plans for Halloween?

Interviewing SC Cunningham, Author of THE PENANCE LIST

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The final days leading up to Halloween call for a special treat—something naughty & delightfully wicked, something guaranteed to send shivers down your spine one minute & laughter the next. I’m thrilled to introduce S C Cunningham, an author whose skilled mix of fueled tension, dark humor and deliciously salacious sex scenes will always leave you wanting more. Shocking, enthralling, and endlessly entertaining, her style of sexy thrillers is compared to that of Martina Cole, Karen Rose and Jilly Cooper.

SC Cunningham, author of THE PENANCE LIST

SC Cunningham

Born in England, with Irish roots, the ex-model convent girl has worked in the celebrity driven worlds of music, fashion, media and sport, mixed with rock stars, royalty, footballers and maverick moguls, and safely crossed the path of a brutal serial attacker. Her diverse life and quick witted honesty afford her novels a level of authority and sincerity rare in fiction.

Her psychological thriller THE PENANCE LIST is available in print, ebook and audiobook, it has also been adapted to film Screenplay by award-winning writer Rick Friend. Her fans eagerly await the stand-alone sequels UNFINISHED BUSINESS, and FOR MY SINS which complete The David Trilogy, also written with film in mind.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Walk dogs near the sea, watch movies, read suspense/mystery, put the world to rights with close friends, cook BBQ, lie-in weekends with breakfast in bed, sunbathe on a white beach with a cocktail, book and lover within arm’s reach (sadly the last doesn’t happen often enough!)

What can you tell us about your book?

THE PENANCE LIST is a sultry, spine chilling, tale of obsession, lust and lies. A reminder to follow your gut and look over your shoulder – even at best friends. An entertaining romp, one minute covered in goose bumps, the next, laughing out loud.

THE PENANCE LIST, by SC Cunningham

THE PENANCE LIST

Powerful flashbacks guide us through David’s journey from angelic altar boy to disturbed and psychotic killer, grabbing our hearts on the way, shocking us and daring us to feel empathy for the boy, understanding for the man.

For David is a victim himself, his beauty and vulnerability a curse. He loses his virginity to an abusive Headmaster, his spurned heart to his bullying sister’s best friend and his adoring alcoholic mother to a car crash. Young David finally cracks. Finding solace in the science lab, he takes control of his life through the ‘god-like’ dissection of rats, mice and finally, those who harm him.

Moving to London, David grows into an Adonis-like lothario, inhabiting the capital’s colourful underbelly – a world of ex-SAS officers, high-class hookers, WAGs, Footballers and the fame hungry British press. He emerges as a sexual ‘tour de force’ indulging his carnal appetites, first with his sister Helen’s boyfriend Seb, a roguishly attractive fashion photographer and then with her best friend, Chelsea career girl Tara, whom he prises away from her lover, Franco, an aristocratic Italian football star. If he can’t have her, no one can.

As Tara and her racy girlfriends meet for girlie lunches and playful banter, they have no idea that they are being stalked by a sexual predator. Their glamorous world of irreverent fun is shattered as David wreaks his havoc – first moving into the apartment above Tara’s and then spying on her every move. David uses the wealth of his inheritance, the memory of his pained childhood, and his seductive good looks to trap and torture those who have harmed and betrayed him. As Tara’s world slowly crumbles, David manipulates, seduces, and takes her prisoner, for David seeks penance and wants revenge.

Congratulations on getting The Penance List adapted into a screenplay—how did that come about?

I worked for many years in the music to film industry, so I naturally write with film in mind. In the right hands, THE PENANCE LIST will make an awesome movie, a classy, action packed ‘Basic Instinct’ thriller. A few people the film industry read the book and said it was perfect for film, so two wonderful girlfriends invested development monies and award winning Rick Friend wrote the screenplay. He has done an amazing job. Next to find a talented production team.

I can’t wait to walk the red carpet with my investor girls, and high five.

Were you able to participate in the adaptation, and where do things stand on the creation of a movie?

When Rick started working on the script I said that I would leave him alone, he was to do whatever he wished with it. A writer cannot afford to be ‘prissy’ about their work when they hand it over to film. It is no longer their baby, leave it to the professionals. But, Rick and I talked endlessly on the phone for months whilst he worked on it. I loved it, my characters were coming to life, he saw them exactly as I did. He very sweetly bounced ideas off me and checked complicated ‘strands of spaghetti’ storylines. He managed to cut the 485 page novel down to a 100 page film direction, a tough call to edit and cut text whilst keeping storyline. He transformed my chunk of coal into a diamond, a talented guy.

The sequel UNFINISHED BUSINESS will now be adapted to script also.

Which character do you identify with the most from your story, and why?

I identify with all the characters. They are a mix of people I have met in life, friends, enemies, work colleagues, fans. I have been lucky enough to work in a few ‘sexy’ industries in my time, giving me the ‘fodder’ for great storylines and characters. I worked in modeling, football and rock n’roll, standing on the side-lines observing the ‘sex, drugs & rock n’roll’. I crossed the path of a brutal attacker and attended a convent boarding school, all of which helped build the books authentic characters and lifestyle. I want to be in the room, to see, feel, smell, taste every scene. Hence film Directors like my work.

If you were a character within The Penance List, what would be your role?

There are three beautiful female leads, but to be honest, although he is a male and a smaller part, I would love to be hysterical, excitable Anton de Menton, the gay stylist. He is wonderfully funny, the loyal, kind, brutally honest, mother hen of the gang, forever making cups of tea and fainting at the sight of blood, a real scene stealer. In life I get through difficult times with laughter. Anton brings giggles to scenes, which relaxes the audience, setting them up for bigger falls when the shocks return. He is my guilty pleasure.

Where do you get your inspiration?

From people, I love them. People-watching is another guilty pleasure of mine. My female leads are mixes of my naughtier girlfriends, the cattier models from my modelling days, wannabe WAGS and groupies from working in football and music, and fellow boarders at Convent school when I was 8yrs. The males, some of which are incredibly sexy, are from a few wonderful boyfriends, and work colleagues. David’s fictional character came from meeting a serial attacker, he put fear into the hearts of Londoners for years, escaping capture. I helped the police with their enquiries and gave a photo-fit, so learned a few MO details. Hence the fictional David character was born.

I started out by wanting to warn girls to take care, that people like David exist, that evil can walk into your life at any time, follow your gut and look over your shoulder. I also wanted to shine a light on child abuse and the misuse of religious power. I also wanted to get people to relax about the subject of sex, not be so hung up, frightened to talk about it. Hey, enjoy it, with the right person; it is funny, loving, exhilarating… a gift.

What kind of books do you like to read?

Suspense, Drama, Action, Murder Mystery, Romance.

When did you know you were a writer?

It is something I have always felt, but life got in the way. I’m a single mum, I worked and wrote at weekends and holidays for ten years. When my daughter left University, therefore didn’t need me anymore, I took a risk, sold up my home and spent two years finishing THE PENANCE LIST full time, I self-published, and recorded the audiobook (which was hard work, 11 hrs of voice over… phew!).

I am currently finishing two sequels and working on a Women’s gangster drama THE LA MANGA 6. When I started I didn’t realize that to be a writer you needed to wear a few hats; a marketer, a publicist, a blogger, a sales person. My dream is to find someone I trust to do all that for me and for me to just write, write, write.

What would be your ideal writer’s retreat?

Diane Keaton’s Beach House in the movie ‘Somethings Gotta Give’ with Jack Nicholson. My idea of heaven.

What’s something about you that not many people know?

As respite from the thrillers I co-write Children’s Picture Books with my artist daughter Scarlett Raven. (www.scarlettraven.com) We once helped save a 140lb Pyrenees Mountain Dog in Dallas, Texas, called Ginormous Joe. He touched our hearts, so we started to write books about him. A share of royalties goes to SPINRescue.org, a wonderful dog charity ( www.ginormousjoe.com)

I can’t cook, but love to eat. I know nothing about plants, but love to potter in the garden. I have a thing for: Pecking Duck, marshmallows and fires, margaritas and fajitas, storms and the sea.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received since writing, or the most valuable tip you’d care to pass on to other writers?

Get the outline story finished, good or bad, just get it done, it’s the biggest hurdle. Then edit, edit, edit, edit and edit again.

Sometimes, mysteriously, what the Publishers and Agents want is not the same as the reader. Write for your readers and yourself.

I fear the Film industry is the same; safe, samey, mediocre movies are being churned out, and audiences crave for fresh, barrier pushing, brave scripts.

Where can readers connect with you?

Through my website, www.sccunningham.com and www.thedavidtrilogy.com or twitter @sccunningham8

THE PENANCE LIST is available through Amazon (Print, Kindle & Audiobook)

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=+the+penance+list+by+S+C+Cunningham&x=14&y=19

Thank you Eryn, good questions, loved talking to you. :)

Thank you. It was a delight to have you here!

Something Wicked This Way Comes…

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Halloween season always seems to be an even mix of naughty & nice, tricks & treats…but this year takes the cake. I’m trying to put the finishing touches on an erotic romance before the end of the month, After Midnight has been formatted & had cover art designed for it’s paperback debut, someone bashed in my mom’s car window while we were watching The Musketeers at the movies, and S C Cunningham will be stopping by for an interview over her salacious & audacious thriller: The Penance List.

The final days of October will be jam-packed with thrills and chills leading up to Halloween, just in time for a grand kick off into November–aka: National Novel Writing Month. For the first time ever, I’ve decided to join in. Please wish me luck! NaNoWriMo is a 50,000 word minimum juggernaut that has been the downfall of far more seasoned writers than myself; reaching the goal is going to take an inordinate amount of dedication, inspiration, and quite possibly sleep deprivation.

However–that is then and this is now. And write right now, it’s time for me to finish the erotica, put the final touches on my Halloween costume & latest interview, and enjoy the wickedly infectious Holiday spirit infesting party-goers, trick-or-treaters, and horror aficionados alike as we prepare to send October off with a bang :)

Interviewing M.P. Hedley, Author of The Lost Story: The Scroll of Rememberance

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As fall ushers in the magic of the holiday season and watching leaves turn to gold, I can think of no better time to introduce  M P Hedley; author of  a newly released fantasy action/adventure novel The Lost Story: The Scroll of Remembrance.  In addition to writing tales of enchantment, he enjoys piecing together a living as an editor and local director for Westminster Theological Centre’s degree courses in the east of the UK, where he lives with his wife and two young children.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Well, I’m not too good at sticking to any one thing so I tend to circulate around a number of endeavours: I play and write music, I draw, I’ve dabbled in animation, anything to satisfy the creative urge. I love the simple pleasure of starting with a blank page and ending up with something that has its own life. Otherwise, I read a lot, watch a little too much TV, I love to get out into the countryside, and I try and spend as much time as I can with my family. It’s hectic, but fun!

What can you tell us about your book?

The Lost Story: The Scroll of Remembrance follows thirteen year-old Barnabas Brown as he finds the Forgotten World – a place you can only find if you remember to look for it – and is sent on a quest to recover the Great Story, which once inspired people to lives of adventure but has long since been lost. To do this, he must find the Scroll of Remembrance, which will tell him how to reach the Silver King, who had first told the story. And he must do it before the evil Dark Prince, aided by his servant the Druid, returns to rule the Forgotten World.

At its heart, it’s a story about the importance of adventure and friendship, as well as overcoming fear and doubt, and hopefully there’s a fair few giggles along the way! Although it’s written for older children and young adults, so far it’s been very well received by all ages – and in fact, I’ve probably had more adults come back to me asking eagerly for the second book!

It can be purchased from:

Amazon.com ($2.99) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005N4A4CM
Amazon.co.uk (£1.71) http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005N4A4CM
Smashwords ($2.99) http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/94094

Is it part of a larger series, or do you have other projects in the works?

The Scroll of Remembrance is the first part in The Lost Story series, which will take Barnabas through to the end of his Forgotten World adventures. It’s likely to be a five-part series in total, and I have ideas for related short stories, so I’ll be living in the Forgotten World for some time to come! I’m currently working on book 2, but I do also have other projects on the go – perhaps the one I’m most excited about at the moment is being a regular contributor to LitBits on the Alderway Publishing blog (writing stories in less than 500 words). That’s great fun!

Which character do you identify with the most from your story, and why?

I guess there’s a little bit of me in most of the characters, but there is a lot of me in Barnabas. Our backgrounds are different, but he shares my inadequate balance between loving adventures and being too anxious to undertake them – and he gets to do all the things I like to think I’d be brave enough do in his position! Hemlock and Winfell are both aspirational characters for me – they depict a lot of the characteristics I look up to and would love to emulate.

If you were able to go to the Forgotten World, what adventures or quest do you think you might have?

Now that’s a question! Adventures in the Forgotten World are given to draw out the purpose of the adventurer, so I’d really love Barnabas’ quest to tell a story that changes the world! But since that one’s been taken, I think I would be sent to discover insights and wisdom, which need to be returned to the town of Ramshackle. So long as I could spend at least one day in the River Man’s house, I’d be delighted!

Where do you get your inspiration?

It’s a well-worn cliché, but anywhere and everywhere. I’m a firm believer that anything can be exaggerated into a great story. The Forgotten World is made up from lots of small, real places that I’ve exaggerated into this whole world; the Scroll of Remembrance narrative was sparked into life by a random conversation with a friend while out hiking. But I can also read strong elements of day-to-day life, my faith, my past experience, and what’s happening in the world today, all influencing my writing.

What kind of books do you like to read?

Like a lot of writers, I’m excited by good writing before any specific genre, so I’ll give most things a go. I wouldn’t be a writer if I hadn’t read David Almond’s Skellig or J K Rowling, but then I wouldn’t be a reader if I hadn’t read The Wind in the Willows and Roald Dahl. The best book I’ve read in many years is The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and for my money, Philip Roth is probably the best writer alive today. But then, perhaps it’s the authors I return to that really count, and right now, that would be Arthur Conan Doyle and Henning Mankell – both crime writers, and both master storytellers. And that’s really what I hunger for … absorbing storytelling.

What’s something about you that not many people know?

Ah, asking for my secrets, huh?! Well, something trivial would be that I have a scar on my left shin from when I tried to hurdle a bench when I was 17 to impress a girl (it didn’t work). Perhaps something more purposeful, that only my friends know, is that I think best out loud and can regularly be found walking through fields near my home, reciting material for books or talks I’m working on!

When did you know you were a writer?

When I was a kid I would make books by folding sheets of paper and I’d fill them with stories I’d made up about my favourite TV characters. I even illustrated them! But as I grew up I got more into writing music and stories fell by the wayside – it was only when I was at university and I took a ‘writing for children’ module that I rediscovered my love for creating characters and crafting narrative. That was ten years ago, and I’ve become more committed to it every day since then, so that it’s now an inseparable part of my identity.

What would be your ideal writer’s retreat?

I’m very fortunate in that I already have access to my ideal retreat, which is a small cottage on the banks of a river in the Norfolk Broads region of the UK. I go there a few times a year, usually for a day, sometimes longer, to escape all other distractions and write. There’s no internet, no TV, no radio, just the sound of the river flowing by, the inspiring scenery, my pen and me. Bliss.

What advice would you give for writers just starting out?

The most important thing I’ve learned so far is the value of giving myself permission to write rubbish – indeed, sometimes, I intentionally write rubbish! The freedom this gives me as a writer in priceless. It helps me overcome the fear and sting of writer’s block, helps me let go of the burden of always writing bestseller material, arms me against the inner demons that insist I’m not good enough. And, just occasionally, it inadvertently unlocks something hidden away and sparks my writing into life. The most fun I’ve had as a writer has almost always come from sitting in front of a blank page with no ideas or inspiration and starting: ‘Well, I’ve got nothing to say today, but …’ Try it – it’s liberating!

Where can readers connect with you?

Isn’t it fantastic that the advances in social media mean that the dividing line between readers and writers is now so blurred! I’m on Twitter (@freddyhedley)I occasionally post to my blog (mphedley.blogspot.com), as well as the Alderway Publishing blog (alderwaypublishing.blogspot.com), and I’m newly on GoodReads (goodreads.com/mphedley). Find me – I’d love to connect!

Interviewing Elise Marion: Author of The Third Son

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Please welcome Elise Marion, a fellow historical romance author, movie hound, and Food Network fan. Marion is also an army wife, and mother of two who miraculously still finds time to write. Her debut novel The Third Son is a captivating, heart-warming tale that’s been receiving rave reviews on Amazon.

Please tell us about your book, and where it can be found: The Third Son is a historical romance about a young prince named Damien. The youngest of three brothers, he is not taken very seriously. His older two brothers (one of which will inherit the throne) both have had their lives planned out for them. But Damien is pretty much left up to his own devices and spends his time however he pleases. When it becomes clear that someone is out to kill members of the royal family, one person at a time, Damien is faced with the prospect of becoming king. If he does so, he may have to give up the woman he loves. In the end it all boils down to the choice between duty and love, responsibility and following one’s heart.

A Video Trailer for Elise Marion’s The Third Son

The Third Son can be found at:

Do you have plans for another story? I am currently working on two projects at the moment. The first is the sequel to The Third Son, called The Second Son, due to be released January 2012. I am very excited about this project because originally The Third Son was only supposed to be a single title. As I started writing, the character development of some of my secondary characters practically begged me to make this a series. There will be four books in all. My other project is a short novella called Fallen. It is about an angel who’s job it is to perform miracles. It is a love story between him and the woman he is assigned to. This project I hope to have available in November.

What inspires you to write, and when did you start? I started writing when I was only about 12 years old. I had always been an avid reader, the kind of kid who would rather read than watch TV. I sat at the little desk in my room with a stack of notebook paper and a pencil and wrote a short novel called Tiffany’s Dream about a girl who wanted to be an Olympic ice skater. I can remember my dad giving me a stopwatch, and I would time myself to see how long I could write without stopping. I’ve been writing ever since. I started writing poetry in high school and started toying with the idea of writing romance because it has always been my favorite genre. I am not simply inspired to write; I write because I have to. It is such a part of who I am.

What part of writing The Third Son did you find the most challenging? Well, I knew from the beginning the direction of the story. There were certain plot points that I knew for certain I wanted to include. The hard part was weaving those plot points together in a way that created a gripping story. To me, writing is like choreography. You have the dancers, the costumes, the music; It’s up to you to create something that flows and tells a story. Something else that was hard for me was finding the time to write. I am an army wife and mother of two. My husband is gone a lot and deployed every other year. I try to write daily but it isn’t always easy.

What do you enjoy most about writing? I love writing for the same reason I love reading: the escape into other worlds. I love the idea of removing yourself to another time and place through the written word.

What do you like to read? I mostly like to read historical romance, though I do like a little contemporary and paranormal as well. But to me there is something about the men of historical romance that is so very appealing; I truly enjoy reading and writing about them.

Which character in your book do you identify with the most, and why? I identify with my heroine, Esmeralda the most. She’s a strong woman, one who has been through a lot yet finds the strength to open her heart to love. She is also the kind of person that people get the wrong impression about. People see her for her beauty and take it at face value without getting to know what really lies underneath.

When not reading or writing what do you like to do for fun? I love to cook, so I watch a lot of Food Network and experiment with new recipes. I also love movies. I have an extensive collection, and am always excited about the next big film coming out. I have been singing since I was a child and sing in my church choir every week.

When did you know you were a writer? Probably around the time I was 12. As I said before, that year I wrote my first book and have been writing every since.What was the first romance book that you can remember reading? I don’t remember which exact title but I can remember that it was a Danielle Steele book. She was the first romance writer I fell in love with.

What would be your ideal writer’s retreat? Somewhere quiet near the ocean where I can be alone with my characters. I have to write when I can, between feeding, washing, cleaning, and all those other housewife-ly duties I’m buried under. It’s often hard to concentrate with a four year old running around and a four month old crying. It would be so nice to be in a place where I can hear the waves and smell the salty air and just completely dive into whatever project I’m working on. Hey, a girl can dream right?

What’s something not many people know about you? Most people that know me have no idea how emotional I am. I tend to put my best face forward and present this sort of witty, composed woman. Underneath all that I’m really just a big sap. I cry every time I watch Titanic even though I’ve seen it one million times and know what’s going to happen. I guess that’s part of what makes me who I am and I think it enhances me as a writer as well.

Where can readers connect with you? www.facebook.com/elisemarion86

Thank you Elise :)

Exciting Times Ahead

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Hello everyone, and welcome to the weekend :) As some of you know, I’ve hosted author interviews off and on here at  The Lockhart Letters; most recently for Rachel Hanson, but also for Sarah Williams and Keith Weaver. In the process I discovered I’m addicted. I truly love getting to know the people behind the stories, and I’m fascinated by having a deeper understanding of fellow writers–what motivates us, what we do for fun, how we got started, and so much more.  As a result, I’ve decided to make author interviews a more regular occurrence on the blog.

There’s a full line up authors who will be stopping by; each one will get about 4 days at the top of the Letters before moving on to the next writer, so make sure you check back often to see the latest guest! All genres are welcome, and quite a few are already going to be represented in the coming weeks: historical romance, young adult fantasy, salacious crime thrillers, humorist, young adult, mystery, and more. First up in the hot seat will be Elise Marion, a debut independent author who just released her first novel, a historical Romance entitled  The Third Son. It looks like an interesting read, and has been very well received by readers on Amazon.

In addition to author interviews, I’ll be adding more media to the site in the form of book trailers (which will also be incorporated into existing pages), new story information, and beefing up the FAQ section with disclosure info–mostly the following:

I am not compensated for interviewing authors or reviewing books. Both activities are on a volunteer basis; neither the authors nor any of their representatives pay me to do so. I may receive free review copies of works from those interested in having me review their book, but I am not on their payroll.  Interviewing authors does not equal my personal endorsement for individual writers or their work; it is merely an opportunity for me to share my love of learning more about the people behind the books with fellow readers.

There are lots of wonderful things heading your way, so be sure to stop back often!

Interviewing Rachel Hanson: Author of The Life and Times of Rebecca Walker

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I’m pleased to indroduce Rachel Hanson, a delightful fellow indie author and feminist who firmly believes in accepting yourself and your body as you are, and who specializes in character driven stories that will touch your heart. She also has a penchant for the finer things in life; specifically, nice clothing–and popcorn, lots of popcorn.

1.  What can you tell us about your debut book, and where can readers find it? My first book is a novelette entitled “The Life and Times of Rebecca Walker.”  It’s about a young woman, Rebecca, who is a waitress trying to break into the photography business.  Through the help of one of her customers she gets the break that she’s looking for and starts to face some of the darker parts of her past and who she is now.  You can find it on Amazon and Smashwords

2. How is work on your next project, Paisley Tines, coming along, and what would you like readers to know about the story? 9th grade for Paisley is going really well.  She’s passionate about what she’s doing (enjoying volleyball and her classes) and starting to get excited for the holidays.  I think something important for people to know about Paisley is that she’s a typical teen who is trying to figure herself out.

3. Will Paisley’s story be the main focus of your National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) word-count challenge, or do you have another project in mind? I will be focusing on Paisley for NaNoWriMo. I’m really hoping to introduce her first book during the New Year.

4. Do your academic interests in gender studies & women’s rights inspire your writing and vice versa? My academic pursuits definitely influence my writing.  Part of what I focus on in my studies are media influences on gender identity and my findings influence the type of characters that I create. On the opposite side, what I write often influences my academic pursuits as I find that I’m curious in what makes someone who they are.

5. What motivates you to write? There are so many things that motivate me to write. My desire to write fiction started to provide myself with a relief from all the academic writing that I do.  I like to write, I just needed to remind myself of it.  I also think that a lot of people want to read parts of their story as happening to someone else.  When I come across a story that I recognize I always really like being able to relate to the character in that way.

6. What do you find particularly challenging when writing? Apart from finding time to do the type of writing that I want (feminist theorists take up a lot of my writing time), I would say that the most challenging thing is to take all the ideas rolling around in my brain and putting them into a story that is going to speak to my readers.

7.  Is there a message in your work that you want readers to grasp? One thing that I hope I can convey in my writing is that it is possible to excel after being in a difficult time.  I think that the one word that I would hope describes my work is hope.

8. Are there any up-coming events for social change/women’s rights that you plan to participate in, and have you participated in any in the past? Minneapolis recently hosted its’ first Slut Walk event.  Unfortunately I was not able to attend, but I understand it was really fantastic. One of the most influential women’s movements I’ve ever had the opportunity of participating in was a “Go Run” training hosted by The White House Project.  The White House Project is an organization dedicated to training women to run for public office.  As the name would imply, their ultimate goals is to help get a woman elected to the office of President.

9. What do you like to do for fun? Fun, what is fun?  Haha, I’m only joking.  While it really depends on the mood that I’m in there are a few staples that I really love.  Reading, writing, and playing video games are right up there.  Once in a while I’ll try my skill at something new in the kitchen, which can be really exciting.

10.  What would be your ideal writer’s retreat? Honestly, anywhere somewhat quiet would be great.  Maybe like a cabin in the woods (with all the amenities of being in the city, haha) close to the highway so I could hear cars driving by.

11.  What’s something not many people know about you? I’m really excited about turning 30! I just turned 23 this year, so I have seven years to go.  For reasons that escape me most people look at me and think that I must be 16 or 17 so the prospect of looking like an adult is pretty exciting to me.

12.  Where can readers connect with you? You can receive updates to my blog, www.rachelahanson.wordpress.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter, www.twitter.com/rahanson10.  Finally, if you have any questions about my work you can e-mail me at rachelhanson10@gmail.com

 Thank you Rachel!

Healing from Abuse: A Survivor’s Story

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I still remember one of the first serious conversations I had with the man who  would become my fiance. I asked him to describe how he saw me. He smiled sadly and said, “Damaged Goods.”

It shattered me. He went on to say what he loved about me, different aspects of my personality he adored, but I scarcely heard him. My mind kept replaying his initial statement over and over in an endless loop; along with the horrifying knowledge that when he looked at me, he saw somebody broken.

Even worse, it was a fair assessment.

When we first met, I was suffering from PTSD. I’d just returned from a solo backpacking tour of Europe, and for the most part, I’d had a great time…but towards the end of the trip, a guy grabbed me off the night train landing platform in Munich, bashed my head against a wall, and dragged me to student housing where he locked me in a room and tried to rape me for six hours. On top of that, I’d been physically assaulted for years, with sexual assault mixed in. I couldn’t be near a male without feeling on edge, I flinched away from human contact–and if a guy put his hands on me or tried to kiss me, I felt like I needed to scour myself with Lysol. When I slept, memories and nightmare combined, & I’d still be fighting off attackers in my dreams. It was dangerous to touch me while I was unconscious–I’d kick and punch and flail & bite, all without waking up, trapped in a hell of my own memories.

Despite that, I’d never considered myself a victim. I was a survivor. It wasn’t that I didn’t acknowledge my abuse, or that what was done to me was wrong–I did, but I refused to admit how much it hurt. I refused to see how much of my behavior was linked to the open wound of my past–I was a fighter, a survivor, not a victim. Even my kidnapper and would-be rapist in Germany hadn’t succeeded; I’d fought my way free, escaped, then brought the police back to arrest him. My abusers hadn’t beaten me–I’d lived, I’d survived, I’d won. End of story.

When I looked at myself, I saw someone strong–someone who would never give up, someone who wouldn’t back down. I’d lived through horrors and hardships, and remained un-cowed. It took his quiet statement for me to realize that survival was a very different thing from living. I was behaving like I was in a war-zone, anticipating enemies and bracing myself for attack instinctively, reflexively…I’d survived my past, but each day I acted as though I was its prisoner.

I was walking wounded, and he’d seen beyond the face I presented to the world  to the hell within. He’d seen the cracks in my armor, and when he learned what I’d endured, he accepted me for who I’d been, who I was, and helped me on the journey to who I would become. The road to recovery isn’t easy, and it’s a path we’re still on, but it’s one that I’ll happily continue.  Now, I love hugs, I love the simple joy of being touched, held, and cared for. I love knowing, really knowing, that there are good guys out there, and that I have one of my very own. I love knowing that the feelings I read and write about in romance are REAL.  I love the way that he taught me the difference between existing and being alive.

There are millions of women out there dealing with the aftermath of abuse.  My story is neither unique, nor even particularly dreadful. The US Justice Department estimates that 1 in 5 women will experience rape or attempted rape just during their college years–not to mention the years before or after. An even greater number will be beaten, assaulted, and/or dealing with emotional and psychological abuse. You cannot drive to work, go to a movie, a restaurant, a shopping center–ANYWHERE–without passing or seeing a woman who has been (or is currently) abused. Survivors, victims, or even co-dependent participants in toxic relationships, there is a flood of human misery flowing just beneath the surface of society…and you can help end it by reaching out. You can even look into ways to help in your community by contacting the following organizations:

If you are currently in an abusive relationship, or looking for a way to help cope with the memories of the abuse you’ve endured, please call the following hotlines. Please seek help. There is more to life than survival, more to life than fear, pain, humilation, degradation, or the memories of it. You deserve to know the joy of a life lived fully, you deserve happiness, and you deserve the chance to make it happen. The first step starts with picking up the phone.

Interviewing Keith Weaver, Author of ‘The Nefarious: Prince of Shadow’

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The first bite of Fall is in the air, Halloween is approaching, and there’s no better time to curl up beneath a warm blanket by the hearth and enjoy the thrill of a good horror story. With that in mind, please welcome Keith Weaver, author of the spine chilling tale The Nefarious: Prince of Shadow:

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do? I do a lot with my family, especially my boys.  After that, I love movies, music and sports.  I can watch just about any movie, and love listening to music no matter what I’m doing.  I’m a huge football, basketball and MMA fan.  I still like to play when I can and compete in basketball leagues in the winter and train in MMA for sport, mostly Jiu Jitsu.

What can you tell us about your book? My book is a supernatural horror book, my first one.  I was really into horror in college, then got involved in some literature and writing courses, and thought why not combine the two and work on my own book.  The basic premise is a 300 year old curse on a castle is unleashed when a film crew shows up to shoot a movie in the caverns below.  People start disappearing, and you’ll have to read it to find out how it ends.

What kind of horror do you most enjoy? Supernatural, thriller, slasher, true crime, ect…and why? I was really into the slasher in my teen years, loved the Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween movies.  Now, I think I sway more towards the supernatural and paranormal.  Supernatural is actually a favorite show of mine, and I enjoy a good haunting, exorcism or ghost movie.  I thought the Paranormal Activity movies were well done.

Where do you get your inspiration? It comes from different places.  I think the inspiration for my first book was due to the large number of horror movies and books I enjoyed growing up.  My current work was really inspired by my kids and other adventurous tales I’ve read.

What kind of books do you like to read? I’ll read just about anything.  My preferences are horror, mystery, thriller, fantasy and sci-fi.  I enjoyed books like the Phantom Tollbooth and Alice in Wonderland as a kid, and gravitated to Stephen King and Clive Barker as a teenager.  One of my favorite authors to read today is Simon R. Green.

What’s something about you that not many people know? I’m a goofy, fun loving guy.  I like to take my boys to Disney movies, and pretend its for them!  My 6-year old and I like to go hit 3D movies, we just saw Shark Night 3D, we have a blast.  I don’t like to take things too seriously until I have to, I’m all about having fun and acting like a kid doesn’t bother me.

When did you know you were a writer? Recently!  Doing interviews like this, getting to know other authors and bloggers and joining author networks has helped.  I’ve been told that when you publish that second book, then it really hits you, looking forward to that.

What would be your ideal writer’s retreat? A dark, secluded cabin in the woods, with plenty of Doritos and cookie dough ice cream to eat!  I’ve always wanted to try that, being alone and having a quiet and somewhat spooky place.  The food, well…

 What advice would you give for writers just starting out? Network, get to know other authors and bloggers.  Doing an interview or conducting your own can be good ways to get to know others, and learn about their successes.  Also, be true to yourself.  We all have different ideas and styles, stick to what you are and make the adventure a happy and peaceful one.

Do you have any other books in the works? I do, I’m working on a young adult fantasy book that will be out later this year.  It’s called Nebulous, keep an eye out for it.  As I mentioned earlier, this was kind of inspired by my kids and their love for animals, creatures, bugs, monsters, etc.

Where can readers connect with you? Please do connect with me at any of these, or all venues.  I love talking to people and getting to know them.

Where can readers find your book? You can currently find it here: