Saturday, June 30, 2012

Author Interview: Dr. Molly Nyatanga


Rachelle :  We have a special guest today, an educator with a mission. Please welcome Dr. Molly Nyatanga to Rachelle's Window.

MollyThank you, Rachelle. It’s my pleasure to be here.  

Rachelle: You have so many attributes in life. How would you describe yourself to your audience?

Molly: I am a writer, a researcher, a teacher, a wife  and a mother. Have I answered the question?

Rachelle: You have listed five roles, and they are important in your life. Which one takes precedence over the rest?

Molly: That’s a difficult question to answer. My heart is into all of the five aspects, but I have always put my family first. As a diplomat’s wife I have lived a nomadic life, following my husband everywhere for the past 22 years, making it difficult for me to hold one permanent post. Where I couldn’t find work, I went to school. This is how I have kept myself busy for the past two decades. I am not complaining, but kind of overwhelmed by what I have been through. Each event has contributed positively in a way to my whole being. Given the chance to discard any of my experiences, I wouldn’t, even for a fortune.

Rachelle: Of course, all this life experience is a rich vein from which to draw your stories. In addition to life, how has research contributed to your writing?

Molly: I acquired a number of skills from research projects. Research means a lot of reading other people’s work and communicating directly and indirectly with respondents. This helped me sharpen my communication skills. I also developed analytic skills, and not just accepting things from face value. I also learnt how important it is to appreciate and value other people’s work. Research work made me realize some of the shortcomings in our education systems, especially in developing countries, and has given me the impetus to write children’s books to instill values and enrich and boost children’s literature domain.

Rachelle: I admire your drive to boost children's reading skills and instill values. You are also a mother, which is a full time job. How did all these demands contribute to your writing career?

Molly: My children were privileged to go to international schools, where the libraries hold lots of good books. Unlike my primary school years in some rural school in Zimbabwe. We didn’t have a school or a community library. The only books we had were the prescribed textbooks. The first library I saw and used was at a boarding school. I couldn’t be seen borrowing preschool or junior school books. That stage of my life had been eroded. So when I started reading preschool books to my children, the stories were new to me and we enjoyed them together. It was like that neglected part of me had been found and brought back to life.  Besides library books, I also bought my children books for bedtime stories. I looked forward to bedtime stories too, just like them. Though I was the adult, the stories were exciting, resurrecting the little kid trapped inside me. All those little things created a deep desire in me to write books. My children preferred to hear me read them stories better than their father. He wasn’t a book person. I read every sentence with passion. Many years later I visited the same school I attended my primary education and found that there was still no library. The school children were missing out part of their childhood as I did. I wondered if their grandparents told them fables and folktales as my grandmother used to. I related to their loss. I vowed that one day I would write books to furnish all the remote schools in my country. 

Rachelle: What a vision and a great story! Being a diplomat’s wife has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. What do you have to say to that?

Molly: The great picture is you get to see the world and learn about other cultures. You really experience that kind of life rather than see it on television or in books. You visit historical sites and leisure places and you get first hand experiences of everything. This also boosted my creativity and awakened my lively imaginations in the mystery genre of literature.  Landing on a job and keeping it in a foreign land is a problem. If you get one, when you start enjoying it, it’s time to pack your bags and go. At the back of your mind you always think, we are in a temporary shelter, very soon we migrate. In 2007, I started writing, though I did other things in between. With time, I became fully aware that writing is a full time job. I had so many stories I built up over the years and it was time for me to write them down. Diplomatic life has also positively contributed to my writing career. I move with my work in my laptop wherever I go. Whenever things don’t work out the way you planned, always switch on to something else rather than mourn over your fate. Turn the misfortune to fortune.

Rachelle: What an inspiration! I noticed on your Facebook page that you don’t you like books with vampires, swearing or cursing. What a fresh change from the usual popular fare, especially in these days of Twilight and Fifty Shades.

Molly. Thanks for the complement. I never liked to watch vampire or ghost movies, and I still don’t watch them. When my children where still young they used to have nightmares after watching such movies. For instance if they visited friends and watch such stuff they would have problems sleeping that night, and so I vowed not to write books that scare children. Why should I expose other people to things that give me goose bumps and sleepless nights? I am writing to people like me. Some entrepreneurs are concentrating on products that rake in more revenue at the expense of nurturing society. Such things range from fast foods to polluted literature attacking and destroying both body and soul. As responsible parents and educationists, we have a responsibility to save our nations. Unilock Books is taking a positive stand in providing relevant material for development. Healthy food as well as sound and positive reading material can set your child on the right path.

Rachelle: I heartily agree. Good for you! What made you write a series?

Molly: I enjoyed reading series to my children. When they were in middle school I would buy them series too. I also followed short stories in magazines. Every month I would look forward to buying the next copy to continue with the story. I really got hooked to such episodes. In short, I can say magazines and the book series I read to my children inspired me to write a series too.

Rachelle: What made you write Echoes of the Mystery Box series?

Molly: There are too many street kids roaming towns right now, especially in developing countries. This is a cause of concern. I wonder what is happening to the social fabrics of society. People used to care for one another. I wanted to show people that the immediate family can take in a relative and offer a hospitable environment to nurture that child to adulthood. I believe in bringing up children in a positive environment, where the self is valued and the significant others are given their due respect. People are a product of what they see, hear and eat. Hence I advocate that protection is better than cure. It is far better to invest in people’s lives at a tender age,  than to later on pump billions of dollars into correctional institutions, to rectify problems that could have been avoided in the first place.  Responsibility, accountability and respect are emphasised throughout the series, bringing an awareness to children at young age that whatever one does has a reward at the end. Every behaviour has a direct or indirect effect on the person next to you, and so one’s edges should be smoothened at all times.   

Rachelle: I love the values you are instilling in your stories. Are these street kids orphans?

Molly: Orphans, in quotes. Some are real orphans, others are run away kids and others have irresponsible parents. One ingredient is missing that brings these children out, on the streets; a conducive home environment. My books are trying to bring to light what makes children stay at home, it’s not money, but a caring and loving heart. Due to economic hardships, many have left their children under the care of neighbours, relatives or house maids and are in diaspora. You can see that there are different types of orphans, who have nobody to look up to.

Rachelle: That’s sad. What is your vision as author of Unilock Books?

Molly: My mission is to create a positive reading culture in people, through writing and publishing character building reading books, which are affordable to all people. I have a desire that every rural primary school has a school library, filled with all sorts of positive reading material to create a conducive learning environment for all children from diverse backgrounds.

Rachelle: Molly, you are an inspiration. I pray your efforts will be well rewarded in the changed lives of those children who are influenced by your books. Good luck on the literacy projects. We need more people with big hearts that care for others beyond their immediate circle.

AUTHOR BIO:
Dr. Molly Ngazana Nyatanga is a middle school teacher by profession. She taught in various schools in and outside Zimbabwe. Teaching is her passion. She holds a Ph. D in Educational Sciences. Her desire to give a better education and a better future to children was the driving force behind her studies and still is. In her post graduate studies, she focused on education for development. One heart-rending issue she came across in the schools in developing countries is shortage of reading material.

As a researcher, she wanted to see solutions birthed and implemented in the recommended fields. She found her place in children’s literature domain. Her first published book, The Mystery Box, is vivid and unique. She is the author of Unilock Books. Dr. Molly Ngazana Nyatanga lived in the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and Southern Africa and benefited from the richness of the diverse cultures to boost her lively imaginations. Many elements have interplayed to help her focus on the mystery genre of literature. She has just published The Mystery Box and Settle for Nothing Less. Many more children’s books will be out soon.  The two books are part of a series, “Echoes of the Mystery Box.”

You can find Dr. Nyatanga at Unilock Books or follow her on Twitter at @mudiwanyatanga

Friday, June 29, 2012

Historical Fiction Author: David Lawlor



Hi David, I’m so glad to have you on Rachelle’s Window today. I love the tagline on your blog, “celebrating the bit players of history.” Tell us about yourself and what got you interested in these “bit players”?

     Hi Rachelle, thanks for inviting me onto this great site. You’re right, my blog historywithatwist.wordpress.com does have that tagline. I think that so much of history is written by the winners and the leaders and that those who actually helped them to make it all happen are overlooked. It is the regular guy or girl in the street who really make the history, so why not celebrate them as well. History, contrary to popular belief, is not written in stone. New facts or stories emerge all the time to put a fresh slant or nuance to someone’s decisions or actions. Those nuances can often come through the stories of the bit players around the mayor event.
   I was brought up in a working class home, my mam and dad worked long and hard as a cleaner and post man respectively to put me and my siblings through college. I suppose subliminally, in wanting to celebrate the bit players I want people like mam and dad to get the recognition they deserve.

Rachelle: Exactly! That's why I wrote Michal's Window. She was a princess, yet people forget that she saved the line to Christ when she saved David's (not you, but King David) life. Of course the bonus of writing historical fiction is giving in to your curiosity of wondering what life was like in another time or place. You’ve recently published a historical novel Tan. With the wide arena of history available to you, what made you focus on this particular story?

David: Tan is set during the Irish War of Independence, which ran from 1919-1921. The Black and Tans was the nickname given to ex-servicemen from the First World War who were recruited as Temporary Constables to try to restore order in Ireland. They soon became notorious for their brutality and ill-discipline.
   To this day the Tans hold a special place in the Irish psyche. They have been demonised (justly) for their actions yet quite a lot of them were actually Irish themselves. I thought it would be interesting to write a story from the perspective of someone who joined this body of men out of desperation and soon was faced with the reality of their actions against his very own people.
   Also, my own family history is full of fascinating stories from this time. My grandfather was very active during the War of Independence and the Civil War which followed, so I think that that had a part in drawing me to this era.

Rachelle: It is certainly a chilling thought how ordinary people could get caught up in situations so horrendous to think about, isn't it? You wonder, what would I have done in his shoes? Your blog is a fascinating collection of bits and pieces from the forgotten and downtrodden. There’s a nugget for a novel in each of those vignettes. Has anything grabbed you again? What are you working on now?

David: I love digging up unusual stories from history and, hopefully, they'll inspire me in my writing. There are certainly plenty of real characters to draw upon, that's for sure.
   I’m currently working on a sequel to Tan, which is set in the battlefields around Ypres, in the aftermath of the First World War. It incorporates a collection of very ordinary veterans from the war, who still carry its scars both mentally and physically, and who decide to return to France to retrieve something precious left behind in the heat of battle. The journey resurrects their wartime memories, and they must cope with this and a few other obstacles that reveal themselves.

Rachelle: Sounds fascinating. I bet there is a lot of survivor guilt and traumatic stress disorder they deal with. You’re an editor of a national newspaper. How has your day job prepared you for writing a novel? Were there obstacles you didn’t expect when you embarked on this journey?

David: The style of writing I use in my day job is very different to that I use when writing fiction. Initially, I did find it a challenge to break out of the newspaper habit of sharp, staccato writing and giving too much of the story up front, but I soon got over that. My job as an Associate Editor with a busy national newspaper did help me when it came to having ‘clean’ copy. My grammar and punctuation are pretty good (at least I think so!) and I can write in short bursts. I generally write on the 50-minute commute to work, during my lunch break and then on the way home again that evening. I try to do about one thousand words a day – sometimes I get a bit more done, sometimes a little less.

Rachelle: See? You are more prepared than the average software engineer (that was my day job). Describe your boyhood. What were your favorite pasttimes? Did you play a lot of video games or with more traditional toy soldiers and board games.

David: I would have had a fairly traditional childhood…I certainly loved those toy soldiers! When I wasn’t reading books or watching movies, I was out hiking and camping with the Scouts. I was never particularly ‘sporty’ – and was usually one of the last to be picked for any soccer match, whenever I did dare venture out onto a playing pitch.

Rachelle: Ha, ha, I'm the one they relegate to the right field. One day a ball came straight at me. I was so shocked and surprised and scared that I ducked! How are you marketing your book? Have you gone to any writer’s conferences? Met other writers in your genre?

David: To be honest I did everything backwards. I wrote the book and only then began learning about social media, which is a bit problematic when engaged in online publishing. I’m catching up, though, especially after a great 12-week ebook publishing course I did with BeCreativeBooks. I set up my blog and am really quite enjoying Twitter. A few nook bloggers have kindly agreed to review my book, I’m doing interviews like this one and I’m using KDP Select with a free promo of the book going out on June 29-30.

Rachelle: Great! Your book is free today and tomorrow. And David, you do know you have my favorite name, right? (Sorry about that, have to put Michal back in her place. She gets a little excited whenever there's a David around)
It’s been great talking to you. I wish you lots of luck in your career and look forward to more stories about the “bit players.”

Tan, a story of exile, betrayal and revenge is FREE on Amazon June 29-30. Be sure to pick yours up today.

David Lawlor is Associate Editor with the Evening Herald newspaper in Ireland and has been writing features, reviews and working as a produciton journalist in national newspapers for 22 years.

David has written three novels and is currently working on his fourth. This is the first novel he has published. David lives in Greystones, Ireland, with his wife and four children.
Twitter: @LawlorDavid

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fantasy Author: A. D. Trosper


Hi Audra, I’m happy to have you stop by and chat with us. So, I hear you recently published your first book, Embers at Galdrilene(Dragon’s Call), a fantasy book about what else? Dragons!

[Thank you for having me. Yes, Embers at Galdrilene is my first book and yes, there are dragons in it.]

Tell me, have you always been fascinated by mythical creatures?

[Yes. From a very young age I was enthralled with unicorns, dragons, elves, etc. It started with the movie Legend and went from there.]

When did you decide to write a book?

[Several years ago. It actually took me quite a while to write Embers, mostly because I was still learning the craft, but also because I had a baby in the middle of it. Nothing like two years of baby induced insomnia to interrupt writing. J ]

Maybe baby induced hallucinations helped you think of plot and character. How did you come up with your characters?

[They found me. They started showing up and telling me about themselves. A lot of people have to develop characters. Mine showed up fully fleshed, with their own backgrounds and with their names already known to them.]

Pretty incredible, I'd say. So no cardboard skeletons for you. How about world building your fantasy realm? How did you weave world-building into your narrative?

[That took a lot of work and rewrites. Learning to work the world in and not just info dump it took time. I found that it works better to allow some of the world to show itself through character interactions and keep any exposition about it brief and sprinkled in here and there.]

If there is one character in your story you could be, who would it be and why?

[Kirynn. I would love to be that fearless. Having the ability to control fire would be pretty cool too.]

Embers is the first book of a series. Do you have the general sequence of the series planned out?

[Yes, I already know what will happen in each of the next two books and how the series as a whole will end. I have several scenes already for both books for the major things that will happen. Now I have to write all of the in-between.]

Any secret tips for other writers starting out?

[Write. Keep at it. It is a long and often hard road, but very rewarding.]

Okay, how about a secret about you that no one, not even your husband knows?

[There isn’t anything about me that my husband doesn’t know. He is truly my very best friend. A secret no one else knows though. Hmmm. I always wished when I was a teenager that I would’ve done the Goth thing for a while. I always secretly wanted to the black hair, black lipstick, black nails, that kind of thing.]

Ha, ha, and I wondered what it would be like to be blonde. Your Facebook name is Oat Bucket and you have a picture of a goat as your avatar. Care to elaborate?

[Well, it did have a goat on it, although I did recently change it to a pic of me. I’m listed as Oat Bucket because that is the farm name for my registered goats and how a lot of people on the internet know me. It’s taken a bit for some of FB friends to get used to me instead of seeing the pic of the goat.J I raise LaMancha dairy goats. They are my non-writing love outside of my family. You will even find LaMancha dairy goats within the pages of Embers at Galdrilene. J]
  
Wonderful. Had to get your goats in there somewhere. Thanks for being so much fun. I’m glad we had this chance to get to know you.

[It was great getting to do this with you.]

Bio: Born in Kansas, I spent a lot of my childhood moving around. I've lived in Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington State (around Seattle), and southern California. I had many great adventures growing up. Though settled down in Kansas with my wonderful husband, three children, and small dairy goat herd, here lately have begun to get restless again. There must be some gypsy/nomad gene somewhere in my ancestry. 

Blurb: “A ray of light, a stain of shadow, shall endure to breathe life and death into the future” 

As a Border Guard, it is Vaddoc’s duty to turn himself in and accept the death sentence with honor when he discovers he can use magic. But the ancient song of the dragons calls to him. Although pulled by duty and the honor of his family, the song proves irresistible. When he is offered sanctuary in Galdrilene, the old home of the dragons, he leaves duty and family behind to answer the call of the Song.

He is not alone in hearing the Dragon Song and he is joined on his journey by five others as the elements of magic are drawn together. It’s a journey that reveals everything they’ve been taught to believe about magic and dragons is wrong. With the last of the dragons and the world at stake, Vaddoc and his companions will do anything, even cross through the realm of the dead, to reach a future they never thought possible.

A more in depth look: Embers at Galdrilene is a classic struggle between good and evil. The dragon-bond blends two hearts, souls, and minds into one. The depth of loved shared in the bond is enormous, and the strengths given to the riders are many. But even in the strength of love, evil can exploit weaknesses. You will not find Evil Sealed in a Can within the pages of Embers. Rather you will find evil that was created by the very opposite of what the dragon-bond represents. Envy, hate, greed, and in one character, a touch of dark insanity.

Embers at Galdrilene brings together characters from several different walks of life, in a world where a lake of the dead can lead to safety, where dragons can be the salvation or damnation of the world, and evil lies not in the gods, but within people willing to give up half their soul for the chance at power.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Roadtrip with Author P. C. Zick


Today I’m proud to welcome Author P. C. Zick to Rachelle’s Window. Her latest novel, Live From the Road, is an adventure as four women take a journey of self-discovery across the iconic Route 66. For some strange reason, this book reminds me of Leif Enger’s So Brave, Young, and Handsome, about a novelist on a quest with an outlaw. Both are roadtrips where the characters grow internally through meeting people along the way.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning of your writing journey. Why did you leave teaching after 17 years and go in a new direction with your career?
I lost my passion for teaching and was scared I would become one of those old, mean teachers who hate their job. I thought about what else I did well, and I kept coming back to writing. I’d dabbled with a novel; I liked writing Letters to the Editor. Probably the biggest motivator was the praise I always received when I wrote something and published it.

I can't imagine you as a mean teacher. But it must have been great to be validated in writing. What were your first experiences with the publishing world?
I wrote an essay about my mother’s hands after she died. I read it at my writer’s group, and they said, “Get that published.” So I took it to the editor of the local paper and asked if they wanted a column. They did, and it was published. So many people told me my piece helped them heal after the death of a parent that I was hooked forever on this thing called writing. Then the next summer I pulled out the novel that had been languishing for ten years in a file cabinet drawer, and I finished the darn thing. I sent it to ten publishers and the tenth one – a small publisher – picked it up. The local paper started hiring me to do freelance and that’s when I decided it was time to give up teaching and go into writing.

How did that turn out?
Not bad. I became the senior writer on the paper within a year. Within two years, my ex-husband and I started a monthly newspaper, which we sold after two years (it’s still publishing today after a decade). I became editor-in-chief with two magazines with more than 100,000 circulation. I wrote two more novels and published them with Publish America, and I wrote a nonfiction book for a man who wanted to tell his story about being kidnapped by rebel forces in Angola. Then I went to work as a public relations director for Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission. I have stories from that job to last a lifetime. Now I’m remarried and relocated and writing fiction and my blogs full time.

That must have kept you really busy. You’ve written both fiction and nonfiction. Do you prefer one to the other?
I always say I’m a storyteller no matter what I write. I do like writing the longer story and weaving in plot twists and turns and creating characters. But I also enjoy writing my blog and the freedom that comes with a shorter piece. I can change topics after 500 words so I’m never bored. However, I would have to say my passion lies with fiction.

Great! You get to be wilder with fiction, for sure. Live from the Road is your newest book. What inspired you to write a road trip novel?
I’ve always loved road trip books such as On the Road by Jack Kerouac and Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. I’ve always loved to travel. Then in 2007, my girlfriend and I hatched the idea of taking a trip down Route 66 all the way from Chicago to L.A. Our daughters, both in their twenties, asked to join us. So off we went, and we had some wild and crazy times. All through the trip, we kept saying this needed to be a novel. So I began writing as soon as I came home. Even though there are four women (mothers and daughters) who travel together in the book, I just took little sparks from the trip and blew them up as big as the fiberglass giants on the road. I enjoyed writing the book almost as much as taking the trip because it is a road that writes itself.

Sounds like you gals had a blast! Do you have similar themes in all your fiction?
I probably do. I know my protagonists care about the world around them. Most of my protagonists have been women and most are some type of writer. I usually have themes of nature and the environment in the background somewhere. And of course, there’s always a love story, most of the time complicated affairs of the heart

Oh yes, the love stories are always the best. Who are your favorite authors?
John Irving, Anna Quindlen, Carl Hiassen, John Steinbeck, Anne Tyler, Barbara Kingsolver. Also, let me add that a quick read that shows excellent characterization and plot development and perfect lining up of all the conflicts is The Great Gatsby.

Looks like you've absorbed from the masters. What are you working on now?
My next novel is Trails in the Sand. It’s about a family attempting to heal the wounds that go back several generations. In the backdrop are the environmental disasters of Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Upper Big Branch mine explosion – both occurring in 2010 weeks apart. The main character is a freelance writer following the story of sea turtle nests that are being rescued off Florida’s Panhandle and moved to the Atlantic coast before oil comes ashore. The other main character is her husband and a lawyer whose cousin was killed in the West Virginia coal mine explosion. Both of those events parallel the disasters happening in their lives as they attempt to salvage their family.

Did you do any work with the sea turtle rescue when you worked for the fish and wildlife folks?
I was in the process of moving to Pittsburgh when the disaster occurred, but I was still doing my job. I was in charge of all the media and public relations for the sea turtle nest rescue and transfer. I was also living coal country when the mine explosion occurred so I was keeping my finger in both events. The love story and family thing has just evolved from different things I’ve wanted to write over the years about families.

Sounds like it's going to be an interesting story with an environmental theme. What’s next?
There’s a novel I started before I took the job with the fish and wildlife folks about perfect living communities being created in the Everglades. It’s tentatively titled Pure Harbor, and it’s set in both St. Augustine and the Everglades. I took the new job around the time I left on the Route 66 trip, so I put Pure Harbor away. But I’ll get back to it. It’s a good story.

You mention that you recently married and moved to Pennsylvania. How did you meet your husband?
That's another whole story in itself. We were sweethearts in 1972 in our hometown in Michigan. He moved to Pittsburgh and married. I moved to Florida and married. We lost contact with one another until 2009 when we reconnected through the Internet and then married in 2010. We're still on our honeymoon and hope to be for the rest of our lives. I guess I should be writing romance novels!

Despite your full life as a writer, you must have some moments to kick back and relax. What do you do away from the computer besides spend time with your new husband?
We both enjoy gardening. We have a large garden and lots of flowers and that takes up lots of our spring and summer hours. But we still manage to enjoy boating, kayaking, golfing and traveling. I am an avid reader and sometimes I have several books going at the same time! I read stories with similar themes to mine about love and the environment. I love to cook and preserve all the food we grow in the garden so when winter comes, we've got a pantry and a freezer full of tasty healthy food. I enjoy spending time in nature and doing my part to see that my footsteps are as light upon this Earth as possible.

Sounds as if your leisure life parallels what you explore in your writing, which means you're passionate about your topics. It's been a pleasure to get to know you a little bit better and good luck with your future endeavors.

Thank you, Rachelle, for having me. I love reading all your interviews with authors so I'm honored you let me stop by for a few minutes today.

Contact P.C. Zick at http://www.pczick.com
Follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/PCZick
Follow her blogs: Living Lightly on this Earth: http://pczick.wordpress.com and Writing Thoughts, Tips and Whims:http://pittsburghwriter.wordpress.com

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cherie Reich: Author Interivew


I am one of the luckiest authors to have Cherie Reich as my editor. Cherie impresses me with her knowledge of arcane grammatical rules as well as her well-read background, from Classics to Science fiction. In addition to editing, Cherie works at a library, writes fiction, and is an avid book blogger. It is safe to say that Cherie has been surrounded by books since infancy.

By any measure, Cherie Reich is a book lover. She works at a library, has over a thousand books in her bedroom, is a freelance editor, an avid book blogger, and a writer. Whew! Did I get all that in one breath?

Cherie, welcome to Rachelle’s Window. You’ve written Horror, Science Fiction and short stories in various publications. Tell us what your next release, Women of Foxwick, is about.

Cherie: Aww, thank you for having me! Women of Foxwick is a collection of five fantasy short stories featuring women of Foxwick: a lady bard, a dragon seer, an assassin, an herb witch, and a princess.

Rachelle: I absolutely love the cover. It's so rich and has that fantasy vibe. I’ve been fascinated by your Gravity series. How did you come up with the idea to combine an interplanetary romance with the usual sci-fi action and adventure?

Cherie: I would have to go back to Linia. She was a Star Trek role-playing character I created in around 2004 maybe. The role-playing game never got off, but the character stayed with me. Then, Pill Hill Press did a call for a romantic suspense anthology with speculative elements. I thought of Linia, and thus, her story (Defying Gravity) was born.

Rachelle: Since the, you've also published Fighting Gravity. Is there a reason every title has the word “gravity” in it? Any special significance?

Cherie: When I was writing Defying Gravity, I had heard the song “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked. The title clicked with my story. Plus, I like the scientific principles of gravity. Gravity is something we must abide by, but we want to defy it too. Gravity stuck. So when I had the idea of the other books, I kept the “gravity” part and added other words: Fighting Gravity (Book Two) and Pull of Gravity (Book Three). A little known fact, I actually had three other titles to consider with gravity (Relative Gravity, Laws of Gravity, and Changes in Gravity).

Rachelle: Okay... I bet Sir Isaac Newton would be pleased. So, how does a student of classical antiquities end up futuristic fiction? Any interest in taking one of the ancient myths or stories and either modernizing it or embellishing it with a stronger female character?

Cherie: I may have placed my Gravity trilogy in the future, but I pull heavily from the past. Even the two planets in Defying Gravity come from my studies in mythology, particularly Greek mythology. Persea and Medusa come from the tale of Perseus and Medusa. The kerebi in Fighting Gravity comes from the three-headed dog who guards Hades: Cerebus. I enjoy sprinkling in the mythology I love to a futuristic setting. After all, myths and legends are inherent to our present and future as much as our past.

Rachelle: Yes, I did notice the Medusan aspect. Nice. Do you prefer to write shorter works or long epic novels? I would imagine some of the fantasy worlds would require a bit of world building.

Cherie: I love losing myself in a novel and exploring characters in a longer work, but it’s easier for me to write, revise, and edit shorter works. I enjoy writing brief glimpses of characters in flash fiction. I would say that writing shorter forms throughout the year help me to knock out the first draft of a novel much more easily now. Hence why I keep participating in NaNoWriMo.

Rachelle: NaNoWriMo is fun. I'm working on revising mine right now. Now for some fun questions. When it is really dark and you’re the only one alone in your home, what are you afraid of?

Cherie: I am concerned by fires, robbery, murder, etc., but ironically, I am afraid of aliens, like the aliens from Signs. I still keep water around just in case.

Rachelle: If you could be any character in any novel, who would you be?

Cherie: Hermione Granger from JK Rowlings’ Harry Potter series.

Rachelle: If you could travel in time, either forward or backward, what would be your preferred destination?

Cherie: Ancient Rome, preferably the time of Julius Caesar, although I really will miss the internet and my Kindle Fire.

Rachelle: I hear you have a new furry friend. Tell us a bit about your pets. Do they every interfere with your work? Chew up books? Scatter your paperwork, pick off laptop keys?

Cherie: We recently got my sister a kitten. She’s a fluffy gray kitten named Juliette, or Jules. We also have a black and white six-year-old cat named Cinderella, or Relli. Then, there is Romeo, a two-year-old striped tabby. My sister also has a six-year-old black cat named Hekate. I also have a goldfish named Dash that is six years old and a five-year-old guinea pig named Abby. If you can’t tell, I love animals. Hehe! Typically all of them are pretty good about my work, but sometimes their cuteness and need for my laptop’s space make it difficult to focus with them around.

Rachelle: Always nice to surround yourself with cuteness and books. Thanks for visiting with us.

Be sure to watch for Cherie’s new release, A-Z Flashes of Foxwick. It is currently free on Amazon.


Author Bio: A self-proclaimed bookworm, Cherie Reich is a writer, freelance editor, book blogger, and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies. Her e-books include a horror novelette titled Once Upon a December Nightmare, a short story collection with authors Aubrie Dionne and Lisa Rusczyk titled The Best of Raven and the Writing Desk, the Gravity trilogy, a series of futuristic space fantasy novelettes, and The Foxwick Chronicles fantasy series. She is a member of Valley Writers and the Virginia Writers Club.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Maria Savva Interview: Author and Family Lawyer


Today I'm pleased to have Maria Savva visit Rachelle's Window. Maria is a multipublished author who is quite active online in book discussion forum.

Rachelle: Maria, tell us a bit about your books. Is there a common theme? I notice you have quite a few emotionally-tugging family dramas published.

Maria: Hi Rachelle, thanks for inviting me here. I don't set out to write 'emotionally tugging' stories or family drama. I come up with an idea for a story and make a plan (if it's a novel. I don't really plan the short stories), then I just write. Whatever comes out comes out. I'm happy to hear you find the stories emotionally tugging. One of the things that proves a writer is doing it correctly is if a reader can feel an emotion reading the work. It means that they have been taken away somewhere by reading the story and maybe reminded of memories from their own past or just caught up in the story and interested in the characters. I am influenced by the world around me when I write. I worked as a family lawyer for a few years and heard many stories, and believe that the experience taught me how different people react and behave in different circumstances. It also made me think a lot about family and relationships. When I wrote A Time to Tell, Coincidences, and 'Second Chances', I was still very much being influenced by the time I had spent as a lawyer in quite an emotionally draining area of law.  The Dream is less of a family drama, more of a romantic comedy/paranormal novel. Also, many of my short stories are written in different genres. I think you're right that drama is at the heart of my work though, but I write in different genres. Love is a major theme in my writing, but again, I don't write typical romance novels. All of my work is contemporary fiction and I try to experiment with my writing and try different genres. 

Rachelle: I think that's what's great about being an author these days, the freedom to write from the heart. Besides writing, you are also a resident author at Bestseller Bound. Please tell us a bit about the forum and what your participation there is.

Maria: BestsellerBound.com is a writers' forum that was created by author Darcia Helle. In the late summer of 2010, Darcia invited me to join her in this new venture. She was thinking about setting up the site and had already invited author Stacy Juba to join her there as a resident author. The idea at the beginning was that we would set up the site and it would be a place where independent authors could meet and chat with readers, answering their questions about writing and the publishing journey. Over the past couple of years it has developed into a writers' forum as so far it has mainly attracted writers rather than readers. We always welcome new members and would love to have writers and readers on there. I visit the site daily and interact with fellow writers. We have a lot of fun there discussing writing, reading, publishing and many other things. It's also a place where our members can advertise their work and talk about their latest news. We try to help promote each other's work as much as possible. We also release short story anthologies every now and then to showcase our members' writing. It's free to join.

Rachelle: I'll definitely check it out. You also review books for BookPleasures.com. What genres are you most interested in and what are some of the sites you recommend for book reviews?

Maria: I started reviewing for Bookpleasures about a year ago when I was invited by the site owner. It has introduced me to many talented writers that I wouldn't have met in other ways. I read all genres. When choosing books to read for review for the site, I just choose those that catch my eye for some reason, the ones that sound interesting. I am sent emails from Bookpleasures with titles of books available for review and I pick from those.

Rachelle: I bet that keeps you super busy. How do you balance social networking with writing and revision?

Maria: It's very difficult. I don't get as much writing done as I would do if it wasn't for social networking. But all independent authors have to be seen to have a presence online otherwise it is impossible to sell any books. It's a necessary evil. I would much rather have more time write, read and review. Having said that I do like a bit of a distraction every now and then, and enjoy chatting with readers and fellow writers online especially on Facebook and Twitter. It's just a pity that there are not enough hours in the day to fit it all in. I work full time as well which cuts down on the time I have available for writing.

Rachelle: I fully agree, but love social networking a bit too much as I get to meet such neat people. Which social networking venues are most important to you?

Maria: BestsellerBound is of course a priority to me as I'm a resident author there. All of our members are friendly, we wouldn't have it any other way. It's a place writers can go to rant about things that are bothering them. I have made some very good friend on the site. I enjoy the interaction on Twitter, it can be a lot of fun. I also spend time on Facebook and have recently set up an Author Page there where I can update people on my writing news. The social networking sites that allow me to talk about my books are the most important to me as an author.

Rachelle: You’re a lawyer or solicitor by training. Does this give you a more perceptive mind when it comes to exploring the human condition?

Maria: No. And in fact there are many lawyers I have met in my time who don't have a clue about human nature. Maybe that was the reason I never felt I fit in working in that type of environment. Working as a lawyer doing the type of legal work I did for over 15 years definitely taught me about people, the good and the bad. I saw people who would do anything for money, for power, as opposed to people who were victims and found themselves in situations where they needed help, so much so that they had to consult a solicitor. Those things really taught me a great deal about life and relationships. Working as a family lawyer, most of my work revolved around divorce, domestic violence, and applications for residence/contact with children. Those types of situations are fraught with emotion and force you to see things from different perspectives. I would say that the fact I met so many different and diverse people on a daily basis and worked in some of the more deprived areas of London did help me to learn about the human condition. Many of my characters are inspired by my years as a lawyer. For example, Reg and Raymond in Second Chances are inspired by some of the bosses I worked for. Some of them were far from nice people. Penelope, from A Time to Tell, is inspired by the victims of domestic violence I worked with. In my short stories you will also find many characters who are inspired from my time as a lawyer.

Rachelle: I can imagine the more people and situations you're involved with, the more inspiration you get. Okay, now for a few fun questions. If you could change the ending to any novel written, which one would it be and what would you change the ending to?

Maria: I would never change the ending to a novel. Some may not be the endings we expected, but at the end of the day, the author is the only person entitled to change the ending to his or her novel. And before you ask, I wouldn't change the endings to any of my novels :)

Rachelle: Have you ever wanted to trade places with one of your characters and make smarter decisions?

Maria: No. When I write a book, the characters' decisions are made depending on what he or she would have done at the time. In life we don't always make the best decisions and that is also reflected in literature.

Rachelle: Have you ever fallen in love with one of your characters? Who was it? Would your husband be jealous?

Maria: If I had a husband (which I don't) and he was jealous of a fictional character, I would be worried about my husband… Also, I can't stand jealous people, so he wouldn't be my husband in the first place lol. To answer your question, I have never fallen in love with any of my characters, and frankly would be concerned if anyone did. I have based characters on people I have been in love with. Frederick in A Time to Tell is based on the man I fell in love with at first sight when I was 21. It was unrequieted. Andrew, in Coincidences is named after someone I briefly fell in love with, and his eyes are the same colour as the man who inspired Frederick in A Time to Tell (he gets everywhere lol). One of the scenes in Coincidences is inspired by another man I fell in love with (again unrequited… can you see a pattern here? lol). Chris in one of my short stories from Love and Loyalty is also named after someone I fell in love with and looks like him too lol. I am forever falling in love. It's good fodder for writing.

Rachelle: I so agree. Here's hoping your unrequited love gets returned! But then again, you can always write a lover for yourself, right? Oops, I forgot. You don't fall in love with fictional characters. :) Thanks for visiting with us. That was fun.

Maria: Thank you for inviting me.

You can find Maria at http://www.mariasavva.com or  http://bestsellerbound.com (see website for links to social networking sites)

Be sure to check out her GoodReads page and start a conversation.

Maria Savva was born in London on 19th March 1970. She studied for a Law Degree at Middlesex University and went on to gain a professional solicitor qualification at The College of Law in London. She qualified as a solicitor in 1996. Maria continues to practice as a solicitor in London whilst writing her novels and stories in her spare time.

Maria has always enjoyed creative writing. She began work on her first novel ‘Coincidences’ in 1997 when she found herself out of work. The positive feedback she has received for her work from fellow authors and fans maintains her enthusiasm and passion for writing.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kat Fight by Dina Silver

Kat FightKat Fight by Dina Silver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dina Silver does it again! Kat Fight seriously tickles your funny bone. Kat Porter always dreamed of being a bride. The problem is her dreams end up without a suitable groom. When her longtime off and on again boyfriend tells her to cool it, she feels like she'd just flushed five years of marriage investment down the toilet. Her biological clock is ticking, her confidence is shattered, and she's tired of watching "27 Dresses" for the 27th time [okay, maybe I made this up].

A double date with a porno blogger and a guy called "The Chef" turns into disaster as she imbibes a bit too much. Seriously in the throes of withdrawal from marital sweepstakes, Kat despairs of ever landing the right groom for her fantasy wedding.

Along comes a handsome, sweet, sexy, charming man with a row of perfect pearly whites. Gulp! Kat's got her work cut out for her as she navigates the shoals of dating peril, dodging office politics, a miffed friend, a harried sister, and an adorable male friend who's all ears and much mouth.

Ms. Silver's voice is upbeat, humorous and self-deprecating. Kat Fight is an enjoyable read with a happy ending. You'll laugh and cheer for Kat and feel for her when she finally has the courage to admit her feelings and risk humiliation to chase down the slippery groom. A fun and delightful read!

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Three Days in Seattle by Debra Burroughs

Three Days in SeattleThree Days in Seattle by Debra Burroughs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a light read, a frolic. The romance is sweet and cute, and the suspense was not too graphic. It certainly doesn't cause any emotional angst or disturb anyone with nightmares or leave a horrible aftertaste.

The main character's sister is missing and she goes to Seattle to search for her. While on the airplane she meets a sweet, charming real estate agent. They quickly become fast friends and he helps her deal with the police investigation.

This is a great beach or vacation read. The plot is predictable, the ending is sweet. There are no major disturbing issues that would keep you awake at night and everything is resolved nicely and neatly at the end. Cheesy dialogue aside, this story is entertaining in a mild way, like light salad dressing, lite beer, or Splenda.

Throughout the book, I kept thinking the male character was too good to be true. He didn't seem to have any flaw. He drops everything to accompany the main character, and at the end he is declared the hero over and over again. I kept waiting for some chilling twist, like maybe he's the villain or had some deep, dark secret, but I guess this is not that kind of book.

View all my reviews

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bathsheba: A Novel by Jill Eileen Smith

Bathsheba (The Wives of King David #3)Bathsheba by Jill Eileen Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As author of Michal's Window, I read this book with great trepidation. Here is the woman who made King David stray into adultery. What would her story be like?

The book starts out innocently enough with Bathsheba a teenybopper and her friend Chava giddy with excitement at being invited to dine with the handsome king. While Chava provided all the hysterics, Bathsheba admired David from a distance.

Soon enough, she is married to Uriah, the loyal warrior. She grows restless with her husband's frequent absence and wonders if she'd ever have a normal family, including children.

When she meets the old king wandering on his wall, they flirt and talk about music, their common interest. Talk is soon not enough, and on a hot, restless night, the king wanders out on his wall and decides to take the next step. Oh... he's a smooth devil, that one, he strums her heart with his fingers, singing her life with his words, killing her softly... Not until it's too late does Bathsheba realize the snare... "You have reason to resent your king." "I'm sorry to cause you such pain and loneliness." as he traces a line up her arm and turns her face to kiss her. "Will you stay and accept my love as a token of my apology?" as he drops her robe and probes her private places. Very subtle and very smooth.

Bathsheba's seduction has been written throughout the ages in many different ways, from outright violent rape to a temptress bent on trapping the saintly king. Smith takes an innocent approach, giving both of her characters plenty of excuses--loneliness, grief, boredom, the need for a friend. Yet, if David was so in need of a friend, why couldn't he revisit his love with Michal, whom Smith has redeemed into an angelic being, foster mother of Abigail's daughter. Smith's Michal is a calm, pleasant and cooperative woman who bears no resentment toward David's other wives. She would have been the perfect friend and companion for the aged king.

Bathsheba tells the story of David's later years through the eyes of a young wife--one who was outcast and befriended only by Michal. It is a sad story, as she never really had the normal family she would have wanted. Yet she made the best of it by ensuring her son Solomon was elevated to the throne. The seeds of Solomon's destruction is seen planted by his already roving eye, and his rationalization that he wouldn't commit the sin of his father because he'd simply marry every woman he fancied. Perhaps David's biggest failing after the way he treated his wife, Michal, was his lack of training for his sons. Absalom's rebellion is depicted with its tragic result and Solomon continues the downward spiral.

Smith has done a fairly good job of taking this sordid chapter of David's life and smoothing it out into a December-May romance. Bathsheba is on sale at Amazon for $2.99 until June 24, 2012. Get it at this low price while you can!

View all my reviews

Excerpt from Michal's Window: David Seduces Bathsheba

Michal's Window is Indie Book of the Day!!!

Michal's Window has been selected as Indie Book of the Day!

IBD Verdict

Michal’s Window is the love child of fictional imagination and Biblical facts, all put together to tell the heartwarming tale of Princess Michal and her love for King David. This epic saga sets a distinction when it comes to romance, love & betrayal in the biblical era. Rachelle Ayala has created a masterpiece of biblical proportions.

Check out their Daily Deal and other winners at http://indiebookoftheday.com/
I also got this cool certificate:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

J. P. Lane and her Tangled Web: Author Interview


Hey folks, today I have the pleasure of interviewing J.P. Lane, or Joan as her friends call her. J.P. is an author of mysteries and thrillers with a romantic element. Let’s see what surprises she has for us today.

Rachelle: If you had one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

Joan: Global

Rachelle: Now, why did I say one word and you actually gave me one word? That usually doesn’t happen to me. Can you elaborate?

Joan: It means I’m a person who’s always aware there’s a whole world out there – beyond my immediate community, beyond this country. I’m addicted to Twitter because when I’m on Twitter I get the sense the whole world is gathered in one place. A few nights ago a follower in Scotland retweeted one of my tweets. I looked at my clock, because I was curious about what time it was in Scotland. It was just after 4:30 a.m. I tweeted him a thank you and added “you’re up late.” He tweeted back “not late, it’s early here. Good morning!” I think it’s pretty wonderful to be able to communicate with people anywhere at any time.

Rachelle: How true that is. I have to keep remembering my friend in Australia is not just in a different season from me, but my bedtime is her getting up time and my morning is her bedtime. You were born in Jamaica and you’ve lived in several other countries. Do you think that contributed to your global point of view?

Joan: Definitely. And my parents had a lot to do with my acceptance of other cultures. I traveled with them from an early age and my father was a big advocate of “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” For instance, my brothers and I were never allowed to complain about food we didn’t like because we weren’t accustomed to it. We just had to go with the flow. It probably sounds a bit strict, but it gave me the adaptability that allows me to be reasonably comfortable wherever I am.

Rachelle: I actually agree with them. Besides, Jamaican food is absolutely to die for. What was it like growing up in Jamaica?

Joan: For me? Idyllic I suppose, though I didn’t realize it then. I had a big family – two brothers and twenty-three first cousins, most of them like brothers and sisters. We were all close. It’s difficult to describe what my life in Jamaica was like up to the time I left at 29 years old. You’d have to come with me for a visit. It would be easier to show than tell. Let’s just say I didn’t have a care in the world.

Rachelle: Hopefully I can read a bit of that in your stories. Is Jamaica the nameless island in The Tangled Web?

Joan: Yes and no. I use Jamaica a lot as the backdrop to the story, but some of the locations in the book are fabricated. And although Jamaica was a major cocaine transshipment center at one time, the story could be about any Caribbean country. There was a lot of that going on in the Eastern Caribbean too, and the Bahamas. In fact, a lot of the stuff about the cocaine industry in the book is factual, like the Medellin Cartel paying officials in Cuba’s Ministry of Interior six million to transship six tons of cocaine through Cuba to the States. It was fascinating research. I had no idea what a huge business cocaine is.

The Tangled Web ranked #14 in Romantic Suspense in the free Kindle category about a month ago. So far, this sounds more like a thriller than a romance.

To tell you the truth, it wasn’t until the book was finished that I thought about what genre it was and even then, I didn’t have a clue how to categorize it. Now that reviews are starting to come in, the general perception seems to be that it’s a romantic suspense novel. And here’s what I find interesting. One review says, “Finally! A noir thriller that speaks to a woman’s heart” yet not one female reader that I’ve got feedback from has said a word about the “steamy love scenes” that every male reader, except one reviewer, has commented on. You’d think it would be the other way round. Maybe the review should have said, “Finally! A romance novel that speaks to a man’s heart.”

Rachelle: Nice! I’m sure you can get several good tweets out of that. Now that The Tangled Web has been published, are you working on anything else?

Joan: If I could tear myself away from Twitter for ten seconds, I could get past the 28,000 word mark on the historical novel I’m writing. But I have big plans to retreat back into my cave and write for a while. Could be a few months, could be into next year. A book’s finished when it’s finished. I don’t want to rush this one. It’s got too much potential.

Rachelle: Again, I agree with you. You give up depth with rushing. The flavors don’t mingle and absorb, staying on the surface. Take time out to savor what life offers, eh? So, what do you do in your spare time?

Joan: That’s a trick question, right? What spare time? Okay, in an ideal world I’d be painting a canvass or two, doing a few stained glass pieces, gardening, canoeing on the river, travelling more, and spending more time with my very smart, absolutely adorable two-year-old grandson. Grin. I suppose every grandmother thinks their grandchildren are the cutest.

Rachelle: Definitely. I’m surprised you didn’t mention reading. Do you find the time to kick back and read a good yarn or are you always engrossed in your own stories?

Joan: Yes, I read every night, for an hour or two before I go to sleep. That means I go to sleep late, but I feel as if something's missing if I don't read every day. I read both fiction and non fiction. Ironic you should ask that question though, because the book I'm reading now just happens to be your Michal's Window. If you think I'm spinning a yarn, go check Goodreads. It's listed there as the book I'm reading. I don't write reviews, so I'm not going to review it, but since I mentioned it, I'll tell you I'm enjoying it a lot.

Rachelle: Cool! I’m glad! I enjoyed this conversation. The Tangled Web is all the more richer from your varied life experiences.

Joan: Thanks very much for this opportunity, Rachelle. It’s been a pleasure.

A drug deal gone sour, an island in the cross-fire of a drug war, a paid international assassin on the job. Can entertainment tycoon Logan Armstrong and investigative reporter Lauren Anderson untangle themselves from the web of intrigue they’re caught in?

Available in Kindle on Amazon 


Contact J.P. Lane at www.jp-lane.com
Follow her on Twitter http://twitter.com/jpLANEauthor