Tag Archives: new authors

Talking with Author Heather Webb about Writing Schedules, Historical Research, and Things French!

Today, I have the pleasure of sitting down with the lovely Heather Webb, author of Becoming Josephine! Her debut novel, it’s become a fast hit in the biographical historical fiction genre. Join us for a fun discussion on her life as a writer, her research, and French history. You can see my review of Becoming Josephine by clicking HERE. There is a giveaway on the review post and also below after the interview, it is for the same giveaway, both will be compiled together and drawn. Enjoy!

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Hi, Heather! So happy to interview you today for Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’ve been looking forward to talking with you. What a nice New Year ring in to publish your book, Becoming Josephine, on New Year’s Eve! How has the launch been going?

Heather: I’m so glad to be here! Thanks for having me, Erin. The launch has been great. I can’t tell you how THRILLED I am by all of the amazing reviews. I’m so glad others are as in love with Rose/Josephine’s story as I am.

Erin: For women, her life and personality certainly create a sense of being free, and why it is good to be free in our minds and thoughts!! Oh, by the way, Heather, I just love a girl who likes books and food like me! How you describe baking and the eating of baked goods on your blog posts has made me whip up some gingerbread with cream and if you’ll sit down to enjoy with me, I’ll put on a pot of tea!

Heather: Mmm. Tea and gingerbread is so delicious in the evening before bed. Yes, I’m a bit of a foodie, though these days, I’m busier and busier and don’t have as much time to devote to cooking as I used to. I’m sure that will change as my kids go to school full-time next fall.

Erin: Ah, we always think that. I did, and then now my youngest is in first grade (other two in 4th and 8th) and I’m even busier than ever. I just try to make time for baking at least, it’s therapy!  Shall we get started with a few questions? Here we go….

Becoming Josephine

Q:  Where did your love of all things French first start? I imagine you love history as well and it seems the pairing inspired you to write Becoming Josephine?

A: The Frenchie love began in 7th grade when my family lived in Louisiana. Cajun French is pretty different from Parisian French, but that was where the seeds were planted. As for history, I blame my parents. Between all of the museums they made us go to as kids (which I’m thankful for) and my dad’s obsession with old movies, it seemed only natural that I would love history as well.

Erin: We take our kids to all kinds of museums as we can, since their early stages. My son has taken a liking to history (as you saw when he reviewed your book on his blog!) so I think it’s a good thing. But actually, I didn’t know the French varied….interesting.

Q:  Where did you first discover Rose/Josephine and why did you decide to tell her story (amazing one that it is!)?

A: I first discovered Josephine in a dream. When I decided to write a book, I dreamt about her almost immediately. I knew very little and didn’t even know what she looked like, but her essence was there somehow. *cue Twilight Zone music* So I went to the library to research her the next day. I was hooked in the first few pages of my first biography.

Q:  How long did it take you to research this book? How much is historically accurate and how much is pure fiction? Is it historical fantasy or biographical historical fiction? What motivated you to write it as you did?

A: I researched for about eight months before I wrote a single word, and then I continued to research in dribs and drabs throughout the entire writing process. I tried to take a comprehensive approach—biographies of important characters, histories of the Revolution as well as those of Martinique, Napoleon’s reprinted letters, primary sources scanned in Google Books, documentaries. I studied art and literature movements from this period, china patterns, fashion, weapons. I could go on. Researchitis is a disease we historical fiction writers suffer from.

Erin: True! Yes, I do know that research bug well, as a history buff and writer myself. I sometimes get too into researching and forget to write. It’s all fun though learning so much and then creating a visual world for others.

I would say it’s about 90% accurate, which would make this biographical historical fiction for sure. If the event didn’t happen exactly as written, it was imagined based upon documents that alluded to her witnessing the event.

A couple of examples, Alexandre and Rose separated, but it took place with the aid of a provost through a series of letters and not in person. I chose to set it up as a show-down between the two of them because it’s more dramatic, therefore much more fun to read. It helps the book move. Plus, Rose initiated the separation from Alexandre and won, after which, he apologized—this is the basic truth that was not lost by portraying it as I did. Another example is Rose’s father initially came with her from Martinique to Paris for a two-year stay, but he was so ill his entire time in France, that his character added little to the story. This is why I chose to leave him at home. Other changes I list on my website.

Erin: That’s great. It felt very authentic!

Q:  Was it a long process to write the book? Do you use outlines or write as your muse leads without limitations?

A: I’m a plotter. I write-up extensive character sketches, scene outlines, and historical outlines.  That being said, my muse takes over all the time and leads me in directions I don’t anticipate. And yes, it took me three years to write it. I consider that long, though I know plenty of writers that spend 7-10 years on each of their books.

Q:  What advice do you have for other aspiring historical novelists? What type of book do you need to write, or query letter, in order to be published or looked at by a traditional publishing house?

A:  One: If you want to be traditionally published, study the trends. Walk through a bookstore and see what’s selling. Sometimes the fact that’s it’s never been done before is a bad thing—it means it won’t sell. Beware of that. You may want to reevaluate your goals. For the record, I didn’t do this before I began Becoming Josephine, but I have since.

Two: I read and research widely, which includes travel, but I am not a historian. I’m a novelist. I grow tired of the constant push and pull between “he/she’s accurate” or “he/she’s inaccurate”—all of the finger-pointing historical novelists do to each other. My advice to aspiring writers is to enjoy researching and writing about your topic. Pay attention to detail, but remember that history is far more fluid than what the “experts” say and fiction even more so. What you want is to entertain readers, inflame their imaginations—their hearts! And inspire them to want to read more on a subject. If you’ve managed to do that, you’ve done your job. Readers can consult the many nonfiction books on a given topic until their heart’s content, if they so choose. In other words, don’t get bogged down in every fact and detail. In fact, you will have people tell you that you’re wrong about a particular point, even if you taken it straight from a primary source. It’s happened.

Erin: Agreed!

Q:  With so many historical novels on the market in all sub-genres that are published in many ways, traditional publishers seem to have a liking to books regarding women in history. Do you find this to be true, and if so, why?

A:  It seems to be. It’s what’s on the shelves these days.

Q:  What other women in history interest you and why? Do you have your sights on any others you might write about that you aren’t holding close to the chest?

A: Some I find fascinating that I won’t write about: Jackie Kennedy, Madame Tussaud, Queen Victoria, Cleopatra, Catherine the Great. I like strong women that set trends and shape the world.

Erin: You named several of my favorite there!

Q:  What do you like best about French history? 

A: What I like most about French history? I can’t really answer this because my response is: all of it!

Q:  What types of French food were fainted over during Josephine’s time as compared to today? Can you name some dishes from then and some from now? What are your own favorites?

A: Jellies and sugared fruits, roasted wild game and fish (whole and not in filets).  My favorites are more of the typical French dishes from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s like croissants and meats basted in wine sauce, or cheese platters, fruit tarts, etc.

Q: What are your personal favorite baking recipes (you’re right, it is a science and hard to mess with! I use a lot of old world recipes from my ancestors!)? Fellow baker to baker, I’d love to hear what you make on weekends to relieve the stress of the week!

A: A few of my favorites are Nutella pound cake, chocolate B&B bouché, lemon tart, pumpkin bourbon beignets, Scottish shortbread, éclairs, peach cobbler! I could on and on here. Ha ha!

Erin: Mmmm…me too! All sounds delightful!

Q:  As busy as you are, and with children, HOW do you find the time? Not only with your work, writing a novel, blogging, networking, marketing, cooking, teaching, and children, life with a family is constant chaos. How does your mind find peace in order to write?

A:  Finding balance is always tricky. I’m a bit of a workaholic so I have to rein myself in at times. What I’ve found is the most useful to me in terms of time management is very basic: I keep a calendar and a very regular writing schedule. That sounds like an obvious solution, but most writers I know, believe it or not, don’t keep regular hours. Every Saturday and Sunday I leave my house and hunker down in a coffee shop and write for 5-7 hours–without exception. That time has become sacred to me. I also work for a couple of hours in the mornings each day during the week, but it typically consists of keeping up with my social media commitments and editing. With young kids, that’s the best I can do. The rest of my time is devoted to family. 

Q: Where can readers connect with you? What about writer friends?

A:  My website: http://www.HeatherWebb.net, Twitter: @msheatherwebb or FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heather-Webb-Author/124095350992513?ref=hl

Q:  Where can everyone run out to or click their fingers and purchase your book?

A: My book page on my website:  http://www.heatherwebbauthor.com/sample-page-2/book-list/

 Erin: Heather, so glad to have you here today and I hope you’ll come back often. I really enjoy your web site, your “for fun” section, your blog (food, writing tips, interviews—it’s great), and I had a blast at your book launch party which was so interesting with all the photos and info you shared. I know you’ll have great success with your book! I wish you all the best and keep in touch!

Heather: Thanks so much, Erin.

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Giveaway~

One paperback (U.S. only). Enter to win by commenting below or email to hookofabook@hotmail.com. Extra +2 entries for liking my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/HookofaBook and extra +2 for following this blog. Enter to win by one (1) week from the date of this post or yesterday’s review post.

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Becoming Josephine, Synopsis~

Becoming JosephinePublication Date: December 31, 2013
Plume Books/Penguin
Paperback; 320p
ISBN-10: 0142180653

Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.

Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte.

BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.

Praise for Becoming Josephine

“Heather Webb’s epic novel captivates from its opening in a turbulent plantation society in the Caribbean, to the dramatic rise of one of France’s most fascinating women: Josephine Bonaparte. Perfectly balancing history and story, character and setting, detail and pathos, Becoming Josephine marks a debut as bewitching as its protagonist.” –Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl

“With vivid characters and rich historical detail, Heather Webb has portrayed in Josephine a true heroine of great heart, admirable strength, and inspiring courage whose quest is that of women everywhere: to find, and claim, oneself.” –Sherry Jones, bestselling author of The Jewel of the Medina

“A fast-paced, riveting journey, Becoming Josephine captures the volatile mood of one of the most intense periods of history—libertine France, Caribbean slave revolts, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars—from the point of a view of one of its key witnesses, Josephine Bonaparte.” –Dana Gynther, author of Crossing on the Paris

“Vivid and passionate, Becoming Josephine captures the fiery spirit of the woman who stole Napoleon’s heart and enchanted an empire. –Susan Spann, author of The Shinobi Mysteries

“Spellbinding . . . Heather Webb’s novel takes us behind the mask of the Josephine we thought we knew.” –Christy English, author of How to Tame a Willful Wife and To Be Queen

“Enchanting prose takes the reader on an unforgettable journey . . . Captivating young Rose springs from the lush beauty of her family’s sugar plantation in Martinique to shine in the eighteenth century elegance of Parisian salon society. When France is torn by revolution, not even the blood-bathed terror of imprisonment can break her spirit.” –Marci Jefferson, author of Girl on the Gold Coin (Thomas Dunne Books, 2014)

Buy Links

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound

Author Heather Webb, Biography~

Heather WebbHeather Webb grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages.

She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full-time novel-writing and freelance editing.

When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.

For more information please visit Heather’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/becomingjosephinetour
Twitter Hashtag: #BecomingJosephineTour

Becoming Josephine_Tour Banner_FINAL

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A Conspiracy Thriller to Shake Humanity? Announcing Work Coming from Tim Busbey and a Reader Contest

My partner, Tim Busbey, has been a writer, editor, and copy editor veteran for many years. Now, he is on the edge of completing his first novel, novella, and short story (all which tie-in together) in his conspiracy thriller series!! I am very happy to announce this news on my own site today!

So what is his book about?

He doesn’t want to give away too much about it because there are lots of twists and turns and mysteries and conspiracies. But, according to Tim, it involves genetics, religion, covert agencies, the origins of man and much more.

More? That’s a mind-blowing amount of suspense already! Sounds good…

 It is set in a variety of locales, ranging from India to Cuba to Columbus, Ohio and more. Here’s a synopsis:

It involves a reporter who discovers a centuries-old secret that could shake the foundations of all of the world’s governments and religions. But is it the truth or simply part of a conspiracy? Dark forces try to keep him from uncovering the truth before they can unleash their master plan.

Tim says on his own blog at http://www.timbusbey.wordpress.com :  “But that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is an epic story with a large cast of characters. The story I am telling is sure to be controversial. But I am not writing it simply to stir up controversy. I am writing it because it is the story that I have been given to tell.”

fourth pic for tim's novel

If anyone happened to read his earlier versions in process, much of that content remains in what will be the finished product. However, he’s copy edited for clarity and story elements. Once he realized there was more back story than one novel could handle, and keep up its fast pace, he decided to break out parts of the book and create a short story and a novella which will serve as introductions to some of the characters and ideas associated with the main book.

AND YOU COULD UNLOCK THIS SHORT STORY!! He’s going to give away the short story to anyone who helps spread the word about his novel on Pinterest or Facebook!!

Please support and like his FACEBOOK Author Page at the link..he’s got his novel contest and updates on novel progress, but also lots of writer links and tips, international news and discussion, and he announces free thrillers from other well-known authors.

LIKE TIM BUSBEY AUTHOR PAGE HERE:

https://www.facebook.com/messages/543612461#!/TimBusbeyAuthor?fref=ts

and if you’d like to join his profile on Facebook too:

www.facebook.com/tim.busbey

Pinterest and Facebook Contest~

He will post one picture a week for eight weeks, we are in week four now. Each picture is a clue or somehow related to the story. The first picture appears to be a DNA helix. But is there more to it than that? At the end of the eight weeks, everyone who has re-pinned all eight pictures (you can pin at any time or all at one) on Pinterest, or commented on all contest photos on the Facebook page, will unlock the short story for free as a special thanks for your help. To receive your free short story, please email me a link (tbuzz50@hotmail.com) to the board where you re-pinned my posts after the eight weeks are finished. It’s that easy.

Please take a look and tell your friends. Here is his Pinterest and My Novel board is the one you want:  http://pinterest.com/pin/110056784616111015/

Tim Busbey, Biography~

TimA veteran newspaper journalist, he has spent the last five years working in marketing communications for a major small appliance manufacturer, an HR communications firm and one of the top law firms in Ohio (the latter two he currently works for).  He runs Addison’s Compass Public Relations with Erin Al-Mehairi, from which they offer writing, marketing and editing services to authors, businesses and individuals. He’s a soccer and softball coach and enjoys reading and collecting books.  He graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1996 with a degree in journalism and a minor in economics.

Besides at Facebook above, follow the blog at www.timbusbey.wordpress.com or Tweet with him at @tbusbey.

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Have YOU had a WHAT IF Moment? Matthew Turner Explores this Question in his Novel, Beyond Parallel #whatifmoment

Beyond-Parallel-Cover-MediumI just finished the novel Beyond Parallel by Matthew Turner, which is awesome because it launched today! I thought it was a really romantic and thought-provoking novel. In fact, it made me think without even having to try very hard to do so. It was extremely entertaining.

A concept we all most likely churn in the backs of our minds when we are in the shower, laying in bed awake at night…sometimes in our happier times and most certainly in our times of downcast….is the question of WHAT IF? WHAT IF I would have made the decision to go here instead of there, to choose to have a relationship with this person rather than that person? To take that job instead of the other offered? To move here or there?

There are many scenarios we can concoct. In this book, Turner takes on the WHAT IF question of decision-making in relationships. Many people might question if they made a right decision in choosing their life partner.  Some wonder if the “grass is greener on the other side” right? In times of true hardships, or sadness, or maybe even just boredom, we almost always wonder if we made a wrong turn on the road of life. But is that the case? Or maybe fate always has other things in mind for us.

In the book, Clark and Bella are both living life in their twenties and trying to make decisions unknowing what the future ahead of them holds. Turner tells the story from the viewpoint of them being together and also in a parallel story of if they had never met. It was a page turning festival of fun to see what would happen next in each scenario.

Turner writes simple prose with a minor number of characters, which is good because as the reader keeps switching between scenarios from chapter to chapter, it’s easier to keep everyone straight.  It’s not a heavily detailed book in setting or character development, but it does stick true to its premise which is to offer us a look into the lives of four people and their ultimate path to meeting each other. He is clear in his characters emotions and conversations, which is the premise of the book.  We see how their decisions alter their lives and also see on the parallel side what the other option would have entailed for them. It’s very interesting to take this concept and see if the “other” choice they wonder about really would have turned out any better for them.

I really enjoyed spending a few hours over my Holiday break reading this book! It was a fun detour from a lot of the heavier historical or horror reading I tend to do. If you are looking for a book to help you relax, and enjoy light romance that is not just the hot and steamy variety, then this book would be an entertaining read for you.  If you ever pondered the WHAT IF question in your relationships, I highly recommend you read this book!  In the fine tradition of British storytelling, Turners pen makes the mark.

So here is my own WHAT IF story in limited form:  I wanted to go to a certain University and study Journalism. I ended up at the one my mom said I was going to go to since she was paying. Right after college, still hanging around, I met my husband who is now my EX-husband though we did have two wonderful children together. I have been with my current partner, Tim, for almost 8 years (we met through a work partnership–again could have been another WHAT IF moment in job choice). He went to the certain University I wanted to go to at the same time I would have went there AND he studied Journalism. We do have WHAT IF moments about this because we wish we would have started our relationship earlier and not both gone through with ex-spouses what we do. I hold on to the fact that if fate would have brought us about then, I would have my two oldest amazing children. And we always say, you never know even if we were in the same classes we may not have connected at that age, it may have only been destined for an exact time and place. But I still wonder WHAT IF?

What is your WHAT IF moment? Share if you’d like in the comment below. I’d love to hear.

Giveaway~Giveaway~Giveaway~Giveaway~Giveaway~Giveaway~Giveaway

I’d love to hear your story, but to enter to win for the book all you have to do is leave a comment and a way to contact  you (email prefered or email me at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com) and you’ll be entered to win this new ebook!  Please enter by 11:59 p.m. EST (USA) Jan. 15, 2013. Anyone can enter. Winner will be given choice of digital copy! Happy New Year!

Beyond Parallel Synopsis~

One boy. One girl. One insignificant moment that changes their lives forever.

Bella and Clark are two young twenty-somethings, traveling and finding themselves in a chaotic and crazy world. One craves love; the other avoids it. Will they find one another, or will a single what-if moment send them down different paths?

In the same mould as Sliding Doors, Uncertainty, and Smoking/No-Smoking, Beyond Parallel flips between two parallel tales. One follows Bella and Clark as a couple, the other as if they never meet. Friendships, careers, dreams, fantasies…their lives are no different to yours or mine.

Follow the journey of two confused minds as they tackle growing up in the 21st century. High-flying careers, book tours, teaching teenagers, hipster warehouses, stories about talking whales, coffee shop hangouts, and even a despicable salesman are confronted.

Name: Beyond Parallel

Author: Matthew Turner

Word Count: 70,000

Pages: 180

Published: January 2013

Publisher: Turndog Publishing

ISBN Number: Coming Soon

Price: $2.99 (E-Book)

Contact: matt@turndogmillionaire.com l Skype: turndogmillionaire

Beyond-Parallel-MEME-4

WHAT IF MOMENT Explained~

The premise behind Beyond Parallel is spurred by my wandering mind. I’ve always fantasized about what if.

What if I had said yes instead of no…or chose one idea instead of the other…or left a little earlier, or later, or never?

Beyond Parallel clings to what if. I’m fascinated by this idea, and I feel many young people are, too. We spend our lives knowing what’s going on around us. We go to school because we have to. We have our parents to lean on. It doesn’t matter if we mess up because we’re young and we have time to fix it. But then we enter the real world. We have a responsibility, and choice, and a journey of our own to craft. Every day we’re faced with decisions, but how do we know what is and isn’t the right thing to do?

And that, in a nutshell, is a what if moment. A brief period of time where a small, insignificant decision is made, with huge repercussions potentially coming from it. These moments happen throughout our lifetime, but it’s in the world of young adult where it’s most prominent. At university…during our first job…as we travel or search or dream of something more.

Book Sample~Prequel to Beyond Parallel (get it free)

As part of the lead up to Beyond Parallel, the author, Matthew Turner, wrote a short prequel set the night before. Not only is it a story in itself, but it introduces the reader to Bella & Clark, as well as offering an insight into what to expect in Beyond Parallel.

As samples go, Tales From A Tiny Thai Table is the ideal showcase into the writing of Matthew Turner.

Download Tales From A Tiny Thai Table for FREE Here

Matthew Turner, Bio~

author-headshot-mediumMatthew Turner is a young writer from Yorkshire, England. He writes both Fiction & Non-Fiction, but his latest project is Beyond Parallel, a coming-of-age novel that focusses on two young twenty-somethings.

After years of playing with the idea of writing, he decided to take things seriously in 2010. He took his four-year old manuscript and ripped it apart; refining it, editing, and learning until the final copy was ready. That time is now!

As well as writing, Matthew acts as a consultant, speaker, and coach to fellow writers and entrepreneurs. With a passion for storytelling and creating brands with soul, he finds himself working with innovative, 21st-century minds.

You can find more information on Matthew Turner, and about Beyond Parallel too, at http://turndogmillionaire.com.

Beyond Parallel Reader Page <http://turndogmillionaire.com/beyond-parallel/>

Amazon Page <http://amzn.to/TDBcOj>

Goodreads Page <http://bit.ly/10on4tS>

What If Campaign Page <http://turndogmillionaire.com/what-if-campaign/> Beyond Parallel Launch Day/Social Sharing Page <http://turndogmillionaire.com/beyond-parallel-social-hub/>

Thanks for reading this blog!  I was given a complimentary ebook of Beyond Parallel in return for an honest review, which I’ve given. All opinions are my own.

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Death Haunts Alister, Will it Haunt You? Check out Keith Rommel’s The Cursed Man.

Alister Kunkle has been in seclusion for 25 years in Sunnyside Capable Care Mental Institution. He won’t look or speak to anyone, for fear it will fatally harm them. You see, Death takes a personal interest in anyone he communicates with and he is tired of watching this curse play out. He hides away in a small cell with no outside contact until Dr. Anna Lee shows up determined that her psychiatric skills can help cure Alister. Is she really what she seems? Is the curse real or a figment of his imagination? When I first agreed to read and review author Keith Rommel’s book The Cursed Man, the first stand alone novel in his Thanatology series, I told him that “a book having a character with the name of Alister (in any spelling) is on my ‘Top Ten Things that Make Me Want to Review a Book.” It was all in jest, but truly, isn’t that a name that just makes you want to read a suspense novel?

I’m glad that “Alister” led me to read the book because Rommel’s novel has left me haunted for a week now. It engaged so many thoughts in me about life and the universe forces surrounding us, that I must highly recommend this book if you are looking for a thrill ride of drama that will keep you guessing until the very end. It was a quick read for me; I read it in one night so as not to put off the ending and it was reminiscent of my favorite short stories of Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King. King has penned several stories playing around with the notion of Death, and Rommel’s story was just as good as the master of suspense. It was almost leaning toward having a Ted Dekker quality in its novel form, yet had a harder evil tone than Dekker’s final chapter finales. This time Death certainly is the serial killer and good might not win out.

The Cursed Man’s spooky quality and lingering aura could send chills up your spine deep into the night and keep you pondering about your mortality and the state of humanity. The writing quality was excellent and Rommel is certainly an author to watch if you like the horror suspense genre as much as I do. I look forward to reading the second book in this series, called The Lurking Man, sometime in 2012.

And speaking of The Lurking Man, guess what?!? Keith is having a CONTEST to name the female main character in his next upcoming book, The Lurking Man (second in the Thanatology series). Answer three questions on his site about The Cursed Man, then starting with a sentence he has given you, write a short story (300 words) utilizing the name you choose. There will be a voting period in which people will vote on the name for the book. To view all the details, please go to: http://keithrommel.weebly.com/contest.html.

I also had the pleasure to sneak into the mind of Keith Rommel with an exclusive interview below (after the giveaway information) in which he answers all my deep, comical, and intense questions with ease. Take a more comfortable seat, and read on; you won’t be disappointed.

GIVEAWAY

Keith has graciously agreed to GIVEAWAY, no strings attached, TWO copies of The Cursed Man, to two lucky readers of this blog! All you have to do is read the interview and in the comments of my blog, tell me what inspired you or what you learned or even just something you liked about it. You can also go to my facebook page (www.facebook.com/almehairierin (friend request me if you need to)) and leave me a comment on my wall, or under the link posting for this particular blog, or you can go to Twitter and give me a mention at @ErinAlMehairi (www.twitter.com/ErinAlMehairi).

I appreciate my readers and so do the authors, so they love to giveaway books in hopes you’ll read them and spread the word. What have you got to lose? You’ve only got something to gain!!

INTERVIEW WITH KEITH ROMMEL

Hi Keith, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview to accompany my review of your novel The Cursed Man. Let’s dive right in to our Q and A on your well-written horror/suspense novel—the first stand-alone novel in your Thanatology series.

Q: First of all, I pride myself in being well read and educated, but I had to look up the meaning of Thanatology! I see it’s the study of death and dying and now see how it relates to your book. Your main character, Alister, has caught the interest of the entity called Death and dying surrounds him. I realize now that I don’t know much about this area since I completely avoid talking about Death because it scares me …well…to death! So the question is, how did you become interested in the storytelling of death and dying and why?

A: It is like a big blue elephant standing in the center of the room. You know it’s there, staring at you, but you don’t want to look at it or talk about it because if you do, you might get its attention. That is why I wrote about it.

(Erin comments: True, and it makes for a really good story too as being confronted or singled out by Death is certainly an eerie proposition!)

Q: How do you feel most people deal when confronted with the topic of death? Why are we so obsessed with birth and try to hide our feelings about death?

A: A little over two years ago, I found out my father was terminal with cancer ten days before my son was born. I was unclear how much time my father had left, but I knew his prognosis was not good. I clearly remember the confusion in my heart as I celebrated the birth of my son while I began to prepare myself for the worst. Dad passed about a month later and it brought me to a very dark place. For me it was a place of anger and sadness and it overshadowed the blessings I had in my life. The healing hand of time has worked wonders on me, but the void that was left behind is still there, raw and bothersome. But the joy of having my son and watching him grow is a Band-Aid given to me by God. Birth is a time for celebration, and death (in cases such as my own) is a private time to grieve and find understanding.

Q: What role do you feel that religion and God play in Thanatology? How do they play into your book?

A:  I purposely tried to keep the theme of religion obscure in The Cursed Man as I tried to challenge myself as a writer. I had a tendency to lean towards religion earlier in my writing career, but this time around I wanted to create something that did not have a clear villain like Satan or a powerful entity such as God. When you peel back all the complex layers of the plot, The Cursed Man is a story about a man and a firm belief that death shows him favor by allowing him to live. But yet, his price for such a gift is that everyone around him dies. Therefore, the theme of death was the presence that needed to remain on center stage.

(Erin comments: Yet, Death certainly is a powerful entity, isn’t it? We certainly feel its power, and to some degree the power of evil, in your book. I know I certainly felt it. I would explain more why, but I don’t want to spoil it for new readers.)

Q: What lessons of good and evil can we take away from The Cursed Man?

A: For me, the strongest lesson is given at the very end of the novel. Though I cannot go into what the details are because it would be a spoiler to the story, it is an event that is based off of a true story. I was standing in the kitchen at my grandmother’s house and I was in my late teens. My uncle was telling me a tragic story about a family friend and that story made such an impression on me I based The Cursed Man on it.

Q: What were your hopes when you set out to write a novel in the horror/suspense genre?

A: My hopes for writing The Cursed Man were very simple: if I gave someone an experience that they didn’t feel cheated after they plunked down some of their hard-earned money after they read my novel, then I had reached a certain level of satisfaction. For a long time, I believed in the story and worked very hard to get it to a professional level. I had agents show the story great interest, but never to a level of acceptance. I remember feeling confused and determined all at the same time. How could they not see what I saw? I’ll show them! And just when I was ready to give up and try my hand at self-publishing, the novel was picked up by Sunbury Press. They are a small press company, and when they offered to publish The Cursed Man, I remember the overwhelming joy. For days I walked around with a great big smile. Finally, someone saw the hard work I’d put into the book. Oh, and I recently received some emails from readers that have been nothing short of gratifying and inspiring. It has truly been a humbling experience.

Q: I know you like to read comic books, and so do we at our house. I’m curious, what part do you feel comic books play in both society and storytelling?

A: Comic books were introduced to me when a teacher suggested that I read them to help with a reading comprehension problem. I have read and collected comic books since I was in junior high and continue to do so today. Comic books are an important art form that suffers from a persona of being nerdy and uncool. Of course, I feel much differently about it and believe they can influence young people into the love and rewards of reading. Most movies that people are flocking to see are based off of comic book titles and they probably don’t even realize it. Without pointing out the obvious titles such as Superman and Batman, to name a few movies that come from the comic platform would be : The Crow, Men in Black, Cowboys & Aliens and Kick Ass.

The flow of storytelling is unique in the sense that it is done through both words and pictures. It makes for a quick and easy read, and the story usually comes out once a month and is a continuation from issue to issue. For parents that have children that don’t like to read, I suggest going to your local comic shop and picking them up a copy. There are plenty of titles to choose from, and it can actually be used as family time to open up discussions. Something that becomes quite addicting is going to the comic store every Wednesday to see what new books have hit the racks. You’ll be amazed by what you might find and how fun they really are.

Q: Now on to a little about you as an author: How do you work over 50 hours a week, commute, make time for your wife and 2 small children and EVER find time to write? What advice do you give others in the same situation?

A:  I believe if it is your passion and you are doing it for the right reasons, you will make and find the time. My formula is simple and I’m sure that countless other writers abide by it: get an hour less sleep tonight, or wake up a little earlier in the morning. Set a reasonable goal for yourself (maybe a word count per week) and try and write at least one paragraph a day.

Q:  Tell us about your writing process and what you’ve learned about yourself as a writer and also about the industry over the years.

A:  I have learned quite a bit over the years. The first and foremost thing is that I had to find my voice on paper and that has taken me a long time to accomplish. I often compare it to how a kid grows into a young adult, and years later, into a wiser, more mature adult. Some days my writing voice comes out easier than others, but I found it important that I no longer pressure myself to “get it done.” I write when I can and try to make time to do so. Small press and self-publishing is the new “in.” With social media sites and a well-written book, you will find a fan base. Set real expectations as to how many copies you think you are going to sell and study your craft. Join writing groups (I suggest Critique Circle, my handle is Krommel). There you won’t have your best friend telling you how great your stuff is. You’ll have writers (some of them very experienced) critiqing your work and giving you good, constructive feedback to help you learn and grow.

Q: Tell us a little about the man behind the scary story The Cursed Man.

A:  First, I am a husband and father of two. I have a passionate belief that hard work does pay off and that everyone should follow his or her dreams no matter how big or small. I did and will continue to do so whether I sell one book or a million. It is my passion and has been for years.

Q: What is next on the horizon for you?

A:  The response to The Cursed Man has been so positive that I want to stay focused on the Thanatology series. I am looking to release The Lurking Man sometime in spring of 2012, which is book 2 in the Thanatology series. I am then going to quickly follow it up with two more novels that explore different genres (Thriller, and religious fiction).

Q: Where can readers or other authors find Keith Rommel online, and how do they connect?

A:  I encourage readers and writers alike to contact me, whether they look me up through my website: http://keithrommel.weebly.com or through Goodreads.com, Librarything.com and of course Twitter (@keithrommel). If you follow me on Twitter, I always follow back (it’s just good karma).

Thank you, Keith, for the exciting new book and for answering my interview questions. It has been a pleasure to connect with you. Best wishes in all your continued work.

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Introducing the Start of My Fiance’s Novel, “The Truth”

I want to take an opportunity on my blog to introduce you to my fiance, Tim Busbey. He is a freelance writer and aspiring author who plans to finish is first book, “The Truth,” this year! I’ve read up to 20 chapters so far myself and it really keeps me wanting to read it. Well, it isn’t fun you know….I mean I can’t because he hasn’t finished it yet! A great book that ties in history, secrets, paranormal, religion and science fiction makes up a great recipe for what I think is set to be a winner. With locals in India, Treasure Coast off of Florida and many more, this book travels you places in search of Truth.  I know you’re saying I’m probably bias, but truly I think it is a fast-moving thriller that is well-researched and well-written.
Below is the link to Tim’s page on Scribd, where the first 10 chapters are posted. He’d love you to read them and offer feedback. He is constantly reworking his chapters right now. Below that link is half of Chapter 1, just to give you a taste. For more information on Tim and/or his novel, go to his blog at www.timbusbey.wordpress.com
  
Check out the start of Tim’s book, “The Truth” at:
  
Chapter 1
 
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will
prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
A cts 2:17 (New International Version)
 
Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State
 
Searing flames!
Flash!
Streaks of fire blazing across the skies, destroying the earth!
Flash!
The screams! The cries of anguish!
Flash!
Buildings crashing to the ground as the Earth buckles underneath them.
Flash!
Noooooooooo!´
Anne Thompson shot upright in her bed as her scream trailed off into the darkness.
What the ?

Anne quickly spun toward the voice as the darkness gave way to illumination. As her eyes
struggled to adjust, Anne saw that the voice belonged to her terrified roommate, Brandie Logan.
The dreams again?´ Brandie asked. That’s the third time this week. You’ve got to do
something about this.

Anne shook her head, trying to shake away the remnants of the now-familiar nightmares.
Anne pulled her shoulder-length blonde hair out of her face as she looked around the crowded
dorm room in Halloran Hall she had shared with Brandie for the past three months. Her heart felt
like it was about to burst out of her chest. It took her a moment to get her bearings and realize it
was just another dream. It seemed so real. But, they always did.

The dreams had started a year ago. At first, they were just an occasional annoyance that Anne
dismissed as simple manifestations of her anxiety; the kind of stress most girls her age feel over
graduating from high school, going to college, boys – the usual teen drama. Now, the nightmares
had become an almost nightly occurrence. And they were starting to take a toll on her, both
physically and mentally.

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On Starting to Write My First Children’s Series–Outline on My Book Idea!

I have put my mind to the goal of writing my first children’s book this year. I’ve been waiting for years it seems for just the right idea to pop into my head. Something that would just take off in my mind. Initially, I always thought it would be a children’s picture book. I think that mostly because not only do I love words and books, I also love art and the essence of both that picture books bring. In fact, as an adult, I like to collect children’s books for myself as well as my children. Beautiful words and images in a book are like little art gallerys to me. I wanted the pictures to come to life in my mind, and then I thought maybe the story would come.

My mind tends to race in many different directions, not only with all the demands of life—kids, home, several start-up businesses, health, etc.– but with ideas too! Creative juices!  It just became real to me one day towards the end of last year as I was watching my girls, ages 7 and 3. I realized how often they play together, or maybe even put up with each other, but at the same time how opposite they really are. I spent time listening to their conversations, sometimes laughing, sometimes amazed, sometimes it was upsetting, but I really saw how different their interests are and how unique it makes each of them. And it came to me, I could write a book stemming loosely from their relationship.  A 7 year old girl who is girly, yet likes sparkly skulls,black,  jeans, art, mystery, pop songs, and is super subdued unless spiked by her sister compared to a girl age 3 who is the total princess package including pink and more pink, dresses, dance and ballet, classical music and song who really lives oblivious to anything happening around her. Basically no fear while her older sister is full of questions and concerns. 

So I have come up with the name Monster Princess and Little Diva because it seems to fitting to me. I ran it past my older daughter and she thought it sounded just like them and is very excited. So I am wondering what kind of trouble I might get them both into with a picture book, which I still want to start with because of the art element. I can just SEE the characters in my head, you know?  I’m having the most issues with getting this one started, even with less words, because I don’t know where to have it go in short amount of text. I see way far into the future already with these books.  I am a writer than tends to overwrite and am very detailed. I am thinking that chapter books for ages 7-9 would be great. I have this great idea to encompass my love of history and adventure and the fantastical genre in the books and with different adventures would come different titles. My very rough outline includes the girls having to move with their single mother to a new town and/or state in New England. In doing some reseach, Salem, Mass. is the frontrunner due to its overwhelming amount of history and the fact that the Peabody Essex Museum, a grand art and history museum, is located there. I’d like their mom to be a single mom who is an artist, and possibly getting a job at the museum while also pursuing her art or fine art photography at the local downtown scene.  Mom would have a studio at home and be very busy setting up this new life, and the girls would spend a lot of time alone together squabbling and who knows what. They may head off for a walk and end up at a old building or house, with a special key and/or door that opens and turns into an adventure or chaotic happening. The 7 year old would be the curious one, and also most fearful, while the 3 year old would be following along behind doing ballet piroettes and singing, totally not even seeing what is happening around her. The banter between them might be quite funny. I am also currently reseaching names for the two of them, based on maybe the early 1500 or 1600s. 

 I am nervous but hopeful that this initial set-up in my brain will take me somewhere further and I can write an initial picture book and chapter book by the end of 2011. I really need support and feedback since this is my first book. I welcome comments at any time and I hope to keep everyone updated using my blog! Please let me know what you think!

*Please remember that now that my ideas are down on paper, in several places, these are copyrighted and I really hope you don’t steal them. Especially since they are loosely based on my girls.

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Filed under My New Children's Book Series

Welcome fellow book nuts!

I am NUTS about books. Not just novels for my age, but also books for all ages of children. I collect picture books and I love reading young adult books just for fun. I hope this blog shares new and old titles of children and young adult books for you, suggested titles of all books, reviews of all types of books, talk about my new children book series I’m diving into for 2011 (I hope you’ll be my sounding board and critics), and let you in on what I’m reading right now. I can’t wait to throw out the bookmark and jump in!

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