Wednesday, 18 December 2013

On The Page With . . . Jacqueline Pye

Hi Jacqueline, welcome to "On The Page With . . .", please make yourself comfy, there are lots of delicious nibbles on the table over there. Mind my Siberian husky, he'll try to cadge a cake or two!

Hello, Gina, and thanks so much for inviting me. 

Let's start with where you write . . . 

So, my writing space is in a bedroom. It is, I agree, a bit cluttered, but somehow that helps me to concentrate on the screen as everything is so familiar. The squashy Pacman always raises a smile, and the bears were presents from the family. A photo of jellyfish is in there somewhere, too.

The squashy Pacman just seems to be grinning! How long have you been writing for?

I've been writing for others since my mid-teens, when I produced the pop music column for the local paper. Being desperate to meet Adam Faith, I persuaded the paper to give me a reporter's card so I could interview him. That cunning plan worked, too; swooning is about the right word. In the following years a great number of my articles on parenting, child development and health were published nationally, but more recently fiction has been calling. So now I write mainly dark short stories and dark or humorous flash fiction.  As a psychologist, I'm fascinated by how obsessions, passions and anti-social behaviour develop, and this is reflected in my writing. There's no routine though; I tend to decide what to write and then find odd times to attack. I'm very goal driven, and react best if there's a deadline. Pressure junkie.

You sure have written a lot and how lucky you were to meet one of your teen idols! Do you have a favourite drink to fuel your writing? 

I know you like green tea, Gina, but to me that is Satan's brew. I have tried. The nearest I can come is mango and strawberry tea, which is beside my computer if I'm feeling virtuous. Otherwise it's a nespresso - I love it and am now spoiled for other coffees. One shot and the writing flows; more than that and I'm hot and jumpy though madly cheerful.

I do like green tea, and of course coffee but I can't have too much coffee either or my eyes are bulging! What are you currently reading at the moment, I imagine you have a huge TBR list - I do!

There's an enormous TBR list of course. Looking on Goodreads it was a surprise how many books I've read recently. The next two are The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd (a thief-taker in the Dickens era) and then The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fy by Rachel Joyce. In between, some short story anthologies. As for currently: a rather interesting book called, now what was it again? - ah yes, Mortiswood, Kaelia Awakening by ... you! Two-thirds through; an unusual genre for me but I'm visualising the action as we go and there are colours, flashing, teleporting, whirling and strange powers. Excellent.

Yay! Thank you for reading Mortiswood, I hope you enjoy it! I have read, and enjoyed, your short story collection and also your story for young readers. What are you currently working on, and are there more cases planned for Millie?

I'm currently working on my second dark short story collection, following Bottles and Pots which has been very well received and is featured in the December issue of Freelance Market News. A couple of time frames will recur, as will the odd character from B&P. Very little gore, but plenty of menace, psychosis, jealousy and revenge is already in the mix. A second case for Millie the Detective is brewing in the background; the first was a novel for 8-10s about loyalty, temptation, bullying and resolution featuring 11-year-old Millie, her younger brother Dave, his best mate Joe, and Boris the dog. Determined that the next will involve cake in some way.

Why did you decide to self-publish Bottles and Pots? What do you love about self-publishing?

I self-published Bottles and Pots because I know that lesser known authors' collections are not that welcomed by publishers - and because I can! I love the idea that writers can now do it all themselves; it feels like saying, "Here it is, everyone. Don't know if you'll like it, but anyway!" There was the odd problem getting the publishing programme to work, but a change of browser and of format sorted it. Meanwhile, John kept his head down and tiptoed into this dragon's den with occasional refreshments.

Read my short review of Bottles and Pots here.

I know you have lots of interests outside of the writer-world, can you tell us about them?

Away from the writing, interests include vegetarian cooking (there's a blog about that), theatre, jellyfish and cats. Veg cookery is an abiding passion, and I have been completely in love with any cat that ever lived, including Hettie who has been with us for a year or so. Even though she regularly brings in mice and young rats (alive) in the early hours and they have to be rescued and set free. And I do like wolves, including Vallesms (Mortiswood fans will understand). On your chaise longue just now you've a lifetime member of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the Vegetarian Society, and a member of the Bat Conservation Trust. (All one and the same.) Things that make me cry: any type of personal tragedy on TV or in my circle, absolutely any hint of maltreatment of animals, and community hymn singing. Soft centred as well as an utter wuss on the outside - friends can't believe I wrote Bottles and Pots as it comes from my darker side!

I'm a vegetarian too and really love to cook. Hettie is just adorable! And of course I adore wolves, especially Vallesms! Is there anything you'd love to try in life?

A lingering ambition is to tread the boards. A few years back I took AS level Drama & Theatre Studies, writing three of the five acts of the play we had to create and produce. Called True Colours, it explored how, under pressure, wobbly characters went mad, bad or dangerous! There were comic moments, too. I played a neurotic spinster called Hettie who lost it and wandered around in her old wedding frock pretending to rock a baby. And an 'A' grade result!

Sounds interesting! You've been a wonderful guest, Jacqueline, thank you so much for visiting! Let's share your links below:

Well finally, Gina, thank you so much for hosting. The cupcakes were lovely and your dog licked my hand.

I can be found lurking on twitter: @JacquelinePye and occasionally Facebook.

Writing blog:

Both my recent books are on Goodreads on my Goodreads page

Bottles and Pots is in paperback and for kindle.

* * * * *

Read all author interviews.

If you'd like to feature, please see my contact page.

Thanks for stopping by and reading, wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

On The Page With . . . Sue Fortin plus UK giveaway!

Hi Sue, welcome to On The Page With . . ., make yourself comfortable and don't mind my dog looming over you, he just wants a cupcake! Sue has a giveaway below, use the Rafflecopter form and leave a comment to earn extra points! (UK only).

Hello Gina, cupcake you say … okay then … ‘Here, boy! Catch!’ That did the trick. Thank you.

He'll love you for ever, now! Tell us a little about you:

I love dragonflies, cake and visiting France but hate snakes, calories and maths. I live in West Sussex on the south coast with my family and when not writing, I love to go for long walks along the beach or the nearby South Downs. I also like to dabble in a bit of sewing from time to time.

I love living beside the coast, too, it is wonderful! I have a sewing machine lurking around my house somewhere! Where does the writing magic happen?

This is my new writing space. Up until a few weeks ago, the kitchen table was where it all happened but I bought this bureau from a charity shop and when I get a bit of time, I’m going to give it a make-over. However, until then, it’s in its original and very much used state.

What do you write?

Romance would be the very broadest term to describe what I write but if you want to narrow it down, I like to write romance with an element of crime, or, as I’ve begun calling it, Cri-mance.

How long have you been writing for?

Seriously, the last three years. As a pass-time, ever since I was at primary school. I’ve also enjoyed reading and was a tremendous bookworm as a child, so it was a natural progression to begin creating my own worlds.

Me too! I have lots of my childhood books still and try to tempt my son from time to time - he's never impressed! Do you have a writing routine?

I don’t really have a routine. I try to fit in snatches of writing when I have an hour here or thirty minutes there. I work better when I know I have limited time, it gives me the focus to knuckle down. I’m easily distracted otherwise!

Tell us about your recent release, United States of Love, and what you're currently working on . . .

My debut novel, United States of Love, published by Harper Impulse, is a hybrid. There seems divided opinion as to what it really is. It’s been described as somewhere between a romcom and a contemporary romance, with an element of suspense.

I’ve just submitted a romantic suspense called ‘Closing In’ and am currently working on another suspense/Cri-mance with the working title ‘Where It All Began’.

You are busy! Are you reading anything at present? I'm reading 'The Blessed' by Tonya Hurley.

Chris Kuzneski’s ‘The Death Relic’ – I’ve literally just started reading it today. I’ve read all his other books and really enjoy the thriller, mystery and historical elements to his writing.

Have you been given any useful nugget of writing advice?

Attend workshops. Read ‘How To’ books. Read lots, in all genres. And never give up. (Sorry, that was several pieces of advice but I couldn’t decide which was the most important.)

All very good points! You've come today with a great giveaway for readers in the UK, thank you so much . . .

Harper Impulse are very kindly offering an e-copy of United States of Love and I would like to add this natty pair of hand/wrist-warmers  (made by my lovely mum). That way, even on chilly nights, you can keep your hands warm whilst holding your e-reader.

They are natty! I like them! Let us wrap up by sharing your links:

Twitter      Facebook

Thank you for being a wonderful guest, Sue!

Thanks so much for inviting me on your blog, Gina, it’s been great fun.

 * * * * *

Enter the giveaway to win Sue's wonderful prizes below - sorry, the giveaway is for the UK only! Log in with either your Facebook login or email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for stopping by and for reading! Check out all interviews for On The Page With . . . here. If you'd like to feature, guest post, share your newest release, please see my contact page.

Friday, 6 December 2013

On The Page With . . . Ailsa Abraham

Hello, Ailsa, welcome to On The Page With . . ., I see you've brought your two fur-babies, Lily and Titch, with you. My fur-baby Jed will be so pleased he has doggie friends to play with! Can you tell us a little about you?

I'm totally eclectic, very spiritual and have a mania for boots. “Old enough to know better, too daft to care” about sums it up. I live in France with two hounds and a husband.

I love boots . . . well, any footwear! I've read your magical novel Shaman's Drum and really enjoyed it. I'm a sucker for a good fantasy tale! Do you write in other genres?

Under this name I write about real-life magic, rather like yours, but mine is based on a future where pagan religions have become the mainstream. There is a lot of adventure and big love interest. Under my other name I write detective fiction.

Excellent! There is certainly a lot of adventure in Shaman's Drum! How long have you been writing for?

All my life. I didn't like the books I was given at school so I wrote my own. Yes, I've always been that way. Eventually I started writing to amuse friends and when they pestered me to publish, I did.

What a good, supportive bunch of friends - and how right they were to pester! Do you have a writing routine?

Routine. What is that? The only routine in this household is dog-walking and medication taking.

Yes, I'm a slave to the ritual of dog-walking, too! If I'm late getting ready for the walk my dog sits staring at me with big, soppy eyes until I hurry up! Let's talk beverages, do you have a favourite tipple to consume while writing? I never seem to be without a mug of something hot on my desk!

Coffee, as strong and as black as it comes. Over here, proper ground coffee is the order of the day and we always have a big pot of it on the woodstove. I've just discovered “Irish Coffee” flavoured ground coffee which is fabulous. My favourite drink but without the alcohol which I can't take.

Coffee on a woodstove? That sounds divine! Good fuel for writing, what are you currently working on?

The prequel to Shaman's Drum. I'm delighted to say that this is in reply to the readers who asked for it. They wanted the back-story to the original so I'm doing that now.

I'll look forward to reading it. Now, if you're anything like me I can guess the answer, so how huge is your TBR list?

Enormous! I need to go into hospital again to get through it!

Do you have an end to your writing day?

I don't – when the rest of the house goes to bed, that's often when I get started. I am very erratic and can write 15 hours non-stop or not touch it for a couple of days. Indisciplined is my middle name. I do appreciate a mug of hot chocolate before getting back to writing stuff once it is beautifully quiet.

Tell me something non-writing related about yourself - hobby/interest/hates/passions etc., I love fashion, spending my time creatively - be it creating book covers, making something to adorn my house . . .

Oh yes – I craft. I knit and crochet. I'd like to make things for myself but I end up doing them for friends or giving them to charity or deserving cases. The jumper I'm wearing in the photo is one of the few I saved for lil ole me! Boots because I can't wear heels, so I go for the fanciest most outrageous boots I can find. Baking I adore too although I 'm not that fond of eating cake – go figure!
I dabble in so many things – making jewellery out of junk, dressmaking, embroidery, motorbikes. My biggest passion is animal welfare. I'm vegetarian and get involved in campaigns to save rainforests etc.
Hates? Cruelty in any form. Bullying, excessive competitiveness, meanness of spirit, prejudice.

It certainly sounds like you are very busy! Share a bit about your most recently released book:

Shaman's Drum was nominated for the People's Choice Book Award. It is the story of how two lovers from opposite ends of the religious spectrum have to undertake a mission for the right to be together. They fight demons, solve a mystery and make friends with some very unlikely allies including an undercover Christian Granny and three very energetic Goths. It's been very well received and yes, I am in love with my two main characters, Iamo the priest and Riga the female Black Shaman assassin.

Read my review of Shaman's Drum here.

They are wonderful characters, there is one I really detested but I won't say who as to not spoil it for those who've not yet read it! Can you describe a little about your path to publication?

I feel awkward saying this but I was accepted by the second publisher I approached. I didn't think the first one had read my extract because she hadn't understood that there were two of them involved. Knowing how many other people have had rejection after rejection, I am diffident about revealing this because it sounds as if I'm crowing. I'm not. I just hit the right publisher at the right time with the right work. That's all that happens to anyone but for me it happened quickly.

Congratulations, that is fantastic! What did you do when you found out the news?

I yelled my head off and did a very clumsy war-dance around the living room invoking all the names of every deity I know. Scared the hounds to death and gave myself a panic attack!

Sounds hilarious (not the panic attack part)! What do you love most about being traditionally published . . .

I'm fortunate to be with an independent publisher called Crooked Cat. They are only two years old and so it is a very close-knit community. I feel that all the authors support and help each other and I love having an editor who understands my work and is very sympathetic in her corrections and suggestions. I really fell on my feet there. Although we all have to do the self-promotion stuff these days, I appreciate the cover art, proofing, edits, formatting etc being done by someone else. That doesn't mean to say that I won't self publish again in the future. I have in the past but I'm happy with my situation now.

Can you offer a nugget of advice for other writers?

Learn to take constructive criticism. You aren't perfect and if you don't listen you will stagnate. It's very hard but essential. Don't listen if people just say “It's rubbish” and don't elaborate, that is not constructive. If you are told “ too flowery, too gushing etc” listen!

Good advice, what has been the most useful piece of advice you have read/been given?

…. Edit... edit... edit some more and then if you are bored...edit.

Before you go, we'll share snaps of your pooches:

We only have two hounds now – up til last year we had four but our old fellers went to the rainbow bridge within a year of each other which left a huge hole in our life. I'll include photos of all four because Gubbie and Dogge-Dogge still live on in spirit here.

Cute! And finally, Ailsa, your links and bio:

About Ailsa:

Ailsa Abraham retired early from a string of jobs, ending up with teaching English to adults. She has lived in France for over twenty years and is married with no children but six grandchildren. Her passion is motorbikes which have taken the place of horses in her life now that ill-health prevents her riding. She copes with Bipolar Condition, a twisted spine and increasing deafness with her usual wry humour – “well if I didn't have all those, I'd have to work for a living, instead of writing, which is much more fun.”. Her ambition in life is to keep breathing and maybe move back to the UK. She has no intention of stopping writing.

Writing as Ailsa Abraham :

Shaman's Drum published by Crooked Cat  (nominated for the People's Choice Book Prize)

Four Go Mad in Catalonia – self-published, available from Smashwords

Twitter - @ailsaabraham    Facebook page – AilsaAbraham    Facebook profile - Ailsa Abraham

* * * * * 

Thanks for stopping by, reading, and joining our conversation! Check out all of the author interviews for On The Page With . . . here.  If you'd like to feature in On The Page With . . ., showcase a book, or guest post, please see my contact page here (or use the contact form in the sidebar).

Review: Shaman's Drum by Ailsa Abraham

Shaman's DrumShaman's Drum by Ailsa Abraham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an interesting tale and the first piece of writing I have read by Ailsa Abraham. I liked the way the story was told by both of the main characters, giving an insight to their emotions and thoughts. Both characters are strong, Riga is a Black Shaman assassin and Iamo is a warrior monk. Despite their differences, in belief, height!, upbringing, and allegiance, their love for each other shines through.

By no means is it easy for Riga and Iamo to love each other in a world where, although mainstream religion has been banned, opinion and the thirst for power dependent on varying belief still exists. I found this to be a gripping story where the magic is real and an integral part of the person it belongs to. I loved Riga's Shamanic magic, her spirit animal and guide.

Not only do Riga and Iamo have a battle on their hands where their love for each other is concerned but they have to fight various renegades and demons - what a fight it is! Oh, there was one character in particular I really disliked and I'm glad that character received what was deserved!

Shaman's Drum is a touchingly romantic tale with fantasy and adventure, an interesting mix of characters, magic, and beliefs. I enjoyed it and if I enjoy a story, I always give it top marks!

View all my reviews (Goodreads)

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

On The Page With . . . Louise Marley

Hi Louise, welcome to On The Page With . . ., please make yourself comfortable! Tell us a little about you and what you write:

I write chick lit and romantic suspense mixed with a bit of humour. I began writing full-time when my children were small. I started with short stories for women’s magazines such as My Weekly and Take a Break, and then wrote three books for Irish publisher Poolbeg. I’ve now self-published two more novels through Amazon, work as a tutor for Writing Magazine’s Home Study courses and occasionally ghostwrite.

You do sound very busy! I have read, and really enjoyed, your recent release "Nemesis". How do you spend your writing time? I like it to be quiet when I'm writing . . .

I write in chunks, three or four chapters at a time. I write them in rough draft and then polish until I’m happy. If I’m not happy, I leave them and move on to the next chunk - I can revise them when I’ve finished the entire thing. I always plan everything first - an outline, the characters and their backstory, and I always use a mood board to inspire me. When I’ve written a sizable chunk, I transfer it onto my Kindle to edit. I always listen to music while I write, partly to help inspire me, but mostly to drown out any background noise! I try to finish at 9.00 pm, so I can sit and watch TV with my long-suffering husband, otherwise we’d never see each other.

You are very organised! Using your Kindle to edit is a great tip. Now the important thing, where do you write! Oh, look at that view! 

My desk doesn’t usually look this tidy! This is my study. It was once the dining room, so it’s right next to the kitchen - a little too handy for coffee and snacks! The mountains in the distance are part of Snowdonia National Park. Fortunately the window is quite high, so I don’t have the beautiful view to distract me while I’m working.

I can see how that would be distracting, it is wonderful. If you could write any place you could wish for, where would it be?

In the sunshine, in the garden.

I like writing in the garden, too, but I don't have such a great landscape to appreciate! Do you have a favourite tipple to consume while you write? I really like Green Tea, oh, and White Tea is nice. 

Java Sumatra coffee in my Mickey Mouse mug. I once watched a documentary about a famous writer who drank wine while she worked. If I tried that, I’d fall asleep over my laptop!

As would I! I have a special mug I use, it was a present from my dearly departed mum so it's rather precious to me. It has a chip in it but I won't stop using it! What are you currently working on?

I have a novella due out in February 2014, and a short story for the Sunlounger 2 anthology, which will be available to buy in Summer 2014.

How huge is your TBR list and what are reading at the moment?
Pretty huge! The great thing about having a Kindle is that they are all stored in Amazon’s ‘Cloud’ so I’m not tripping over them! I love reading and I will read pretty much anything. I am currently working my way through Anne Stuart’s ‘Ice’ series (romantic suspense). As it draws nearer to Christmas, I shall be starting on all the festive ebooks I’ve been downloading, including Wish Upon a Star by Trisha Ashley and The Little Book of Lost Hearts by Valerie-Anne Baglietto.

I love festive reads. Tell us a little about your most recent release, "Nemesis", a murder mystery:

Fifteen years ago Natalie found her sister lying dead in a lily pond. Now she’s written a book based on the murder. In every interview she gives, she talks about the diary her sister kept, which lists her lovers under code names.

Natalie’s intention is to lure the murderer into the open but, as she’s about to find out, you can’t pick and choose which secrets are revealed - and which ones stay hidden.

Because when the first of her sister’s ex-lovers is killed, it doesn’t take Natalie long to realise she’s not the only one out for revenge.

So who will catch the murderer first? And who will end up being caught?

I have read this book and loved it, Louise, the cover is just beautiful. My review is here. You have been traditionally published and also self-published, why did you choose to self-publish, what's the biggest challenge you've encountered, and what do you like about it?

I didn’t choose to self-publish - it chose me! I’d had three books traditionally published and when the rights reverted back to me I self-published them. I didn’t expect them to be such a huge success!

I am completely rubbish at self-promotion. I’m just as likely to say, “Are you sure you want to read one of my books? It might not be your kind of thing. Perhaps you’d be happier reading x’s book instead?”

I can write whatever I like and publish it whenever I like. It works both ways though - if my books fail to sell, I only have myself to blame!

I completely understand about self-promotion, I'm not good at it! I agree, the freedom is a big pull into the world of self-publishing. Can you share a little of your experience of being traditionally published? What did you like about it?

I’d been taken on by an agent, who sent my book to all the London publishers - who promptly turned me down flat! So the agent and I parted company and I entered the book into a competition run by Irish publishers Poolbeg. It didn’t win but it was short-listed, and they offered me my first contact.

I enjoyed being part of a team. It’s good to have someone tell you when a scene isn’t working, or to be able to bounce ideas off them. Luckily I now have my friends the Novelistas for that!

Can you offer any nugget of advice for other writers?

When I was offered my first writing contract I thought that was my Happy Ever After right there. But publishing is a business, so when my books failed to sell in sufficient quantities I was not offered another contract. Of course everything turned out all right in the end - I went on to self-publish and have now had sales of well over 100,000 books. But my point is this: sometimes your career goes up and sometimes it goes down - you just have to ignore all that and keep writing.

That is good advice and, wow, congratulations on such great sales! That is fantastic! Are you running any special offers at the moment?

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is currently one of Amazon’s Countdown Deals and can be bought for the promotional price of 99p until 6th December.

I love the cover! Before we finish please share a snap of your pet! 

This is a photo of my hamster, Honey.

Thanks, Louise, you've been a fab guest! As we say goodbye we'll share your links:

Website     Facebook    Facebook Page   


Anthology:  Sunlounger

* * * * *

Thanks for stopping and reading! Check out previous author interviews for On The Page With . . . here. If you'd like to be interviewed, showcase a book, or write a guest post please see my Contact page.