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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway: June Kramin

Today we have author June Kramin with us to discuss her upcoming book Money Didn't Buy Her Love. Read about her writing method, then enter to win a copy of the book.

***

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was told since the 3rd grade that I would be a writer. I guess life got in the way. It wasn't until I hit forty that I settled down and started writing. The first story I did was for my daughter. I guess I learned to love when someone flipped out over what I had done & wanted to do it again.

How did you get into romance?
I was more of a thriller reader than romance, so it was kind of a surprise that my books took that twist. I was even upset at the "romance" label put on my time travel novel. So many guys liked it, I was afraid some men would stray at seeing "romance". But, when you write about a girl with an attitude, a man that loves her unconditionally, and there is a lot of sex going on, it is what it is. LOL. I guess I have enough guy banter and such that a guy can still admit to liking a few of them. I'm a sucker for happy ever after and wanting readers to get lost in someone's else's life for a while.  

Tell us a little about the book?
Money Didn't Buy Her Love just completely fell into place for me. It started with an idea of a man slamming on his brakes to avoid hitting someone. That turned into a woman and suddenly, she was in a wedding dress. Their age differences and lifestyles came out & I thought "what a mix-matched couple. They have to fall in love!" I really love the twists it took. My son happened to get married right after it was finished. When I saw the picture of my daughter in law - I knew she was in touch with her inner-Dani in that pose. I just had to use them for my cover.

What were your struggles with writing your protagonists and antagonists?
I actually don't struggle - I let them boss me around! Tee hee... I guess some people would call that a problem, but I learned long ago to go with the flow. When I write - it's like I'm reading it. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Where did the idea for this book come from?
I stop at a county highway every day on my way to work. There are no people around, yet every day for about a week, I imagined slamming my brakes to avoid hitting someone. It was driving me crazy. I had just finished edits on something so I decided to write it out and make it go away. This book is where that took me.  All of my novels start with 1 silly thing nagging at me. I'm just glad only 1 hits me at a time!

What is your writing method?
By the seat of my butt. Pantsing is the term. Each day I open up my word doc, read the last page or so and continue where I left off. Rarely do I have any idea or plan. Sometimes I have a sentence or 2 of what I think may happen,  but those notes usually get deleted. I can only say my characters are the boss so many times before people think I'm crazy. Well, I am. That's a whole different ball of wax! I say do what works for you.

Why did you decide to go with this type of publishing? (indie vs trad vs self)
I have used 3 small publishing houses. I have had some great experiences and will say nothing but good about any of them. I recently re-released a couple of those titles so I decided to try on my own with this one since I found such a great book designer. No matter who your publisher is, you will do a lot of the promo work. I have a pretty good following going so I wanted to try to just release this one on my own. Maybe the winter has been too long and I have the blues, but I just wan't up to the querying thing. We'll see how it goes. I have a few more books I have to get to yet. Not sure if I'll hunt for an agent or just get them out there myself again.

Is there anything you want your readers to get out of your books?
I keep teasing that I try not to teach a lesson. I want the reader to be able to escape into someone else's life for a while. You can be jealous of their trip to Maui and cheer Jeremy for standing up to Dani's father. I aim for a "feel good" when they are done and want to leave them wanting more. A couple readers have even thanked me for making them cry. I've had people nag for sequels - a few got their way. :)

Tell me a bit about yourself.
I'm a pretty mellow soul these days. The long winter has made us even worse movie buffs than before. When the weather is decent, I ride my horse around our home. We live in a great spot. I also love taking my 2 dogs for walks. You'd be amazed at the scenes that pop into your head on a quiet, country road. I work for a printing company doing graphics.

Where can the reader find you books?
I'm at every major outlet. Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords... it's in every format available. Most are in print - a few (Any Musa releases) you can only get from me at signings. They are a coveted "Promo Print run only" kind of deal. I do offer them as giveaways as well. Follow my facebook fan page for all giveaways and special promotions: http://www.facebook.com/JuneKramin or my website: http://www.junekramin.com/ for all buy links.



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Friday, April 19, 2013

Author Interview: SS Hampton, Sr.



Today we have author, S.S. Hampton, Sr.

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Sometime around the age of 15, though I cannot remember what the actual “trigger” was. My first publication was not until I was 38 years old, and 10 more years would pass before the next publication. Since then I have been published on a fairly regular basis.

2. How did you get into so many different genres?
Let’s see—horror, science fiction, fantasy, erotica, and military fiction. And throw in a little Western and historical fiction (Greece and Rome). I have an interest in those subjects, of course, and writing in those genres can be challenging and fun. I do and do not like being scared, though I believe it is something “hardwired” within us; science fiction, new worlds whether distant planets or time travel—stories are wonderful possibilities. Fantasy, creating new worlds whether my vision of Atlantis or writing of some kingdom that once existed before recorded history, or even writing of elves and fairies that co-exist beside us. Erotica, ahem, ‘nuff said! Military fiction—I have spent most of my adult life in the military or associated with it, so the subject is very natural and familiar. I do, however, usually like to add a supernatural element to such stories. Any Western I dabble in usually has a cavalry focus to it, and of course, a supernatural element. I enjoy dabbling in historical fiction, particularly during Greek and Roman times. Of course, some genres are more fun than others, too. Perhaps that is the key—writing, though it is a serious business, can and should be, FUN!

3. What are your struggles when writing?
Well, too many cigarettes, not enough coffee (two+ pots per day), or not enough beer, and finding myself doing some basic editing while writing the initial draft. I should just write and edit later. And of course, sometimes the story takes a turn I hadn’t planned on which requires some revision to the outline so that I retain an idea of where the story is going or may be headed toward.

4. Where do your book ideas come from?
My imagination, the news, something someone says, something I see, and even from my dreams. Ideas can pop up anywhere, especially when you least expect it. The key is to listen and observe, and write the ideas down as soon as you have them. I believe there is an old saying, something like, “Luck favors the prepared.” You never know where your next great idea is going to come from, so always be prepared.

5. What is your writing method?
Give me cigarettes, coffee and/or beer, music or a DVD playing (I cannot stand silence), an idea and/or outline, and I can start writing.

6. Why did you decide to go with this type of publishing?
I have always been poverty stricken, so vanity publishing is out of the question. Besides, selling and public relations would have rested squarely on my own shoulders. To go with a full service publisher, someone who provides the ISBN number, provides the cover artwork, assigns an editor to work with me, and finds sale outlets/distributors, all because they believe in the sales potential of my manuscript, is a much better deal. A marketing plan, or public relations, still rests on my shoulders, but I do not have to worry about the rest.

7. Is there anything you want your readers to get out of your books?
Hopefully that the readers enjoy my writings and they feel that their time has not been wasted.

8. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
As I am not sure what a “pantser” is, I will go with plotter. I generally start out with notes of “Beginning,” “Middle,” and “End.” I will write down pivotal points in the story and fill in additional details that form a basic outline. More and more these days, especially as my writing becomes oriented toward novella length stories, I find a detailed outline more useful. And I generally follow that unless the story insists on going down an uncharted path. Then I will revise the outline to ensure there are no loose ends.

9. Tell me a bit about yourself.
Ah, I love cheese pizza with extra cheese, sausage, and onion. I love orange cupcakes. My favorite breakfast is biscuits and gravy with hash browns, bacon, and a cheese omelet. I love my grandchildren; I tolerate my children, but I love my grandchildren. Oh yes. Someday I want to visit the Himalayas.

10. Where can the reader find your books?
Look for SS Hampton, Sr. at Melange Books (http://www.melange-books.com/authors/sshampton/index.html);

And, thanks for having me on your blog.



BLURB: 
December, 1941, and fresh Siberian troops from the Soviet Far East have launched savage counter-attacks against the German invaders. The Eastern Front is torn open with German units driven back, overwhelmed, or isolated. An exhausted Waffen SS infantry platoon outside of Moscow needs to know what the Siberians, hidden in a dark forest before them, are up to. A small patrol is sent into the snowy, otherworldly forest…

EXCERPT: 
A little more than a dozen snow encrusted German soldiers, remnants of a once strong motorized infantry platoon, grimly surveyed their surroundings. The frozen winter sun cast a feeble light across theiroutpost on a small rise overlooking a snowy road that bordered the forest before Moscow. Above them gray clouds painted with broad pastel strokes of reds, yellows, and purples drifted across the twilight sky.

"The sun's going down," Josef Frank said to no one in particular as he adjusted his leather “Y” straps on which to attach his field gear. He carefully checked his 9mm MP 38 submachine gun. In the savage cold their weapons and ammunition were scraped clean of lubricating oils because the oils froze and jammed the weapons. Even then, successful operation was no guarantee. His weapon sometimes fired only one to two rounds at a time. Then he checked the leather magazine pouches fastened to his belt—three magazines, thirty rounds per magazine, ninety rounds, and one “potato masher” stick grenade tucked in his belt. That was all he had left to face the fresh Siberian troops lurking somewhere within the dark forest before them—the last barrier that hid the suburbs of Moscow.

He glanced at the gaunt men wrapped in all manner of clothing to protect themselves against the painful cold. In that snowy otherwordly environment, it was sometimes hard to remember that he was an SS-Unterscharf├╝hrer, a sergeant and a squad leader, in a much decimated Waffen SS motorized infantry battalion. All that was left of his platoon was gathered on the rise—an MG-34 gunner and his assistant, a trio of riflemen, a light mortar manned by two soldiers, and a pair of soldiers with a Panzerbusche 39 anti-tank rifle. Plus, he and his squad of three surviving soldiers who would soon creep into the forest to see what the Siberians were doing.

Their ground was no more than twenty feet higher than the surrounding terrain, and though it gave them a good overview, they were also sitting ducks. Low moans and an occasional cry came from among the scores of dirty white forms sprawled on the snowy slopes of their small rise of land. The shapeless forms trailed from the shadowed edges of the vast forest…



BIOGRAPHY:

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He is a serving member of the Army National Guard with the rank of staff sergeant, with prior service in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007); he has recently been told that he must retire from the Army National Guard on 1 July 2013. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. Second-career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.

Melange Books

Musa Publishing

MuseItUp Publishing

Amazon.com Author Page

Amazon.com. UK Author Page

Goodreads Author Page
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6888342.S_S_Hampton_Sr_

Apologies

I am sorry for not having posted much in the past several days. I have been in and out of town without much internet connection and will continue to do so until near the end of April. There are two interviews and a giveaway that will be posted during my absence. I should be back to my regular schedule in the first week of May. Also, those of you who have posted comments, I am not ignoring you. I just haven't had the chance yet to reply to everyone. Sorry again for any inconveniences or anything I have caused.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J for Jotting (Notes)

No matter what, I almost always have either my phone or my tablet near me. I never know when inspiration will hit and I would need to jot down notes. I think it is important for a writer to always have something around to write down notes and thoughts. Who knows when inspiration will hit. One of the biggest lies a writer tells themself is that they will remember something. Most of us have fifty things going on. We have jobs, kids, pets, chores, errands, the list goes on and on. Sure, in all that jumnle, we may occasionally remember that random little detail about our story, but chances are it will get lost.

Do you carry around anything to write notes down on?

I is for Indie Presses

There are a lot of indie presses out there now. Some are good and some are bad, the trick is to find one of the good ones. I know I intern for one of the good ones, and have applied for jobs at a couple others, but really what can the writer do to make sure they are submitting their work to a good press? According to Writer Beware you need to watch out for:


  • Does the press charge you any money?
    • This would make the press a vanity press
  • Do they solicit or spam you?
    • Most reputable presses will not do this
  • Are there complaints about the staff or press?
    • If there are a lot of unhappy authors, there is probably something shady going on
  • What are the  staff credentials?
    • You want someone who knows what they are doing working for you
  • What is the website like?
    • If there are a lot of grammatical or typographical errors, what makes you think they will properly edit your work?

The list goes on to mention several other things to watch out for. Check out their site for more information on not just indie presses, but other areas important to writers.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Humor

I can't stand to read something that is totally serious. This is the main reason I probably stay away from most non-fictions. I need to be able to laugh a little when reading. The hard part is, I don't think I'm very funny. I'm not sure I can inject humor into my writing. There are times that I try, but I feel as though it falls flat and I don't know what to do about it.

Sure, not everyone has the gift of gab. I feel, as a writer, I should be able to show different aspects of life in my writing, including the funny moments.

Do you like humor in what you read? Do you ever have trouble making what you write a little funny?

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Genre

Last time I talked about the fantasy genre, today I want to talk about genres in general. Usually I just read and write romance and fantasy/sci-fi, but I have been reading contemporary novels more often. I also enjoy very specific biographies (mostly about the English, French, and Russian aristocracy, or Audrey Hepburn or John Lennon).

There are many different types of genres and sub-genres that are written and enjoyed by people. I can't imagine ever being constricted by just one genre forever.

What is your favorite genre? Do you prefer mixing different genres together?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Author Interview: Susan Rae

Today we have author Susan Rae with us to tell you all about her new novel, ICE Blue.

***

Hi, I’m Susan Rae, author of romantic suspense novels.  First, I want to thank Traci-Anne for hosting me today and giving me the opportunity to tell you a little about myself and my newest sizzling suspense, ICE blue.

ICE blue is the sequel to my award winning novel, heartbeats, about a Chicago cop family named DeLuca. But don’t let the fact that it is a sequel fool you--you can enjoy ICE blue even if you haven’t read heartbeats. Each book has its own romance and suspense storyline and is complete within itself.

Now for the questions.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think, perhaps, in fifth grade when I wrote my first melodrama for a Girl Scout Drama Badge, although the seed was probably always there, ever since I learned to read.  Later, when I played Jo in the eighth grade production of Little Women, I felt it was typecasting.

How did you get into romance?
Remember that melodrama I mentioned in my first answer?  It wasn’t so far, really, from romantic suspense.  It had a hero and heroine, a love story, a dastardly villain, and lots of suspense!  Later in college where I majored in English Literature, I grew tired of almost everything literary ending in the death or suicide of one of the main characters.  When I decided to write my own novels, I picked romance because I wanted my characters to have that Happy Ever After ending.  Or as I call it, that “Happily Moving On” ending.    

What are your struggles when writing?
My main struggle is just taking the time to sit in the chair and write the book, even when the story or particular plot point isn’t coming as quickly as I’d like.  I’ve learned to just concentrate on the next scene, sketch it quickly on paper, and then get to the computer and start typing. Within minutes of doing that, the scene usually starts flowing out nicely.  And I don’t worry about getting it down perfect the first time.  My only concern at that point is just getting the scene into the book file.

Where do your story ideas come from? 
Perhaps a better question would be, where don’t your story ideas come from?  I grab ideas from newspaper articles (I read the paper every day), from experiences of people I know, or even just from watching people and thinking he or she would make a great character in a novel. Of course, once I get all that input, I stir it all up and move it around until I come up with a work of fiction that has its own unique storyline and characters.  In ICE blue, my main character, Angela DeLuca, actually came from heartbeats.  I had created this family of cops, the DeLucas, and knew I wanted to write another book about them.  I also knew there was a younger sister in the family who I had made a paramedic instead of a cop, but I actually had to go back into my own book and find out her name. Then I tried to think what kind of story I could write about her that had plenty of suspense in it.  I had read articles about illegal immigration and human trafficking, so I thought why not have her love interest an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who is working on a case.  She wants to care and protect the victim she comes in contact with and her unborn baby, he wants to use her to solve his case.  Thus we have conflict and emotion, and with bringing other emotional elements into the story, a novel is born.

What is your writing method?
I’m actually a plotter.  Once I get an idea for the story and who the main characters are, I get my notebook out and start brainstorming.  I come up with the main story conflict, the conflict between the characters, sketch the characters out, decide who I need for secondary characters (villians, etc.).  I usually already have an idea for the beginning and the end, so I start working toward jotting down the main beats in the storyline--those scenes that move the story in another direction.  Because mine are suspense novels, I have to have a pretty good idea of where I’m going and how the characters get there.  At some point though, I just sit down and start writing.  That’s when the magic happens--the surprises--as the characters start taking over the work and things happen that I never thought of originally.

Why did you decide to go with e-publisher, Musa Publishing?
My debut novel, heartbeats, was originally published in mass paperback by Berkley Publishing.  Unfortunately, life events curtailed my writing for a while.  When I was ready to write again, I looked around and saw so many people reading on their e-readers that I decided that was the way to go.  Musa was new and I was excited about getting in on the ground floor of an exciting new venture. I also didn’t want to go it as a self-published author because I didn’t want to deal with all the technicalities of publishing myself, i.e. editing, book design, getting the book out to all the major markets. I signed with Musa for an e-book release of heartbeats, the release of my second novel, freefall, and a few months after that for ICE blue and the third novel in the DeLuca series, TRUE blue which I am currently working on.

Is there anything you want readers to get out of your books?
I would like readers to be in a good place after they finish one of my books.  I would like them to see through my writing and my characters that although life can be tough at times, with perseverance, a positive attitude, love, and trust in one another, we can get to that “Happily Moving On” ending.   

Where can readers find your books?
My books are available for download directly from my publisher and all major e-Book retailers. The major links are below:


Thank you for spending this time with me. Please read on for a little more info about me and an excerpt of ICE blue.  For more excerpts and information on my books, please visit me at www.susanrae.com. 

Happy Reading,
Susan Rae

Bio:



Author of contemporary Romantic Suspense/Mystery novels, Susan Rae loves writing romantic suspense because it allows her to combine a sexy, passionate love story with a gritty suspense tale--in her opinion, the best of both worlds. When she is not writing, you might find her on the golf course working on her handicap or traveling around the country with her husband and empty nest puppies, Ginger and Nikute, seeking out settings for her novels.
freefall, Susan's second novel, takes place in Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine Forest and beautiful Door CountyICE blue returns to the busy streets of Chicago and the shores of Lake Michigan to continue the story of the DeLuca family which began in her award winning first novel, heartbeats. She is currently working on the third book in the DeLuca series, TRUE blue, due out in 2014, where it seems her characters must take a trip to Montana's majestic Glacier National Park--a fact which pleases Susan immensely.

ICE blue Blurb:

When lives are on the line, sometimes the wrong thing is the right thing to do.
Born into a Chicago cop family, while her brothers get their rush from catching bad guys, paramedic Angela DeLuca gets hers from saving lives.  A tough beauty with a heart perhaps too big, Angela champions the underdog because, as the youngest of six siblings, she often felt like one.

ICE Special Agent Troy Deavers became a cop to prove he wasn’t like his father—a southern politician who brought his family down with greed and corruption. Troy doesn’t suffer victims well.  At first intrigued by Angela’s passion, he soon fears that the fire in Angela’s heart will be her undoing.
What happens when Troy falls in love with the lovely but infuriating Angela, the Chicago paramedic who insists on protecting a young witness and her unborn baby—a witness who could break his case wide open?

EXCERPT:

A rush of adrenalin shot through Angela as she approached the accordioned car where a cop stood, adamantly motioning her over.

“What’ve we got?” she asked the officer. Another man, not a cop or rescue personnel, she presumed, as he wore no uniform jacket—hell, he wasn’t wearing a jacket at all—stood beside the officer, his back to her. His head and arms disappeared into the opening where the driver’s window should be. Blood, bright red and vibrant against the white snow, trickled from beneath the door at the man’s feet…

She touched the shoulder of the man leaning through the window.

“Hey, it’s okay, we’ll take it from here.”

The guy didn’t seem to hear her. More rescue vehicles were arriving on scene, sirens blaring.

She called more loudly. “Hey, I said we’ve got it!”

Finally he turned and gave her a quick assessment. She could swear she saw a touch of amusement in those blue-green eyes he flashed at her.

“Listen, lady, if I ease up on this,” he said smoothly, “this guy’ll bleed out.” Turning his back to her, he said to the driver, “Hang in there, buddy. I’ve got you covered…

Angela squeezed her arm in beside the man-in-the-window’s shoulder and pressed her fingers against the driver’s throat. He was tachy. His skin cold and clammy.

Withdrawing her hand, she bent, unzipped her jump bag, and grabbed a handful of trauma dressings. “Listen, thanks for your help,” she said firmly to the man beside her, “but, we’ve got it now.” She ripped a couple of gauze packs open with her teeth and added, “You’d better get into a warm car yourself or we’ll be treating you next.” The guy’s wavy, mid-length hair and cotton-shirted shoulders were quickly becoming coated with snow. It was clear he wasn’t from around here given his lack of outerwear.

He cocked his head toward her again and this time there was no mistaking that amused look. Angela shot him her most official glare. Her hands, loaded with supplies, were poised, ready to do battle just as soon as he got the hell out of her way.

His eyes narrowed ever so slightly on her. He glanced back into the car to where Josie was squeezing in through the passenger window and settled his gaze once more on Angela. “If you’re sure you’re ready?”

Shit! Was this guy for real? “Out of my way!” she ordered.

“Fine, he’s all yours.”

Before she was barely aware of it, he had backed out of the window and was holding his bloodied hands up into the air.

With an irritated shake of her head, she shoved past him, head and hands diving through the open window. With the pressure released, blood soaked more quickly through the jacket. She eased the jacket aside to expose the gash and slammed the gauze dressing against the pulsing artery. In the slight gap that remained of the front passenger compartment, Josie ripped I.V. packages open and readied a needle to pump the guy with fluids.

The driver started to shake, shock taking hold.

“Hold on there, buddy,” she called to him, but he drifted into unconscious; his eyes rolled back in his head. The sweet smell of warm blood against the crisp frigid air burned Angela’s nostrils. She felt a chill snake up her own spine. She and Josie were locked in a battle against time and the cold—they had to keep this guy alive until Rescue could get him out of here.

Glancing out the window, she noted that Mr. Helpful was gone.

“Where the hell are those Jaws?” she yelled at the officer.

It’d been a long night. She’d already lost one patient on her watch; she’d be damned if she’d lose another.

Copyright © 2013 by Susan Rae