18 December 2012

Book Review and Interview: JOANNE RENAUD

  A Question of Time by Joanne Renaud
Book Blurb:
Years later, successful author Celia Cavalotti is still mourning the death of her favorite teacher, who died in a car crash in 1989. But when a car accident of her own hurtles her back in time to the week of his death, she has a chance to change the future.
    Finding herself in the 1980s is a shock to the extremely modern Celia-- but even more shocking is seeing her dead English teacher, Alan Forrest, alive and well before her very eyes. Alan is far more handsome than she remembers, and she can't resist the urge to flirt. After all, they have so much in common, like writing and a shared love of science fiction. Celia knows she's falling in love with him-- but can she use this opportunity to prevent his tragic death? What is happening to her? And why can't she seem to stay in one place and time?

Book Review:
 A Question of Time  is an intriguing time-travel romance.  I thoroughly enjoyed this journey, starting with the musical references and mentions of television shows, books, and other touchstones. [In fact, Ms. Renaud put together a playlist to set the late 80s mood, starting with Debbie Gibson.] Celia is no longer a geeky teen but a woman of passion who falls for a man she knows will soon die. Alan Forrest is a teacher who cares about where his students are going in their lives, making his impending death even more tragic. There are sparks and romance and yes, Celia questions whether she should act on her feelings for a man who was her teacher. The reader begins to wonder which scenario is reality just as Celia does but without the usual discussion of the time-travel paradox conundrum. As the tale unfolded, I feared Ms. Renaud would twist it a little too far, but she didn't. I found the ending quite satisfying and can honestly say I highly recommend  A Question of Time.
 Interview with Joanne Renaud:

1. A Question of Time is a lovely time travel story with a fabulous twist. How difficult was it to keep track of where your characters were and how they could end up where you wanted them?

Thanks, Jude! It helped when I diagrammed and made outlines of everything. At one point I actually made a diagram of the various alternate timelines that occurred. I should probably scan it in at some point, but there might be spoilers for future books... 

2. You hit on all the touchstones of Geek Life: Star Trek, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, even knowing the secretary's name on Moonlighting. Were you a serious nerd in high school?

Very much so. I liked SF, but I was more into fantasy-- I was a regular reader of Dragon Magazine (the official publication of TSR, before it was bought out by Wizards of the Coast). I liked Bradbury and Asimov's short stories, especially "Nightfall," but I could never grok the Foundation trilogy. I loved, loved, loved fairy tale retellings, especially anything by Angela Carter, Tanith Lee and Robin McKinley.  I also had a serious hard-on for ancient Roman history. And as you can imagine, I loved any kind of time travel story, whether it was SF (like Bradbury's "Sound of Thunder") or YA fantasy romance (like Eileen Goudge's "Swept Away" series).

As for TV, I preferred cartoons like "Gummi Bears" and "Pirates of Dark Water." This was not something I talked about with anyone, since a high schooler liking cartoons in 1989-1990 was not really considered Cool (even by the nerds). I have since discovered from an old high school friend that I was well known around school as a major Disney fan-- I guess I was, though I didn't really think of myself as one at the time.  

3. Music plays an important supporting role in A Question of Time. How would you describe your personal musical taste and how is does--or doesn't--affect your writing?

Oh it does-- hugely! In fact, I put together a special playlist for A Question of Time, which you can listen to hereon YouTube. 

4. Are there any genres you love to read but won't attempt to write?

I love Regency romances but I would never write one-- I don't think I can really do period comedy of manners. Ditto mysteries. I'm pretty sure I would be unable to come with a satisfying whodunit-- Raymond Chandler I am not.

5. You also have  a historical fable entitled The Ash-slave, a retelling of Cinderella from an ancient Persian perspective (which I thoroughly enjoyed). Which would you say is more difficult for your muse, writing historically accurate fiction or sci-fi/fantasy? And what do you find more personally satisfying to compose?

I'm such a history nerd that, in the past, when I've tried to write historical fiction I've ended up tying myself in knots, like, trying to figure out details of ancient Phoenician costume or 1640s battle logistics. With contemporary SF romance I seem to have hit upon a way of actually avoiding that.

I would love to return to historical fiction someday though! I have several unfinished novels (one set during the English Civil War, the other set in ancient Lebanon & Assyria) that are begging me to get back to them… 

6. Randomly choose two people from this list with whom you could talk for two hours and tell us about the conversation: 
  Elizabeth Taylor
  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  Cyrus the Great
  Gene Roddenberry
  Elizabeth I
  John F. Kennedy

Elizabeth I and Gene Roddenberry, possibly? I can imagine sitting down and talking to Mr. Roddenberry about his opinions on the current state of the union and what he thinks of the latest shows, etc, and how shocking it is how little support there's been for NASA over the past twelve years. As for Elizabeth, it's hard for me to imagine her even deigning to notice my presence; but, if I can imagine myself as a reporter allowed unprecedented access from beyond the grave, I would pick her brain about her childhood, her feelings about her mother, what she thinks about the Stuarts and what happened to the country after she died. 

Now, if I could change that list slightly, I would PAY to see Elizabeth I and Malcolm X launch into each other. I would record it and post it on YouTube. 
[Whoa, that would be something to see, wouldn't it?]

7. What's coming up for you in the near future? What direction do you hope to take your writing in the next few years?

I just finished a "side-quel" to A Question of Time; after that, I'd like to continue the series. I have the next two installments planned out (for the most part).  They would involve the adventures of women traveling in time; but one would go almost fifty years into the past, and the other would go far into the future. Let's see what happens!

Thanks, Joanne! Wishing you great success with your writing!

Buy Links:
 A Question Of Time is available from
Champagne Books


The Ash-slave: www.amazon.com/The-Ash-Slave-ebook/dp/B005CLDEBY

03 December 2012

Srsly? R U 2 LA-Z 2 Type?

I hate text speak. If that marks me as an old crab, so be it. Isn't there enough ignorance in the world without encouraging the deliberate proliferation of abbreviated gibberish?

Yes, technology demands now that thoughts be expressed in Tweet bites of 140 characters. And I realize that many more people now send text messages rather than speak live to another person. The Japanese write entire books in these shortened hieroglyphics specifically for their "smart" phones. But as someone who loves language and word combinations, extensive use of text-speak makes a terrible impression of either ignorance or laziness.  Are we truly that pressed for a few seconds of time to not type a few more letters?

Over the past thirty years, I have seen information forms increasingly filled with more and more misspelled words. Not just medical terms, which I can completely sympathize with someone not knowing how to spell, such as cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal) or renal lithotripsy (using sound waves to break up kidney stones).  No, I'm talking about "hedach" for headache and "berfday" for birthday.  Emphasis on correct spelling has diminished in our educational system to the point that "speling fonetikly" became perfectly acceptable a number of years ago. When a child begins to learn to read and write, phonetics are, indeed, the first step--but the child should grow beyond that with an expanding vocabulary that they learn to spell correctly.

Now with text messaging great becomes "gr8t", later is "L8R", cutie is "QT"--and no one bothers to abandon the abbreviations when they aren't using their phone.  Posts on Facebook and Twitter encourage limitation of whole word usage. In reading posts, one has to wonder if some folks have any actual knowledge of the real words those combinations of letters and numerals have supplanted.

I will admit to using a "LOL" or a "ROFL" here and there myself. But generally, I think it's of vital importance to use whole words when sending a text message or posting on social media--especially for a writer. Words can be lyrical and beautiful, or nasty and hurtful, but they are every writer's main tools.  As such, they must be handled masterfully, with skill and precision. Deliberate misspellings can be used to convey ignorance--do you honestly want to project that as your own?

Back when I was first learning to send text messages (before phones had keyboards or became "smart"), my son impressed me with a statement I had never expected to hear from a pre-teen:

"Text-speak is trash. Good grammar is sexy."

I was stunned--and extremely proud. To this day, we both try to always compose literate, whole word messages with one another as much as possible (barring arthritic fingers hitting multiple keys or typing in the dark without glasses).  Sometimes it takes me a good amount of time because the T9 Word function never comes up with the word I want so I type each letter individually, but hey, that's what I do anyway as a writer.

So think about what your messages say, and what they say about you to others. 

19 November 2012

Joys (and Lesser Options) Of Book Signings

Writers are a peculiar lot to begin with, but throw in a book signing event and they can get downright freaky. Some abhor such things with such passion that you have to wonder if it isn't pathological. I call it Vendagoraphobia: Fear of Participating in a Public Book Signing.  If you're newly published and are anticipating your first event, let me share some observations and possibly prevent the onset of vendagoraphobia.

First, it doesn't matter if you're published by Simon & Schuster, Happy Local Small Press, or CreateSpace: signings are marketing, marketing means signings, and 99% of authors have to do their own marketing. The notion of a publisher footing the bill for a book tour is  like a unicorn: you might have heard of such a thing but never, ever are you going to see one. You should, therefore, take advantage of events in your local area to publicize that YOUR BOOK --doesn't "your book" sound great?--is now available.

If you are published by a big house and are signing at a bookstore, you won't have to worry about bringing books with you--usually. (I've witnessed the debacle when an author shows up and someone at the store "forgot" to order her books.) But the majority of authors now are either independently published or signed with a small publishing house, in which case it's up to the author to bring a supply of their books.

Then comes the question, how many should you take? Well, that depends on the event. According to the New York Times, the average number of books sold at a signing is seven. If the audience is particularly interested your book's theme or topic, take at least twenty. If it's a multiple author fair, maybe take fifteen. And if it's a little offbeat, say an arts and crafts fair in July, take ten. But don't ever take fewer than seven; envision selling at least the average.

Whenever possible, make your signing area a display that connects with potential readers. This is where many authors drop the ball. I've seen authors simply sit behind a stack of books set on a table with a plain white cloth, a dour look on their face and their arms crossed, expecting readers to 1) know what their book is, 2) what it's about, 3) who they are, and 4) how much it costs. Sigh. If it was that easy we'd all be Stephanie Meyer. (And I'm only talking sales here, not writing skills. I agree with Stephen King.)  Don't assume everyone has ESP and can immediately grasp what your book is about. Most folks only get ESPN.

My book display at St. Francis Cabrini Arts & Crafts Fair last weekend.
Signage, people, SIGNAGE. It's so easy to make clean signs on a computer.  Prices should be right there where they can see them.

Displays should have something to catch the eye. Seasonal decor always works well, and be proud to display those gorgeous book covers. I'm not saying I know everything but color grabs my attention far more often than not.

And speaking of sitting... whenever possible, don't. Of course, physical limitations may make standing impossible, but make an effort to be visible and accessible. If you sit there like a lump with a bored expression on your face no one will find your display interesting either. Stand up, stretch your legs, stretch your face by smiling. At the very least it will make people wonder what you're plotting. Compliment fair-goers on something you honestly admire, whether the saying on a tee shirt or unique jewelry. Engage them in conversation. Don't be afraid to be friendly. I've met some incredible folks at events who may not have purchased my books but I learned something from them.

Also remember that not everyone wants what you write--and that's quite all right. That's why there are so many different genres and books. It never hurts to ask what kind of stories someone prefers; if it's you're genre, great--tell them about your book and maybe why you felt it was important to write. If they prefer something else, point them toward someone else who writes those kind of tales. Karma can be good.

Plus, on any given day a certain number of people will not be in a buying mood. And that's okay, too. Not necessarily fun, mind you, but as Scarlett O'Hara once said, "Tomorrow is another day."

08 November 2012


I am not a disciplined writer. There. I've said it for the public record.

Not that I'm against discipline. Just ask my son (heh heh). I always told him M-O-M stands for Mean Old Mother and I intended to live up to the title. But when it comes to writing, I find trying to set rigid parameters of designated writing time doesn't seem to work out for me.

Distractions plague me. While work is a big reason why I can't designate daylight writing time, it's not as distracting as it is necessary. For those of you who may not know, I'm a chiropractor and while I'm supposed to be "semi-retired" my office manager/husband hasn't read that particular memo--or maybe it's just poor reading retention due to that chromosome deficiency afflicting the male gender. You know, they only have one X; that other Y is missing an entire leg of capabilities... ahem.

See? I digress rather easily. But I have to say my biggest distraction is living in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona. Between interesting creatures wandering through the front yard and incredible displays of light, grabbing the camera often becomes more important than finishing a scene. Bad writer, yes, but how can I pass up opportunities such as last night's magnificent sunset?

A camera often misses the brilliant intensity of colors the human eye can see, but even so, my little digital Kodak works pretty well.

Each sunrise, sunset, or storm is unique. January is when the sky's kaleidoscope bursts with concentrated hues, so imagine this sunset times ten.
Can you blame me for getting out of my chair and running outside?

So now the task is to finish my short story between patients, meetings, and chores by tomorrow evening. Pray for a dull day and possible blah rain...

29 October 2012


Holy moley, October is nearly over already! As part of the Swag-a-bration Celebration of Readers with Champagne Book Group, I'm running a little contest--you could win an Awesome Box O' Desert Swag OR if you're outside the US/Canada, a $15 Champagne Book Group Gift Certificate!

Here's how it works: Answer Las Preguntas Locas (The Crazy Questions) on my Facebook Fan Page with a MESSAGE. Don't let your test anxiety kick in; these are fun, loopy, silly--and the answers will be easily found on my Fan Page or Website.

One of my demented cats-- either Fritzgerald the Tombstone Brothel Baby or Gato the Ancient Whiner, depending on which one of them deigns to participate-- will chomp a name at random from those who post correct answers. Sorry, special requests to rub catnip on your name cannot be accommodated because it makes Gato barf and Fritz tear up the furniture.  Again, send your answers as a MESSAGE on my Facebook Fan Page (look for the "Message" button in the right upper corner next to the "Like" button--and feel free to like the page if you haven't already!) 

What's in the Awesome Box O' Desert Swag? Take a look:

(clockwise from top):  a Welsh Dragon Temporary Tatt-oo, Pink Champagne Bath Beads, Arizona stickers, Native Animal Totems Notecards, an autographed book marker by yours truly, a sampling of yummy dichos (more than just one of course, taco-shaped Mexican cinnamony cookies; like a fortune cookie, but with Spanish sayings--and yes, translation in English on the other side)a Mexican Tile magnet, a piƱa colada flavored saguaro lollipop, and an Apache Tears worry stone-- all inside a Champagne Books Totebag!
Sadly, postage limits the Awesome Box winner to the US & Canada, but do not despair if you don't reside in either country: if your name is selected, you will will a $15 gift certificate to Champagne Book Group, which is good for any and all of my books there as well as sci-fi/fantasy books through BURST and erotica through Carnal Passions!
Las Preguntas Locas will be posted October 29th and the contest will close at the 12th stroke of midnight October 31, 2012. (Which makes it technically the morning of Nov. 1) The winner will be chomped at random and announced here plus on Facebook/Twitter by noon November 1.

So come and play: Facebook Fan Page!

17 October 2012

Scouting Locations, Rhan Dwy (Part Two)

Today's Word Search Word is in THIS blog post! 
Download the entire list here.

Sex on the beach. Conjures images of Caribbean sunsets, white sands, and that classic scene in From Here to Eternity with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, doesn't it?

But most beaches I've been to aren't exactly isolated from public view. And then there's a little problem of wind: no one enjoys being sand-blasted, especially not...there. Ow. So while sex on the beach is a romantic notion, in my mind it existed in all practicality better as a drink.

Then I went to San Diego for a few days. Driving to the tip of Point Loma, the peninsula that cups around the western side of San Diego Bay, we came to Cabrillo Point Park. There is a New England-style lighthouse perched atop the cliff; its light warned ships coming across the Pacific Ocean of the hidden rocks at the entrance of the bay.  All along the Pacific side are tidal pools
Cabrillo Point lighthouse
amid the rocks, often shrouded in sea mist until mid-afternoon.

It wasn't far from Cabrillo's lighthouse that I found the perfect isolated beach for my main characters to have as their special place in Out of Forgotten Ashes

Evan Jones and his Mexican wide, Reyna Montoya Svenson had honeymooned in San Diego in 1884 when Point Loma was largely unsettled.

Looking aouth at Cabrillo Point from the Pacific Side
Sailing around Cabrillo Point and heading north along the cliffs, Evan and Reyna found a secluded cove with a beach that could have looked like this:

No one is going to sneak up on you from the land side here. And it's sheltered from the wind, so no sand would blow into your...eyes. I could see my characters in the scene from Book Two, sitting side by side in sadness and sorrow in the late afternoon sun, talking intently of the hurt they faced, wondering if their future would ever be joyful again.  

Scouting locations can truly inspire scenes in a story, adding depth of emotion and rich detail. Being where your characters walk is one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing.

15 October 2012

Scouting Locations, Rhan Un (Part One)

There are writers out there who can compose wonderful descriptions of places they've never been. I'm not one of them. I need to go where my characters have been or where the heated action takes place. Actually, the opposite often happens: the location inspires my creativity to concoct a scene or an entire story in that setting.

My first novel, Dragon & Hawk hatched from a trip with my son's grade school class to Bisbee and Tombstone. Learning that 300 Welsh miners were recruited in the 1870s to come to the Arizona Territory set my imagination off and running. What did they think of such an isolated place full of dangerous creatures and Apaches who were none too thrilled with invading neighbors? Surely they had to be amazed at the relative barrenness of the land compared to the verdant and lush Welsh countryside. And however did they survive the summer heat? 

Researching documents, letters, and newspapers gave delicious details about their lives. Repeated trips to Bisbee, Tombstone, and the surrounding areas during special events provided me with opportunities to capture sights, sounds, and smells to help readers feel the dust and heat.

My current Work In Progess (WIP) is a short story for an anthology composed by a number of Champagne Authors. Each story will deal with travel in some way and will also have a romantic component. Well, what's more romantic than an ancient castle in a faraway land?
This is Caerphilly Castle in about 1880-- and this is a photo I took there in 2008--->
Caerphilly was painstakingly restored by the fourth marquess of Bute from 1928 to 1939, copying original fallen stones like puzzle pieces to refit the walls and battlements. The leaning southeast tower was left unchanged.

It's a sad place with an air of incredible loss about it. Built by the Earl of Glamorgan in 1268-71 to defend his lands against Llywelen ap Gruffudd of Gwynedd (the last native Prince of Wales), Caerphilly Castle seems a monument to the greed and duplicity of the Marcher Lords. Their petty squabbles and inability to unite under Llywelen cost Wales dearly: English occupation and rule for the next seven centuries with near eradication of the Welsh language.

Feel the cold wind bite one's cheeks as it whisks the water surrounding the castle. The grass is four shades of green carpet across rolling hills. The stones are sharp in places, chipped and notched at the parapets for crossbows. One smells moss and peat with an occasional whiff of baking bread.

This is where my characters came from, this land of castles surrounded by water. Imagine then going from this to the arid, sun-scorched Arizona desert.Bit of a shock, wouldn't you say?

I can't get the true feel of a place from looking at photos on a website. I have to go, walk on the paths, close my eyes and listen to what my characters might hear so I can transport my readers into that time and locale.

Besides, it gives me a great excuse to travel. Stay tuned for Rhan Dwy/Part Two...

08 October 2012

Ah, Enjoying a Lazy Day

I don't get lazy days very often. I don't think many people do any more. But it is so lovely to have one, isn't it?

"Missed again, dang it!"
Yesterday was such a day. The weather is finally turning into autumn, though we always have one late October 100 degree fry-day. I messed around on the computer, working on this and that. Took my cats outside for their usual unsuccessful lizard safari and enjoyed listening to the birds yammer on--probably laughing at FritzCat the Hapless Hunter totally biffing a pounce. 

That's not to say I wasn't thinking about writing. In fact, a plot for a wee ghostie story materialized in my imagination. I'm polishing the article and blog post I'll submit to Romancing the West in a day or so that will be posted in November. I find tons of ideas sprout when I don't have a time crunch pressing against me.

It surprised me when I looked up at the clock and it was ten p.m. I hadn't actually accomplished much on paper or in the house but it still felt like the conclusion of a successful span of hours.

So here it is Monday and back to the hectic grind of rushing here and there to meet expectations and deadlines. I thrive on being busy--but must admit I treasure a lazy day once in a while.

03 October 2012

The Very First Swagabration. Ever. Cool.

October is Par-tay Month at Champagne Book Group--and YOU'RE invited!

It's a "Swagabration"--offering tons of author and Champagne "swag" to celebrate and reward our readers. There will be events going on all through October, so check back often!

WORD SEARCH: check the Champagne Book Group Blog for when the contest launches but you'll be searching for different words in different authors' blog posts--including here! (But not today...)

TWITTER: #swagbration for clues on how to win each week!

FACEBOOK: Watch for contests on Champagne Book Club

LIVE CHATS: Dates and time will be posted, but the chat room is on Champagne Book Group's website. Just click here: Chat Room

There will be lovely weekly prizes awarded and the SUPER GRAND PRIZE is a Kobo e-reader from Champagne's publisher loaded with great reads from their authors!

Come and play, and who knows? You may win some Desert Swag from yours truly!

10 September 2012

Guest Blogger: Holly Hunt

    Today's Guest Blogger is Ms. Holly Hunt, a talented author from Down Under in Canberra, Australia.  She delves into multiple genres to exercise her creativity. I especially enjoyed her tale of Lucifer in Love, The Devil's Wife, for its completely unexpected viewpoint (and probably blasphemous to certain uptight folks) that lingers in your thoughts for a good while. I love writing styles that kick your consciousness into a different gear. As soon as I get some private reading time, I plan to visit more of Holly's worlds:

Books by Holly Hunt
Now let's see what Holly Hunt has in store for us!

I was thinking about what to post here today, and then I got to thinking. I'd had a story recently accepted for publishing, a novella, really, and I wondered what people would think of it. So, being the impatient person I am, I've decided to give you all an exclusive sneak-peak into the opening scene of the story!
So, without further ado, I present the opening scene of my April 2013 release The Tyrant of Tarsit for your reading pleasure. Make sure you leave a comment and let me know what you think is going to happen!

The Tyrant of Tarsit
to be released April 2013

    The dark roads of northern Tarsit swept by Lauren as her motorbike flew past the trees, her gaze focused ahead. She leaned into a corner and straightened up, accelerating down the narrow country street. In the distance, a single light burned on the porch of a distant ranch house. The properties nearby were huge, stretching miles in every direction, with thousands of heads of cattle grazing across the vast landscape.
     Lauren slowed, flipping her headlight up high to illuminate as much of the surrounding trees as possible in the moonless night. Creatures both great and small had a habit of jumping out in front of passing vehicles, and that was the last thing she needed on her way home tonight.
     A lone cow stood on the side of the road, chewing blandly on grass as she passed it, doing eighty miles an hour. Lauren flew past, keeping an eye on it, and sighed in relief when it moved further from the road, startled by the rev of her bike.
     Lauren was accelerating out of another corner when something darted out of the shadows and into the beam of her headlight. Startled by the waist-high dog, Lauren slammed on the breaks, trying to steer around it.
     The dog stepped in front of the bike as she tried to go around it, and Lauren twisted the handlebars, letting out a frightened yell as her bike toppled.
     Lauren rolled, blessing the fact that her helmet was protecting her head. The bike slid after her, the front wheel hitting a tree and sliding to a stop as she rolled into the ditch on the side of the road. She lifted her head, looking around for her motorbike. The engine had stalled, but the headlight illuminated the patch of road where the huge dog had been standing not long before.
     Lauren stood up, examining her leathers for damage. There were scratches and patches missing from the elbows and palms of her outfit, but nothing else had been damaged. She took off her helmet and looked at it a little bit of paint missing, but better than she could have hoped.
     Lauren stood her bike up, slinging the stand down and examining the front tyre. In the light of a small torch from her saddlebag, she found the wheel unharmed, and only a few scratches on the body of her bike.
     Good, just a bit of lost paintwork. Lauren put the torch away, looking for a drink and gazing down the road. Where did that damn dog get to?
     The light from her bike went out, plunging the world into complete darkness.
     A voice, warped in the night air, said something she couldn't understand. A flash of blue light momentarily illuminated a man's hands, the ball of light crashing into Lauren's chest. Her head hit the ground, and she knew no more until the rays of a different sun graced her face the next morning. 

Want to know more? Visit http://rhythempoets.wordpress.com/ and click on the stand-in cover for The Tyrant of Tarsit. Alternatively, head on over to my Facebook page
 (https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Holly-Hunt/111905542194012) and like it to keep up with all the action and contests that are sparked there. 

Author photo from http://rhythempoets.wordpress.com
Author Bio:

   An author living in Canberra, Australia, Holly Hunt writes a collection of works including Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror and Romance.
    Currently undergoing an appren-ticeship in Butchery, Holly spends her days off writing and watching superhero cartoons.
  Holly lives with her partner, Matthew, in a one-bedroom flat crammed with comics and movie memorabilia. She dreams of one day owning a big garden, three dogs and a cat, and can’t wait until that day gets here.

02 September 2012

Thinking About The Slippery Slope

Ah...Out of August at last! Sure, it's still 100 + degrees here, and yes, it's still humid with occasional hefty thunderstorms, but we've turned the corner into fall. And with that, we're headed for The Slippery Slope.

Clip Art by ArtbyMichelle: http://www.squidoo.com/free-fall-clip-art-images
I remember my paternal grandmother talking about how the years got shorter and flew faster as she entered the autumn of her life. Am I there? Have I honestly reached the Autumn of Life yet? I'm not so sure, but time tends to gather speed into the end of the year like a greased pig on a Slip 'N' Slide sprayed with WD40.

Part of that is definitely the weather situation here in Arizona. Summer is basically Hell on a Hotplate. Everything slows down because all the University students have gone home with their mountains of laundry and all our winter visitors have flocked back to Canada and the Midwest. September is the last transitional month; the college kids are back but they're still trying to figure out where they are. One hundred degrees still puts off most visitors, but they start to trickle in by the end of the month.

The social and business scene flickers to life. Concerts and events start filling the weekends--by October, there are so many events going on each Saturday and Sunday you'll need to clone yourself to attend all the ones you'd like. That piling on of events limits your time at each one--and so the impression that time speeds up is enhanced because it suddenly becomes more limited.

We're heading into festival season and already nearly all my weekends are booked with signings and seminars. Something about having so much to do kicks my happy gear into overdrive. I hate August because it drags and no one is here and there are no holidays or excuses to not work.

I'm so glad it's September. Watch for me at festivals and events from now till Christmas. I'll have the schedule up on my website soon. We're on The Slippery Slope to the end of the year and I have no intention of having time to even glance at the vacuum cleaner.

I adore this time of year. I'll be at Fall Fest September 22nd to start with...see you around town!

20 August 2012

Meet T.K. Toppin!

Today I'm thrilled to introduce T.K. Toppin, a fabulous imagineer of Sci-fi adventure who lives in an exotic paradise in the Caribbean. T.K. has graciously agreed to be my guest blogger today and share some insight into her newest (other)world...

First of all, let me take this opportunity to say thank you Jude for having me here today.

Novels by T.K. Toppin; banner courtesy of author
For those who don’t know me, I write science fiction/speculative fiction with good dollops of action, humor and (hopefully) unforgettable characters.  I embarked on my maiden voyage into the literary world in early 2008, laying down the tracks to my first tale, The Lancaster Rule, following up with its sequel, The Master Key and The Eternal Knot.

Since then, I haven’t been able to stop writing.

I’ve been very fortunate to find a place with Champagne Group Books, under its science fiction and fantasy wing, Burst Books.  And even more fortunate to find another place over at Ring of Fire Publishing to showcase my Marlin series — and no, it’s not about fish!

Cover Courtesy of Ring of Fire Publishing
 This July saw the release of my short story teaser featuring Jax Marlin, in the Ring of Fire Short Story Sampler Vol. 1, along with seven other writers.

And just who is Jax Marlin?  She is a super sexy and very dangerous vigilante who is pursued by the determined and unwavering Special Inspector Michael Pedroni.  It helps neither in their quest to carry out the law, as they see it, when they are both besotted with each other.

In the sampler, titled To Catch A Marlin – Purged in Fire, we find Pedroni following Jax to a pleasure station in space, who is there to stop a vile criminal of the extremely nasty variety.

The full-length story of Jax and Pedroni is due (tentatively) for an October 2012 release with Ring of Fire Publishing.

The Lancaster Trilogy is available in both trade paperback and ebooks from Burst Books.

Teaser blurb from Purged in Fire:

Jax Marlin had slipped through his fingers yet again. The repetition of this predicament was embarrassing enough that Special Inspector Michael Pedroni found many reasons not to submit regular status reports to his superiors. Not that they were particularly interested in his on-going investigation into the vigilante.
In the last year, he had traveled to almost every corner of Earth, skipped across to the Bacchus Dome, and to numerous space stations and ports betwixt and between. Now, he’d come to the Ring of Fire pleasure station, way out in the fringe colonies of Jupiter, which, in his opinion, was no better than Bacchus with its in-your-face, sexually charged atmosphere.

Where to find me:
Twitter: TKToppin

photo courtesy of author

Author Bio: 
 I’ve been working as a graphic artist for more years than I can remember.  Based in Barbados, where I was born, writing has always appealed to me – whether reading someone else’s literary masterpieces, or doing my own disjointed ramblings. 

Early in 2008, I finally received the right motivation to just jump right in and start writing seriously. You could say I received a very strategic kick in a very specific part of my anatomy! Not literally, of course…