Thursday 30 December 2010

What A Year!

So, like every end of the year, I've a routine where I transfer all the important dates that I need to remember from my daily dairy into the following year's dairy.  Each time I do this, I marvel at how quickly the year has zinged by, not to mention the many things I've done or had to do to fill up those super-short days.

This year, I did my usual and transferred all the birthday's and anniversaries, etc, only to realize that this year, I really did do lots.  Not to mention accomplish a lot!  And it seemed like the year was even longer than most year's.  Never has my day planner diary looked so crammed full with notes, and reminders, and things to do.  It even looks fatter and heavier from the weight of the ink!  And the majority weren't even work related.  It was all to do with my first book and having it published.


That in itself is rather huge.  A definite: big deal.

Starting from January, I hit the ground running as I began my first round of edits which I worked on between juggling my work, and soon after my computer crashed.  It didn't bode well, and after I recovered from my hissy-fit, things started sailing smoothly.  Thankfully, I transferred everything book-related to my laptop.  Throughout February, it was all about edits, going back and forth with my editor.  It wasn't too bad, if I do say so myself.  And I learned such a great deal from that whole the point where I even wanted to rewrite the entire book!  My first novel was starting to look pitifully naive.  Sigh.  But I refrained from melting down and stuck with it.  I decided that my sequel would not make the same mistakes I made in the first one.

Amid the arrival of our first houseguest (and we had quite a bit of them) for the year, I began self-editing the sequel - with a determination that I would unlearn my bad writing habits.  Before long, it was March, and already I felt as if the year had dragged on, even though I knew it only began.  WTF, right?  I launched my Facebook page, then made attempts to launch a website.  Then I got back my ARC and Errata Form and had to re-read The Lancaster Rule...again!  Then on April 1st, my book was released!

After that, it was days, weeks, months of interviews, promotions, marketing, seeking out reviews, blabbing, annoying people, chattering non-stop about The Book.  I'm sure people were getting tired of hearing me mentioning it.  I also managed to finish my edits to the sequel, then completed the final story in the trilogy.  I felt really pleased with myself.  Yes!  The trilogy is complete.

It was pretty hard juggling the promotion and marketing of the first book and finalizing the submission of the sequel and finishing and polishing up the third and doing my work at the same time.  Oh, and I forgot, squeezing in many breaks for holidays, staycations, and cruises.  Phew!  What a year, right?

Towards the end of the summer, the sequel was accepted, again by Champagne Books, my first book was also available in trade paperback, and oh! and, I was able to get four books into a small bookstore in Guelph, Ontario!  How sweet is that?

So, looking back, it's been a pretty great year for me.  I feel quite thankful that I'm one of those lucky ones with a moderate amount of talent to back up the stroke of luck.  I've published my first book, I've received quite good reviews, I've got a second book accepted, I've finished my third, I've started writing two more stories, I've got super-cool bookmarks and postcards (designed by yours truly), I've got books in a bookstore, I've got a great publisher, I've got great writer-friends, and I've got to shut up now before I carry on like this into the new year.

So, as year's go, I can strike off a few important things off my list and firmly say: Mission Accomplished!

Now to write up a new list.  For 2011, I'll keep it short.  I've narrowed it down to five things.

1. Finish self-edits to third book and submit.
2. Finish the other two stories.
3. Market and promote the sequel, The Master Key, until people tell me to shut up already!
4. Spend Christmas in Toronto
5. Eat, Drink, and be Merry!

Have a wonderful New Year everyone!!  And thanks for sticking with me this year.  It is much appreciated.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

A Christmas Giveaway!

A quick blabber to let you all know that my book The Lancaster Rule is up for a giveaway over at Love Romance Passion

All you have to do is leave a comment at the end and make sure you include your email address so I can send you the copy (yes, it's going to be in e-format - PDF).  So dust off those ereaders!

Deadline ends December 26.  Winner will be announced the following day.

Good luck to all

Thursday 9 December 2010

Deck The Site

So, December trundles along to the tune of the drummer boy - just like my fingers as they tap restlessly on the desk.  Well, more like on my head as I ponder...

Everyone's re-doing and re-decorating for Christmas and shining things up to a brilliant gleam.  I'm thinking I should do the same, after all, tis the season to be jolly fah la la la lahhhhh and all that blah.
Well, I'm talking website, not the house...that's within my realm of expertise.

The other day, during a brief lull in the daily grind, I reviewed and puttered around my blog site.  While the site is dedicated to my first book and it's subsequent sequels, it basically is about me.  So, upon some hard ponderings, I've decided to rename this site and call it tktoppin instead.  It just makes better sense, don't you think?

I won't do it right away, thinking maybe I should 'launch it' at the first of the new year.  Maybe not, might do it sooner.  I've got a lot of pre-blabbing to do, letting people know of the change.  In the meantime, I shall get back to the daily grind and all the fah la la la lahhh's that come with it.


Thursday 2 December 2010

Oh, Holy Crap...

Yep, the stars are brightly shining, this is the time when there's no time to write...

That, in a nutshell is how it goes for a graphic artist just before Christmas.  You'd think after nearly two decades, I'd be used to it,  It doesn't matter if my work load has decreased over the years, since people heed no warning about my advance notice that they should contact me at least a week before hand.  Everyone wants things at the last minute and printers really don't give a crap if you're late.


Aside from work-stuff, there's personal stuffs those pesky Christmas cards that you remember - at the last minute of course - and you scramble to get them sorted.  It doesn't help that you design them every year, so you have no one to blame, but yourself.

And then, during the quieter moments, I try to steal a few hours to write since this new story is itching inside my brains and I need to scratch.  But, idiot that I am, I decided to read this truly engrossing book (Pillars Of The Earth), so all my attention is sucked away.  Damn you, book!  But you gotta love books like that, right?


Well, at least I've managed to punch out of few lines here and I've got the writing-itch out of my system for a while...well, sort of.

Back to work...Bah, humbug!

Monday 22 November 2010

Catching Up With Time...

Yikes, it's the middle of November already...or near the end.  I'm thinking I went through a time jump somewhere around the 15th of the month.  I'm still trying to figure out what happened to that last week.  Granted, they do say that time flies when you're having fun, right?  And I have to admit, I did have fun.

Friends and family are in and it's been busy with socializing and just catching up.  Admittedly, I've had to push the writing aside for the time being, but I plan on resuming today.  My good intentions of writing The Grosjean Chronicles were also shelved due to the emergence of another story.  Again, another sci-fi with a bit of suspenseful mystery and action...and a possible romantic side.  Still not sure what I'm going to call it, but it's looking more and more like To Catch A Marlin.  Sounds catchy, right?

I seem to be in a catchy mode...bear with me.

In other news, I've placed The Eternal Knot, the final in the Lancaster series, in the capable hands of a beta reader and I patiently await their response.  Patiently...

So while I wait, I've many random thought bubbles forming in my head, mostly story ideas or improvements to Eternal Knot.  I'm thinking too that I can't seem to progress further into the new stories because I'm still trying to complete Eternal Knot.  But anyway, that doesn't mean I've stopped writing, cause as soon as I post this, I'm going to continue with my Marlin story.  Grosjean will have to wait...

Catch you later!

Tuesday 9 November 2010

After Tomas

November blew in surreptitiously amid angst and listlessness.  After Tropical Storm/Hurricane Tomas gusted through 13ÂșN, knocking down grown trees all over the place and therefore obliterating power lines and sending us all into darkness, I found myself utterly dejected and morose.  No electricity does that to a person...especially one used to the modern conveniences being 'electrified' offers.

But, I had to be grateful that we were spared the full and uncensored wrath of what a hurricane can lives were lost, the majority of houses were intact, give or take a few shingles and Permaclad roofing sheets.  Our house stood up to the test of 70mph winds - even our DirecTV dish held up, if not a little wobbly on the hinges.  Though, I fear that if the dish blew, then it would've taken most of the roof with it.

However, gratefulness aside, the five days of no electricity was a bitch!

We lost the majority of our frozen foods, fresh produce, and my favourite orange juice.  But, there's always a bright side.  It gave me a chance to clear out and clean out my fridge.  It needed it in the worst way.  For a new fridge, it had somehow managed to accumulate a horrendous amount of absolute junk!  Pressed up in the corners, flattened out under other food items, were odds and ends of bits and pieces of leftovers foods, meats, and mysterious greenish-black objects that I dared not guess what they could've been.

Two garbage bags later, my fridge had returned to it's original self.  But it somehow couldn't shake that sour, rotting meat smell no matter how hard I tried to find the source.  Four Arm and Hammer bicarbonate of soda containers later, a generous dousing of spray disinfectant under the's back to it's normal self and stocked with all our favourite contents.

Then the power came back on and the air-conditioner died.  I nearly had an apoplectic fit.

Now, we have a brand, spanking new AC unit and life is good again.

And I've even got the urge to write again.  Funny how you get motivation after a crisis.  Not only did I come up with a new story, I feel the need to complete the Grosjean Chronicles that sort of fizzled and stalled at the beginning of chapter 2.  So, I've got a notebook in hand, scratching away at ideas and plot lines, ruminating and organizing thoughts, etc.

On another note, I hosted my first ever book giveaway over at Tami's blog.  Congrats to Linda who won via the eenie meenie miney moe routine.  I hope she enjoys the book!  And funny how she just happened to be another Champagne Books author.  To quote her words exactly, "Champagne authors rock!!"

I'd like to think so.

Back to my scribbles now....

Friday 29 October 2010

My First Paperback Giveaway!

Okay...took a bit of a break there to accommodate the editing process and then squeeze in a quick break for a cruise.  Haha, life's good to me!  I know, no need to rub it in, right?

Thought I'd mention quickly that next week, November 5th, I'll be interviewed again by Misc.Ramblings - have to say, it was a really fun interview!  I'll also be hosting my very first paperback book giveaway, so be sure to stop by and leave a comment.  Gotta leave a comment in order to enter.

Well, that's all really.  Just thought to mention...

Till next month...

Friday 8 October 2010

Edits Complete...For Now

Well, I've finished my edits for The Master Key.  Phew!  I'm going to end up getting sick of reading it now, this being the fifth time I've read through it.  Still, The Lancaster Rule topped it off with something close to ten reads.  At least there wasn't too much to do.  Hey, maybe I've improved as a writer...okay, try not to laugh too hard at that.  Let me rephrase that: I seem to be improving.

October already...these months, if you don't keep track, fly by you so quickly.  In a week's time, I take a short break with the in-laws and hop onto a cruise.  Never been on one, can't say I'm going overboard about it - pardon the pun.  Especially since I'm prone to some serious sea-sickness.  Ah well, maybe I'll forget I'm on a moving building on water.  I hear they're quite stable now.

On the plate this month, I've yet to complete the self-edits for The Eternal Knot, the third and last in the series.  I feel it never wants to get itself finished.  Breaking up is really hard to do, it would seem.  No matter, I will plough on and complete it.  I'm envisioning a submission early next year.

Also on the plate this month: The Grosjean Chronicles.  Now, I think I've pretty much decided on making this a full length novel, since attempts at a short story just wasn't working.  As we Bajan's say: "It ent wukking!"  It did try, though.  I mean really.  Even had three peeps give it a beta testing read.  Two suggested I continue on and do a full length.  One approached it from another angle and said I missed the point somewhere in the middle.  I think I missed his point altogether too.  No matter, not going to scratch too many hairs over it.  I'll just dive in with the story outline I've come up with and plod along.  We can talk details later.

Now, The Grosjean Chronicles is something of a spin-off from the Lancaster series.  However, I'm not making it part of the Lancaster series...if that makes any sense at all.  In other words, while the main character appears in the series, she'll be on her own.  I won't be mentioning anything about anything remotely Lancaster related.  Okay, maybe just a mild suggestion.  But that's about it.  Just consider her living in the world already built in the Lancaster world...okay, I've prattled on about it too much.

And don't expect something along the lines of the Lancaster series...this book will have a little more humour...think manga.

Okay, think that's all I can manage for this month.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Signed, Sealed, and...Crap, Gotta Get Stamps

Holy crap, it's hot today!

Whoever said that living in the tropics is an idyllic life, never had to endure September heat, pre-tropical depression, in the middle of the freaking afternoon.  Guhhhh, I feel slightly dizzy from this sweltering heat.  Even the cat hasn't moved from the window sill, hogging all my fan air.

I really need to get AC in my office.

Well, now that I've talked about the weather (doesn't everybody?) I can meander along to other things.

My contract for book two, The Master Key, arrived yesterday and after scouring it over, I signed off on it this morning.  Tomorrow, I'll try to get to the post office and send it off.

Then I await my instructions from my editor.  Eeeee!  And the process of editing begins all over again.  You gotta love being a writer.  I'm still getting used to it.  Speaking of editing, I'm self-editing my third book and groaned.  Three chapters need some serious work so I have to sit down, get the head into gear and work out how best to tackle it.

Yesterday, I also finished a short story I've been working on.  After a few changes and semi-rewrites, I think I've got it.  But now I can't decide whether to keep it as a continuing short story series, or a full length novel.  Oh, the decisions!

Okay, the heat's got me kerfuffled.  Going to shut shop for a few, then retreat into the cool bedroom where I do have AC.  Edit time again...

Thursday 9 September 2010

Taking A Detour

Dark and ominous clouds loom,
Thunder and lightening go boom.
Behind the microwave hides the cat,
As rain starts, pitter-pat.

Okay, that's about as much I got in me for poetry...guess I'd better stick to fiction-writing or greeting card verses.

Taking detours are just some of lifes pleasant little pleasures.  I'm very good at taking detours, although, most people might call it procrastination.  It's a very fine line...

As September came zooming in (like the sudden downpour of rain beating down on the roof this very moment), I didn't want to catch myself napping and taking said detours.  After all, I'd given myself a so-called personal deadline in which to complete my self-edits to Book 3, The Eternal Knot.  Not to mention, many other marketing tactics that I wanted to tackle, one of which was posting another ad on Facebook to help promote my page.  I'm pleased to say that I've gained a number of new "Likes" to my page.  Guess advertising does help!  Let's hope I gain more sales as well.

While plugging away at self-edits, I suddenly felt the urge to write a completely new story.  For some time now, a character that I had introduced in Book 2, The Master Key, had been nagging me.  She indeed is an interesting character and I wanted to do more for her in the book.  Of course, the book wasn't about her, so I had to restrain myself.  (Did I mention The Master Key has been accepted by the publishers? Yay!).  Anyways...

Short story popped into my a sort of chronicle of her life.  After all, she is a captain of a space ship, she'd encounter all number of interesting things that beg story-time.  So, while ambling through detours in my mind, The Grosjean Chronicles were created.  I have to say, Captain Grosjean is starting to get out of hand as she takes control of my storytelling time reserved for edits.  I find that I'm now juggling between writing about Grosjean and doing my edits.  The distraction is getting out of control.  But then, like all detours, especially if you take the scenic route, it can be extremely interesting.

The rain has petered out some, but it's still dark and grim and the cat is still cowering behind the microwave.  Something tells me he'll be there for the rest of the day.  This thundering and rain doesn't look like it's about to take a detour...

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Well...I'm Back

I thought I'd better post something before the month of August ended.  What a month it's been!

To kick things off, my book, The Lancaster Rule came out in print (woo-hoo!), then came the three-week holiday in Toronto where I reveled it up practically everyday with family and friends...why, I even sat for a portrait sitting.  Got books consigned into a small local bookstore in Guelph!

And best of all, got an acceptance from my publisher's for the sequel, The Master Key!

I won't bother to bore you with the other trivial matters upon returning home from my travels...oh, like having no hot water, broken toilet, and washing machine going dead.  The root of the problem lay with a broken water pipe when the gardener mowed over it whilst we were away.  So, let's just keep it simple and blame the gardener.

September approaches tomorrow, and I've got to get my head back into working mode - a difficult feat considering it's been laying idle and addled for a few weeks.  We won't talk about the copious amounts of martini's and cocktails that helped with the addling process.  Mind you, yesterday, I resumed self-edits to Book three, The Eternal Knot, and the clarity in which I zoomed through two chapters was unbelievable!  Amazing how a little break for idleness and addledness helps the old brain out.  I even added more stuff into the chapters, which helped them greatly!

And then I've got to get back into the groove with the day job (groan!) so I can pay off my credit card atrocities.  That's one drawback about going off on holiday...come home to bills.

But first, priorities... Waiting for the washing machine repairmen to arrive so they can fix the dead beast before I kick it to hell and back for dying on me.

Monday 16 August 2010

My Guest: Eve Langlais

Joining me today is another fellow Champagne Books author, Eve Langlais.  We're doing a simultaneous exchange interview, so you can catch her interview me over at her blogsite.

Let's meet Eve. 

LR: Tell us a little about yourself and did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
EL: I’m a Canadian mom of three married for almost eleven years. I am a dedicated home body who loves to watch movies, play video games and hang out with my family. While real life got in the way for a while, I always wanted to be a writer and count myself lucky that I managed to make my dream come true. 

LR: I noticed that you have a few books published already, in quick succession too.  Tell us a little bit about them.
EL: LOL, where to start. The very first book I ever wrote and which received a publishing contract was Take A Chance, a sort of modern day fairytale where a librarian must save a cursed wizard. If you like a full length romance with magic, adventure and a sweet HEA then this is a must have. Oddly enough, the first book I ever had published was actually my second written work titled The Hunter. A single mom is hiding with her twins from her abusive ex and can’t help falling for her superhot neighbor. But Hunter is more than he seems, and when a dragon shapeshifter kidnaps one of her kids, only he has the skills needed to rescue him.

Swinging from fantasy over to science fiction we have Alien Mate 1 & 2. In the first, a hunky blue alien arrives in all his naked glory to tell an earthling she has been chosen to be his mate, but Diana isn’t about to give in to his demands (or her lust) that easily. In Alien Mate 2, a new blue hottie arrives on Earth to fetch his chosen mate, the only problem is the earthling he wants isn’t the one that was chosen for him. These spicy novellas are sure to titillate those who believe like I do, that there is life out there.

I’ve also got a naughty tryst out titled My Secretary, My Mistress where a secretary being ignored by her boss after a one night stand, decides to make him pay with pleasurable results. Delving into BDSM this hot little tale is not for the faint of heart.

And finally me newest story, Lucifer’s Daughter is out with Liquid Silver. It’s not easy being the daughter of the most infamous demon in the world, especially when it makes you a constant target for assignation attempts. Prepare to have your view of Heaven and Hell redefined in this erotically charged story.

LR: Wow, some pretty hot stuff!  So, what inspires you?
EL: Don’t laugh, but 80’s music and sour cream & onion chips really get my creative juices flowing.

LR: (Laughs anyway) Okay, back to the questions... What’s your typical writing day compared to your dream writing day?
EL: Typical writing day is Monday to Friday, mostly for a few hours in the morning. I try to get about 2k words done daily, but am really happiest if I can achieve over 3k.

LR: You mention you have three kids, happily married, living a relatively normal everyday life.  A few of your books are a little, ahem, “pull your collar, fan your face” hot… Ever have people who knew you for ages rendered speechless?
EL: *Ducking my head and blushing* I have a hard time actually talking about the naughtier bits and end up giggling nonstop. I love reading and writing it, but still can’t talk about it coherently lol.

LR: You know what, I know the feeling.  Any favourite writers that have influenced you?
EL: I love romance works by authors like Kresley Cole and Sherrilyn Kenyon with the strong alpha types. I honestly don’t know though if they’ve influenced me or not. I do know I’d like to be able to write stories like them that totally suck a person in, but the only people who would know if I’ve achieved that are my readers and I am way too shy to ask them lol.

LR: What are you currently reading?
EL: I am really into Kaitlyn O’Connor lately. I absolutely loved her Cyborg series and am looking to forward to reading some more of her work.

LR: The creative process is complete, the book/s are published, but now comes the hard part of marketing yourself.  How has the marketing process changed you and what have you learned from it that you’d like to share with up-and-coming new authors?
EL: I hate marketing. It takes away from my writing time. I never realized the hardest part of writing would be getting my name out there and enticing people to check me and my books out. As for new authors, don’t get discouraged. Name branding takes time and patience, but eventually ( I hope) it works out.

LR: I agree with you on the marketing side.  Trying to stay the flavour of the month is definitely the hardest part! Where can we find you on the web and purchase your books?
EL: The best place for to find out more about me, see a full listing of my books including excerpts and purchase links is my website:

LR: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
EL: A big thank you to T.K. for interviewing me, and an even bigger thanks to those who took the time to read it.

You're very welcome Eve.  I wish you all the best with your books and thanks to those who have stopped by to meet her.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

Duct Tape and Champagne

Day 5 into my holiday and it's finally a relatively quiet day that I can kick back some, check my mail, stare at my beloved screen and just catch up with the world.  Since arriving, we hit the road running!  Maybe I need a vacation after my vacation.  Phew!

Yesterday, like the last four days had been a non-stop merry-go-round of "things to do" that I barely had time to read or write that I feel rather ignorant.  But in the afternoon, I got a wonderful surprise when my printed books arrived that really rendered me insensible!  Waa-hooo!  I think I did the happy dance and giggled non-stop the rest of the day.  To the point where hubby suggested a length of duct tape was in order.  Maybe even a dose of Valium.

Call it a weird quirk of luck or fate, or even just plain old karmic forces in play, but it was almost perfect timing.  My good friend Lynn just happened to be home the same time the books arrived.  Lynn, the one and only that gave me the kick up the ass to get me motivated into writing.  Yes, that Lynn.  It's like it had come full circle.

And another interesting twist, our mutual friend Natalie had been the one to spark the idea into Lynn's head that a person needed to list 200 things to do at the start of each year.  Funny, too, how she'd been there that day, two years ago, on the beach in Barbados when I'd received that now-famous kick up the ass.  Even funnier is that dear Natalie lives in this very city of Toronto as well, and sparked another idea: approach a bookstore.  She even went a step further and asked a simple little question that directed her to a number to call and a name to that number.  Today, I shall call that number and ask a few questions of my own.

And now I have actual books to show them - just in case.

Okay, enough about the cosmic forces of nature...later that day, we drank some champers and giggled some more.  So hubby is seriously getting some duct tape from the store...extra sticky and extra strong.

Right, time to get the game-face on and formulate my plan of bookstore attack.  Wish me luck folks.

Thursday 5 August 2010

August Rush

I'm getting repetitive in my old age...well, not that old, okay.  But here it is again, another month has started all too quickly.

I've had to say goodbye to July 2010, and just when I was getting used to the idea that it was July - poof! it's gone.  Have to say, it's been a really great month, what with birthdays and reviews and social activities.  Life is good!

It's the first wild week of August, the heat unbearably wicked, and I'm trying to cram too many things into the day.  No wonder I drink. (hic, now where was I again?) :)

Coming up this August 16, I have scheduled another exchange interview with a fellow Champagne Books author, Eve Langlais.  I'm certain I mentioned this before, but what was I saying again about getting older?  Our interviews come out together so you can check us out then.

In the meantime, I seriously considered writing a short story using one of my more colourful characters in the Lancaster series.  You'll meet her in The Master Key.  However, I fear the deadline has passed.  I need more time to fully plan out how I want to write about this character and all her misadventures.  Of course, her story has nothing to do with my trilogy, but the more I think on it, the more I want to bring her exciting life to life.  Folks, remember this name: Captain Alanis Grosjean.

Received really good news yesterday when it was announced that The Lancaster Rule has come out in print.  Woo hoo!!  How sweet is that!

Today I entered a competition as well.  The New Covey Cover Art competition.  Wish me luck...however, I must stress, that the real credit goes to Champagne Books' amazing cover artist Amanda Kelsey.  Go on over to her website, she does some truly awesome stuff.

This week has also been a really short work week, considering that we just had a really long 4-day weekend.  To top it off, Friday I head off on my long last.  So, the hubby and I have been running around trying to cram pre-vacation stuff into two days, more or less.  And we haven't even packed yet.  Better do that tonight.

So, I've done my checklist.

Pre-blogged the exchange interview - check.  Set up another competition on my Facebook page - check.  Entered a competition - check.  Bought copies of my print book - check (now I'm fairly broke...).  Replied to the only person who commented on my Facebook page - check (that sucks).  And last but not least...pack.

Don't worry, I'm just a click away.

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Print Version is Out

Just a quick, and rather excited, note to let you all know: The Lancaster Rule is now available in print!

Click to the "Print" link at Champagne Books and there you go.  Or, click here for a direct link.

Friday 30 July 2010

Objective Achieved!

July is nearly over...nearly.

But something else that's over for sure, is my final read-through for the sequel, The Master Key.  Yay, me!!  I feel as if I've accomplished something.  You know, that satisfied feeling that you know you've achieved something productive from the sheer sweat of your brow.  That you, and you alone, have done it.  What a good feeling that is!  It's like how I felt when I finished writing my first book, The Lancaster Rule: Objective Achieved!

I still can't say "first book" without grinning like an idiot...just thought I'd add that in (grins like an idiot).

Yesterday, I read the last line in the last chapter and let out a great big sigh of relief.  I'd finished at last.  A month and a half, struggling through self-edits, rearranging some chapters, deleting other bits, adding more bits...then a final read-through, just to make sure it was coherent enough.  All done now!

First thing this morning, I outlined an email to send to Champagne Books and attached all the relevant information, then, with gritted teeth and a definite pounding of the heart...clicked the SEND button and cringed as I watched the progress bar gradually move from left to right.

Woosh, and then it was sent.

And now to wait to hear the outcome.  A few have said that there was nothing to worry about, you know, those seasoned writers who've submitted time and time again with countless books under their belts.  You know, with a track record for selling and grabbing people attention with their new books.  I still feel like a one-hit wonder, and I'm still wondering what the wonder is all about.

But my publisher's still have to like it and think it's worth something to publish it, right?  It's no matter that it's a sequel, it's still a stand-alone book in it's own right.  And I can't be thinking it's a shoe-in because it's a sequel - in fact, that had never been in my head.  A lot of other things were racing through my head, none pleasant or repeatable.

All I can do now, is wait with fingers crossed.

Sigh, it feels like the very first time I sent out a query for submission letter to an agent and publisher.  At least I've got a really long weekend to obliterate any negative thoughts out of my head.  As it is every end of July, for years and years, Barbados gets ready to blow off some steam with it's Crop Over celebrations.  The final, end-all, is a massive jump-up session down Spring Garden Highway, where revellers get blitzed with booze and music in micro-costumes and have a blast.

I'll be home, with the hubby, enjoying peace and quiet like we usually do.  Maybe chill with some friends, family, get inebriated (like, yeah! what's the point of not in a 4-day weekend), eat junk and just relax.

And then Friday we leave for Toronto! Yay!!! And get inebriated, eat junk, chill with friends and family all over again.  Well, I will be inebriated since hubby is a tea-toter.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Gearing Down

I keep saying this, but these months are simply flying by too quickly!

Ever drive a standard stick-shift car?  Well, that's all I like to drive.  Makes you feel like as if you're really driving, being interactive with your car.  Instead of just sitting there, parked into the seat holding a steering wheel.  And gearing down, don't you just love that sound?  I love it!

You can literally hear the engine shifting down.  Isn't that a lovely sound?  That cool, metallic whine - and how the car just reins back as you take your foot off the clutch, balance the engine...

Anyway...just the thought of gearing down made me think of cars.

July caught me unawares, more or less, with two very good reviews coming out before I could blink properly - one in the early part, the other in the latter part - and an opportunity to do a guest blog that was very well received.  My eternal thanks to Reading, Reading and Life and Senora G who played a very gracious hostess.  I even hosted a giveaway for the occasion!  Why not, right?  After all, the review and guest post appeared on the weekend of my birthday, so in the spirit of giving, I thought I should spread a little joy.

Speaking of birthdays, July is riddled with them.  From close friends, family members, colleagues and friends on Facebook (you know who you are), July appears intent on covering every single day of its 31 days with birthdays.  And let's not forget Harry Potter's birthday, too.  Oh, did I just say that out loud?

And now, July is nearly over.  I've crammed everything I can possibly cram into this month, and still, I've things left to do.  I completed self-edits for The Master Key (Book 2), now I'm in the process of doing a final read-through before I send it off for submission.  I still haven't written a satisfactory synopsis, nor a book blurb.  So that's next on my list of things to do before the end of the month comes pouncing on me.

I think I'll get there.  Thank the stars for laptops and wireless internet.  I'd be lost without them.  I'll be taking the trusty MacTop with me on my holidays so I won't be out of touch, out of commission, or out of the range of my internet access addiction.  Whilst on holidays, I still need to coordinate an exchange interview with another fellow Champagne Books author, Eve Langlais.  Not to mention keep track of the many places I've joined up to and became a member of.  Promoting a book really does take chunks out of you.

Hey, did I mention I even got bookmarks printed as well?  Want one?  Do ya?  Really?  I'll sign it too.

So, that's all for now.  Thought I should squeeze out a little something before I hit the edits again and try to cram another half-months work into four more days!

Maybe I need to stay in fifth gear for the time being...

Thursday 22 July 2010

My Latest Review

Just a quick few lines to mention that my latest review is out.  You can check it out at Reading, Reading and Life.

Feel free to leave a comment.  Hey, you might get lucky and win a free PDF of The Lancaster Rule.

Here's a short excerpt:
"This book has it all.  A love story, a love triangle, adventures, mayhem, humor, wonderful characters that you truly want to get to know better, cheer for, sneer at, laugh at and enjoy.  I honestly never thought I could enjoy a sci-fi/fantasy book so much and I look forward to the next in the series."

Monday 12 July 2010

Coming Up Soon

A short reminder to my ardent followers (don't laugh) of another upcoming review, this time at
Reading, Reading and Life on July 22.  Click on over to catch a quick preview of what will be happening.

In brief, I'll also be posting a guest blog explaining a bit about how I came up with the whole story and all that exciting stuff that you'll just love to hear.  And, I'll be giving away a free PDF copy of my book to one lucky reader who visits the site and leaves a comment or asks a question that's on their mind.  So good luck in advance.

But before that, I'll be interviewed over at Science Fiction Romance's blog, where I talk a little about myself...again.  It's a cool site, so click on over, July 17 and check it out.

Friday 9 July 2010

We're in the 2nd week of July, already?

This past week has blown by at the speed of light.  I thought for sure I'd have some time to write a new blog, but that was since Monday.  It's Friday already.  And didn't July just start?

I never used to complain about not having enough time to do things.  Generally speaking, for the last ten years, working from home accorded me the luxury to manage my own time to suit, well, me.  But ever since getting that first book published, I've realized that having two jobs will kill you.  I empathize with those that have more than two.

Plus, I'm generally a very lazy person when the mood strikes me.  And it's very easy for me to slip into that mood - considering I'm usually in it.

No kids (big Phew!!), just dogs, a mutant cat, and the hubby.  Aside from looking after them (easy-peasy), my mornings are now filled with literary mountains to climb.  Boy those crags and loose rocks are a bitch.  Keeping up-to-date on most things literary, literally, takes time.  I've never spent so much time online, clicking from one site to the next.

Then there's keeping up-to-date on all the various sites you manage.  Facebook pages, Twitter posts and threads, blogpage, review sites...  All in an effort to keep people interested in your very first book, keep sales constant, keep the word circulating.

And then, you have to sit and do your real work, the day job and act like you've got everything under control so your clients think you've spent 100% of your time and attention on their job, and theirs alone.

Then, when that's complete, you have to sit and read through your other book, you know the one you finished last year, but only now have the chance to self-edit.  And book three, which has been completed since April has been shoved one side when it's in desperate need of edits...

Okay, I'm digressing, and wasting time.  Hey, it's Friday - I'm allowed.

This month is a relatively short month.  It's the month before our annual holiday, so heaps need doing before we depart this Rock.  Bills to double-pay, work to complete to pay those bills, getting the house in order, grilling the housesitter about the daily routine, oh crap - don't forget about watering the plants.  Endless things that by the end of it, you look forward to that holiday with ever-growing desperation!

And then you look up and see how the weather is looking grim and you think: Bleep-bleep hell!  It's the hurricane season.  Gotta get the house moderately hurricane-ready.  Stock up on some tinned and dry goods, start going into pack-rat mode.  Just in case.

So while the winds kick up outside, on this grim-looking day of dark clouds and intermittent rains, I sit and ponder the week that's past.

Check, completed all my work so all my clients are happy.
Check, edited three chapters, re-worked two with minimal deletes.
Check, designed bookmarks and postcards for myself to promote book (helps when I'm my own artist).
Check, sourced printers.
Check, got that new review coming out next week.
Check, weekend mode from, well, today so do nothing strenuous.

Told ya I manage my time to suit me.

Friday 2 July 2010

Excerpt From A Review

Click on over to Laura Hogg's blogpage and check out my latest review for The Lancaster Rule.

This was a very good review with some good, honest opinions.  Much appreciated Laura!

Here's an excerpt:

I loved it and would highly recommend it, even with the things of which I took issue. The Lancaster Rule was a story well worth reading, one of the most enjoyable I’ve read in a while. The ending had me smiling. I loved the sense of humor woven throughout the story, even among the very serious parts of the book that kept me riveted. This story entertains and takes a reader on an emotional ride. Check it out!

For the full review, click to her blogpage:  Travel The Ages

Thursday 1 July 2010

One Accomplishment!

Well, as luck would have it, I goofed off thoroughly today and decided to work on my new look.  I did, however, start the day off with all the good intentions of doing some real work.

But then, all these exciting new features to play with on Blogger, that I lost track of time - completely!

Two hours later...I've got a new look, new links to click to...sweet!!

Okay, now that that's all sorted out, I suppose I should get back to my real work to keep the clients happy.

Not a bad way to start the month, eh?

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Pondering a Change

June rolls ever close to the end.  Sigh, where does the time go?

As with the ending of each month, and the start of a new one, I find myself pondering about what to do next.  Promoting a book takes a lot of out you - and then you still have to write your other books!  And with each passing day, I begin to wonder if I'm doing enough with each of them.

And then, there's the real work that gets in the way.  You know, the one that pays the bills.  The one where you can't set your own deadlines, but adhere to the demands of your clients.  And everything has to be done now, now, now.  It sucks!  Hey, I'm trying to be a writer here.  Give a girl a little break...

Hello? Did anyone hear me?

Guess not...back to designing postcards, flyers and oh, before I forget, printing out those end of the month bills.  Ugh!

A couple more sleeps and July enters.  My favourite month, even thought it's a reminder that my birthday falls in this month, and I grow a little older.  I'm hoping that those I sent out book review requests will post their reviews in July.   So that gives me more to look forward to.  Also, I've joined up in a few places, one of them is, so you can check me out there.  Still feeling my way about there, but managed to post a link to this blog through it.  And vice versa.  Hey, getting quite adept at maneuvering around the internet.  Phew, took me a while to figure that out.  Another thing I'd like to do is convert this blog page into my permanent webpage.  That will take some time but I've gotten some good advice on that.  So, that's my agenda for next month.

Change is good right?  I think so.

So, once I've cleared my plate of those annoying jobs, I can troll about the internet trying to figure out my next move with a clear conscience.  Hopefully boast a new design for this blog, hopefully finish my self-edits to The Master Key and get it ready for submission, and hopefully start on self-editing The Eternal Knot.

And by August, I should be satisfied that I've accomplish all the above and get ready to enjoy my holiday!

Of course, realistically speaking, I can only envision doing two of those things - that being finishing my self-edits and submitting.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

My Guest: Caroline Clemmons

Yesterday, I reviewed Out Of The Blue, the latest novel by Caroling Clemmons.  Since it was an exchange review, she also reviewed my book at her site:  Today she joins me again for an exchange interview, and answers some questions I threw at her.

LR: Tell us a little about yourself.

CC: I grew up in Southern California and West Texas. You would not believe how excited I was when my parents told me we were moving back to Texas. I was crazy about Roy Rogers and other cowboys in the movies. My dad tried to tell me those were just actors and not how life was now, but I was sure any minute I’d see a cowboy riding across the cotton farms where we lived near Lubbock. A few weeks after we moved back, we went to OK to visit my grandmother and drove through ranching country. A large roundup was in process on one ranch and the loading shute and corral were near the highway. Poor Dad. I was so excited, but didn’t see another cowboy for years. Taught me not to tell my kids something never happens, though.

My husband and I have two grown daughters. We live in a rural area with a menagerie of rescue pets. Our married life has been spent in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, with brief detours to northern CA for a year and central FL for three years. My professional career includes secretary, newspaper columnist and reporter, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper for the local tax assessor/collector. Most of the time, though, I was a stay-at-home mom, and that is my favorite of anything I’ve done. Texas weather is the worst and it’s especially bad for people with allergies, but I do love this state.My brother-in-law was in town from the Pacific Northwest one July weekend and it was 113 degrees F. outside. He said he’d forgotten about Texas summers and wondered why we still lived here. I can’t remember why, especially in summer.

LR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer, and for how long have you been writing?

CC: I’m not sure the year I decided to become a writer, but I’ve made up adventures as long as I can remember. Most of the early ones featured me saving the West with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I was editor of my school paper, and as an adult wrote newspaper articles, edited newsletters, etc. I had written a very bad novel before I joined RWA. Not that I intended it to be bad, mind you, it just turned out that way. The concept wasn’t bad—but the writing was. I didn’t understand about plotting, character arcs, black moment, inciting incident, internal vs. external. Thank goodness someone told me about RWA and a local chapter! Not many workshops later, I started a new book. That’s the one that sold.

LR:  What sort of books do you normally write?

CC: I’m an eclectic writer who writes time travel, contemporary, and western historical romances. I’ve also written a couple of mysteries, but haven’t marketed them yet. My favorite time period is 1870-1895, but I also like working on time travels like my current WIP. Except for one novella, my books are set in Texas.  I live in North Central Texas, but this is a big state with diverse topography that offers opportunities for varied interesting settings.  

LR: How do you get your ideas, inspiration?
CC: I can’t help it! Ideas pop into my head whether I want them or not. Everything prompts a “what if it were done this way?” idea. I’ll have to live until I’m at least two hundred to have time to write all the stories I have stored in what passes for my brain.

LR: Ha ha, I know what you mean.  Next question: is there anything specific you try to get across in your written works?
CC: Oh, yes. First, I want readers to believe that—just as my characters overcome the obstacles in their path—readers can also resolve their issues and find happily-ever-after. Second, I want to celebrate love between one man/one woman that ends with commitment and/or marriage. Please understand that I’m not knocking anyone who writes any other type romance. This is just my personal preference for my writing (and reading). Third, I want to entertain readers and take their minds off anything else for a while—sort of take a break for mind candy, relax, and revitalize.

LR: Who are your favourite writers and why?
CC: My favorite writers are those who take me away, pull me into the story so that I hate any interruption. I have so many favorites, but they include Julie Garwood, Nora Roberts’ romantic suspense books, Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick, Jodi Thomas, Lorraine Heath’s western historicals, Loretta Chase, Maureen Childs as Kathleen Kane, Louis L’Amour, and way too many others to name them all here. I reread some of my favorites. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read Julie Garwood’s FOR THE ROSES and PRINCE CHARMING, my two favorites of hers. I’ve almost memorized Louis L’Amour’s FALLON, but it still delights me. Great writing never grows old.

LR: You also review books.  How did you end up doing that?
CC: I started reviewing members’ new releases for my local RWA chapter newsletter. When I started blogging, my eldest daughter suggested I include an occasional book review. I read a lot anyway, so why not? I try to include one review a week and vary the books and genres.

LR: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
CC: Never give up! Never, ever give up! Attend all the workshops you can, read how-to-books, join a critique group with dependable members whose opinions you can trust, and don’t let anyone discourage you. By the way, you need critique partners whose ethics you trust, too. Some of us have had critique partners who plagiarized our work. And don’t believe a critiquer who tells you your writing is terrible. I’ve known good writers who let someone’s vitriol discourage them from writing for years. I stopped reading an author whose books I enjoyed because she lost it and told a supposed friend she’d never be a successful writer—and the person she attacked is a very talented writer. That type behavior is mean-spirited and unnecessary. Don’t let anyone steal your dream!

LR: Where can we find you on the web and purchase your books?
CC: Love that question. My latest release, OUT OF THE BLUE, is a time travel romance in the Faery Rose line from The Wild Rose Press and is also available at Amazon. LONG ROAD HOME is a novella in the Civil War anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES and is available from the same places. In September, my western historical romance, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, will be released as a Cactus Rose selection from The Wild Rose Press. Used copies of my earlier books are also available from Amazon, THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE and THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND. I love those, although I can’t read them now because I see things I want to change. I’m a perpetual editor.

I blog almost every day at and I always have a contest in progress. Right now I am featuring Saturday giveaways for one lucky person who commented during the week. My website is at and there’s a free read there. I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I feel like that song---“I been everywhere, man, I been everywhere” because I’m at so may sites. (Someone hacked into my Facebook page recently and sent spam as if it were from me, so I had to change all my passwords.)

LR:Is there anything else you'd like to add?
CC: Writing is the best job in the world. Promotion, marketing, etc. is the worst and I’d rather clean toilets than market or promote. Sigh. Writers have to take the good with the bad, and I’m willing to grit my teeth and market and promote so that I can write on the off chance readers will know about my books and—hopefully—read them.  I’m basically an introvert, so I love sitting at my computer all day and having online friends with whom I visit. No make-up, loose comfy clothes, what could be better?

Thanks to all the readers who’ve said nice things about my books. Thanks to you, T.K. for hosting me today.

You're very welcome Caroline, and I have to say, I completely agree with you on being an introvert!  If you care to check out my interview with her, click on over to her site:

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Out Of The Blue - A Novel by Caroline Clemmons

Having never done a book review before, I was a little hesitant when Caroline Clemmons asked if we could do an exchange review.  Since agreeing, I've scoured the internet reading up on other book reviews and how it's all done.  I think I've got it.  So here goes.

Out Of The Blue is a what can be termed as a time-travelling, murder-mystery, sweet-to-steamy romance, page-turning suspense novel that falls into your lap from out of the blue.

Like those surprises you find while foraging through the bookstore, or online these days, you immediately get taken in by the cover.  Turn a few pages, and then you get sucked in.

From the get go, it grabs you and sends you back in time to Ireland in 1845.  Intrigued to find out what happens next to our heroine, Deirdre, you read on and then sucked into our hero's world, Brendan - who lives in our present time.

The plot - murder, corruption, intrigue, and let's not forget time-travelling - is cleverly written.  It's evident too of Caroline Clemmons great love of Texas, as elements of Texan life infiltrates into the story, from the scenes she sets to the way they speak.  By throwing in some lilting, old-time Irish words and phrases, it reminds the reader of an era gone by.  The story is fast-paced, leaving you eager to find out what happens to the main characters.  And as you read on, not realizing that you've already read half the book, you can't help but wonder what's taking Deirdre and Brenden so long to "just get busy" already!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Out Of The Blue and got quite caught up with the characters lives.  If I were to rate it, I'd give four stars out of five.

Here's a blurb:

A desperate flight from a dangerous man plunges Deirdre Dougherty off a cliff—and into the future…Swept through a time portal 165 years beyond the life she knew in rural Ireland, Deirdre plunges into a lake in central Texas. The brooding man from her precognizant visions rescues her but demands answers she cannot give. Deirdre knows only that he is in danger, and the source has a familiar vibe.

Police Detective Brendan Hunter wants answers. Who shot him and killed his partner? Why? And why does Deirdre know details only he and his late partner knew? The beautiful psycho’s story has to be a colossal fabrication. He wants her gone before he becomes even more fascinated with her.
Together they must solve the riddle of Deirdre’s displacement, battle a drug scandal and stay one step ahead of the enemy—without knowing friend from foe.

Out Of The Blue is published by The Wild Rose Press.

Check out my review over at Caroline's site:

Thursday 17 June 2010

Keeping Track

Since the start of June, I've been quite busy running around trying to organize my head.  Have to say, it's getting quite full these days.  The art of juggling has rendered me slightly catatonic most days.  It could be the heat as well.

And the art of keeping track of which email account (and how many) is starting to get to me.  I keep thinking I'm forgetting to check one, but I forget which...

Once upon a time, like the gazillions out there, I had but one email address.  After spending a few minutes pondering over my user name and password, my account was created and life was rendered blissfully convenient by the click of the 'send' button.  Email and emailing replaced writing letters, sending faxes, and even picking up the telephone to say 'hey!'  I remember those first inter-office email conversations with the person in the cubicle right next door.  Now how cool was that!  You could hear us sniggering, but would be pick up the phone, or raise our heads and start a conversation?  Ohh nooo, that was not as cool or fun as emailing each other.

Sigh, the good old days...

Then, as life and the world progressed, you realize that you need another email account - you know, for those online purchases, etc, that you don't want getting confused with your personal emails.  And let's say you work somewhere that requires you to have a direct email address - there goes another account.  Then you decide to get Yahoo chat, and chat in real time to friends all over the world, so you create a Yahoo address.  Then some friends want to know why you're not using MSN, so, yep, another account in Hotmail.  Then you decide to get Skype because you can talk with video! OMG! LOL that is sooooo cool!  So a gmail account is created.  And on it goes.
To date, I've realized that I have five email addresses, including a vastly expanded knowledge of tech-speak.  Three using my name, the other two using aliases.  Thinking about it now, I'm pretty sure I've another account, but I can't seem to remember what it is.  And, by having all these 'must-have' email accounts, you have to remember all the user names and passwords.  Thankfully, there's that handy little button you can click that retains passwords.  However, once in a while, you have to re-log your information again.  Oops, now where was that book you wrote everything down?  Did I mention I also have to keep track of my husband's emails?  Tech-savvy he's not.  That's another portion of my brain reserved to remember things.

I've a detailed book with all my internet information in it - doesn't everyone or am I the only idiot?  Since I like order (this doesn't count my desk, by the way), this month I've had to write numerous things down just so I could keep track of things.

Pardon the pun, but since writing a book and getting it published, I've had to write everything down.  It's been pretty chaotic (you should see my desk!).  Not only do I have a book full of internet info, there's my work diary (for the day job that's slowly filling up with book-related things), there's a notepad with scribbled dates and schedules for my blog and the exchange blogs/interviews/etc's, then there's little bits and pieces of paper stuck into my keyboard, poking out of my diary, tucked under the keyboard, scattered randomly about the desk... Life's little reminders and notes and things to do, that without them (and your brain remembers you did in fact write it down somewhere so you relax a smidgen - if only you could remember where) your life would be a complete and utter disaster...

Now what was I saying?  Ahh, there's the note stuck under the keyboard: "Reminder for blog - Exchange book review and interview with Caroline Clemmons on June 22 and 23 respectively.  Don't forget!!"

There, haven't forgotten.  Crap, now to mention it on Twitter, Facebook, and....uhm, where else was that place?  I forget, now.  I know I wrote it down somewhere...

Monday 7 June 2010

My Guest: T.M. Hunter

Today we meet T.M. Hunter, another Champagne Books author.  T.M. is known for his Aston West space operas.

LR: Tell us a little about yourself.
TM: Not much to tell. I’ve always had a love for space exploration and aerospace in general. This (and knowing how much engineers earned in salary) led me to decide in the third grade that I wanted to be an engineer. Through trials and tribulations, I finally achieved that degree and have since worked in the aircraft industry (which is often harder to handle than the writing business). On the side, I write science fiction short stories and novels mostly based in the universe of my space pirate Aston West. My first book Heroes Die Young was awarded the Best Selling Book of 2008 by Champagne Books, and my second (Friends in Deed) just came out this January.

LR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer, and for how long have you been writing?
TM: I’ve been writing since I first penned an adventure story back in the third grade (which was far longer back than you would think). Granted, it was what you would expect out of someone that age. I didn’t seriously start writing until after graduating high school. Without getting into too many of the details, life’s circumstances dealt me great tragedy around that time, and I finally had the foundation I really needed to develop realistic characters and situations (at least in my opinion). From that point on, I was hooked with the disease of writing and have wanted to share my stories with the world. It’s been a long, strange trip, complete with all the pitfalls and setbacks you’d expect out of a classic work of literature, but in the end, I’m having fun. That’s worth a lot.

LR: Hmm, sounds like the makings of a good memoir...  What sort of books do you normally write?
TM: I write mostly in science fiction, technically in the sub-genre of space opera (or as I like to refer to it, science fiction for the rest of us). I enjoy the freedom that comes with the creation of new worlds and new beings, and there’s nothing finer than men and women with ray guns in too much leather. I like space opera over hard (not to be confused with erotic) sci-fi because it’s more character and plot-driven, and not so focused on the technical side of things.

LR: What inspires you?
TM: Various things, depending on the day and the circumstances. My first novel, Heroes Die Young, actually stemmed from a dream I’d had which ended up being the basis for the first chapter of the book. The second novel, Friends in Deed, came about from a scene in the first book where Aston (while sitting in a jail cell) reminisces about his escape from a prison planet and briefly mentions the brothers by name. Sitting around one day well after the first book was written, I wondered what these twins would be like, and what life would have been like for Aston back then. I began sketching out these characters and wondered to myself, “These two are pretty devious hombres. What if Aston met up with them again?” Thus began the plot and the rest, as they say, is history.

LR: What do you try to get across in your written works?
TM: Honestly, I don’t think I try to get any deep meaning across in my work, as much as I just love telling stories that people enjoy reading. Perhaps that’s a shortcoming of mine, but it’s how I do it anyway. Along the way, I seem to have several readers who love (and hate) particular characters, or enjoy specifics from the works (one reader has professed their love for a species having bit parts in both of my novels, go figure). So, I figure I’m doing something right. At least I hope so.

LR: Who are your favourite writers and why?
TM: While growing up, I was a big fan of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, which I did not realize until recently (after I Googled it) were penned by several different authors under pseudonyms. Go figure. In the modern day, I’ve become fond of reading Sue Grafton (Kinsey Milhone “alphabet” series), Janet Evanovich, and J. A. Konrath, all of whom write mysteries (and presumably are all writing under their real names). Another great author I like reading is Steven Shrewsbury, who writes horror and thrillers. It’s odd that a guy who likes science fiction would read so much in the way of mysteries, but I think the fact I read so many character-driven novels is the reason Aston is so loved by his fans.

LR: What are you currently reading?
TM: I’d mentioned Steven Shrewsbury, and I’m currently reading one of his horror novels, Hawg. It’s funny, because the last time I mentioned him was on a convention panel where I referred to him as “lesser-known” and in fact another person on that same panel knew him personally. I don’t call him that anymore. *smile*

On my to-read list after that are a couple of other science fiction authors from Champagne Books, K. M. Tolan (Rogue Dancer) and Ciara Gold (Celestial Dragon). It looks like I’m going to need to add your book to my list as well.

LR: Why, thanks!  I hope you enjoy it.  What is your advice to aspiring writers?
TM: Make sure that writing is something you’re willing to live and breathe every moment for the rest of your life. If not, find another outlet for your artistic talent. This business of writing is a harsh and cruel one, rife with rejection and other such depressing activities, and is not for the weak of heart or spirit. If after all of that, you’re still willing to give it your all, then I recommend learning all that you possibly can about writing, the technical and business aspects of it, and then when you can’t stand any more, keep trying to learn even more.

LR: Reading your blogs, your advice is always sage and very insightful.  How do you go about, normally, researching your books?
TM: That’s why I generally work on science fiction, dear. If I wanted to do that much research, I’d be writing historical fiction, mysteries or police procedurals. Other than going back and verifying all of the facts I’ve worked into my published stories and novels, and making sure I’m not violating any of them in my latest novels, I’d say my research is minimal, mostly focused on studying human behavior.

LR: Tell us about your current release.
TM: Friends in Deed, in a nutshell, is a tale of friendship and betrayal. Space pirate Aston West stumbles across a pair of old friends, twin brothers. Unfortunately for him, the brothers have other plans besides just catching up on old times. All three of them escaped from a prison planet long ago, and now Aston’s old friends want him to return there to carry out an extremely risky rescue mission. Even worse, they aren’t giving him any choice in the matter. Some friends, huh?

In the process of carrying out this rescue, Aston discovers he isn’t the only one the twins are forcing into servitude. He meets a female pirate who wants out, and his inner hero can’t help but try to help her out of her predicament. Trouble is, the twins aren’t about to just let her walk away. Needless to say, things get pretty hairy, and fast.

LR: Sounds interesting.  Where can we find you on the web and purchase your books?
TM: I have several haunts which I frequent on the web. I’m currently out there on Twitter (@astonwest), Facebook and Myspace (both under Aston West). Friends in Deed also has a fan page over on Facebook, which was a recent addition. And of course, everyone should look me up on my website,, which contains various links to the spots one can purchase copies of both books, as well as links to my published stories as they come out. I’ve been told that my first book is going to be hitting bookstore distribution soon, but no timetable on when that will happen. Generally, I keep everyone updated on the latest news through all of these, so it’s truly whichever presence my fans are most comfortable with.

LR: If your book was made into a movie, who would your dream cast be?
TM: I’ve not really thought about it too terribly much for this latest book, but Aston West has always been a toss-up between Nathan Fillion (which is ironic, since so many compare my Aston stories to Firefly) and Viggo Mortensen (of Lord of the Rings fame). My money would be on Fillion.

Unfortunately, no female actress really stands out as being exactly like Leah Jordan, but there several who could fit the role. Felicia Day would be good at it, as well as Megan Fox.

The Cassus twins would be a trick, because you’d have to either find two people who looked somewhat alike, or have one person playing both roles through the magic of modern filmmaking. Brad Pitt might be able to handle the role, or perhaps Russell Crowe (or both?). Oddly enough, the person I had in mind when constructing the persona of Lars (and thus, the same look for Elijah) was Dolph Lungren (the Russian in Rocky IV). He might be able to pull it off as well.

LR: Agreed, I'd definitely go for Nathan Fillion!  If you could be a character in your book, who would it be and why?
TM: The easy answer would be Aston, but I’ve never been about doing things easy. I think it would be fun to be Elijah Cassus, just because he doesn’t care if what he does is right or wrong, as long as he can justify to himself that it needs to be done. Would I really be that person in real life? No. But that’s why it’s called fiction. *smile*

Here is an excerpt from Friends In Deed (Please keep it PG-13, thanks!):

Even in the depth of my nightmares, Lycus IV was a formidable hell. The scenery misled one to think of mighty grandeur. Lush green trees lined the banks. Sporadic cloud cover offered broken views of a pale blue mountain range.

This prison planet’s terror was not found in its natural surroundings, but from its unwilling inhabitants.

A wide, slow-moving river flowed in front of me over a deep bed of rocks. My filthy clothing was ripped and shredded, and exposed bloody skin. I gazed back across the clear, inviting water.

A bellow filled the air and I turned. A pale, naked giant rumbled through the brush, still yelling at the top of his lungs. High above his head, he gripped his makeshift mallet, a boulder strapped into the fork of a tree branch. I jumped aside as the weapon crashed down.

He stared with one wide eye and the other glazed over. Saliva dribbled from his lips.

“I am King of the wooded realm! You dare invade my territory?”

This wasn’t a fight I planned to stick around for. Psychotics were the worst type of violent.

He hoisted his club and swung it at me. I stumbled back and it came so close I felt the breeze. I turned toward the opposite bank and sprinted across the riverbed.

“Your punishment is death! Vengeance is demanded!”

I high-stepped through calf-deep water while the beast screamed bloody murder. I dared not look back, because there was no doubt he gained on me with every step.

My foot caught a cluster of rocks under the surface and I splashed down, drenched by the cool, clear water. I flipped over and faced my attacker as he left me in a cold, dark shadow. Milky-white foam oozed over his lower lip.

“Prepare to meet your maker!”

He raised the mallet high above his head. At least death would be quick, but I couldn’t say much for painless. I closed my eyes and waited for the crushing blow.

A whistle filled the air and the giant beast gasped and choked. My eyes flashed open as the beast dropped his weapon into the river behind him.

Only one object stood between me and oblivion, a homemade arrow buried in his neck. He couldn’t pull it from the front, so reached back. His mind gave up hope as soon as his fingers probed the stone tip. The monster’s eyes rolled up out of the way, then his body fell backward.

The corpse splashed down and huge waves rolled past me. I scrambled around and gazed at the opposite bank. There, a bow in his left hand and more arrows strapped to his back, stood the man who’d just saved my life.

Elijah Cassus.

Thanks T.M. for being my guest today and enduring these intrusive questions ;)

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Stay Tuned This June

Another month and the heat levels in the tropics still have not improved.  Outside, and inside, the air is stifling hot - and what winds do blow, well, they may as well have come out the other side of an exhaust fan.

June also brings the listing for all the names of all the hurricanes the season proposes to they are, if you're interested: Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igor, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie, Walter.

I've niece called Fiona and she's a real hell-raiser...I'm beginning to get a little worried now.  What with the strange and extreme heat levels, all across the land, people are muttering that a hurricane is due this year.  After all, we have been spared a direct hit since 1955's Janet.

With all these names to remember (glad the weather forecasters got it down pat), I've had to create another list with another set of names - this one to keep track of my interviews with fellow writers/bloggers.  I know, talking about that blasted book again.  Hey, why not, right?  After all, it's all about getting people to notice you.

This month, I'll be featuring T.M. Hunter, fellow Champagne Books writer and well known for his Aston West books (Heroes Die Young & Friends In Deed).  You'll get to meet him on June 7, so come back then and see what he had to say about some questions I had for him.  In turn, I'll be interviewed by him on his site June 13.  I'll post the link closer to the time.

On June 4, I'll be interviewed by Anne Patrick over at her blogsite.  If you remember, I interviewed her last month, so now it's my turn to get grilled.  So, check me out in a couple days at

Leave a comment, ask another question of your own - I'll be glad to answer...providing I haven't shut the power off, found a suitable hiding place while I brace myself for an incoming hurricane.  Oh, wait...the hurricane season only just started.  I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

Thursday 27 May 2010

One, Two and Three

May comes ever close to ending - didn't it just begin?  How time flies when you're having fun.  Well, I'd like to think that I have been having fun.  Promoting a book takes everything out of you.  I feel as if I've spread myself all over the worldwide web like a cyber-slut.  Okay, just disregard that last comment...but you get my meaning.  Selling yourself, is still, basically, selling yourself.

To date I've done ads from Facebook, internationally; email blasts, locally.  Made discreet comments on Twitter (does anyone really take notice of things like that?  Feels like I've been talking to myself, almost) and chatted the book up on my Facebook page till I reckon people no longer take notice of it.  Phew.  The risk of someone coming up with a page that tells people not to 'like' the page is great.  The next step I took was exchange interviews with fellow writers (fellow writers, I think I'm finally getting used to that title) and sending out emails asking for book reviews.  I hope people are actually getting the emails, but their lack of response really makes me begin to wonder.

Something must be paying off, maybe even good old word of mouth.  Checking back on the Champagne Books bookstore site over at Fictionwise, The Lancaster Rule is still ruling the science fiction world at Number One.  I'd really like to think it's the actual book itself that people are liking - maybe even loving - and telling everyone they know that the book is super-cool and you must read it!!  It is, honestly, it quick, go get a copy and have a read.

The recent visit from my friends Jess and Darryl has also re-aligned my thoughts regarding book two, The Master Key.  Jess has been (and I hope she continues to be) my number one fan.  Her enthusiasm that sparked like a brilliant ray of light when she first read The Lancaster Rule, has not diminished in the least.  She used her wily charm and procured a rough draft of The Master Key.  After devouring it, she came up with some solid thoughts on a few areas that, unbeknownst to me, were a bit on the grey side of things.  We sat and clarified it, which then had me rewriting a few areas - possibly even more.  The Master Key is complete, but still needs another re-read and some good old fashioned polishing.  After that, I will submit and hope for the best.

One is done and out, two is to be polished and made ready for submission, and three, The Eternal Knot is finally complete!  Two days ago, I wrote the last chapter and let out a great big sigh of relief.  I was beginning to think that I'd never finish it.  By far, it has taken me the longest to complete, what with all the distractions of publicizing the first one.  I'm in the process of re-reading it and adding a few bits here and there.  After talking with Jess, I realized that my original ending could use a little shake up.  So, I've written an extra chapter which might either stay or not.  I'm still not sure.  It feels a little sad to be saying goodbye to my favourite characters, but all good things must come to an end.  Maybe, this alternative ending may leave things wide open for a possible fourth book.  Maybe not...maybe the re-read might tell me what to do.

Sigh, so The Lancaster Rule series is finally done!  Feels like I've achieved a goal and now am able to move onto the next project (I've two ideas that are in the works).  But even though they are complete, I know I'll be neck-deep busy trying to make sure it still rules!  Being at the top is very hard work.  (Okay, really ignore that last comment since it sounds very much like boasting).

In the next few months, I'll be re-organizing my plan of attack by dishing out a fresh set of ads and email blasts (must not let people forget, right?), and somewhere in there, squeeze in a much needed holiday.

Okay, back to my re-reads...