Author Interview- Whistle Down the Wind Author Sibelle Stone

sibellestoneToday I have Sibelle Stone and her delayed interview. Don’t blame her, she’s been convention hopping and just downright busy. Luckily she was able to snag a few moments and answer my questions about her latest release Whistle Down the Wind. Without further ado, Sibelle
1. Whistle Down The Wind has a ton of detailed references to Wiccan ceremonies, celebrating the solstice, etc. How did you research this information for the book?

I work for one of the busiest library systems in the country, so research is actually one of the easiest things I do. I know a lot of reference librarians and they love getting challenging questions. I’ve been interested in witchcraft for many years and have a whole collection of books on the history of witchcraft in addition to the library resources and some on-line research. One problem we do have in the library is that the books on witchcraft are often stolen, by people who object to us putting them on the shelves. But, our policy is “free and open access” so it’s important to have all kinds of books available to readers.

2. I was a bit bummed when Griffin’s true purpose in the New World/Americas didn’t really get resolved or at least we didn’t see the culprit he was seeking. Is this something that will be revealed in a future book?

Yes, since this is a 4 book series, I needed to leave that bit of plot hanging. If you tie up all the lose ends in a series, there really isn’t a reason for the reader to come back. Each book will stand on it’s own, but there is an overarching plot line about the sisters magical abilities and the Dark Druids efforts to destroy King Charles II.

3. Catlin is really the ‘hero’ of the book. She rescues herself and Griffin from multiple battles and situations. Was this intentional to have Catlin essentially be her own hero or is it just how she evolved while writing the story?

I like to write strong women, and often get in trouble for it. My heroines have been called “bitches” because they stand up for themselves. They don’t always need the hero to take care of them, they WANT a relationship with the hero. I think for modern women, this is significant. I love reading historical romance, but if the heroine is too much of a “doormat” – I lose interest in the book. I like writing a couple that works together to resolve issues. They need to respect each other and what they bring to the relationship. Besides, BITCH can mean – beauty in total control of herself.

4. Now, I would imagine there are future books planned for the Mystic Moon series, who’s book can we expect next and when? How many do you have planned?

There are four sisters, and I’m planning for each sister, who also controls an element, to have a book. Their stories will be linked but I wanted each one to have her turn. The next book is about the eldest sister, Aelwyd, the fire mage. I set up her story a bit in “Whistle Down the Wind”. Then there is Meaghan, the water witch, who will get tangled up with a pirate, (actually a privateer) and finally the youngest sister, Seren, who is an earth witch. I also want to write a novella about some of the characters in Jamestown. I’ve actually had questions about them. The next Mystic Moon book is planned for Fall of this year. I just finished a Steampunk book and have a Western to finish before getting back to the 17th century. Since I work full-time and write full-length books, I can’t produce books quickly.

5. Finally compared to your previous books and writing adventures what do you enjoy most about writing the Mystic Moon series?

I really love writing this series about four sisters. I have two sisters and it’s a very special relationship. There is great love and sometimes, great conflict. Having the opportunity to include information about the European witch craze is also important to me. We don’t even know how many women were executed during those times, but it was a huge number considering the total population.

A Writer’s Gratitude – Donna Cummings

Welcome Page PhotoSome days it feels like there is nothing but an endless supply of things to do, and an even longer list of things that aren’t getting done. Add in all the writing things that need doing–and nowhere near enough time to accomplish them–and it’s easy to sink into a woe-filled pit of despair.

There are blog posts, and blog hops, and blog tours. There is a constant stream of social media to tend to, with new ones being born every minute. There are edits and revisions and outlines and synopses and brainstorming. New stories must be written. Sales statistics must be checked, constantly, in case I accidentally slip onto a bestseller list without knowing it.

Oh, and did I forget to eat today? There may not be time to sleep either. They probably want me to show up at the day job too.

A recent day like this made me realize I needed to revamp my mindset. Instead of bemoaning all the writing things on my list, I decided to relish those items. I chose to be grateful for many things that could easily be characterized as burdens. This change in POV doesn’t always lighten the workload, but it does make it easier to carry around.

So here are just a few of the things I’m grateful for today:

  1. People who read my blogs — Some months I have lots of blog posts to do, for my own blog, and as a guest. It can be tough to think of a new topic, or a twist on an old topic. It’s easier to flop onto the couch and whine about having too many things to write. But, I’ve waited a long time for this: people willing to read what I have to say. It’s delightful when people read my musings and comment on it and engage with me. Even better is when they say I’ve inspired them. How could I not be grateful for all these bloggish opportunities?
  2. People who read my books — I am thrilled that people read my books. Thrilled. When I first started writing, it was agonizing to have someone read my books. Heck, it might have been agonizing for them too. But I get excited when I see ratings and reviews of my stories on Amazon and book reviewers’ blogs. I’m giddy each time someone tells me via email or Twitter how much they enjoyed my stories. Okay, I even get a charge out of seeing my book listed as “currently reading” on Goodreads. Back in the olden days, there was no way of really knowing that someone was reading your book, but now you can see updates on Twitter and Goodreads, and it’s fun to be part of the reader’s experience as they turn the pages.
  3. People who read my tweets — I’ve met so many great friends through Twitter, and we manage to find each other in other places too, such as Goodreads and Facebook and Pinterest, making the internet seem like a nice cozy neighborhood. I’m glad that people not only indulge my barrage of coffee-related silliness, but tell me how much they look forward to it. When my muse disappears in a puff of acrid smoke, taking with her the joy of putting words to paper, it’s wonderful to turn to online friends who make me smile and re-invigorate my writing.
  4. People who read but don’t enjoy my books — I’m also grateful for people who have read one of my books and discovered it was only so-so, or not to their liking. I wish it had been a better reading experience for them, but I truly appreciate them taking a chance on a book and author they knew nothing about beforehand. Hopefully they saw something that might convince them to take another look with a future story of mine.
  5. People who have read this far — Thank you for letting me express my gratitude, on a day when I needed to remind myself there is much to be thankful for. I’m very lucky to be a writer, especially in a time when there are so many outlets for expressing my thoughts, worries, fears, words, stories, and all of the other creative jumble that exists in my brain. Writing is an urge that I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to explore, and I’m still amazed that I get to do this on a daily basis.

Many thanks to the wonderful ladies at Indie Books R Us for having me as a guest!
Always a pleasure, Donna!

 

About Donna:

I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances.

I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.

Back on Track, my contemporary novella set on the Napa Wine Train, released last month from Samhain. Also available is I Do. . . or Die, a romantic comedy/mystery, Summer Lovin’, a free romantic comedy novella, and Lord Midnight, a Regency historical romance.

 

Links:

Website/blog: www.AllAboutTheWriting.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/BookEmDonna

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Donna.Cummings.Author

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5349107.Donna_Cummings

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/bookemdonna

Buy links:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006PJH9A4

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/donna-cummings

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/donna-cummings/id485645201

Guest Post: Donna Cummings

Welcome Page PhotoHey, folks! Donna Cummings is back with us this week, sharing some of her awesome wisdom. The floor is yours, madame!

Write What You. . .

We’ve all heard this sentence, in a variety of ways, and I thought it would be fun to look at some of them in a little more detail.

Write What You Know

We’ve all heard this one so many times that I’m pretty sure everyone’s brain automatically filled in the last word when they read the blog post title. It’s good advice, because if we were to write about things we didn’t know, it could get a little messy.

Unfortunately, the things I find the most interesting are things I don’t know much about. If I’m doing something already, it’s not likely I’ll want to explore it in my stories. It’s nice to have insider information, so I can sound authoritative when it counts. But it’s not always intriguing to write about the things I do on a daily basis. If it was all that interesting, I doubt I’d feel the urge to write fiction.

LRL_600x900

Write What the Market Wants

Actually, the majority of advice is the opposite of this, based on the fact that trends fade quickly, and in the distant past (like, a couple years ago), it took forever for a book to be published. Which meant that the trend was over before you got to jump on that wave and ride it in to the bank. Nowadays, with ebooks, it’s easier to be part of the trends while they’re still desirably trendy.

However, I can’t seem to make this work for me. There are even times in my writing sojourn that I’ve felt like a trend assassin. For example, I was a Golden Heart finalist in the Traditional Regency category a lot of years ago. About five minutes after that, traditional Regencies died out. Seriously died out. Publishers quit publishing them, even though Jane Austen movies were at the height of their popularity. RWA even killed off the category that I’d finaled in, just a couple years later. Sexier Regencies were becoming popular, and since I liked them, I wrote one, and then all of a sudden, historical romances were on the wane while contemporaries became all the rage. I switched to writing those, but only because I had an idea for a story that I loved, and. . . I don’t have to yell “spoiler alert”, do I?

Luckily for me, I love writing in all those different subgenres. (You can also see why I’m glad I ignored the advice to “Write One Thing and Stick With It”.) I can continue to write stories that I love and seesaw back and forth with what the market seems to want without worrying about killing another trend.

I Do or Die Cover

Write What You Love

You’ll hear this a lot too. It takes courage to go this route, since there’s no guarantee that anyone will love your books the same way you do. But that’s true of anything that makes your heart beat faster. I create a lot of handmade cards, and I teach classes so that others can learn the techniques I know, and it never fails to surprise me when people adore a card that I consider an afterthought. The one I’m positive they’ll love? I tweeted recently about my ability to predict the future: I always know when gas prices are going down–it’s two days after I fill up my tank.

It’s the same way with my books. I can pour my heart and soul into a story and the characters, and hope that others will connect with them in the same way that I did. But a reader brings along a completely unknowable set of desires and expectations when they read a  book. Something I find hilarious or sexy may strike someone else as dull or yecchy, and it is likely to be the very same thing another reader loves and raves about to their friends.

Ask yourself: Does writing this story make you want to run to the laptop each morning so you can get back to the characters? Does it make you cackle with glee whenever you think of something diabolical to do to them on the way to their HEA? Does it make you wish you could turbocharge your pen so you could scribble the words even faster?

 

Back on Track cover(1)

Then I definitely advocate that you. . .

 

Write What You Want

As a reader, the books I enjoy the most are those that make me forget I’m a writer. I love to get caught up in what is happening to the characters, desperate to go every step of the way with them, unable to analyze how the magic is being performed before my very eyes. This only happens when an author writes the story they love, the way they want to write it, without worrying about all the rules, or trends, or how it might be received by the reader.  Nine times out of ten, it’s an indie book that makes me feel this way.

So go on. Write that book that won’t leave you alone. I can’t wait to read it.

I know I’m not the only one.

About Donna:

I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances.

I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.

Back on Track, my contemporary novella set on the Napa Wine Train, released last month from Samhain. Also available is I Do. . . or Die, a romantic comedy/mystery, Summer Lovin’, a free romantic comedy novella, and Lord Midnight, a Regency historical romance.

 

Links:

Website/blog: www.AllAboutTheWriting.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/BookEmDonna

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Donna.Cummings.Author

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5349107.Donna_Cummings

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/bookemdonna

Buy links:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006PJH9A4

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/donna-cummings

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/donna-cummings/id485645201

Author Interview – The Mine author John Heldt

John Heldt author photoAfter reading John’s book The Mine, I had a few questions about his fantastic story, and got a few surprising answers!

I loved Joel’s attitude and adventurousness. How difficult was it for you to fit his personality into 1941?
I created Joel specifically for that year, so it wasn’t difficult at all. I didn’t want my protagonist to be ignorant and condescending of his grandparents’ time but rather knowledgeable and respectful of it. Even though Joel was born in 1978, he knew a lot about the 1940s through books, movies, old radio shows, and many conversations with his grandparents, including grandfathers who had fought in World War II. The challenge wasn’t preparing Joel for 1941 but rather preparing 1941 for him. Yet even with all his knowledge of the past, Joel stumbles on several occasions. He oversteps his bounds. He misspeaks. But he learns from his mistakes. One of the best things about The Mine is that readers get to see a cocky, self-absorbed boy grow into a thoughtful man in a little over six months.

Why did you choose 1941? Did this have anything to do with Joel’s family history, or was it your own interest in the time period that informed the rest of the book?
I choose 1941 because I’ve always been fascinated by that year. When most people think of 1941, they think of Pearl Harbor. They think of war. They forget that America was at peace for 341 days and was very much divided on everything from entering World War II to the military draft. It was also an interesting year to portray because it was a transitional year between the thirties and forties where everything from music to public attitudes and social customs underwent change. I wanted to write a book that reminded people of what America was like before we went to war, while not losing sight of Pearl Harbor’s significance. One of the best ways to do that was to write a time travel story. Only in this story I wanted to approach 1941 from a different angle. I wanted to cover the months leading up to December 7 from the perspective of a civilian time traveler who knew war was coming and wasn’t all that thrilled about jumping into it. My protagonist wrestles with difficult decisions, the kind that can only confront someone with knowledge of things to come, including things that will affect his own family.

What do you think would have happened if Joel had been honest with [Japanese-American character] Katie Kobayashi about the internment camps?
My guess is that Katie would have encouraged her family in Portland to move east. President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of Japanese Americans, affected mostly those living on the West Coast. Katie was a fighter, though. If she believed she there was a chance she could have successfully resisted the order, she might have fought it in court to the bitter end. It’s an interesting question, but one that is not explored in either The Mine or its sequel, The Show.

Do you think Grace will make it in the 21st century?
The long answer to that can be found in The Show. The reader sees how Grace adjusts to the year 2000 in the three weeks before she meets Joel and before she has a clear understanding of how her life in the 21st century will turn out. For the most part, she adapts quite well, but she has her ups and downs. They are chronicled in great detail in The Show, even though much of the sequel is set in 1918 and 1919.

What do you have planned for the future?
I should first note that I have published two novels since The Mine’s release in February 2012. The Journey, the second book in my Northwest Passage series, is a largely unrelated coming-of-age-story that features a 49-year-old widow traveling back to the time (1979-80) and place (eastern Oregon) of her senior year in high school. And The Show, as noted earlier, is the sequel to The Mine and a story told primarily from the viewpoint of Grace Vandenberg. As for future projects, I have just started writing The Fire, the fourth part of the series and the sequel to The Journey. In this book, Kevin Johnson, the 22-year-old son of Shelly Preston Johnson, one of two protagonists in The Journey, travels from 2013 to Wallace, Idaho in 1910. He will see Halley’s Comet, fall in love, and experiences the Big Burn, the largest wildfire in U.S. history. I hope to have the book out this fall. Then I’ll close out the series with Joel and Grace’s twin daughters in a still untitled fifth book. The girls will travel from 2019 to 1964 and see everything from the Civil Rights movement to the Beatles in concert to their great-grandmother. Virginia “Ginny” Gillette Jorgenson, one of the most popular characters in The Mine, will do an encore in the finale. I should also note that even though the Smith-Vandenberg stories and the Johnson stories are mostly unrelated, they share common themes and some common characters. Joel Smith will appear in all five books. Readers who know him as a college senior in The Mine will also see him as a two-year-old, a young husband, a doting father, and a middle-aged college professor. The series will begin and end with him.

I. Am. EXCITED. I can’t wait to tear into The Show and The Journey and whatever comes next! Thank you, John!
The Mine is available at:

Amazon

 And don’t forget to check it out on Goodreads!

John A. Heldt is a reference librarian who lives and works in Montana. The former award-winning sportswriter and newspaper editor has loved reading and writing since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of both the University of Oregon and University of Iowa, he is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. Heldt is the author of THE MINE and THE JOURNEY. He will publish THE SHOW, the sequel to THE MINE, in early 2013.

 AUTHOR BLOG: http://johnheldt.blogspot.com

 AUTHOR FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/johnaheldt

Review: The Mine – Cate’s Take

Genre: Time travel romance

Rating: Yay!

When college senior Joel Smith and his best friend Adam pass through Helena, Montana on the way to Seattle, Joel learns two things that will change his entire life: 1) six planets are aligning in a once-in-a-lifetime cosmic event, and 2) there’s an abandoned goldmine outside of town (and what geology major can resist that). After finding a cave of florescent rock and an ornery rattler, Joel knocks himself out on a low-lying beam and wakes up in 1941.

I loved Joel’s sense of adventure from the beginning and and was curious about how that aspect of his personality would carry over to 1941. After his first train-hopping adventure, I wasn’t disappointed.

Joel’s a little bit of a Mary Sue, though. EVERYBODY loves him and he’s awesome at everything. The one I expected to be more Mary Sue – Grace, the love interest – pleasantly surprised me. While she is smart, funny, beautiful, etc. she’s also very human, and I found myself empathizing with her more than with Mr. Time Traveler. Grace makes a few mistakes along the way, and she’s had quite a bit of tragedy in her life, but she owns her screw-ups and comes out better for it.

A lot of the novel feels happy-go-lucky and fortuitous, but I think that’s intentional, given that the 1941 timeline begins only a few months before the US’s entry into WWII. Joel makes a small fortune thanks to his sports knowledge and a few well-placed bets, but there’s still that underlying sense of dread as he knows what’s in store for his family and his new best friend Tom Carter.

There’s quite a bit of nuance in this book. Joel’s biting wit and wry humor are underscored by Joel’s knowledge. True to the grandmother paradox, Joel tries not to influence or change much (and no, Futurama aficionados, he does not become his own grandfather); however, even Joel Smith can’t resist tampering just a little.

 

This Week’s Read – The Mine by John Heldt

The-Mine coverIn 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can’t use, money he can’t spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

The Mine is available at:

Amazon

Author Interview – Amanda McCrina

photo
Today is interview day! Amanda graciously took time out of her busy schedule to answer my burning questions about her book, His Own Good Sword. Thank you so much for for taking the time to speak with us, Amanda!
 
 
1. This is quite a complex story about right and wrong. Do you think the protagonist, Tyren, made the right decisions in his choices to uphold order and fairness at his outpost?
 
I don’t think Tyren always made the right decisions. I’m not even sure I’d say he always acted with the right motivations. He starts out with very rigid presupposed ideas of right and wrong, but he’s never before had to put those ideas to the test the way he has to over the course of the story. The realization that he can’t fit everything neatly into his rigid framework is an important part of his maturation, but he makes a lot of mistakes on the way to that realization, and some of those mistakes are downright disastrous. And he has some serious personality flaws to overcome: pride and anger often spur his decisions as much as his sense of morality. In his defense, though, he’s painfully conscious of his mistakes, and he’s not satisfied until he’s corrected them.
 
 
2. What made you decide to write a high fantasy adventure as your first book?
 
I grew up on a steady diet of high fantasy: Tolkien, Eddings, Jordan. These were the authors who first motivated me to pick up a pen and write. Even though my reading tastes had changed a bit by the time I wrote His Own Good Sword, fantasy still felt like the most familiar territory for writing. The world of His Own Good Sword isn’t really a typical high fantasy world–there isn’t any magic, for one thing–but high fantasy played a huge role in my development as a writer, and I think His Own Good Sword reflects this.
 
 
3. The conflict between the Cesini and the Empire is an interesting struggle. Do you have sympathy with one of the factions? Or with any of the bloodlines? Any particular reason why?
 
As I wrote the story, I came to realize, just as Tyren does, that neither side, neither ideology, is completely right or wrong. I think that’s what Tyren is getting at when he internalizes at one point about the purpose of empire. No character is “evil” simply because of which side he associates himself with–I think that’s clear by the end of the novel. I sympathize with characters, not necessarily with factions, and there are heroes and villains in both camps. The best stories are the ones in which the antagonist is as human as the protagonist, and his actions as rational–it makes the conflict deeper.
 
That being said–there is a “right” side in the struggle, a side I’m rooting for to win. But, as Tyren realizes, you have to strip away all sense of ideology and “faction,” of rebels versus Empire, in order to find it.
 
 
4. Were there any particular struggles with writing this book–funny research, or passages that just wouldn’t come out right?
 
Research for this story was more involved than I thought it would be–it’s fantasy, after all, and you don’t have to do research for fantasy, right? But since I wanted the story to have a real-world historical flavor, I found myself with all sorts of unanticipated questions: how did ancient postal systems work? When was concrete invented? I don’t actually know anything about limestone, so after describing a limestone building in one passage it was nicely affirming to find out, thanks to a geology course I was taking at the time, that limestone could actually develop in a region like Cesin and might therefore serve as a building material.
 
The scenes that gave me the most difficulty were the action scenes, particularly the battles. I love writing description, and dialogue can be fun, but I dread writing action scenes. These were the last parts of the book to be written. I’d actually begun querying the manuscript before I could bring myself to write the climactic battle scene.
 
 
5. Given the way the book ends, I assume there’s going to be a sequel. Are you working on it now? Any hogs_small_resother books you’re working on that might interest people?
 
There is a sequel. It’s called The Sword Unsheathed and I’ll be self-publishing it this December. I’m also currently working on a stand-alone novel called Aquae. Like His Own Good Sword, it’s historical-flavored fantasy–a (very loose) retelling of the Grimms’ fairy tale “The Water of Life,” set in 1st-century Roman-occupied Wales. It’s about a half-Roman, half-British boy who discovers he has druid powers and has to prove himself innocent of his soldier father’s murder.
 
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Amanda McCrina is currently pursuing a degree in history and political science at the University of West Georgia. She has a particular interest in twentieth-century warfare and ancient Roman history, but she also enjoys film, graphic design, coffee, and ice hockey.
 
His Own Good Sword is available at:
Paperback: Amazon and Createspace

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