Friday, November 7, 2014

Finding Fiction Friday - Debbie Johnson


Debbie Johnson writes romance, crime, and fantasy. She lives in Liverpool, UK, with a small tribe of children and pets, in a very messy house.

Debbie, when did you first think about writing for publication?

I was a journalist for most of my adult life, so have always been a writer – but I only seriously turned my hand to fiction a few years after I left the newspaper I worked for. It freed up my mind and writing style, and allowed me to really push myself. It was also a couple of years after the birth of my third – and final! – baby, once I was finally clear of the deep, dark, energy-sucking hole that having a newborn can sometimes feel like!

Tell us one thing about yourself that you think might surprise us.

I studied History at Oxford University – which always surprises people. They always look completely shocked when they discover that. I guess I must come across as being pretty dumb!

Yesterday was your big Release Day for “Cold Feet at Christmas”!  Congratulations!  Tell us about this book and your foray into contemporary romance.

It tells the tale of Leah Harvey, who is all set for her big fairy tale wedding at a remote Scottish castle on Christmas Eve. Sadly the festivities go slightly awry when she discovers her husband-to-be playing ‘hide the sausage’ with one of the bridesmaids! She runs – or drives to be precise, she’s not completely brain-dead! – off into the night, and ends up stranded in a snow blizzard in the middle of nowhere. She stumbles across an isolated cottage, inhabited by an equally isolated man, Rob Cavelli. The story is really about how everything appearing to go wrong in your life can actually result in everything going right!





This is not your first book, can you tell us a little about your prior works?

I had an urban fantasy, Dark Vision, published by Del Rey earlier this year. There are Gods and vampires and all kinds of crazy stuff, but all set in modern-day Liverpool, where our heroine, Lily McCain, is a pop writer for her local newspaper. So in between reviewing gigs, she’s saving the world! The follow-up, Dark Touch, is out in Spring next year, and is partly set in New York. I also have Fear No Evil out at the moment on Maze/Avon – a supernatural crime thriller featuring private eye Jayne McCartney. Plus another one for HarperImpulse sometime in 2015…

If there is one character you’ve written or are writing that you would really like people to meet, who would it be and why?

The positive reviews so far of Cold Feet At Christmas have all liked the lead, Leah, who is really funny. She has no filter control between what she thinks and what she says, and is always optimistic, no matter how bad things are – so she is great. But Jayne McCartney, the private detective from Fear No Evil, would probably be the one I would most like to go the pub with (always the way I judge these things!) – she’s intelligent, hard-working, fun, and takes absolutely no sh*t from anybody!

What about being published with HarperImpulse and the book industry in general has most surprised you?

How much hard work the promotion side of things is – writing the book is the easy part; getting people to read it is a different matter entirely!

Is there someone you can point to as being your biggest encouragement in moving forward with writing?

In 2010 I won the Harry Bowling Prize for Writing at the Romantic Novelists Association annual event. The contest was judged by professional editors, agents and publishers, and I was so stunned to hear my name called out. Stunned, and a little tipsy to be honest, which made the walk up to the stage and the acceptance speech pretty interesting! But knowing that these experienced people thought I had something to offer did give me a boost.

Is there a particular genre you haven’t written yet that you might like to try someday?

Goodness, I’ve done three – isn’t that enough?? But seriously, possibly a young adult – I am sadly addicted to dystopian stuff, anything about survivors, whether it’s post zombie-apocalypse or post killer-disease-infection.

What other things do you have bouncing around in your head for the future?

I really need to concentrate on making the current three work – and there’s more copy editing etc to do on Dark Touch before that comes out, so I’m trying to prevent my brain from bouncing around any more ideas just yet!

To close the interview, I have ten questions for you, plus one.  Here they go!

  1. What is your favorite word? Liberty
  2. What is your least favorite word? Egg
  3. What turns you on? Intelligence
  4. What turns you off? Cruelty
  5. What sound or noise do you love? Kids laughing
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? Kids crying!
  7. What is your favorite curse word? I couldn’t possibly choose – I love them all dearly!
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Medicine
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Accountancy
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? ‘I forgive you my child – the bar is that way, and all your loved ones are waiting to buy you a drink’
  11. What question have you never been asked, that you wish someone would ask you? ‘Would you like to know next week’s winning Lottery numbers?’

Debbie, thanks so much for spending time with us.  Can you let us know where to follow you, and where we can go to purchase your books?

Thanks for having me! I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and my own website. All of my books are available on Amazon, the usual e-book outlets, and in the case of Dark Vision, also in paperback.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Rare Post About Faith

I once took a test on spiritual gifts.  It was designed to provide an idea of what kind of skills that I, as a Christian, would be best suited to use, and the most comfortable using.  I was rated on a 15-point scale in different areas such as Administration, Encouragement, Leadership, etc.  There were a few areas I scored over 10, and a few in the middle of the pack.

I scored a 1 out of 15 in Evangelism, which is the ability to spread the word of God and talk about my faith.  So you can understand why doing so is a hard thing for me.  I much prefer to just do my thing in other ways.

But when our pastor posted this blog, it hit some kind of nerve.  I, of course, think you should read it, but let me try to boil part of it down.

He received a pair of communications during the week.  One issue occurred when a friend of his tagged him in a photo where there was someone giving the camera the number one salute.  People actually unfriended him on Facebook over this.

Another was from a person who visited our church for the first time, and that's the one that really got to me.  That person, in part, wrote him this:

"The person next to me smelled like alcohol. It was unbearable. How could true leaders tolerate such things happening???? I will NEVER attend your ‘gathering’ and inform every person I know about the lack of following Jesus at this place. I cannot bring myself to call it a church with those kind of people in it."

There is a lot I would like to say about this.  I'd like to talk about how this person shouldn't stand in judgement.  About how she didn't know if perhaps the person who "offended" her might have been coming to our church for the first time.  Or maybe ANY church for the first time.  Maybe they had a really bad night and really needed to be there.  About how that kind of attitude turned me off to church for a long time (and still does in many cases).

But as I continued to turn it over in my head, I realized that wasn't what I really wanted to say.  It's this ...

I am the person who partied all night and woke up the next morning smelling of alcohol.

I am the person who flipped the bird in a photo and tagged my pastor in the picture.

I am the member of the LGBT community who would like nothing more than a little fellowship without being constantly judged.

I am the homeless man who hasn't showered in days.

I am the internet troll who gets his kicks out of getting people riled up.

I am the guy who has trouble every day prioritizing his life.

And I am also the person who sits in a church judging all of these people.

Obviously I'm not speaking literally.  My point is this - there is one thing these people all have in common, that everyone in the world has in common.

There is not a single one of them, of us, that is worthy of the love of a perfect God.  And He loves us anyway.

Think about that.  We ALL screw up.  We all fall short, and yet He still loves us as only He can.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

I wanna heal, I wanna feel
What I thought was never real
I wanna let go of the pain
I've felt so long

I wanna heal, I wanna feel
Like I'm close to something real
I wanna find something I wanted all along
Somewhere I belong

- Linkin Park "Somewhere I Belong"

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cover Reveal! "We've Always Got New York" by Jill L. Knapp

Today we have the first glimpse at the cover art of HarperImpulse author, Jill Knapp's next book, "We've Always Got New York", coming out November 20th! This novel is book #2 in the "What Happens To Men..?" series, which is now available in paperback in Great Britain. The first book has gotten rave reviews, and has divided its readers into two groups. Are you on Team Michael? Or are you on Team Hayden?

COVER REVEAL!!!!


You can get a copy of book #1 here!

"We've Always Got New York" picks up after Amalia Hastings returns to Manhattan from her trip to Brazil to find that life has in fact gone on without her. Fresh off the plane, she is left feeling anxious and unresolved, left alone to pick up the pieces, and deal with the repercussions of choosing her own path over Michael. Amalia finds herself without an apartment, without a job, and starting to wonder if she's even without a best friend!

Jill can be followed on Twitter and on Facebook

Now here's a sneak peak at the first chapter of "We've Always Got New York"!!

¬¬Chapter 1- Amalia

I could tell by the look on her face that she was expecting something from me. She was expecting something to be different. For me to be, in some way, changed.

I’m Amalia Hastings, and on August 20th at 9:17 pm, I was home.

Home. The word seemed funny to me because I didn’t have a home to go back to. I moved out of my apartment right before leaving for Brazil and after my friend-with-benefits, Michael, showed up at my apartment, asking me to stay. I hadn’t thought it through properly; I just knew I didn’t want to live in that apartment anymore. Before my trip to Brazil I packed up what little stuff I owned and put it in storage for when I returned, assuming I would deal with it then. Well, “then” has become “now”. So for tonight I was staying with my best friend Cassandra. Who was currently waving at me.

I knew what she wanted. She wanted stories. Juicy ones that involved hot hookups on the sand. She wanted to see pictures. Pictures of the places I went, the food I ate, and the hot guys I met. She wanted me to run up to her in a sun dress, hair braided and skin tanned, and explain, no, to pontificate, to her how life-changing my trip was. She wanted me to playfully link her arm around mine and gush about how amazing it all was. How I was changed forever. That I had a new appreciation for life, food, and music. She wanted me to tell her that I would never be the same.

But this isn’t the movies and I’m not Julia Roberts.

The florescent lights above me flickered, making the airport look dark and ominous. I looked down at my hand as I pulled my rolling suitcase across the sticky, tiled floor. Not even my hand had acquired a tan. Three months in the Brazilian sun and my skin remained as pale as ever.

Cassandra was looking right at me with wide, unblinking eyes. I walked a little slower.

For some reason I couldn’t pinpoint, coming off the plane felt like a surreal experience to me. Although I was relieved to have landed, and I wouldn’t have wanted to stay in Brazil any longer, I still wasn’t utterly happy with being back. I wondered if it merely had to do with the fact that I had no apartment to go back to and was feeling pretty untethered from not having a proper home.

There’s an old saying. I’m not really sure where it’s from or who said it first. Kind of the proverb equivalent of The House of the Rising Sun. It proffers, “Wherever you go, there you are”, and up until about one month ago I had no idea what it meant. But now it means everything. It rings in my ears like a scolding mother, repeating itself over and over again until I submit.

I finally stood face to face with Cassandra, who was grinning like a fool at this point. She was dressed down for the night, wearing a purple racer-back tank top that showed off her summer glow, jeans, and gold flip-flops. Her blonde hair was pulled into a loose, messy bun and her make-up was minimal, apart from the extra-shiny, coral lip-gloss she was wearing. She reeked of summer.

“Hey,” I offered, looking down at my sneakers. I wished I had more energy for her, but after ten hours on a plane it was all I could muster up.

Cassandra cocked her head to the side and smiled. Her hair swung back and forth and she popped her hip out like a model in training. She looked as fierce as ever, even dressed-down in comfortable summer clothes.

“That’s all I get? Get over here!” she said, pulling me in for a hug.

I hugged her back for a moment and then pulled away, overcome with exhaustion and jet-lag. I smiled at Cassandra. She smelled like a salty coconut and I realized she had probably come straight from Fire Island, a beach not too far from Long Island and just outside of the city. That explained the dressed-down attire, but not the lip-gloss. Unless, of course, we were going straight back there from JFK airport.

I looked back at the gate. Most people I knew hated airports, but I liked them. They offered a chance to escape. Get on a plane and in six hours from now you could be across the country. You could be in a different town, in a different house, with a different group of people. I think we all took that for granted.

 I could go back to Brazil right now. Or I could go somewhere else. I’ve never been to Cincinnati; I wonder what it’s like there. Or maybe Savannah. I could definitely live in Savannah! I took a step backwards, away from Cassie. Back toward the inside of the airport. She just smiled.

“Very funny, Amalia!” she said through perfectly white teeth. “Don’t sneak away from me now. I’m so glad you’re back, I really missed you.”

Cassie threw her arm over me and smushed our faces together. She whipped out her iPhone and flipped the camera application around so the front lens could be used and snapped a picture of the two of us. Before I knew it, she uploaded the picture to Facebook with the caption “So excited, Amalia is officially home!”

Without glancing back, she walked a few feet in front of me and remained glued to her phone. The back of her Havaianas smacking onto her heels echoed throughout the now nearly empty hallway. I let out a long sigh that Cassandra didn’t hear and pulled my suitcase toward the exit. Yep, it was official. I was home.


Jill Knapp, a native New Yorker, is an author with HarperImpulse, a United Kingdom division of HarperCollins Publishers, a writer of New Adult/ Women's Fiction novels, and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Originally called "Chase", her novel "What Happens To Men When They Move To Manhattan?" is now available!

Before publishing her first novel, she received a Masters in Psychology from the New School For Social Research in Manhattan.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Finding Fiction Friday - Eve Devon


Finding Fiction Friday returns with a visit from fellow HarperImpulse author Eve Devon fresh off of her latest release!  How does she keep the mental fires burning?  Let's find out!

My name’s Eve Devon and I write sexy heroes, sassy heroines and happy ever afters…

I kind of secretly believe it’s not too late for me to train as a professional dancer, MMA expert, or get asked to be Angelina Jolie’s body-double. I know. This is why writing fiction is for me!

Eve, when did you first think about writing for publication? 

I had always written some form of fiction but about six years ago I was sitting in a cafĂ© with a friend, discussing what we’d be doing if it wasn’t for the fear, and I had one of those weird planetary-alignment moments! Suddenly the excitement about a spot of no-holds-barred going-for-it outweighed any fear of failure. I started writing my first full-length manuscript that evening. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing but it felt so incredibly right to try, and even better, it was the most fun ever.

Tell us one thing about yourself that you think might surprise us.

Because of a brain malformation I have difficulty word-finding sometimes. I’ll use the right number of syllables and it will sound similar but be completely wrong. Bit challenging for a writer but makes for great entertainment… I once told a host at a party that I had to leave early to pick up some embalmed goblins. I actually meant engraved goblets! 

Before we get to your new release, tell us a bit about your first two books, “The Waiting Game” and “Her Best Laid Plans”.

The Waiting Game is a romantic suspense with a much darker feel than my contemporary romances and is about an alpha security specialist determined to make up for a mistake and the gritty survival of Brooke Bennet, who ten years before survived a madman who stalked her, kidnapped her and tattooed her. I’ve been told I write really good villains, so if you like your suspense with a side-helping of psychological thriller, then The Waiting Game is for you.

Her Best Laid Plans is a contemporary romance and the first book to feature a member of the King Family. Jared King deviated from plans set out from him at birth and it cost him big. Now life is measured; planned. Until, blindsided by news his father is gravely ill and the family business is in trouble, he misplaces his famous control and responds to his best friend’s little sister. Worse, after persuading her to accompany him back to London as his P.A., instead of distracting him from the dark emotion attached to seeing his family again, she’s fast becoming his main focus. Sassy go-with-the-flow Amanda Gray has a healthy fear of planning her life to the nth degree. Whenever she’s tried, Life and those pesky planning gremlins have reared up to bite her on the behind! But now it’s time to grow up and get her life on track—if only the delicious Jared King would stop distracting her.

Last Thursday was Release Day for “The Love List”!  Congratulations!  Tell us about this book and how it relates to your prior work.

Thank you. The Love List was incredible fun to write. It features Jared’s sister Nora who we meet in Her Best Laid Plans when she persuades Jared to return to London to reconnect with their father before it’s too late and help her save the family business KPC. KPC is everything to Nora. She eats, sleeps and breathes it and in The Love List it stands very safely and very firmly between her and her grief over losing her father. But then she meets Ethan Love, a disaster relief worker in town to ask her a very special favour and suddenly his sexy laid-back charm is crashing through her barriers, dragging her out of her self-imposed state of suspended animation and making her want to put him on her To Do List!

You have written a ton over the years, but what has drawn you to romance?

I was introduced to category romance at a young age and fell in love with different genres. I loved that you got to step into all these very different worlds (be it contemporary, historical, PNR, suspense, medical, urban fantasy—whichever) but always get that romance between the main protagonists. I think the romance genre gets some grief from readers who haven’t ever read it, but far from turning happy ever afters into something unrealistic, they actually demonstrate over and over how and why you need to work at relationships.

You also speak of having written what I would certainly term “fan fiction” – taking characters from television episodes.  Do you have a favorite that you’ve written?

Okay. I can’t believe I’m about to admit this but here in the UK we used to have this series called “Dempsey and Makepeace”. It starred US Michael Brandon and UK Glynis Barber. The chemistry they shared on screen was off-the-scale (so much so that they got married in real life!). Every single week I’d watch the show and stay up most of that night “re-writing” the episode so that they ended up together. At school on Mondays I could hardly keep my eyes open – but all my friends would get to read the latest installment. 

What do you do to keep from burning out?

That’s a really good question because it’s something that easily sneaks up on you in this business. It’s so hard to turn down an opportunity and so easy to think you can do ALL THE THINGS! The truth is you have to really listen to yourself. That moment where you realize it’s not the first time that your mind’s racing with responsibility and the writing you rely on to be there is feeling not so much slow, as completely absent? That’s the time to step away and go and do something completely different. For me it’s anything craft. The act of doing something different somehow soothes my frazzled brain and brings Muse back with a smile on her face. 

If there is one character you’ve written or are writing that you would really like people to meet, who would it be and why?

I think it would be Brooke Bennet—the heroine in The Waiting Game. She’s real, flawed, and shows incredible courage to grasp hold of life again.

What about being published with HarperImpulse and the book industry in general has most surprised you?

I truly appreciate the support that authors freely offer each other and romance readers are honestly some of the most lovely, down-to-earth, positive people you can find. 

Is there someone you can point to as being your biggest encouragement in moving forward with writing?

My husband! He has always, without reservation, believed in me. I think the fact that he doesn’t seem to see limits to me writing, always allows me to step forward with a touch less fear. 

What other things do you have bouncing around in your head for the future?

So I’ve just handed in the book that features the last King sibling—Sephy. I have a book completed that is part of a suspense continuity for next year. I’m working on my next contemporary and then I launch straight into writing my next suspense title. Oh, and I have a superhero urban fantasy I really want to get finished. 

To close the interview, I have ten questions for you, plus one.  Here they go!
  1. What is your favorite word? Pootle
  2. What is your least favorite word? Can’t
  3. What turns you on? Humour and confidence.
  4. What turns you off? Bigotry.
  5. What sound or noise do you love? Rain on a roof.
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? People biting into apples.
  7. What is your favorite curse word? Crap-a-roon-spoon! I have a tendency to lengthen short words and shorten long words.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Aerialist or…forensic psychologist.
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Door-to-door sales.
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? You’ve been upgraded—please collect your wings from Gabriel.
  11. What question have you never been asked, that you wish someone would ask you? I’m calling from Ben Affleck’s office—he would like to know if you’ve found the director for your latest bestseller yet?
Eve, thanks so much for spending time with us.  Can you let us know where to follow you, and where we can go to purchase your books?

I love connecting with readers—you can find me here: 

WEBSITE                   TWITTER                   FACEBOOK              GOODREADS

And you can buy The Love List here:

AMAZON      BARNES & NOBLE             GOOGLE PLAY       iBOOKS         KOBO


Friday, September 5, 2014

Finding Fiction Friday - Zara Stoneley



Today we sit down to chat with Zara Stoneley!

Bestselling author Zara Stoneley lives in deepest Cheshire surrounded by horses, dogs, cats and amazing countryside. When she’s not visiting wine bars, artisan markets or admiring the scenery in her sexy high heels or green wellies, she can be found in flip flops on the beach in Barcelona, or more likely sampling the tapas!

Zara writes hot romance and bonkbusters. Her latest novel, ‘Stable Mates’, is a fun romp through the Cheshire countryside and combines some of her greatest loves – horses, dogs, hot men and strong women (and not forgetting champagne and fast cars)!


She writes for Harper Collins and Accent Press.

~~~~~

Welcome to our page, Zara!

Thank you so much for having me here today Aaron!

Zara, when did you first think about writing for publication?

I’ve always written, and sent my first book off to a publisher when I was in my early teens. I didn’t quite appreciate at the time how lucky I was to get a quite detailed, and lovely, encouraging response.
Tell us one thing about yourself that you think might surprise us. 

I’m a bit of an adrenalin and speed junkie, fast horses, cars… I’d love to do one of those ‘driving experience’ days, a Jag F-type would do nicely!

I’m fascinated by your description of where you live.  Tell us about it and the animals that are part of your everyday life.

I live in a very old country cottage in a pretty part of Cheshire. It’s a small market town that has great restaurants, lovely country pubs on the doorstep, artisan and street markets and several wonderful country estates and parks. It’s very much a mix of traditional England and country ways, sitting alongside footballers and film stars with very different ideas on how to spend their money and how the countryside should look. 

At the moment I’ve just got one old retired horse, although in the past I’ve had show and dressage horses, and horses that I’ve just enjoyed hacking out on. I’ve got two cats, but really miss having a dog around. I always loved having big dogs, like my Retriever and Samoyed, but was surprised to find how much fun (and how much larger than life) a terrier can be – there just had to be terriers in Stable Mates, they’re just part and parcel of country life and, more often than not, if you spot a horse box then there is at least one inside.

It’s the day after Release Day for you, congratulations!  Tell us about your new release “Stable Mates”.

Thank you! Stable Mates marks a change of direction for me, from erotic romance to sexy bonkbuster – Jackie Collins in the countryside!

It’s a story about old money and new, tradition versus change, country pursuits vs celebrity lifestyle, and the type of scandals and secrets that are uncovered when the tranquility of a country village is threatened by outsiders… but most of all it’s about the people and animals that inhabit two very different villages. As one reviewer has put it ... ‘a delightful romp peppered with humour, sadness, scandal and steamy sex.’

You certainly drew on your own life for the setting of your latest book, but how much do you draw on your real life for your characters? 

There are fragments of all kinds of people I’ve known in my characters. I love the down to earth nature of a lot of people who live in the countryside, plus their sense of humour and determination. Horse riders are like most sportsmen, extremely competitive, fit and determined, which can lead to larger than life characters who have a real enjoyment of life. 

You describe your works as “hot romance and bonkbusters”.  I might regret asking this, but what is the definition of a “bonkbuster” for the uninitiated?

I think it’s a very British term! So, from the Oxford English Dictionary (where else?) we have the definition  "a type of popular novel characterized by frequent explicit sexual encounters between the characters." A play on the term ‘blockbuster’ and bonk, British slang for sex.

If there is one character you’ve written or are writing that you would really like people to meet, who would it be and why? 

That’s a tricky one – there are so many characters in this book that I love. If I had to pick one out though, I think I’d go with Pip – she’s tough, more complex than people realize and very accomplished at hiding her insecurities. She’s snagged a very hot guy in Stable Mates – but you’ll have to read the follow up to find out if she sticks with him!

What about being published with HarperImpulse and the book industry in general has most surprised you? 

The people. The writing community is a wonderful one, I’m constantly surprised how generous, welcoming and supportive everybody involved in the industry is. 

Is there someone you can point to as being your biggest encouragement in moving forward with writing? 

My mum! She’s always encouraged me to write – and always wanted me to write the ‘funny bits’ down. I wouldn’t let her read my erotic stories as they were a bit racy, but I’ve dedicated this book to her.

What other things do you have bouncing around in your head for the future? 

There is too much bouncing in there at the moment!! I’ve got two short stories for anthologies that I’ve been asked to write, then a follow up to Stable Mates that me and my editor are excited about (Country Affairs – you heard the title first here!), and then more of a ‘footballer’s wives’ bonkbuster that I’ve had in mind for a while, but was left to stew when Stable Mates appeared! And then there is this much more serious story about losing your identity that has been in my head (and heart) for years and really needs to be written….

To close the interview, I have ten questions for you, plus one.  Here they go!
  1. What is your favorite word? Coffee
  2. What is your least favorite word? No
  3. What turns you on? Humour
  4. What turns you off? Cruelty
  5. What sound or noise do you love? Nature – you know that almost complete peace apart from the sound of the sea, or wind in the leaves, or animals…
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? A dentist drill. Eurghh.
  7. What is your favorite curse word? Bugger.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? A veterinary surgeon. It was my dream job when I was at school, then somehow I ended up in IT, then teaching, then writing…
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Dentist (see above)
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Wow, I’m so pleased you’ve finally got here! Cup of coffee?
  11. What question have you never been asked, that you wish someone would ask you? Will you sign a 6-figure book deal with us?
Zara, thanks so much for spending time with us.  Can you let us know where to follow you, and where we can go to purchase your books?

Find out more about Zara:
Website      Twitter        Facebook        Google+

Stable Mates
Blurb -
Secrets and scandals, love and lust – when the ‘Cheshire Set’ are up against the ‘Footballer’s Wives’ the only common ground is carnal…

Flirting and fun seem the perfect antidote for Lottie's battered heart, and where better to find them than back in tranquil Tippermere, home of sexy eventer Rory Steel, the smiling Irish eyes of hunky farrier Mick O'Neal, and mysterious newcomer, model Tom Strachan?

But when landowner Marcus James drops dead unexpectedly, and the threat of his waggish wife Amanda selling the heart of the village out from under them looms large, things look like they're about to heat up in and out of the saddle.

With tensions running high, and the champagne flowing as freely as the adrenalin, is it any wonder that love catches more than one of them unawares?

Buy links –
Amazon       Barnes & Noble      Kobo   Foyles  Waterstones  
Sainsbury’s      Google Play        iTunes    Blackwells



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Doctor Who Season 8 Premiere!!!! Theories and Observations from "Deep Breath"

“Deep Breath”, the season 8 premiere of Doctor Who, has come and gone, and now that we’ve all taken a collective deep breath ourselves, let’s take a moment to look at some of the things that MOFFAT!!!!! set up for the season! (WARNING: SPOILERS!!!)



(DISCLAIMER:  I am probably completely wrong about every single one of these ideas … I just enjoy chatting about them …)

The Face of the Doctor


Peter Capaldi wears the Doctor’s face well!  But, as has been discussed in the months since he was announced, he has appeared on Doctor Who before.  Would Moffat try to explain this occurrence?  It appears he will, as early in the episode, we have this …

Why this one? Why did I choose this face? It's like I'm trying to tell myself something. Like I'm trying to make a point. But what is so important that I can't just tell myself what I'm thinking?” (Twelve)

I don’t even have a theory for this one … yet.

Who left the newspaper ad?



Someone leaves a newspaper ad titled “Impossible Girl” which leaves a cryptic message telling where Clara should go meet the Doctor.  Or is it a message telling the Doctor where to go to meet Clara?  Turns out it is neither … or is it both?

My thought is that it might be another version of Clara that left the message.  After all, she was scattered throughout the Doctor’s timeline.  Wild thought: Bad Wolf?

Did the Doctor push the robot or did the robot jump?



I think the robot jumped, because it became truly sentient and made a decision to do so, which sort of leads to where he went when he “died” …

What is Heaven?



This question, and the next one, could be the mystery of the season (and I originally thought it was going to be the search for Gallifrey).  When the clockwork robot “dies”, he wakes up in “Heaven”, “Paradise”, or “The Promised Land” – whichever you want to call it.  What is this place?  Well I have an idea.

I think this place is … *drum roll* … the mainframe that River Song was “saved” into in the episode “Silence in the Library”.  If you remember, the image of the inside of that mainframe was quite idyllic, a “paradise” of sorts.  Perhaps the library mainframe has grown to no longer need a physical constraint, existing outside of time and space, and still fulfilling its programming to save whomever it can.  Where else would heaven for a mechanical being be than inside a mainframe? Especially one that achieved some level of sentience.  (Could Handles be in here somewhere?)

This also fits with my favorite theory that Tasha Lem might be River Song after she discovers how to download her consciousness from the mainframe into a new body.  When she got out, she built a religion around the mainframe (whose real undercover purpose is to help the Doctor when needed).  Tasha equals River would give a deeper meaning to a couple of the comments by Tasha in “Time of the Doctor”:

Flying the TARDIS was always easy. It was flying the Doctor I never quite mastered.” (Tasha Lem to Clara)


“I died in this room screaming your name.” (Tasha Lem to the Doctor)

That means, of course, that it’s quite possible River is still in the mainframe somewhere.  Which brings us to our next big question …

Who is Missy?



Missy is the strange woman who greets the clockwork robot when he arrives in “Paradise”.  She calls the Doctor her “boyfriend”.  She seems to be running the place, or at least acts like she does.  I have heard and considered a lot of ideas on her identity, assuming she is someone we know:

A female version of The Master (The Mistress = Missy)

An older version of Clara

Missy from the episode “Nightmare in Silver”

The woman who gave Clara the Doctor’s phone number

The Rani (whom I have only read about – she was a renegade female Timelord who worked with the Master against both the sixth and seventh Doctor)

None of these would seem to fit my Paradise theory, so I am going to go WAY out on a limb – I think she is River.  Or at least, some part of River in the mainframe I mentioned.  Perhaps River’s personality has fractured within the eternity of the mainframe, and this piece of it is quite crazy.  This coupled with Tasha Lem being “River reincarnate” could explain this statement by the Doctor from “Time of the Doctor”:

Listen to me, you have been fighting the psychopath inside you all your life.” (The Doctor to Tasha Lem)

This of course assumes that it is indeed someone we might know and not a completely new character.

How did Eleven know when to call Clara?


This one is sort of a head scratcher. In “Time of the Doctor”, Eleven clearly tells Clara that he cannot regenerate again.  We have to assume that on Trenzalore, the call from Eleven to Clara in “Deep Breath” took place before he told her that.  So why would he assume that Clara would be with his next regeneration, if he knew he had none left?

Because he did know he would regenerate again!  Remember, the Doctor lies.  He told Clara what he told her in "Time of the Doctor", because he had gotten to the point where he needed Clara to do something to convince the Timelords to give him extra regenerations.

How did he know he would regenerate again?  Because he knew there was an extra TARDIS when he “saved” Gallifrey in “Day of the Doctor” (as the Timelords did).  Eleven knew it, and the Timelords knew it, it was just a matter of the right event happening at the right time for Eleven to get his extra regenerations – it happened just like he planned it to.

EDIT: A friend of mine pointed out that the phone call may have happened in "Time of the Doctor" between when Eleven got the regeneration energy and destroyed the Daleks, and when he completed the regeneration in front of Clara in the TARDIS.  Looking back I think she might be right!  Thanks, Faith!

Vastra, Jenny, and Strax


One last observation – BBC give these three their own spinoff miniseries already!!!!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Finding Fiction Friday - Steve Peek



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Welcome to the Longclaws and Alien Agenda tour, by Steve Peek.  

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Steve, when did you first think about writing for publication?

Technically, a neighbor gave me a toy printing press when I was seven.  Using little rubber, linotype letters, I wrote and printed a neighborhood newspaper, but even then, being a smart little guy those sixty years ago, I saw the internet and knew newspapers had seen their day.  From that point on wherever my imagination put me as an adult:  lawyer, preacher, policeman, fireman, soldier, scientists, I always wanted to be a writer.  I began writing game instructions for publication in the early 1970’s.  Over a forty-year career in gaming someone told me I had published over a million words.  My response was, ‘Where’s the money.”  I published my first traditional book in 1982, The Game Inventors Handbook.  I wrote off and own for the next twenty years.  Now I write full time.
                                                                                     
Tell us one thing about yourself that you think might surprise us.

During the course of my life I accumulated more than five million frequent flyer miles.  My butt still hurts.

You had a long career in the game industry.  Can you tell us a bit about that?  How has that influenced your writing?

Writing game instructions are a lot of work, much like any form of technical writing.  The rules require levels of testing to eliminate any ambiguity.  I think eliminating the ambiguous is now second nature.

First tell us about your book “Longclaws” and the premise behind it.

Longclaws combines my research into parallel universes and my love of horror novels.  The basic idea is that worlds are connected and during certain times and events, and at certain places, gateways open.  This thinking came from my earlier book, Otherworld, I imagined a horrid world where nothing survived many years.  Everything was both predator and prey every moment; to sleep was to die.  I populated it with things from various cultures universal myths and made them iconic prototypes of creatures we believe to exist today.  These creatures, with their own societies and needs, cross into our world and all hell breaks loose.

Then there’s your book “Alien Agenda”, please tell us about that and the research that went into it.

Alien Agenda: Why they came, Why they stayed, was born from the several hundred books I read while researching Otherworld.  In those days, scientist didn’t talk about parallel universes for fear of losing their place on the government grant teat, the same as now with weather and such.  Anyway, the idea that aliens came from parallel universes and not thousands of light-years away, led me to wonder why they came and then why did they stay.  It combines known historical facts with UFO mythology in a way that makes it difficult for the reader to know where facts end and fiction begins.  I call it Science Faction.

If there is one character you’ve written or are writing that you would really like people to meet, who would it be and why?

One of the main characters in Longclaws is Royce Mason.  He’s an old, World War Two veteran who has experienced a lot of strange things during his life and has that country way of allowing people to underestimate him.  When Longclaws was finished, I missed most of the main characters, including the Longclaws.

Do you find it fun to “reimagine” historical events to match them up to the narrative you want to bring to your readers?

Of course, how can I not like playing god?  It is fun, but it is much more difficult than it sounds if you do it so the combination is not only seamless, but logical to the reader.

What about being published and the book industry in general has most surprised you?

How quickly the powerful publishers have succumbed to the internet without putting up much of a fight.

Is there someone you can point to as being your biggest encouragement in moving forward with writing?

My great friend, Herbie Brennan.  Author of more than a hundred published books, Herbie’s constant encouragement and feedback kept me working on my darkest days.

What other things do you have bouncing around in your head for the future?

I am editing a novel called Islands. (Working title).  One day everyone who lives on a coast on any land mass, wakes up and discovers new islands were none existed before.  It’s a little bit end of the world in a Douglas Adams sort of way.

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Their world is crowded with active volcanoes, sulfur and acid rains, permanent thick clouds turn day into deep twilight. It is a violent place: moment-to-moment survival is victory, every creature is constantly predator and prey, sleep is certain death. This is home to the longclaws, beings of super-human speed, strength and senses. Their predatory skills allow them only a tenuous niche in their hellish environment. Though smart and fierce, their rank in the food chain is far below the top. One clan leader draws from ancient legends of paradise and devises a plan to escape and take his clan to the otherworld - a world filled with slow, defenseless prey. The clan activates an Indian mound deep in southern forests and enters our world -hungry for prey. Torrential rains and washed out bridges force a runaway teen, an old dowser and a Cherokee healer to face the horrors of the clan's merciless onslaught. Mankind's legends are filled with vampires, werewolves, dragons and other nightmarish. Perhaps our legend of hell is based on the world of the Longclaws.Abab  
Steve Peek grew up in a family of readers and writers.  In the second grade a neighbor gave him a toy printing press and, using rubber linotype, he wrote and printed a neighborhood paper.  His first short story won a competition in his third grade class.  Sometimes he dreamed of being a policeman, fireman, lawyer, minister, soldier, politician, but in every dream he was also a writer. Peek loves games.  He enjoyed a forty year career in the game industry which allowed him to travel the world where he was able to explore many of the ancient, mythical places he’d read about. Some legends associated with these enigmatic sites led him down a winding road to a junction where myth meets science and the hold of this magical place continues its grip. Over the decades Steve always wrote.  Sometimes just here and there.  Twice he managed to have books published. Now, with the precious time to write, Steve found the traditional publishing world in disarray and decided that it is more important for him to write than to sell books to the big publishing houses.  The venue of the e-book makes this possible.  So, for better or for worse, Steve sits at a kitchen table looking into the woods around his home in the Smokey Mountains and writes every day. Reviewers have declared his books Longclaws and Alien Agenda: Why they came, Why they stayed to be a new sub-genre, ‘science faction’.  Much of the books are based on history and science while the story falls under fiction. Steve’s books are based on things that interest him and he works hard to make them interesting for his readers. He would like to hear from you via jstephenpeek on facebook or send him a message via his contact form.





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Buy Longclaws or Alien Agenda here

Steve is on tour between 12th and 26th July - you can check in with tour central here, and please check back each day to read more fascinating thoughts by this eloquent and interesting author.
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Tour arranged by The Finishing Faires