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A Very Zombie New Year by Nancy Holzner

January 1, 2010

Happy Zombie New Year!!!

It is finally here!

The day…ur…night (had to wait until the sun had fully set for the Zombies to come out), we have all been waiting for when we finally get to ring in the new year and party with the Zombies! Or for those of you, ‘Norms’ out there who are to scared to actually party with the Zombies you get a voyeuristic peek at how they celebrate the beginning of a new year in their undead lives.

I am really excited about this guest post, by Nancy Holzner. I was expecting a fairly short post about how the Zombies in Deadtown would party on New Year’s Eve, but what I got far exceeded my wildest expectations. Nancy written a short story, prequel to her debut novel Deadtown, that can be found exclusively here at Book Obsessed!!! (For awhile – I’m not laying a permanent claim or anything.)  How awesome is that? Pretty damned awesome if you ask me!

The story takes place on New Year’s Eve, 1 year prior to the events that take place in the novel. I hope you enjoy the party as much as I did.  (Giveaway information at end of post)

My review of Deadtown can be found by clicking here.

Cheers,

Heather

A Very Zombie New Year

by Nancy Holzner

 
Nobody should be alone on New Year’s Eve. Not a human, not a zombie. Not even a shapeshifter who’s been abandoned by everyone she knows.
 
Feeling sorry for myself? Yeah, okay, maybe I was a little. Hard not to when I was sitting alone in an empty apartment, holding a mug of cold coffee in one hand and the TV remote in the other, clicking through channel after channel of Nothing That’s Any Damn Good.
 
My sister Gwen had packed up her family and gone to spend the holidays with Mom in Florida. Juliet, my vampire roommate, was out hunting, looking for norms who were drunk enough that their blood alcohol level would give her a buzz. Champagne, especially. She says it tickles her fangs.
 
Even tonight’s client had canceled. New Year’s Eve, he said, was the one night he wasn’t going to worry about the personal demons that infested his dreams and tormented him with nightmares. Instead, he was going to party until dawn and drink until he passed out.
 
Great. Maybe the guy would hook up with Juliet.
 
And then there was Kane. Well, no, there wasn’t, and that was the problem. He wasn’t sitting here beside me, where I could snuggle against his warm, muscular chest and inhale his scent of moonlit pine forest. Where I could see the smile glow in his gray eyes as we clinked champagne glasses at midnight and kissed under the mistletoe. Well, maybe not mistletoe. Kane was allergic. It was a werewolf thing.
 
Anyway, it was hard to do those things when he was nearly three hours’ drive away, in western Massachusetts. Kane was a lawyer, and he was working on a landmark paranormal rights case making its way through the appeals courts. He’d had to go to Pittsfield this afternoon to take a deposition. The weather forecast had predicted flurries, but a surprise blizzard blew in and closed the turnpike from West Stockbridge to Ludlow. Which meant Kane was stuck in the Berkshires overnight.
 
I sighed, wishing I could run my hands through his silver hair, thick and coarse like a wolf’s fur. I wished I could loosen his tie and lean in for a deep, never-ending kiss as the clock struck twelve.
 
Not tonight. Kane’s work as a civil rights attorney was important. And not only to him, but to all the paranormals who were struggling to gain legal recognition throughout the country, standardizing the state-by-state patchwork of laws that gave us limited rights in some areas and absolutely none in others. Important work. I knew that, and I admired Kane’s passion. It was just that, tonight, it would’ve been nice if he’d reserved some of that passion for me.
 
Not his fault, I reminded myself. He hadn’t called up a blizzard.
 
But here I sat, alone on my living room sofa, flipping channels on Juliet’s big-screen TV and trying to decide what to watch: an old black-and-white movie, mediocre pop singers lip-synching to corny songs, or a bunch of norms screaming and whooping and milling around Times Square waiting for the ball to drop.
 
I lifted the coffee mug to my lips, but the liquid was cold and bitter, and I set it down on the end table. The hell with it. I clicked off the TV and tossed the remote aside. I wasn’t going to sit around the apartment feeling pathetic. I grabbed my jacket and stuffed my arms into the sleeves. Nobody should be alone on New Year’s Eve. I was going to find a party.
 
And I knew just where to look for one: Creature Comforts, my favorite monster bar in the New Combat Zone. It was only eleven thirty. I could be there in ten minutes.
 
As I hurried through my building’s lobby, I waved to Clyde, the doorman, who was sharing munchies with a family of zombies from the second floor. A minister before the plague, Clyde was the most prim and proper zombie in all of Deadtown. Tonight, though, he sported a shiny green party hat and twirled a noisemaker in response to my wave. Even Clyde was in the mood for a celebration.
 
I stepped outside and got a fistful of snow blown into my face. The blizzard that had shut down the Mass Pike to the west was now whiting out Boston, but that didn’t slow things down here. Why should it? Zombies don’t feel the cold, and most of them don’t have cars to slip and slide around icy streets. Since zombies couldn’t leave Deadtown unless accompanied by a permit-carrying norm, there was nowhere for them to drive.
 
But tonight was different. The Council of Three, the vampire-werewolf-zombie triumvirate that governs Deadtown, had declared New Year’s Eve a holiday and issued an order that residents would not be required to produce a permit to leave the area. All that really meant was that they could pass through the Deadtown checkpoint and wander the New Combat Zone—the block between the checkpoints to Deadtown on one side and human-controlled Boston on the other—without being hassled. But to most zombies, that was unheard-of freedom.
 
Now, as I hurried toward the Tremont Street checkpoint, my collar turned up against the snow, zombies filled the streets, laughing and shouting. Many were dressed in gowns or tuxedos accessorized with pointed party hats, tiaras, plastic leis, beads. Odd to see black ties and satin cocktail dresses on folks who had gray-green, spongy skin; crimson eyes; and various body parts missing or decaying. Still, the dressed-up zombies gave Deadtown’s streets a festive atmosphere. Some were headed to neighborhood parties, but many were taking the opportunity to go through the checkpoint, maybe just to see what it felt like to be on the other side of those gates. Or else, like me, they planned to celebrate in one of the monster bars that lined the New Combat Zone.
 
The checkpoint line was long, but with no permits to scrutinize, everyone shuffled through quickly. The zombie guard swiped my ID card, sang out, “Happy New Year,” and pressed a button to raise the gate. Even through the heavy snow, I didn’t have to squint to see the cop car lights strobing away near the checkpoint at the other end of the block. The clear message: No one enters human-controlled Boston without paperwork. I guess the norms weren’t in the mood to party with zombies tonight.
 
Too bad. Because the zombies were ready for fun. New Year’s Eve was shaping up to be a major holiday for the undead. For one thing, it’s the only holiday that’s celebrated in the middle of the night, which is the middle of the workday in Deadtown. More important, it comes after what everyone else calls “the holidays.” Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa—whatever they celebrated before the plague, Deadtown’s zombies pretty much ignored those holidays now. They were family times, and most families didn’t want a zombie sitting by the Christmas tree, chugging eggnog by the gallon, scarfing down handfuls of Christmas cookies, and fumbling with stiff fingers trying to unwrap presents. I mean, what do you even buy a zombie for a present?
 
That’s how the norms rationalized leaving the zombies out of their get-togethers. And it meant that those holidays were quiet, even somber, in Deadtown. But New Year’s Eve was like a relief valve, letting off all the emotional steam that had built up since Thanksgiving, during the weeks that zombies tried not to think about the families they weren’t hearing from, the families that didn’t want them any more.
 
Outside Creature Comforts, a hulking figure hunched on a stool by the door, next to a hand-lettered cardboard sign:
 
No Humans
 
Private Party
 
$20 Cover Charge
 
I pulled out my wallet. “What’s the cover charge for?” I asked the bouncer. “Did Axel book a band?”
 
He raised his head. In the depths of the hood I could make out small, round, yellowish eyes and a big, hooked nose. A shaggy beard covered the lower half of his face, balancing the bushy eyebrows. He looked like something that chased children through their worst dreams, snapping his teeth as he tried to catch and eat them. This guy had to be related to Axel, the bar’s owner. The two of them looked like a pair of bookends—the kind of bookends you’d use if you didn’t want anyone going anywhere near your books. Ever.
 
“No band,” he said. “Glass of champagne at midnight. And snacks.”
 
OK, the snacks made sense. For zombies, there’s not much point in drinking—their metabolism burns off the alcohol before they can catch a buzz—but they do eat. And eat. And then eat some more. With Creature Comforts taken over by zombies, Axel wouldn’t be selling a lot of booze tonight, but he’d have to keep the bowls of bar snacks filled or he’d have a riot on his hands. Axel’s a big, scary guy. No one’s sure what species he is, and even the vampires are a little afraid of him. But a few dozen hungry zombies climbing over the bar and ransacking the storeroom in search of more potato chips might be too much even for Axel to handle.
 
Still, twenty bucks seemed steep for a shapeshifter. It wasn’t like I’d eat my weight in beer nuts or anything. But there wasn’t anywhere else I wanted to be tonight. I pulled out two tens.
 
The bouncer demanded to see my ID before he’d take my money. For a second, I felt flattered at getting carded, but then I realized he was checking my species, not my age. A lot of paranormals would love to pass as human, but tonight the message was you don’t look like you belong.
 
For a minute, I kind of knew how the zombies felt.
 
The bouncer gave me back my ID card and turned his attention to the zombie couple behind me. I pulled open the bar’s heavy oak door, and warm air puffed out with that unmistakable Creature Comforts scent. I took a deep, happy breath. No other bar in the Zone has quite the same aroma—a combination of spilled beer, smoke, a faint undernote of decay, and the slightest whiff of human blood. Some say that Axel pumps artificial blood scent through the air vents to give Creature Comforts an edgy feel, but I don’t believe it. Not tonight, anyway. Not with all these zombies. Zombies have this little problem called “frenzied blood lust”; the smell of human blood drives them wild with hunger. And with no actual humans around to gnaw on, they’d eat Axel out of business, twenty-dollar cover charge or not.
 
The place was packed. I spotted a group of werewolves sitting near the back, but otherwise it was wall-to-wall zombies. (No vampires tonight. They’d be wherever the humans were.) I turned left and shouldered my way through the crowd toward the bar. Axel had gone all out to decorate the place—if you call “going all out” taping some tinsel garlands to the wall and tacking up a Happy New Year sign over the bar. Still, since Creature Comforts’ usual ambiance came from forty-watt light bulbs, cracked linoleum, and duct-tape-patched vinyl seats, tinsel garlands were downright festive.
 
I snagged the last stool at the bar. Axel loomed a few feet away, emptying two giant bags of pretzels, one in each hand, into a bowl the size of a washtub. He looked up, saw me, and nodded. He handed the pretzel tub to some eager zombies, and then walked over to me, wiping his hands on a bar towel. He raised his shaggy eyebrows.
 
“Club soda, please.” I rarely drink—I don’t like the taste of alcohol. A sip of champagne at midnight would be enough for me. Axel brought over two glasses—my club soda and a plastic flute of pale-gold champagne with bubbles skittering up the side. “Almost midnight,” he said. The clock behind the bar confirmed it; less than fifteen minutes to go before a brand-new year began. At least I wouldn’t be alone. Not with several dozen zombies cramming the room.
 
Axel put a tray on the counter and filled it with champagne glasses, and then he began pouring. The liquid foamed up quickly in each glass, and he had to go around a second time to fill the glasses more than halfway.
 
“Where’s Kane?” he asked, keeping his eyes on his pouring.
 
“Stranded in the Berkshires,” I said. “This blizzard.”
 
He nodded without looking up.
 
“So is that bouncer a relative of yours?”
 
He nodded again. “Cousin. Why?”
 
“Nothing. There’s just such a strong resemblance.”
 
He looked up at that, a sudden grin splitting his beard to show square yellow teeth. I couldn’t recall ever seeing Axel smile so widely. Just as well. Those teeth were frightening. “Thanks,” he said. “Everyone says he’s the good-looking one in the family.”
 
Looking pleased, he set up more glasses on another tray. Axel’s not what you’d call talkative, and I think he’d exhausted his quota of words for the night. The zombies on either side of me were deep in their own conversations. Feeling antsy, I slid off my stool and grabbed the tray of filled champagne glasses. “I’ll go hand these out.”
 
It’s not easy winding through a tight crowd of partying zombies. Axel doesn’t have a sound system, but over in the corner someone was strumming a guitar. Barely audible over the buzz of voices, the music sounded mellow to me, but all around zombies were managing to dance to it. Some stood and swayed; some clutched each other and turned in slow circles, like couples at a high school dance. One guy in a Celtics jersey and baggy shorts pirouetted like an undead ballet dancer, his eyes closed, wearing a dreamy smile that, on his face, looked more like a death’s-head grimace. But he seemed happy. Maybe he was one zombie who’d been able to pour alcohol down his throat faster than he could burn it off.
 
I spent the next few minutes making sure everyone in the place had a glass of champagne. One zombie offered me a ten-dollar tip. I was tempted—it would offset that cover charge—but I told him to keep it. “Spend it on something fun in the new year.”
 
He raised his glass to me, but didn’t sip.
 
“Here we go!” someone yelled.
 
All eyes turned to the TV over the bar, which was tuned to the celebration in Times Square. Lights flashed and shimmered as the ball began its descent.
 
“Ten … nine …  eight!” The crowd chanted in one voice, loud enough that an echo probably reached Times Square. I took the last glass of champagne and stood among them, the empty tray dangling at my side. Zombies leaned forward, intent on the ball’s progress.
 
“Seven … six … five … four!”
 
The zombie standing next to me, a woman who’d probably been about thirty when she died, adjusted her tiara and bounced on her toes in anticipation.
 
“Three … two …  one …” A lonely feeling passed over me, like I might as well have stayed home. Cold coffee, warm champagne—what difference did it make? I was alone in a roomful of strangers. This was the zombies’ party. I shouldn’t have intruded.
 
“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
 
The guitar player struck a chord, and everyone launched into Auld Lang Syne:
 
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot—”
 
The guitar stopped.
 
“And never brought to mind?”
 
The voices faded out, until only two or three ventured into the next line.
 
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot . . .”
 
The final voice cracked. Cold silence settled over the room like the snow covering the streets outside. Zombie faces looked pensive, some stricken, like they were thinking about all those old acquaintances who’d forgotten them.
 
“Hell, yeah! Forget ’em!” Someone yelled, echoed a second later by another voice, and then another. A roar went up, growing in strength until it shook the walls. Confetti rained. Horns blew. Noisemakers whirled. The guitarist started again, this time playing something fast and Spanish-sounding.
 
All around me, zombies were grabbing each other, kissing, thumping each other on the back, kissing some more. Shouts of “Happy new year” ricocheted around the room.
 
A hand grabbed my arm. I turned fast, bringing up the tray as a shield. Um, no. I was glad the zombies were having fun, but there was no way I was locking lips with one.
 
But it wasn’t a zombie. It was Kane, gray eyes smiling, melting snowflakes and confetti dotting his silver hair and the shoulders of his coat. He folded me into his arms and I breathed in deeply. Snow. Moonlight. Pine.
 
The champagne glass slipped from my fingers.
 
“I thought the turnpike was closed,” I murmured against his coat.
 
He stroked my hair. “You think a little thing like that could keep me away? I can be very determined, you know.” He pulled back an inch, and I looked up into his eyes. Something sparked in them that set off corresponding fireworks in my chest. “And I was determined to start the new year with a kiss.”
 
Our lips met, his warm but a little rough from the night air. His tongue darted against my lips—just a touch at first, then more insistently. I opened; our tongues met. Time slowed, and sounds of the room grew distant. Shivers of pleasure rippled through my belly. I pressed closer, wanting more. Going deeper. Tasting him, breathing him in.
 
A dancing zombie jostled us, and we broke apart. “Oops,” he said, flashing a sheepish zombie grin/grimace. “Sorry ’bout that. Happy new year!” He twirled his dance partner and they spun back into the crowd.
 
Kane grabbed my hand and twirled me in a similar move. Maybe it’s my natural inability to dance—or maybe I was still a little light-headed from our kiss—but I stumbled in a way that made the zombies look graceful. Or maybe it wasn’t me. Maybe it was the zombies themselves. Something lit them up, an energy coursing through the room. They’d decided not to look back. And if they didn’t have much to look forward to, either, they weren’t letting that bother them now. They were living in the moment. From where I stood, the moment looked like the perfect place to be.
 
I clutched Kane’s tie and pulled him closer. “Happy new year, Counselor.”
 
His smile lit up the room. “Happy new year.”
 
He moved in for another kiss. Yes, the perfect place to be. And no mistletoe required.

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Giveaway Info:

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment telling us your favorite New Year’s Eve Memory.

Open to all!

Ends: January 2, 2009 at Midnight.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zombie New Year Prize Pack:

1- Signed copy of Deadtown with bookmarks

1- Set of Zombie Champagne Flutes

1- Package of Skull-and-Tombstone Confetti

and

Plus, some party favors like the ones described in the story.

 

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Review: Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

January 1, 2010

They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders — but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…

Vicky’s demanding job keeping the city safe from all manner of monsters is one reason her relationship with workaholic lawyer (and werewolf) Alexander Kane is in constant limbo. Throw in a foolhardy zombie apprentice, a mysterious demon-plagued client, and a suspicious research facility that’s taken an unwelcome interest in her family, and Vicky’s love life has as much of a pulse as Deadtown’s citizens.

But now Vicky’s got bigger things to worry about. The Hellion who murdered her father ten years ago has somehow broken through Boston’s magical protections. The Hellion is a ruthless force of destruction with a personal grudge against Vicky, and she’s the only one who can stop the demon before it destroys the city and everyone in it.

Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

Deadtown is an excellent debut novel with definite potential to become a great Urban Fantasy Series. The main character, Victory “Vicky” Vaughn has a very strong voice right from the beginning, which was very refreshing to me because it is something that I found to be an issue in many of the books I have read in the past year. I have often found myself reading two or three chapters before the characters ‘voice’ really takes over, so when Vicky’s voice rang out loud and clear from by the end of the second page I was impressed – to the point that I went to the author’s website to verify it was indeed a debut novel!  It does have some of the issues that are often found in a debut novel.

Vicky is a hereditary, shape-shifter and a professional demon-slayer with a teenage Zombie apprentice. She’s strong female character with her own demons real and imagined that need slaying. It makes her a likable and relatable character. The fact that she didn’t have a cell phone drove me up the wall several times. Beyond that her strength and her weaknesses made her more real. Sometimes a character goes too far one way or the other and neither is good – I can’t stand whiny, wishy-washy female characters – or the I can take on the world all by myself, bitchy female characters.

She inhabits a world where all the Supernatural begins are out in the open and attempting to gain full civil rights. In some places they have some rights in others they are shot on sight or have a many rights as say a stray dog does. In Boston, where Vicky lives, the SuperNats have some rights, but are confined to Deadtown. All except the Zombies can travel between the Human Controlled Boston and Deadtown, but all have identification that states they are non-human. Zombies can leave Deadtown, but only with supervision and a permit. It is an interesting commentary on civil rights in general and on how the world has historically handled ‘otherness’.

The Zombies in Deadtown are not your average horror movie Zombies. They are not mindless monsters, they are still very much the same people they where when they were alive. Boston is the only place with Zombies. There are a few thousand of them and they all died the same day from a bizarre virus. Then they all joined the ranks of the undead three days later. They are stiff with spongy, green skin and can’t go out in the daylight, because they can’t regenerate few things about them beyond that are like the horror movie Zombies.  I absolutely loved Vicky’s apprentice, Tina the teenage Zombie. She is just like every other teenager in America, with an attitude and insecurities. Loved her!

There is a bit of romance in the story, even a love tri-angle of sorts. Vicky has a sorta boyfriend, Kane who is a werewolf and the lead “Paranormal Rights” attorney. He is also one of the least likeable love interests I have ever encountered in any book. I just didn’t like him at all. I tried. I wanted to, but I didn’t. I appreciated his civil rights efforts and his commitment to his cause but didn’t like him personally. Her other potential love interest is Daniel, a homicide cop that is a Norm (human). He is sweet, good-looking and overall incredibly likeable. My only real issue was that there wasn’t enough of him in the book. He could have been a stronger male character, but there was enough Alpha-Male with Kane. I also felt like Daniel needed to not be as strong as Vicky because he is human and he shouldn’t completely be able to keep up with the SuperNats. It would have been less realistic to me if he had not been a bit handicapped.

It starts out with a lot of action which is good, but in the middle of the book the action got a bit too sporadic – if it would have kept a better pace I would have been completely head-over-heels in love. I realized while reading this book that I do have a few pet-peeve  – the ones mentioned above about the female characters (which were not a problem in this book) and the other is too much upfront world-building – explanation. By that I mean, I prefer when a book breaks the world-building down throughout the story so that we learn about it when we need to instead of having it handed to us upfront. In Deadtown, there was more upfront than I like to see, but it is a debut novel and a very unique world so I don’t hold that against either the author or the story – in the same way I would if it were a second or third novel. I was able to figure out who the bad guy was so initially that bothered me but there I two things I must say about that – #1 – it is a far rarer occurence that I don’t figure out who the bad guy is before the end – in fact I used to pride myself on that ability and #2 – I spoke to several other people who also read Deadtown and only one other person beside myself  had figured it out – so it is not an obvious – it was just my ability coming back to bite me in the butt. 😉 Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I am really looking forward to the next one. As I said at the beginning it has the potential to become a really great Urban Fantasy Series. Nancy Holzner did a job that far exceeded my expectations for a debut author. I can’t wait to spend more time in Deadtown. I just hope there is a lot more Daniel there when next I visit.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~FTC Disclaimer: This book is a mass-market paperback provided to me for the purposes of reviewing. Regardless of how a book was obtained my reviews are my true and honest feelings/impressions of the book.

Interview: Nadia Lee, author of A Happily Ever After of Her Own

December 29, 2009

Today, I have Nadia Lee, author of the serialized paranormal romance/fairy tale, A Happily Ever After of Her Own and the contemporary romance novel Devil Falls, published under the pen-name  Angelle Trieste.  With each of my interviews I try to get to know the person behind the stories a little bit better, so some of my questions are a little bit unorthodox. Some of them you will see over and over again, mostly because I am interested in the different answers and I will ask everyone. While others are written especially for the person I am interviewing- I try to keep each interview a bit different from most others you may have seen around the web or even read here at Book Obsessed. I appreciate your willingness Nadia,  to play along and give everyone a chance to get to know you as a person and author.

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Welcome to Book Obsessed, Nadia!

  

BookObsessedGrl: What is your favorite color and what do you think it says about you or how does it represent you?

NL: I love bright blood red.  Red is color of passion, so some think I like it because I write romance.  Hero Material (my fiance) clued me in to the fact that I love eating red things, such as strawberries, cherries, raspberries, tomatoes, red-skinned western radishes, red apples, lobsters and crabs, etc. so he hypothesized that I like red because of my dietary preferences.  😉

 BookObsessedGrl: I know you play the violin, how long have you played and how did get started?

NL: I started playing when I was in the eighth grade.  I was in a beginner’s orchestra in junior high school because I needed to do something fun, and my mom thought it would be good to learn a new instrument.  (I already knew how to play the piano by then.)

BookObsessedGrl: What is your favorite type of music?

NL: Ohh…I love all kinds of music.  Some people are horrified that my playlists include both Bach and Three 6 Mafia.  But if I had to choose one, I’d say classical music.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a solo piano or a string quartet or full orchestral or operatic piece.  I just love it.

BookObsessedGrl: Many authors talk about the music they listen to while they write. Do you listen to music while you write?

NL:  Sometimes, if I can find a composition / arrangement that I think suits the tone of the scene / chapter.

BookObsessedGrl: What did you start out listening to when you first started writing A Happily Ever After of Her Own, and how did it differ from what you listened to while writing Devil Falls (if at all)?
NL: A Happily Ever After of Her Own was written mostly in silence, although I listened to some popera and orchestral pieces.  Devil Falls (which I wrote under another pen-name, Angelle Trieste) was written to all kinds of classical music, but I spent most of my writing time with Bach’s Air, Vivaldi’s Double Cello Concerto in Gm and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.  Devil Falls has a classical cellist as the protagonist, though, so it really helped put me into the right mood.
BookObsessedGrl: Did you create a playlist before hand or just pick what you felt like listening to at the time?

NL: For A Happily Ever After of Her Own, I just picked out what I felt like listening to at the time.  It’s somewhat unusual for me because although there’s some spontaneity to creation, I usually know what kind of music is right for the scene I’m working on (if any).  A Happily Ever After of Her Own was written in less than a month from the initial idea to the final draft, so there was no time to come up with a playlist.  I just started writing.  (I didn’t even outline, and I’m a plotter!)

BookObsessedGrl: Did your music choices evolve throughout the writing process?

NL: They did.  I started out with “Di quella pira” from Verdi’s Il Trovatore (performed by Luciano Pavarotti).  Not that the lyric makes any sense for the story, but I thought the melody and the overall performance fantastic for it.  When Pavarotti was singing alone, I just imagined the Beast was accusing Melinda of kidnapping Beauty, and when the chorus kicked in, I pretended everyone was outraged.  LOL.  (I know, I know, it’s awful how I bastardize Verdi’s masterpiece like that!)

But later I ended up revising to Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.

BookObsessedGrl: Did the music you were listening to at any given time inspire or affect how certain scenes developed?

NL: Actually it has a huge impact on my mood and the tone I’m striving for.  If I can’t find anything right, I prefer to write in silence than to listen to something that’s going to jerk me out of the story in my head.  So when I have a piece of music that I think is perfect, I listen to it for the entire time I’m working on the scene.  It takes me hours to finish a scene, so I listen to the same piece over and over again (I set it to a infinite loop on my PC) until I’m finished.  I think I listened to nothing but “Di quella pira” for almost two days.

Yes, I have a high tolerance for repetition.

BookObsessedGrl: Can you tell us a few songs you listened to while writing A Happily Ever After of Her Own (HEA)?  What type of scene does each of the songs correspond to?

NL: I already mentioned “Di quella pira” and the blasphemous interpretation of the aria that ran through my head.  *very big grin*

 I also listened to Beethoven Symphony #7, esp. the second movement, while writing the Tudor House scenes.  I wanted to have a gloomy feel about the place, and the second movement (a.k.a. funeral march) is just perfect for it.  Also when revising the final chapter I had to listen to Galop Infernal from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld because it was just too good not to use.  There’s this gleeful madness about the piece, and I thought it worked when everything just crashed down on everyone.  (Or maybe I was just happy that the story came out very well!)

BookObsessedGrl: Did you discover any new music or bands/singers while writing or editing?

 NL: Alas, no.

BookObsessedGrl: I have read that you didn’t always dream of becoming an author, but somehow fell into it. What do you think was the catalyst that made you begin putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard as the case may be?
 
NL: It’s a bit of an odd thing — how I got started writing that is.  I think I told you via Twitter that I went to primary school in Asia.  There teachers always taught to the top 5% of the class, meaning if you couldn’t keep up with the brightest and quickest kids, you were left behind.  The attitude at the school was that if you weren’t smart enough or studious enough to master the material after each lesson, it wasn’t the teacher’s problem.  So there I barely had time to breathe, much less daydream.  I had to be super alert and pay attention to everything (not to mention the mountain of homework I had to do and extra classes / tutoring sessions I had to attend after school).

When I came to the States as a kid, I went through ESL in eighteen months and was put into an honors program.  But compared to the amount of pressure and crazy pace in Asia, it wasn’t enough to keep me occupied, so I started to get bored, which led to the formation of my secret habit:  writing little stories to amuse myself in classes that just didn’t challenge me enough.

College rid me of the habit because I actually had to pay attention, esp. in corporate finance and accounting.  It wasn’t until my second year in consulting that I started writing little bits here and there to amuse myself again while spending over 10 hours a week flying back and forth between the east and west coasts.

BookObsessedGrl: Melinda Lightfoot, the Heroine of A Happily Ever After of Her Own, is a preschool teacher with a special gift. Can you tell us a bit about her & her gift?

NL: She’s a young woman in her twenties who loves fairy tales.  When she reads one, she can enter the story and experience it.  Fortunately, she can leave the story at will when she wants to go back to her real life…that is, until the Evil Witch messes up everything by kidnapping Beauty (from Beauty and the Beast).
 
BookObsessedGrl: Even her name Melinda Lightfoot is a fairy tale name, and I not only love it but I love her. Did she start as a fully developed character in your mind, with her name and personality right up front or did she tell you her name in time as her character developed?
NL: Thanks, Heather!  She sprang from my head fully formed with her name, job, personality and everything else.  I was going to name her Melinda Parthenogenesis, but…

BookObsessedGrl: What motivates Melinda the most?

NL: Doing the right thing.  When she’s stuck in the fairy tale jail, she’s worried about her job and her students and all the other things that she’s responsible for.  She feels incredibly guilty about falling for Beast because she feels that it’s wrong to steal another woman’s man, even though Melinda herself has been waiting for her own Mr. Right all these years.

When I was working on the story, I was glad that her motivation was that cut and dried.  As I mentioned before she came to me fully formed, and it would’ve been a near-impossible chore to write a story about a woman who’s not interested in doing the right thing, even if it meant she wasn’t going to get what she wanted.

BookObsessedGrl: What are the similarities (if any) and differences between you and Melinda?

NL: Similarities?  I can’t think of any.  Oh wait, can I say we both try to do the right thing?  *laugh*  We both like fairy tales and love reading.

We’re of course very different at the same time.  I’ve never had any desire to be a preschool teacher — mostly because I don’t think I’ll be very good at it and I’m not the most patient person, and you know young children require a lot of patience.  Also I read the Wall Street Journal for fun, but I don’t see Melinda reading about treasury yields and so on for entertainment, do you?  😉
 

BookObsessedGrl: What was your favorite Fairy Tale as a child & Why? If it has changed, what is your favorite Fairy Tale now and why?
NL: Oh, tough tough!  But…if I must choose I have to say Cinderella.  As a child, my favorite version of Cinderella was a Korean folktale called Kongji and Patzzi. It’s about a poor virtuous girl who’s abused by her evil step-mom and so on.  What I liked about Kongji and Patzz was that not only was the good girl rewarded but the evil step-mom and -sister are punished by the good girl’s wealthy and powerful aristocrat husband.  I’m a vengeful reader, I’m afraid.  🙂 
 
 
BookObsessedGrl: If you could jump into any Fairy Tale which would you choose and why?
 

NL: Sleeping Beauty.  I want to wake the princess up and tell her to pick her own man instead of waiting for someone to come kiss her!  It’s one of my least favorite stories because the heroine really doesn’t do anything to deserve her happy ending.  Other heroines such as Snow White and Cinderella and Little Mermaid all suffer horrible ordeals but remain positive and proactive to earn their happy ending.  Sleeping Beauty does nothing except sleep and voila, she gets her man!

BookObsessedGrl: What inspired you to write this novella and to release it as part of your newsletter?
 
NL: I can’t say what inspired me to write the story really because I don’t know.  It just came to me when I was soaking in hot water.  It was the most incredible inspiration.
I decided to release it as a part of my newsletter because I wanted to start it with a bang.  I’d always wanted to start a newsletter, but didn’t know how.  Hero Material said why not give away A Happily Ever After of Her Own to subscribers as a thank-you gift.  So I figured I’d go for it.  🙂  

 

BookObsessedGrl: The worldbuilding is so strong in HEA that while reading it, I had a feeling like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Did you experience anything similar as you wrote it or did you create that feeling on purpose?

 

NL: If you’re asking me if I’ve ever fallen into a fairy tale world, the answer is no.  Just kidding.  🙂  Everything in HEA is all just a figment of my imagination, including the fictional Virginia town and Tudor House.  But I think it helped that I used to imagine what it would be like to be in fairy tales as the heroine.

For example, I used to daydream that I was Sleeping Beauty and I threw the spindle at the hag before she could enchant me by forcing me to prick my finger. (Think ninja stars except we have a spindle flying in the air.)  In my version the spindle hits the hag, and I save the day.  When all the princes hear about my uber-valor they come to court me, and I choose the most handsome and deserving prince of the lot.

BookObsessedGrl: What attracts you most to Paranormal Stories or Fairy Tales, as writer and as a reader? (I think HEA could be classified as both or either)
 

NL: I love the magical / paranormal elements because they were in so many stories I grew up on.  I’m especially fond of romance and fairy tales because good guys win and bad guys lose.  I don’t mind really messed up dark stories like Darkly Dreaming Dexter, but there are times I need the comfort of knowing that justice does triumph and good deeds are rewarded and people can find happiness.

BookObsessedGrl: Tell us about your writing practices or methods. I know you advocate writing for a set number of pages, words or time frame per day. Which do you do & why?
 

NL: It depends.  I usually go for page and/or word count.  It helps me focus on my production goals.  Also if I do it for a month, it becomes a habit.  It’s very valuable to learn to write consistently, esp. if you’re a new writer.  And it’s critical to maintain the habit.  I fell out of it this summer because I spent two months in America, and it took me months to get back in the groove.  (Though Hero Material says it may be all the wedding planning, etc.)

 

BookObsessedGrl: What is your work-space like?

NL: Messy!  With mountains of papers — notes and ideas and so on — esp. when I’m revising.  I write at my desk or on the couch, depending on my mood, etc.  I usually have two dictionaries plus a notebook near me when I write.

BookObsessedGrl: How old were you when you started reading?

NL: Uh…before preschool.  I can’t really recall exactly how old though.  I learned to read very fast, and I was a super fast reader even as a small kid.  I could read faster than some of my teachers when I was in Asia.

BookObsessedGrl: What types of book did you read most in your youth/teen years?

NL: Mostly classics.  Alexandre Dumas’s Three Musketeers, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare, etc.

BookObsessedGrl: Will you be doing more stories in the Fairy Tale realm or creating a full length novel Fairy Tale of your own? 
  
NL: Of course!  I’m working on a full-length novel right now.  It’s a bit Cinderella-esque with a missing shoe, mistaken identities, the CIA and Russian mafia.

 

BookObsessedGrl: Last but not least, what advice would you give to someone who is living their life doing something that is not fulfilling to them – but has a dream they aren’t chasing?

NL: Pursue your dream.  (Although don’t abandon your responsibilities!  If you have kids, you have to feed them and clothe them.  If you have a mortgage, you have to pay that off too…)

Life is short and you only live it once.  You don’t even have to pursue your dream full-time if you can’t for various reasons, but don’t ignore your calling to satisfy the expectations of your spouse or parents or whatever.

When you’re on your deathbed, what are you going to think?

a.  “I have no regrets because I went for my dream.”
b.  “I have no regrets because I lived to fulfill my parents’/wife’s/husband’s/children’s/society’s expectations”

Yeah, me too.  🙂

 
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Contest Info:
Leave a comment or question below for Nadia and you will get an additional entry into both the Heather Long Interview Giveaway , which includes an e-copy of her new book Prime Evil and the New Year’s Eve Zombie Style Bash Giveaway for a Zombie Party Prize Pack (that includes some prizes so perfect & awesome thatit  is sending directly from the author  herself so that I can’t get my grubby paws on them and steal’em) from Nancy Holzner, author of Deadtown which hits stores tomorrow, 12/29/09!
 
 
  
Free Read:
Don’t forget to check out Nadia’s website and sign-up for her newsletter, so that you can read the awesome fairy tale, novella: A Happily Ever After of Her Own! You’ll see the cover on the right hand side-bar with a sign-up form – add your email address & you are all set to start receiving Nadia’s Newsletter & to access all of the chapter’s of HEA. The first two are available on her website as an excerpt.
 
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Books written as, Angelle Trieste:
  
All he wants is silence. All she wants are answers.
Damien Kirk was once a world-renowned cellist, celebrated across five continents for his musical gift. Now he lives in self-imposed isolation on a small Caribbean island.

Biography writer Victoria Benedict is looking for a story…and she’s not the type to take no for an answer. Her appearance on his doorstep shatters his reclusive existence.

Determined to be rid of her, Damien demands a quid pro quo: a kiss for each answer to her interview questions. Her response is as arousing as it is unexpected. As Damien and Victoria escalate their sensual game of cat and mouse, Victoria discovers the passionate soul underneath Damien’s cold exterior — and a shocking story of secrets and betrayal.

Warning: This title contains the following: sex, scorching kisses, killer breakfasts, a hot tropical island and a happily ever after.

 
***Click on the cover and it will take you to a page with links to everywhere you can purchase it.***
  
  

Interview: Heather Long, Author Prime Evil

December 25, 2009

MERRY CRISTMAS!!!! (Image: The aftermath of Christmas 2008, at our house)

 To Kick off our week of SuperNaturals who’ll be attending our New Year’s Eve Zombie Style Bash, I have a very special Chriatmas Interview with Heather Long, author of the newly released novel, Prime Evil, the pre-quel novella It Happens (which is available FREE right now & I highly recommend it!) and the Histroical Paranormal novel, Remembering Ashby. Heather is also well know for her fantastic blog with a paranormal bent, The Daily Dose!

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At the end of the interview there is a question and answer about Heather’s love of Christmas (hence, her being here today) will be information about a giveaway brought to you by Heather, once you get to the end you will have an insight into how Heather feels about Christmas and receive information about how to enter our giveaway. I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as these two Heather’s did putting it together!

Let’s give a Huge Book Obsessed, Welcome to Heather Long!

 

Since I got such a great reception to the slightly off, ‘get to know the author as a real person’ questions I asked in my first interview I have decided to ask each interview guest the same or similar first few questions. I discovered that one of the most important things to readers is to know that authors are real people too, not just our bookish version of Rock Stars & celebrities.

 

BookObsessedGrl: Welcome to Book Obsessed, Heather! I appreciate your willingness to play along and give everyone a chance to get to know you as a person and author.

 

HV: Thanks for having me Heather!  Love chatting with you on Twitter and stopping by to see what gems you’ve discovered for the rest of us.

 

BookObsessedGrl: What is your favorite color?

 

HV: Red.

 

BookObsessedGrl: What is your favorite type of music?

 

HV: Soundtracks and classical music (particularly piano concertos) I am a total sucker for soundtracks.  Beyond those, I’d have to say neo-classical and Celtic are tied for a strong second.

 

BookObsessedGrl: Many authors talk about the music they listen to while they write. Do you listen to music while you write?

 

HV: Absolutely.  Music is such a great mood setter for me, some songs will transport me right to the mindset I need to be in – those are the songs I use particularly when I am revisiting a storyline, a world or a character.

 

BookObsessedGrl: What did you start out listening to when you first started writing Prime Evil, and how did it differ from what you listened to while writing Remembering Ashby (if at all)?
HV: The difference between the books is really the difference between night and day. Melanie and Chance are two very different heroines, different settings, different time periods and very different music.  For Remembering Ashby it was Celtic Music, particularly drum pieces – a lot of drumming happens in that story – and it’s the drumbeats that I used to help maintain a certain cadence. So the stronger the drums, the more I liked the music.    This translates forward to The Forgotten, which is the sequel, relies heavily on the music of the first as well on Lorena McKennitt and Enya.

 

By contrast, Prime Evil has a much more modern tone and feel. There’s African Celt Sound System, Enigma, Depeche Mode and Anjulie.  The sounds are a little more earthy (if you’ll pardon the pun) and deeper.  The chase scenes and more intense scenes relied on my long time fave John Williams and his Wagnerian character pieces.

 

BookObsessedGrl: Did you create a playlist before hand or just pick what you felt like listening to at the time?

 

HV: A little bit of both. I knew some of the music that put me in the mood, but both grew during the writing process.

 

BookObsessedGrl: Did your music choices evolve throughout the writing process?

 

HV: Absolutely, particularly if I heard something while in the midst of writing like “Running Up that Hill” by Placebo really caught my attention during one of the final draft moments on Prime Evil and is the song I heard in my head during one of the more pivotal scenes in the book.

 

 

BookObsessedGrl: Did the music you were listening to at any given time inspire or effect how certain scenes developed?

 

HV: Bonny Portmore by Lorena McKennitt literally launches me right into the mindset I need to be in to write The Black Mountains, the Isle of Avalon and the magic of Ashby – so yes, there are some songs that really do affect me.

 

BookObsessedGrl: Can you tell us a few songs you listened to while writing Prime Evil?

 

HV: Let’s see what’s on the playlist here:

 

·       Running Up That Hill by Placebo

·       Wild Child by Enya

·       Inion (Daughter) Afro Celt Sound System

·       One Day More from Les Miserables

·       Duel of the Fates by John Williams

·       Boom by Anjulie

·       Flightless Bird, American Mouth by Iron & Wine

·       Halo  by Haley James Scott

·       Save Yourself by Sense Field

·       Love Thieves by Depeche Mode

 

BookObsessedGrl: What type of scene does each of the songs correspond to?

 

HV: A wide variety really, for example “Save Yourself” by Sense Field is the music I hear when Jack and Chance are alone and talking whereas Duel of the Fates was what I heard near the climax of the book.

 

BookObsessedGrl: Did you discover any new music or bands/singers while writing or editing?
HV: Anjulie.

 

BookObsessedGrl: Did you always want to be a writer or were there just stories swimming around in your head that you had to get out?

 

HV: Always. I’ve been writing since I was a child. I wrote stories, fairy tales, romantic tales – everything. I was the kid that loved essay questions and research papers because it was an excuse to write. I remember getting a Commodore 64 when I was younger too and a printer – so that I could write all I wanted one Christmas.

 

BookObsessedGrl: The heroine in Prime Evil is Chance Monroe, a Hedge Witch – can you explain to everyone exactly what a Hedge Witch is?

 

HV: In my mindset – a witch is someone who works with natural magic whereas a wizard works with high magic. A hedge witch works with the powers of the Earth itself and in Chance’s case that means a strong connection to the land, she draws her personal power from it, she works with disturbances in it and she communes with the creatures associated with the Earth.  Now the flip side is that she doesn’t do well with high magics: alchemy, symbology, creating spells from nothing and creating potions etc.

 

BookObsessedGrl: What inspired you to write a novel with a Hedge Witch as the heroine?

 

HV: Chance evolved from a number of different ideas, but the inspiration came directly from the profound experience of seeing an area of greenbelt stripped away – all the trees were razed to the ground and the land churned up.  It had been an area thick with forest one day, a beautiful place to visit and see year round – a natural seasonal preserve and then it was gone. It felt like a physical blow to the stomach, I remember pulling the car over and just gaping. That’s when Chance formed fully as I realized how agonizing that would be to someone deeply connected to the land.

 

BookObsessedGrl: Chance is a very strong woman and from the very first page of the story, she has a very strong and defined voice. Can you tell us a little bit about Chance the person, beyond being a Hedge Witch – that is if the two can be separated at all?

 

HV: Chance is a strong, dynamic woman who was raised by a very strong dynamic woman (her grandmother).   Chance’s parents died when she was a child, but not before she knew them and formed strong memories of them.  Her grandmother raised her to pursue her dreams, but to temper her impulses. Chance went to college to study psychology and actually planned to go into forensic psychology as a career – but after the attack by Randall Oakes, she drew back from the concept of pursuing that type of career.  She worked as her grandmother’s apprentice for years and she devoted herself to that after she recovered – in part to heal herself. When her grandmother died, Chance accepted the burden that her grandmother carried.  That is a very pivotal moment, which readers will learn more about in book two.

 

BookObsessedGrl: What motivates Chance the most?

 

HV: Her passion for balance is a driving force, but so is her connection to the earth. She believes firmly in leaving the world better than she found it.  She also believes that everything must be in balance

 

BookObsessedGrl: What are the similarities (if any) and differences between you and Chance?

 

HV: I like to leave the world better than I found it, but I don’t have quite her nonchalance about working in the fields. Although, for years I had a black thumb – couldn’t grow anything. In the last decade since I created Chance – I’ve nurtured several rose bushes and gardens into full flourish.  So I guess I learned a lot from her.

 

BookObsessedGrl: If you were able to have one aspect of Chance’s personality or powers what would you choose?

 

HV: I’d love her ability to nurture, to touch the Earth and connect within it – -to see what had come before, what is wrong and sometimes how to fix it.

BookObsessedGrl: Chance’s best friend is also a witch, but a very different kind. What are the differences and similarities between them? What makes them such a great pair?

 

HV: Sydney comes from a very large family of witches, just as Chance does. But the difference is that Sydney is far more psychically enhanced than Chance is. She “sees” – futures, visions and she works with astrology, crystals and other forms of channeling. Chance is far earthier while Sydney is guided more by spiritual forces.  Chance would describe Sydney as having one foot planted here and one foot planted somewhere else.   Chance keeps Sydney grounded in the here and now while Sydney gives Chance whimsy – they balance each other very well.

 

BookObsessedGrl: Chance’s ex-boyfriend Jack re-enters her life at about the same time as the serial killer who had left her for dead years ago. Who is Jack? What do you like and dislike about his character? Is he a good match for Chance or…?

 

HV: Jack is a great friend. He’s the guy who opens the door for women because it’s the thing to do. He doesn’t wait to be asked for help, he volunteers and does it. He’s a devoted guy and he was a really loving husband to his wife (Nancy).  Chance and Jack enjoy each other, but he’s never been quite comfortable with her supernatural aspects.  That – hesitancy and doubt – it is part of the reason they never developed beyond the playful flirtations, casual fun and good times. The loss of Nancy and Chance’s grandmother forged that casual friendship into a strong bond between them.  Prime Evil opens Jack’s eyes some – but they still have a way to go.  I love his fierce loyalty, but there are times when he’s pigheaded and I want to smack him in the head. 

 

BookObsessedGrl: Where did the idea of a serial killer come from? Why a serial killer in an Urban Fantasy novel about a witches?

 

HV: Why not?  A serial killer is a physical manifestation of chaotic evil – whether they are organized or disorganized – they are terrifying.

 

BookObsessedGrl: You are a big proponent of Wildlife and Natural Conservation efforts, even donating $0.25 of each download purchase of Prime Evil to The World Wildlife Fund. Why write an Urban Fantasy instead of a straight Fantasy novel, given your opposition to Urban Sprawl?

 

HV: I love Urban Fantasy.  I love magic in our world. I think it’s important to remember that particularly in a world so reliant on technology that there is a deeper magic in our existence connecting us to one another – and it’s not the Internet.

 

 

BookObsessedGrl: Living in Miami myself I have grown up watching the tropical habitat around me disappear in an effort to build more homes and ugly strip malls. It has had a profound effect on me, and makes me sad. How do you feel when you see the lands being cleared for more housing developments and how would this type of stripping of the land effect a Hedge Witch, who is connected to the earth itself?

 

HV: That is definitely something I touch on in Prime Evil and you will see more of in book two.

 

 

BookObsessedGrl: Tell us about your writing practices or methods? What is your work-space like?

 

HV: Chaos on wheels – actually I have a very cluttered office where everyone and their brother deposits the items they don’t know what to do with. I have books stacked two deep on the bookshelves, artwork on the walls and a window that lets in natural light when I need it, but can be covered when I want that dark cave feeling.  I love sitting down here to write, particularly in the dark early hours of the morning before anyone else is awake. 

 

I write every morning whether it’s 20 minutes or 2 hours, I write daily. Some days it’s drafting, some days it’s editing and some days it’s just random scenes that come to me that I want to document on paper. I have a habit of finishing a draft and putting it away for a month or two before going back. This way I am fresh and can fix errors in story – I also only concentrate on the main plot in the first draft, adding secondary plots during the second draft.

 

BookObsessedGrl: How old were you when you started reading?

 

HV: I think I read my first book at three. The first books I remember reading to myself was a book on Greek Mythology – it was a child’s version, but the Olympians left a lasting impression.

 

BookObsessedGrl: What types of book did you read most in your youth/teen years?

 

HV: I read everything – I loved high fantasy Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I loved anything with a paranormal character and I was a total sucker for mysteries.  As a teenager, I drove my mother mad with the books I would buy – I’d hit the bookstore weekly and then call her with the total I needed to spend – I averaged $75 a week give or take and this is when paperbacks were 2.99.   Whenever she complained, I pointed out that at least I was addicted to books and not drugs.  Of course, I loved libraries too – but I was forever reading and re-reading. 

 

BookObsessedGrl: How would you like to see the universe Chance inhabits develop? How many novels, other heroes or heroines within the same universe, etc…?

 

HV: I see at least two more Chance novels – the second is already in the early stages. I would love to develop Sydney more as well.  As for the rest – we will have to wait and see!

BookObsessedGrl: Last but not least, since today is Christmas Day can you tell us why you love Christmas so much and what your favorite thing about the season is?  
 
HV: The holiday season is about the promise of man – for a humanist it’s about seeing mankind in our best light whether we are celebrating faith, family or friendship.  This year, for example, you drive around the neighborhoods and rather than seeing one or two homes that are decked out to the nines in some theme, everyone has their lights out – clear lights, colored lights, blinking lights, lights that dance – and sprinkled amongst them are presents, nativities, reindeer, Santa Claus, fire places, snowmen and more – it’s a time to laugh and to smile – to find that little bit of human warmth and brightness to carry you through the dark, cold days of winter.  
 
I love everything about this time of year –from donating time, effort and money to those who do not have enough to seeing the wonder in a child’s eyes. I love decorating the Christmas tree, lighting the Yule log and keeping vigil through the long dark night of the Solstice to celebrate the Yule on the following day.
 
What’s not to love?

 

 

Thanks for the fun interview!

 

Thank you so much for being here today Heather!!! I am honored to have you here on Christmas Day. I love Prime Evil and doing this interview has been insightful, as well as great fun!

Enter To Win A Heather Long Prize Pack:

(1) E-Book Copy of Prime Evil

and

(1) Daily Dose Book Bag (Which can be seen by Clicking Here)

Just comment anytime between now and 12/31/09 and answer this question:

What is your favorite holiday and why?

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Click on the links in the first paragraph to find links with synopsis of each novel/novella and where you can buy the – plus an additional link to Heather’s blog, The Daily Dose.

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On last, unrelated note:

You can also find a guest blog post, by me “The Gift of Friendship” at Book Chick City’s blog TODAY!

 
 
 

Click on this link to take you to Book Chick City and spend sometime gaining holiday cheer from all of her Guest Blog Posts This Week!

A Soapbox Moment and Interview:{Indie}Pendent Books

December 22, 2009

Today I have Josie Kramer, the innovative owner of the new online Indie-bookstore, {Indie}Pendent Books and the book review blog The Book Journal. When I first started blogging about books I knew nothing about independently published books. I quickly learned that they had a pretty bad reputation but decided that I needed to read some for myself to form my own opinion and what I discovered is that there are some amazing self-published authors out there and there are some that probably shouldn’t have their work in print, but it was worth it to me to go through them myself to find those special ones.

Then I met Josie who was doing the same thing but taking it a step further to opening a store that showcases these talented authors that were either unable to get published via traditional methods or who chose self-publishing for some other personal reason. In my humble opinion many of these books should be offered contracts by mainstream publishers. I think too many are spending all of their time on writing fads looking for the next Stephanie Meyer or something else directed at the YA market that could be dubbed ‘the next greatest thing’, when what they should be doing is looking for something or someone new. They should be looking for the different or the unique – not just the same with different colors. Josie saw what was lacking in the mainstream world and took it upon herself to bring the new, the different and the great to us. She spent a lot of time reading a lot of great books and a lot of really badly done ones. In the end what she carries in her online store are only the best of the best out there. Not just the kinds of books she would normally read but books that are well written, well done and can effect each of us on some level. After all, why do we read if not as an escape from the world that is constantly pushing in on us? We’d get tired if we ate the same food daily with just a few subtle differences to each meal, and so it is with books – once the stories become too formulaic we, as readers begin to stagnate. The current climate in the publishing industry is to play it safe and only publish what fits into their pretty little box. I don’t want my life boxed in and neither do I want my books.

For these reasons I am now a supporter of Indie-pub books and hope you will give them a chance too. To be sure, like I said there are many that probably shouldn’t be out there for public consumption  – with typos, lack of plot and many other annoying things, but there are those out there that can go toe-to-toe with anything published by the mainstream and in some cases even give those traditionally published books a beat-down. They can expand your mind, your idea of reading and help you step beyond the genre boundaries you have either set in place yourself or been brainwashed into by the Literati. It is finding those books that make it worthwhile to me.

I hope you read this interview and then give some Indie-Authors a chance. You won’t regret it.

With that…

Welcome to Book Obsessed, Josie!

 

BookObsessedgrl: What made you decide to open an online store selling Indie-Pub books?

JK:  I have always read a lot. Lately I had been finding myself being able to tell who wrote a book by just reading one or two pages. And that’s when I realized I was a little. So I decided to enter the world of indie books. While everyone was telling me not to bother, I found myself in love with the new talent and new slant on things. I fell so in love that I wanted to share it with everyone. I know indie authors get a bad rap, but if people gave them a chance, they would see the same raw talent that I do.

BookObsessedgrl: I know you do book reviews also at The Book Journal and many of the books reviewed there are Indie-Pubs. Did the experiences w/those books give you an appreciation of the un-tapped talent out there?

JK: My review of Indie Books was definitely what got me motivated to not just sharing the books with my friends, but to give them a forum of their own to showcase their talents. And while I am rather critical in my reviews, I have been just as critical of Traditionally published books as I am of indie authors. There are so many books out there, that unless you put out a spotless book, it won’t go anywhere. So when I find that gem, I shout loud about it.

BookObsessedgrl: How many authors sent in their work when you initially announced that you were going to open an Indie-Store?

JK: Many. But I have made it clear that we pick the books to be added to our shelves. I know this seems really harsh, but we want the best of the best. Indies get a bad rap to begin with (lots of typos and bad editing) so I wanted to show people that a few bad apples don’t ruin the indie industry. There is a lot of untapped talent out there and I am more than happy to expose it to the world.

BookObsessedgrl: How do you go about deciding which books you would be carrying? What is your process for eliminating or keeping?

JK: Like I said above, if a book is ridden with typos, or there is no detail in the book, I tend to just review it and move on. I have accepted books, that while they aren’t MY cup of tea in terms of subject matter, are so well written, that I couldn’t pass them up.

BookObsessedgrl: Have you run into any issues with books you wanted to carry, but were unable to for any reason?

JK: In the beginning people were hesitant as we were a new store and they weren’t sure as to how it would work. However authors are catching on that we do carry good books and they want to be involved. In the month that we have been opened some books have already sold out the first order and we’ve had to re-order, so we are definitely getting the attention of consumers that have either always wanted this type of store, or consumers that are warming up to the idea that indie authors have a lot to offer.

BookObsessedgrl: What do you think about the main-stream publishing community’s concerns of the Indie-Pub movement?

JK: I think there will always be room for both methods. As well there should be. Main stream publishing has always monopolized the industry and it’s time new authors got their moment in the sun. Do I think main stream will ever be eradicated? No. But that’s ok. It should never be one or nothing.

BookObsessedgrl: Do you have a vision of how you would like the future of publishing and book buying in general to be?

JK: Well I would love the stiff shirts to loosen up and realize there is new, raw talent out there that is just pleading to be recognized They spend so much time sometimes publishing the same-same because there is a certain name attached rather than helping to discover the next big thing. I am in no way saying the “well-known” authors should be dropped, I am simply saying they can and should be moved an inch to the left to make room for someone else.

BookObsessedgrl: Indiependent has some very neat features about it, like the in-site chat box to ask questions and the author chats you’ve been having. Can you tell us more about them?

JK: we have given each other the authors we carry an ongoing opportunity to conduct Live Blog Chats with the public. They answer questions, do giveaways and hold raffles. It’s great because customers that want to know more about a certain book or author can log on and ask them any questions they have. Other authors also chime order to share inspiration and writing methods with each other.

BookObsessedgrl: Wow, that sounds a lot of fun and kind of like a virtual book signing!

JK: yeah it’s kind of cool

BookObsessedgrl: What has the customer response been like?

JK: Customer response has been great. Indie authors always have that extra hurdle to overcome. They aren’t well-known and don’t have customer loyalty yet. So by making them accessible, they can better communicate with their potential consumers as to who they are and what their work is really all about.

BookObsessedgrl: When I was on the site the other day, I noticed you had a chat this past weekend with a very young author. Can you tell us a bit about why you chose this book particularly?

JK: Riley Carney is 16 years old and her book The Fire Stone was actually recommended to me a twitter fan. It has received great reviews and even now is our best-seller. She is a great author and everyone that buys her book has nothing but great things to say about it. She is also an inspiration for younger authors that aren’t sure what to do with works they have put together or need the push to pick up the pen and put their creativity on paper.

BookObsessedgrl: Can you also explain a bit how the “live-help” feature works?

JK: Live Help is turned on during the day for people that want to ask me something specific about a book, shipping, or account information. It comes in handy if the customer wants to get the book, but isn’t sure about age range or subject matter. They can ask and I will lead them in the right direction

BookObsessedgrl: Do you have any plans to expand your store to offer e-books as well?

JK: We currently do have it open for e-books and will be offering one beginning in Jan. 2010. We would love to welcome e-book authors into our family and anyone interested can definitely contact us.

BookObsessedgrl: Do you have any promotions going on right now or author chats recently or coming soon?

JK: As we just talked about we had a chat with Riley Carney on Dec. 19th. We also had one on Dec. 20th with S.J. Rivera, author of Demon in the Mirror (You can see the transcript of S.J. Rivera’s Chat Here at the bottom of page, click on the “Additional Information” tab.). We have one coming up tomorrow, Dec. 23rd at 5 est with KL Romo, author of Is Harvey Dunne? and today we just announce a chat with Gary Ballard, author of Under the Amoral Bridge – which is our newest listing. (From Book Obsessed: I am particularly excited about Gary’s chat – his book is awesome and he is an incredibly interesting person to talk with.)

BookObsessedgrl: Do you have any promos or sales you would like my readers to know about?

JK: We have our winter sale going on right now until the 23rd where all of our books are on sale. The sale ends tommorow.

BookObsessedgrl: How’d you find S.J. Rivera? What was it about this book or author that impressed you so much?

JK: I found S.J. Rivera after I read a bit of his book online. I immediately liked his dark take on human nature. At first glance it may appear cynical, but when we look deep within ourselves we realize that we each have a dark inner shell. Call it our primal calling or whatever, but it’s in each of us. And I like how S.J. Rivera didn’t hold back in investigating it.

BookObsessedgrl: Anything you can tell me about KL Romo?

JK: K.L. Romo sent me a sample of her work and I fell in love right away. It’s a compelling story, very well written, that needs to be read by all. Her book made me laugh out loud and even cry. I can’t say enough about this book. Every single character is relatable whether you like them or not and you can barely contain yourself from jumping into the pages.

BookObsessedgrl: I see you have opened the chat box early so people can ask questions now in case they can’t make it to the chat itself. Will that be an ongoing thing? Can ppl send questions in earlier thru email or via Live Help chat box? Do you leave a transcript of chats up & available for ppl to view later in case they miss the chat?

JK: Originally I kept all chats up until the next one started so people could go and read what they had missed, but due to demand I will now be including transcripts on the Author page which can be accessed at the bottom of the book page, under the “Additional Information” tab. In addition to that I have set up the chat pages so people who can’t make it to the live chat can leave a question for the author beforehand and then go back and read the transcript later to see the author’s answers. People can send in questions early through email or through the chat box itself the second it has been posted. We realize not everyone can make it at the scheduled time and we want to give everyone an opportunity to be heard and have their questions offered. We will now also be posting the archived chat on the author’s book listing page, so everyone can go back and refer to it.

BookObsessedgrl: Did you give me a full vision of what you would like the online store to ultimately be like? If you want to branch out into selling books from say, authors who are published with small publishers?

JK: My short-term goal is pretty simple. To bring excitement back into book buying and receiving. We gift wrap every single of our orders keeping in mind that we are sending out talent. And that talent is a gift. It’s been open for a little over one month, and i would really like the store to be the place where people can go to discover new talent – well GOOD new talent not garbage. We sell book from both self-published AND those published from small publishers.

BookObsessedgrl: Do you have any books from small publishers that will be on your virtual shelves soon – that you are excited about?

JK: I am really excited to announce that we will soon be carrying all three current releases by author Denise Robbins! Her series that currently has three books, It Happens in Threes, Killer Bunny Hill and her most recent Connect the Dots will all be available in our store! An announcement will be on the sites front page as soon as they are available.

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The First 5 people who stop by {Indie}Pendent Books and purchase a book can get free shipping by using the coupon code: Heather  – at check out. Stop by – I know you will find something there you’ll like. There is also a review section available on each books page where you can review any of these books if you have read them. They’d love to have your feedback. 🙂

CONNECT THE DOTS – Book Trailer!

December 17, 2009

This morning I finally got to see the trailer for CONNECT THE DOTS by Denise Robbins and let me tell you after seeing it I want to push the rest of my TBR aside and start reading it RIGHT now!!! It is an awesome trailer created by the very talented, Jeannie Ruesch – who’s also a historical romance author herself – go check out her website and if you like the trailer as much as I did leave her a message letting her know. Talent like that should always be praised!

CONNECT THE DOTS released yesterday, 12/15/09 – just click on the link above to take you to Denise Robbins website for information on where to get it. You all should know I have a pretty good history of picking out which books are going to be good before I even read them (think Nicole Peeler’s Tempest Rising, which was voted one of the top books of 2009)! I am calling it with this book – its gonna be good, so watch the trailer then pick up a copy for youself and come back to let me know if you think I am right.

Spartans, Scoundrels, Witches & Zombies, Oh My!*Updated*

December 13, 2009

So, you want to know what’s going on at Book Obsessed and when? Well, you can always check the link at the top that say “Who, What & Where?” – which is my version of an “Events” page or you can wait for me to do one of these li’l update posts. Super Cool, exciting stuff coming up in the next couple of weeks – okay most of it will actually be taking place the week between Christmas (12/25) and New Year’s Eve (12/31).*Specified the dates because the 1st of these posts will literally start on Christmas Day and end on New Year’s Eve.*  Any new exciting things that come up between now and Christmas I will go ahead and do an update post about or any additions to the week that fantastic week I will also update about as soon as I know.

 

Who, What & When?:

 

On December 25, 2009 – Christmas Day (Yes, you did read that right!) I will have an interview with Heather Long, author of Remembering Ashby and the recently released Prime Evil. Many of you will also recognize Heather as the mastermind behind the fantastical blog The Daily Dose. Of course since it will be Christmas day she will be bringing with her a couple of prizes to giveaway. (Contest will run from 12/25 – 12/31)

Click Here to view my interview of Heather Long, that was posted on Christmas Day. She will be checking in throughout the week and responding to comments & questions!

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My Hubs will be making a very special guest appearence here to do guest reviews of all three of the Halo Books written by Eric Nylund. There are other books in the Halo franchise but Eric Nylund is a really good author and most including my husband would say that these three are the only Halo Books worth reading. I have read Fall of Reach and plan to read the other two as well, because FoR was really well written. I enjoyed it, but invited Hubs to do the reviews because he is our resident Halo expert and has read all three. I don’t have an exact day(s) for when he will be making his cameo apperance here, but as soon as I do – you’ll be the first to know!

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On New Year’s Eve we will be partying Zombie Style with debut author,  Nancy Holzner who’s book of Deadtown hits stores everywhere (in the US) on 12/29! Nancy will be here guest blogging about how Zombies ring in the new year. I am currently reading Deadtown and I have to tell you these are not the kind of Zombies we’re all used to. Its a completely different take on Zombies and I am really enjoying how this story unfolds. The world she has built is also in habitated by all manner of SuperNats which only make it that much more interesting! Nancy of course will come bearing gifts also. I know what they are too but all I’m tellin’ you is 2 words: Prize Pack! It will be a One Day Only giveaway so MAKE SURE you mark you calender for this one, set a reminder and spread the word! Speaking of spreading the word, I have a couple of buttons you can take to use to spread the word! If you post one of the buttons on your blog sidebar or do a blog post about it you will automatically get +4 entries for the Prize Pack! Just leave a link to where you posted the button in the comments section here and your points will be added on New Year’s Eve.

Here are the buttons:

 

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These fantastical button’s were made for my by Larrisa Sarah who also has a fantastic book blog called Larissa’s life. If you love the buttons she made me, then stop by her blog, tell her so  and have a look around!

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And last but certainly not least….

Sometime in the next two weeks I also have the pleasure of welcoming Carrie Lofty to Book Obsessed for a day of guest blogging! I am not certain yet of whether or not it will be in the 12/25 – 12/31 week or if it will be even sooner than that, as with all things as soon as I know – you will too! This is definitely a book you don’t want to miss out on and a guest blog post you are sure to love!!! So stay tuned for further information.

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That pretty much wraps up this edition of Who, What & When…I had originally planned to have a short blurb for each of the above mentioned books, but I couldn’t get the formatting to cooperate, so just click on the covers themselves to be taken to someplace where you’ll find blurbs and formatting isn’t an issue.

Cheers ya’ll.

Heather

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THIS JUST IN!!! (12/13/09- Update)

Since my first love was Vampires I felt like it was totally and completely wrong to have all these SuperNats, Super Humans and well, Scoundrels represented without showing some love to my beloved Vamps! *Important note here: The Vamps I fell in love with DID NOT sparkle, couldn’t go out in the sun and would terrify many people. Two Words: Anne Rice. Yes, for those of you who didn’t know this – there were Vampires before there was Stephanie Meyer.* Because of my long-term Vamp-Love I asked Keith Melton, author of Blood Vice  if he’d like to represent the Vamps, specifically the type of Vamps I first loved and…he said YES! His book, Blood Vice is one that has been on my TBR list for a while and I can’t wait to read it. As Donna at Fantasy Dreamer Ramblings said in her review, Keith’s Vamps”…are not the romantic kind with souls that you see a lot of now a days in the realm of vampires.” That is a huge draw to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like many vampire books with the sweet, caring type in them – as long as they don’t sparkle – but I also miss the days when Vamps were “…beautiful and terrifying, with a cruel streak.” (another quote from Donna, that I couldn’t have said better myself) I will be interviewing Keith sometime the week of 12/25 – 12/31 and as soon as I have a firm date I will post it here. I can’t wait!!! (Click on the book cover for more information about purchasing Blood Vice.) **Update: Keith Melton’s Interview will be here on Monday, 12/28/09***

Breaking News! Nadia Lee will be joining us for an interview on Tuesday, 12/29/09! *Updated:12/23/09*

Because everyone wants, needs and deserves a Happily Ever After of their Own – I have invited Nadia Lee, author of the serialized paranormal romance/fairy tale, A Happily Ever After of Her Own and the contemporary romance novel Devil Falls, published as Angelle Trieste. We’ll talk writing, reading, fariy tales, romance and chasing your dreams. What’s a week full of the supernatural without some fairy tale talk? Not much if you ask me. Fairy Tales is where it all began for most of us. This is one you won’t want to miss! Nadia Lee, Interview: Tuesday, 12/29/09.