Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Hello, Kevin. So you’re a descendant of lighthouse keepers and mariners. That’s so interesting! Please tell us about your book.
Sammy Jones, Albert Miller and Sarah Dyer are products of that environment. Their families have rich maritime histories and all three characters are about to embark on a distinctive course in their lives that change them forever. They are not only products of their environment but also have their fortunes shaped by the ocean's wake.
Jones works on the harbor docks, eager to follow the sea like his father. Miller works his family farm and feels trapped by its borders. Dyer is the daughter of one of the town’s most prominent sea captains.
All three characters tell their individual stories from a first-person perspective. You feel their joy and hurt with their sorrows. You experience their fear and follow their lives from inside their minds and hearts. You don't just read about the age of sail and the people it evolves around, you live that life and step back in time with each of these characters. It isn’t just a historical novel about sailing. It is a tale of adventure, courage, love and destiny.
I love adventure stories like this. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?
I had spent a couple years researching my family tree and putting together two volumes of family history for various relatives. When those projects were about complete, I was interested in writing a novel. As a sports journalist, I’ve always stayed true to “Write what you know.” So when looking at subject matter for my novel, the stories from my maritime heritage were still fresh in my mind. They made a nice backdrop to start with. I had a number of experiences from various ancestors to draw from and that provided the framework I needed to build from.
I also had read the Civil War trilogy written by Michael and Jeffrey Shaara. I was interested in writing a historical novel much like The Killer Angels and then follow it with a sequel and a prequel.
Sons and Daughters of the Ocean ended up being that book. I’m currently writing Breakwater, the sequel. It follows the Miller family generations later. Following that, I’ll write Sea of Liberty, a story about Eli Miller and the privateering age during the American Revolution.
I love reading historical fiction because I learn so much, especially about American history. You said that this story is based loosely on your own family history of shipbuilders, merchant mariners and lighthouse keepers. Did you have to do a lot of research before writing this story, and what kind of research did you do?
I already had the family tree with dates and facts. I wanted to go beyond those names and dates. I read through other books and diaries, contacted historical societies, dug through family archives and contacted relatives I’d never met. I sorted through various documents, like wills, census records, real estate transactions, schooner wreck reports and bills of sale for schooners. I asked questions and sought answers to those questions.
I also did a great deal of research through reading books about the age of sail. Among the half dozen books or so I researched, three of them were by my ancestor George S. Wasson. His work not only provided great insight and information on the schooner era but also gave me examples of the dialect of that time.
Wow! You did a lot of research. Leon Garfield said, “The historian, if honest, gives us a photograph; the storyteller gives us a painting.” In other words, a storyteller makes us feel part of the story as if we were actually there, and we can understand what our ancestors went through. Tell me your thoughts about this.
I didn’t know any of these ancestors, obviously. I had plenty of facts and details of their lives but knew hardly anything about their personalities. I took the foundational knowledge of these people and let their characters evolve and develop. It kind of brought these ancestors of mine to life for some of us, I think. But I think these characters serve as models of all people from that era. I think any reader can read their stories and feel as though they’re learning about their own ancestors in that time.
Writing the characters from the first person truly puts the reader in that character. So I think the book provides an accurate portrayal of people during the age of sail. The people I’ve heard from have loved the book. Whether they be related to me or not, I think the style of the book makes the reader feel as though they’re connected to these characters.
Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.
My first experience writing about sailing was while working for a paper in Lynn, Mass. While in college, the co-operative education program set me up with jobs with the Boston Globe and Lynn Daily Evening Item. During the summer, the Item had me cover the sailing beat out of Marblehead. It was akin to sticking the newbie with the least desirable assignment. Much to their surprise, I took a liking to the coverage and spent the summers covering things like Marblehead Race Week and the Finn Class Olympic Trials. I recently ran into the current sports editor at the Item, who told me that they’ve never been able to replace me in the 20 years since I served as their sailing scribe.
Back then, I wasn’t even aware of maritime history of my ancestors. During those summers of covering sailing, I actually knew absolutely nothing about sailing. In fact, the first time I ever went sailing was years later when I had an afternoon sail on a Maine schooner in Penobscot Bay. I suppose it’s kind of like me covering professional hockey for 10-plus years and never having stepped on a sheet of ice wearing skates.
I understand what you mean. Thank you Kevin, for this wonderful interview. For those interested in learning more, you may visit Kevin’s Website and Facebook.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Today is a special day. I usually interview authors and have a book giveaway every Monday. But today I’m being interviewed by someone special in celebration of the Book Release of my 3rd book in this mystery series.
George (my hubby): Will you please tell us about your new book, Montezuma Intrigue?
George: What made you decide to write about a married couple as the main characters in this mystery series?
George: Your new mystery series concerns the ancient American past and artifact theft. Why did you choose this subject?
Linda: I have always been interested in the ancient American Indians and their way of life. We have the Anasazis, the Mayans, and the Aztecs. The first book in this mystery series is called Anasazi Intrigue. I wondered who the Anasazi Indians were because their heritage is right here in my valley in southern Utah. Many people wonder why they disappeared, leaving behind their belongings. Indian art engraved in rock gives us an idea who the Anasazi were, their beliefs and lifestyle.
The search for Montezuma's treasure is one of the themes for Montezuma Intrigue. The question is, does it really exist? When Cortez arrived in America in the early 1500s, Montezuma thought he was the Great White God Quetzalcoatl, who had promised to return one day. It didn’t take long for Montezuma to realize he had made a mistake. After a great battle, the Spanish conquistadors were driven back, but Montezuma was killed. While the Spaniards were taking care of their wounded, the Aztecs quickly bundled up their treasure and took off with it. They had to protect it with their lives because it was sacred. For years, they kept the treasure in honor of their god when he returned. It was estimated at around $10,000,000 worth of gold and jewels.
George: What is it like to switch from historical romance to mystery?
Linda: The writing process between romance and mystery is quite a change with a completely different mind set. With romance, you plan out the plot around the meeting of a couple. As you write, you develop some sort of charisma between the characters, making the reader feel excited that one day they're going to hit it off and fall in love. You, as the reader, know the outcome.
But with a mystery, the reader is in the dark. The author has to come up with a plot that no one knows about until towards the end of the story and hope they haven’t figured it out. In a mystery, you may or may not allow your reader to know who the bad guys are, according to whether it’s just a mystery or mystery suspense. In a mystery, the reader doesn’t know who the bad guys are until the end of the book. With mystery suspense, the reader knows who they are and it makes for a more suspenseful outcome.
George: Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.
Linda: What? Now that’s not fair. That’s what I ask all the authors I interview. You can’t do that!
George: Oh yes, I can! Tell your readers about the time I took you shooting with me and we sat an empty can in a pile of shaving cream and you kept shooting at it. I couldn’t figure out why you couldn’t hit that blasted thing with your little 22. Haha.
Linda: Now wait a minute! Just because it wouldn’t fall on the ground didn’t mean a thing. Something was definitely wrong and it wasn’t my aim. I shot that can six times. How do I know? Because it had six holes in it.
George: That was so funny! It was stuck to the shaving cream and kept twirling around in circles instead of falling on the ground. I laughed so hard. Okay, below are 3 short reviews of each book
The Adventures of John and Julia Evans
Socrates Book Review: Anasazi Intrigue received the Socrates Great Book Alert Award: “The first pages grab you right in. When Julia and John fight for their lives, readers will be on the edge of their seats for this one. There’s also romance in the mix. John and Julia’s marriage is strong and they are quite supportive of each other. Even when they have their ups and downs, it’s not for long and they get right back into each other’s arms. It’s nice to see a relationship portrayed this way. Very realistic and believable. In fact, all the characters are portrayed realistically including their three daughters.”
Synopsis: Stolen artifacts, a devastating flood, a snoopy newspaper reporter, and mysterious events begin to unfold in this mystery adventure novel. When a devastating flood takes out several homes in a small town, Julia realizes the story and investigation are much bigger than she thought! Julia and her husband find themselves on the run trying to save their lives while finishing the story of a lifetime. She never realized that being a reporter could be so dangerous.
The Adventures of John and Julia Evans
Suko’s Notebook Review wrote: “Excitement prevails…this book is full of mystery and suspense… Linda's writing is lively and down-to-earth; she has the ability to make you feel as if you're in these stories, along with John and Julia, trying to decipher the truth and escape from harm.”
Synopsis: The jungles of the Yucatan, Mayan ruins, looters, a mysterious artifact, and a nosy reporter are focus of Mayan Intrigue. The discovery of a priceless artifact soon puts Julia’s life in great danger. From valuable artifacts to shady businessmen, the Yucatan Peninsula becomes a dangerous vacation spot for John and Julia Evans. Before they realize what is going on, they are both in danger and find themselves running for their lives through the jungles of the Yucatan.
The Adventures of John and Julia Evans
Suko’s Notebook wrote, “In the latest book by Linda Weaver Clarke, Montezuma Intrigue, the mysteries continue as this author entrances us with life-like characters and electrifying adventures. The search for Montezuma's treasure is both exciting and memorable. I enjoyed the adventure and suspense in her latest novel, which kept me reading well into the night!”
Monday, May 16, 2011
“Anne Patrick’s heroines are usually strong willed, witty, and often very opinionated … combinations that usually land them in situations where death seems imminent.”
Hello, Anne. Your novel is considered Romance/Inspirational/Suspense. Wow! Now that’s quite a mixture! Just that alone intrigues me. Please tell us about your new book, Sabotage.
Where did you get your inspiration for this novel? Do you get any ideas from real life experiences?
To be honest I'm not sure what inspired this story. I suppose the inspiration for my heroine came from my experiences while working as a transport specialist. I was part of a two-person team and our job was to transport prisoners to and from court and to correctional facilities. My time spent in the courtroom gave me a healthy respect for our judicial system.
A Reviewer wrote, “A beautiful love story and just the right amount of suspense.” Is it difficult to put suspense in a love story?
Since I'm a suspense junkie that aspect of the story always comes first for me. Then once the characters come to life the romance just sort of comes naturally.
I understand what you mean. This novel is considered Romance/Inspirational. What kind of inspiration do you give the reader…if you know what I mean?
Katie lost her husband in the war in Iraq. Despite her strong faith, she is struggling to find the courage to read the last letters David sent to her and move on with her life. Her journey is similar to the verse in the book of Jeremiah. "The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle no one can figure out. But God searches the heart and examines the mind. He gets to the heart of the human… God picked up the pieces and put me back together again! He is my Praise!"
That’s beautiful. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.
I've had the awesome privilege of going on several short-term mission trips out of the country. I've witnessed many miracles in the mission field that left me in awe of our creator. Once in Honduras, our great God sent my team an ice cream truck in the middle of nowhere so we could treat the children at our worksite. The one that stands out the most, though, was a worksite accident where He saved my life. We were working in Jamaica, constructing a new church when a seventy-five pound board came crashing down on me. It struck the left side of my head and sent me head first into a cement wall. Now normally we work in areas where we're miles away from a hospital but this time we were much closer and our driver, who just arrived as the accident happened, was a registered nurse. After two hours in the emergency room, I walked away with a few stitches, a mild concussion and the blackest eye you could imagine. Perhaps the real miracle was the bill we had to pay before treatment, which amounted to $22 US. That's right, only twenty-two bucks! Here in the U.S. it would have been at least a thousand dollars, which we didn't have on hand.
I love hearing stories of faith and miracles. It shows how the Lord is watching over us. Thank you so much for this interview. I thoroughly enjoyed it. To learn more, visit Anne's website and her Blog: Stories of Romance, Mayhem, and Faith. She loves to hear from here readers!
Monday, May 9, 2011
Hello Jill. Please tell us about your book, Through the Rug.
Readers are invited to follow Grandma Emma, Alyssa and Domino on adventures including a reception where they can eat as much as they wish, without getting full. They visit an island with pirates and Alyssa dances in a professional ballet. Many fun and often-misguided wishes await the reader in Through the Rug.
This series sounds wonderful. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel? Do you get any ideas from real life experiences?
My stories are inspired by my own grandchildren, and ten year old Alyssa is actually my granddaughter. The grandmother is loosely based on my own personality. In the story, Grandma went to the store in her slippers and her granddaughter was so embarrassed. This incident actually happened.
When I was growing up in Portland, Oregon, we had a lake called Blue Lake. One year voters would decide if the city should put blue dye in the water, to make the lake blue. My friends often joked, “I wonder if we will turn blue when we go swimming” or “I wonder if the water will taste like blue punch.” I used this scenario in the story and everyone who goes swimming in the lake turns blue. The water also tastes like punch.
Wow! I love it when an author uses real experiences from their own life. Through the Rug 2: Follow That Dog is the second book in this series. What is it about and will there be more books in this series?
I’m usually reading Through the Rug to a classroom. I finished reading to a class of sixth graders before Christmas and now I’m reading to a class of fifth graders. The kids are always asking for Through the Rug Three. I have the book about 3/4 finished but I’m not sure when I will finish and release this book. The title of the book is Through the Rug 3: Charm Forrest.
It sounds like you’re kept busy. What does your family think about your writing?
My grandchildren all want to be featured in a book. Through the Rug 2: Follow that Dog includes three more granddaughters. My husband thought my writing was just a phase, at first, but then it continued. I have published a new book each year, since 2006, and still have many ideas brewing. He’s getting use to the idea that this is for real. He was at the League of Utah Writer’s Roundup in 2008, when I won the Writer of the Year Award.
It shows that you’re never too old to start something new. My first book was published in 2006, also. It was the beginning of a new life for me. I’m sure you agree. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.
This is something my family certainly won’t forget. After publishing my fourth book, What’s It Like, Living Green? Kids Teaching Kids, by the Way They Live, I went skydiving to promote literacy. In the book I encourage readers to “Take a Green Leap” and decide to take my own “Leap for Literacy” I took donations for the Literacy Action Center in Salt Lake City and even made it onto the channel 4 news.
I actually went skydiving twice, because I wanted to make sure I could really go through with it. The first time, I didn’t even tell my husband. For the real jump, he tried very hard to talk me out of it, but that didn’t work. You can see the video of my first jump on my website. It’s in the information section for What’s It Like, Living Green?
Find more information about me and my books at: www.jillvanderwood.com
Through the Rug is available @ amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
Thank you so much for this interview, Jill. Now I know the real you! The “skydiving” author, who dares to take a chance at life and do something new…a mother and grandmother who decided to become an author in her later years! Congratulations, Jill, for taking a chance.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Hello Celia. Welcome to my blog. Please tell us about Making the Turn.
I thought you'd never ask! For all the non-golfers out there, "making the turn" means the player has finished the front nine and begins the back nine. The player records separate scores for each of the nine holes, but adds them together at the end. Most players feel as though the 'back nine' is a chance to make a better score, a new beginning, if you will.
Now, before you think this is a novel about golf, let me say it is not. Yes, it begins with four women playing golf, and I've begun each chapter with a golf rule or quote. The story is really about a thirty-nine-year-old socialite from Dallas who loses everything overnight due to the death of her philandering, absent husband. The lower economic level she finds herself in means she must return to her childhood home of Del Rey, Texas, live with her mother, and…gasp…find a job.
This book sounds fun! You call this “Women's Fiction” but you usually write Western Historical romances. What inspired you to write about a 39-year-old woman who is trying to find herself once again?
The inspiration for this story is my three very close friends I played golf with for many years. I really just began writing a scene about the four of us playing, because we had so much fun. I used the characteristics of my real friends to create the three fictional ones. That's all I intended--write a funny scene about us playing golf.
But I came to a point in the scene where I gave Sara--the main character--a serious problem. Honestly, I didn't know what Sara's problem was until halfway through the scene. By then, I knew I had an entire novel in the beginning stages. I wrote this manuscript almost without stopping. Has this happened to you? It just rolled out, right onto the computer screen, as if it had a life of its own.
One of my real friends sang this song to us at the end of many rounds: "Those were the days, my friend, we thought would never end….." But they did end for my character, Sara, and I sent her on her way to the small farming community of fictional Del Rey, Texas, somewhere southwest of Fort Worth, to begin a new life.
Already your novel sounds intriguing. You have added a cantankerous mother to this story. Does this character add a little humor to your book?
Humor? Yes, you might laugh, or you might want to cry. As I wrote this story, I had my own mother in mind. Even though I used phrases she used when she explained something or scolded someone, the mother in the story--Dorothy--became her own character--not really my mother at all.
Dorothy runs the little community and the church. Other older women depend on her for organization and help. But when Sara comes home, Dorothy realizes she's just an old woman living alone, behind the times, unable to do anything other than those tasks she's done for fifty-plus years. Enter Sara's college-age daughter, Laney, who immediately recognizes that her grandmother Dorothy's cantankerous attitude is due to insecurity, and her mother Sara's insecurity is due to fear of rocking the boat. The young woman, in her unique wise way, becomes the instigator of change for everyone.
So Laney becomes an important part of this story, then. You have also added a “a handsome distraught widower.” It seems that you can’t get away from romance. Would you say this is a romance, also?
Of course, there's a sweet romance in this novel. But the story doesn't revolve around the relationship between Sara Daniels and the handsome widower Dr. Richard St. John. Rick has problems of his own, and yes, he becomes involved with not only Sara, but Dorothy and Laney, as well. We've forgotten another important character--Aaron St. John, ten years old, mourning the death of his mother just as his dad mourns the loss of his wife. Aaron quickly becomes attached to Sara, which creates another source of angst and indecision.
Making the Turn is about five people of different generations, who all need a second chance. I hope I've injected humor along with the atmosphere of "small-town Texas."
Oh yes! A bit of humor with this kind of setting is important. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.
Okay, I'll confess--I have a "killer instinct." No one knows this, though, unless the person is a close friend. Oh, I think my husband probably knows because he's watched me in action over the years. This revelation is sometimes shocking to those who think they know the real me. Actually, it's just one faction of my personality. Overall, I look like, act like, and am a retired teacher, a Bible lesson teacher, a good grandmother, a loving and loyal wife, a devoted friend to those who love me, and a quiet-spoken average woman with silver hair and glasses. After the age of forty, I learned to play golf enough to win trophies, tournaments, and prizes. Writing is another recent accomplishment, and as with golf, I learned fast. Seems like the killer instinct kicked in midlife because I want to do well--at least I'm never bored.
Now we know the real you: An author with the killer instinct! Thank you so much for this interview, Celia. For those interested, I added an excerpt below from Making the Turn. I instantly became interested after reading it and wanted to find out more:
After a moment of hesitation, he said very softly, “Sara. I apologize. That should never have happened.”
Shaken by the kiss, Sara turned and gripped the door handle without replying. Instead of opening it, she turned back around, holding the cake platter against her chest with crossed arms. Managing to keep her voice under control, she said, “Well, it won’t happen again, that’s for sure. You won’t be seeing me anymore anyway, probably, unless we just happen to run into each other. I start work tomorrow, and besides, I won’t be staying in Del Rey very long.”
“You’re not moving here?” he asked with some surprise.
“No, I told you from the beginning I was visiting.”
At this juncture, Sara stood as stiffly and silently as Rick.
At last, Rick spoke softly. “It’s mainly about Aaron, Sara. Don’t you see? He needs a lot of things, but right now in his life, I’m the one to supply everything for him—physically and emotionally.”
“Oh, I understand,” she began in a low voice and leaned toward him. “Having your life change drastically is traumatic on anyone, especially a child. But we adults can just suck it up, can’t we, Rick? We carry on, no matter whom we lose, or how much the loss endangers our well-being, or how the circumstances destroy our self-concept.” She paused and looked toward the house and bit her bottom lip. “I need to go.”
Sara drove away. She looked in her rear-view mirror and could barely make out Rick through the near darkness, still standing in the driveway with his hands shoved deeply into his pockets, watching after her as she turned onto the highway.
“Damn,” she whispered to herself. “I can’t please anybody. First kiss in over ten years, and the man apologizes.”