Wednesday, December 21, 2011

5 More Days to Win: Holiday Blog Hop

I've been giving away ebooks and entering people to win either a labradorite elephant, a malachite sphere, or a lapis cross pendant. The grand prize for this blog hop is a Kindle Fire.

For more details, please go to my web site

And Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Meet Sarah Woodbury, Author and Creative Dreamer

Sarah Introduces Herself

I am a homeschooling mom of four kids (ages 7 to 20), married for 21 years. I came to fiction writing 5 ½ years ago, having done the academic thing up until then, culminating with a Ph.D. in anthropology. Until I was in my thirties, I would routinely tell people “I haven’t a creative bone in my body.” I believed it! I don’t anymore. According to my extended family, I’m now so far off the map in being arty and alternative, that I’ve forgotten there even is a map.

Sarah, since my blog is about creativity, that's a great introduction to yourself. What created the shift in your belief about your creativity, and what did you do to encourage taking action?

When I was in graduate school, I remember talking with my sister-in-law (also in grad school), about my committee’s desire for me to come up with an original research project for my dissertation. I didn’t know how they could expect that when I hadn’t had an original thought in 12 years! We laughed because it felt so true.

Undermining that certainty, however, were my children. My daughter was born after my first year of graduate school, and my son two years later. Because of them, I postponed looking for a ‘real’ job as a professor, and then decided that staying home with them and homeschooling was a real job.

My focus had been on academics. That was my identity. That was my value as a person. With academia in the rearview mirror, I was only a mom. And that’s where my creativity began to sprout. Tiny at first. Ten years ago, we bought a house that needed a complete makeover, inside and out, and we did the outside first. Which means I designed the garden and planted it. I had told myself for years that I had a black thumb and all of a sudden, the plants grew! And were beautiful.

My daughter, in particular, has always been very creative and my next foray was into quilting, entirely because I was looking for something to do with her. Was writing a logical extension of that? I don’t know if it would be for anyone else, but on April 1, 2006, I sat down at my computer and wrote the first line of my first book. And changed my life.
I love the idea that the act of gardening and resultant success helped to make inroads into the "black thumb" belief.

You discovered that you could create beauty. That's so powerful.

Let's move on to the flowering of your literary imagination. Tell us about that first book: why you chose the subject you did and how it played an integral part in your creative journey.

I wrote that first book in six weeks, just to see if I could. I’m thankful that I didn’t have any desire to write the great American novel, or to exorcise demons from my past because it might have made the book harder to abandon. Again, it was my children that drove my creativity and I wanted to write something that they might enjoy reading.

This book had elves and magic in it and will never see the light of day. It is locked at the bottom of the proverbial trunk. It was very bad. Unsalvageable. At the same time, it showed me that I could write a novel (bad though it was), and gave me hints as to how I might go about writing a second one.

It is my second novel that set me on my present course. I had a dream about driving my mini-van into medieval Wales. I woke up and knew I had to write the story. This book eventually became Footsteps in Time. It is a young adult novel about two teenagers who do exactly what I dreamed: drive a mini-van from our world into thirteenth century Wales.

It is Footsteps in Time that I wrestled with and that haunted me for four years. I queried hundreds of agents about it, acquiring 72 rejections before one took me on. I read it out loud to find typos. Twice. I cut 1/3 of the chapters from it three times. I rewrote it a fourth time (cutting out 15,000 more words) before I published it in 2011. I’ve sold over 7000 copies of the book this year. And every one is like a little miracle.

I'm so glad you raised the subject of dreams, because they have always been a powerful source of creativity for me. The story of your second novel also reveals a fascination with Wales. Would you like to tell us more about the source of that fascination?

Some of my ancestors were Welsh, and that tradition is one of the stories that my family has always told about itself. That we came from Wales, even if it was 400 years ago, is a source of pride, as well as curiosity as to what that means and who those people were. My daughter and I (as a homeschool project) began researching our genealogy in the late 90’s and that’s when I began to read more about Wales. I also lived in the UK for a year while in college, visited Wales, and fell in love with the country and its people. So to dream about it was natural.

The dreaming is also one of those double-edged swords. I dream vividly (and some time horribly) every night. I don’t sleep well—to wake up a dozen times in a night is normal for me—and this pattern started about the time I started writing. I think it’s clear that my dreams inform my writing, and in turn, my writing seeps into my dreams. I’m not sure now if I could have one without the other.

Getting more specifically into your novels: While I don't have a lot of knowledge about the Arthurian era, I am aware that probably countless novels have been written on the subject. It's obviously a story/saga that captures the human imagination.

Why does it capture your imagination? Why do you think it has so great a universal appeal?

It is my sense that the King Arthur story appeals to different people in different ways, and on many levels because it’s got a little bit of everything in it. There’s the beginning—the young boy who becomes a king. It’s the child’s story of the mythic hero; then there’s the sophisticated interplay of politics, the machinations of Merlin, magic, and treachery—the dark side, if you will; and finally, there’s the tragic downfall.

But that’s not the King Arthur story that appeals to me, actually. King Arthur, as usually written, comes off as either as a flat character, someone whom the author employs as a backdrop to explore the personalities of other characters (Merlin, Guinevere, Lancelot), or as unheroic and human, tripped up in the end by the overwhelming burden of his imperfections. Arthur is either a pawn, buffeted by the winds of fate, or so flawed, one has to ask how he was remembered as a hero in the first place.

There is a simple reason for this: it is very hard to synchronize the different aspects of Arthur’s story into a complete whole because the essential, heroic element of Arthur’s story—his defeat of the Saxons for a generation—has been grafted, at both the beginning and the end, to a romantic tale told for reasons having more to do with the medieval authors who were telling the story, and the time in which they were living, than with Arthur. In so doing, his character is incomplete and inexplicable, one who reacts instead of acts, and who never has a say in his own destiny.

Instead, it is Merlin who is the active character. It is he who sets the whole plot in motion, whose behavior acts at times like a ‘get out of jail free card’ for Arthur, who manipulates everybody else, but who is powerless to stop Arthur’s downfall in the end. In the classic Norman/French tale, it is through Merlin’s actions at the beginning of the story that Arthur becomes high king, and because of Merlin’s abandonment at the end of the story that (in rapid succession), Arthur loses his wife, his best friend, his son, and his life.

In the Welsh tales, on the other hand, Arthur is nearly super-human. He may have a few flaws, yes, but he is a ‘hero’ in the classic sense. He takes his men to the Underworld and back again, he finds the 13 treasures of Britain, and he rescues his friends and relations from danger and death. It is these tales, that appeal to me and the stories upon which I base my books.

I have three books related to King Arthur. Cold my Heart, which is set in the end of his reign: By the autumn of 537 AD, the autumn of 537 AD, all who are loyal to King Arthur have retreated to a small parcel of land in north Wales. They are surrounded on all sides, heavily outnumbered, and facing near certain defeat.

But Myrddin and Nell, two of the King's companions, have a secret that neither has ever been able to face: each has seen that on a cold and snowy day in December, Saxon soldiers sent by Modred will ambush and kill King Arthur.

And together, they must decide what they are willing to do, and to sacrifice, to avert that fate.

The Last Pendragon/The Pendragon’s Quest, two books about the heir to Arthur’s throne: He is a king, a warrior, the last hope of his people--and the chosen one of the sidhe . . .

Set in 7th century Wales, The Last Pendragon is the story of Arthur’s heir, Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon (Cade), and his love, Rhiann, the daughter of the man who killed Cade's father and usurped his throne.

Born to rule, yet without a kingdom, Cade must grasp the reins of his own destiny to become both Christian king and pagan hero. And Rhiann must decide how much she is willing to risk to follow her heart.
My other books are a medieval mystery, The Good Knight, and a time travel fantasy series about two teenagers who travel back to medieval Wales: Footsteps in Time/Prince of Time/Daughter of Time.

My web page:
My Twitter code is:!/SarahWoodbury
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Blog Hop: Dec. 15--25

Members of fIndie Writers Unite!, myself included, are participating in a Holiday Blog Hop from Dec. 15 to Dec. 25. Many great prizes, including free ebooks, gift cards, and other special gifts, will be offered on participating blogs and web sites.

The grand prize will be a Kindle Fire.

I will give away two copies of Big Dragons Don't Cry per day. The first two people to email me will win.

If you don't hear from me, you weren't the first.

I am also giving away a carved labradorite elephant, a lapis cross pendant, and a malachite sphere.

For more details, please visit http://www.adragonsguide, my web site.

Everyone Wins!

Cats in Command and Other Stories has just been published, and it's free at Smashwords in a number of ereader formats.

In Cats in Command, a woman is abducted into a world ruled by cats. Among other problems, she discovers that felines have their own view of justice.

This is one of seven short stories and a novel excerpt. In other stories, the villains rewrite fairy tales, a jury decides the fate of humankind, and a gargoyle comes to life.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Magic and Mermaids: The Fiction of Marsha A. Moore

This week I welcome Marsha A. Moore to the blog. Marsha writes fiction on a wide variety of subjects.

I notice that you have a mermaid series. Could you tell us what inspired you to choose that subject?

I enjoy reading/researching fantasy written through the ages in folktales, myth, legend, and lore. My library of those is constantly growing. I often blend ideas of folklore from around the world into my works.

During the winter of 2008-9, I moved my mother from NW Ohio to Tampa. It didn’t take much to convince me to stay through the winter to help her get settled before I moved my own household the following summer. When I learned about the annual Tampa Gasparilla Festival, I was enthralled and a pirate captain, a mermaid, and a merman became the characters of my writing. Local legends and folklore of the famed pirate Jose Gaspar inspired me to write my fantasy romance book, Tears on a Tranquil Lake, which released earlier this year. The sequel, Tortuga Treasure: Ciel’s Legacy, will release in January, 2012.

My latest release I'm promoting is an historical fantasy about the big-top circus in the 1920s.

Tell me more about Le Cirque de Magie. What inspired you to write that story?

When we first moved to the Tampa area three years ago, we toured the Ringling Museum in Sarasota—a fascinating trip back into the magic of the circus. The spirit of the circus pervades the community, adding to the local cultural heritage. As a hub of circus activity for over seventy-five years, the city has earned the title, “Home of the American Circus.” No other area in the country has served as home base to as many circuses as Sarasota. I was fascinated by the local history, which inspired me to write this story.

Tell me more about Ravi's magical abilities.
Ravi is a character based upon Sanskrit folklore. He is an Asura god—a human who now possesses magical power or maya. Specifically, Ravi is a Suparna or sun-bird, who receives his powers from the sun. That much is based on Sanskrit legend. In my story, he is a human who can sprout wings and fly when he wishes. The stars give him guidance, and he can channel the sun’s energy through his eyes in various ways.

Add anything you'd like to say about this story.

I enjoy combining topics that interest me in unusual ways. I’ve been a yoga addict for twelve years, and the Indian culture fascinates me, their gods and goddesses. I enjoy studying folklore and legends from this culture. I also love the magical illusion of the circus, as well as nostalgia for the simple pleasures of visiting the traveling big-top show when I was very young. This story combines those interests in a way that explores my new environment in Florida. Those three elements in the story are parts of my regular life.

What books do you have planned for future writing/publication?

In January, I have a fantasy romance novel, Tortuga Treasure: Ciel’s Legacy, releasing from MuseItUp Publishing. This is a sequel to Tears on a Tranquil Lake, in a series about the adventures of a mermaid named Ciel. It involves plenty of fast action and romance, but also allows Ciel to mature through her interactions with the mermaid and pirate communities.

I’m eager to self-publish an epic fantasy romance series, Enchanted Bookstore Legends, I’ve been working on for a year and a half. It is a five-part series, and books one and two are written. The first will release in March, 2012.

As a writer, do you plot extensively, or do you let the story come to you as you write?

I create a detailed outline to make certain I have the correct turning points spaced properly to allow adequate development. I know the major events each chapter must contain. From that, it flows openly with details falling into place. Without some freedom as I write, a lot of the rush of getting swept away by the story would be lost.

What other creative outlets do you explore?

I paint and draw. The cover image for Le Cirque De Magie is my own original watercolor. I’ve wanted to paint my own covers for many years, and with a self-published work I gain the satisfaction of meeting that goal which working with a publisher hasn’t allowed.

Also, I love cycling and ride at least thirty miles each week. During the past year, I’ve been learning kayaking—it’s wonderful! I kayak each week on the big lagoon beyond our backyard which connects to Tampa Bay. I love the beach—can’t possibly be there enough. I write at the beach, longhand in notebooks.

Do you find that having more than one outlet enhances your writing?

Definitely. I draw from all of my interests to feed both my writing content and creative process.

Why Indie?

Like I mentioned, it is fun for me to have more control over my cover design. Also, there is a unique satisfaction that the product is more representative of me, my vision and my creativity.

What advice would you give people considering diving into writing (or into any creative endeavor)?

You must enjoy writing for its own intrinsic value, aside from publishing. One of my favorite quotes: "Don't seek to be published, seek to be read." ~Tracy Hickman

This quote helps me take a deep breath and refocus when the publishing industry overwhelms me. Some days it seems like a chaotic mess, expecting me to be capable of the incapable. Maintaining this perspective on a simple, clear goal helps me disregard the muck and consider what is really important--writing for the enjoyment of readers.
This space for anything else you want to say.

The circus is a blur of commotion with last minute preparations for the spring tour. Ravi, the high-wire heart throb, becomes jittery when he meets the company’s newly-hired female dwarf. Hours before departure, his magical perceptions are on fire as he witnesses her involvement in a gory bump off.

The circus manager can’t be found. Ravi is desperate to protect his sweetheart and performing partner, Alice. The train creaks away, beginning the long journey with danger stowed on board. Nicknamed the Great Birdman, Ravi steps forward and exposes his true identity—a real risk during edgy, vigilante times of prohibition. A brave move—but will his Suparna abilities be enough to snuff out this fierce demon?

Le Cirque De Magie Excerpt:

Before the evening show, he dressed early and patrolled the grounds. Nothing appeared suspicious outside, so he stood between sets of bleachers, watching for trouble during the performances. Again, Sadie missed her cue. It seemed too easy for her to give up at his warning—demons liked to fight.

Clowns, trained dogs, unicyclists, and fire-eaters all came and went without issue. Alice was in his sight, in the watchful company of her brother and the manager. Aromas of buttered popcorn and spun cotton candy mixed with animal odors—the typical circus smell. Nothing odd. He looked through the crowd for the dwarf. Instead of finding her, the number of children in the audience impressed him. All those smiling, young faces he must keep safe.

After a deep breath, he refocused, looking for any strange happening in the rings. Clown acts took the right and left rings. In the center, the snake charmer and his assistant wheeled out carts of large rush baskets. Three would contain his Naga friends. Upon the sweet notes of the charmer’s wooden flute, lids of the baskets opened and ropes danced up in response to his calls. Henry, Walter, and Gladys actually controlled those ropes, using their magic to extend them above their bodies. Ravi seldom watched the shows anymore. In full costume, the act came off well, a crowd-pleaser earning lots of cheers.

Tigers growled and pawed the wagon bed of their holding cage as it rolled in behind where Ravi stood. Sensing his magic, they clawed the bars nearest him, creating a spectacle.

Blocked from leaving by the animal wagon and not wanting to walk in front of the crowd, he climbed into the stands. When at last he found a seat, chaos ensued in the center ring.

The Nagas crawled in all directions, writhing and coiling. Above them a white bird with a forked, black tail swooped—a kite. It struck the snake people with both its talons and beak. The charmer, his assistant, and half a dozen other men ran around frantically. Some waved large nets on poles to catch the bird, and others yelled in various languages.
How did the raptor get into the ring?

Ravi jumped to his feet, again wrestling to control his outward appearance.

Soon everyone around him stood, craning to see the ruckus.

The snakes hissed and struck, but the bird soared out of reach. In one ill-fated attempt, Henry missed and bit the shoulder of his trainer.

The men dropped their nets and kneeled beside the wounded man. They slapped his hands and cheeks. It was too late. Few knew the snake people possessed real, deadly venom.

The kite continued to torment Gladys, despite her attempts to slither under a cart. Her snake tail hung limp, wounded. Was that bird another form of the dwarf?

The tigers roared and flung themselves at their cage walls. Spectators screamed and rushed down the steps to leave. The rickety bleachers swayed with the frenzy of motion.

Ravi’s wing tips burst out of the slits in his costume at his shoulder blades. The tangle of people stopped him from getting to the ring, so he climbed atop the handrail and lifted into flight.

Someone high in the stands cried out, “Birdman!”

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Author Lynn Hubbard Visits

Tonight my guest is Lynn Hubbard. She talks about her favorite book of those she's written.

Run into the Wind by Lynn Hubbard

Back Cover: Sabrina Lovett heads west and hops off a train to start anew. Hiding from her affluent brother she takes on the guise of a boy. Brock Stafford the new Sheriff was used to being in control. He was irritated to no end by the stable boy “Will” who challenged him at every turn. Aggravated by his own reaction to the boy he tries to ignore him completely until tragedy brings them together. 

Run into the Wind is one of my favorite books I have written. Even today, I still go back and take reread my favorite parts. I have a twisted since of humor so I tried to instill that into the book. You can’t have drama and tragedy without laughter. That’s not how life is.

So Sabrina goes through a bevy of emotions as she tries to find her path in this world. Much like we all do. When I write, I try to get into the characters heart and mind. So that you can better understand their choices.
I also tend to write with emotion! If I’m having a good day, Sabrina has a good day. If I’m in a bad mood…watch out Brock! ;-)

I cannot write on a schedule, I can only write when I’m inspired, otherwise it doesn’t flow properly. So it does take me a year or so to write a Novel but you know what? Life takes time.

I am attempting to take Run into the Wind to the next level. I am starting a Kickstarter program to convert it to an Audio Book. Being a mother of a child with disabilities it makes me more aware of the plights of others. I would like to share my book in all forms so all persons can enjoy listening or reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Please take a peek at my Audio Book Campaign and share it with your friends!

Please enjoy this excerpt of Run into the Wind.

To set the scene this is when Sabrina and Brock first meet. Of course, he thinks she is a boy. ;-)

Brock rode up to the stable only to find it void of life. He looked around irritated from his fatigue and then decided to tend to his own horse. He led his mahogany stallion inside and noticed an empty stall in the rear and headed over to it. He was about to open the stall door when he noticed a boy asleep in the corner. He cleared his throat and the boy woke, startled, and scrambled to his feet.

"I'm so sorry, mister, may I help you?" Sabrina stammered. After a quick glance up at the handsome man, she quickly turned all of her attention to his horse. Sabrina was glad that it was so hot; it helped explain the blush that suddenly colored her cheeks. It had been a long time since she had seen a man like him. He reminded her a little of her father. He was tall, and his clothes were dusty but clean. Since she did not get an answer yet, she reluctantly looked back up at his face. He stared at her intently as if looking into her soul as she waited for him to answer her question.

Nervously she looked down, relieved that her shirt was completely dry. Well, maybe a little damp. She saw the long shadows through the open doorway of the stable and realized the sun was sinking in the sky and she gasped.

"Oh, my gosh! What time is it?" He looked at his pocket watch irritably.

“It’s three thirty."

"Oh no! Mr. Swanson is gonna skin me alive. I was supposed to have Miss Reynold’s carriage ready by four." She started out of the stable and stopped in her tracks, remembering the man and his horse. She bit her lip in indecision. It would take at least twenty minutes to rub down his horse and then another twenty five to get the carriage ready. She sighed, well first come, first served, she thought as she walked back over to the gentleman.

"I'm sorry, sir, let me tend to your horse," she said, walking over. He watched, impressed, as she spoke softly to Troy before actually touching him or attempting to take the reins from his owner. "He's a beauty," she breathed, looking up at the graceful animal. "What's his name?”

She took the reins and skillfully led him into a stall. The deep rumble of the man’s chuckle sent shivers down Sabrina's spine.

"His name is Troy, and my name is Brock Stafford."

Sabrina nodded to him. "They call me Will." She ran her hands over Troy's flank.

"He's dehydrated." She looked accusingly at Brock.

He nodded in agreement. “We’ve traveled a very long way," Brock murmured, wondering why he felt guilty. He always took excellent care of his animals and here was this boy insinuating that he did not. He watched the boy get fresh oats and water for Troy and then head off to set up the carriage.

"I'll rub him down after he's better rested," Sabrina said over her shoulder to Brock. Brock shook his head as he headed out of the barn. He watched the young boy struggle to pull the fancy black carriage around so that he could align it with the horses. "Need a hand?" Brock questioned.. "No, thank you," Sabrina grunted as she pushed it into place with an extra hard shove. He watched amused as the boy scurried around, expertly taking down tack to fix it to two brown mares. She then led the ladies out of their stalls and hooked them up to the carriage.

Sabrina had just finished checking their hooves and bits when a well-dressed lady in a bonnet swaggered up to them. She was attached to a nicely dressed man who Sabrina knew was her brother. She had never liked Sally but her brother seemed okay. His name was Thomas and she thought he was a little puny, but he seemed nice enough. He stopped by occasionally to check on their horses.

“Why who is this?” Sally Reynold drawled with a simpering smile as she spied Brock leaning against the corral fence.
“Stafford, Ma’am; Sir,” Brock said, tipping his hat to the pair.

She noticed he did not introduce himself as Brock as he had to her and wondered about it. Sabrina nodded to the woman as Thomas ushered Sally quickly up to the carriage. Sabrina kept her head down as she held the horses steady and Thomas helped his sister into the carriage and took the reins from Sabrina.

“Thank you, Will,” Thomas said, paying Sabrina for the horses’ board and giving her a nice tip. She thanked him without looking up and headed into the stable to finish caring for Troy.

"Who was that?" Brock asked, watching the carriage roll down the dusty street. Sabrina's brow furrowed.

“Why didn't you ask her yourself?" she said, biting her lip. She had a bad habit of saying what she was thinking. She sighed, wondering why he had not left yet. Brock was wondering the same thing as he watched her walk up to Troy's stall and unlatch the door. She first took a tool and cleaned around his shoes, removing tiny pebbles and as much dirt as possible. She checked the nails in his shoes and hammered in a couple that were loose. Grabbing a brush, she began the tedious yet soothing task of grooming the horse.

She started at his head and worked her way down, talking in a soothing tone to the horse the entire time. Brock strained his ears to hear what the boy was saying but he could not make it out. At some point he thought he was actually singing to the horse. Sabrina stepped back, looking at how Troy’s dark red coat shimmered in the dim light and she smiled at her work. Troy seemed much more relaxed.

She nodded. "Much better." Turning around quickly, she ran right into Brock’s chest. The force knocked her back into the wall and she cursed as she hit her head.

"Would you look where you’re going?" she grumbled, as she walked around Brock to put her cleaning items away. "Your horse is fine; you can go now."

Thank you all for your time, I know this is a busy time of year!

Find Lynn at:
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