Special Guest Phyllis Duncan (@unspywriter) Talks Her New Spy Novella, The Yellow Scarf

Phyllis DuncanI’m blessed to be surrounded by writers of all kinds here in the Shenandoah Valley, not just romance writers. One such writer, and friend, is Phyllis Duncan, who pens tales of espionage (with, yes, the occasional strain of romance thrown in, but it’s definitely not her focus). To celebrate the release of her new novella, The Yellow Scarf, I pelted a bunch of questions at her, which she graciously answered.

So grab that cup of tea and hang with us for a few minutes as you learn more about Phyllis and her works!

What draws you to writing about spies over, say, romance or fantasy? 

american & russian documentsI read a lot of Fleming, Trevanian, and LeCarre in high school and college, not to mention was a big fan of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the Mission: Impossible television shows, and I’ve always found the genre fascinating. Also, ethical dilemmas intrigue me. Spies manipulate the truth, people, and governments toward an end, and to them that end is desired so, to them, the means are justified. We in the west always thought we were on the right side of the Cold War, but Soviet spies felt that way, too. Wondering how people dealt with those questionable ethical practices is fodder for me. Also, most of the time they are average, everyday people with families and mortgages, and I like exploring how they balance that. I’ve always wanted to write science fiction but don’t have the technical chops for it. My former co-workers thought I’d retire and write cozy mysteries about aviation, but so far aviation only has a peripheral mention in my work. I’d still love to write a totally cool sci-fi novel.

These two characters have appeared in several of your short story collections and novellas. Any plans for a full-length novel? 

Oh, I have, let’s see, about eight novels involving Mai Fisher and Alexei Bukharin, in various stages of their careers, in different stages of production (i.e., first drafts, revisions, etc.), and all unpublished. For now.

What are your favorite things about these particular characters? 

yellowscarfAlexei is all the positive (and some of the negative) aspects of my father and my ex–resourceful, loving, encouraging, flawed, and good looking. Mai is all the things I could never be at work, because I had to be nice (just kidding)–strong, brilliant, takes no sh*t, quick on the uptake, and understands the concept of sometimes doing bad things for the greater good. Together, they’re a formidable team; yet, they have both made mistakes, which they had to learn from them. As a married couple, they juggle their work responsibilities with family life, a family they have to lie to about what they really do, while protecting them from people who’d want to use their family to get back at them. Intense. The newest novella, The Yellow Scarf, for example, deals with their return to a country where Mai was taken captive the year before and suffered a tremendous personal loss. Alexei knows they can’t pick and choose their missions, but he’s concerned about the effect the return will have on his wife, not so much his partner. He also knows Mai will focus on the current mission and nothing else, because that’s who she is.

Tell us some of your research methods. What have you had to look up, and how do you go about finding info on spy activities? Any concern NSA is watching your search history? 

Saiga MK-03 (AK-47 type), magazineSince most of what Mai and Alexei work on is within my lifetime (from the Cold War to the present), I rely on my memory and my love of history. I research each novel as if it were a nonfiction work, i.e., read books and articles pertinent to the subject matter, and the Internet certainly makes that easier to do. I’ve purchased books by former CIA operatives and other covert operatives from rival intelligence agencies (including the KGB) and studied them for tradecraft and technology, but because this is fiction, I made up my own agency with its own protocols, so I can fudge a bit on tradecraft. Yes, particularly after 9/11 and the passage of the Patriot Act, I’m concerned my Internet searches could be misinterpreted. I’ve had to look up how to make an ammonium nitrate/fuel oil (ANFO) bomb, what kind of noise suppressor is appropriate for AK-47s, and torture techniques, among others. I sometimes post in Facebook something to the effect, “I write fiction; I’m not plotting anything.” I hope that works!

Do you know spies in real life? (I had to ask that one!)

Yes. (I had to answer it that way.)

I hear spy novels aren’t the only thing you write: can you tell us about other works you’ve completed? 

In the past I was an aviation reporter and editor and author of many government white papers on aviation safety and aviation history articles–my first love. And I gave that all up to write fiction. 😉 I have written a great deal of literary fiction, in particular short stories and flash fiction, which have appeared in literary journals, online and in print. I dabble (emphasis on dabble) with poetry (I’m thinking next year I might need to write a haiku a day.) and have written feature articles on various topics for my local newspaper. I have a literary novel which explores how events in the past affect lives in the present. I call it my “baby in the wall” novel because finding the bones of a long-dead child in the wall of a house starts the main character on a search, which reveals things she wants to ignore but can’t. It’s called Supreme Madness of the Carnival Season, which is a line, appropriately, from Edgar Allen Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado.”

What’s next for you?

Since I just finished a National Novel Writing Month manuscript, I foresee editing, revising, and rewriting in my future. I developed a minor character in last year’s NaNoWriMo novel, a transgender former U.S. Navy SEAL (loosely based on an actual person), and several people have asked if I’m going to tell her story. So, who knows? Being inclusive in my fiction is very important to me, as is “doing it right,” so if I took on her story, I’d have to do a lot more research. This is an area where I would want my fiction to reflect reality.

What’s one piece of advice you would give new writers?

Vintage TypewriterIt’s a cliche, but write. Carry a notebook or a recorder with you at all times. Listen in on the conversations around you–and write them down. The key, however, is to write and embrace calling yourself a writer. Write every day, even if it’s a blog post, or a haiku, or a Facebook comment. Oh, and edit what you write or hire an editor, particularly if you’re going indie. Yes, you can have your own voice, and editing will only strengthen it. But none of that can happen unless you put butt in chair and write.


Bio:

spyflashPhyllis A. “Maggie” Duncan is a retired aviation safety official who writes historical thrillers from her home in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She has studied writing at workshops and conferences around the U.S. Her short fiction can be found in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. She is the first vice president of the Virginia Writers Club.

Want to connect with Phyllis? Find her here!

Amazon Author Pagehttp://www.amazon.com/Phyllis-Duncan/e/B007WWETGU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1431040137&sr=1-1
Author Website: http://phyllisduncan52.wix.com/phyllisaduncanauthor
Facebook Author Page: 
https://www.facebook.com/Phyllis-Anne-Duncans-Author-Page-136645693053020/timeline/
Goodreads: Phyllis Anne Duncan
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/maggieduncan1/
Twitter: @unspywriter
Writing Blog: www.unexpectedpaths.com

nobleCurrent Works:

Short Story Collections:
Blood Vengeance
Fences and Other Stories
Spy Flash
The Better Spy

Novellas:
My Noble Enemy
The Yellow Scarf


Thanks for stopping by, Phyllis! I wish you the best of luck with The Yellow Scarf – and hope you never need to make use of much of what you’ve gleaned from the Internet! 😉

Interview with Meg Adams, Author of In From the Cold

I love Writer Wednesday, but the darn day only comes once a week, and sometimes I’ve got authors to share with y’all, and I just can’t wait! That’s the case with today’s special – time with fellow Virginia Romance Writer Meg Adams, who just released her contemporary, In From the Cold.

Meg graciously sat down with me (virtually speaking, I guess) to share some insider info. So grab that hot cocoa, turn on the Christmas lights, and settle in for a great, quick intro to Meg and her work!


Everyone always asks, where do you get your ideas, but I’m gonna ask it anyway: What’s the story behind the story in In From The Cold?

Grand Teton Reflection at SunriseOh, jeez. This story began with the place first, and then I peopled it with characters … and then the plot formed. I have relatives in Jackson, Wyoming, so I’ve been out there several times and in all kinds of weather. We once had the pleasure of staying in a spiffy guesthouse like the one in the book–totally different from my daily existence–and I got to thinking, what if…? Definitely a fun fantasy.

How long have you been writing romance?

I wrote my first novel about fifteen years ago, a young adult novel based on Beowulf, but with a female protagonist who falls in love with one of Beowulf’s men. I intended it to be a young adult novel, but my agent kept at me to go ahead and make it a romance. I was resistant then and never published it, but I’ve been thinking lately I might go blow the dust off that file and see what I have. I know so much more about the genre now, and my agent was probably right. My sister has also pointed out that I’ve always read a lot of romance, even when I thought–silly me–I was just reading classics. Go figure. So the unofficial answer is a long time. Officially, about three years.

What draws you to the genre? Would you consider writing in other subgenres, such as historical or paranormal?

Civil War CannonI love romance because it’s so hopeful. I’m not a naturally positive person, although I’ve noticed in my friendships that I’m drawn to those who are. Life is tough for lots of us, and no matter how poor, or sick, or beset by troubles our lives may be, love gives some respite from that. I need the hope romance offers, and a little dose of magic, to help offset the realities of daily life.

I  do write in other subgenres, too. I’ve self-published an historical mystery set on the eve of the Civil War called The Edge of War, which contains a strong romantic thread. I’ve also completed the rough draft of  a “Hen-lit” contemporary romance, working title Flat Tires and Shifting Gears–Again, and I’m currently writing a young adult romance, Unforgettable. I have a whole series planned for a Victorian romance series, but until I have more time for the research, that will stay on my back burner. Alas.

Who are your favorite romance authors to read, and why?

Tough, tough question. I love so many. I love the humor in Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Lisa Kleypas, the styles of Barbara O’Neal and Jennifer Crusie. Grace Burrowes and Meredith Duran are fabulous Regency romance writers, and Simone Elkeles, Gayle Forman, and John Green rock in young adult. And if I’m feeling in the mood for something a little racier, my buddy, Mari Carr, is my go to. What an imagination!

You’re a member of the Virginia Romance Writers; how has that helped you in your writing career?

vrwFirst and foremost, it’s given me a great education in the genre and the business of writing. The publishing world has always been a mystery to me, but now, with so many choices and more author marketing expectations, it’s downright complicated. Meeting so many people struggling with the same issues gives me a wonderful support group, and I’ve met some fabulous people and contacts through the organization.

What’s next from you, and when can we expect it?

As I mentioned above, Flat Tires and Shifting Gears-Again is about ready to go to my editor, so I don’t have a timeline per se. Hopefully within the year. Unforgettable is still a work in progress,and  my current publisher doesn’t want Young Adult, so I need to find this one a different home. After that, I have several partially completed manuscripts that I need to finish. I’ll have to see what inspires me, or what I’m asked for at that point. I save my summers for research-intensive writing, just because the rest of my year is so intense.

Name two things most people don’t know about you. 

Oh that’s a fun one. I found out a couple of years ago that I have some Cherokee blood, which you wouldn’t know by looking at me.You would though if you saw my father and brother. And learning to sail is on my bucket list.

What’s one piece of advice you wished you’d had when you first started writing?

Fountain penThat writing is a process. It wasn’t until I got out of college and started teaching that I started learning myself how to truly revise. Breaking writing into stages had never occurred to me, and I couldn’t understand why writing seemed so much less stressful for my fellow English majors. Now I know they already knew the secret. Allowing myself a crappy first draft has helped me enormously, letting my creativity flow and pushing me through potential roadblocks over and over again. That process gets better the more I practice it, too. 

So yes, I wish someone had told me earlier that novels don’t emerge fully formed from an author’s head. Zeus, we are not.

Finally, peanut butter + chocolate = God’s gift to man, or heinous corruption of two otherwise divine substances?

My husband would definitely agree with the first assertion. Moi? Change it to almonds, pecans , or macadamia nuts–and I’m your girl!


infromthecoldPerfect families don’t always start with perfect ingredients.

Professional nanny Claire Iverson has wiped enough noses, butts and spills to qualify for a PhD in raising kids. She knows a toddler with a potty crisis when she sees one, and it’s clear this child’s impossibly handsome father doesn’t, since he’s sound asleep on the flight to Jackson, Wyoming.

Getting burned by her ex-boyfriend left her gun-shy around men, but when it comes to this beautiful little girl, she has to speak up. Just her luck, it turns out the man she just dressed down is her new boss.

Between his roles as full-time CEO and full-time father, Drake Driscoll is exhausted. If he can seal the next deal at his upcoming holiday house party, he’ll have room to breathe. He never expected for his daughter’s new nanny to take his breath away.

Claire hesitates to accept the warmth that beckons in Drake’s arms. But soon their attraction ignites, pulling them in deeper than either of them expected. Into passion that could weld them forever—or burn them to cinders.

Warning: Hot chocolate, cozy fires, snowball fights and sizzling ski hut sex = one very merry holiday!


Meg Adams, author of In From the Cold, is a true blue “Valley Girl”—the Shenandoah Valley, that is. She lives with her family—both two-legged and four-legged— in an old farmhouse, her other work-in-progress, and when she’s not herding kids or cats, she’s reading or writing. Whether cheering on bicyclists as they crest the hill or writing another romance, she encourages everyone to find their own happy endings.

Writer Wednesday: Special Interview with Tamara Shoemaker!

Tamara ShoemakerYes! It’s Writer Wednesday! I love featuring writers on this blog every week – it’s amazing to get to know so many talented people just a little bit better. This week, I’m bringing you someone I am privileged to know well in REAL LIFE (such a thing does exist, I hear): my good friend and writer extraordinaire, Tamara Shoemaker.

Tamara and I have book babies born on the same day: her excellent YA fantasy, Mark of Four, made it into the published world on Monday, the very same day A Matter of Time hit Amazon’s shelves! We’re Book Twins Mommies! Or something…

Anyway, I hope you read all about Tamara and her brilliant new book, Mark of Four, which I call The Last Airbender meets Harry Potter. If you like YA fantasy, you’re gonna love it!


If you could wield any one – but ONLY one – of the four elementals, which would you choose, and why? Secondly, because I’m a romance author, if you could DATE someone wielding one—but only one—of the elements, which would you choose, and why?

mof5There’s a reason why Alayne is a Water-Wielder. Throughout the course of the trilogy, I had a chance to explore, deeply, the psyche of a person who wielded water, or one who manipulated flames, or one who turned air out of its courses, or one who sifted the earth. All of them were fascinating to me, but I love water. The fluidity, the clarity, the ebb and flow of it. It’s like music to me. None of the other elements connect with me as closely as that one does, so of course, I had to give it to the main character.

If I had to date an Elemental (did I say “had?” Of course I meant “get” to), my first impulse would be to look for another Water-Wielder, ’cause obvs., but then I thought, we might be able to cover more ground if I chose a Fire-Breather. I mean, if he lights the dining room table on fire, I can put it out. Or if I accidentally ice over the washing machine, he’s there to thaw it in the nick of time for that emergency load of laundry… 😉 It’s all about teamwork, y’all.

Why this story? Meaning, from whence did the idea / plot / characters come? In other words, was there one moment at which the light bulb went off and you knew immediately the story? Are the characters, ahem, based off anyone in real life (not that you have to fess up whom)?

mof2The plot came to me in pieces. I think the seed of it was born when I got obsessed with the number four. I started thinking about how stories were often woven around four of something, four seasons, four years, four corners of the earth, four perspectives, four… HEY… four ELEMENTS!!! 😉 After that, the story kind of took off. I love school settings, especially where they train in other classes besides Algebra and French and Government/Economics. I had so much fun coming up with class names in this book. Water-Currents? Throw-Casting? Elementary Elementals? I so wish I could go to Clayborne.

The characters are purely creatures of my twisted brain; however, I will say that Jayme Cross bears a remarkable resemblance to Ben Barnes, bless his gorgeous self. Professor Manders shares a bit of a likeness with Robert Downey, Jr. All the rest look like what I’ve described them in the book, but I can’t place them too closely to a celebrity doppelgänger in this world.

Although published after Kindle The Flame, Mark of Four was actually your first foray into young adult fantasy. How hard was the leap? What inspired it? Do you plan to write more mysteries, or is your heart forever after in worlds of your own creation?

soulsurvivorSoul Survivor is, at least at present, my last planned mystery. I enjoyed writing mysteries, and it was a great experience and one I’m profoundly thankful for, because I weave a bit of mystery even into my fantasy plots, but I don’t think I’ll write any more of them. That’s not a hard and fast answer, though. I’m a big proponent of writing the story that comes, and if another mystery slides beneath my laptop keys and whispers (creepily, as mysteries do), “Write me,” you know I’ll have to obey.

The leap from mystery to fantasy didn’t seem hard at first. I loved the freedom I found in fantasy; the only rule was that my story had to make sense within itself. I had no strictures that said I needed to do such-and-such a thing in such-and-such a way. I could throw my imagination to the wind and let it carry me where it would.

kindletheflameHowever, as time went on and edits and revisions sucked the ink from me, I started to realize that fantasy wasn’t as easy as simply splashing down my imagination onto a page. There were rules to follow, big ones, like world-building plot gaps (and I had many), and romantic entanglements that burned too hot, and then too cold with edits, and then too hot again, and then got scrapped because I was sick of messing with it, and then re-added… anyway, you get the idea.

I will never be able to say enough about the importance of using the services of a good editor. I found an amazing one who found flaws I couldn’t see in my story, and turned it around into a book I can be proud of. She encouraged me to create better work than I’ve ever before done, as well as inspired me to open my own freelance editing business. Mega shout-out to Emily June Street (who is herself an incredible fantasy author; check out her books on Amazon)!

You love to throw love triangles/quadrangles/big ol’ messes at us, in Kindle the Flame AND in Mark of Four. So fess up: which potential love interest in Mark of Four would you a) most want to date, and b) actually be best suited for, temperament-wise?

mof4Haha, you caught me! 🙂 I confess that I love the emotional angst that goes into love triangles. Not that I would ever want to be in one myself, but I do love to watch the give and take of what attracts people to others. Still, you did ask me to place myself in this situation, so… I have to admit that while I am drawn to more than one of the dear boys in the book, I do love Jayme’s easy grin and teasing personality. Coupled together with my mental picture of Ben Barnes, he would be really hard for me to resist. 😉

Both Kindle the Flame and Mark of Four feature kick-tushy, feisty heroines. Are these fun to write? How do you make these women realistic for a young adult audience? (Too perfect, and they’re annoyingly unbelievable; too flawed, and they’re just annoying.)

Um… that’s a great question, and I’m not sure I have an answer. I love protagonists who show loads of character development, and I want to see a journey from page one to page three-hundred and whatever. I enjoy writing female heroines who kick tushy, mostly because I know I would never be able to do the same, and I figure if I can’t in real life, I can at least in my imaginary world. However, the characters are flat and stale if all they do is wield elements and fly dragons. There has to be a mountain to climb somewhere in the story, so I spend lots and lots of time on character development as I go.

[ML says: I italicized that sentence because I love its honesty – and it’s exactly how I feel!]

Would you ever consider writing a male lead? Why or why not? 

mof1I did dabble in the male head a little in Kindle the Flame, as I wrote three out of every four chapters from the perspectives of three different males. It was quite an experience. I had to cut waaaay back on the drama and use a more common sense, minimalist approach. Basically, I sat and took notes on my husband before I tried to write those chapters. Not to say that my male points of view were subliminal efforts at inserting my husband into the story; I’d never hear the end of that… 😉

If you had to choose one of your fantasy worlds to live in, which would it be? That of KTF, or MOF?

Which fantasy world would I prefer between epic dragons and element-wielding people? It’s a tough call. But Kindle the Flame didn’t have such conveniences as indoor plumbing and heated homes; plus, how awesome would it be to not have to wear a coat in the winter anymore when you could pull the heat from the atmosphere to warm you? Sure, it’s hard to beat the idea of riding dragons through the open skies, but I gotta say, twisting the elements has gotta be cooler.


MarkOfFour

Mark of Four

Seventeen-year-old Alayne Worth is an Elemental Water-Wielder. All she wants is to master her talent and live a normal life, but the sudden escape of a feared criminal leaves her family reeling and threatens to keep her from achieving her dreams, especially when the criminal’s reach pushes too close to home.

Secret pasts, strange powers, and tense relationships weave a tangled net around her. As she leaves home to cultivate her skills at an Elemental training center, she clashes with a disturbing reality: both good and evil forces covet Alayne’s unusual gifts, and each side is willing to do almost anything to obtain them.

As Alayne confronts the battle for the power she possesses, she must discover the truth of who she is.

Air-Earth-Water-Fire

Four Elements

Four Powers

Four Paths

MARK OF FOUR


Tamara Shoemaker lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-ending carafe of coffee. She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the beginning of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame, as well as the upcoming Guardian of the Vale trilogy.

Follow her on social media:

Twitter: @TamaraShoemaker
Website: www.tamarashoemaker.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tshoebooks


Thanks so much, Tamara! It’s always a joy to get to share your talents with the world. And, reading audience, if you yourself are a fan of YA fantasy, or know others who are, I highly recommend picking up your copy of Mark of Four today! 

 

Special Guest Interview: Aria Glazki Talks about Mortal Musings!

Aria GlazkiEvery once in a while, I break my Wednesday and Thursday traditions and go crazy by interviewing an author on a completely different day. I know, insanity. AND OH SO FUN!

Today I’m delighted to have Aria Glazki pop in to tell us a bit about herself and her new slightly paranormal romance novel, Mortal Musings.

Aria said to me, “Thanks so much for having me, Margaret! It’s great chatting with a fellow romance author & Flash! Friday enthusiast ;),” to which I have to say, the pleasure is entirely mine. We romance authors have to stick together (especially since the world of flash is often populated with tragedies and not-so-happy endings. At least the flash I’ve read.)!

And … here we go! Enjoy!


Why romance? What draws you to this genre over others? When people criticize you about your reading/writing genre of choice (and if they don’t, I need to hang around with your people), what do you say?

Romance as a genre allows us to genuinely delve into people’s psyches and personalities; we can get to know people from all walks of life, in all sorts of situations, who nevertheless all experience that fundamental human desire of finding love—and then we get to see them do that! We get to see characters through the tough times and to an uplifting point in their story. Happy endings leave readers upbeat, which is that extra little benefit to romance.

People around me absolutely criticize the genre, but I’m actually lucky that many of those closest to me make an effort to read romance novels following my recommendations. Some have still never read a romance novel and consider the genre beneath them, or lacking intellectual value, so I just point out all the benefits of romance; that many classics (like Pride & Prejudice) would be classified as romance if they were published today; and that these people are likely thinking about stereotypes from bad romance novels, since they’ve never actually bothered to read the genre themselves. I sometimes add that the only rules in romance are that it has to be about a central couple finding love and it has to end happily, so the range within the genre is as broad as within all of fiction—which means the only way someone could not like the entire genre is if they’re somehow categorically opposed to a happy ending. Most people recognize how silly that is.

How long did it take you get Mortal Musings from head to page to printed book?

All told, from the very first word written to publication, it’s been almost 10 years! That’s a scary thought. But from the moment I picked up the old, unfinished draft and started over, it’s been just over two years.

Tell us about Mortal Musings’ journey to publication. As a fellow indie author, I want to know all the steps you took, and why you felt indie was the right way for this book.

clotheslinebooksThis journey has been so long and complex… Skipping past discouragement from established authors that led me to shelving the story and forward to when I picked it back up, I went through the pretty normal stages of writing and revising (and revising, and revising). I did query a few agents with this book, but everywhere I turned, agents were saying that paranormal romance wasn’t selling and they weren’t acquiring. So, I moved on to querying some publishers.

Mortal Musings received several offers, and I spent almost 6 months evaluating and negotiating those. But ultimately, those offers didn’t work out, for business reasons and for creative ones. (One editor suggested I add toilet humor! Not really my style.) A common theme I was hearing from the publishers, though, was that they didn’t want any substantive changes. So the manuscript was pretty much ready, there was just the question of the business side.

It was intimidating, but I’ve thought for a while now that the smartest path for modern-day authors was hybrid—indie and traditional. It seemed like this book was being pushed away from the traditional path, and truly what I care about is getting the story in readers’ hands, so I chose to bet on myself. A lot of research and quite a bit of work later, Mortal Musings is finally available to readers!

What’s the hardest thing you find about being an indie author? What’s the most enjoyable?

The most difficult thing is knowing that every decision is entirely in your hands, which means you’re responsible for every success or failure. It can be paralyzing, but I try to remember no one moment is life-or-death and there’s always something to be learned from the results, good or bad.

The best is the same with indie and traditional publishing—seeing readers loving the story!

ffbadgeYou’re a regular on Flash Friday – how do you think writing flash, or poetry, illuminates and aids your novel writing…if it does? 😉

Flash or even short fiction really allows you to focus in on a particular situation or character, and like poetry, it forces you to be concise yet evocative at once. For me, it’s almost like running drills, since we should aim for that same efficiency in whatever we write, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to create something whole in one or two writing sessions, as opposed to the longer term of novels.

What’s up next from you?

I don’t know! Publishing is so unpredictable, I am not yet sure which story will be available next. I will continue to write and hopefully to publish in one way or another. Anyone interested can stay up to date on my next steps through my blog or social media.


The must-know on Mortal Musings:

Mortal Musings CoverMuse Alexandra has had it with the arrogant, ungrateful humans she is obligated to inspire. When the internal ranting of her latest charge pushes her past reason, she disregards the rules and forces her own words through his fingers, and is instantly entrapped in mortal form. With no magic, no identity, and no resources, Allie has no alternative but to navigate the mortal realm, depending entirely on her reluctant host while discerning what exactly caused her transformation — and how to reverse it.

Brett doesn’t have a chance to consider the words that mysteriously showed up on his screen; he’s too distracted by the stunning woman who appeared in his office out of nowhere. Before his brain can catch up, Brett’s uninvited guest becomes enmeshed in his everyday life. Her artless innocence gradually lessens his suspicions. Most importantly, the writer’s block that’s been plaguing him dissolves under the fantasies the naively beguiling Alexandra inspires.

All too soon, the forced proximity sparks a confounding awareness neither writer nor muse are able to resist.

Find Mortal Musings here!:

Autographed paperbacks: http://selz.co/1JRFBES

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0122H197G

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0122H197G

Amazon CAN: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0122H197G

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/mortal-musings/id1021523124

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1122259923

Smashwords: http://smashwords.com/books/view/557545


A Bit About Aria:

writingAria’s writing story started when her seventh-grade English teacher encouraged her to submit a class assignment for publication. That piece was printed, and let’s just say, she was hooked!

Since then, Aria has run a literary magazine, earned her degree in Creative Writing (as well as in French and Russian literatures), and been published here and there. Her novels Mending Heartstrings and Mortal Musings are now available for purchase. Though her first kiss technically came from a bear cub, and no fairytale transformation followed, Aria still believes magic can happen when the right people come together—if they don’t get in their own way, that is.

Other than all things literary, Aria loves spending time with her family, including her two unbearably adorable nieces. She also dabbles in painting, dancing, playing violin, and, given the opportunity, Epicureanism.

Want to connect with Aria? She’s here!:

Website: www.AriaGlazki.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Aria.Glazki

Twitter: www.twitter.com/AriaGlazki

GoodReads: www.goodreads.com/AriaGlazki


Thanks for visiting with us today, Aria! I’m looking forward to reading Mortal Musings (yes, I already have a copy in my grubby little hands. Well, okay, in my less-grubby little iPad) and wish you the best success with it!

#ThrowItForward Thursday: Author Interview with Paranormal Romance Author Tabitha Barret

tifthursIt’s Thursday, and we’re Throwing It Forward (not back!) again, to honor and give thanks to those fellow authors, book bloggers, reviewers, fans, etc., who take their time and energy to promote authors.

Unbeknownst to me, paranormal romance author Tabitha Barret not only read A Man of Character, she reviewed it on her website, much to my delight! Then she asked if she could do an author interview with me. Squee!

After such unexpected promotion, I totally wanted to return the favor, and was thrilled when Ms. Barret agreed to answer a bunch of nosey questions about her writing and her books. So settle in for this awesome Author Interview, and leave a comment or go say hi to Tabitha when you’re done, won’t you?


What inspires you to write?

Fountain penI have enjoyed writing ever since the 6th grade, when we would receive random writing prompts and have to come up with stories on the fly. I find that I am able to lose myself in the subject and let my imagination take over. Once I create a character that I like, I tend to revisit him or her whenever my mind wanders. That’s how the Third Throne series came to be. The main characters came to me as I fell asleep one night and they stuck with me. That was about twenty years ago. Over the years, their world and lives became more elaborate, so I finally decided to write them down.

Which type of romance do you love most, and why?

I enjoy reading all types of romances, as long as there is passion between the characters, except science fiction. I have trouble reading it, though I can watch science fiction movies. I love tear-jerkers. I love dominant men who just need to find the right woman to tame them. I love happy endings. When I write, I prefer urban fantasy / paranormal romance.

Have you always wanted to write urban fantasy / paranormal? What draws you to this genre?

When I tried writing what would become the Third Throne series, it started as a full-on fantasy book with strange creatures and gargoyle-looking things. It was a disaster, so I left the draft in the attic. After reading what I call my gateway book into the paranormal genre, Twilight, I wanted more out of my romances than Young Adult could offer. That’s when I discovered Sherrilyn Kenyon and the Dark Hunters series. I was hooked on Paranormal Romance after that. Once I had a feel for the genre, it dawned on me that the Third Throne would fit into this style of writing. I tried the genre on for size and never looked back.

Name one interesting thing you learned in researching/writing your last book.

Creative Commons - - Flickr - Alex Panoiu
Creative Commons – – Flickr – Alex Panoiu

I did a lot of research on Romania, since the second book mainly takes place there. I fell in love with one of the castles and used it as my model for Castle Mortea. I went to so far as to use their 3D virtual tour to get a feel for the layout. I was so obsessed with it that my husband offered to take me there. I was so afraid that my expectations couldn’t come close to the real castle that I declined. I learned about the history of the castle, though I didn’t use much of the actual history in the book. It was interesting to read about the ghost stories and the visitor experiences. One day, when I work up the courage, I hope to visit the castle.

Name two things people don’t know about you.

1) I’m very shy by nature, until I get to know someone, but I try to be more outgoing when I have my author hat on. I tried to sound more confident than I really am.

2) My characters live more interesting lives than I do. I’m a homebody who enjoys watching movies and hanging out with my family. I don’t travel much, even when offered a trip to Romania, though I have been to Italy.

What fellow romance author do you recommend reading, and why?

As a book reviewer, I have read a number of interesting self-published or indie published books that have captured my attention. I loved reading Erin S Riley and Jessica Jefferson, both of whom write historical fiction / romance that draws the reader into the stories and time periods. Viola Estrella and Gina Ardito also have great paranormal romances that pull at the heartstrings.

My favorite traditionally published paranormal romance authors are Christine Feehan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Laurell K. Hamilton, and JR Ward because of their dark men with mystical powers.

What one piece of advice do you wish you’d had when first starting out?

Don’t be disappointed if things don’t happen overnight. Self-publishing will only bring the results that you work for. It requires patience and the ability to try new things. Everyone gives the same advice: write more books and promote them. Promoting is not an easy concept to figure out. There is no cookie cutter recipe for success. Not every reader will be interested in reading your book and not every book reviewer will review it. It’s all about trial and error. You have to figure out what will work for your book.

Where do you see your writing career in 5 years?

 In five years, I hope to be getting closer to the end of The Third Throne series. I have twelve books planned out and I write them simultaneously when time allows. My character, Anjali, needs ten different Fallen Angels to accomplish her task of ending the world, so I have plenty to keep me busy between then and now.

What’s your favorite thing about being a romance writer?

I love telling stories about all sorts of things, but being able to add emotions such as love, lust, or desire is challenging. Fear and anger are easy to invoke in a reader, but to make the reader feel the love that two characters feel isn’t easy. I’ve read romances that come off as flat. They talk about loving each other, but you don’t feel it. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It can come off as cheesy or fake if you can’t get the right mix of emotions. I like the challenge and hope that people can connect to my characters.


The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness (Book 1) and The Third Throne: Angel of Death (Book 2) are both available now!

thirdthrone1The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness:

Michelle Black lives an average life, but she is not an average woman. Plagued by nightmares of Hell and the unusual ability to see the sins of men, she stands apart from those around her. Deceived by a voice controlling her mind, she finds herself trapped in the place of her nightmares, Hell.

The Angel of Darkness tells her that she must now serve him, and she is forced to face the Realms of Torture. Strange things begin to happen when she senses that she is meant to be more than just a servant. Will she learn the truth about who she is and what she is destined to become before it’s too late?

The Third Throne: Angel of Darkness is the first book in the steamy Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance series that introduces us to Michelle Black and her dark destiny. She must fight to survive in Hell as she searches for the terrifying truth about the darkness that resides deep inside of her.

thirdthrone2The Third Throne: Angel of Death Book 2:

Anjali has embraced her destiny to end the world, but now she must find her ten Harbingers, known as the Predznak. She is determined to find Alazar, the Angel of Death, the former leader of the Predznak, before her other angels. She fears that he has lost hope and is close to becoming a Rogue Angel.

Alazar has spent too many centuries waiting for his Master Anjali to come and claim him. Deception and lies have kept them apart, but now it’s too late. He has vowed to the other Predznak that he will kill their Master so that they can be free.

During her search for Alazar, Anjali meets the Spirit Experts, paranormal investigators who are on a collision course with the Angel of Death. Anjali finds herself strangely attracted to one of the Spirit Experts and decides to become a part of their group in an effort to keep them safe from her dangerous angel. Can Anjali stop Alazar from killing the Spirit Experts and destroying the surrounding town? Can she keep Lucifer in the dark about her affections for the mortal man? Will unseen enemies destroy all that Anjali holds dear?

The Third Throne: Angel of Death is the second book in the steamy Adult Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance series.

Find them on Amazon!


Author bio:

tabithabarretTabitha Barret is a paranormal romance author who lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and three crazy dogs. She met her husband in Creative Writing classes in college, though it took a little convincing for him to ask her out. In her free time, of which she doesn’t have much, she reviews books by other authors, and writes a blog about tips and suggestions for future authors trying to publish their works. She is currently working on her “Third Throne” Series.

Connect with Tabitha here:

Blogger: http://tabithabarret.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TabithaBarret
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TabithBarret
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/thethirdthrone
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Third-Throne-Angel-Darkness-ebook/dp/B00TMMEKZI
Website: http://www.thethirdthrone.com
YouTube Angel of Death Trailer: http://youtu.be/KlIAw8HWHAA