Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"To Stand with Angels" Nominated for Best Horror 2010 @ Siren Books!

Visit and vote for your favorites today!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

I’ve got Cate Masters here with me on the “Show” today. Cate, how are you? Thanks for coming by!

I’m great, CJ! Hope you are too. Thanks so much for having me as a guest.

Interviews about novels are pretty much standard, so I want to shake things up a bit. Instead of getting right into the writing, I want to talk about you first.

Tell us a little about yourself.
Married for 33 years to my best friend, I’m one lucky woman. I love great stories, music and all forms of art. A lifelong writer, I’m continually evolving, always reaching for the next level. After years of rejections, with a short story published here and there, I have made up for it these past few years with a string of acceptances. I’m now the author of twenty-seven published works of fiction, ranging from fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative, from flash to novel length. I’m finally coming into my own, I think. :)

Any fun quirks or habits you’d like to share?
I’m pretty boring, really. Although I did inherit a rather dark sense of humor, genetically speaking. I love all comedy, but can’t tell a joke to save my life. I could never be a standup comedienne, I guess!

Other than writing, do you have any aspirations or things you’d like to do in your life time?
After trying pretty much every occupation from cashier to research assistant to statewide press association membership director to deputy press secretary, I can honestly answer with an unequivocal no. Writing’s all I ever wanted to do, the rest just pays the bills. :)

When was your first writing attempt? What was it like?
Laughable, I’m sure! My friends and I exchanged poems in grade school. I continued in my teens, working out all my angst through poetry. I’m sure it set the tone for my later fiction writing, though, as my critique partners and reviewers praise my descriptions.

If you could be any fictional character for one day, who would you be; and why?
Maybe Scarlett O’Hara. She gets to have Rhett, at least for a little while (and I always liked to think she won him back after his famous diss). Beyond that, she’s feisty, inventive, beautiful and brainy.

Can you tell us your favorite childhood book?
In early childhood, I loved The Velveteen Rabbit. Probably the first fantasy I ever read! That likely started me on the path leading to Tolkien, Bradbury, Lovecraft, etc.

What one piece of advice has been the most helpful to you in your writing career?
There have been lots, and I constantly look to other authors for helpful advice and quotes. Probably the best advice, though, was simply to keep writing. In doing so, you can’t help but improve.

Ok, on to your novel. What can you tell us about Surfacing?
I’m very excited Surfacing is finally available! I entered it in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and it actually made it through the first round, lol.
I wrote it through the POV of the hero, AJ Dillon, who’s a down and out indie rocker. He travels to his grandfather’s home in Weeki Wachee, Florida, his last refuge after his band falls apart and everyone else throws him out. His grandfather, who’s a bit obsessed with mermaids, gets AJ a job captaining the Wilderness Cruise at the Weeki Wachee Springs amusement park, where women perform underwater as mermaids. AJ doesn’t believe in the real thing until he meets Cassiopeia. She changes his life in many ways, and when she’s in danger, AJ learns things about himself he never knew.
The minute I saw the cover, it was like magic. I love love love it!

What inspired this novel?
Another author on an email loop said she hadn’t seen a mermaid story in awhile. Out of curiosity, I began researching mermaids, and grew fascinated with their legends and lore. When I stumbled across a video of the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaids, it seemed the perfect place for a real mermaid to surface. Mermaids love handsome guys with great voices, so AJ Dillon was born.

In a few sentences, tell us why readers are going to love your novel. What sets it apart?
Hopefully readers will fall in love with the characters like I did. The setting’s unique, although it doesn’t venture below sea level, lol.

Tell us your favorite quote from Surfacing.
Oo, just one? Lol
Okay, here’s one from a scene where AJ begins to realize Cassiopeia understands him more than anyone, after he’s complained to her about his family:
She tells him:
“You can’t use your job—or your mom’s low expectations—as an excuse not to do what you want to do.”
When he doesn’t respond, she persists:
“Your music. Isn’t that what you really want to do?”
Because they’d just met, her insistence irritates him. Then he realizes: Yet she knew the most important thing.
I love those moments when you can almost hear the characters click – even if they can’t hear it themselves! Or maybe especially when they don’t realize it, but the reader does.

Describe your favorite character from this novel. Does this character reflect you as a person in any way?
All the characters are somewhat flawed, which I love. I identify with AJ because he’s a struggling artist, frustrated because he can’t get where he wants to go fast enough.

Where can we find your novel for sale? Please give us a link to your book and your author page!
Surfacing is available in ebook and print from Whiskey Creek Press http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=824
My main pages are my web site: http://www.catemasters.com/ and my blog: http://catemasters.blogspot.com/, where you can find links to Facebook, Twitter, and other pages.

One last question, before we let you go, ______. Will you honor us with a short excerpt from Surfacing?
I’d love to! Thanks for asking.

“Look out!” a woman screamed as the gator closed in.
Something slammed into his stomach and whooshed him beneath the water. A second slam, more like a thud, and he thought it was all over. For both of them. The thing gripped him without hurting him somehow, but moved so fast, AJ thought his body might break from the pressure of the speed. It felt like hurtling through the canal on an underwater express train, rolling as they went.
As his lungs felt near to bursting, they slowed and surfaced. Whatever held him released him by propelling him face-down onto a grassy bank.
Gasping for air, he scrambled up the side to escape it, but his arms and legs flailed, more spectacle than anything.
“What were you doing?” a girl’s rich, full voice asked.
He glanced over his shoulder, still grasping at the bank for leverage. He fell to the grass, stunned.
Instead of the ugly head of an alligator leering at him in a crocodile smile, the girl, even more gorgeous up close, leaned her hands on the bank and lifted herself up. Her wet hair clung to her chest and waist.
Too many questions flew through his head at once. “What?” he managed.
“You could have been killed. Why did you do that?” Her green eyes sparkled like emeralds flecked with onyx. Her long dark hair framed her porcelain face and rosebud lips.
His chest heaved. “You’re kidding, right? I saved you.”
She burst into laughter. Like bells tinkling, like music.
Fascination turned to irritation. He risked his life for her. “What? That alligator would’ve killed you.”
This made her laugh all the harder, her laughter like a melody he couldn’t quite place, though familiar.
The alligator drifted toward them on its side, like a log. Unmoving. Unconscious.
She giggled. “It won’t hurt you now.”
AJ glanced downriver to where the boat should have been. “What happened? Where’s the boat?” He held a hand to his head. He wished she’d stop laughing. The sound got inside his brain, jumbled his already knotted thoughts. And every time she looked at him, her eyes hypnotized him—their whites so clear and bright, the green shone like gemstones. Like no other eyes he’d ever seen.
Glancing upstream, she smiled. “Right where you left it.”
“No. I left it right there.” He still couldn’t catch his breath. Or his mind.
She twisted up and sat on the bank. “No, you left it around the bend. Remember?” As she turned her head, her hair shifted, revealing the curve of a breast.
AJ blinked, thinking his eyesight might have been affected by the impact. But he could see as clear as ever. The old biddy was right. “You’re not wearing clamshells.”
Her glittering eyes snapped to his. “What?”
His mind raced. If this girl was what he thought she was, he wanted to get closer. He slumped on the bank, letting his feet slide closer to her. “What are you doing out here? You’re not with the show.”
She tossed her head, and her hair swirled across her like a glossy curtain, tantalizing him. She edged toward the water. “No.”
The end of her tail rose, then swished beneath the canal. For a moment, he’d caught sight of it, the colors exactly as Grandpa had described: iridescent, ever-changing, like rich silk. He shifted closer for a better view. The transformation from skin to tail was seamless. Undetectable.
It was no costume.

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Lily the dog, their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow, and dozens of characters inhabiting her imagination. Visit Cate online at http://www.catemasters.com/, http://catemasters.blogspot.com/ or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Cate loves to hear from readers. Email her at: cate.masters AT gmail.com

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stephanie Taylor, author of "Doubting Thomas" is with us today!

CJ: Hello, Stephanie. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. We’re excited to have you here today!

Q: So, first of all, we want to know about your latest novel. What can you tell us about Doubting Thomas? Doubting Thomas is a sweet romance that I loved writing. No other book I’ve written has come together as easily as this one. It’s also my first book to be published!

For five years, Thomas has lived without a past. A motorcycle accident left him with permanent amnesia and a lot of anger. But the scars aren't all on the outside. He knows one day he'll need to figure out who he used to be, but for now, he's content in his misery and denial. If his family doesn't care to find him, the feeling is mutual.
Until the love of a tender-hearted, sassy redhead changes his mind.
Alyssa Morgan vowed to locate her missing husband. She follows every clue, every lead, every hunch, hoping to find him and the reason for his disappearance. But fate has something else in store. Alyssa is determined to get to know the aloof man who has her husband’s voice and the disfigured face of a stranger.
Torn between his past and their future, can they put their doubts aside to let love in?

Q: I think everyone would love to know what inspired this particular novel. Can you tell us about that? My mom and I were talking about all the over used soap opera stories that use amnesia as a crutch. We were talking about how we would do it better and Doubting Thomas was born.

Q: I’m dying to know more about the Main Characters of your novel. Can you give us a brief description of each?

Alyssa is a sweet yet sassy redhead who is determined to find her missing husband. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with Thomas while she’s looking for her husband!

Thomas has retrograde (permanent) amnesia and can’t remember anything from his past. He’s a bit of an alpha and is angry with his family for not finding him after all these years. He only thinks he’s content with his life, but when Alyssa comes into the picture, he realizes what he’s been missing.

Q: Okay, I’m a huge fan of quotes taken from novels. Would you tell us one of your favorites quotes from Doubting Thomas? “When you love someone, they’re always a part of you.” ~Thomas Williams from Doubting Thomas

Q: A little about you. When did you decide to write your first novel? Believe it or not, I was six. Yup. It was called The Bear Who Ate Christmas. Aaaand, it’s still in the attic. :o) I’ve written all my life and can’t remember a time when it wasn’t a driving factor in my day. My middle school friends all gathered around my desk in history class to read my latest story. I completed my first true romance novel when I was sixteen. The next came five years later. Just for the record, neither of them will EVER see the light of day.

Q: Do you have a system or particular ritual you do before/ during writing to keep the words flowing? Sometimes I listen to music, but mainly I just need to have some quiet time. I have three small children who can get pretty loud, so quiet time is hard to come by.

Q: What do you find the easiest part about writing? The hardest? The easiest part of writing is when my muse is on the loose. I absolutely love to go back to read what I’ve written during those times and say, “Wow, did I actually write that? That’s not half bad!” The hardest for me is finding time. My kids are on a strict bedtime routine and are in bed at seven every night, but I still have to manage my house, work my job as editor with Vintage Reflections Publishing and stay caught up on my TV shows.

Q: We all know writers spend a great deal of time researching. Can you tell us one of the most interesting things you’ve discovered while doing research for your writing? Because I hate research, I try not to put anything in my books that require much, HA!

Q: If you could physically visit the world in any book, which book would it be and why? I want to visit the land of Oz. Anything was possible there!

Q: What one work of fiction do you think has made the biggest impact on your life? How? Nicholas Sparks is a huge inspiration for me. I love his work, not because he’s depressing or is a best seller, but because he keeps things REAL. I often say the best “romance” writers are men because they don’t get tied up in emotions that are unrealistic. Every time I read one of his books, most notably Dear John, I can find something to relate to in my life, and it makes me want to write so someone else can feel the same way I do. Granted, my books don’t have the same feel or formula to them as his does, but I very much admire his work.

Q: Last question before we wrap this interview up. Please finish this sentence in a way that best describes you, for us. “People would be surprised to know that I have a tattoo!”

CJ: Thank you, again for visiting with us, Stephanie. I would invite all our guests to check out Doubting Thomas by Stephanie Taylor on sale August 7th at www.eternalpress.biz. Below is an excerpt from Stephanie novel, Doubting Thomas. Please read on!

Curiosity got the best of her. Slowly, she raised her hand to his cheek, the need to feel him overwhelming her. He flinched at her intent and grabbed her wrist, squeezing hard. But she wasn't afraid of him. The strained look on his face told her he was scared enough for the both of them. She pushed against his hold, wanting so badly for him to trust her and let her in. After a few moments, his grasp loosened and her fingertips touched his skin.
He inhaled sharply as his eyes turned into thin slits.
“Does this hurt?” she asked him, amazed by the smoothness of the taut scars.
“Some of my nerve endings are still pretty raw,” he said quietly, his voice low and raspy.
“Is that a yes?”
She grinned, continuing her exploration. She trailed up to his eye and around to his nose and then down to his lips, tracing the jagged line that marred his perfection. All the while, he didn't move a muscle, but kept his jaw tight and his eyes on her mouth. She knew he wanted to kiss her, that much was obvious. It was this tight control on a man who seemed to have no control over his emotions that fascinated her.
Finally, very softly, she laid her entire palm on his cheek and he closed his eyes. His arms came around her waist and hauled her roughly against him. She felt his fingertips digging into her flesh at her hips, his need echoed in the desperation of his touch. She still touched his face, looking into his eyes. His head descended, his golden hair illuminated by the porch light behind him, like an angel.
She waited. She anticipated. She needed. She suddenly didn't care if Chris was still alive. That thought alone should have made her run, but instead she lifted her lips to meet his. Just when she forgot to breathe, his lips moved past her mouth, directly to her ear.
“Thank you for dinner,” he whispered softly.
With that, he released her and strode away.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Join me in welcoming, J.E. Taylor!

CJ: Hi, J.E. Taylor, it’s great to have you here today! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us for a bit.

JET: Thanks for having me on your blog again!

Q: Well, obviously, your novel, SURVIVAL GAMES is the main reason you’re here today. What can you tell us about this exciting new release?

JET: SURVIVAL GAMES is an edgy erotic thriller and the first book in the Games Trilogy that was released this week from eXcessica publishing and received a 4 star review from Manic Readers: “This book had it all, and even though I started off not knowing if I would truly like the content, I was blown away by how honest, true, emotional, and frightening it really was. J.E. Taylor has spun a story that is sure to catch reader’s attention and hold it until the last page. If you are looking for a story that will keep you on the edge, make your toes curl from the eroticism, and make you feel love and sorrow, then I would highly suggest SURVIVAL GAMES. I can’t wait to read the other two books in what is to be a wonderful trilogy. Bravo Ms. Taylor!” - Manic Readers
John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The 13th and SIREN called it "Sexy dark and intense, SURVIVAL GAMES will bind you to the page, kiss you slowly and then kick you where it hurts the most; I couldn't stop reading until I knew who won the game . . . Jessica Connor is one amazing character, and SURVIVAL GAMES is one hot read!"
"With SURVIVAL GAMES, J.E. Taylor has given us a work of remarkable duality, almost biblical in its layered
themes of good versus evil. The seed of this story is one of romance and destiny, but the husk is unadulterated
thriller." - Willsin Rowe

Here’s the back cover jacket copy to give the gist of the story. . .

Until he snatches sexy stock jock Jessica Connor, Ty Aris happily followed his step-brother’s orders, producing some of the most coveted black market porn and snuff films on the street. But the day he grabs her in the parking lot, his life becomes a living nightmare.

Jessica foils his plans, fires his passion, and frustrates the hell out of him. She never gives in to his demands, his pleas or his desires, and yet a psychic bond claims his soul and melts the iron walls around his heart. His obsession sparks a fierce rift when Frank wants to start filming. Ty stalls with any and every excuse in the book, fueling Frank’s fury, but he knows it’s only a matter of time before he loses this game.

With the clock ticking, he scrambles for escape options.

Options that won’t land him in jail . . . or worse . . . a captive in Frank’s sadistic prison.

Q: I think everyone, including me, wants to know more about the Main Characters in your novel. Can you give us a description of them?

JET: While Steve Williams from DARK RECKONING is my white knight, Ty Aris is my dark angel. Polar opposites in quite a few ways but deep down, under the bad boy exterior, Ty has some semblance of honor. And that honor builds after he abducts Jessica Connor. Her influence on him -- over him -- changes the course of his life and causes him to rebel against his step-brother’s deadly games.

Q: Do your characters have any fun habits or memorable flaws? Can you tell us a little about them?

JET: Ty Aris has a scar on his face that he got when he was a kid. He thinks it makes him less attractive, less desirable - but in reality, it doesn’t inhibit the man’s sex appeal. Whenever he walks into a room, the women perk right up.

Q: What makes your characters unique? Why will we fall in love with them?

JET: Jessica is an impressive woman. She’s been abducted and shown her fate in the form of a string of videos and yet she doesn’t crumble. Even as a prisoner, she exhibits kindness and grace along with stubborn resolve and that’s what gets Ty in the end. One of her most unique qualities is the ability to telepathically communicate with her eight year old son, Eric. He is her lifeline in so many ways and that link strengthens her resolve and gives her hope in what appears to be a hopeless situation. She also has a few other unique characteristics that I’ll leave for the reader to discover.

Q: I am a fan of memorable quotes. Do you have any favorites from SURVIVAL GAMES?

JET: “Dude, you got issues.” is by far my favorite line in the book. I don’t know if anyone else will find the humor in that line the way I did when I wrote it but I always get a chuckle when I re-read it. Of course my other favorite line is the tag line I adopted for the series -- “Game on.”

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. What inspired you to write?

JET: My daughter inspired me to get my act in gear and go for it. I first sat down to seriously write in February of 2007 after she asked if I could do anything what would it be. From that moment on, I haven’t looked back. I’ve published five short stories between December of 2008 and today in Niteblade and Allegory e-zines and have three more queued up for eXcessica anthologies in 2011 and 2012. My latest short story ABYSS can be found under the staff submissions at Allegory (www.allegoryezine.com). Beyond short stories, I have four books that are in the publishing wheel - two of which are now published and the last two in the Games series will be out at the end of November and the middle of February next year. I’m working on polishing the other four books that are on my shelves and that will complete the first eight books that I wrote in those first eighteen months of writing.

Q: Is there one particular thing you have to do in order to “get in the groove” before/during writing?

JET: I really have no method to my madness here. I get an idea and I go with it. I let the story rule the direction. I do noodle on the ideas before I write. Hell, the eight books I wrote between February of 2007 and August of 2008 were percolating as far back as high school. So those just poured out. The newer ideas are coming at a more human pace now since I’ve purged the lion share from the brain banks. As I said, there’s really no method I have in place, no motto except - JUST WRITE. Sometimes that produces crap - other times it doesn’t and those eight manuscripts have undergone some serious edits since the first brain dump. I’m still working my way through them - refining the last four into a publishable state.

Q: If you could be a fictional character for one day, who would you be? Why?

JET: Superman because I’ve always thought it would be cool to fly, never mind being virtually indestructible. I mean super strength, x-ray vision, super speed and flight - who wouldn’t want to be Superman for a day?

Q: If your book were made into a movie, who would direct it?

JET: Quentin Tarantino - and you’d be amused to know I had a dream that he called to talk about a movie deal. I can tell you, I was quite disappointed when my alarm went off.

Q: Ok, one last question before we let you go today, J.E. Taylor. Finish this sentence in a way that best describes you: “People would be surprised to know that…”
JET: I used to take the dirty words and scenes out of movies for the local FOX affiliate in Hartford. I’ve got a degree in communications with a concentration in television and radio broadcasting and this was my first job out of college.

CJ: I want to thank you, again, for visiting with us today, J.E. Taylor. Before you go, I’m sure you want to give us a little excerpt of your novel and some links to where our readers can find out more about you and SURVIVAL GAMES.

Ty watched her and with every beat of his heart, his arm answered with a throb. When she dropped a cloth in the sink and turned on the water, he raised an eyebrow. He hardly felt the swipes of the washcloth. Her gentle touch stirred his need, taking it to the edge of boiling over.
“Do you believe in redemption?” He asked again.
She didn’t say anything at first, just continued to clean his wound. “I don’t know.” She finally said after silence settled between them.
“Why are you doing this?” He asked, pointing his chin at her.
She shrugged. “Because you’re hurt and it’s in my nature to help.”
“My nature is much darker,” he said.
She didn’t say anything but nodded.
He reached his good arm around her waist closing the minimal distance between them. “Much darker,” he whispered in his sexy voice and crushed her mouth and her lips parted allowing him access to the sweet depths. He plunged his tongue inside, tasting her, relishing the slow circles of the exquisite tongue dance. Pulling her closer, the kiss deepened, stirring the molten lava flowing through him, his bloody arm forgotten in the wake of the building sensual heat.

My Website: www.JETaylor75.com
eXcessica Author Page: (to purchase either paperback or ebook) http://excessica.com/store/catalog/index.php?manufacturers_id=124&osCsid=f8041e157a8c49534a4cc43683b67dd3
You can also find Survival Games on Amazon, Smashwords and several other online vendors.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Candrah Hope, Welcome Aboard!

CJ: Hello, Candra. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. We’re excited to have you here today!

Q: So, first of all, we want to know about your latest short stories. What can you tell us about them?

A: They’re mostly in the horror and SF genres, set in post-apocalyptic worlds where pretty much anything is possible, but a couple of them might be what some call dark fantasy. Personally I don’t think they fit well enough to warrant the label. I tend to take elements of various genres and make them work for me rather than the other way round.

Q: I think everyone would love to know what inspired you to write these particular works. Can you tell us about that?

A: A difficult one. I guess I’ve always had a fascination for the dark half. I’m curious about what makes people tick and why some of us act or react differently in certain situations. What it is that makes us humane or monstrous and what lies behind our current conceptions of what is monstrous. I also love anything to do with monsters and myths, legends and things outside our normal comprehension. I try to incorporate some of those thoughts and ideas into my stories.

Q: I’m dying to know more about some of your characters. Can you give us a brief description of your favorites?

A: I have a couple though I like all my characters for different reasons. One is a lonely girl growing up different and strange in an uncaring world. She has to go through some horrific experiences before she finds and accepts who she really is. Another is an ordinary guy caught up in extraordinary circumstances who has to make some difficult decisions in order to survive.

Q: Okay, I’m a huge fan of quotes. Would you tell us one of your favorites quotes from your work?

A: I don’t have a favourite quote, not that I can post in public. Here’s one line that I like though. Sounds a bit odd out of context but it makes sense in the story; “…like those wolf cubs that can’t help but howl when they hear their parents doing it…”.

Q: A little about you. When did you decide to write your first short story?

A: Not that long ago. I’m an artist first and only got into writing as a secondary thing about three years ago. I’d been playing with the idea of doing some graphic work, novels or shorts, but the minute I started writing that first story, I was hooked. I haven’t looked back since.

Q: Do you have a system or particular ritual you do before/ during writing to keep the words flowing?

A: Not really. I don’t get much time for writing or art so what I do is set aside an hour or two at some point during the day. When I sit down, I put down what needs putting down and I don’t go beyond my time limit. When my time is up it’s up and I move on to other things.

Q: What do you find the easiest part about writing? The hardest?

A: The easiest part is getting the ideas down, brainstorming the initial skeleton of the story. I like to write longhand and when the initial inspiration hits and the ideas are flowing fast and furious, it’s difficult to keep up with my pen. The hardest part for me is editing. I struggle to see what needs fixing and always have to ask for outside help in order to sift through the chaff for the wheat.

Q: Are you a “night owl” or an “early bird” (or neither)? What time of day is the best time to write for you?

A: Neither. Though some of my best work was done early in the morning. Guess it helps to catch my brain unawares whiles it’s still fresh.

Q: We all know writers spend a great deal of time researching. Can you tell us one of the most interesting things you’ve discovered while doing research for your writing?

A: I did some digging into the details of life in a WW1 type bunker once. The soldiers would glue a gobbet of wet clay to the wall and stick a candle in it. When the clay dried it worked as a handy candle holder and saved the men having to carry hot candles with them everywhere they went.

Q: If you could physically visit the world in any book, which book would it be and why?

It’s a toss-up between the world of the Watchmen and Stephen King’s altworld in his Dark Tower books. It would be interesting to see how long I’d last amongst a bunch of mentally unstable superheroes or out on the desert plain with no water and no horse.

Q: What one work of fiction do you think has made the biggest impact on your life? How?

A: Has to be Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen. It’s the first real graphic novel I’ve read and it blew me away. The art is good but it’s neat and quiet, albeit colourful, and doesn’t get in the way of the story, which is what grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. I don’t think I’ve been surprised enough to say “No way! I didn’t see that coming” so often about plots twists for a long time. If I can write and draw a story as complex and tight as Watchmen once in my lifetime I’ll be a happy chappy.

Q: Last question before we wrap this interview up. Please finish this sentence in a way that best describes you, for us. “People would be surprised to know that....

A: “...I’ve learned more about people and how they work in these last three years as a budding writer than I have in my entire life.”

CJ: Thank you, again for visiting with us, Candra. I would invite all our guests to check out Monster by Candra Hope on sale now at http://www.darkhoard.com. For an excerpt of her story and to see her other work, check out her website at http://www.candragonart.com.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The guest today is J.E. Taylor

CJ: Hello, J.E. Taylor. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. We’re excited to have you here today!

JET: The pleasure is all mine! Thanks for having me.

Q: So, first of all, we want to know about your latest novel. What can you tell us about DARK RECKONING?
JET: My first book, DARK RECKONING was released on July 5, 2010, which also happened to be my birthday! Personally, I can’t think of a better birthday gift, can you? It’s available in e-book format through my publisher FIDO Publishing as well as on Amazon and Smashwords and several other e-book distributor sites.
In DARK RECKONING, a sadistic killer stalks the secluded college town of Brooksfield, New Hampshire. With bodies piling up and rumors of the murders being part of sacrificial hazing rituals, the FBI plants Special Agent Steve Williams in a fraternity and his investigation takes a ninety degree turn into the bizarre when he’s introduced to Jennifer, a clairvoyant co-ed who swears the killer isn’t human.
Cat Connor, author of KILLERBYTE and TERRORBYTE recently read DARK RECKONING and said: “I loved Dark Reckoning - always had a soft spot for demon type horror/thrillers and this is fabulous. Just the right mix of terror and calm so I didn't have a heart attack while reading -- but came close! Excellent read for anyone who loves horror and a good love story. “

Q: I think everyone would love to know what inspired this particular novel. Can you tell us about that?

JET: The seeds for this novel were actually planted when I was in college. I believe like other stories, it stemmed out of a nightmare and I actually typed close to a hundred pages on my electric typewriter (I’m dating myself) before school exams hit and I shelved the story. I resurrected it again in the early stages of my marriage but the time commitment necessary to finish a novel was not realistic at that time, so it again was shelved again. So come 2007 when my daughter asked me if I could do anything, what would it be - the easy most natural answer was write and publish a book.

The time commitment to write a novel hadn’t changed, but my life certainly had and I was at a point that it made sense to reach for my dream. My kids were old enough to be self-sufficient and my husband wasn’t as demanding of my time as he was when we were newlyweds (wink-wink). This was the first story that came to mind, but ended up being the fourth book I wrote. The first three demanded to be written first and then I pulled what was then titled Mirror Lake out of the drawer. At first look, it was rough and the plot wasn’t complex enough and the characters not developed but the basic premise of the novel hasn’t changed in all these years and I was able to craft what I believe is a compelling read. I hope readers feel the same!

Q: I’m dying to know more about the Main Characters of your novel. Can you give us a brief description of each?

JET: LOL - I love what Cat Connor said about Steve Williams - That Steve is quite the dish. Steve is an FBI agent that’s planted at the university to find out who is responsible for the disappearances and violent deaths surrounding the small town of Brooksfield New Hampshire. He’s young enough to be a convincing college student but experienced enough as an undercover agent to do the leg work. The greatest challenge he faces is the acceptance of supernatural events - which for someone so black and white, the shades of gray are unnerving.

And his biggest shade of gray is Jennifer Curtis. A self acclaimed clairvoyant, she is a curve ball he didn’t see coming. From their first meeting he is enamored with her -- drawn to an electrical current between them pulling him closer and closer even though he suspects she is in some way connected to the mystery surrounding Mirror Lake.

Q: Okay, I’m a huge fan of quotes taken from novels. Would you tell us one of your favorites quotes from DARK RECKONING?

“Next time you kiss me, you better make it last a hell of a lot longer than that.”

Q: A little about you. When did you decide to write your first novel?

JET: I wrote my first short story in eighth grade and ever since then, it’s been a dream of mine, but with high school, then college, then marriage and a job taking priority - it took close to thirty years from that first story to settle down and actually write a novel. As a matter of fact, after being given cart-blanc permission by my family in 2007, I wrote eight books in fifteen months - while still holding down a day job. The muse poured out at a pace I don’t think I could sustain, but then again, I had at least twenty years of stories pinging around my head. Since then, I’ve been editing and refining those magic eight along with dabbling on three others that will have to wait until my polishing is done. In between editing, I write short stories - and occasionally enter the monthly Backspace short story contest if the parameters float my boat.

Q: Do you have a system or particular ritual you do before/ during writing to keep the words flowing?

JET: If I get stuck on some scene or don’t know where I’m going, I’ll table the story for the night - usually a good night’s sleep helps clarify points. If not, that’s when I switch to a short story. Other than that, I have no ritual or system and my writing space is in the middle of the family room, so I’m in the midst of the family action. The kids, the husband and the main television all compete for my attention - but when I’m in the writing zone, it all disappears and I step into the world I’m creating. I can do that when I read as well and my family has often said a tornado could hit when I’m in that space and I wouldn’t know it until I looked up from the computer at the rubble around me.

The one distraction I have to keep an eye on is networking sites. They can certainly pull me in and cut into my writing time. I’ve learned to keep the time there to a minimum when I’m writing. Editing is another beast all together. That’s when I need to take breaks but I still need to be better at curtailing this activity.

Q: What do you find the easiest part about writing? The hardest?

JET: Good question. Getting the story out of my head and onto the paper is the easy part for me. It’s the refining and editing and adding depth and emotion to it after the skeleton is built -- and my rough drafts are just that -- skeletons. I’m getting better at adding the layers as I write but the urgency to get the story out really takes over. Then it is working to get it into a publishable state that is much harder because it requires me to step back and view every sentence, every word, weighing whether it is necessary and if it is -- is it the right word. Does it give the impact I want? There have been entire scenes that I’ve cut because they really didn’t move the book forward at all and those decisions can be brutal. As writers, we love our words, but sometimes they don’t have any right to be in the story.

Q: We all know writers spend a great deal of time researching. Can you tell us one of the most interesting things you’ve discovered while doing research for your writing?

JET: For DARK RECKONING, I learned to shoot a gun. I figured if I was going to write about an FBI agent - I better know damn well how to handle a gun. A friend from work (yes, I have a day job too), was kind enough to take me to a shooting range with three different hand guns. He had a .22, a .40 and a .9mm. I have small hands so the one I had the most success with was the .22. I actually hit the bull’s-eye a couple times. With the .40 caliber, I hit the target within the outer rim of circles - all on the left side. I still don’t know what I was doing to pull left - but hey - not bad for a first timer. The 9mm was too powerful for me to handle and I think one round out of the box hit the target sheet - the rest, again went high and left. I’m sure with practice I could train my hand muscles not to pull left while I put pressure on the trigger, but I haven’t had the chance and with kids still in my house, we aren’t in the market for a hand gun. Not yet.

Another neat thing my sister sent to me was a forensics study guide which outlined the characteristics of blood splatters. She teaches high school forensics science and had all these neat but gross slide decks. Admittedly, I had a hard time looking at a severed throat, but I made myself study the picture and the contents of the slide show to understand what happens.

Q: If you could physically visit the world in any book, which book would it be and why?

JET: I haven’t got a clue. The first thing that popped into my head when I read this was A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court because I think it would be fun to meet Merlin and Sir Lancelot and King Arthur and see what medieval times were really like. Were knights in shining armor really as romantic as they are in fiction or were they just smelly men encased in armor clothing? ;)

Q: What one work of fiction do you think has made the biggest impact on your life? How?

JET: Hands down - the book that had the biggest impact on me was The Stand. Not only did it scare me in a way no other book had, it showed me the art of writing, of taking several plot lines and weaving them into a kick ass story. A story that moved me to tears, made me laugh, and gave me nightmares. In my opinion, it’s a masterpiece of complexity that flows effortlessly. It’s the level of storytelling I strive for.

Q: Last question before we wrap this interview up. Please finish this sentence in a way that best describes you, for us. “People would be surprised to know that I wear a size 2 shoe - yes size 2 KIDS shoe. It’s a bitch to find heels that fit without looking like a five-year-old trying to put on her mother’s high heels.”

CJ: Thank you, again for visiting with us, J.E. Taylor. I would invite all our guests to check out DARK RECKONING by J.E. Taylor on sale now at (LINK TO BOOK). Below is an excerpt from J.E. Taylor’s novel, DARK RECKONING. Please read on!

Steve caught her and looked around frantically. “Wake up.” He softly tapped her cheeks. “Come on, baby, wake up.” Repeating the words he said two years ago drove panic into his voice. He glanced at the tub and back at Jennifer. “Jesus, wake up!” He shook her more violently than he intended.
Jennifer snapped her eyes open. The fear in his expression brought her around with lightning speed. “I’m awake,” she said as he wrapped his arms around her, squeezing her against him. “I’m awake.” She looked around the room. The vision ebbed into her foggy memory. “You’re crushing me.”
Steve pulled away. He touched her face and sat back against the door jamb, watching as she blinked away the cobwebs. “What was that?” he asked when he was certain his voice wouldn’t shake.
“I saw her.”
Steve’s eyebrows creased, etching skepticism in his rugged features. “What are you talking about?”
“There were candles and she had a glass of wine.” She glanced at him. “Lavender scented candles, and a bottle of prescription pills. She emptied it with the wine.” Jennifer looked at the tub. “It was filled so the water was over her body, but not to the rim. There was a good four to five inches between the water line and the lip of the tub.” She took a deep breath and looked at her wrists, tracing the path of the razor blade. “She cut her wrists the long way and put the razor on the edge of the tub.” Jennifer closed her eyes. “And she was crying.” When she opened her eyes and looked at Steve, she was sorry she had gone into such detail.
Steve stood and slowly moved away from Jennifer. She had described the room exactly as he had found it, as he found Peggy. He wanted to believe her, he really did, but his life was based on fact and tangible evidence and this was as far from tangible as it got. A high pitch whine drowned the sound of his breathing and he reached for the door jamb, the air sharp, suffocating. He needed fresh air and he turned and walked out the door.
Jennifer followed him, her legs still wobbly even when they reached the end of the dock.
Steve glared at her. “What the hell are you doing? Do you think this will make me feel better?”
Jennifer stepped back.
“This isn’t a joke.” He grabbed her, digging his fingers into her arm. “It isn’t something to mock like you just did.” He jutted his chin toward the cottage.
“Let go!” The anger flared in her as well. “I saw what I saw, now let go!” She screamed and pushed at the same time.
His foot slipped on the edge of the dock and he lost his balance, falling back first into the lake, dragging her with him. The chill in the water slapped him back in control and he hauled himself onto the end of the dock, his wet clothing clinging to him, wringing an icy shiver from his bones.
Jennifer swam to the edge and he offered her his hand but she slapped it away. “I can get out by myself.” She pulled herself up next to him.
A few minutes of strained silence went by and then Steve started to chuckle. Shaking his head slowly from side to side in disbelief, the hysterics took hold. He gripped the edge of the deck shaking with his head hung over as the laughter belted out of him.
Jennifer watched, breaking into a smile, but she didn’t allow herself to laugh with him. She looked at the sparkling water, waiting for him to settle down.
“What are you, a fucking clairvoyant?” he asked.

FidoPublishing online store: http://fidopublishing.com/store/catalog/

website: www.JETaylor75.com

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"To Stand with Angels": Excerpt of Chapter 2

Bradyn started to come around. The little boy’s shouts had roused him momentarily but the cold water woke him right up. Opening his eyes, he watched her. She was so busy wiping his chest that she failed to see he was awake.

She had amber eyes. Wide-set and lined with thick black lashes, they glowed as streaks of sunlight came through the window and refracted from their fiery depths. They reminded him of the deep color of canyon walls reflecting a sunset.

How do you like that? I managed to stumble across a pretty woman even though I was knocked out. Bradyn winced as she wiped a laceration on his abdomen.

Her lips were pursed in concentration. Creamy, golden skin covered flawless cheekbones and a slender neck. Her hair was twisted into a thick, dark brown knot at the back of her head, save for a few frazzled strands that hung in wavy curls around her forehead and neck. He smiled, imagining that they had come free during her frantic efforts to get him back into bed.

“What’s your name?” he asked. His words came out low and raspy. My throat feels as dry as the desert in July. Damn, I’m dying of thirst.

She jerked and her eyes grew wide. Then her startled expression disappeared behind a mask of indifference. “Rian Keene,” she replied, giving him a cool appraisal. “I didn’t know you were awake,” she mumbled as she went back washing his chest.

“Rian,” he murmured thoughtfully as he watched her. She shifted uncomfortably under his gaze and kept her head low as she focused on cleaning his chest wounds. He supposed that his earlier comment had frightened her. He wished he’d kept his mouth shut. It wasn’t very smart to offend the person who’d saved his life. From the look of her, she undoubtedly had a man about who would be more than happy to shoot him for insulting her.

He watched her pour some alcohol onto a wad of cotton. She dabbed at the cut on his cheek, her face void of emotion. Bradyn gritted his teeth together as the alcohol stung the wound.

The hair on his face itched. “Feels like I could use a shave,” he said, trying to get her to make eye contact.

“You were delirious,” she said. “The way you kicked and shouted, I wasn’t about to try and shave you. The Lord knows you don’t need another cut to add to your current repertoire.”

“Delirious?” Bradyn looked around the room. He brought his eyes back to rest on her face. “Tell me, how long have I been here?”

Placing the cotton and the alcohol on the table, she wiped her hands on her apron. “Nearly four days.”

“Four days…I’ve been unconscious that long?”

“Yes. Well, longer I’m sure. You were unconscious when your horse brought you in.” She commenced to assist him into a reclining position and fluff his pillows.

His quiet groan was the only hint he gave to the pain that movement evoked. But on the inside, he was screaming. Bradyn couldn’t remember the last time he’d been in this much hurt. He took a deep breath and settled back against the soft pillows.

“So you’ve been looking after me then,” he said as he ran a finger slowly along the cut on his cheek. “I’m obliged to you.”

Rian stirred the cereal that had cooled down since she had first brought it into the room. “Think nothing of it,” she said. Her tone was indifferent. She scooped some cereal into the spoon and gestured to him, “I think you should eat this. Then I’ll give you some medicine that will take the edge off your pain.”

“I’m thirsty,” Bradyn remarked as he took the bowl from her. “Might I trouble you for some water?”

Rian nodded and filled the dipper from the bucket. He guzzled the water greedily. It tasted wonderful. Cold dribbles of it ran down his chin and his chest. He drank three dippers full before he started eating his breakfast.

“You here alone?” he asked amid unhurried bites.

Rian frowned at him. Her unease at his question was obvious. “Of course not. My nephew lives here with me.”

“Your nephew? How old is he?” Bradyn stopped eating and cast a side-long glance in her direction. “He’s not that scrawny little kid that was in here before, is he?” He took a slow sip of the coffee.

“You certainly are very nosy,” she deflected. “I don’t see how that is any of your business, Mr. Preston.”

He stifled a grin as she took a seat on the bedside chair and folded her hands in her lap as primly as any school marm. “You’re absolutely right,” he said as he lifted another spoonful of cornmeal to his mouth. “I would just assume that a woman of your fine appearance would have the good sense not to live in the middle of the wilderness alone. And, if you don’t mind my saying so, having a kid ain’t much better than being alone. In fact, it’s probably quite a lot worse.”

“My safety is clearly the least of your worries in my opinion, sir,” she retorted. Bradyn admired the fire that leapt into her eyes. “I would be concerned with the preservation of my own neck if I were you. You seem to have some pretty vicious enemies, Mr. Preston. Perhaps justly so. Besides, any man who is foolish enough to endanger his own well-being by involving himself in brawling and Lord-knows-what-else, has no business questioning the choices of another,” she finished sternly.

“What makes you think I am concerned with your safety?” he asked. He flexed the muscles in his jaw as he assessed her. “What if I just want to know how easy it would be to take advantage of you?”

He expected his words to frighten the living day right out of her, so when she laughed out loud, it startled him. “No offense, Mr. Preston, but I don’t think you are in any condition to take advantage of anyone.”

“And when I am well enough to try?” He knew he should’ve put a clamp on his tongue, but, the urge to ruffle her feathers was appealing and irresistible. She was so darn beautiful.

“I met you with a rifle the day you first came here.” She sat up tall in her chair, her eyes flashing with amber challenge. “If you hadn’t been hurt, I would have shot you square on the spot.”
Bradyn raised his eyebrow. “Is that so?” he asked, resisting a smile.

“Damn right,” she replied. “And if you don’t be quiet and finish your breakfast, I’m liable to shoot you still.”

He couldn’t stop the chuckle that rumbled deep within his chest. “You’ve got a sharp tongue behind your pretty mouth, that’s for sure. Tell me, how did such a lovely woman come to live in this God-forsaken country thirty miles from the nearest town anyway?”

Garnering a chuckle and a compliment from him seemed to give her a small sense of ease. However, her voice was full of sarcasm as she asked, “Would you prefer to hear the long or the short version of the particular story, Mr. Preston?”

“The long. I’ve got time it seems,” he replied with enthusiasm.

Rian narrowed her eyes when he offered a dazzling smile. He wondered if his superfluous facial hair and injuries made him look repulsive to her.

“The short it is,” she answered. There was a faint glimmer of mirth in her eyes. “My brother moved out here with his wife nearly seven years ago and I came along for the ride. Does that answer your question?”

Bradyn blew out a sigh of forced resignation. “Guess it does. Or at least, it has to for now.”

Rian stood up. She looked anxious to leave the room. “Good, now that the only conversation we’ll need to make is out of the way, and since you’ve finished your breakfast, you should drink this medicine. It will help with the pain and swelling.” She handed him the tin cup and watched him swallow it in one gulp.

“That’s awful!” He coughed while choking down the nasty mixture. “What is it?”

“Willow bark powder and brandy. It’s a pain reliever,” she explained, gathering the bowl, spoon, and cup and placing them back on the tray.

“Let me get this straight. You nearly choked me to death on some silly powder to help me feel better?” he asked.

He noticed the smile that tugged at her mouth when he gave her a dubious expression. “Medicine is not intended to taste good, Mr. Preston. That’s why they call it medicine and not candy.” There was a touch of pride in her eyes and a condescending, motherly tone in her voice.

“Well, thanks just the same, honey, but I’d rather not have that marvelous little treat again. Just give me a straight shot of whiskey next time,” he snorted.

She rolled her eyes in a manner suggesting that she supposed his kind would always prefer straight whiskey, and made no comment. As he watched her pick up the tray and leave the room, Bradyn decided she was going to take some careful handling. She wasn’t the type of woman who cottoned to his methods of teasing, that much was clear. Rian Keene was a skittish one, not the usual sort of woman he would be interested in, and yet Bradyn found himself looking forward to the next time she set foot in the room. I’ll watch my big mouth next time, he vowed.