Thursday, July 26, 2012

Author LA Dale is Darling!

I’m so excited to introduce you all to my friend L.A. Dale!  She lives on acreage in the country in Western Australia with her long suffering and handsome husband, Big G, and two dogs Poppy and Charlie. She has two fabulously talented children and a posse of girlfriends all over Australia who are silly enough to indulge her rants on various subjects. On a good day ~ when not at her day job ~ L.A. can be found lurking around Twitter and Facebook replying to followers comments, stalking Super Rugby (Rugby Union) coaches or generally seeing how much useless information she can write in 140 characters or less before popping by her blog or trawling internet clothing sites. She is a hopeless rugby union fanatic, chocoholic, over-exaggerator, trashy TV, music and iPhone addict. If you can't Google it then it's not worth knowing!

Isn't she gorgeous?

     Daisy Darling Meets A Man is absolutely–well–darling!  Tell us about the difficulties in developing and revealing characters quickly for a novella, versus the opportunity to slowly bring them out in a novel.

Thanks for asking the tough question first. J As this was my first attempt at a novella, I didn’t find it all that difficult possibly because I knew I had a limited amount of words so I just got straight into it.  In a novel length story it’s nicer to reveal things about the character slowly, you don’t want to have 10 pages of backstory in the beginning as it puts readers off. With Daisy I wanted people to know she’d been left but not why for a while so that was easy.  I think you have to do a lot more showing of the character’s personality through their actions in the novella too, you don’t have time to develop. So when Daisy discovered it was her idol in her shower, for instance, she went into a frenzy of getting changed and worrying about what he would think.  I actually thought quite a lot about what I would do if Bono appeared at my door for that scene. J

Oh Bono…  I love him too!  He just cannot live with or without you, girl! 

I know you are an iPhone addict.  What is the latest app you’ve downloaded that you love?

I don’t actually collect a lot of apps funnily enough, but those I do have I use constantly.  I love my horoscope app because it sort of sounds like it was written for me personally. Yesterday, while sitting in the Plastic Surgeon’s office for two hours, I played my ‘learn French’ app.  That’s really cool and I play it a lot though I have no idea what rhinos falling out of the sky in parachutes has to do with learning French.  I want to be better at French so I don’t look like a dufus when I go to France next year. I am also a VERY BIG Bejeweled Blitz player and Tweeter.

I love Bejeweled Blitz too!  My dear friend, Mary, has that on her phone and every time she visits my daughter, Gracie, asks, “Can I play ‘bubbles’ on your phone?”  So funny!  I’m big on the game Words With Friends.  It’s like Scrabble without the “table talk.”   

How do you balance the many hats you wear: Mom, wife, day job?  It can be a struggle for so many writers.  How do you make it work for you and your family?

My children are grown up now and live in the Perth (I live in the country, obviously) so that hat requires less time these days, unless they’re ringing me up to ask me how to cook something or to tell me to get them One Direction tickets on the net. When they were younger, I used to thank God for inventing laptops because I wrote a lot while waiting in the car at ballet classes and rugby training.

These days, I only work four days a week at my ‘day job’ so that gives me three days, plus evenings,  to write, though I do get a bit side tracked watching rubbish on TV. Quite often, when everyone is sting around watching something, I’ll have the laptop out fiddling. Plus Big G, my hubby, works away from home and is only home for five days at a time.  I wrote the whole of Angel’s Bend while he was away once.  If I get on a roll, I get a bit obsessed and rather peeved when I have to stop writing to do something else. I almost turned down last minute free concert tickets once because I was in the zone.  Luckily I came to my senses.

I know those tickets couldn’t have been to see U2!  Otherwise, there would’ve been no question, right? 

You have been very open and honest in your blog, Well, That Sucks, about your battle with breast cancer.  There is not one human on the planet who hasn’t been touched by cancer, whether their own struggle, or battled it alongside a loved one.  My father is a colon, liver and prostate cancer survivor.  What motivated you to share your intimate struggle with so many and in a public arena like your blog?

Money? The chance to have a bestseller?  Sorry, I shouldn’t take the piss. My motivation was actually those damn cancer blogs.  I’m sorry to say this but a lot of the people that post on them are such whiners.  Yes, you have no boobs, yes you had to have chemo or radio but you’re still alive! I mean, seriously, there’s not a great deal you can do about having cancer, so you may as well just deal with it get on with life. Anyway, I got so depressed reading all that sad stuff and I thought there must be other people like me who just want to read something funny to cheer them up.  So I started the blog and I try to only post amusing things.  And believe me, I can make even mundane things sound amusing if it involves a hospital gown and a hot doctor.

You had me at hot doctor!  In all seriousness, you know many are cheering you on and have been touched by your blog.  Thank you for sharing tales of two boobies with us all.

What are you cooking up on your keyboard for readers now?  Details!

At the moment, I’m finishing off the sequel to The Taming of the Bastard.  It’s called The Bastard Takes a Wife.  It goes through all of the trials Sam and Millie have on the road to their wedding.  Needless to say, not having been a bride myself for a few years, I’ve had to do lots of research by watching ‘Bridezillas’, ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ and ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’. Taming was never actually meant to have a sequel but so many people have messaged me to do one that I sort of committed to it.

After I finish that, I’m writing the ending to Lucifer’s Mark which is the sequel to Angel’s Bend.  I haven’t decided yet if Cam and Lacey will have a third adventure or if he’ll give up being an angel to be a boy but I’m sure I’ll know by the time I get to the end of the book.  I’m hoping to release both of these by the end of 2012 as they’re both half written.  Then it’ll be back to the other 5 projects that are almost done too.  I really want to get Aidan & Eloise done because I think people will really fall for that one, seeing as how it’s a modern take on Romeo and Juliet.

One of my favorite stories you’ve written is Heart of Glass.  In 1987, I was the proud owner of big hair, blue mascara, and spent more than I earned at the clothing store I worked at.  What was it about that period in the 80’s for you, that you centered the beginning of the book around it?

Click here to see the kindle edition

I lived through it! I actually channeled Madonna. J

Seriously, though, I was only just eighteen in the beginning of the eighties and I knew a boy very much like Ben. He lived on the other side of the state and was older than me. I suppose he was my first big crush but he dumped me, and I always wondered what would have happened if things had been different. So I made up a story about the ending.  Not that I ever took drugs, caught bad diseases or had sex up against a wall, mind you but by the time it got to that part of the story I was so deep into Bella’s character I wanted to show how much her love for Ben and not being able to have him, affected her. It seemed logical that she would become self destructive in an attempt to wipe him from her mind. Heart of Glass was the first story I ever wrote so I guess it was a bit of ‘go with what you know’ too.

You and I are going for tattoos.  Won’t that be fun?  *Jen elbows L.A. to make sure she says, “YES!”* I’m going to be the lucky recipient of two on this day.  One, the infinity sign as a symbol of love for my hubby.  The other, each of my children’s first initials morphed into a design, yet you could clearly pick out their distinct letter.  Tell me about your tattoo and why you would choose it.   

Haha. I can do better, I can show you.

This is the henna tattoo I got as a joke to show how many times I’ve been to see U2 live (there’s a third date under my sleeve) and no, it’s not that big!!! I did it as a prank on a friend who hates tattoos. So, if I got a tattoo, a better version of the suitcase would be it J

 Look at you, L.A!  You totally called my bluff in the most outstanding way!

What books are on your nightstand?

At the moment, I’m reading Kat Fight by Dina Silver and have the new book by Caitlin McKenna to come.  I tend to read mostly in the chick lit genre when I’m in the writing zone but I also like paranormal and historical romance as well as classics.  My favourite book of all time is Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.

LA's favorite book is FREE on Kindle!  Click here to pick up a copy!

Thanks so much to L.A. for stopping by!  You can find her on Facebook and Twitter as well as her website.    

As a special gift, I am giving away one KINDLE copy of Daisy Darling Meets A Man to one lucky reader!  To win, just comment below on your favorite band from your youth.  Please leave your email so I can contact the the lucky duck!  One winner will be chosen at random.  You must leave your email and comment to be eligible.  CONTEST CLOSES Aug 3, 2012 at 9:00am EST  

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Author Meggie Tolkland Dishes on Passion and Pizza

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you all to my friend, author Meggie Tolkland.  Her newest book, The Mayhem: Roan’s Story, was released in June, and if you love a steamy, supernatural romance then Meggie has just the ticket for you!  

     Meggie is truly an Indiana writer!  She grew up in Evansville, which she coins "the home of crazy-good barbecue."  She is signed with Asteria Books, based out of Indianapolis.  Her books reflect her love of Indiana – and Chicagoland – where she now lives.  Meggie and her family share their home with an American Eclectic Feline (alley cat) who looks like the Cheshire Cat but is eerily friendly. 

Don't you love her avatar? 

Jen: Meggie, you write some steamy stuff, girl!  How did urban fantasy find you as a writer?

Meggie: I grew up reading all the great sci-fi authors, mainly for the "Dude, you just blew my mind!" effect. Urban fantasy enables me to explore big theological and cultural questions--but in a totally fun way. Because let's face it, classic sci-fi isn't always happy-happy. I'm a mom, and my characters, even my readers--I'm responsible for all of you. I'm big on escapism and happy endings (yes, all kinds of happy endings!). Life is hard enough. Art should make it easier.

Click here to check out Meggie's book on Amazon

Jen: Do you know that due to my responsibility to think for my husband, children and dogs, I have no memory power left in my brain for myself?  That’s why I love reads that allow me to escape too! 

You keep the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation close to your heart.  Tell us why that cause is important to you.

Meggie: When I was growing up, as a Hoosier, I deeply respected Ryan White's living with the disease. He represented the best of who we are, as a state. We've always thrived; we've always survived. Although AIDS eventually took Ryan's life, he died a survivor. I think young people these days have forgotten what AIDS really is, nationally and internationally, and it's crucial we continue fighting. All my children are beautiful, healthy, intelligent, and sweet--and daily, I'm grateful for what I have and pray for the parents who have children with disabilities or diseases. Those parents are the true heroes of our society.

Jen: I remember those early days of the AIDS epidemic crossing newswires and jarring fear in people across the globe.  As a family, we sat down together last year and made the choice to financially support a little girl overseas who has lost family members to the disease.  Instilling compassion for others in my children, and awareness they can make a difference in another’s life, is important to me.      

I love the fact that we both fell in love with reading as young gals.  The two books that left imprints on me were, Are you my Mother? and Where the Wild Things Are.  Tell us about the book that shaped you from your childhood and why it made an impact.

Meggie: I know exactly the moment I decided to be a writer. I was 4, sitting on my mother's lap, while I read The Little Engine That Could. I just loved that the book was a conduit into another world. It's taken me 39 years to realize this, but that book was symbolic because it's about determination, the only real talent I have.

Jen: Gosh, I love that book too!  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

You and I are locked inside Bazbeaux’s Pizza in Broad Ripple, Indiana overnight.  I am going to make you my favorite pizza, followed by eating their delicious Greek salad.  Why would I lead our meal with salad, and waste stomach space for less pizza, right?  I am going to make you the PIZZA ALLA QUATTRO FORMAGGIO (Romano, cheddar, ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, bacon and mushroom).  What kind of pizza would you create for me to try?!

Meggie: Oh, my goodness! I haven't been inside Bazbeaux's since I was a college intern! Your pizza sounds perfect, really. I could only improve on it by having my book's cover model serve it. Then, I wouldn't care what kind of pizza it was!

Oh my holy yumminess! 

Jen: I kind of think you just cheated and didn’t make me dinner!  What’s up with that girl?  Ha! 

I noticed that in the credits for, The Mayhem: Roan’s Story; you thank Kate Collins for teaching you to write.  Tell us about Kate and your feelings about how she has helped you.

Meggie: I searched my inbox for her e-mails, and I have four screens of them. The first time we met, I thanked her for her help, and she firmly said--I'll never forget this!--"Writers always help each other." She meant it, and I've encoded the sentence into my brain's operating system. Basically, she believed in me when nobody else did.

Jen: That is definitely a truth I have discovered as well.  I have found the majority of authors I connect with to be supportive cheerleaders who want nothing but the best of success for other authors.   

I am all about digressions in life, so here goes a fabulous one.  Think of it more like playing the game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.  Your “groomzilla” in the novel is named Roan Wynne.  Roan Wynne instantly brings gaming and resort tycoon, Steve Wynn to my mind.  My husband, Mike, and I have stayed at The Wynn in Las Vegas a few times, and they tempt you with THE BEST chocolate covered cherries in the minibar.  Vegas is our kind of town when we want to get away; just the two of us.  Where is your ideal weekend away with no Happy Meals available on the menu?

Meggie: That's easy, and it's as close as White Oak Avenue in Dyer, Ind., where Roan's family hideaway is. There, one of his hot cousins could show me the secrets and wonders of the universe!

Thanks again to Meggie for stopping by!  You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.  You can also stop by her website and visit her here.



Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Triumph of Doing Nothing by Pj Schott

We took the day off yesterday at Princess With a Pen to enjoy some amazing friends, and food, while celebrating Independence Day.  My friend, Pj Schott took the day off as well from her first Wednesday of the month guest position.  Today she stops by with an important lesson for us all in the quest to find rest while we strive to achieve our goals.  

 Pj Schott has lived in several U.S. port cities, Europe, Greece, and the Middle East. A marketing professional, mystery writer, and futurist, Pj is known to those with whom she works as a problem-solver, an innovative thinker, a top-notch communicator, a visionary, and the soul of a group. She is the owner of the Boston, Massachusetts based company GENIUS and is the woman behind the new Facebook page and blog, Survival for Blondes, where Pj is entirely surrounded by imagined disasters and learns to rise above.


Winnie the Pooh on the Power of Surrender

Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.

Thank you Jen, for inviting me to join you today. Hanging out with you and your peeps always gets me to thinking about what’s really important in life. And the American Independence Day holiday gave me plenty of time to get in touch with my inner Pooh.

I even had time for a Facebook chat with our friend Sibel Hodge, the bestselling author whose book “The Baby Trap” has an underlying theme about living in the moment.. “Live for today, dream of tomorrow, learn from yesterday” she wrote in her 4th of July blog for “Indie Chicks CafĂ©.”

We all feel overwhelmed these days. Every time we cross something off our To Do list, five more things get added. Then, all those old programs start to run in the background. You fill in the blanks. “If Only I Could _________, I Would _________, but I really Should ________”

Ewwwwww … the ‘S’ Word. Suddenly, we’re berating ourselves over our inability to even keep up let alone get ahead. I’m half Danish, and a big fan of the ancient Viking Runes, my roguish ancestors’ guide to one’s Higher Self. Whenever I hear the “S’ word, I make one of their passages my mantra. “Do without doing and everything gets done.”

Happiness is a choice. And the best news is, we don’t need a self-help book, a new age form of divination, or a degree in metaphysics.  All we need is that great guru, Winnie the Pooh, who will show us how to go beyond Zen … onto the path of no resistance.

So here’s what my inner Pooh suggested we think about this week.

Concentrate on the Big Picture
Take a little time to make a list of your goals.

So much to do, so little time. We want it all and we want it now. When it gets to be all work and no play I drop everything and spend some time on Pinterest, concentrating on my If I Was A Rich Girl” and Bucket List” boards. A goal is just a dream with a deadline. And don’t forget to DREAM BIG!!

Take control of what you can.
Most of the time all we can control is our own mind.

Thriller author Claudette Walker, a big fan of Sun Tzu, reminds me often that sometimes the only control we have is to know when we have none. It’s easy to get caught up in life’s little dramas, to take our emotional cues from other people and run with them. We can’t control the curve balls life throws us any more than we can control the occurrence of a natural disaster. But we do have control over our reactions. And we can take a proactive approach to life and surround ourselves with people and circumstances that support our goals.

Do what you love.
Forget about Would / Could / Should

During the times you’re not living your dream, at the very least try to find a way to love what you do as you work toward your goals. Every task has some likable aspect we can focus on. Listen to a book while you fold that pile of laundry, Put on some salsa music while you clean out that closet. Indulge in a Guilty Pleasure TV show while you sort through that pile of bills.

Most important of all, get in touch with your inner Pooh, and stop feeling guilty when you feel like doing nothing. Let those brainwaves slow down to alpha level, let your imagination kick in, and feel your creativity soar.

Surrender, and feel the joy of Not Bothering … who’s the best bear in the world?

Thank you, Pj, for reminding us imagination soars when we quiet ourselves, quiet our minds, and rest.  

Have a wonderful day!