MEET KATE FOSTER AND HER MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL, WINELL ROAD

Please say a big HELLO and welcome Kate Foster to the blog.  A woman of many talents (as you’ll see in question number one below), who works on a variety of projects at any given time, Kate graciously gave me a few moments of her time and answered some questions about herself and her newly released, middle grade novel, Winell Road. But, before we get to the fun stuff, take a look at that beautiful cover and the blurb for Winell Road.  I must say, my boys are already dying to read this (me too!)

Winell Road cover 2

Twelve-year old Jack Mills lives at 5 Winell Road and probably has the world’s weirdest neighbours. Like freakishly weird. And to top it off, he lives with Mum: nosy, interfering, a hideous cook, and Dad: unsuccessful inventor of the Camera Belt and Self-Closing Window. All in all, it’s a boring, embarrassing, dead-end place to live.

So when Jack arrives home from school one day, a close shave with a UFO is the last thing he expects. But the fact it doesn’t abduct him, and that no one else, not even Mum, sees the gigantic flying saucer hovering over the street, adds a whole new layer of strange.

Soon after, an alien encounter threatens Jack’s life and he becomes embroiled in a galaxy-saving mission. With the assistance of his new neighbour, frighteningly tall Roxy Fox, he discovers Winell Road is hiding secrets—secrets Jack might wish he’d never uncovered.

RECOMMENDED INDEPENDENT READING AGE: 9+

BUY WINELL ROAD

Now for the fun stuff.

Kate, please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a writer of children’s fiction, obviously, mainly middle grade novels and picture books, although I do have a chapter book series I’m working on — when I get time! I’m a freelance editor and proof reader, and volunteer my time for Ink Pantry Publishing (part of the Open University in the UK) proof reading articles and interviewing authors. I’m originally from a small village in the UK but now live on the Gold Coast in Australia with my family. 

Where did your inspiration for Winell Road come from?

My children, mainly. The main character is based on a mixture of my two eldest sons. But I find inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere to make up my novels as a whole. In the case of Winell Road, an awesome scene from one of my favourite movies (True Lies – the bit where, after Arnie and his wife are captured, he then explains what the bomb is and Jamie Lee Curtis is like, ‘WHAT? But you’re just a sales rep!’) gave the wheels the push they needed, and from this the story grew.

I have boys and from reading the blurb, it sounds like something they’d both enjoy. Do you feel Winell Road is a gender neutral book or does it mostly cater to one or the other? 
I have boys, too, so I guess, understandably, I wrote this initially with them in mind. But in truth the book will certainly appeal to both boys and girls. Although the protagonist is a boy, Jack, his new neighbour, Roxy Fox, is a feisty, confident and fascinating girl, as well as being frighteningly tall, and she shows Jack how to 1. have fun, and 2. believe in himself.

What was the most difficult part of writing this story?
The first draft. I’m not afraid to admit that I despise them. I have all these grand ideas and vivid scenes playing out in my mind like movies and translating them into words can be a struggle at times. And I don’t like getting things wrong, so when I write something that I know isn’t portraying the imagery perfectly, I get extremely cross with myself and the world.

Is it a standalone or will it become a series?
It’s the first in a series. The second book is written, the third is plotted out and ready to write. One day.

Do you have a writing process?
Not really. I write when I have spare moments, and I have to admit I have numerous projects on the go at the same time – so I could be described as a messy writer. But all these ideas have to come out of my brain straight away or I will forget them, and I absolutely hate writer’s block. It makes me feel low – not good – so I like to be able to move away to another project if this happens. I’m yet to experience writer’s block on all my projects at the same time, but if I do, I will most definitely start something new!

Are you currently working on anything else?
Yes! I have a handful of picture books in various stages of the editing process, some out on submission to agents. I have the second in the Winell Road series to polish, and another unrelated mid grade I’m editing. Mix that in with various articles and blogs, and I think that’s probably enough!

You’re also an editor.  Can you tell us your favorite thing about editing?
The entire process, to be honest. There isn’t a part I can say I dislike. I love rearranging sentences and paragraphs, scenes and chapters, and even entire storylines, until they run smoothly and sing to the reader. And pair that up with getting to know new authors every day and watching their careers go from strength to strength is pretty close to bliss for me.

Is there a message you’d like your readers to get from Winell Road?
No, not really. Is that bad? If they do then that’s great, if not, I just hope they’ve had a ball and want to continue with Jack on his adventure. I want them to experience what I did as a child when I read Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree books and The Wishing Chair series; magic.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Enjoy as much of the process as possible, NEVER give up, and listen to advice. Whether you take it or not is up to you, but get as much feedback as you possibly can from as many people as you possibly can and at every stage of the book’s life.

And now a few favorites, just because I’m nosey 🙂
Color – Brown
Time of Day – Bedtime
Food – All of it
Book – Can I have two? The Uninvited by Liz Jensen and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Hobby – Writing!
Season – In England it was spring, in Australia it’s winter.
Holiday – (Does this mean a trip I’ve taken abroad? If yes…) Andalucia in Spain.
Type of Music – I love a good bop, so dance music

 KATE FOSTERKate

Give A Little

nepalPicture courtesy of Authors for Nepal Facebook Page

We’ve all heard about the earthquake that ravished Nepal, so there is no need to go into a lengthy post about the loss  and devastation there.  I’m fairly certain nothing I could say would ever properly describe the havoc those enduring this tragedy are currently faced with.  However, I can help.  A little.  And so can you.  A little. And maybe my little and your little will encourage the next person to donate a little, too.

I know we all have causes to support and many of us struggle just to pay the bills, but there are many ways, other than financially, that you can help.  How? Well,  couple of women came up with the idea to run an literary themed auction and have reached out through a Facebook page, Authors for Nepal, for donations.

Again, how can you help?  In all kinds of neat and creative ways.  Some have donated signed copies of their books, while others are offering up their services.  I even saw a chance to name a character in someone’s next book, which I think is a pretty awesome idea.  In the grand scheme of things, this might be small, but every little bit helps and hopefully all these small efforts pulled together will make a big difference.

If you’d like to learn more, please like and follow the Facebook page, as  information about the auction will appear there.  If you don’t have anything to donate, but would like to help anyway, check out the auction when it goes live.   I’ve seen the list of donations and I’m am sure there’s going to be lots of goodies to chose from.

Money raised goes toward rural early childhood and school centres affected by the Nepal 2015 earthquake.  Monetary donations can be made to Earthquake Relief for Nepal disaster page created by FIRST STEPS HIMALAYAa New Zealand based charity providing early years education for rural Nepali children.

For any questions regarding donations, please email Julia at jccmoffatt@btinternet.com

GUEST POST & EBOOK GIVEAWAY: ZRINKA JELIC

                          MEET … ZRINKA JELIC!
Today, I’d like to welcome author Zrinka Jelic to tell us more about her new release, Rose of Crimson.  Zrinka is also graciously gifting an ebook copy to a lucky winner !  See  below for the details.

RoseofCrimson_MEDMy 5th novel is titled Rose of Crimson and it was released by Secret Cravings Publishing on December 23rd, 2014. This is a prequel to Bonded by Crimson which was published on January 15th, 2012. I’ve started working on the prequel the day I was offered a publishing contract for Bonded by Crimson. Then it got pushed to the back burner while I worked on other projects. Since then I’ve wrote and published Treasured Chest, a pirate romance, Love Remains, a time travel romance and Deck the Halls, a Christmas novella.

Bonded_CoverRose of Crimson is based on a Croatian legend from late 17th century. Local people like to refer to the tragic love story as their Romeo and Juliet, only in this version the young lovers (Miljenko & Dobrila) are from feuding aristocratic families who would stop at nothing to keep them apart. Even when Dobrila’s father accepted offered hand of peace, he couldn’t with the fact that Miljenko won and took his daughter.

However, Rose of Crimson is not a historical romance. In the book the hero, Miles—he shortened it from Miljenko—telepathically projects his story onto heroine, Kate—who has a special connection with him through her ancestor. I wanted to present the passages of his past life differently than just jump from past to present through the chapters. I wanted a reader to know when we’re entering and exiting his story. Because, he sought her out to write down his story. Both books are stand alone, though the ending in Rose of Crimson may not leave you satisfied, Kate and Matthias do find their happily ever after in Bonded by Crimson.

And now the excerpt:

He had pulled the door open and there she sat, on top of the steps. Hadn’t he told her to go home and pack? Wait, something was different about her. She was younger, a child almost. Her hair was tied in a high ponytail, her clothes…God almighty! She was naked, save for a few scraps. Could her breeches get any shorter? The threads hung loose form the frail hem, as if she put shears to her leggings. Her long, tanned legs were bare for all to see. Her shirt, if one could call it such, sleeveless, backless even, held by two thin straps tied around her neck, depicted a pony. Whoever put animals on their attire and with glittering mane of all things?

“Oh my God!” Kate screeched, but didn’t pull her hands out of his. “I remember this encounter. That’s me.”

“That is you. The last time I saw your great-great-grandmother was the first time I saw you.”

“Wicked.” Her voice carried her fascination. “It’s some kind of an omen.”

“Something or someone tried to tell me something,” he said. Maybe they were destined for one another, and nothing he did would keep them apart.

“Now I know why you scrutinized me as if I came from some other world. In your eyes, I did. To me you didn’t appear out of place. I thought you pulled your clothes from your grandpa’s chest for the local festivity. I figured the weakness that poured over me as a sign of heat or sunstroke.”

“How do you explain the rose I gave you?” He snickered at her last comment, the old clothes stored together with moth balls in squeaky chests with rusted hinges and used on occasions such as festivity to resurrect the old traditions and attract visitors.

Her long gaze and soft smile settled on him. If she was trying to play cool and not show how much she wanted him, her pretending failed. “My memory has faded a little since then, but I clearly remember you picking the flower and offered it to me. My mom is adamant that I picked it myself. She said good thing the custodian didn’t catch me.”

His heart sunk at the mention of the home he grew up in. It had been decades since he last touched its stone walls. The once mighty castle, closed for the family affairs, was now open for everyone to roam about for the price of the admission. At least the money generated was used to preserve the building and grounds, and employed a few people.

BLURB

KATE ROKOV‘s grades are plummeting. She needs to get the voice out of her head or she will flunk her finals.

MATTHIAS ZRIN, a three centuries old immortal, born into an aristocratic family as Miles Rušinić, is enthralled with Kate. It is his voice preventing Kate from sleeping and her ignorance is testing his limits. He wants her to write down his story to settle his wife’s earthbound spirit. His tragic love story has become Kate’s obsession since fifth grade during her summer trip to Rušinić castle.

You can pick up a copy for your Kindle Kobo Nook iPad

MEZrinka Jelic lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children. A member of the Romance Writers of America and its chapter Fantasy Futuristic &Paranormal, as well as Savvy Authors, she writes contemporary fiction—which leans toward the paranormal—and adds a pinch of history. Her characters come from all walks of life, and although she prefers red, romance comes in many colors. Given Jelic’s love for her native Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, her characters usually find themselves dealing with a fair amount of sunshine, but that’s about the only break they get. “Alas,” Jelic says, with a grin. “Some rain must fall in everyone’s life.”

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TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS COMMENT WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS AND ZRINKA WILL RANDOMLY PICK A WINNER.

DRAWING FROM THE DARKNESS

Life can be so unfair at times …

I don’t typically write blog post during the week.  My schedule is just too chaotic to allow time for that, but today has been quite a little rollercoaster of emotions and I find that I need an outlet.  This might get a little gray, but hang with me, I promise I’m not just wallowing in hole.

I sat for eight hours by myself in my office today.  Yep, the whole place was empty aside from me.  Maybe I should add that there are just two of us that work there- small town remember?  Manning the place alone isn’t really all that uncommon since we both take vacations, sick days, etc.  We’re used to it and although it always creates a little bit more work, we manage.

Today, I was already in a funk by the time I got to work and yes, it was because my friend and co-worker wouldn’t be there, but it had nothing to do with anything extra that might come my way.  Over the weekend our little town was dealt some unsettling news.  A marine, who served in Iraq,  and who had recently returned home from the service, was killed in a car accident.  Although, I didn’t know him personally, it was easily seen from the mass of Facebook post in my feed, that he was loved by many.  He was my friend/co-worker’s nephew.  His grandmother taught both of my boys in preschool.  Both of these woman are dear to me.  So, yes, I sat there thinking of them today.  Their family has already suffered so much in the last few years.  The death of their father, then a husband who died suddenly, a son in-law who lost a battle to pancreatic cancer, their mother’s diagnosis of dementia, and now a young  boy who still had his whole life ahead of him.  How much can one family take?  I thought about his mother who, from my own experience of losing a child, I know will never be the same.  How will his sister, who isn’t much older than my eldest son, cope?  How will his father endure the death of his only son?

As if this wasn’t enough on my mind, I came across a few blog post that furthered my funky mood. Mary Rowen wrote a post about her struggle with Bulimia and how it changed her life.  And after reading her friend, Ami’s, story about depression, Kathy Palm was inspired to write about a time that was painfully difficult for her.  Each of these post, although sad and emotional, were also inspirational and left me in tears.

Life can be so unfair at times …

Yes I know this, but don’t we all?  We’ve all had some not so sunny times.  In 1998, I lost my first-born son and spent the next couple of years learning how to be me again while missing a piece of me. In May of 2011, my sister, after returning unharmed from a tour in Iraq, was given a death sentence when she was diagnosed with ALS.  Two months later I lost an aunt to colon cancer.  In October of that year, both of my grandparents died within two weeks of each other.  By November, my entire family was embattled in a nasty court battle for their estate.  An action that with missing trust paperwork and not one, but two disbarred attorney’s involved, turned so crazy it almost became comical.  Trust me, I couldn’t make this shit up if I had to!   19744406215b9eed6b5edec98a41ad00We all have dark times, but it’s what you do with those experiences that matter.  For me, I think in some aspects, dealing with so much in such a short span, made me stronger, but in some sense it also made me more vulnerable.  I’m okay with both.  And like most writers, I find writing to be therapeutic and healing, which made me question, as an author, how much of our darkness and life experiences do we throw into our writing?

The first question I usually get, when someone who knows my sister reads Drive Me Sane, is if Sera was based on her.  I’ve always answered no, because I never considered my sister inspiration when I was writing it.  If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know my inspiration came from a Tyler Farr song.  But after thinking about this for quite some time now, I think I’m wrong.  Both female soldiers, who served overseas, my sister and Sera do share a lot of the same personality traits.  Feisty, outspoken and quick-tempered, I think I unknowingly cast my sister in my book 🙂 – to a degree. Because, although they have things in common, they are also very different (I’m pretty sure my sister would have run Tyler over with his own truck and there wouldn’t have been a happy ending there.)  And just in case you’re wondering, no my sister does not suffer from PTSD associated from her time in Iraq.

But with this realization, I began taking stock at some of my other writing to determine if I could personally associate with any of it and boy was I surprised.  I won’t make you suffer through the list of the dramatics of my life, because whether we want to admit it or not, we all have them, but yes, I do interject my own experiences into my writing.  A tad here or a bit there, I see myself, family and friends in pieces of my books.  Maybe that’s how I keep my sanity through all the craziness or maybe it’s just my way of sharing stories that I feel have merit.

So my question to my fellow authors is: How much of your own experiences do you draw from and use in your writing?

In closing, Mary, Kathy, and Ami- thanks for sharing your stories.  Although, it spun my day out of whack more than it already was, I think I needed to hear them today.  To the Brewer family, my thoughts are with you as Tyler is laid to rest and Apie- love ya!

And on a lighter note …

Congrats to my good friend, W.C. Cunningham, on the publication of his short story, The Right Words.  You can enjoy his humorous tale of a father talking to his kids about drugs, as well as, several other short stories for just 99¢! bill

And while I’m telling you about deals, E.L. Wicker’s debut novel, Fractured Immortal is FREE today.  That’s right, FREE!!!  Onlyfour hours left (US only) to get this amazing story!

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HAVE YOU BEEN BRANDED

brands

I’m alive.  Still here and kicking, well not exactly, I don’t think I’ll be kicking anything anytime soon.  But, I’m up, moving and feeling a lot better than I have for the past few weeks.  In fact this is the first time my laptop has been open for more than an hour since before New Years.  My year started off in a slump.  First a battle with the flu and then a bout with pneumonia, but I’m finally on the mend and ready to jump into all my projects that have been swept to the side.

With little to do these past few weeks, I’ve read a lot, trolled through some Facebook groups that I rarely visit, scanned through some blogs and just sort of hung out on social media without really interacting much.  Not feeling up to imputing, I was the quiet observer and I noticed one topic that came up more than once.  Branding.  No, I’m not talking about those for cattle as you see in the picture above. I’m talking about branding your writing and limiting yourself to a certain genre or type of work

When I initially revamped my blog to be more author friendly, I used the tagline of small-town contemporary romance.  Since, Drive Me Sane was set in a fictional small town in Eastern Kentucky, I thought that most of my other work would predominantly aspire to something similar.  However when I scanned back through some of my other WIP, I realized that I hadn’t exactly stuck to that brand.  I have a project that takes place in Nashville, one that actually covers an array of cities across the United States, and then the bulk of my current work doesn’t even take place in the US.  Set in Cancun, it has no small town feeling about it.  Needless to say, I did away with the original tagline and decided that I write happily ever afters.

So does that mean I’ve now branded myself as only writing contemporary stories of happy endings?  I hadn’t actually given any of this much thought until I came across the conversations of other authors talking about their struggles with branding themselves and if it was necessary.  Many were happy to be bundled in with a certain genre and had no intentions of writing outside of their comfort zone, while others enjoyed writing a variation of stories.   In all, most of the concerns I came across were if readers would accept them as author of broad topics or if, when they found their niche, they should remain loyal to it.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be sticking with contemporary romance.  Although I enjoy an occasional historical, I have no interest in writing one nor do I have the creative mind to write paranormal or fantasy.  But I also don’t want to limit myself to only writing a certain theme.

So, thoughts on this matter.  I’d love to know, authors, have you branded your writing.  Do you think it’s a necessity to accumulate a following or are you open to the wind to whatever story fills your head?

***HAPPY RELEASE DAY *** FRACTURED IMMORTAL by E.L. Wicker

NewReleaseThe first in a new series aimed at New Adults, Fractured Immortal is the tale of Ilia Rose, a vampire and a tortured soul and Nathaniel Dayton, a vampire with secrets that will force them together. For a chance to win a digital copy of Fractured Immortal see the end of this post.

blurb

After a terrifying vampire attack in 1810, Ilia Rose spends the next two centuries hunting Sol, the man responsible for turning her and her friends into vampires.When Ilia discovers he’s run to the one place she’s running from, she’s forced to face her most painful memories back in her hometown, Bearwood.

There, Ilia finds herself face to face with Nathaniel, an insanely hot vampire, and despite the evidence he’s working for her enemy, Ilia can’t fight her attraction to him, especially when he seems to show up whenever she needs him most.

But Nathaniel is keeping secrets and as they begin to unravel, instead of running away from him, Ilia finds herself falling for him. When his last secret is revealed Ilia’s past comes together in a way she never imagined and she’s left with only one option: trust Nathaniel to help her kill Sol, or risk relinquishing her new found strength thus causing catastrophic and devastating consequences for her and everyone she loves.

Ilia begins a gut-wrenching battle to save her life and the lives of her friends, a battle which not everyone will survive.

A vampire tale like none other, love, pain, devastation and revenge, all weave together to create the first in a dark and unmissable new adult series.

Due to sexual content, this book is intended for readers age 18+

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About
waldo2E.L. Wicker lives in England with her husband and two children. A connoisseur of not having the foggiest about anything and an intrepid dreamer, writing became the obvious choice. After ditching a pursuit of a professional career in psychology, E.L. Wicker chose to immerse herself in her own little world where bullying characters vie for attention, demanding she put them on a page. So she did.
Connect with E.L. Wicker on her Blog or Facebook or Twitter.
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giveawayEnter here to win a digital copy of Fractured Immortal. Open to everyone and running from 21st December 2014 to 7th January 2015

Tis’ The Season

It seems like I just sat down to write my Hello December post and here we are three weeks into the month.  It’s a busy time for everyone, myself included.  Knowing that I’ll be off of work for twelve days, at the end of the month, means that I have to pack four weeks worth of work into two and a half weeks and since my oldest son turns thirteen in a couples days, I’ve got birthday shopping/party(cake and dinner at home) to do on top of finishing up my Christmas shopping.  As of today, I have only purchased four gifts, all of which were ordered online.

My family, some friends, and co-workers also sponsor a local boys home for Christmas gifts each year. Normally we do one cottage of approximately 13 boys, but my sister and her husband, who financially back the biggest portion of this task, decided this year we would take on the entire home.  We are supplying gifts and stockings to a total of 36 boys, ages 8-18.  Last Sunday was spent organizing what we already have and I’ll spend this Sunday getting the stockings ready so that they can be delivered on the 23rd.  By the time Christmas Eve at my in-laws rolls around, I’ll be exhausted, but like I said, I’ll have plenty of time to rest at the end of the month.

With everything going on, I haven’t actually sat down and written a post in weeks and I probably won’t get around to writing anymore until the end of the year.  I have some bookie things still going on.   Pure Jonel is hosting a giveaway of one print copy and one digital copy of Drive Me Sane beginning today and running through the 31st.  I’ll also be on her blog December 25th talking about things I love.  FYI, I’m sharing my super, easy and favorite white chocolate fudge recipe, so be sure to stop by and say hello.  InD’Tale Magazine also featured their review of Drive Me Sane in their holiday edition.  I’ll post that soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been critiquing and beta reading for two other authors.  So far, I have only scanned my NaNo project, hoping that a few of the hangups, I know it has, will work themselves out.  I’m excited to finally dive back into it while I’m off on Christmas break.  An author I met on NaNo looked at the first three chapters and gave me some positive feedback with some areas to develope.  I’m also hoping another author friend is still open to taking a look and critiqueing it with me after the first of the year.

So, yes like everyone, Tis’ The Season to be busy, but I’m trying to take it as it comes.

I’m over the moon today after reading Pure Jonel’s 5 Star review of Drive Me Sane.  Be sure to stop by and enter the giveaway for a signed print copy and digital copy beginning today through December 31st!  And if your needing a quick dessert to make on Christmas Day, check back in for that fudge recipe- no cooking required!Natural BridgeHad a blast at Natural Bridge State Park last weekend.  Thanks to all who stopped by!

Virtual eBook Fair & Author Bash

Tis the Season … Come join the fun!

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JINGLE BELLS, MISTLETOE & MAGIC !!

Virtual Ebook Fair – Author & Book Bash!!! 

DECEMBER 13TH-15TH

Hosted by Award winning author: Tammie Clark Gibbs &
Reader’s Rock Lifestyle Magazine for Booklovers. 

*Meet Authors and Ask them Questions

*Prizes & Giveaways

*Find Amazing New Books

I’ll be giving away a digital copy (or two) of Drive Me Sane.  Join the fun at Jingle Bells, Mistletoe & Magic or stop by the VIRTUAL EBOOK FAIR WEBSITE for more information.  Hope to see you there.