Q&A With Author C.A Szarek

*Over the next several months, I’ll be introducing you to a variety of writers. I am once again opening my blog up to guest bloggers in the form of author Q&A’s, author spotlight features and guest posts. I hope you enjoy!

Today I am pleased to introduce you to author C.A. Szarek, she writes Fantasy/Romance, Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance and Young Adult fiction. Learn more about C.A. and her latest projects in the Q&A session below.

Can you give me a synopsis of your newest release?

For generations, the Ryhans, ruling family of the Province of Greenwald have been keepers of a sword rumored to possess enough magic to defeat kings. Lord Varthan, a former archduke and betrayer of the king, covets the sword and invades Greenwald.

Lady Ceralda Ryhan, daughter of the murdered duke, gains the sword and flees, trusting only her white wolf, Trikser—magically bonded to her. Cera needs nothing more to aid in her fight.

SwordsCall72dpi

Jorrin Aldern, half elfin and half human, left his home in the mountains of Aramour to find his human father who disappeared twenty turns before, but finds Cera with Varthan and his shades on her tail instead. His dual heritage and empathic magic will tempt Cera in ways she never thought she’d desire. But can he convince her trust and love can pave the path to redemption or will the epic battle end in tragedy and evil conquer them all?

If you weren’t a writer what do you think you would be doing instead?

Well, I actually wear many hats. I am new published, so I am not writing full time, I would love if I get there someday. I work in a court and I work at a shelter for teens. Good thing is, I adore all my jobs. If you include writing, I have 3.

 When it comes to planning out your stories, are you a plotter or a pantser?

I am a pantser, but lately I have planned a little. Sometimes when I sit down I have no idea where a scene is going, sometimes I do. I am character driven, so at least I know the “who’s” of things.

What’s the hardest part about being a writer? What’s the best part?

Hmmm, a hard one. The most difficult part for me is telling my inner critic to be quiet so I can just write. Sometimes I question too much: The story, myself, where the scene is going. I think the best part is making up stuff. Hehehe. Bringing life to characters, making them real people. Making them have feelings and emotions and making them real.

Do you have a mentor or another writer you look up to?

I have tons. There are so many awesome writers that belong to my chapter of RWA, NTRWA and I have learned SO much. Joining them was the best thing I have ever done for my writing.

What advice do you have for someone who wants a career in writing?

Don’t ever give up. Rejection happens. If you want it bad enough, you keep going. Always.

It’s been said that to be a good writer, one needs to be a voracious reader, what’s your favorite genre and what are you currently reading?

I LOVE to read. But I tend to go in stages. Binge read, if you will. I read read read read, then nothing for weeks at a time. I love paranormal and historical, but honestly I will read anything that peaks my interest. I don’t care about genre or intended audience. If it looks good, I will read it. I am reading “Vampires Gone Wild” right now, an anthology with stories by Kerrelyn Sparks, Pamela Palmer (LOVE HER) Amanda Arista and Kim Falconer. It’s really good so far.

What other interests or hobbies do you have outside of writing?

I love to scrapbook, and I watch WAY too much TV.

What’s your next writing project?

I am working on book 2 of the King’s Riders, Love’s Call. (the next book after Sword’s Call, by Gypsy Shadow Publishing) I should be wrapping it up in a matter of days, then it’s on to book 2 of my romantic suspense series, Crossing Forces, Chance Collision, which is the 2nd in the series published by Total-E-Bound. The first, Collision Force will be out July 1. I also seem to have some wolf shifters that are inopportunely bothering me. Hehehe.

How can people reach you online?

C. A.-140

I am EVERYWHERE! Hehehe

Blog: www.caszarekwriter.blogspot.com

FB: www.facebook.com/caszarek

Twitter: @caszarek

I love to hear from readers! caszarekauthor@gmail.com

*Below is a brief excerpt from Sword’s Call, on sale now with Gypsy Shadow Publishing.

Heart pounding and fists clenched, Cera sat in the Dragon’s Lair’s darkest corner. By choice, the candle on the table was unlit. The bowl of stew half eaten, food the last thing on her mind.

The door to the tavern swung open. Her white wolf growled low and deep beside her. Cera glanced up, squinting in the sudden flood of sunlight. As the door slammed shut and her eyes adjusted to the renewed murkiness, she took in the newest arrival.

Then she focused on Trikser. She couldn’t have him going for anyone’s throat.

“Shhh, Trik, it’s okay.” She ran a hand through his fur, smoothing his hackles along the length of his spine. The big wolf looked up at her and licked her hand. One corner of her mouth lifted and she bit back a sigh.

The only reason the owner of the tavern, Marshek even let him in was because no one else was allowed to enter the Dragon’s Lair if she was inside without him. No one according to Trikser, that is. He’d almost taken the hand off the last guy who’d tried.

“What’ll ya have?” Marshek barked, revealing his instant dislike of the newcomer.

She fixed her eyes on the bartender. Then she took a closer look at the man sitting in front of him. His pointed ears betrayed his heritage, but his height suggested he was not of pure blood.

Marshek was known to be tolerant of elves but he hated what he called half-breeds. Cera could imagine what the grumpy, middle-aged tavern owner was thinking, and it wasn’t friendly.

She rose, Trikser also immediately rising, awaiting her move. The white wolf was her bondmate and had been since he was young.

Relax, she thought-sent.

Trik sat, but his body was tight, tense. He didn’t respond to her mental order.

Moving to the bar, her wolf followed, slinking close to the floor, moving in a slight crawl. His belly probably touched the filthy planked flooring of the tavern.

Cera made a face but forced a breath. Detached control. Sliding onto the stool next to the half-elfin man, she was just in time to hear his order. His voice was clear and deep.

Marshek filled a mug with ale and started to put the jug in its place on the shelf.

“Wait, Mar,” she said with a wave of her hand, “I’ll have some of that, too.”

With a curt nod, the older man poured her a mug. She brought it to her lips, glancing nonchalantly at the stranger. His coal black hair brushed the collar of his hooded gray cape, giving him a rather unkempt look, but rugged rather than messy.

Cera couldn’t see the hue of his eyes from her seat but his high cheekbones made his profile appealing, his sleek tapered ears adding to the attraction. His powerful jaw line was clean shaven, an oddity in these parts. She could tell he was aware of her perusal. He was young, not much older than her, and had the stunning beauty of the elves.

His chest heaved as if he’d taken a breath, and he finally glanced at her. Blue. His eyes were a deep, sapphire blue. Her heart skipped a beat but she ignored it. The man said nothing, not that she’d expected him to.

Q&A With Author Tammy Strobel

This is another post in my monthly author interview series. This month’s interview is extra special to me, because writer Tammy Strobel has had an impact on my life and my work. Reading her blog, RowdyKittens, inspired me to simplify my life, get rid of my excess “stuff” and focus on my writing career. I would like to take this opportunity to tell Tammy thank you for sharing your story with the world, I know you have helped countless others like myself  :-).

If you’re an author and are interested in being featured in this series, please email me: amanda (at) amandabretz (dot) com.

1. Can you give me a synopsis of your newest release?

My first print book, You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap), will be out on September 18, 2012. In the book, I combine the newest research on well-being with real world stories to offer readers practical inspiration to simplify their lives and find a whole lot of happiness too.

2. What’s your creative process: Do you use an outline, write to certain type of music, use document maps, etc?

I’m not a linear writer, so I have a tendency to journal a lot and create mind-maps in my journal too. From that an outline starts to form in my mind for my writing project, whether that’s an article or a book. Then I piece it all together. It’s a little convoluted, but it works for me.

3. If you weren’t a writer what do you think you would be doing instead?
I’d be a full-time photographer.

4. Personally, I hate formatting, just the term ‘header/footer’ makes me want to run and hide! What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?

I hate formatting too! It can be such a pain and it can take hours. If you’re a blogger, you’ve probably run into HTML formatting issues. I’ve spent hours trying to sort out formatting mistakes, when I’d rather be writing in my journal or out for a walk.

5. Do you have a mentor or another writer you look up to?

I love Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones. In the book she talks about writing as a practice, kind of like meditation, and the importance of a beginner’s mind. She notes, “In a sense, that beginner’s mind is what we must come back to every time we sit down and write. There is no security, no assurance that because we wrote something good two months ago, we will do it again.”

Her words are affirming and that’s why I read all the time. Books give me ideas and help clear out the cobwebs in my head.

6. What advice do you have for someone who wants a career in writing?

You have to develop a consistent writing practice. I know that probably sounds
like lame advice, but it’s true. It’s far too easy to procrastinate and to avoid writing. Your words are powerful. Use them. Make the time to write.

I’d also suggest starting a blog. I’ve been blogging for five years and my blog resulted in a book deal, freelance writing work, and the ability to run writing ecourses. The blog has been a wonderful way to help readers through writing and photography.

7. It’s been said that to be a good writer, one needs to be a voracious reader. What are your favorite types of books to read and what are you currently reading?

I love reading and I tend to read a lot of non-fiction.
This year I’ve read a lot of memoirs and I love books on photography. You can see my full reading list here: http://rowdykittens.com/2012books/

8. What other interests or hobbies do you have outside of writing?


Photography, hiking, and cycling. I try and spend a lot of time outside. Being in nature infuses my creativity.

9. What’s your next writing project?

I’m working on a new book idea. It’s not fully developed, but I know it will talk about grief and how to deal with grief in healthy ways.

I’m also working on another ecourse called How to Capture Everyday Magic with Your Camera.

10. How can people reach you online?

They can find me at rowdykittens.com.

Q&A with Author Tessa Stokes

This is another post in my monthly author interview series. If you’re an author and are interested in being featured in this series, please email me: amanda (at) amandabretz (dot) com.

1. Can you give me a synopsis of your newest release?

Bartholomew Pike’s Spell Book: Book Six of The Seven Spell Saga’

Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

The three friends and lovers find themselves embroiled in yet another adventure, this time indirectly caused by the time travel portal on the Dearing estate.

Tristan and Oliver are both in love with Chloe, and she reciprocates. It seems that just when the days of lovers’ jealousies are over a new twist is added to the love triangle.

A young woman seeking out Tristan for help arrives on the Dearing estate; her message is about the young knight Gaston. Gaston is in trouble, held captive, and being tortured. From her accent Oliver and Chloe think she is from another country, little so they know she is from another world.

Magic has always followed Tristan Dearing around, his love Chloe has caught the habit, and now so has the lovely Oliver Tarrant.

In the attic of Tristan’s reacquired house in the White Witch woods they find a cache of antiques.

Already the trio has found their special abilities evolving, and now Oliver, with his affinity with technology suddenly finds himself with as much magic surrounding him as Tristan.

In this enchanting continuation of the saga the romance between the characters takes new turns. They find new directions for their lives, which have been so changed over the last three years by their meeting. They settle down to use the special abilities they have received from their blood bond with the enigmatic, immortal knight Tristan Dearing.

2. What’s your creative process: Do you use an outline, write to certain type of music, use document maps, etc?

I usually have a story idea and make notes. I sometimes I need to research things. In The Seven Spell Saga book five: The Task I needed to research Britain in the 1960s. That was fun.

I add to the notes all the time to make a skeletal framework for the chapters as I do tend to make chapters too long if I am not careful.

It’s about the characters for me and usually they take over and the stories just flow from them.

In my other books The Ruthin Trilogy, books one and two, the characters were the first creation before the storyline. I knew where they were going with their lives and found that drove the creative process.

3. If you weren’t a writer what do you think you would be doing instead?

I usually do other work as well as writing.

I think I’d be a film maker if I did not write or a photographer. I like to tell a story somehow.

4. Personally, I hate formatting, just the term ‘header/footer’ makes me want to run and hide! What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?

It’s not really the writing process that gets to me. Letting people know about my work is the hardest part for me, the marketing and raising awareness of my books.

5. Do you have a mentor or another writer you look up to?

I don’t have a mentor but I do have writers that have been favorites since I read heaps of books. I admire rather than look up to.

6. What advice do you have for someone who wants a career in writing?

Be prepared for a long haul because in the main authors don’t ‘go from rags to riches’. It’s generally a lot of hard work, heartache, and perseverance that pays off. I think if you want to write then just do it, and enjoy it. Write because you love it and you have stories to tell.

7. It’s been said that to be a good writer, one needs to be a voracious reader. What are your favorite types of books to read and what are you currently reading?

I read many different genres. I think I read mostly, Science Fiction, Detective series, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Contemporary fiction that perhaps you could say was literary fiction, Historical and Contemporary romance.

Right now I am reading Christine Feehan: Dark Secret.

8. What other interests or hobbies do you have outside of writing?

I like to visit historical places, ancient and sacred sites. I read and I love movies.

9. What’s your next writing project?

I am writing book seven in The Seven Spell Saga, and Book three in The Ruthin trilogy, plus there is another ‘standalone’ I have noted because I really enjoyed writing Stone Kisses and I think once the saga and the trilogy are finished ‘standalones’ will be the way I go for a time.

10. How can people reach you online?

The Ruthin trilogy blog, The Seven Spell blog, The Ruthin trilogy Facebook page, The Seven Spell Saga Facebook page, Twitter, and my website.

My books are available at:

Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Sony e-reader.

Q&A with Author Darlene Jones

This is another post in my monthly author interview series. If you’re an author and are interested in being featured in this series, please email me: amanda (at) amandabretz (dot) com.

1.  Can you give me a synopsis of your newest release?

In EMPOWERED, Jasmine Wade is convinced that she is invincible, that she will find her soulmate, and that she has a special mission in life. The visions she experienced in her childhood told her so. Who was the woman in those visions?  Where will her beliefs lead? To love? To danger? Or …?

2. What’s your creative process: Do you use an outline, write to certain type of music, use document maps, etc?

I do use a rough outline which changes as I go, but really the story is in my head and when I write I’m filling in the details.

3. If you weren’t a writer what do you think you would be doing instead?

Well, I was an educator and I have a lovely 3 year-old granddaughter, so I’d be teaching and playing with my granddaughter. I’ve also done a lot of travelling and I lived in Mali at one time so I’d likely be volunteering with some organization somewhere in Africa.

4. Personally, I hate formatting, just the term ‘header/footer’ makes me want to run and hide! What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?

I don’t particularly like formatting either, but the bit that I really find hard is marketing. It’s time away from writing. I wish there was an easier way to let people know about my books and I’m thankful to you and other bloggers who help us advertise.

5. Do you have a mentor or another writer you look up to?

Some years ago I had the great good fortune to attend a week long workshop with Robert J. Sawyer. He’s an amazing man; a gifted teacher and so willing to share his knowledge and expertise.  I can’t say enough good things about him.

6. What advice do you have for someone who wants a career in writing?

Don’t give up and get help – attend workshops, join writers’ guilds, and critiquing groups. Work with a partner. My friend and I send chapters back and forth for critiquing and copy editing. I couldn’t have completed my books to the point of publication without her.

7. It’s been said that to be a good writer, one needs to be a voracious reader. What are your favorite types of books to read and what are you currently reading?

When I was a kid, I always had my nose in a book. Now it’s in my Kindle. I’m open to all genres, but lately I find that I’m looking for books that aren’t perhaps mainstream – Alphabet, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Sacre Bleu, The Tiger’s Wife, The Paris Wife …

8. What other interests or hobbies do you have outside of writing?

I’ve become a body boarding fanatic and am fortunate enough to spend 4 or 5 months a year in Mexico in a spot that has perfect conditions for boarding.

9. What’s your next writing project?

I’m getting my third book ready for publication – hope to have it out in the fall and I have book four partly written. I also post short bits (mostly humorous) on my blog.

10. How can people reach you online?

Amazon author page, SmashwordsWebsiteTwitter, and Facebook.

 

Q&A With Author Diane M. How

This is another post in my monthly author interview series. If you’re an author and are interested in being featured in this series, please email me: amanda (at) amandabretz (dot) com.

1.  Can you give me a synopsis of your newest release?

Peaks and Valleys is a memoir that begins in the Fifties, when life was simple and yet sometimes challenging.  The honest and heartfelt stories invite a chuckle one moment and a tear the next.  Readers will find themselves reflecting on their own childhood as they travel the introspective journey with me.

Peaks and Valley Book Coverf

2.    What’s your creative process: Do you use an outline, write to certain type of music, use document maps, etc?

My memoir began as a collection of short stories written over many years.  As I watched my mother slip into a dark abyss during her late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, I turned to my journal as a form of relief and tried to capture the most significant memories of my childhood.  It became therapeutic and insightful.  After my mother’s death, I decided to combine the vignettes into a book.  I developed an outline to ensure a cohesive element to my efforts.  A timeline also helped me chronologically identify significant milestones along the way.

3.  If you weren’t a writer what do you think you would be doing instead?

If I wasn’t a writer, I would be unfulfilled and wasting a talent that I have come to recognize as a gift from God.  I did some technical writing while employed, but writing poetry and vignettes were my passion.  Creative writing classes afforded me the opportunity to express the romantic side of my personality.  The power and beauty in words inspires me to touch people through the things I script.  I retired after a thirty-three year, supervisory career with the Department of the Army.  My role was challenging and fulfilling in many aspects, but I always felt there was something more that I needed to achieve.  Writing a book has been in the back of my mind for a long time, a yearning that I never expected to fulfill.  Having free time afforded me the opportunity to accomplish that.  Now that I have been successful in publishing one book, I know I cannot stop there.  My second book is a suspense/romance novel.  I am currently working on the rewrites and editing.

4.  Personally, I hate formatting, just the term ‘header/footer’ makes me want to run and hide! What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?

The computer, especially the internet, with all its unbelievable resources, makes me feel subordinate.  It has brought me to my knees more often than I want to admit.  Give me a good pen and pad of yellow paper and I am in heaven.  Make me learn about websites, blogs and domains and I melt into a pool of tears.  As for trying to understand headers and footers, I could have written three books in the time I have spent formatting my book for publication, yet, I recognize the computer as a remarkable tool necessary to survive in today’s world.

5.  Do you have a mentor or another writer you look up to?

About ten years ago, I attended a course given by a local author, Joyce Adams.  Her genre is historical romance, and she offered a class at the local community college on writing.  At the time, I had no interest in writing romance, but it was a unique experience that instilled in me many valuable lessons that I incorporate in my writings today.  Ms. Adams offered invaluable critique and encouragement that gave me the support I needed to keep writing.  Her material on plot and character development is always on hand when I write.

I also have to give credit to an amazing author, you, Amanda Bretz.  Not only have I had the enjoyable experience of reading your books, you have offered sincere and honest critiques and editing advice.  You helped me to overcome the many computer hurdles that discouraged me from publishing my book initially and you patiently shared a wealth of knowledge with me regarding websites and blogs.  Thank you.

6.  What advice do you have for someone who wants a career in writing?

There are three things that I would recommend to new writers.

  1. Write from your heart.  If you are passionate about something, that’s the best place to start.  Take your time and don’t rush through the details.  A reader wants to use all their senses while reading.  Close your eyes and hear, feel, smell and touch your scenes.
  2. Ask for and then listen to critiques.  Join a writing club or find another writer in your area or on line.  Be prepared to hear the constructive criticism provided.  Don’t take it personal.  Weigh it with what you know and then decide if it is right for you.
  3. Be realistic.  Know why you are writing and what you hope to accomplish.  Who is your audience?  What you are willing to do to get your book in their hands?

7. It’s been said that to be a good writer, one needs to be a voracious reader. What are your favorite types of books to read and what are you currently reading?

I enjoy reading everything from romance to suspense.  I’m partial to those novels that warm my heart, make me laugh, and enlighten me along the way.  I’m a sucker for stories that reflect personal journeys like Saving Sammy by Beth Allison Maloney and House Rules by Jodi Picoult.  Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark and Dan Brown fill my book shelves as well.

8.  What other interests or hobbies do you have outside of writing?

I volunteer with the Girl Scout Council of Eastern Missouri as a facilitator for the adult learning courses offered within the council.  I also am trainer-of-trainers.  I enjoy reading, music, basket weaving, and visiting with friends.  When the weather cooperates, I can be found with a fishing pole in hand alongside my husband at a nearby Dam.  Sightings of me at a local casino are known to occur on occasion, too.

9.  What’s your next writing project?

My next book is called Burning Embers.  It is a suspense/romance novel that will keep the reader guessing with many twists and turns.  Brittany Harbor hopes to put her painful life on the east coast behind her and start fresh by escaping to a remote location outside of Carson City, Nevada.  Strange and frightening events cause her to doubt that she will ever find peace and love again, yet she is determined to make the best of it despite the chance of another broken heart.

10.  How can people reach you online?

Readers will find my book available on Amazon.com and Kindle.  I have recently started a blog at http://www.authordianemhow.com  I hope to provide a short diversion for my readers, allowing them to smile, laugh, or just take a break from the stresses of their daily grind.  My email is talltales1@msn.com