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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Author Showcase: Ginger Gelsheimer and Christina Keats

    Quest of the Hybrid by Ginger Gelsheimer and Christina Keats is the first book in the Aurora Conspiracy Trilogy. Nineteen-year-old Jesse and her older brother James are living on their family farm in Aurora, Texas. Haunted by the disappearance of her mother years ago into the windmill that stands on the property, the very windmill where an alien spaceship crashed in the late 1800s, Jesse is determined to find her mother. Even though she has her mother's journal, she's not sure where to start until she finds what appears to be a crystal key among the things left behind by her mother. Enlisting the help of Marcus, the pilot of a crop duster plane, and a good friend of her and her brother, they end up flying into a portal to another dimension, leaving James behind, completely baffled. From here the story sweeps you away into the Bermuda Triangle, Atlantis, the Pyramids, and an unknown mysterious planet. From alien spaceships to the aliens themselves, Jesse is surprised and amazed at every turn, but this spunky adept young woman has an even bigger surprise ahead of her, one not even she could have imagined.
    Quest of the Hybrid is a wild and entertaining read. Already aware of the spaceship crash that was reported to have happened in Aurora, Texas in 1897, I was eager to see how these authors wove fact with fiction in this story. I think they did a great job! The characters are believable, and the descriptive text was kept to a minimum in places it needed to be, yet the back story was given when necessary. As I read, I had no problem envisioning the sweeping scenes laid out by the authors, as well as some of the technology Jesse encountered. I would definitely recommend this book to young and old alike, and I look forward to reading the next book in this trilogy. Reviewed by Chameleon (B.G.) for Reader's Favorite

Q. Ginger and Christina, thanks for joining me here! The way the two of you came together as a writing team amazes me. It made me feel like you two were destined to be a writing team. Can you tell the readers about it?

Ginger - Christina and I were young college grads brought together by a temp agency that stuffed the local telecommunications company, Quest Communications, like sardines with people our age. We became friends right away and have been for almost 20 years. Living on opposite ends of the country, we made an effort to see each other, which wasn’t hard given she’s in Colorado and I’m in Florida - we’re always vacationing. We’ve been through marriage, babies, careers and all tons of other stuff! We’ve shared highs and lows and we’ve always stuck together. We love to shake a room with the fun energy we project.

Christina - I do feel destiny comes into play with things like this. When I came into my wonderful post-grad telecommunications (temporary) career I made many new and great friends and one of them was Ginger. One of the things that has always fueled my friendship with Ginger was our common drive and unstoppable hunger for the bigger things in life. Not bigger and better in a materialistic kind of way, but the fuller life experience we share with only certain people in our lives. No matter the highs and lows we experience at any given time, our beliefs in “going for it” never dies. We’ve been through a pretty good gamut of life events (and then some) and our drive and friendship remains a constant. Our dreams are big and our imaginations are even bigger. Finding this common outlet through writing made complete sense!

Q. That's amazing, but I can't honestly imagine trying to collaborate on a book with someone that lives 1600 miles away, that really takes some serious thought syncing, yet you've proven time and again that it works beautifully for you both. What's the secret?

Ginger - Obviously, technology has made it much easier because we can hold video calls in Google Hangouts. It’s almost like we are in the same room. But also, it takes staying engaged with the project. When you have to read and reread a story hundreds of times, it better be interesting! And even more so because we have a series and trilogy, so we have to make sure we never conflict, or create a box we can’t get out of down the road.

...oh, and then there’s Aurelius-the muse, who is very LOUD! He doesn’t like his story sitting cold for too long, there’s way too much to tell.

Christina -The one thing Ginger and I had going for us on the tele-writing was that we knew each other so well in both work and play. We do see each other more often than it might seem and both of those things were factors whenever we were together. Writing was a natural expression for both of us and that partnership, matched with our shared creative ambitions, was bound to happen. It also helps that we both are extremely in touch with the energies that come our way. When Aurelius came knocking we were quick to respond and build that relationship with him and all that came with it!

Q. Quest of the Hybrid wasn't just a fun fanciful tale for me. Because it was based on a true event and spun off from there, it changed the way I saw it. Tell me what actually got this series going for you both.

Ginger - It was one of our “make sure to stay friends by seeing each other frequently” visits when we accidentally came up with the Aurora Conspiracy project. We had no idea it would lead to something we will probably work on for a decade. It’s amazing what happens when you add a little vino to the moment. One minute we’re watching Ancient Aliens about a spaceship crash in Aurora, Texas in 1897 with so many unexplained bits of evidence, how could it not have happened? And then what if he lived? ...and the next minute, Aurelius was born. Now he rents space in our heads and is “high-maintenance” demanding that his story gets out.

Christina - A typical and regular visit in Colorado with my good friend, some good wine and good chatter left us yearning for more...a norm for us. As we settled into the alien TV shows that have always peaked our interest and it was as if a direct message flew in and plopped right down beside us. The sunny and relaxing evening turned into a high-energy night with high-speed momentum. A no less than perfect scenario for the two of us. We thought, why do we, as people, simply accept the truths fed to us on a daily basis without even a small inkling to seek out the real truth? Truth may be in the eye of the beholder, yes, but it also has a chance to make sense. Our novel(s) is that truth and holds the story that comes with it. As you follow history, this is what happened. Are people open to see that?

Q. I would bet there are more than enough that are. I've heard more than a few people say that they thought this storyline would make a great T.V. series, or movie. That would be an exciting direction to take your creations, I would think.

Ginger - We have had initial interest, in fact, we originally started with a screenplay and were asked to convert the script into a novel trilogy. Write the book to build support for the movie. Write the series to build support for the book. We’ve spent so much time with Jesse, Aurelius, Emily and Syrius that these characters have truly come to life for us...and they always step in s*@t! We have to know what they are doing next.

Christina - Well, the carefully-stated interest can be exciting to think about although what it really does for us personally is continually take us back to that first thought of it all and when Aurelius sought us out. It reminds us that this story is actually something. Getting to know these characters as they continually unfold has built a new world around us and we are in contact with it on a daily basis. Sure, it give us a feel good that they have a future with possibilities but where that takes us (to a bookshelf or beyond) is yet to be seen. For now, our loyalties lie with the story itself.

Q. Yes, first things first, for sure, but do you already have the manuscript written, or just the layout?

Ginger - We have the old version written, which means we have to pretty much start over.

Christina - The screenplay was the initial focus. We did complete round one on that and it did generate interest, however, now the request of books has taken us beyond that first expression of the story. We will be revisiting that part of the project as it comes back around, which in the big picture, may not be that far off.

Q. While you're waiting for that possibility, what is it that you're working on now?

Ginger - We are working on Book 2 of the Aurora Conspiracy trilogy and episodes 5 & 6 for the prequel series. I am also about to release episode 4 of The Dark Days series that I write with my daughter, Taylor. I’m also excited to be working on a script for an independent film that has to do with karma...that’s all I’m sayin’!

Christina - Two more books on Aurora and the remaining episodes are sitting right here but there is more outside of that. I do have some other projects that will be getting more attention over time for sure. One involves the younger readers of today and how they can be even more involved in the world of writing, reading and sharing. I have a big interest in this. On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve got a very in-depth story unfolding as we speak where tragedy may just meet up with humor when all is said and done. One thing is for sure...the engines are running and I can say with full confidence that there are crazy stories just waiting to come out...for both of us!

Q. Wow, sounds like you both have enough projects to last you a lifetime! If this series ever is wrapped up, what projects do you have in mind for the future?

Ginger - I don’t think this series is going to be wrapped up for awhile. We have both a future and a past to tell.

Christina - You know, this project is bigger than ‘a book’ and is our primary focus in the immediate future. Having said that though, there is always more going on in the wings and I can’t see either one of us putting an end to forward movement on any of our writing, anytime soon. Aside from this project, we both have many good stories to tell whether individually and together, the team holds strong and you just never know!

Chameleon: Any parting comments you'd like to leave my readers with?

Ginger - I would like to thank all of you for supporting the writers that you read. All of us start out the same-a shining thought or idea that just chips away and demands to be written down, remembered and shared. We never know if someone else will care to enjoy our story, but we have to at least create that opportunity.

Christina - Well, it’s funny that with this project we’ve said “join the journey” because it pertains to our story. But it really kind of sums it up for me all around. Expression (through writing) is a journey in itself. It think it’s pure awesomeness to share this journey with other writers. There is a great energy in that. We all have our stories and tales and through the work we do and in good times and bad, the support helps keep us going. As a parting comment, I’d say keep it together and stay together. We can all help each other so that we don’t fall off during any hard times because to have such strong feelings about a story, it only feels right to give it a real chance to be told. It truly is an amazing journey.

Thank you both for an amazing interview, and great encouragement. I wish you both the greatest success!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Let's Get in the Mood, Shall We?

I woke up today excited to get on with my next chapter because I had gone to sleep last night with excellent dialogue in my head. I put on my writing CD- the one my husband lovingly refers to as my "CD from Hell", warmed up the computer, and suddenly was beset by thoughts that I should really check my mail, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter first, you know, just in case.

Big mistake. By the time I got through reading all the posts squabbling over religion, gay rights, and some picture of 2 Orientals butchering a dead dog whose head they'd just cut off, I was definitely no longer in the mood. For anything. How many times has this happened to you?

After several hours of being in a weird mood, I decided on what actions I could take to make sure that didn't happen again. Here's what I did. I told myself that writing would be the first thing I concentrated on. My mail and all the social networks would simply have to wait until much later in the day. Once I did finally log back on, I began cleaning out my Follows. Love you guys, but I'm not on any social network to get into any pissing contest, or barroom brawl. If I really wanted to do that, I'd join a mess of political groups and go in with both barrels blazing. Nope, those days are over for me. There's too many pleasant things to talk about and wonder over without hating on anyone, or trying to drive my opinions down someone's throat. I just want to get back to lala land.

Having done all that, I wake up back in the mood again and I'm finally getting some writing done. My time online has also been more enjoyable, as well. It's not that I don't want to face the problems of the world, but there is a time and a place to tackle them. In the middle of writing a fiction book isn't one of them, not when I need positive creativity to be flowing.


Chameleon Author

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Are You Throwing Your Characters At Readers?

    Far too often I settle in to read a book and find each time a new character is introduced, the author blasts me with a full blown description. This immediately pulls me out of the story. It's distracting, and plays havoc with whatever flow the author may have put me in. There are many right ways to introduce your characters, it really depends on exactly what situation and environment they come into your story at, and the type of genre you're writing, but there is really only two wrong ways to introduce them.
     This is one area where you should pay particular attention. I've read review after review where readers write that they didn't connect with the characters in the story, and/or the characters felt one dimensional. As a writer, you must get your readers connected to your characters enough to want to walk alongside them in your story, or at the very least, to watch from the sidelines as your characters go through whatever you've beset them with. Without this connection, your reader never builds a vested interest in your characters success or survival. That's bad for reviews, and bad for sales.
     Having said all that, the worst way to introduce your character(s) in to dump everything you know about them into one paragraph right out of the chute. This is not necessary in any circumstance, and should never be done. When you write, you should be ever mindful of layering your story. This helps build intensity. Spread your descriptions out over a few pages if you insist that the reader know every detail about your character.
     If you're inclined to see excellent examples, I'd highly recommend two books I've read recently. Both very different, but prime examples. The Grid by Carlton Winnfield is narrated by the shadowy operative employed by The Grid. I don't recall one single mention of this man's looks, height, weight, etc. Not even the color of his eyes. But, through his writing, what I did get was that the operative was very agile, highly intelligent, well trained, and extremely dangerous. And that was precisely all I needed to know about him. The very nature of the story demanded this vagueness, yet I did feel like I knew him on some level. I connected with him.
     In complete contrast, you have Partly Sunny by Terry Lee. Darcy, our lead character here is very materialistic, and her main concern in life- in the beginning, is designer clothes, shoes, and living in the "right" part of town. As such, she is described in great detail, as is everything in her life. It's an incredibly realistic look at one young woman's life, and how she comes to realize what's really important, but here again, this story demanded such details be told. The author, however, spread these descriptions out whenever possible, and it just works. I never disconnected from the story because of overwhelming details- despite the fact that there were a good deal of details given. It's all in the way you handle the writing, and the author did it perfectly.
     Knowing when enough is enough is key to building your character up for your readers. Don't be afraid to leave some things to the imagination of your readers. Take into account the genre of your book, it will often dictate just how much information you need to impart. A romance novel, for instance, you'll typically find a fair amount of character detail, whereas in a detective, or spy novel, you may find only simple details.
     When you start a new novel, only you can determine how much will be enough, but in the end, it's your readers that will judge whether you went to far too soon. Find that happy medium and you will have mastered one of the hardest parts of writing, and one that causes the most negative reviews.

Chameleon Author

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pawthor Showcase: Champ


    Champ: My Story of Survival by Fiona Ingram and Champ is the amazing story of Champ, a 7-year-old poodle mix, and how he survived brutal abuse and betrayal at the hands of people he only wanted to love, to become the beacon of hope for so many. This story had my emotions all over the place. The first 3 – 4 pages had me crying, then came the anger for the people that could do such a thing to a helpless animal like that, then came the anxiety as I read of his constant setbacks in treatment, and finally the hopeful smile as he finally got the right medication that would work for him.
    That smile got even bigger as Champ told me of his grand adventure while on a quest to save not only CoCo, a pretty Pekingese in his neighborhood, but other dogs missing from a nearby area. CoCo has been kidnapped and Champ is determined to find her. As he seeks the help of the Chicken Ladies, they're aghast, but not sure what to do. They decide to enlist the help of The Pigeon Ladies Flying Club. Surely they would know what to do; they seem to know everything. I won't spoil it by telling more, but I will say the Pigeon Ladies have Champ flying high - and low! - to get to CoCo, and Champ finds out that even a small dog like him can make a big difference.
     Ultimately, this story is a tribute to the love a dog can continue to feel for a species (humans) at whose hands he's only known pain and suffering, and his ability to so readily love and trust again. But it's also for the men and women who selflessly contribute their time, and often their own money, in rescue shelters like S.A.F.E. Rescue all across the country. The foster parents who take in animals like Champ, once they are well enough to leave the shelters, are to be equally applauded. For Champ, foster mom Suzy, and foster dad Robert were his angels in disguise. And once he was well enough to move around, he had a host of friends to welcome him: the Chicken Ladies, a hamster, a bunny, and three other rescue dogs. What a wonderful home to be in! I don't doubt they all played a big role in Champ's recovery - in body and spirit!
    There are semi-graphic pictures of Champ in this book. His injuries were bad, but seeing them will only heighten your amazement at his will and courage. You'll cheer through every teardrop at the tenacity of this little dog, and be deeply moved by his plight. The proceeds from this book and merchandise sales go to Champ's continued rehabilitation, and to help the many other dogs that S.A.F.E. Rescue takes in. Each sale of this book can make a difference, thank you for your support!

Q. Champ, thank you so much for being with me today. Your story is amazing. Please tell me how you've been doing these last few months.
A: Hi Chameleon, I’m so happy to be your guest today. I’ve done a few interviews and I love them. It’s a chance to tell people about saving animals. As you know, I’m the Ambassadog for S.A.F.E. Rescue, and I’ve been very busy since my biodography was published. I set up a Twitter account so I can Tweet about my book, but also happy ending stories about animals being saved. I have a Facebook page and website, and my foster mommy updates this. I also have a Pinterest page where I can share good news photos and videos as well. Then there’s my blog where I review animal books and interview other Pawthors. In between all this busy stuff, I spend time with my wonderful foster family, having fun, and especially snuggling up to foster mommy Suzy. My leg that was sore is getting better after I saw my special vet, Dogtor Slaton. So, I am in the pink!
Q. Champ, you have more friends on Facebook than I do! So many people have been cheering for you, did it make a difference in your recovery?

 A: You have no idea how much those messages meant to me. When I was still in the hospital, I was so weak, feeling so feeble, as if I could just close my eyes and slip away. I felt as if I didn’t have the strength to hang on, it was so hard to keep going. But my foster mommy came to visit me every day and she would read the Facebook messages to me. I began to realize that despite the bad things that had happened, so many people all over the world (that had never met me) just loved me, cared about me, and prayed for me. Foster mommy Suzy would post updates about me on Facebook, and that’s how my friends got to know how I was doing. She also gave me what humans call a ‘meme.’ NEVER GIVE UP! So I didn’t…
Q. I have to tell you, I was quite impressed with your story of saving CoCo and the other dogs. Though I know Fiona helped you write it, that was quite a tale. What inspired it?
A: Well, this is a secret, but I know I can tell you – it actually happened. I did fly with the Pigeon Ladies and it was reported on the TV news channel as well. But sometimes it’s better if people think it’s just a cute story.
Don't worry, you're secret is safe with me. All Super Heroes need to maintain a bit of anonymity.

Q. Tell me about your new friend, Joe, I hear he's lost his eyes.
A: Joe came to S.A.F.E. Rescue because his owners gave him up. Fiona did some research and we read that his eyes were bad because he inherited a defect and his eyes did not develop properly. It was best to take them out. But many people don’t know that dogs have fantastic smell and hearing, and Joe says it doesn’t make a difference not having eyes because he didn’t see anything anyway. He has a great nose and can sniff things out from miles away! He came to stay with us for a while and we had such fun, although I guess humans would say we were naughty. He is my Best Friend Forever!

Champ with best friend Joe

Q. I also hear that you and Joe have quite a tale to tell, as well, care to give me a sneak peek at that?
A: Yes, please tell everyone that I’m doing a second book. You know, it’s hard work being a Pawthor. I do lots of marketing (as you can see in my photos). I also realized you can’t just have one book. So, Joe and I teamed up with Fiona for the second book called Champ & Joe: Best Friends Forever. It’s Joe’s story of how he got saved, his eye operation, him getting better and finding a Fur-Ever Home. We also wrote an exciting short story called How Champ & Joe Saved Easter. I’ll give you a hint – there ARE baddies involved, and Miss Prudence from the Pigeon Ladies Flying Club helps, as well as Amber, one of my doggy foster siblings.
Oh my, sounds a little dangerous, Champ, but how exciting that you got to team up, once again, with the Pigeon Ladies- and with Joe at your side, no less! I look forward to reading this adventure!
Champ learns marketing is a big part of being an Indie Pawthor.
Q. I can't express how grateful I am to the people of S.A.F.E. Rescue for what they did for you, Champ, and for all the animals that come to them. So much so, in fact, that I'm taking steps to become a monthly contributor to them. Is there anything special you'd like to tell my readers about them?
A: Now I’m going to cry (sniff). Kelli and Suzy and the other Anjils that run S.A.F.E. Rescue are real Anjils for Aminals. They care about all animals; even the ones people think are ‘broken.’ They save animals that wouldn’t have a chance because there is something that needs to be fixed. And they fix them! I can’t even think of enough words to say how I feel. My heart gets all full, and I think I might cry a lot. My foster mommy cared so much for me that I knew it was safe to live again, and to love and trust people again. S.A.F.E. Rescue needs lots of support to save more animals. If anyone reading this can help them, please do.
Q. I know you have so many people you wish you could thank in person, but I think I can speak for everyone when I say that your happy little face is thanks enough. To see you smile again is priceless. Your efforts in helping your fellow animals through your stories will mean a lot to so many, Champ, I hope you'll give me the opportunity to preview your next adventure and share it with my readers.
A: I would love to share all my good news with you again. Book 2 will be happening soon because Fiona says she is nearly finished. Oops! I almost forgot. My third book is going to be Champ’s Book of Short Stories & Poems for Children. It’s going to be lots of fun stories and poetry, and I’m going to invite everyone I know to contribute to make it a fantastic book!
Well, I hope you have a very big mailbox, because I bet you'll be flooded with letters for that!
Thanks for your time, Champ, I hope to speak with you again, soon!

Woof! Woof!

S.A.F.E. Rescue:

Champ's Website:


Champ: My Story of Survival   Click here to purchase for Kindle just 2.99

Click here to purchase for Nook, Sony, Apple, Kobo, and other Epub readers Just 2.99

The proceeds from your purchase of Champ's book goes to the support and medical treatment of animals just like Champ. Thank you for your support and kindness! Please share this with all your friends and family.

More from me at
Chameleon Author

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Did You Really Just Say That- AGAIN?

    As an almost infamous reviewer, I read, and review, a lot of books. I don't read just so I can review books, rather, I read for the love of it, and review it so everyone else can know about it, too. Like any other reader, I have my pet peeves. One of the biggest has to be repetitive, or redundant, information. A few weeks back, I read a fellow bloggers blog post on this very subject, and I was appalled at how badly his audience ripped him up for the example he gave. Wow, really? This got me thinking, is it just me? Or him? Do people really like to be reminded 3 or 4 times within 7 or 8 pages that Joe loved Sue deeply, and would do anything for her? How about 'Dan, the valet, took our car keys, and several hours later, Dan, the valet, brought the car back around for us.' Would there be any doubt in your mind that Dan, the valet that took your car keys the first time is probably the same Dan that brought your car back to you in the second part of this sentence? Better yet, would it really matter unless Dan was at least in some way connected to your story other than just being the guy that handled your car? Don't you think it would be just fine for this flash in the pan character to simply be called 'the valet'?
Trust me, stop making your readers tired. Trim the fat.

    Then you have some authors who have taken on an almost Shakespearean persona: "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."  But they've  given it a modern twist: "How can I get something out of you? Let me see how many times I can ask for it over the next 4 pages." I recently read a book- I won't name names, but seriously, I've never seen so much rambling, repetitive dialogue and general descriptive text in any other book. This book could have easily had 150 pages trimmed off of it. It was painful to read. Seriously painful. There's a hard lesson here that every author should grab firmly hold of: if you're actually writing books with the goal of selling them, people other than you need to want to read them. If you load your book down with redundancy, and descriptive text that simply isn't necessary, you won't have to worry about paying taxes on money you make from book sales.

    Yes, yes, I know, it can all be a subjective - to an extent. But the one thing that can never be subjective is the happiness of the person who buys, and reads, your book. Do you want them to be smiling when they've turned the last page, or grimacing 20% into it because they can't take any more? It's your call.

    Chameleon Author

Monday, March 3, 2014

Author Showcase: Tom Tinney

Threads – Fabric of the Universe by Tom Tinney is set just over 500 years into the future. There is a sadistic killer on the loose, and he could be anywhere in the universe - literally. Twin brothers, Mark and Matt Williams, have been recruited to serve in a special unit of the USS Marshals due to the special ability the twins have: threading, a type of mental communication that reads like a shorthand Twitter message. With special brain implants that are basically high powered computers, they can access almost unlimited data. With ISTEC, a company owned by an extremely wealthy group of people hiding their own explosive secret, Matt, aided by Mark stationed at headquarters, eventually becomes involved in finding the killer on the loose, and aiding in exposing the secret held by ISTEC for 300 years.
 Threads - Fabric of the Universe is an incredibly complex story. Well written, and highly descriptive, the plot and subplots are layered nicely. There are a lot of characters in this book, with quite a bit of back story and technology to explain, but it was necessary to the story, and wasn't uninteresting. I do wish it could have been spread out more, but as I turned the last page, I'm glad I stayed with it. I think the author wove his own magical threads in creating characters and worlds that were very believable. With technology worth drooling over, I think this is what hardcore sci-fi readers dream of, and even those who aren't will find this an engrossing and enjoyable story.  Reviewed by Chameleon (B.G.) for Reader's Favorite

Q. Tom, Threads is quite a story. What inspired you to write it?

A. First, I want to thank you for this opportunity to talk about Threads. I’d had the storyline in my head for a long time. The basic three “mechanisms” of the story (Threading, The DSMM to allow intergalactic travel and the lone USS Marshal as the ultimate protector of rights in an expanding sphere of human colonization).and the beginning plot arc. As in a single plot arc.
    I was describing the story for “the book I was going to write someday” to a co-worker and he was adamant that I should just take the time and write it. So I did.
    Once I began thinking about the characters, the book’s universe and how to connect those basic mechanisms, I suddenly had a whiteboard full of history, places, people, tech and plot arcs. I wrote the basic “rules of the universe” and applied my “free- enterprise/ individual effort/personal responsibility” take on success in life. I’m a Biker-nerd with serious “Don’t tread on me” issues.
    As I made those notes, I found all of the plot twists and antagonists. I found ISTEC (Intra Stellar Transportation and Exploration Company). I determined that businesses and personal prosperity will drive our expansion, but I had to demonstrate that it could only do that after a massive failure of government control, socialism and oppression centuries before (which would be late in this century). I just followed the breadcrumbs after that.

Q. That's an incredible process, Tom, honestly, it amazes me. Though this book is set 500 years into the future, the technology you describe seemed so natural, how did you come up with it?

A. I geek out…a lot. When I needed a device to “get something done” I invented or extrapolated it. I always knew that the pigeon was going to be how we communicated in the future. It’s as close to instant as we can get across those distances, which is why the USS Marshals have a slight advantage over criminal enterprises. I knew there had to be a way to stop Threaders (or those in dire consequences who have had their thread broken), so I invented the Nano-Storm.
    Personal Implants are going to happen quickly, once we get over our fear of “Skynet”. I paid homage to William Gibson with how the tech is handled, implemented and used by people, even referring to his ICE technology. Gibson and Herbert were huge influences in my writing.
    I have been asked why I did not make the implants “wireless”, eliminating the need for cable interconnects. That was simple and harkened back to my days in the USAF. They are wireless for mundane things, but for any priority or important interfaces, you go with a cable. It is all about security. When a signal is broadcast, it can be intercepted and decoded. I was somewhat prophetic in that instance, the way the NSA is grabbing our communications. Direct connection also minimizes interference. It serves as a great story mechanism.
    I will stop there, because if we go too much further, I start introducing spoilers.

Q. Ok, let's not do that, because this is such a good read, I want readers to be surprised. Your character and world building were excellent. Many authors base their characters on people they actually know, did you do that with any of yours?

A. With the good guys, they are an amalgamation of people I have met, read about or imagined, that live to higher ideals. I did not make them perfect. I gave them flaws; physical, emotional and decision-making. Nobody got a free pass.
    The bad guys? They are mostly a reflection of the idiots and jerks I have met. Or politicians. Yeah, there is a political slant that will be easy for the savvy reader to figure out. I tried not to be cliché in their badness, but I wrote them from a mindset of “what will make the reader REALLY hate this guy?” and then the character did or said or acted on that thing. The main antagonist? He comes from a dark place. It was uncomfortable to write who he was and what he does. I have gotten some blowback over the level and description of the sexually oriented violence. I can live with that. Those sections are a grand total of four paragraphs in a 520 page novel. Do you hate the guy? Good. You should.

Q. I didn't think the sexual aspects were overdone, personally. I really liked your story premise, but I was truly impressed with how flawlessly you kept the story flowing so well through the entire length of the book. No mean feat, even for seasoned authors. Did it really flow that well for you when you wrote it?

A. When I started actually writing Threads, I completed it in six weeks, 185,000 words. I wrote three to four hours per night, most weekends and had the draft ready for first edit at the end of that time. I used a detailed spreadsheet that I created to track all of the characters, calculations for travel/history/technology, chapter outlines, etc. I understand that there is software that does this, but it was my first book, so I used what I knew. I also checked off each of the plot arcs and the story points on the white board as they were implemented. Believe it or not, that was the easy part. The writing, dialogue, world building and plot twists come naturally.
    And then the real work started. It took almost a year to shake out the formatting, grammar, spelling, punctuation and rework the finer points of my fat finger issues. There were three editors helping at different times, but Paul was there the entire project (he was the one that said I should write it, so he was dragged in to do some of the work). We went through the book five complete times and we knew we had it nailed. Then we got the draft copy print from Createspace and on the first page was a glaring error. We were bummed. We sat down that sixth time and read it line by line with yellow highlighters and post-it notes. We marked every error and corrected them. We are proud of it and have now gotten compliments on its professionalism.
    While I was writing it, I had made the decision self-publish and learned as much as I could about the process. I was not going to let Threads be a “hangar queen” on a dusty pile because it did not meet someone else’s idea of what my book should be at that moment. Now that it is getting five star ratings, I know I made the right decision.

Q. It is very well written. Your patience and knowledge with the whole process of self-publishing, and your attention in “getting it right the first time” is clearly evident in Threads, Tom. I think it's worth noting that you donate 10% of the proceeds from your book sales to a special cause, can you tell us more about that?

A. While I was editing the book, and learning about self-publishing, I made the decision that Threads should benefit something important. If it made any money, it was money that I had not budgeted, so I committed to donate 10% of the profits to ALS research and patient care. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
    My best friend’s wife, Sheila, was diagnosed a couple of years back and it really hit everyone hard. We like to fix things and solve things. I think that Sci-Fi writers like to envision a future where those things are solved or cured. In the here and now, that is not the case. I wrote ALS into the book and it was a struggle to not let my anger at how people are affected overwhelm the support and strength shown on a daily basis by those that are dealing with it.
    The first royalty check that I was able to write over to ALS was a significant moment (but a small amount) in my burgeoning writing career. There are bigger things than us and our words. We need to understand that and keep things in perspective.

Q. That's truly touching, Tom, think of the possibilities if only more authors could do that. You're obviously a talent to watch, what's next on the horizon for you?

A. I have three projects in the works, but the one getting most of my attention is “Blood of Invidia”. An awesome tale of Vampires and Aliens spanning thousands of years. Galactic conquest with a huge twist.
    I have a son in Australia that I have never met in person, named Morgen. We have been corresponding for a few years and began tossing story ideas via text message. He is a really talented writer and his personality speaks to genetics versus environment…because he is just like me.
    I saved the messages, and after I wrote Threads, I took the messages and did a basic outline for “Blood of Invidia”. Over time, we flushed out the book. We are now Skyping and writing it in the cloud, blending our two distinct styles. We have the draft prologue up on my personal blog. The first draft of the book will be done in a couple of months.
    My two other projects are the second book in the Fabric of the Universe series. It will be called “Weaves” and it continues the story started in Threads. I will get back to it after “Blood of Invidia” is released. I am also writing more WEBisodes to a Sci-Fi detective series on my blog called “PULPED!”. They started out as an entry in a micro-story contest and have taken on a life of their own.

Thanks for joining me, Tom, I wish you great success, and look forward to seeing you expand as an author. Any parting words you'd like to leave your readers with?

 For readers? Look at Indie/Self Published authors. Their books are not restrained by the vanilla formulaic size and pattern requirements inflicted by the big publishers and, as such, are more innovative, risky and cutting edge.
    For Indie authors? Do not rush to publish. Beta readers, PROFESSIONAL EDITING and great cover artist will keep your work from being dismissed. Do you want fans or one-time buyers?
    Unfortunately, there is a lot of low quality and poorly written stuff out there. It has created a huge amount of distrust in the readership of Self-Published Authors Efforts. If the author knows the book has issues…they need to FIX THEM before they publish. It is not fair to the reader or other authors when you knowingly let low quality stuff out on the market. I read a book and the authors notes at the end were “With everyone of my works, you will get the Typos and Grammatical errors at no extra charge.”
     And yes, in his cute comment, he had another error (“With every one of”). He thought he was being funny. I think he was being unprofessional and knew he was selling me less than his best work. Don’t be that guy.

Great advice, Tom. I highly recommend Threads. Not only is it a great read, but it helps a great cause!

Threads: Book One of the "Fabric of the Universe" (Volume 1) Purchase here for Kindle

Threads: Book One of the "Fabric of the Universe" (Volume 1) Purchase here for Nook, Sony, Apple Chameleon Author

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Author Showcase: Terry Lee

    Partly Sunny by Terry Lee is the poignant story of Darcy, a thirty-year-old woman living in Houston at the Fountain Oaks Apartments. With much of the story centering on this location, we are introduced to various characters that come into her life. It's through these characters that she finds her life changing in unexpected, though not unwelcome ways. Thinking herself to be on the right path to achieve what she believes to be the life she wants, it's these characters, along with her best friend Miranda's unexpected pregnancy, that slowly reveal to her what's really important in life. The elderly and ever brusque apartment manager, Ms. Viola, also proves to be a big influence as well. Sometimes the road to our 'fairytale life' is paved with potholes, and the castle at the end of the road turns out to be an apartment, but as long as it's filled with people we love, isn't that what really matters?
    Partly Sunny is an incredibly heartwarming story. Author Terry Lee has created such wonderful and diverse characters and situations that you can't help but really like them all. Great character building gave Darcy, and all the characters involved in her life, such depth and reality. Even Ms. Viola, with her brusque and sometimes harsh attitude, is shown to be a diamond in the rough, hiding behind her own walls to keep the hurts out. From the mundane to the shocking, all the events in Darcy's life lead her to the discovery I wish all young women could make: sometimes happiness isn't really out there somewhere, it's quite often right beneath your very nose. I highly recommend Partly Sunny, and most especially to anyone still looking for their fairytale. Maybe it's not as far away as you think. - Reviewed by Chameleon (B.G.) for Reader's Favorite
Q. Terry, thanks for joining me. What set you on the road to writing your first novel?

Thanks for having me!

A. There are several components to this question. As a volunteer for Houston Hospice I have had the privilege of sitting with people toward the very end of their life who talk to those on “the other side.” Through my Hospice training I learned about this phenomenon, “nearing death awareness” and is explained by the authors of Final Gifts like the soul’s journey leaving this physical foot still here and the other having stepped across to those waiting on the other side. I believe we are spirits in physical bodies vs physical bodies with spirits, which makes this easy for me to conceptualize.
    The next factor…my mom’s death in 1987. I was 35. Though it’s been over 25 yrs. since her death, at times I feel her so near. With that being said, my thoughts started spinning…if she is near, what is her world like? Is there a Starbucks? Does she get to choose what clothes she wears? Is an umbrella necessary? Hence the creation of Saving Gracie, a story about love transcending beyond death. I’ve also been fascinated in movies where there is a death, but for the person dying, life picks back up most times without missing a step. (Examples: Always, Defending Your Life, Ghost, Heaven Can Wait, Kiss Me Goodbye, Heart and Souls, and a really old one…The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

The possibilities of life after death are fascinating, for sure.

Q. Partly Sunny really kind of sneaked up on me. I expected it to be a quiet, heartwarming story, but it was so much more than that, and I wasn't prepared at how involved I got in it. What inspired this story?

A. I’m an observer by nature and believe everyone has a story to tell. The setting, Fountain Oaks (not the real name), is an actual small, fairly rundown apartment complex that looks like it was dropped from an alien space-craft right in the middle of Houston’s Galleria area. I know this because my daughter lived there for several years after graduating from college. And yes, a host of the most unusual characters lived there. The standing joke between me and my daughter was she could say she lived in the Galleria area of Houston. Of course, her mindset could have cared less about the pretentious part, only it provided her affordable rent until she could get her feet on the ground with her new marketing job.
     But then…the story began. What if a young woman, hung up on designer labels and unrealistic white-horse fairy tales purposely chose Fountain Oaks for the very reason of being able to tout her prestigious zip code? Hence, Darcy Daniels and Partly Sunny.

Q. You give readers such rich details of your characters, not just physically, but their emotional states as well. I have a feeling that perhaps your training as a dependency counselor really helped you in clearly detailing those emotional states?

A. My training as a chemical dependency counselor greatly enhanced my listening/observing skills. To be an effect counselor I learned to be fully present when listening. If I was concentrating on what my next question would be, I’m was not being a good listener and would most likely miss a piece of information that may provide valuable insight into why this person was sitting across from me in a treatment center. My goal as a counselor was to establish rapport/trust which cannot be learned if I’m cleaning out my purse during an individual session or, heaven forbid, sending a text.
    I use these same techniques when studying characters for my stories. They often evolve into actors on the big screen, although it’s more the personality portrayed more than the actual actor. Example: I clearly saw Darcy in my mind’s eye as Emma Stone. However, it was the personality of Skeeter in The Help that was my Darcy, not any other role Emma Stone had played. My OCD (just kidding…sorta) kicks in and I study, study, study these personalities. Then developing physical details or emotional states becomes less complicated. Writing dialogue becomes a breeze because I have a clear picture of how they will respond to certain situations.

Q. I would imagine that a lot of readers can identify with at least one of your characters, or know someone that could. Are any of your characters based on people you actually know?

A. This question actually makes me smile. The first time my daughter read Partly Sunny she drilled me on “did I really think she was Darcy?” which, of course, the answer was “no way.” I often get responses from Saving Gracie like: “I’m Gracie!” (a grown woman trying to find her own way in the world) or “Kathryn is exactly like my mother” (a helicopter mom). I love these kinds of responses. Each one tells me I’ve accomplished my task…making my characters seem real to the reader.

Q. Living in Houston you certainly had a lot of great architecture to work with, did you use real locations for other areas in your book?

A. The other locations in Houston are all real: Christie’s Seafood, Texadelphia, Memorial Oaks Cemetery, the Galleria, Captain Benny’s, Cheesecake Factory, but most of all Roznovsky’s Hamburgers, a place near and dear to my heart. Owned by two of the nicest people on the planet (and who are my high school friends), Roznovsky’s is located smack-dab in my old neighborhood, which we fondly refer to as “the hood.” Launch parties for both Saving Gracie and Partly Sunny have been held there and on February 25, we’re gathering again to hear a fellow high school friend, Gregg Watts, play his acoustic guitar and sing the songs we grew up with. Roznovsky’s can be found on Facebook and in my mind is my “Cheers” - Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came…
Q. That's great! I will be looking for those places next time my husband and I go to Houston, just so I can say I saw them! What projects do you have planned for the future? With the exceptional writing of Partly Sunny, I'm sure you have at least a few more stories you could weave for us.

A. Several projects are in the works. My current Hospice volunteer assignment is a 22 yr. old woman with terminal ovarian cancer. She’s got a beautiful smile and shiny brown eyes and an outlook on life that brings tears to my eyes. What a joy to be able to spend time with her. She not only wants to tell her story, but to help other Hospice patients. Because of writing, my time with Hospice has been limited over the past couple of years to contributing no-sew blankets as I can get them made to be handed out at the Houston Hospice Patient Care Center. However, my wonderful volunteer coordinators pulled me back into active status to help this woman tell her story. I am honored.
     I will be teaching a one-day creative writing workshop this May with the Duke TIP Academic Adventures Program in the Houston Museum District. I’ve also applied for the WITS (Writers In The Schools) program, which would allow me to work with kids one day a week in Houston ISD on creative writing skills.
    And last, my third book, Time Trials, which I am more than anxious to dive back into.

Q. Care to give us a taste of what we can expect next?

A. Time Trials is a story of a group of eight young women, all away from home for the first time, who bond during their first semester at college. I’ve used Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Man to briefly describe the developmental stages of people during certain periods of their lives. Time Trials will span over 40 years and how life and perceptions are either engrained or change greatly. My beta reader (I’ve knick-named her ‘Beta-Gram’) keeps referring to Time Trials as 20-40-60, which are the ages of the women in the story. Always takes me a minute to realize she’s talking about Time Trials. And yes, I’ve got my “characters” identified and on my storyboard when they are in their twenties, forties, and sixties…

Q. Any parting comments like to leave the readers with?

A. I’m not one of those who can say they’ve been writing their entire life. Although writers have been in my family, I did not seriously begin my first story until 2006 at the age of 54. My first novel was published in 2012, the year I turned 60. Book two, Partly Sunny, was released in September, 2013, which proves it’s never too late to re-invent yourself or have a dream come true. I’m having the time of my life and am so far out of my comfort zone, but hey…what a ride!

Thanks for your time, Terry, I wish you much success, and look forward to reading your next book!
Partly Sunny   Click Here to Purchase From Amazon

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