Author Highlight: Marie Lavender

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Hi All,  I’m hosting one of my fellow writers.  I have to say, she is one of my favorites to host because . . . well, because you just have to read on to find out why . . .

Let’s begin with the interview:

What genres do you enjoy writing?

I am a multi-genre author, so I have written in a lot of different genres. I guess the one I favor more often than not is romance of any kind.

Tell us about your latest book:

My latest book, Blue Vision, which is closest to release, is a sci-fi romance. The novel is set in Montana in the dead of winter. The main character, Brooke, encounters some bizarre events and comes across a stranger in the middle of the forest one night. She has to figure out if it’s real or just her imagination.

What inspired the story? Where did you get that first bit of “ah ha” inspiration.”

I guess it was all those science fiction movies I watched growing up! LOL. That didn’t hurt. The scene in which Brooke finds Colin just came to me one day. After I decided to focus on that work-in-progress, the rest of the story just fell naturally into place.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Brooke is a capable, independent woman. She believes she doesn’t need a man in her life. She gets along just fine on her own. She’s athletic and has a fascination for fencing.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Wow! I can’t decide. I guess I admire Brooke a lot because she is a very strong person. But I also can relate to her because her tangled past has shaped her into who she has become.

How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

Oh! I don’t want to give anything away…I should probably leave that question alone.

How much research did you have to do for this book? Any travel involved?

No travel, but I did quite a bit of research related to winters in Montana and how long it would take to hike certain distances in the area. I modeled the lodge after several winter lodges all over Montana. It took me awhile to decide exactly where Blue Vision should be set. And as for Endhivar, I just wrote about the planet the way I pictured it.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

Believe it or not, it was breaking into a different genre. Writing science fiction was rather new for me. I did a lot of research about science fiction romance and writing sci-fi stories. In the end, I just went with my gut and used my imagination.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Fear can be a great motivational tool to find what you’re meant to do.

Which writers inspire you?

I’ll just name a few off the top of my head: J.R. Ward, Chloe Neill, Linda Lee Williams, Mika Jolie, and Nora Roberts. I love a writer who is not afraid to tell it like it is or take a risk in writing. Hell, even Kurt Vonnegut was an inspiration to me for years.

What does your writing process look like?

Random scenes come to me in any order. I write as much as I can, and then I start plotting and filling in the blanks with more writing and research.

Do  you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

I usually need peace and quiet, though I’ve been known to occasionally listen to certain types of music on low volume while writing.

What are you working on at the minute?

I’m finishing up a romantic drama collection titled Directions of the Heart. And in between that, I have been working on the second book in the Blood at First Sight Series, which is called Blood Instincts. That’s a paranormal romance/urban fantasy.

How  important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

I believe names are pretty significant. If I can’t come up with a name for a character right away, I’ll start with he/she and pick the name later. You need the right one. Sometimes I choose them based on how well I like them, or I use the website Behind the Name when I want to find out the origins of a name. This also helps for choosing ethnic names. I have a future series titled the Witches of Moonhaven Series, and I chose all of the main characters’ names based on each meaning.

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Sometimes an action scene is harder for me to write because I have to picture it clearly in my mind first and then describe it. It needs to make sense.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I honestly think it chose me. It just seems like one day, around the age of nine, I somehow knew this is what I wanted for a career. I was always creating stories in my head.

Why do you write?

I write to tell a character’s story, to show his or her journey and how that character changes by the end. I write for my readers. Mostly, I write because I can’t see myself doing anything else but this; being immersed in storytelling is probably the greatest sense of freedom I’ve ever experienced.

Where do your ideas come from?

Sometimes I’m inspired by something someone said, whether it was a family member, a friend or a random stranger while I was out at a restaurant or in a store. At other times current events inspire me. My ideas often come from the mass of impressions and experiences stored in my head, jumbled up and then spat back out on the page in a completely new form.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

Both. I am a hybrid, so I use both methods.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Research can be pretty hard sometimes. In the mass of confusion that is the internet, the search engines are no longer intuitive and it’s getting crazy difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for these days. Unless things start to improve, I may have to go back to old school methods and do some more traveling as well. LOL.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Have more patience. The road to publishing is long and it’s hardly easy. Also, getting published is only a small part of being an author. Authors now must take on many different roles or risk getting lost in the chaos that is this industry.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

Hmm…tough question! To stick with our sci-fi theme, I wonder what inspired Aldous Huxley to write Brave New World. What a fascinating tale.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

I truly don’t want to have taken credit for someone else’s work, just my own.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Besides patience? Probably persistence and perseverance. Be persistent, but obviously not annoying enough to make enemies. And persevere despite the obstacles you run into. Don’t be afraid to try new things, new ways of marketing or try what has worked successfully for other people. Keep what works for you and toss the rest.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel quite right, it usually isn’t. Trust yourself and trust your characters. They won’t steer you wrong either.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Readers can find more about me and my books on my website at https://marielavender.com/, or subscribe to my three blogs, Writing in the Modern Age, Marie Lavender’s Books! and the I Love Romance Blog. I also have an author newsletter, which provides updates about book releases and such. I am on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as well.

Here are more ways of contacting Ms. Lavender:

Author Links

Tell the readers something about yourself that has nothing to do with writing.

I love beauty of any kind – flowers, lovely vistas, art, the list just goes on. I’m a big fan of beautiful things. And I love animals!

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

These are two great tools when you’re looking for a literary agent or a publisher: Query Tracker and Preditors & Editors. Query Tracker will help you organize your queries and look up agencies and publishing companies. And P&E is sort of like the Consumer Reports of the publishing industry. You can check on the reputations of these agencies or publishers to make sure they’re legitimate. Also, P&E has additional options, such as a list of writing contests, writing conventions or festivals, editing options and other great writer’s resources.

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More about Blue Vision

Brooke Sanders just wants to get away from her life for awhile. A remote cabin in Montana fits the bill. She doesn’t expect to encounter a mysterious stranger with unusual blue eyes, or events that cannot be explained…

Colin Fielding is on a mission – scout a planet and return home to Endhivar. Simple really. What he doesn’t anticipate is that fate has a pretty twisted sense of humor. Suddenly, this human calls to him, every part of him, like the call of a true mate, and he can’t deny the connection as he gets closer to her.

Little do they know, someone is out to do them harm, as well as the world Brooke holds so dear. Can they stop what’s coming before it’s too late? Or will the universe lose a perfect gem?

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And she is never one to sit idle . . .

Author Bio

Bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 21 other books. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 10 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors. Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several anthologies. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.

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The Meaning of the Symbol

My books, Stars’ Fire and Snowfall’s Secret, were inspired by a dream I had when I was twelve.  In the dream, I saw five monks standing in a semi-circle.  Their hoods covered most of their faces. They were all wearing a silver triangle-shaped pendant with a red stone in the center.  One of the monks looked at me and said, “You’re not ready,” and I woke.

I couldn’t forget about that dream. Since I loved to draw during my study periods in school (I clearly wasn’t the best student), I drew the pendant:  the triangle was half white and the other half was black with a red stone in the center.  I also drew the girl standing with her riding gear of a jacket and tunic, leggings, and mid-calf boots.

I was in my dentist’s waiting room a few days later.  A man in a green t-shirt (or was it brown?) and jeans came out.  He wore a gold triangle-shaped pendant with a red stone in the center.  My mouth dropped and I knew the dream was important.

I had subsequent dreams of a girl with a pendant almost like the one the monks wore and I wrote them all down.

I don’t remember if I kept my original writings or drawings (I moved around a lot and it was a very long time ago), so I’m submitting two versions of the pendant below.  I would be extremely grateful for any information that you may have regarding the meaning and/or history of the symbols.  I really haven’t come across anything definitive.  Even internet searches have limitations.

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Please reach out to me on:

Facebook  Natalie Silk, Author

https://www.facebook.com/Natalie-Silk-Author-313822162074307/?fref=ts

Twitter @natalieasilk

https://twitter.com/natalieasilk

My website

www.nataliesilkauthor.com

Release for Snowfall’s Secret

All good things come to those who wait” and I can say, I waited for the pre-sale debut of this book.  If you’re an Amazon subscriber, you can get a copy in ebook free; is not, it’s at a low price of $3.99.  I hope you enjoy!  Let me know what you think or even write a review (or two).

Thank you, thank you, Solstice Publishing!

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Amazon US:

https://www.amazon.com/Snowfalls-Secret-Natalie-Silk-ebook/dp/B01KII53EQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1471374694&sr=1-1&keywords=snowfall%27s+secret+natalie+silk#nav-subnav

ASIN: B01KII53EQ

Bookgoodies: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01KII53EQ

http://www.booklinker.net/

 

Mr. Robot: A Tightly Written Cyberpunk Series

I literally tripped over the series a few weeks ago and I’m so grateful that I did.

Mr. Robot has proven to be a very tightly written cyberpunk series with enough cinematography and dialogue to be interesting.  What really keeps my eyes peeled to the screen are the Easter eggs.

Spoiler Alert for EPS2.4-m4ster-slave.aes

If you haven’t found all the little surprises in the mentioned episode yet, please don’t go any further.

Thank you to all involved with producing the scene where the CEO of E (I’m still a little shaky with who’s who as I’m coming late in the game) is dressing down an executive in his office.

There’s a mirror image:  Except the mirror image of the bookshelf on the CEO’s right is missing a few items.  Will we viewers find out the meaning to the imperfect mirror image in a later episode?

A Horror Story with a Side of Comfort Food

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After a tough week at work, I sat down and read Vick-Ann Bush’s short work, “The Joshua Tree.”

It has all the style and elements that I love and expect in the classic 1950’s horror story with enough touches for today’s modern reader.

I hope Ms. Bush will choose to make this story a full-length work.  If she does, I’ll be the first in line to read it!

A Little Corner of Beauty

I love how a plan all comes together!  I love when people come together for a plan even more!

We Interfaith Green Partners met at Deer Grove for a light picnic and then a tour of some of the most breathtaking prairie I have ever seen.

Flowers
Bees love these!

We were given an introduction  and historical background by one of the stewards.  A lot of hard work and many years went into restoring Deer Grove. When I said that I was eager to know all the names of the plants, I was  handed a field book and told to have at it.  It was all in good humor; I ended my walk with him and he gave me the Latin names of the plants.

We broke off in two groups when it was time to go out in the field.  My group took a very long time because we kept pointing to almost each and every flower or plant and asking our guide “What’s that?”  He gave us the common name of the plant and some facts.  Even when we weren’t asking, our guide stopped to tell us about a plant he thought would be interesting to talk about.  Believe me, all the plants were interesting.

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Our guide is in the background of this photo.

Then we saw something so spectacular!  There was a small, shallow pond with cranes, egrets, blue herons, and ducks.  I was confirmed that bird migratory patterns are changing.

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I wish you could see what we saw.

Being out among native plants did my soul a world of good.

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Adventures in Kombucha

I went to a fermentation workshop in March and got interested in preparing my own kombucha.  I did some research and now I’m wondering if brewing my own is such a good idea.

The SCOBY looks really, really disgusting and the brewing process takes a lot of sugar.  I haven’t used sugar at all for the past ten years (not even in cooking).  I  use honey.  I understand that to make jun is a lot harder to do.  I copied a photo from a Google site:

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Anything once is worth a try to improve health.

I received a mother SCOBY from a friend and now I have two gallons brewing on my kitchen counter.  At the very least it should taste good in about four days.  At the worst I’ll discover that my experiment is not a good one.

Hmmm.

Gratitude Attitude, June 29, 2016

I remember meeting a lady one Sunday in a church’s parking lot.  I was leaving for home after spending a most exceptional weekend attending a women’s retreat.  The grounds were stunning (even after the bad snow storm the day before) and the church took my breath away.

The lady and her husband (I presumed) got out of a luxury car.  She was wearing an expensive fur coat and her hair looked as if she visited a hair salon every week.

I said, “Good Morning” to them.

She replied, “What’s so good about it?”

I didn’t say anything to her.  I always wondered what sorrows she was experiencing at that moment in time.  I still feel sorry for her to this day.

I experienced some extremely low points in my life that I thought I could never return.  What’s so good about today? I’m grateful for what I have.

The Aldo Leopold Center

June 18, 2016

The Aldo Leopold Center

I’m soooo very @grateful to visit the Aldo Leopold Center.  The facility is LEED certified and used the very pines that Aldo and his family planted in the 1930’s to build the main building.

I have a lot of good ideas in for my own little balcony garden.

My next career fifteen years from now, I see myself volunteering for a facility like this one and writing full time.

Leopold

www.aldoleopold.org

Author Highlight: Rachael Tamayo, Chase Me

Hi All, Rachael Tamayo, a down to earth woman, has graciously allowed me to blog about her:

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What genres do you enjoy writing? 

Romance, I’m currently working on a romantic suspense. I can see myself writing Young adult in the future as well.

Tell us about your latest book: 

Chase Me. Its book 1 in a 3 book series called Friend-Zone.  I enjoyed writing it very much and intertwining all the characters in all three books. Creating a whole world that spans across a series, I loved it and was almost sad when I got book three drafted. You get attached to your stories and sad when they are over.

What inspired the story? Where did you get that first bit of “ah ha” inspiration.” 

Funny enough, the first book I wrote, as I wrote, it dawned on me that Adrienne and Clint should have their own book, telling the story of how they fell in love. I never sat down intending to write a series, but it just flowed out of me.

This series has spawned 2 more book ideas for characters mentioned in these books.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? 

Adrienne Lawrence, she’s a 21 year old about to graduate college, working like a dog managing her Father’s restaurant, and dealing with an unpleasant relationship with her family. Her friends fill the void for her, so she’s not quite as shattered as she might be if she were dealing with things on her own.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Clint Montomery. He is Adrienne’s best friend and love interest, and he was a blast to write. He’s a teacher, sexy, funny, down to earth, and just cocky enough to make someone look twice.

What does your writing process look like?

I draft, from start to finish. I present chapters to my critique group as I go, getting feedback for revisions. Once it’s drafted, I go back to page one and revise from the beginning.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

No, I can write anywhere, anytime.  If I get a good scene in my head I have to get it down on paper to get it out, to clear my head for my next idea.

What are you working on at the minute?

The working title is The Edge of Emily Bronte. Emily is being stalked by a millionaire that thinks they are madly in love. Things go from bad to worse, but thank God she has cute cop Isaiah Penrose to keep her company and help her when she’s starting to wonder just who the crazy one is here.

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

I struggle with sex scenes. I have a religious upbringing and while I realize sex has a place in romance, I can’t make myself write anything graphic. I prefer to keep things sensual, leave something to the imagination while still steamy enough to keep you reading.

When did you decide to become a writer? 

I was born a writer I think. I’ve done it since grade school. It never was a decision, just what I am.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I stink at outlines. I prefer to let the idea carry me away.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Wondering if you are any good. You just don’t know until you bite the bullet and let strangers look at your work.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?   

Don’t stop, ever. Write, always. It’s just what you are, and nothing can change that. Keep trying, revising, and don’t give up.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? 

My website www.RachaelTamayowrites.com  You can find links to my social media here too.

My twitter

My Facebook Fan Page

My website