Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kept (Blood Lust, novella 1) by Zoe Winters

As a cat therian (shifter), Greta's blood is already sought-after to enhance spells and potions, but due to a quirk of her birth, her blood is potent enough to kill for. For centuries cat therians have sought shelter with magic users, giving rise to tales of the cat as the witch's familiar. When her tribe plans to sacrifice her, Greta must ally herself with Dayne, the dangerous local sorcerer who is the only person strong enough to protect her.

Imogen's Review

As Greta approaches her 28th birthday, a milestone for therians (shifter), she discovers that she has been earmarked for sacrifice because of her special blood. She seeks protection from a powerful sorcerer, Dayne, who undertakes to keep her safe through to her birthday in exchange for samples of her valuable blood. Can Dayne be trusted, though? Is he working for the very people who want to sacrifice Greta, keeping her captive until he can deliver her to the sacrifice?

Zoe Winters spins an intriguing tale, full of romantic action and charm. I look forward to reading part two of this series, CLAIMED.

About the Author
Zoe Winters is an independent author of quirky paranormal romance. Her favorite colors are rainbow and clear.

Q&A with Zoe Winters

What/who was the inspiration behind Kept (Blood Lust, novella 1)?
Kept originally started out as a contest entry for a novella anthology Samhain was putting out. But it wasn't ready in time for the deadline. The original inspiration from my own brain was... "What if a witch's familiar wasn't really a cat, but a werecat?" And the plot sprang from there.

Do you have plans to release the novellas as an omnibus edition?
Actually yes, that's what Blood Lust is. I just approved the proofs for the print edition of Blood Lust which is Kept, Claimed, and Mated. I'll also be releasing it as a single ebook for those who want to just buy all three novellas together (and save a little money that way). It should be available for purchase in E and print in a few weeks.

If you could have anyone play the roles of Greta, Anthony and Dayne in a movie adaptation, who would you choose?
Oh man, I really have no idea. I don't really think that way when I'm writing.

Do you have any music in mind for a potential soundtrack for the movie?
Wow, this is probably the most boring I've ever been in an interview. LOL. I hate to say it, but I don't think that way either. I don't think I've ever sat and once thought about characters or music for a movie. I'm not saying it wouldn't be cool to see my stuff in movie form (provided they didn't completely ruin the story by changing everything like it's their own personal fanfiction, as Hollywood is prone to do with books). I don't even listen to music when I write. I've tried before, but it's too distracting. I can't have any sounds when I'm writing.

What's your favorite movie and book?
I don't watch a lot of movies. I don't have the attention span. Books... "A Hunger Like No Other" by Kresley Cole is one of my favorites. "Nice" by Jen Sacks is another. Nice is about this woman who doesn't like breaking up with men because she doesn't like hurting their feelings, so she kills them instead so she won't have to hurt their feelings, then she meets a hit man and they fall in love. It's very dark and satirical. Very funny even though it shouldn't be. And pretty true about some aspects of the female psyche. I've read it several times.

High heels or flats?
Heels for the way they make my legs look. Flats for comfort.

Does your husband enjoy reading your novels?
He does, but he pretends they aren't romance. :P

Team Edward, team Jacob or team Eric?
I haven't read past the first Twilight book so I don't know. Isn't Eric from True Blood/Southern Vampire Mysteries? If so, I vote for Eric. If Eric is a Twilight character, forget it. LOL.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you pick?
Southern California. But only if I had the power to teleport. I like being near my family.

Please tell us about your current projects.
Right now I'm working on the first full-length novel of the Preternaturals Series (The omnibus with Kept, Claimed, and Mated are considered book 1). The novel is called Save My Soul. It's about an incubus that has been cursed by a witch and has been trapped in this house for about fifty years. I'm hoping to release it by sometime this winter.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Island of Fog by Keith Robinson

Eight children on a foggy island begin to experience frightening physical trans-formations. Are they freaks of nature, or subjects of a dark, sinister experiment?

With its ever-present fog, the island is a gloomy, dismal place. But according to the adults, the rest of the world is long dead; the island is all that's left. So when Hal and Robbie discover that the fog pours out of a hole in the ground in the middle of the woods, naturally they want to block it up. Imagine life without fog!
However, a terrifying creature appears out of nowhere and chases them away. Then their attempt to leave the island on a raft is thwarted by a gigantic sea serpent.

But this just the beginning. Before long, the children begin to experience changes. It starts with an itchy rash, or a hairy knuckle, or a few sharp fangs, and soon develops into full-blown transformations that astound and terrify the children. Then, inexplicably, a stranger arrives on the island...

Imogen's Review
It's hard enough being twelve and dealing with the unavoidable changes starting to manifest as one slowly develops into adulthood. Imagine adding to these a sudden transformation into another being! This is what Hal and his seven friends face on the Island of Fog, a place where these eight friends have lived all their lives. Shrouded in a mysterious fog, this island is home to only these eight children and their parents. Hal and his friends are determined to find answers to explain their transformations and also the mysterious fog. Keith Robinson takes us on an intriguing journey with a chockfull of surprises on the way. Island of Fog is a page turner and I look forward to reading the sequel.

About the Author
Keith Robinson is an Englishman living in Georgia, USA. By day he's a self-employed website designer, a business he's owned and run since 1999. By night (or by day if he really doesn't feel like working) he's a fantasy and science fiction writer.
Island of Fog is a fantasy novel primarily for readers aged 9-12, but suitable for adults. The story is creepy and atmospheric, involving a group of children who live on a perpetually foggy island. They've never seen a blue sky or felt the warmth of the sun on their skin, and the adults tell them there's nothing left "Out There" beyond the fog; the world is dead following a catastrophic event. But when the children begin to experience strange and frightening physical changes, they start to wonder if they're part of some kind of scientific experiment...
Island of Fog is the first part of a trilogy, which continues with Labyrinth of Fire and concludes with Mountain of Whispers. However, the trilogy is just the start of the series; a fourth novel is planned for 2011.

Q&A with Keith Robinson
Who/what was the inspiration behind Island of Fog?
Back in 2002, almost a year after moving to the USA from England, it was an unusually foggy morning in February as I sat there trying to think of an idea for a short story. This depressing weather reminded me of back home! Fog seemed like a good atmospheric setting, and I suddenly wondered what it would be like if it were foggy all the time, and if a group of kids growing up in a small community had never seen a clear blue sky. This led to the idea of the kids being on an island, supposedly trapped because the world "Out There" beyond the fog was dead. I thought it would be neat if something weird started happening to the kids, perhaps physical mutations of some kind; maybe then they would start to question why they were there on the island. Were they part of an experiment? And if so, was the world "Out There" really dead after all? I thought the premise was creepy and I suddenly couldn't wait to have some of the kids building a raft to escape. The story easily expanded from a short story into a novel... and then a trilogy.

Who can you see playing Hal, Robbie, Abigail and Simone in a movie adaptation?
I always saw Hal as actor Haley Joel Osment as he was when he played the part in The Sixth Sense ("I see dead people"). The fact that the name Hal is similar to Haley is purely coincidental... or is it? Maybe there was something going on there subconsciously! I never saw anyone in particular playing the part of Robbie, but any tall, skinny, nerdy-looking actor would do. Miss Simone was very clear in my mind; she was always Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (of Femme Fatal; she also played the blue-skinned Mystique in the X-Men movies). Her character's name came from a movie called Simone, or S1m0ne, about a computer-generated actress. As for Abigail... I had no one in mind until recently, when I happened across a YouTube video of a very young lady singer/actress named Jackie Evancho, who I decided then and there was perfect for the role, especially as she could lend Abigail a characteristic faerie-like singing voice!

How did you decide on the transformations?
Some of the transformations were clear from the start. Without wanting to give away spoilers, Hal's alter-form was always in my mind, as was Robbie's and Abigail's, and Miss Simone's for that matter. I also knew what some of the other creatures would be, but hadn't assigned them to any particular character; that all kind of happened as the story evolved, so in some cases I was just as surprised as the reader to find out who was what!

How many books will there be in the series?
How long is a piece of string? Two-thirds of the way through writing Island of Fog, I decided this had to be a trilogy. But even though the trilogy is now complete, there's just way too much scope to call it a day, so the series will continue with as many standalone stories as I can muster without allowing things to grow stale. I expect Hal will be involved in every story, but I might switch out who he takes along with him on missions. It wouldn't be realistic to have his entire crowd of friends come along every time. Better to have a small group, for instance Hal, Abigail and Robbie in one story, then Hal, Emily and Dewey, and so on -- whoever seems appropriate for the story. This way, I can focus clearly on a small set of characters instead of spreading myself thinly over a crowd.

How many hours a day do you spend writing?
Not enough. I sometimes go for weeks without writing a single word. But I'm not the sort who writes for ten minutes at a time whenever possible. I prefer to write for at least two hours in one go, so I tend to choose a morning or afternoon when I know I have two or more hours ahead of me. When I'm getting stuck in, I try to write like this three or four days out of a week. That way, everything continues to bubble and boil noisily in my head, instead of cooling off and going cold, which is what happens if I don't write for weeks. My longest single writing session might last from 8am to around 3pm, almost non-stop. I typically write between 1500 and 5000 words per session.

Do you listen to music when you write?
Hardly ever. If I do, it has to be something without lyrics, usually something mellow and in the background. Lyrics throw me right off. Then there's the mood thing. If something slow and broody is playing, it's hard to write an action scene, and vice versa. I don't have the patience to set up my music beforehand to match the mood of what I'm about to write, so I just don't bother.

Name your favorite book and favorite movie.
One of my favorite books is The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I don't remember many other novels that made me marvel so much -- the solid writing, the premise of the story, the way the story unfolded, the intricacies of the mind-bending jumps in time told so clearly... and the overall sadness of Henry's life! The movie version is okay, but as movies go, pretty forgettable. Favorite movie? I can only go by impact at the time of first viewing, and for that I'd have to mention older movies like "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Terminator 2"; both were amazing cinematic experiences at the time. Recently, favorite movies include "District 9" and "Avatar" (both with superb special effects and unique stories) and a number of the computer-animated movies, especially "Up" the recent "How to Train Your Dragon."

Has your daughter read all your books?
Nuh-uh. She's only six, and my books are for 9-12 years and up.

You run the Enid Blyton website, can you tell us a bit more about that?
EnidBlyton.net is not necessarily THE Enid Blyton website, just one of a few. Mine is a fansite, started in 2004 when I decided to revisit my childhood. I read and reviewed the children's mystery and adventure books that I grew up with, England's version of the Hardy Boys and Three Investigators. Enid Blyton (who died in 1968) remains one of the world's most popular children's authors, but is relatively unknown in the U.S. Her work has been translated into more languages than Shakespeare's, Stephen King's, and most other authors; she ranks in the top five behind Agatha Christie and a few others. Yet nobody I know here in Georgia, USA, has heard of her. I think my site was part of a yearning for my old homeland; it had been nearly four years since moving across the pond and I needed something English. My site grew quickly and these days nabs about 35,000 visits a month, and is among the top few at Google when you search "enid blyton." But I'm also the webmaster for the official EnidBlytonSociety.co.uk website, which contains a staggering amount of information about the author (all added by the co-owner of the Society using my specially-built content management system). And since I know the co-owner of the Society, who lives in Salisbury, England, I've held in my grubby hands Enid Blyton's actual handwritten notebook and various other rare or unique memorabilia. It's pretty amazing to glance through a notebook from the 1940s, where the famous author noted how much she sold a short story for that week!

What's next after this series?
I'm thinking about something totally different, perhaps resurrecting a novel I started years ago, or starting with something new. This won't be for self-publishing though; I'd like to run it by a few "traditional" publishers first. As I'm doing that, I'll return to writing the fourth Island of Fog book, probably starting around Christmas 2010, for publication during Summer 2011. Books 2 and 3 of the trilogy, Labyrinth of Fire and Mountain of Whispers, each took four months to write and two months to edit -- around 6-7 months in total. I expect Book 4 will be about the same. Hal's new life has only just begun. :-)


This week's featured author: Susanne Lambdin

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