To Hunt a Sub by Jacqui Murray

THAS-small [16806]An unlikely team is America’s only chance

A brilliant Ph.D. candidate, a cynical ex-SEAL, and a quirky experimental robot team up against terrorists intent on stealing America’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine. By all measures, they are an unlikely trio–one believes in brawn, another brains, and the third is all geek. What no one realizes is this trio has a secret weapon: the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago.


Preview Chapter from To Hunt a Sub

Three days before present

Ten hours and thirty-seven more minutes and the crew of the USS Hampton SSN 767 would be home. Seasoned submariners, the six-month covert intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance tour down the eastern seaboard of South America had gone flawlessly and silently. The Atlantic is a large ocean and the Los Angeles-class sub’s noise footprint small. Once the boat cleared Cuba, the crew would relax.
The Captain sipped the morning’s fourth cup of burned coffee when the hair on the back of his neck prickled. He glanced around, trying to identify what bothered him.
“Captain,” the Watchstander’s gaze bobbed from the Executive Officer to his watchstation. “Navigation is non-responsive.” Confusion tinged his words.
That was it. A change in the deck’s subtle rumble. Before the Captain could react to the impossibility that guidance controls had crashed, every monitor in the sub’s nerve center shut down.
He hadn’t seen this in twenty years of driving subs. All personnel made a hole as he rushed toward the Control Center, shadowed by the XO.
“Sonar readings?” The Captain called to Sonarman Second Class Andy Rikes in the compartment just aft of Control, barely larger than a broom closet but elbow-to-elbow with operators, fingers flying across keyboards and eyes locked onto screens that blinked a dull grey.
Rikes answered, “Negative, Sir. The hydrophones are working, but aren’t sending raw data, like someone pulled the plug and flushed everything out to sea. Trying to fix it.” His voice was hopeful.
If the screen had worked, Sonarman Rikes would have seen the ping, a final gasp before everything electrical collapsed.
The COB—Chief of Boat—interrupted, “Captain. Reactor Scram!” The sub’s nuclear power had evaporated. “Nuclear technicians isolating the problem. Battery back-up is being attempted.”
“Shift propulsion from main engines to EPM,” an auxiliary electric motor that could turn the propeller.
“Negative, Captain. Non-responsive.” Fear leaked from his voice.
The depth meter no longer worked, but the XO guessed that the sub was angled downward at 10 degrees
“Blow main ballast tanks!”
“No response, Captain.”
“How deep is the ocean floor in this sector of the Atlantic?”
The Sonarman answered, “It varies between 1,000 and 16,000”
16,000 feet was well below the sub’s crush depth.
“There are seamounts and ridges spread throughout. We could get lucky and land on one. Or not.”
“Inform US Strategic Command of our situation.”
“Sir, comms are down.”
“Release the message buoy,” though all that told the world was they were in trouble. It could quickly drift miles from their position.
The Captain continued, voice calm, face showing none of the worry that filled his thoughts, “I want all department heads and Chief Petty Officers in front of me in five minutes. I want the status on every system they own and operate. Wake up whoever you need to.” He had a bad feeling about this.

“Gentlemen, solutions.” The Captain looked first at XO, then COB and finally NAV, the Navigation Officer who turned to the senior chief of navigation.
“It’s like an electromagnetic pulse hit us, which can’t happen underwater…” then he shrugged as though to say, I have no idea, Sir.
They practiced drills for every sort of emergency, but not this one. No one considered a complete electrical shutdown possible.
“We’re checking everything, but nothing is wrong. It just won’t work.”
“Where’s CHENG?” The Chief of Engineering.
“Troubleshooting, Sir.” COB’s voice was efficient, but tense.
The Captain didn’t wait. “Condition Alpha. Full quiet—voices whispers, all silent, no movement not critical. Defcon 2,” the second-highest peacetime alert level.
No one knew who their enemy was or why they were under attack, but they had one and they were.
“XO, get lanterns up here.”

Within an hour, the massive warship had settled to the ocean floor like the carcass of a dead whale. It teetered atop an ocean ridge, listing starboard against a jagged seamount, and the gentle push of an underwater current from a cliff that plunged into a murky darkness. Every watertight door was closed. As per protocol, the oxygen level was reduced to suppress a fire hazard. Without climate controls, the interior had already reached 60 degrees. It would continue dipping as it strove to match the bone-chilling surrounding water temperature. Hypothermia would soon be a problem. For now, though, they were alive.
The hull groaned as though twisted by a giant squid.
The Captain peered into the gloomy waters that surrounded the sub. “Thoughts, XO?”
“We’re stable for the moment, barring a strong underwater current.”
Based on the creaking protests from the hull, they were at or beyond crush depth. Any deeper, the outside pressure would snap the HY-80 outer hull and sea water would roar into the living compartments. Everyone would be dead in seconds, either drowned or impaled on the ragged remains of the sub by a force in excess of a Category Five hurricane.
“We’re beyond the depth of the Steinke Hoods,” escape equipment that included full body suits, thermal protection, and a life raft. Budget cuts had eliminated funding for more advanced solutions.
XO pointed toward a darker expanse of black just yards from the sub. “No telling how deep that crevice is.”
“Gather the crew in the Forward compartment. Seal all other compartments. Ration water. Start O2 candles when levels reach 50% normal. Did the message buoy launch?”
“Yes, sir.”
That was a relief. The Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) deployed in emergencies from shore couldn’t assist if it didn’t know they needed help.


Quote from author:

What sets this story apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the captivating prehistoric female who unwittingly becomes the guide and mentor to Kalian Delamagente as she struggles to stop a madman from destroying her life.

Book information:
Title and author: To Hunt a Sub by J. Murray
Release Date: August 15, 2016 by Structured Learning
Genre: Thriller
Cover by: Paper and Sage
..
Available at:
Kindle August 15th

Purchase Link

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Author bio:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

Finding a Writing Community – Guest Post by Karen Mann

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Finding a Writing Community
By Karen Mann

We know writing is a solitary occupation. Writers are often introverts and like being alone. But most of us don’t want to keep our writing to ourselves. We write in hopes someone will read our writing. It’s important to find a writing community with which to share your work. If publication is your goal, you’ll want to get opinions and tips from other writers before sending out a submission or approaching an agent or editor. Here are some tips for finding a writing community that benefits you.

Find a writing group. Writing groups are usually 4-6 people who meet regularly and exchange writing. Members critique other members’ work, and members revise based on suggestions. Check your community news for local groups, or search online to find one in your area. Writing groups are usually free to join unlike the next suggestions.

Go to a writers’ conference. A writers’ conference offers various features, such as talks by authors, agents, or editors; mini-classes; workshops; manuscript critiques; plus connection with other writers. Writers’ conferences often have themes, such as mystery, romance, fiction, screenwriting, etc. Newpages.com has a list of writers’ conferences and events under Writers Resources.

Take a writing class. You may find courses through adult education, community colleges, or universities. If you take a class to improve your writing and find a community, enroll in a local class rather than taking an online class.

Join a writing association. Many states or large cities have writing associations that offer many opportunities for writers. Search for lists of writing associations, and you’ll find one near you. Associations often have conferences, classes, groups, and readings.

Attend an MFA in Writing program. MFA in Writing programs not only give you the chance to work with an author instructor, but also a chance to cultivate a community with others who have a passion for writing just like you. Low-residency MFA in Writing programs allow adults to improve their writing by earning a degree without moving to a college town. Each semester begins with a residency, usually 7-10 days, after which students return home to study through an exchange of writing, or perhaps online workshops, with an experienced mentor. Through an alumni association, MFA program connections last longer than you’ll be a student; they can last a lifetime. You’ll make friends who not only share your love of writing but also care about you.

Finding a community is essential to nurturing your love of writing. Take a break from the writing and find some writer friends—for critiquing, for a literary discussion, for sharing, or maybe just for lunch!

karenmannphoto-2Karen Mann is the author of The Woman of La Mancha and The Saved Man. She is the co-founder and Administrative Director of the low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at Spalding University (www.spalding.edu/mfa). She is also the managing editor of The Louisville Review, a national literary magazine since 1976 (www.louisvillereview.org). Having lived in Indiana most of her life, she now lives in San Jose, California. See more about her books at http://www.karenmannwrites.com.

About The Woman of La Mancha:

coverauthorbuzz-2The Woman of La Mancha, a companion book to Don Quixote, tells the woman’s story of Don Quixote by recounting the story of the girl he called Dulcinea, the woman he loved from afar.

It’s 1583. An eleven-year-old girl wakes in the back of a cart. She has lost her memory and is taken in by a kindly farm family in La Mancha. She adopts the name Aldonza. She doesn’t speak for quite some time. Once she speaks, there is a family member who is jealous of her and causes a good deal of trouble, even causing her to be forced to leave La Mancha in tragic circumstances. Having to create a new life in a new location and still unaware of her birth family, she adopts the name Dulcinea and moves in the circles of nobility. While seeking her identity, she becomes the consort of wealthy men, finds reason to disguise herself as a man, and learns herbal healing to help others.

There is a parallel story of a young man, Don Christopher, a knight of King Philip and the betrothed of the girl, who sets off on with a young squire, Sancho, to find the girl. Christopher’s adventures take them across Spain and force him to grow up. Does he continue the quest to find his betrothed or marry another and break the contract with the king?

Both young people have many experiences and grow up before the readers’ eyes. Floating in and out of each other’s paths as they travel around Spain, will they eventually find each other and be together?

Introducing Ellen Hawley

Writing Room 101 has a new contributor, so I’d like to introduce you to Ellen Hawley and let you get better acquainted.

Ellen HawleyEllen Hawley is the author of three novels, The Divorce Diet (2014), Open Line  (2008), and Trip Sheets  (1998). She has taught fiction writing and has worked as an editor, a cab driver, a radio talk show host, and several other improbable things. Her blog, Notes from the UK, is about the oddities of living as an American in Britain. Stop by and see what she’s up to.

Ellen will be posting her first piece on Monday, so please stop by and show her some love. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her advice about using dialogue.

the divorce diet

Echoes of Narcissus in the Gardens of Delight by Jo Robinson

Echoes Banner

Donna thought there was something wrong with her. That she was suffering from a mental illness that has caused her husband to despise her, distance himself from her, and cheat on her. She blames herself for the desolate, miserable thing that is her marriage and her life. Then she comes across a book that will change everything for her, and reading it, she discovers that there’s nothing wrong with her mind at all, but that there is something very wrong with her husband instead. Marco, she realises, is a malignant narcissist. A text book case. He has a real and documented mental disorder, and that he’s been controlling, manipulating, and abusing her for decades. The sudden full knowledge of all that he’s purposely done to her enrages her. Not sure how to leave after thirty years of what she finally knows has been intentional mental and emotional abuse from him, and believing that she has nowhere to turn, being so physically isolated, she bides her time.

Then she meets and befriends a group of unusual people who share her passion for gardening, and so begins her journey to escape. She joins her new friends in their project to assist elderly people in old age homes care for their small gardens, as well as secretly supplying those suffering from painful and terminal illnesses with medicinal herb and plant remedies, including illegal plants such as cannabis. As weeks go by, she delves into her memories, relearns what it is to be respected, liked, and loved again, and slowly she formulates a plan to safely leave her dangerous husband. But unbeknownst to Donna, Marco is in serious trouble, and has desperate plans of his own, and absolutely no regard for her safety.

** This is a work of fiction, but malignant narcissists really do exist, and it is a recognised mental illness. Unfortunately, many people never realise that they are involved with a narcissist, because their actions are so demonically bad as to be unimaginable and unbelievable, and so they spend their lives in misery, depression, fear, and isolation. If only by the accidental reading of a fictional story, I hope that this book will help even one person, unknowingly suffering narcissistic abuse, to realise that they don’t have to, and that it’s never too late to start over, be happy, be fulfilled, to love and care for yourself, and be truly loved and respected by others.

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Available now from AMAZON

Jo Robinson very recently returned to her homeland, South Africa, after having lived in rural Zimbabwe for eighteen years. Her obsessive affection for the African continent, most humans, and all creatures feathered and furred are what inspire her writing. She is the author of African Me & Satellite TV, the science-fiction/fantasy series Shadow People, and a couple of short stories, which will be free to download from Amazon from 26 to 30 December, Fly Birdie and The Visitation.

To win eBook copies of Shadow People and African Me & Satellite TV, send Jo a message from THIS page.

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Pro-Week Blitz Tour (#2) – Shadow Stalker: Episode 2

Marketing Kit

It’s the second stop for Renee here at Writing Room 101 on her Pro-Week Blitz Tour. The second episode of Shadow Stalker (The Delohi-Saque’ Fate) will be released on Saturday, and I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy.

Here’s my review of the episode.

Shadow Stalker: Episode 2

First off, the prologue started with a bang! It was the perfect hook and left me wanting more. The ensuing chapters were full of tension, excitement, and mystery. The main focus of episode two is a series of trials. It begins with the resolution of Auren’s earlier plight, highlighting the dangers she must face during her rite of passage.

A few well-guarded secrets were revealed in the episode too, which added to the intrigue and progressed the story forward nicely. It ended on a cliff-hanger, but one I could live with, which added a layer of anticipation.

One of my favourite things about the episode is the transition Auren goes through, especially in terms of her relationship with Kado. He is a complex man and I sensed his pain, his indecision and the fact his loyalties are divided. There’s always one character in a series who frustrates you one minute and then earns your respect the next. Kado is that character for me. I know there’s more to him, that he has Auren’s best interests at heart, but it was easy to get caught in the moment!

For the most part, Auren is completely out of her element and you can’t help empathising with her. There are some emotionally charged scenes, which deal with a number of dilemmas for the central characters. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

I can’t really say any more that that without giving too much away. Oh, but I loved the introduction of the wolf. I’m hoping he makes another ‘guest appearance!’


You can find more details about the book and future episodes by visiting Renee’s site here.

Join us again on Saturday – release day, and the conclusion of the tour.

Thanks for reading

Mel

Pro-Week Blitz Tour (#1) – Shadow Stalker: Episode 2

Marketing Kit

Writing Room 101 is delighted to take part in Renee’s latest tour to promote Shadow Stalker: Episode 2. This will be the first of three posts. Today I will be sharing a special interview and an excerpt from episode 2. On Wednesday I will post a review for you and Saturday will be helping to bring the event to a close.
Interview with Renee Scattergood
When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think it was when I first decided that I wanted to write for a living. I was in my late 20’s. I’ll admit it was a bit difficult calling myself a writer at first. There seems to be this unfounded stigma against calling yourself a writer or author unless you’ve had something published. But someone told me that if I love to write then I’m a writer. Even if I don’t do it professionally.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve actually written a couple of manuscripts before Shadow Stalker, but they weren’t very good. I may or may not try to improve on them and rewrite them later. Shadow Stalker is the first story that I came up with that I absolutely loved from the start. I was inspired to write it after reading The Celestine Prophecy. The two stories have absolutely nothing in common, so it probably seems unlikely, but my character, Kado, was born as a result of reading that book.Do you have a specific writing style?I actually prefer to write a story from one character’s point of view, as if they are the one telling the story. I think it really allows me to get into that character’s head and write as though I am that character. It’s a lot of fun.

  How did you come up with the title?

I wanted to do something related to shamanism. Shadow Walkers are people who are able to walk between worlds. The world of the living and whatever other world is out there that we can’t see. I didn’t want the to be too closely tied in to Native American Shamanism, though, because it’s only loosely based on “real” shamanism. I didn’t want people to get the wrong idea, so I decided to use the word “stalker” in the title instead. Stalking is a shamanic technique (which is a bit difficult to explain), but I liked the way Shadow Stalker sounded.

What books have most influenced you?

Well as I said before, The Celestine Prophecy is what inspired me to create the character, Kado. My love of telling stories was influenced by George Lucas. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and my first real writing experiences was writing for a Star Wars based online simulation role playing game. That is what got me out of my shell and over my fear of sharing what I wrote. It was a great experience for me. My biggest writing influence in recent years has been Terry Goodkind, the author of the Sword of Truth series. And more recently, I’ve been getting a lot of inspiration from Lindsay Buroker, author of The Emperor’s Edge series.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Wow, that’s hard. I think it would have to be George Lucas more for his multi-business experience. He’s definitely a man who has benefited from risk taking. It would be great to learn from him.

What book are you reading now?

I am reading Call of the Herald by Brian Rathbone.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Writing the action can often be really difficult for me. I see the story play out in my head as I’m writing and sometimes it sorta goes too fast for me to keep up. I usually need to do a lot of rewriting to get the action exactly how I want it.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part was when I decided to write it in parts that are similar to a tv series. Learning how to do that effectively has been quite a challenge because from what I can tell, no one has done it before. It’s not the same as publishing a novel one chapter at a time. Each episode has to contain its own story while still being part of a larger story. I also have to end each one with a hook, but without being too annoying about it. It’s quite the balancing act.

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

I just hope you enjoy my stories, and if you do, leave me a review or rate it at the retailer where you purchased it, and/or on Goodreads! That will help me out a lot!

How long does it take you to write a book?

In the past it has taken me about 2 or 3 months to write a full novel, but I’m working on techniques to shorten my writing time. It takes me about 4 to 6 days to write one episode of Shadow Stalker.

Do you have any interesting writing quirks?

The only thing I can think of is that I usually need to multitask when I’m writing. I can’t focus on just one thing at a time, except when I’m editing. Then I have a hard time focusing when there are other distractions. It’s a bit odd when I think about it.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in Australia with my husband and daughter. I was born in the U.S. and came out here about 10 years ago to meet my husband in person. We met online and were friends for about a year. When I got out here we decided that we never wanted to be apart again. I’ve been in Australia since and I love it here. And yes, we are still very happily married. 😀

Outside of writing, I don’t really have much time. My daughter is autistic and ADHD, so she takes up a lot of my time, but she is awesome. I wouldn’t change anything about her (except maybe her insomnia issues…I think we could both live without that). We love watching movies and reading together. She also wants to write some children’s stories. She’s a pretty good artist for her age.

Do you use an outline or just write?

Up until now I have always just written. I mean, I would have the story planned out in my head, but I didn’t really write anything down, except little facts that I needed to maintain consistency. I recently read something about how having a loose outline, like maybe a paragraph per chapter, can help increase your daily word count and stay on track with the story. So I’m giving it a try.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by another writer?

Write/publish consistently to keep your reader’s happy, build your mailing list and keep in touch with your readers regularly so they don’t lose interest.

Is there any advice you’d like to share?

Write/publish consistently to keep your reader’s happy, build your mailing list and keep in touch with your readers regularly so they don’t lose interest. 😉


SSE2 Cover 3 JPGI have a special sneak peak available for you, and have conveniently added it to a separate page so as not to overwhelm you with text. Please click here for an excerpt from Shadow Stalker: The Delohi-Saqu’s Fate (Episode 2).
 

Reunion of the Heart by Elaine Jeremiah

Reunion of the HeartThis book has been on my list since Elaine generously gave me a copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s taken longer than I would like, but I wanted to give it my undivided attention and actually started reading it yesterday.

Before we get to the review, here’s the blurb.

After a messy breakup with her boyfriend, Anna is feeling fragile. So when her best friend Melissa suggests the two of them go to their school reunion, she’s reluctant as Anna’s school days weren’t her happiest. The evening is going well until she meets the boy who made her school life hell. But the grown up Will is different and Anna is surprised by the direction her life takes. The reunion sets in motion a series of events that lead Anna to realise things will never be the same again. ‘Reunion of the Heart’ is a romance that will lead you to ponder whether love can atone for past mistakes.

I read Reunion of the Heart in two days. It held my attention throughout. The story is primarily about love and friendship and I was caught up in the lives of the characters. It’s a relatable book, fraught with loss and heartache, but also with hope and new opportunities.

The main protagonist (Anna) is likeable; her neurosis adds an engaging element so the reader cares what happens to her and the friendships she relies on.

I enjoyed the scenes with Anna and her friends. The dialogue was genuine and made me feel like a part of the group.

The building romance between Anna and Will is well paced, which adds tension and allows the reader to understand the difficulties they have both overcome, in order to get where they are.

I liked the connections between the characters too. They all go on a journey of discovery, where past mistakes no longer haunt them and they can finally forgive.

It is an uplifting tale and, as I said, a relatable one. I enjoyed spending time with the group and I’m sure you will too.



Thanks for reading

Mel

Inside the Interview Room – Round 4

WR101

1 September 2014

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Interview with Gina Briganti, author of Keep It Simple, The Dreaming and upcoming sequel Desert Sunrise.

What is your first memory of writing?

My first memories of writing are a series of poems I wrote in junior high, and a fan letter to Danielle Steele.  I thought she was the best author in the world at the time.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer when I started filling notebooks with story ideas, poems, and songs.

 What inspired you to write your first book?

What inspired me to write my first attempt at a book, a novel I attempted back in junior high, was going to the beach with my dad early one morning for fishing.  Apparently some frustrated writer had given up, and let his manuscript float all over the sand.  I collected those crusty, damp pages, tried to put them in order, and read them.  There wasn’t much of a story there, but the feel of those pages in my fingers gave me an itch to give it a try.  My first attempt at a novel was a Sweet Valley High inspired love story about the shy underdog landing the best looking guy in school, leaving the most popular girl in school unhappy.  I haven’t thought of this in years.  Thank you for a great question.

Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life?

I weave all kinds of real life into my fiction and non-fiction books.  It’s real for me, and I believe it makes it real for the reader, too.  For example, Jenny and Jason from The Dreaming, are based on my children.  When I was toying with the idea of giving Jason a drug problem, my son protested, saying “Thanks, mom, for giving my character a drug problem.”  That was a funny moment.  He was really offended.  However, my characters aren’t replicas of the people and events who inspire me.  For example, when I chose to have Jenny drive a VW bug, it was because it fit Jenny, when my daughter actually wanted a Nissan Altima. 

What books have most influenced you?

There are many books that have influenced me, but if there is one author who holds my heart, it is Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb.  She has an incredible talent.  My first Nora book was Dance Upon the Air, the first book in the Three Sisters Island trilogy.  Her paranormal romances have influenced me immeasurably. 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

My good friend, editor, and co-author on an upcoming cookbook, Lynn Burton.  She has lovingly guided me through so much of the writing process. 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I have had to learn to limit my use of the words just, really, and very.  I can’t tell you how much I learned from crafting sentences without them.  It was challenging.  I just really miss those words very much, but I know how much I have improved without them.

How long does it take you to write a book?

My first four manuscripts that I attempted as an adult have taken a month or less each for the first draft.  Editing takes about another six weeks.

 Do you have any interesting writing quirks?

I don’t know if these could be considered quirks, but I talk to my characters, daydream about them, and then write the scenes that move me the most.  I fill in more of the story as I go along.

What does your family think of your writing?

This is a great question to ask me!  My children are proud that I am pursuing my passion.  My boyfriend can see how much I love writing and wants me to be able to make it my full time career.  My brother thinks I write trashy novels and is shocked that I want to write romance, of all things.

Now, if you’re asking about their feedback on reading my writing, that’s a different story.  My daughter has dutifully read my first two published books and countless songs and poems.  She thinks I’m a good writer.  I wrote one story that impressed her so much that she asked if I actually wrote it, which told me that I had reached a new level in my craft.  I don’t know where she thinks I might have got it, or why I would have told her it was mine if it wasn’t, but I’ll take the compliment.

My brother reads everything he can of mine that isn’t graphically sexual (because it’s too creepy to     read love scenes written by his sister, thank you very much) and thinks I am a gifted writer.

My mother loves everything she has scanned, because she’s my mom.  I’m honored, because she isn’t a reader.  When I told her my books were getting a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews, she basically said that she expected no less, because I’ve been writing for so long. 

Do you start with character or plot?

I usually start with the characters.  They really are my favorite part.  As a reader I’m drawn to character-driven stories. 

In your words, what defines a good story?

I love this question, too.  A good story can take so many avenues.  I find it amazing that a 100 word flash fiction can pull me in as well as a 100,000 word novel.  What defines a good story, for me, is how much I enjoy going along for the ride the writer is taking me on.  If the writer makes me laugh or cry, or even groan a few times, I consider that a good story.  If I get lost in the world I’m creating in my head through the writer’s imagination, that’s a good story.  If I can’t wait to turn the page, that’s a good story.  If I put off reading the book for a day because I don’t want it to end, that’s a good story.  If I love what I’m reading so much that I have to hold someone down and read parts of it to them, that’s a good story.  If I keep the physical book and read it again and again, that’s Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts, or Naked in Death by J.D. Robb, the definition of good storytelling.

 


Gina has been a great source of inspiration to me; she is a kindred spirit. You will find information about her upcoming release Desert Sunrise, as well as her other projects, by visiting her website here.

 

The Shadow Stalker Blitz: Part 3

Marketing KitWelcome back to the final stop here at Writing Room 101. If you’ve visited before, or managed to catch Renee elsewhere on her tour, thanks for your support.

This time I’d like to share two character interviews with you, provided for the blitz. They are a lot of fun, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy them as much as I did.

First up is Auren Trask (the series is told from Auren’s point of view). This is followed by Kato, who is Auren’s Foster father and Guardian. 

Auren Trask

Character Interview

By: Kathryn Jenkins

Q: Tell us a little about you and the world you reside in?

A: The Serpent Isles are an island chain in the far north of my world. There are other land masses, mostly islands, around the world, but we are far from any of them. We are the most advanced culture on our world as well. Some of the other islands have primitive cultures, but the other islands are not very hospitable places to live. The wildlife is much too dangerous to coexist with on some, and the climates are too harsh on others. We are not sure why our culture seemed to thrive and advance, while others that remain are so primitive, but there are legends that suggest shadow stalkers played a role in that, if you believe in such things.

Q: What is it like to be a kid growing up among the Serpent Isles?

A: Boring…at least on Appolia. I think I live in the most boring town on the coldest island in the Serpent Isles. We only get about a month of warm weather, and it never gets warm enough to swim here. There’s lots of skiing and snow related activities, but I’ve never been into that sort of thing. I don’t really like the cold. I like rock climbing, rappelling, and caving, though. Kado takes me camping on a different island every summer, and we do all kinds of stuff like that. On Appolia, I spend most of my time studying and trying not to get myself into too much trouble. Kado keeps me busy studying a lot of different things outside of school as well, so I don’t have much time for my friends.

Q: You have a very protective foster father. Do you ever get the urge to rip your hair out, when it comes to dealing with him?

A: Well, no. I like my hair right where it is. I might consider ripping his out on occasion, though. Wait, never mind…that would not end well. We do butt heads a lot, though, and quite often I let my friend, Jade, talk me into breaking the rules. It’s great fun, until I get caught, which with Kado doesn’t take very long. Sometimes I swear he can read my mind.

Q: In episode one you have two very unique friends. Can you tell us about them and how you met each?

A: I met Jade Tobin and Deakan Nix on my first day of school when I was six years old. We connected right away and have been inseparable since. Sometimes I think with the way the two of them bicker, they might like each other, but I’ll never tell them that. It might take a cataclysmic event to get them to admit they have feelings for each other.

Jade is generally quiet and reserved, but at the same time very mischievous. She is someone you can trust with your innermost secrets, and she is a lot of fun to be around. She has very laid back parents, except that they tend to shelter her from the harsh realities of the world. She tends to be too trusting, and she can’t understand cruel people. Violence terrifies her.

Deakan is the exact opposite. You can always count on him to be running his mouth, except when he’s around his father. He’s very obedient and well behaved around his dad. It’s like he has two different personalities, but I’d bet any amount of money that the person he is away from his dad is the real Deakan. He always seems to have something to prove and has a tendency to really dislike authority figures.

Q: Your foster father spent many years training you. Do you feel glad after your experiences about having this training?

A: I would say I feel relieved more than glad. I don’t know what I would have done without the training to fall back on when my friends and I were in trouble. But the training itself has always been very difficult and limiting to my social life. So it’s really been a blessing and a curse.


 

Kado

Character Interview

By: Kathryn Jenkins

Q: Hi Kado, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

A: I am a shadow stalker who was chosen at birth to be trained by our Foramar to replace him upon his death. Auren believes I am a courier, but I have spent the last eighteen years acting as a liaison between the shadow stalkers and the Coalition, the current government of the northern territory of the Serpent Isles. It has been my cover for keeping Auren’s secret. Shadow stalkers do not live among the people of the Serpent Isles, and it was the only way to legitimize my reason for being here. I am very recognizable as a shadow stalker to those who have fought beside us in the war with the Galvadi Empire, which helped the Coalition win their independence. Auren’s presence with me is not unusual because many people who know of us know that we foster our children out to be raised by others.

Q: How did you come to be Auren’s foster father?

A: As I mentioned, the Foramar fostered and trained me throughout my childhood. When his wife became pregnant, he asked me to foster his child. Auren was born prematurely when the Dark Isle was attacked by the Galvadi. The stress of the attack caused the Foramar’s wife to go into labor. She died in childbirth, and I left the Dark Isle with Auren minutes after her birth.

Q: Its obvious many find you bizarre and hard on Auren. Do you think you’re hard on her?

A: Absolutely, I have to be, although sometimes I don’t think I’m hard enough on her. Being a shadow stalker is not easy at the best of times. Traveling to and from the shadow world is dangerous, and becomes more so when we start using our powers while partially within the shadow world and partially in the physical one. Auren, more than any other shadow stalker, has other dangers she will have to face in her life, and she needs to be prepared or she will not survive.

Q: What is your purpose for training Auren on the skills you decided to show her?

A: She needs to be able to survive in no matter what situation she may find herself in. She will need to be able to go to places other people can’t go and hide herself for days, weeks or more if necessary. She needs to be able to survive off the land, making her own tools if necessary. And she needs to know the islands better than anyone else, so she can accomplish all this. Her training will go above and beyond what a shadow stalker would normally endure, because she will face things that the average shadow stalker will never have to face. I believe her father chose me to foster her because I have the foresight to know what she will need to learn.

Q: You have so much experience and knowledge about many things in your time. Can you tell us more about shadow stalkers?

A: The only thing I can share with you about the shadow stalkers at present is that we were created by the shadow people for a very specific purpose, although it’s not clear to us yet what that purpose is. Many cultures have their gods, mysterious beings who guide civilizations with a purpose that might not be apparent to the people. However, the people will trust in their gods’ will knowing that the gods have more knowledge and power than they do. While the shadow people are not gods, this is the power they have over us. We follow their will without question. In exchange for our obedience, we are given power that goes far beyond the power of any other mortal, which includes an extended lifespan. We will not live forever, but we will live at least twice as long as the average human.

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Thanks for visiting, and again for your support.

If you have any questions for Renee, you can either leave them in the comments and I’ll pass them on, or visit her website here.

The Shadow Stalker Blog Blitz: Part 2

Marketing KitWelcome back for the second stop at WR101. If you haven’t managed to catch Renee’s author interview, you will find it below. Renee is happy to answer any of your questions, so if there’s anything you’d like to know, either leave your questions in the comments or visit Renee’s blog. This evening, in the final stop, I will be sharing the character interviews provided as part of the tour, so don’t miss out on those.

Renee Scattergood

Author Interview

By: Kathryn Jenkins

 

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember the exact moment you made the decision and why?

A: In 1995 I was going to college for film and video production, and one of the required courses was an English course that required us to do some creative writing. My instructor was so impressed with my work that he had me read it in front of the class on a couple of occasions (which I have to admit was quite horrifying for me). One day he called me up after class was over and asked me if I had ever considered getting any of my work published. I had always loved making up stories, but I never considered writing them down, and I certainly never considered I could be good enough to have something published. He got me thinking about it, though, and I started writing for fun after that. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to consider writing more seriously.

Q: The hardest obstacle every author faces is trying to find the time to write. How do you manage your time with being a mother and a wife?

A: It’s really not easy. My daughter is autistic and has ADHD as well, so she requires a lot of my attention. I tend to write in bits and pieces throughout the day when I can find time. I volunteer in her school’s library, so I tend to do most of my writing then, or when she is occupied with something at home. Keeping a regular writing schedule is not something I can do, though, so I have to just take advantage of every opportunity.

 Q: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories/books?

A: A lot of it comes from my personal experiences and interesting people that I meet. I also read a lot of fantasy novels, and that tends to get my creative juices flowing.

Q: Your first novel is in a serialized format. Can you tell us why you chose this direction with publishing your work?

A: I was originally planning to write it as a series of novels, but I decided I wanted to try something different since so many authors are doing them these days. I had read about how some authors will publish their novels one chapter at a time and charge $1 a chapter. I thought this was a bit excessive since most novels are close to about 30 chapters. That’s a lot of money to charge for a novel in digital format and most ebook distributors won’t charge less than $0.99. So I came up with the idea of writing episodes, based on the concept of a TV series, but in the form of a short novella.

 

I thought it would be a great way to get my story out there and see if there and see if there was an interest before investing several months of work in writing a complete novel. Plus, it will be fun to be able to give my readers something new to read every month.

Q: With having a serialized novel in the process. Do you have chapters written already for the next episode or are you writing as you go?

A: Episodes 2 and 3 are nearly ready for editing and I’ve just started writing Episode 4. Readers can track my progress from my website where I post word count widgets in the side bar. I like to keep at least a few episodes ahead because quite often I will get ideas that will need to be introduced in an earlier episode. This gives me the latitude to make changes before publishing.

Q: While you are in the process of your serialized novel are you working on other projects? Can you tell us about them? 

A: I am working on a novel called The Four. It will be a standalone novel with the potential for a sequel. The only thing I can say about it right now is that it’s about shape shifters with the ability to control people’s minds. It will be a sort of fantasy thriller.

Q: What background do you have that shows up frequently in your writing?

A: I have been into shamanism for many years, and my stories tend to have a very shamanic theme, although very loosely based in reality. I also prefer to write fantasy that takes place in a modern or futuristic world compared to ours.

Q: What are your goals as a writer? Where do you see yourself in five years after starting your journey with, Shadow Stalker: The Hidden Truth?

A: I’m not really big on the idea of fame and popularity. I just want to be successful at what I do and make a good living at it. If in five years I can travel with my family anywhere we want to go, be able to live in a nice house and own a nice car, and do things we want to do without worrying about our finances, I will consider myself successful. Then I might consider some new goals, although, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t be tickled if one of my novels were to be made into a movie that was produced by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. To work with those two men would be a dream come true for me.

 Q: What challenges do you face with writing your serialized novel that other writers don’t?

A: The biggest challenge, I would say, is meeting a monthly deadline to write, edit, publish and promote each episode. Also, once an episode is published, it’s cannon. I have to be very careful that I don’t do anything in future episodes that will contradict something that had been previously written. 

 Q: Since, this is your first time being published. Can you tell us about your experiences? What advice would you give to another author just starting out also?

A: Most of my experience over the years has been overcoming my fears. First, I had to get over the fear of having people read my work. I really didn’t believe I was very good until I had strangers emailing me to praise my writing skills. That was a big confidence booster for me and prompted me to start writing more seriously. I’m a perfectionist, though, and I will not publish something if I can’t read it over and over and still love it. I spend the last ten years working on my writing skills and learning about the industry and marketing because I knew I wanted to self-publish. Making the decision to finally write and publish Shadow Stalker is a big step for me because I’m facing my biggest fear of all…fear of the unknown.

 

If I was to give any advice at all, it would be to know your craft and your industry. Don’t just jump into things blind. You should have a plan, and you should know exactly how you will put that plan into action. Then when you have done all that, get to work! Don’t let your fears stop you from achieving your dreams.

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Thanks for visiting.

Mel