Mid-Week Reading

The Historian

One of the stories I am currently re-reading is, “The Historian.” by Elizabeth Kostova.  Since the first moment I read this novel a few years ago, I have always gone back to it. It fascinates me. My copy has 909 pages! So I absorb this lush story in small lavish dosages.

To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history…

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history.

(Description from goodreads)

Review: The Conqueror’s Wife by Stephanie Thornton

02_The Conqueror's Wife

The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great by Stephanie Thornton

Publication Date: December 1, 2015

NAL/Penguin Group LLC.

eBook, Paperback; 496 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 330s, B.C.E., Greece: Alexander, a handsome young warrior of Macedon, begins his quest to conquer the ancient world. But he cannot ascend to power, and keep it, without the women who help to shape his destiny. His spirited younger half-sister, Thessalonike, yearns to join her brother and see the world. Instead, it is Alexander’s boyhood companion who rides with him into war while Thessalonike remains behind. Far away, crafty princess Drypetis will not stand idly by as Alexander topples her father from Persia’s throne. And after Alexander conquers her tiny kingdom, Roxana, the beautiful and cunning daughter of a minor noble, wins Alexander’s heart…and will commit any crime to secure her place at his side. Within a few short years, Alexander controls an empire more vast than the civilized world has ever known. But his victories are tarnished by losses on the battlefield and treachery among his inner circle. And long after Alexander is gone, the women who are his champions, wives, and enemies will fight to claim his legacy…

Review:

When this book came available to review, I knew I couldn’t pass this up. Not because I wanted to read another story of Alexander the Great, mind you. I have read enough of him and his atrocities. However, Thornton brings us a new story- a story of the strong women who surrounded him.

I would like to start with his mother-Olympias. She personifies a power hungry political in my opinion. A ruthless Queen where everyone is her pawn and how she manipulates her pawns is without mercy. Or is that just me? Needless to say, I don’t care for the women. I know many would argue with that statement. Thornton does such splendid work with Olympias’s characterization. She is just as I would imagine her to be…

I cared little of, Roxana. She left a bad taste in my mouth. But wow! What an unflinching narrative! Thornton evokes such strong dislike from her readers when reading about this women. I kept on waiting for her demise throughout the story. Or least I felt that way about Roxana. *laughing*

I adore Drypetis-a Persian princess-and Alexander’s sister, Thessalonike for many reasons. Then there is Hephaestion. *sigh* He was Alexanders second in command, best friend and lover. Probably the only person among the very few people Alexander trusted and completely loved. His narrative in the story is one I will never forget.

I cannot say enough about the characters, or their stories. Beautifully told and Thornton immerses you in an unforgettable period of our history and gives you a marvelous exploration of people living during that time. She keeps you so wrapped up in the conflict of the ancient world, culture and the conquest of Alexander that when you put the book down, you can almost still hear their voices and imagine their movements in your mind. This story is a masterpiece.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

AMAZON (KINDLE) | AMAZON (PAPERBACK) | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIEBOUND

About the Author

03_Stephanie Thornton

Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel. “The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora,” “Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt,” and “The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan” are available now. “The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great” will hit the shelves in December 2015. For more information please visit Stephanie Thornton’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Valerie Biel

Valerie Biel BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Valerie Biel today to talk with me about her book, Circle of Ninie-Beltany. Valerie’s love for travel inspires her novels for teens and adults. When she’s not writing or traveling, she’s wrangling her overgrown garden, doing publicity work for the local community theatre, and reading everything she can get her hands on. She lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and three children and dreams regularly of a beautiful cottage on the Irish coast where she can write and write and write.

Her debut novel Circle of Nine – Beltany has been honored as a 2015 Kindle Book Award Finalist, a finalist in the Gotham Writers’ YA Novel Discovery Contest and the Readers’ Favorite Book Award Contest as well as being a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

I learned about indieBRAG from a fellow author at a Book Festival.

Please tell me about your book, Circle of Nine-Beltany.

The story follows the path of fifteen-year-old Brigit Quinn as she learns she’s descended from a legendary Celtic tribe that serves as guardian of the ancient stone circles of Ireland.

This book is so many things . . . It’s a contemporary coming-of-age novel mixed with historical chapters. It’s a story of magic steeped in the mysticism surrounding the ancient stones. And it combines that all together with a dose of pagan ritual and Celtic myth.

Here’s my back cover blurb:

“Since I was a little girl I’ve been labeled a freak in my small town. There’s no blending in when your mom practices an ancient pagan religion and everyone believes she’s a witch. On my 15th birthday, my secret wish is the same as always—to just be normal. But that’s not what I get. Not even close.” – Brigit Quinn

Instead, Brigit is shocked to learn she’s descended from a legendary Celtic tribe – powerful people who serve as guardians of the stone circles of Ireland. A spellbound book of family history reveals the magical powers of her ancestors. Powers that could be hers – if only she wanted them.

And when someone sinister and evil returns to steal her family’s strength, Brigit has to make a decision. Fight to keep her unique heritage or reject it for the normal life she’s always wanted.

***

Additionally, I should note for your readers that the subtitle of the novel – Beltany – is the name of an actual standing stone circle near Raphoe in County Donegal, Ireland.

Circle if nine-Beltany Valerie Biel BRAG

Your historical chapters set in Ireland vary in centuries and I am interested in the setting of 1324. Could you please tell me a little about that?

Picking a year like that seems rather random, but I can assure you it was not. I had been researching when witch trials occurred in Ireland and that year was the earliest recorded date of a witch trial – anywhere. You can read more about that here

It was important to me that the plot line I was thinking up in my head would mesh with the historical reality of the time.

Do you have a picture you can share with us of the Stone Circle Beltany?

The best picture of Beltany comes from the Irish Megalith website. I love this one.

Beltany Stone Circle - County Donegal - Irish Megalith website

And here’s an aerial view to see the size of the circle.

DCIM100MEDIA

What intrigues you most about the Neolithic circles?

There’s something eerie and beautiful about the Irish stone circles, which rise up out of the greenest grass you’ve ever seen. They were built as early as 3700 BC – so thousands of years ago. I think it is fascinating that for the most part how they were built (with no modern equipment to hoist rocks weighing many tons) and exactly what they were built for remains shrouded in mystery. There are plenty of theories, but no one can know for sure. This mystery gives any storyteller a wonderful setting for a great tale.

Please tell me a little about your main character’s interest in history.

Brigit Quinn, the contemporary main character, knows nothing of her family’s true history until her fifteenth birthday. She’s spent her life unnerved by her mother’s pagan practices and has only wanted a normal life. When she learns of her heritage as a descendent of the Tuatha de Danann (one of the four mythological founding tribes of Ireland), she is initially unimpressed. As the book continues, she is drawn further and further into her family history as she reads a thick book about her female ancestors, starting in 1324. I don’t want to give anything away for those who haven’t read the book, but Brigit is at least intrigued enough about these women to keep reading.

What is one of the special talents Brigit’s ancestors had and does she portray any of them?

Oooh, now we are entering SPOILER ALERT territory. Hmmmm . . . what can I say here without giving too much away? Brigit may or may not have a special talent that she may or may not learn is shared by at least one ancestor. How’s that for a cryptic answer.

Could you please share an excerpt? (This excerpt is from the first chapter.)

“Happy Birthday, Brigit Blaise Quinn. It’s getting late, but I’m glad you’re still awake. I have a present I want to give you.”

“What? Now?” My birthday was only a minute old.

Mom carried a wooden box into my room. Her cheeks were pink and her eyes sparkled with excitement. “I’ve waited years to give this to you. My mother gave it to me on my fifteenth birthday, and now it’s my turn to pass it on to you.” She sat on the edge of my bed, and I maneuvered out of my comforter to perch next to her.

“Obviously, you know we follow a different path than most people,” Mom continued.

I nearly snorted at her understatement that the Pagan religion she followed (and I tolerated) was a simple life-style choice.

She paused and seemed to search for the right words. “You remember the story I told you about the Tuatha de Danann, the ancient Irish tribe?”

“Sure, I like that story.” The magical tales about the mythological founding tribes of Ireland who built all the stone circles were my favorites.

“Right, but the thing is – the Tuatha aren’t a myth. They really existed.”

“It’s not just a legend?”

“No, it’s not. They ruled Ireland four thousand years ago, until they were defeated and banished to the mountains.”

“Okay.” I shrugged my shoulders, confused why this was important.

“There are some people who can still trace their lineage back to the Tuatha and that includes us. We’re their descendants.”

I didn’t understand why she was making a big deal about this. “Everyone’s descended from someone, right?” And then I had a neat thought. “Wait! Does this make me royalty? Are you going to tell me I’m a princess?” Now that would be a really great birthday present.

She smiled at my suggestion. “No, this doesn’t make you a princess, but being a descendant of the Tuatha is exciting in a different way.”

She shifted the box onto my lap and said, “We can learn a lot from our ancestors.”

Curious, I ran my hand over the intricate carvings on the lid and grasped the heavy metal clasp. It was obviously very old. When I flipped it open, the hinges actually creaked. Inside was a thick book with a sturdy brown leather cover, worn around the edges. I took it out, but, before I could open it to see what was inside, Mom covered my hands with hers and said, “You’re old enough to know. This is your history, where you are from, and who you could be if you choose it.”

Puzzled by her strange message and sudden seriousness, I waited for her to pull her hands away, and when she did, I turned to the first page. Although the script was hard to read, I made out the name Onora Quinn and the date September 19, 1324.

“Someone really wrote in this book nearly 700 years ago? There’s no way it could have lasted this long.” I squinted hard at the old page.

“It has survived against all odds, so treat it gently. Onora was your twenty-fifth great-grandmother and the first of the Tuatha to record her story in written form. This book has been passed down to each generation, and now it’s yours.” She looked a little sad for a moment and then warned. ”Don’t stay up too late reading.”

But, of course, I did.

Who designed your book cover?

A local artist, Kelsey Curkeet, did an amazing job with the cover. She read my book twice before creating the lovely digital image for Circle of Nine. She is in the middle of creating my novella cover and then the one for the sequel.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Circle of Nine references the women in my book who form a group of nine in each generation to continue the traditions of the Tuatha de Danann, a legendary founding tribe of Ireland. Beltany is the name of the stone circle in County Donegal that plays a big part in the Circle of Nine rituals.

When you’re stuck on a scene in your story, what do you do?

I will often make a note in the text that says something like FIX THIS SCENE or NEEDS WORK and then move on if I know what the next scene is going to be. If it is the end of my writing day, I will just come back to it with fresh eyes the next morning. This almost always works!

What are you working on next?

I just released on Samhain (Halloween) the first of three Circle of Nine novellas (Dervla’s Destiny), which explore the lives of historical characters from Circle of Nine – Beltany. (The other two will be released before the end of 2015 and a combined set with be available in early 2016.) I am also working on an April 2016 release for the sequel, Circle of Nine – Sacred Treasures.

Do you stick with just genre?

I have only published in the YA genre, but I have also written middle grade novels that I have out on submission with agents and editors. I would love to write some adult romance novels, too.

Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?

I move from place to place with my laptop . . . I have a desk but often sit in the kitchen at the breakfast bar or in the dining room. Much of Circle of Nine was also written at the local library between pick up and drop offs for my kids’ sports practices.

I write best in the earlier part of the day! I try to get right at it in the morning with my cup of coffee nearby. I’ll take a bit of a break for lunch and then if things are going well, I will continue until about 3 pm, which gives me enough time do things that need to be done before the end of the business day . . . book promotions, bill paying, errands. I mostly write complete crap if I attempt to write in the evening—so if I am motivated to do writerly things then, I will only make editing notations that I (carefully) review in the morning.

Is there a favorite food or drink you like to enjoy while writing?

Coffee – Coffee – Coffee and it has to be in my special mug that helps me write better. J

Is there a particular hobby you enjoy when you’re not writing?

I love to travel – but when that’s not possible, I read a lot and volunteer with the local community theater and historical society where I handle publicity projects.

Author Websites:

Website/Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Book Trailer

A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Valerie Biel who is the author of, Circle of Nine-Beltany, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Circle of Nine-Beltany, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 

 

Weekend Happenings…

This weekend I have a lot going on. First there is preparing the house for family that are coming in town next week for Thanksgiving and then there is church on Sunday. If you know me, there is always reading plans in the mix. I am never far from a book. I am currently reading, A Love That Never Tires by Allyson Jeleyne. It is a Historical Romance and I generally do not read in this sub-genre unless it is an author’s work I know. However, I decided to take a chance with an unknown author to me. So far the setting of story seems to be true to the period but I have to admit, I am a bit put off by some of the sex scenes. For a reason I won’t mention until after I finish reading the story.

I want to wish you all a wonderful bookish weekend and please stay tuned to Layered Pages for lots of wonderful interviews, author guest post and much more!

A Love that Never Tires

‘Linley Talbot-Martin is a girl who likes to get her hands dirty. As the daughter of a famous archaeologist, she’s been everywhere and seen everything—except London. When the Talbot-Martin team travels there for her father’s investiture, Linley finally gets her wish. But when the time comes to trade her jodhpurs and work boots for silk gowns and kid gloves, she may be in over her head. Even though she can out-ride, out-shoot, and outsmart any girl in London society, Linley is destined to be the failure of the season. No one she meets cares about ancient pottery or lost Buddhist texts, and fundraising efforts for future expeditions keep coming up short. If the Talbot-Martin team doesn’t find money soon, they will be out of a job, and Linley will lose everything she holds dear. Patrick Wolford, Marquess of Kyre (pronounced ‘Keer’), is a man who knows his place. Well-connected and respected, he is everything everyone expects him to be, but beneath his façade, he is as neglected and crumbling as the family estate. Now the strain of keeping up appearances is taking its toll. The smart thing would be to marry the heiress nipping at his heels and be done with it, but when he meets Linley Talbot-Martin, who dares to shake up his seemingly proper world, he must choose between the life he’s always known and one he never dared to dream of.’

(Book description from Goodreads)

Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J.T. Bishop

Judy Bishop BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J. T. Bishop today to talk with me about her book, The Red Line: The Shift. T.J. is the author of the Red-Line trilogy. Born in Dallas, TX, she began writing in 2012. At that time, the end of the Mayan calendar was approaching (Dec. 21st). There were all sorts of theories and speculation as to what the date meant and what would happen when it arrived. J. T. watched a video on Facebook that spoke about the Mayan calendar. It talked about how extraterrestrials had visited earth thousands of years ago in order to meet and exchange information. J. T. didn’t know much about that, but it did spawn an idea. What if those extraterrestrials were still here and lived among us? Thus, Red-Line was born.

Two years later, the trilogy was complete. She has been working hard since then to publish all three books and is excited to announce that the third book in the trilogy, Trust Destiny, will be published on Nov. 1st, 2015. J. T. currently works in the corporate world, but hopes soon to be a full-time writer. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling to amazing places, and spending time in nature. Getting up in the morning with a cup of coffee and her laptop, ready to write is the start of a perfect day.

J.T., how did you discover indieBRAG?

I think I heard about in an author discussion on Facebook. Somebody mentioned it, so I did a little research to find out more about it. I submitted my book soon after.

Please tell me about your story, Red Line: The Shift.

Red-Line: The Shift is about Sarah, a woman who learns she’s a member of an extraterrestrial race living on Earth. She is about to Shift, which is a transformational event that all people of her kind experience. But her Shift will be different. Because she’s a Red-line, a member of her species not seen on Earth in over seventy years.

John Ramsey, a Protector has been assigned to ensure her safety, and together with the help of three others, they must keep Sarah alive as she Shifts. But at the same time, they also learn of a new threat – another Red-Line that has other plans for Sarah.

Red line  the shift BRAG

What an intriguing premise! What was your inspiration?

I was inspired by a video I saw in 2012 regarding the end of the Mayan calendar. It theorized about Earth’s origins and how extraterrestrials visited here thousands of years ago to meet and exchange information. It made me think, what if they were still here?

I also liked the idea because it gave me the freedom to play with these characters. I could give them unique abilities and talents. They are highly sensitive, intuitive and empathic. They also have the ability to manipulate energy. Most of the time, if you have characters with special powers, they are witches, vampires, werewolves, etc. I love those books, too, but I liked that I could do something different in this story.

How does Sarah get along working in a bookstore?

Sarah starts out working in the bookstore, but she’s not there for long. Events occur that alter her life forever, making her future career plans obsolete. The only reason she’s in the bookstore when the book opens is because she’s lost her corporate job, and she needed to find work. Her aunt knew someone and helped her find work there. Sarah is in a transitional period when the story begins, which makes sense considering what’s about to happen to her.

Please tell me a little about John Ramsey.

John Ramsey was a fantastic character to write. Very few know this, but I based him on the Robert Downey Jr. portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. I even made Ramsey’s middle name Sherlock. He’s cocky, brash and impulsive. But also fiercely loyal, compassionate and he takes his job very seriously. He will do whatever it takes to protect Sarah. Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s falling for her, too, which adds a whole other dimension to his character. Very fun.

What is one of the abilities that Sarah develops during her, “Shift”?

Sarah is a Red-Line, which makes her unique. The other characters are Gray-Lines and they all have intuitive abilities, some more than most. After Sarah Shifts, she must quickly adjust to her new sensitivities and learn how to use them. As a Red-Line, she can do everything a Gray-Line does, but at a higher level. She also has additional gifts that Gray-Lines do not. One of the most important talents she finds she has is the ability to heal. I won’t say more than that, because I don’t want to give anything away.

Who is Hannah and what is her relationship to Sarah?

Hannah is also another favorite character. She shows up to help John Ramsey with Sarah. She is a former nurse who helps Sarah with her personal needs as she experiences her Shift. She gets more than she bargained for though when she realizes who Sarah is and how her assignment could turn dangerous. She hangs in there though and decides to stay and help despite the risk. Hannah is a Gray-Line and becomes an important friend to Sarah throughout the trilogy. Her role becomes pivotal as the story progresses.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

It’s related to the story and embodies exactly what is happening to Sarah, the main character. It was a logical choice.

Who designed your book cover?

Peter from BespokeBookCovers.com. He lives in England. I found him while doing research for book cover designers on-line. I liked his other covers, plus he’ll do as many changes as I need without charging extra fees. I’ve used him for all three books and he’s done a great job. It’s a little more expensive, but a good cover is a must, so it’s worth it.

When you’re stuck on a scene in your story, what do you do?

I’ve been pretty lucky so far. Writing this book came easily and so has writing the subsequent books. I usually have an idea of what I’m going to write when I begin a scene. Occasionally, I may question how to begin a new chapter, but I find if I just start writing, even if it’s not something I’m sure about, that within a few sentences, the flow starts to kick in. If I don’t like what I wrote when I get started, then I can always go back and fix it. As far as writer’s block, it’s never been a serious issue.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on my fourth book, entitled Curse-Breaker. It’s a new story with new characters, but there’s a connection to the trilogy, which makes it fun.

Curse-Breaker is a stand-alone story. It can be read before or after the trilogy. The trilogy books all have cliff-hangers, so I wanted to write a book with a beginning and an end.

It’s mystery/suspense with a little romance thrown in.

Do you stick with just genre?

Yes. Those are the stories that draw me in. I don’t exactly think of it as “writing genre,” though. I just write what I’m interested in. I read genre, though, so I suppose that’s why I write it.

Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?

I like to write in my living room. I grab my laptop, sit down on the couch, get comfortable and start writing.

My process is simple. I have an idea what I’m going write that day and I just start. I don’t really outline the whole story up front. I tried it once, but then never referred to it. I didn’t really need it. I find that I like being open to whatever happens as I write. New characters can show up, and the story line can take an interesting turn. Usually when that happens, I pay attention because it usually means something important. Many times, something pops in my head, I add it in, and somewhere down the line, maybe several chapters later, I can see how it fits perfectly into the story. It’s funny how often that happens.

And if I end up writing something I don’t like, I’ll just take it out. Not a big deal.

Is there a favorite food or drink you like to enjoy while writing?

I usually write in the morning after I wake up, so I’ve usually got my cup of coffee in hand.

Is there a particular hobby you enjoy when you’re not writing?

I’m pretty low key. I like to visit family and hang out with friends. I live near a nature trail and when the weather is nice, I love to go for a hike. I also love to go to the movies and when I get a chance, travel.

For my birthday, someone gave me the coloring books for adults, along with the coloring pens. I find that this is also a great way to relax. An occasional massage doesn’t hurt either.

If you’d like updates on upcoming books and events, then connect with J. T. on the J. T. Bishop website and her Facebook page.

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

 

A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview J.T. Bishop who is the author of, Red-Line: The Shift, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Red-Line: The Shift, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

Great Stories Set in the Dark Ages…

the Amber treasure BRAG

597 A.D. Treachery in Dark Ages Northumbria. Cerdic is the nephew of a great warrior who died a hero of the Anglo-Saxon country of Deira. Growing up in a quiet village, he dreams of the glories of battle and of one day writing his name into the sagas. He experiences the true horrors of war, however, when his home is attacked, his sister kidnapped, his family betrayed and his uncle’s legendary sword stolen. Cerdic is thrown into the struggles that will determine the future of 6th century Britain and must show courageous leadership and overcome treachery, to save his kingdom, rescue his sister and return home with his uncle’s sword. “I will take care of the body of my lord and you can carry the sword, story teller. For all good stories are about a sword.” The Northern Crown series follows the story of a young nobleman – Cerdic – as he lives through the darkest years of the Dark Ages. Through his eyes we witness the climatic events that forged the nations of Britain. For it out of this time that the English, Welsh, Irish and Scots races began to form: born in the conflict between Saxon and Celt, Pagan and Christian.

 

edwin

Debut historical fiction series vividly recreating the rise of the Christian kings of Northumbria, England In 604 AD, Edwin, the deposed king of Northumbria, seeks refuge at the court of King Raedwald of East Anglia. But Raedwald is urged to kill his guest by Aethelfrith, Edwin’s usurper. As Edwin walks by the shore, alone and at bay, he is confronted by a mysterious figure–the missionary Paulinus– who prophesies that he will become High King of Britain. It is a turning point. Through battles and astute political alliances Edwin rises to power, in the process marrying the Kentish princess Aethelburh. As part of the marriage contract the princess is allowed to retain her Christian faith. But, in these times, to be a king is not a recipe for a long life. This turbulent and tormented period in British history sees the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon settlers who have forced their way on to British shores over previous centuries, arriving first to pillage, then to farm and trade–and to come to terms with the faith of the Celtic tribes they have driven out. The dramatic story of Northumbria’s Christian kings helped give birth to England as a nation, English as a language, and the adoption of Christianity as the faith of the English.

 

9781781322734-Perfect.indd

AD433 Torn apart when Rome abandoned Bryton, the Wulfsuna are a disparate tribe. Twenty years on, two long ships sail for the east fens to honour their Warrior-Lord’s dream and reunite with lost kin. Soon after landing however, a murderous betrayal divides loyalties, some craving revenge and others indignant on pursuing their Lord’s dream. Blood and brotherhood are tested to their deadly limits. The discovery of a young Seer adds to the turmoil. Expelled from her village after foretelling of an attack by blue painted savages, the Wulfsuna are equally wary of the one they call ‘Nix’. None fear her more than Lord Wulfgar, who refuses to believe an ancient saga bearing his name, is weaving the Seer’s destiny into his own. But a treacherous rival threatens their fate and Wulfgar must accept the Seer’s magic may be all that can save them.

The Importance of A Beta Reader with Maggie Pill

Peg Herring BRAG

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Maggie Pill stops by to talk with me about beta readers. Maggie writes mysteries, loves fine chocolate, and has a very old cat who is allowed to do pretty much anything she wants to. Maggie and her husband love to travel and might be found hiking interesting landscapes, but they seldom prepare properly for it. It’s more of a “Let’s see what’s over that hill!” type of lifestyle.

Maggie, do you use beta readers? I know of a few authors who use beta readers for different phases of their manuscript. How many do you use and in what phase of your WIP do you require them?

I’m a lucky writer in the sense that many of my friends are teachers. That means they’re often readers, they’re trained to read critically, and they’re used to telling the truth about what’s good and bad in a given piece of writing. I use beta readers in four stages: when the manuscript is finished in rough form, when it’s been through my head a few more times and is starting to solidify, when it’s nearly ready for publication, and at the end, where we’re looking for those last few typos and extra spaces.

For the first stage I go to my sisters (big surprise), who read my manuscripts early on to see that they make sense in a general way. Honestly, they aren’t great editors because they’re my sisters—because they know what I mean to say, they tend to fill in the blanks for me. They do make suggestions and point out errors, and I judge from what they say about the book what its overall impression on a reader will be. They always give me a pat on the back, and that’s what I need at that point: Encouragement to push onward.

The second-stage beta readers are my teacher/writer friends. Each one has strengths, and I get a variety of suggestions to consider. I usually end up rewriting to clarify some spots in the story.

Before I send the MS out to a hired editor, a friend who loves mysteries reads the manuscript. She looks for plot-holes in both the main and the sub-plots, and she’s ruthless (in a good way) about pointing out mistakes. She’s especially attentive to the timeline, and if it doesn’t make sense, I’ll hear about it.

The final beta readers are often people I don’t know, or don’t know well. They’re Internet contacts who read for errors in spelling, spacing, etc.

What is it that you look for in a beta reader? What is the importance of them?

Beta readers have to be encouraging without being flattering. Like many writers I know, I tend to doubt myself, so if someone says, “This is awful!” I’m going to be crushed. My beta readers are people I trust to tell me what bothers them without being nasty about it.

It’s important to get the views of others on a manuscript, simply because the author is too close to see it objectively. Books are like your children: Of course you love them, but you have to see how they’re accepted in society to judge whether you’ve “raised” them well or not. I’m often amazed at what beta readers get from my work that I wasn’t aware of, and I can tell by their comments when I haven’t explained things well enough. For example, just yesterday my sister, who read the rough-rough version of my next book, said, “You need to let us know that J—and L—get together at the end of the book.”

I thought I had! Sometimes I’m too subtle for my own good.

The Sleuth Sisters BRAG

How do you choose your beta readers?

I didn’t choose my sisters, but they’re both gracious about helping out. Most of my beta readers volunteered for duty, but I don’t accept every offer I get. As I said, betas have to be tactful and able to understand that their word isn’t final. There are people out there who’d take the job just to have someone to criticize. (If you don’t believe me, just look at the trolls on Amazon. I had a friend whose book got a one-star review because the reader mistakenly ordered the large print edition and somehow decided it was the author’s fault.)

A beta reader who doesn’t know the genre well is less helpful. Mysteries have certain conventions, and while someone who doesn’t read them can look for errors in spelling or grammar, they might not do as well judging the genre’s expectations, like how far into the story should the readers meet the villain or whether the denouement takes too long.

What has been your experience with them?

I’ve had good luck with beta readers. Some of them are probably too nice, but as I said earlier, I need encouragement in the writing phase. The paid editors will be more critical of style and such. My beta readers are talented amateurs who give different viewpoints on the book.

I’ve heard from other authors about how destructive a bad beta reader can be, and it often happens in critique groups. Beta readers who are jealous, competitive or overly critical can make an author doubt herself. I haven’t had that problem (fingers crossed), and I cherish my beta readers and their helpful advice.

How often do you take their advice and what is the impact they have had on your writing?

As nice as it is for beta readers to help an author out, in the end the book is mine. That means I have to decide how much advice I’ll accept.

If the advice is practical, like “That store isn’t open on Sundays,” I’ll research to find out if it’s true and fix the MS accordingly. No writer is an expert on everything, and it’s so very easy to slip a mistake in when I’m focused on where the story is going.

If the advice is emotional, “I don’t like the way Barb handles this,” I consider the criticism carefully. I know my characters, of course, but I also realize that my readers become invested in them and expect them to act a certain way. Barb isn’t the animal lover Faye is, but I would never have her kick Buddy out of her way or slap Styx on the nose. Still, a reader who’s a real dog lover might interpret something Barb does as cruel when I see it as her natural impatience. I depend on beta readers to provide their impressions, to show me how others react to what my characters do.

Here’s an example. I wrote a mystery (Somebody Doesn’t Like Sarah Leigh as Peg Herring) about two women who’ve been friends their whole lives, but the friendship ends abruptly, leading to mystery, suspense, and murder. A beta who reads mostly romances suggested that there should be a love interest in the book–the town sheriff. That’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility in a mystery, but I thought it would take away from my main theme, the broken friendships that can happen after years of closeness. Her suggestion wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t one I was willing to take.

Recently a beta reader objected to a whole section of a book, saying it wasn’t “as good as the rest of my writing.” I thought about it long and hard, went back over the section several times, and decided I’d leave it as it was. That’s a drawback to beta readers who are also friends; she didn’t feel comfortable being more specific than that rather vague criticism, and I couldn’t see what she meant. In such instances the hired editor is the arbiter. Since she didn’t object to the segment, I had to tell myself that one person’s opinion isn’t the end of the world.

Do you use them for every book you write?

I always use beta readers. Too many times I’ve been surprised at my own blindness concerning my writing, and I want as many people as possible to look it over before I ask people to pay to read it. Here are some things beta readers found that would have been embarrassing after publication.

  1. A character leaves the room. Two paragraphs later, he leaves the room again.
  2. A ship leaves Scotland for Grimsby, England. On the next page, its destination is mentioned as Scarborough.
  3. A woman’s hair is red-gold. A couple of pages later it’s honey blond.
  4. Glancing at the cock, she said, “Please sit down.” (Spellcheck doesn’t catch those.)

Of course one hopes an editor would have caught these things, but who knows? That’s why writers love beta readers!

Contact Maggie at

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Find her book, THE SLEUTH SISTERS at

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B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Interview with Heidi Skarie

Heidi Skarie BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Heidi Skarie to talk with me today about her book, Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge. Heidi writes visionary novels that are an intoxicating amalgam of action, adventure and romance, featuring strong, spiritually inquisitive heroines. Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge is her first science fiction novel. She previously published Red Willow’s Quest, a historical novel based on a past life, about a Native American maiden training to become a medicine woman.

In the fall of 2015 Heidi plans to publish her new novel: Annoure and the Dragonships, another historical novel based on a past life, about a young woman kidnapped by the Vikings. In 2016 Star Rider and the Ahimsa Warrior, the second book in her Star Rider series will be published.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

I discovered it when I as surfing the Internet looking for marketing ideas.

Please tell me about your book, Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge.

The story is based on a series of six dreams that were like watching an exciting, action-packed space opera. The story was the classic battle between good and evil, love and power, and the struggle for religious and political freedom. I enjoyed the story so much I decided to expand on the dream and make it into a novel. While writing, I discovered the enjoyment of creating your own characters and worlds. The main character is a feisty woman named Toemeka Ganti who is part of a four person Coalition team sent on a mission to overthrow General Bhandar, the despot of Jaipar, and part of Samrat Condor’s military power structure. Toemeka has various psychic abilities including being able to communicate telepathically and being able to leave her body and travel in the Inner Worlds. She also has a spiritual teacher who she meets with both inwardly and outwardly. Samrat Condor is a self-proclaimed god, powerful sorcerer and interplanetary conqueror. Toemeka has a deep hatred for him because his men destroyed her village, killed her family and took her prisoner. She was rescued by the Coalition and ended up joining them in the fight against Condor.

On Jaipar Toemeka must preserve her undercover identity, despite secretly taking on several side operations that threaten to derail her primary mission. At her undercover job her project is to create a shield-destroying oscillator prototype, which for the allies is a key to winning the conflict. However her overbearing boss Commander Rochambeau suspects that she’s an undercover operative and is pressuring her to become his mistress or face certain death at the hands of General Bhandar.

Michio Kimes, a handsome spiritual warrior training to battle sorcery, seriously complicates Toemeka’s mission when she falls in love with him. Her only hope of surviving these tremendous odds lies with her trusted Coalition partner Erling Fenian and their team, who band together with the local underground resistance, the Kameets, in the fight to free the people of Jaipar and restore the rightful heir to the throne.

Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge

How did you come up with the name, oscillator?

I wanted a name that may not be really used in this context, but that sounded scientific and like a device used by the military. I looked through other science fiction novels for ideas, looked through lists of actual military equipment, and played with different words and sounds until I found one I liked.

If your story were made into a film, who would you want to play the leading role of Toemeka Ganti?

Jennifer Lawrence who was the lead actress in Hunger Games would do an excellent job in the role of Toemeka. She’s a talented young actress and has starred in well-known science fiction films.

Why did you choose the setting of your story in another world?

The original dream took place in another solar system during a time of interplanetary war. The world had advanced technology and spaceships that travel quickly between planets. Placing the story in another world gave me the freedom to create my own governments, religions, sentient beings and plant life. It also gave me the freedom to have characters who had abilities beyond what people in our world have.

Please tell me a little about Samrat Condor. What is one of Samrat’s powers?

Samrat Condor is an interplanetary conqueror and black magician. He’s from a warring race of tall beings who live extremely long lives. He’s also a self-proclaimed god and created his own interplanetary religion. On the planets he has conquered, he demands that the people worship him. Samrat Condor has the ability to project his astral body to other worlds to attack his enemies there.

What is an example of how the coalition and the resistance work together?

When Top operatives of the local resistance (the Kameets) are captured, Embrosa, the resistance leader, contacts the Coalition members and asks for their help. Toemeka and her Coalition team join members of the Kameets on a daring rescue mission that saves many of the Kameets, but results in Michio being captured.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

The “working title” for the book was The Razor’s Edge, which in the book means walking the razor’s edge between the social and spiritual consciousness. But one day I saw on a movie marquee The Razor’s Edge and discovered my “working title” was the name of a famous book by W. Somerset Maugham. I changed the title to Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge. Toemeka’s aviator call sign is Star Rider, which gives the image of being on a spaceship flying through the stars.

Who designed your book cover?

Deranged Doctor Design. They work with you until you have a cover design that will make your book cover stand out.

When you’re stuck on a scene in your story, what do you do?

I usually go for a walk with my husband when I’m stuck on a scene. He often comes up with good ideas. I also ask my critique group for help with a scene if it doesn’t seem to be working.

What are you working on next?

I am in the process of self-publishing Annoure and the Dragon Ships. It’s about a young noble woman who is kidnapped off the coast of England during a Viking raid in 794. I’m also editing on the second novel in the Star Rider series.

Do you stick with just genre?

I write science fiction with elements of fantasy and historical fiction.

Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?

I write mainly in my office at home, but I also have a laptop that I use when traveling. When I get a story idea I write the entire first draft. Once the first draft if written, I share it with my critique group. We meet once a month to exchange chapters and get feedback. After going through the book with the group, I go through it again and then give it to a few friends get feedback on the entire book. Once that process is completed I give it to a professional editor.

Is there a particular hobby you enjoy when you’re not writing?

I’m also a fine artist and do oil painting. I did the cover art for my first book Red Willow’s Quest and for Annoure and the Dragon Ships.

Author Links:

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A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Heidi Skarie who is the author of, Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 

 

Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree G. Egore Pitir

 

George Egore Pitir BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree G. Egore Pitir to talk with me today about his book, Face of Our Father. He grew up in Indiana, and graduated from Purdue University in 1981 with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. Immediately after graduation, George was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the USAF and served eight years as a fighter pilot, including one tour of duty in Europe during the Cold War. In 1989, he was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain, and obtained a job at a major airline. Always an avid reader of fiction, in 2006, he began pursuit of a lifelong dream, writing a novel. From 2008 until present day, he has studied the writing craft under the tutelage of a retired creative writing professor, producing his first novel in the autumn of 2014, the award winning FACE OF OUR FATHER. When he’s not flying or writing, George hikes the Rocky Mountains with his high school sweetheart, talking of their three children and five grandchildren, and wondering at the miracle of it all.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

While venturing down the Internet rabbit hole labeled “self-published reviews,” trying to divine reputable from reprehensible, I finally came across the bookbaby blog, and their article entitled “5 Places Indie Authors Can Get Their Books Reviewed.” All five seemed to have legitimacy, but indieBRAG possessed the most unique concept, and seemed to put the reader’s needs first. I liked that a lot.

Please tell me about your book, Face of Our Father.

First things first, Stephanie…please let me thank you, so very much, for choosing to interview me about my novel, and thank you for all that you do for us Indie novelists. Someday you will interview an Indie Pulitzer Prize winner. And you’ll have been a big part of why that barrier finally broke. Now, concerning my novel…

On the surface, Face Of Our Father is a political thriller, a West versus Middle East current-events saga of clashing cultures. But at its core, Face Of Our Father is an intricate love story, a vexing account of one couple’s conflicting devotions—the man forced to choose between love and honor, the woman between love and justice.

Readers first encounter Stuart and Angela Pierce when much of the damage has already been done. Although the Pierces don’t realize it yet, the foundation of their twenty-five year marriage cracked long before the novel opened. Stu and Angie are the quintessential mature couple that has allowed their diverging life goals to gradually pull them apart. In the opening chapter, this all too common (especially in real life) tale of the imploding mature relationship explodes into the extraordinary when Stu discovers that Angie is concealing a death threat. Angie is a vocal women’s advocate, and a former prosecuting attorney. She’s not going to let a few death threats deter her from bringing a murdering rapist to justice. But this murderer lives half a world away. Obsessed with catching this monster, Angie plunges them both into a web of global intrigue where every cultural truth they hold dear seemingly becomes just another well-told lie.

Yet, as the story unfolds, Stu and Angie discover that the worst lies are not the lies the world tells us, but the lies we tell ourselves. In the end, with every lie exposed, the Pierces find that the only truth that really matters is love.

So, although I like to think that I’ve told a page-turner, a story worthy of the most ardent fans of the thriller genre, the core issue in my novel is not the clashing of cultures. Instead, I see that cultural clash as the pestle of the West mashing against the mortar of the Middle East, grinding away at Stu and Angie’s relationship, and asking questions. How strong is their love? Will it be enough? And perhaps, most importantly, can they endure?

FACE-OF-OUR-FATHER

Your story is written from five characters’ perspectives, two protagonists, and three antagonists. That is quite a wide range of POV’s. Why did you choose to do this? Have you had any outside-if you will-opinions on this?

Yes! The second-guessing ran rampant. The earliest counseling came from my writing coach. She’s what I’d call a classicist, the type of creative writing professor who worships in the sacred temple of Fitzgerald. Of course, if one must bow before an author-deity, there’s some gorgeous prose scribed on Fitzgerald’s alter.

So, the early years with my writing coach were quite the battle. I kept reconsidering, rewriting, testing, but I couldn’t quite capture the conflicting devotions of Stu and Angie, or fully represent the antagonists’ views of our Western world, unless I wrote from each character’s head. Basically, I couldn’t come close to writing what I felt was a fair novel, fair to Stu and Angie, and fair to both sides of today’s cultural clash. And this is something I sorely wanted to achieve.

My writing coach eventually convinced me to drop the viewpoints from six to five. And, after a time, she approved of the five remaining POVs, somewhat, I believe, because of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. After all, George R. R. Martin writes from numerous characters’ perspectives, and he’s doing okay. Yes, that’s a joke—phenomenally successful are Martin’s GOT novels. All kidding aside, my writing coach and I agree that she acquiesced to multiple POVs because I didn’t argue with her verbally, I argued with my writing.

And for any of the Layered Pages readers out there who are also moonlighting as struggling authors, and are lucky enough to have a writing coach of high caliber and strong convictions, my advice is to argue with your writing. No matter the specifics of your particular argument, prove the merits of your case with your prose. Writing a good story quiets the naysayers.

Please tell me a little about Captain Stu Pierce and a challenge he faces?

Stu’s primary challenge is seeing the reality of his situation. He is an extremely honorable man, honorable to a fault. Yet, the tenets of his personal honor act as blinders and shield, a way of not seeing the truth of the situation he faces, and a method of isolating himself from those whom he deems less than honorable. This mindset serves to confine his relationships to a couple of close friends, his two adult children, and Angie. But, in the opening chapter of Face Of Our Father, he has reached the point where the realities of Angie’s deceptions have penetrated so deeply that his subconscious has taken over. He is a man in full-blown denial, barely in control of his actions. Stu is a volcano on verge of eruption. And erupt, he does.

I’m really interested in your character, Kashif: I want to ask you questions about him but I’m sure that would give spoilers! So let’s skip on over to, Udav. He was born a second son. Can you tell me a little about what he is like?

I see Uday as me, an everyman. As what could have become of me, if instead of being born into middle class America, I’d been born into a life of power. Not just incalculable wealth, and unconscionable patriarchal privilege, but also absolute power. And, my primary parental example is a father who wields this power absent any hint of remorse or self-reflection. In the historical novel Poland, Michener paints a frighteningly sublime portrait of royal privilege, the rulers seeming to view the peasantry as livestock, each royal family owning so many head of horse and cattle and sheep, and oh yeah, that’s right, twenty thousand head of peasant. I’ve spent my life assuming that I’m above that sort of ethos. But what if, from the moment of my birth, I was taught that most of my fellow humans were livestock? What would that do to me?

Uday Azwad was born the son of a king. His family rules a present-day, fictional, Middle Eastern nation called The Realm. Yet, Uday still has a problem. He can never have the ultimate in absolute power, the throne, so long as his older brother remains alive. Like his father, Uday cannot conceive of an existence without absolute power, and he will do anything to make sure his family maintains the monarchy. But the strict rules of that very monarchy dictate that his older brother will become king. Consequently, Uday is a man whose emotions constantly pace, back and forth, between hope and hate. One moment he’s filled with the desperate hope that his father will see his superior talents and overturn centuries of tradition, the next he’s possessed by images of his older brother’s gruesome demise.

You have mentioned to me that the narrative is rooted in historical fact. Will you please tell me a little about that?

Love to. As one might guess from my earlier Michener reference, I’m a big fan of historical novels. From Poland to Gates Of Fire to The Red Tent, I can’t get enough. One learns so much while reading well-researched historical fiction. In fact, writing a historical novel is on my author’s to-do list. But first, I owe my readers Face Of Our Mother, and then the remainder of the Face Of series.

Face Of Our Father opens with a historical prologue, set in 623 CE on the Red Sea coast, where the fictional Azwad family first ascends to power. In the course of that prologue the reader learns of a disastrous Roman foray into the Arabian Peninsula in an attempt to circumvent the Nabataean stranglehold on the incense trade. The reader also witnesses some of the birth pangs of Islam, as the Azwad family debates the merits of aligning themselves with the Prophet Mohammed who has just publicly supported the raiding of the caravans from Mecca.

Moving out of the Prologue into the present-day narrative, the seemingly fantastical elements contained in Face Of Our Father are all rooted in historical fact. At the start of my novel, the reader learns that Stuart Pierce is an FFDO, a Federal Flight Deck Officer. This FFDO duty, where an airline pilot carries a badge and a loaded pistol in flight, is the direct result of 9-11. And the real-life “game of thrones” played by the world’s superpowers over the last seventy years has resulted in missing weapons galore. From sniper rifles, to shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, and even fissionable materials, the government accountants have officially declared more than a few discrepancies. The World Health Organization recently reported on the cultural tradition of female genital mutilation (or the more widely accepted term, female genital cutting) that is primarily performed in the Middle East and Africa. International custody cases have recently shown the challenge of cross-cultural marriages where a Western woman may lose custody of her daughter to a Middle Eastern man, and that daughter could undergo FGC. Last year, as an airline captain, I received training concerning the spotting of human traffickers among our passengers. And, due to the extensive news media coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the average reader has heard plenty about the term “collateral damage.” Sadly, every topic in my novel is rooted in either ancient or recent history. I could go on and on, but I’ll let the reader explore Face Of Our Father for more.

Who designed your book cover?

The design concept was mine. I wanted something that represented the broadest themes and symbols of my novel. I engaged a wonderful artist named Cid Freitag, who hunted the Internet for photos to collage, and layer. When finished, she applied a brush-stroke, oil-painting like texture that I think lends the whole image a mysterious, foreboding appeal. Or, so I hope.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

I wanted a title that I felt reflected the central theme of my novel. To me, the title, FACE OF OUR FATHER, reflects that all of human history is dominated by patriarchal societies. And, looking backward, as my cover art suggests, that patriarchal history is littered with the sun-bleached bones of constant strife. Additionally, at the time of my publication, when I checked the library of congress, not a single previous book had ever been written with that title. Seemed like kismet.

What are you working on next?

I’m writing the sequel, FACE OF OUR MOTHER. At book clubs, I always read an excerpt from the new novel, a scene from ANGIE’s perspective. So far, that scene is getting a big thumbs-up, one woman from my latest book club visit with the “Dog Ears” commenting, “Angie is one tough broad.” Made me smile big, and even bigger inside.

Do you stick with just genre?

First thing I’ll say is, that’s a terrific question! Really got me thinking…

My answer is no, not at all. In fact, escaping genre constraints was the primary reason I went Indie. Why waste years trying to convince some agent, let alone a publishing house, to speculate on an unknown author with a novel that bends genre? I do understand their challenge. Where does my novel belong in the bookstore? What genre? What shelf? How is it marketed? They have to make money. Heck, when I submitted my novel to the “Best Indie Book Contest,” even I didn’t know where to place it. So, I paid to enter three different categories, “Mystery,” “Mainstream,” and “Action.” And it finished 3rd, 2nd, and 1st respectively. A result that absolutely delighted me. I had set out to bend the typical thriller toward literary, and my struggle to successfully bend a genre felt validated.

And, I’m also a lover of historical fiction. So naturally, I have a few ideas, periods, settings, and basic characters for historical novels. In fact, I’ve had a couple readers ask me to please flush out my prologue, and turn it into a complete novel. Very tempting. But, first I need to finish the “Face Of” series. That’s where my passion lives right now. And without passion, I can’t write.

Truth be told, I’m a reading floozy. From Game Of Thrones to Gates of Fire and every genre in between, I lust after them all. If I had enough years left to me, I’d write in almost every genre.

Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?

Location:

My writing location depends largely on what stage of the writing process I’m pursuing. Those first creative explosions usually occur seated in the leather chair near the hearth of my fireplace. But the many, many, many…did I mention many…rewrites usually take place at the kitchen table, or at my office desk, where I can spread the pages of a scene across a broad surface, and note the arrows, and strike outs, and margin scribbles, and the yellow, green, purple, and red of my many, many highlights that need editing.

Process:

I’m a character creator who forces those characters into action via external pressures. So, I begin with a plan, a loose outline, but like most battle plans, that outline never survives the first bullet, or in this case, that first pressure point. Of course, I’ve run into problems with this process. For example, for much of the first half of my novel, the protagonist, Stuart Pierce is a rumbling volcano. After he erupted, everything I tried to write for him didn’t work. Until…now I know this is going to sound weird, but…I finally asked him, “Okay, what in the heck will you do?” That question resulted in the hospital scene that everyone loves, Stu’s direct confrontation with the arch-antagonist. The lesson learned—one cannot un-erupt a volcano. Once exploded, there was no stopping Stu, his subsequent actions had to burn straight through to the end of the novel.

Is there a favorite food or drink you like to enjoy while writing?

I really dislike being a cliché, but truth is truth, and that’s all a writer really has. So, for me, it’s coffee in the morning, rich and dark, with a little raw sugar and plenty of cream. In the evening, it’s a glass or two of full-bodied red wine, or a couple fingers of single malt scotch.

Once again, Stephanie, thank you, so very much for the interview. It’s wonderful having you in our corner.

A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview G. Egore Pitir who is the author of, Face of Our Father, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Face of Our Father, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.