Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Interview With Author Melissa Foster

One of the great things about our technological world is that we are exposed to many authors that we wouldn't otherwise have been exposed to. 

One of the nicest women that I have met via the twitterverse and Facebook is author Melissa Foster. She is always positive, sweet, kind and generous with her time, ideas, and really, really good books! ;o) Melissa agreed to a little interview with me and I'm sure you will find her as sweet as I do. She is a very fine author and I think you'll find her work as wonderful as I do!

1. Tell me about your most recent literary work.

This year I completed three novels. Below is a summary of TRACES OF KARA.

Kara Knight can't wait to leave her hometown for the promise of nursing school and a fresh start on her future--leaving behind an over protective mother, a broken heart and painful memories. However, twenty-five miles away, the brother she doesn't know is determined to be reunited with the sister he cannot forget.   

Kara is abducted and thrown into her obsessive captor's delusional world. As the past she thought she knew unravels around her, Kara struggles to make sense of the memories that come creeping back, threatening her sanity and her safety. Meanwhile, Kara's mother races against time to save the daughter she fears she will lose when a long-held secret is revealed. The hours tick away as Roland plays out his plan--to take Kara with him into death at the exact moment of their birth, never to be separated again. 

TRACES OF KARA is an action packed, pulse pounding psychological thriller/suspense novel that features a determined killer who slowly loses his grip on reality as his carefully detailed plan starts to fall apart and a heroine determined to move forward with her life who now must reconcile everything she believed to be true about her family with the reality of their tragic past.

2. What has been the most exciting thing that has happened as a result of your writing?

The most exciting? Getting a call from my literary agent telling me that an editor from a major publisher loved my manuscript!

3.  In all, how many books have you written?

To date, I’ve written six. I’m waiting on publication dates for three.
Megan’s Way, Come Back to Me, Chasing Amanda, (all published)
Traces of Kara, Where Petals Fall, and Have No Shame (to be published).

4. I read your book, Come Back To Me, and it did not have a typical happy ending, (yes, I've finally forgiven you for that!) What do you hope the reader takes with them after reading this story?

Well, I tend to disagree. It did not have the typical happily-ever-after ending, but if you think about it (no spoilers here), it did have a happy ending, just not for the person you were rooting for, right?

(Melissa is correct! She didn't end it the way I would have and THAT is what makes her a great author!) 

Yes, I write controversial events in my books, and that is a prime example. My original ending was what you were hoping for, but while I was writing the story, that ending was not real. It would have felt to “fluffy” to me, so I wrote what I felt was true to the story.

I hope my readers will come away feeling introspective about their lives and what’s important in their lives. As you’ll recall – again, no spoilers – Beau has to rely on his faith in his marriage to carry on. That is an example of the type of thoughts I’d think my readers would be considering when they read the last words.

5. Who is your favorite author?

That is such a tough question, because I don’t always love every book by authors that I love, and that’s probably because I enjoy things to always be different, and many authors follow patterns in their writing. Here are a few authors I’ve enjoyed lately: Kathleen Grissom, Heather Gudenkauf, John Hart.

6. What or who inspires you to write?

Life is my biggest inspiration. A jog or walk outside will garner three or four ideas for books. I came home from the store this morning and told my son about a storyline I came up with about a woman in the store. It was suspenseful, and he turned to me and said, “Why would anyone’s mind work that way?” Meaning, “Why do you think about those things, Mom?!” My mind is always thinking in terms of stories.

7. I have heard that some writers use things called 'outlines' to write. Some even go so far as to give birthdays and extensive histories for each of their characters. Is this something you do as well?

I have heard of such a creature—the dreaded outline—but I am not someone who can create such a thing.  I’m a total pantzer, except that I do give my characters complete backgrounds—sometimes all the way back to games they played as children. Sometimes my characters appear as I’m writing (which I LOVE), and even then, they come complete with backgrounds, weaknesses, and often times, even quirky mannerisms.

(Interviewer's note: I was so relieved to find out Melissa is one of me!)

8. Is there a genre that you're just aching to try your hand at?

I never thought I’d write historical fiction and I did, and I loved it. My next undertaking is probably YA or New Adult. I just love to climb into the head of a rebellious younger person. It’s an easy regression for meJ

9. How many children do you have and what do they think of your writing?

My husband and I have six children, and what they think of it depends on the child. Our youngest two boys are my biggest cheerleaders, they love to hear about the stories and characters, and even the settings. Our older four kids are in college, grad school, or already graduated and working full-time. I think that since they’re so busy with lives of their own, my writing is just what I do.

10. You're stranded on a deserted island and it will be at least six months before you're rescued. Who is with you? What would you have to have in order to survive mentally, spiritually, and physically? 

Oh so easy! My husband, my youngest kids (because my older ones would have no interest in being away from their lives for six months – otherwise I’d snag them, too), my laptop, internet (to connect with our older kids and my mother), my Winnie-The-Pooh bear (yes, seriously), a stack of notebooks and pens (not pencils), and a slab of memory foam with a comfy blanket and pillow. If allowed, an endless supply of paperbacks and chocolate.

11.  What is your favorite thing about writing?

Gosh, I think about this every single day. I think it’s the freedom of my creativity. I love everything about being a writer, but I probably do because there is no time to grow bored of my profession. Every day—every hour, is different. Every book offers new surprises and challenges.

12. Finally, is there a question you wished I had asked? If so, answer it here.

Hmm…nope! I take ‘em as they come and don’t think too hard about anything along the way. I had fun answering these! Thank you for sharing your virtual space with me today. xox

Thank you so much, Melissa, for sharing a bit of yourself with us today! ;o) 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

December 1 Book Signing Set!

Hello everyone!
I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've been diligently working on Wee William's Woman! It is going very well and I'm sure I'll be able to release his story come Spring! ;o)

I have just firmed up my next book signing. I'll be at the "Burlington By The Book" Bookstore, 301 Jefferson St., Burlington, Iowa on Saturday, December 1, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

We should have plenty of copies of Findley's Lass and Laiden's Daughter on hand to sign.

I am so excited to meet more of my readers and to see old friends and family! ;o)

I hope to see you there!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Of Barbie Dolls, Spies, and Castles

I was reminded this morning of my first Barbie doll. I think I was in third or fourth grade and I loved her.

Yes, I thought she was pretty and there isn't a thing wrong with that. Never once in all my childhood did I want to look like Barbie when I grew up. But I did want to be like my Barbie. (Before all the Barbie haters start in on how awful Barbie is, please read the rest of this post. ;o) Thank you.)

I was in fourth or fifth grade when I got the Barbie Cruise Ship and the Barbie Airplane for Christmas. My cousin Debbie got the Barbie Townhouse, oh my gracious it was awesome!!! IT EVEN HAD AN ELEVATOR! How cool is that? I was so envious. But she let me play with it so that was cool!

Anyway, I digress...back to my cruise ship and airplane. These were vinyl covered cardboard things, not all hard pink plastic like you see today. You could tuck all your dresses, shoes, jewelry and things inside it and carry it with you wherever you went. I loved them and thought they were pretty nifty.

When other girls played with their Barbies, they were pretty generic about it. My Barbie did different things and they made me feel like the odd ball. While my cousins' Barbies were teachers, nurses, and moms, well, my Barbie was different.

My Barbie wasn't a mom, or a teacher or a nurse or even a stewardess. (They were called stewardesses back in my day, so don't hate me for using that term). My Barbie was the pilot. She flew all over the world in her airplane. Bangkok, Tokyo, Saudi Arabia, England (she spent lots of time in England), New York City, Taiwan, Russia, pretty much every place that I was learning about in social studies, my Barbie would fly to.

But when she landed, she'd zip over to her hotel to change. She'd don her red evening gown, or the gold one depending on her mood. Now here is where my mom should have known I was either going to end up in the nut house or end up a writer: Barbie would strap a .357 Magnum to each of her thighs. In her bejeweled evening bag was another gun. Under her evening gloves, she had hidden sharp knives. (NO, she was NOT a serial killer!) My Barbie was the female version of 007. ;o)

Barbie was flying around the world pretending to be a pilot. But that was her cover. She was actually a secret spy for the CIA, hence the guns hidden under her beautiful ball gowns. (They were imaginary of course because you couldn't get plastic guns tiny enough to strap to a Barbie doll! I bet you still can't)

She would make her way into these castles and villas. Then she'd sneak around in the dark and find her way into to the secret, but not too well hidden libraries of the bad guys, break into their safes, steal the secret codes or files, and sneak back out again. Occasionally, she made it out without anyone knowing what was hidden under her dress. But other times, she barely got out alive. A few times, she'd have to steal the bad guy's helicopter or his speed boat, shooting all the bad guys down on her way to safety.  Sometimes she would have to rescue a fellow CIA agent who was being held prisoner. The aforementioned CIA operative was always male because I still thought boys were stupid and couldn't find their way out of a wet paper bag. My Barbie rocked. My Barbie saved the world. My Barbie kicked bootie.

There were very few romances with Ken. (I was a late bloomer.)  My Barbie was too busy taking of business and saving the world to worry about romance, husbands, and children.

So there you have it. That's how I played with my Barbie. Sometimes she was an opera singer. Sometimes she was a cowgirl. Sometimes she was a cop. Sometimes a doctor or a scientist. Whatever role I put her in, her essence was the same: Never plain, never stupid, and never needed a man to rescue her.

Somewhere along life's road, I lost the little girl that I used to be. The one that was so sure of herself, knew exactly what she wanted out of life, and never needed rescuing.  She lay dormant for decades, quietly tucked inside a vinyl covered cardboard airplane, waiting for someone to pull out the ball gowns and guns.

I don't know whatever happened to my Barbie, Skipper and PJ dolls. And I don't know where all her handmade clothes and her boat and airplane ended up. But I have found her. Or the essence of her. 

That little girl I used to be. The one who was so confident, self-assured, and kicking bootie. Instead of guns strapped to thighs however, my weapon of choice is my MacBook Pro. But the idea is still the same. I can create wonderful stories of romance, mystery and intrigue. Oh, I throw in a lot of romance now, mainly because I have blossomed! And my stories currently take place in 14th Century Scotland. The premise is the same; we get to steal away for a few hours, locking out the real world that is sometimes just too hectic, harrowing, ugly, stressful, or even boring. We get to pull our Barbies out and play for a while and forget about the rest of the world.

And I still get to rescue people and my heroine's are often rescued, and there isn't anything wrong with that. I think all of us at one point or another need rescued. Either from a ne'er do well or ourselves.

I guess I'm still playing with Barbies, but mind you, in a round about, grown up way. Every day I get to sit in my office and let my imagination take me away to enchanting, far away places, filled with castles, heroes and heroines and bad guys. And good always triumphs over evil. And love is never denied. There are broadswords, sgian dubh's, and bows and arrows instead of guns and blades. I still have beautiful gowns but of a different time and era. People travel by horse instead of plane. There are still spies, still bad guys to deal with. The adventure continues....

The crazy thing is, I get to write all these stories down. The coolest part is that I get to share what goes on in this crazy mind of mine with the rest of the world.

I'd say I have a blessed life. I have a wonderful, kind, funny, sexy husband who is, and always will be my hero. I've got great kids and perfect grandchildren. A crazy family that loves me and is proud of me.  A safe, warm, loving home in which all who enter are loved and adored. I get to help those who are less fortunate than I am. I get to be there for my family and help out when and wherever I can.

I guess you could say that I owe my childhood Barbie a big thank you. If it weren't for her and her airplane that helped open up this wild imagination of mine, I don't know where I'd be. So for all you Barbie haters out there...not all little girls want to look like a Barbie. But there isn't a damned thing wrong with wanting to be like your Barbie. That is, if she is as cool and kick butt as mine was. ;o)


Monday, November 12, 2012

Steam vs. Clean...Posing a Question

Hello beautiful ladies! I have a question that I'd like to run by all of you today and your input is very important.

Many of my readers like the fact that my books are clean. I also have many readers (including my 71 year old mother and my 71 year old aunt for crying out loud! lol) who say they're not steamy enough. (The question isn't about which you prefer, clean or steamy, we all know it is a personal preference and I think its evenly divided among the two lol.)

So I had a thought I wanted to run by all of you...what if I had two versions of the same book available? One with steam, one without. Everything about the book would be the same, but I could leave out the 'steam' for those readers who just don't like it. Kind of like a 'directors' cut they do for movies, lol.

I can guarantee that everything about each book would be identical, except for the steamy love scenes. It would be a very simple process to do considering my writing style. ;o) I think the trick to a really good story is that it can stand on its own two legs with or without the steam. I would make certain that each book was clearly labeled so that you would know which version you are getting.

I'd like to know what all of you would think about that? Would you like that option? I'm just curious to know what you'd think about this.

I thank you in advance for your thoughts on this!
Have a great day!