DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Preparedness Author Lisa Bedford


                                                
One of the newer catch terms working its way into suburban conversations is “prepping.” Prepping merely means having our families prepared for any disaster, long term or just a few days or hours. 

Housewife and homeschool mother Lisa Bedford did what so many mothers are doing, stocking up on supplies, making survival kits, and ensuring her family not only knew where those items were, but how and when to use them. She understood that disaster is traditionally considered some long term life changing event, such as tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, war even. But disaster can also be construed as the shutdown of a city’s water supply or the loss of electrical power for a day or more. Just go to your local grocery anytime the weatherman predicts a blizzard, drought, or the possibility of downed power lines, and you’ll quickly grasp, via the empty shelves, that last minute hording isn’t a viable plan. 

Lisa began blogging about her methods and offering basic, logical advice that didn’t include the fallout shelters, body armor, and field artillery some folks so erroneously attribute to the concept of disaster home preparedness. 

Soon, prepping sites and enthusiasts picked up on her common sense approach and suggestions. One thing led to another, and now Lisa has published her first book on the subject, “Survival Mom.” In her book, she discusses what kinds and how much food should be stocked, as well as how long those foods can sit on a shelf. She also provides a very simple idea that allows for the continued use of our toilets after we can no longer afford to pour in valuable drinking water from jugs. Don’t snicker. If you’ve had to live through two or three days without running water in your house, you know what I’m talking about. And for those who think their backyard swimming pool should be guarded at all costs, Lisa explains how swimming pool water should never be considered for the prevention of dehydration, especially when it comes to children. Fact is, ingesting the water could make your children quite ill. 

Lisa’s voice is a joy. She infuses lightheartedness into what could be a bland, by the numbers topic if not skillfully presented and carries the reader along for a very pleasurable reading and learning experience.

Q) How did your husband react when he realized you had become serious about preparing your family and that meant altering a few routines? 

A) I’ve nicknamed my husband The Paranoid Dad, so he was on board with me from the beginning. Because his main focus is providing for our family by running a business, I’ve been the one in charge of preparedness but still need his help with bigger projects, such as enlarging our backyard garden.  I think he’s relieved that I’ve taken charge of this because we’re obviously far better prepared for just about any emergency, including a personal financial crisis. 

Q) Creating a blog and sharing your ideas is a huge step as it presents a public vulnerability to critics. Why did you decide to open yourself up that way? 

A) Yes, there have been plenty of critics along the way, but from the beginning I wanted to be a real person with a real name and face to my readers because I knew I would be writing about some scary scenarios, things that keep moms awake at night.  I’ve always wanted my readers to feel as though I was walking right alongside them, encouraging them through tough times.  It’s hard to do that if you hide behind a pseudonym. 

Q) This book’s success will require you to spend more and more time away from your family. How do you plan to adjust for those absences? 

A) So far any travel I’ve done has become just another family vacation!  We love to travel and spend time with each other.  It never gets old.  At some point, however, I may have to be more selective about which speaking engagements I accept.  I currently offer free online classes, and this allows me to teach and interact with readers while sitting in my home office.  That’s a win-win, all the way around! 

Q) What is the one critical item every family should have on hand, beyond the obvious food and water requirements? 

A) Have at least two different ways to heat water and cook food.  By heating water, you can sterilize cooking utensils, purify water, and maintain a healthy level of sanitation, even if the power goes down for weeks at a time.  In addition, you’ll be able to prepare hot, satisfying meals.  I recommend a solar oven and a heavy duty rocket stove such as the Stove-Tec brand.  The Stove-Tec is very fuel efficient, which means you won’t have to use large amounts of wood or charcoal to cook a meal.  Whatever you choose, though, make sure you’re able to safely store enough fuel to last at least 3 months. 

Q) Any parting thoughts for those who haven’t read your book yet? 

A) Preparedness is a mindset and a way of life.  Every day I still have to figure out what’s for dinner, keep the laundry going, and plan birthday parties!  Preparedness is something that becomes part of your life but should never overshadow the things that bring joy and laughter to your home.  And, it’s really no different from how our great-grandmothers lived, and every other grandma before her!  Prepare more and you’ll panic less when a crisis hits!
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net

Friday, June 22, 2012

Reviewing the Reviewers

Many of us readers take note of reviews from major sources such as the New York Times and USA Today. Times have changed and continue to change. While the Internet has allowed for a new generation of independent (indie) publishers, it has also opened the door to individuals, such as multi award-winning suspense, sports, and nonfiction author John L Betcher, who have elected to publish their work themselves. Literally, thousands of new books become available to readers each and every month. Obviously, a need arose for a platform by which these authors’ work could be considered. 

Some readers hold to the mistaken belief authors turn to indie publishers or self-publishing because the traditional major publishers aren’t interested and these books are somehow substandard or sub-par. While that certainly is true in some cases, the fact is, by clinging to such a narrow viewpoint, readers are missing out on a lot of extremely good stories. 

I offer in evidence “Staff Monkeys: A Stockbroker’s Journey Through the Global War on Terror” by Lt. Colonel Peter Clark, published by indie press Patriot Media, Inc. The book once received a Pulitzer Prize nomination. 

To help readers sort through the massive influx of books, a new breed of reviewer has risen to the challenge. These unpaid reviewers set up web sites and blogs to share their opinion of the books they read, for no other reason than their love of reading. On these sites, you won’t find reviews of books found on the NYT Bestseller list. Independently, these individual reviewers have created an entire new network of recognizing books not found in the window displays of bookstores. 

In order to better understand why these readers have engaged in this pursuit, I contacted three (there are hundreds of reviewers – these three are merely a sampling) very different reviewers and asked each the same questions. 

First up, Bobby D Whitney of BookWenches Reviews – an amalgamation of three women who read anything and everything that strikes their fancy. www.bookwenches.com 

Q) What prompted you to switch from casual reader to reviewer? 

A) I’m going to have to blame my review partner, Teagan, for that one. Once we found out that we shared the same taste in reading material, she and I began to meet at Starbucks on Saturday mornings just to talk about the books we were reading. At the time, Teagan was reviewing for a big website, and she lured me over there with the promise of free books. Although I enjoyed the creative challenge of writing the reviews, the rules and politics of that big review group were a little stifling, so half a year later, we were dreaming up BookWenches.  

In a way, I feel like a matchmaker, hooking up readers and writers. We offer readers the opportunity to discover new books, authors, and publishers and perhaps even win a free book on occasion. Through interviews and guest blogs, we give writers the chance to promote themselves and to shine in front of potential readers. Everybody wins, and I find that quite satisfying.  

Q) What makes you decide to read and review a book?  

A) Perhaps I should admit right now that I am a book junkie and a hoarder. I tend to buy just about anything that catches my eye when cruising websites like Omnilit (yes, that gets expensive sometimes!), and I’ve always got an eye open for something a little different as well as new releases from favorite authors.  

In general, I need to have a pretty strong opinion of a book in order to write a review of it. I want to be able to say in my review, “I liked this, and this, and this,” or even “I liked this but not that.” If a book is more “meh” than memorable, then I probably don’t have much to say about it. If it didn’t move me, or if it bored or irritated me, why would I waste my time writing a review that would more than likely have the very same effect on you?  

When I request a book from a publisher, then the blurb has caught my attention enough to make me believe I will enjoy it. My intent is to write a review of that book, and I try very hard to follow through on that. Of course, if a book is a terrible dud, it goes in the discard bin regardless of its source. Life is too short to read bad books, let alone review them! 

Q) Why should a reader value your opinion?  

A) I think I represent an “average” reader, one who reads for pleasure and escapism, and I hope my readers identify with me as such. While I do receive review copies of some books, I don’t profit from writing reviews in any other way, and I believe that this allows me to offer an honest opinion on what I read. Yes, I do try for an overall positive note in my reviews, but that is just my personality at work and has nothing to do with bias. There are plenty of reviewers out there who will tear a book apart with glee. That isn’t something that would bring me joy, however, so I don’t do it.  

My tastes may differ completely from those of the person reading my reviews. A savvy consumer will recognize this and won’t make a decision on whether or not to read a book based solely on what I have to say about it. Instead, they will use my review as a tool, perhaps compare it with others, and then make an informed choice.  

Next, Tom Webb of A Bear on Books, reviewer of the fastest rising genre in today’s publishing world, same sex relationships. www.tom-webb.blogspot.com 

Q) What prompted you to switch from casual reader to reviewer? 

A) I read all kinds of books, across the board, although I tend to favor mystery/horror/fantasy/scifi. On a giggle, I decided to do a search on my Kindle for 'gay cowboys', and 'Bareback' by Chris Owen was the first entry that came up. I downloaded it and was hooked. It opened up a whole new world of fiction to me – M/M and all its little sub-genres. And with that, there are literally thousands of choices. The problem was, how did I sort through all these books and make the best choice of how to spend my time and money? 

I started with Amazon, and read the reviews posted for the first few books I bought. Some were thoughtfully written, some were five words, some were diatribes on writers - women writers, men writers, women posing as men writers. Some were just pure snark. Then I discovered Goodreads, and was even more troubled by the lack of focus on the actual work, and how so much conversation tended to be on the authors and side issues not related to the merits of the book. 

So I started adding reviews of my own. My take was, focus on the strengths of the book and point out what works. To my huge surprise, I started getting feedback from other readers and even authors thanking me for keeping the spotlight on the work itself. I started talking with a couple of new-found friends, and they suggested I start a blog just for reviews.  

Their thought was that while the target audience for most M/M books is women, what was missing was a gay man's perspective on the stories being written. So last November, I started my blog, A Bear on Books. My philosophy is simple – only review those books I like, and only publish reviews that are strength-based. In just over six months time, I had over 10,000 hits and over 120 followers on the blog. 
Q) What makes you decide to read and review a book? 

A) For me, I separate the two things.  

First of all, I read a lot.  I probably read (and I am almost ashamed to say this) fifty to sixty short stories, novellas and full-length novels a month. And review maybe one in four. I get recommendations from other readers, check out new releases on Amazon almost every day, and read a few other blogs for books that sound interesting. I've also started getting some publishers who send me lists of new releases, and have started getting contacted by some writers directly asking me to read their works. I'm proud to have been contacted by and reviewed a wonderful gay deaf poet, and a man who lost his partner to AIDS, and who published the notes he wrote to him over the years as a tribute. 

My one condition with a writer or publisher who contacts me is that I am under no obligation to review anything they might send. Well, and that I won't review it if I don't like it. I will let the writer know, privately,what didn't work for me but I will never talk about it with anyone else. My feelings are, if a writer invested their blood, sweat and tears in a book, I owe it to them to not only be honest, but to respect the effort. 

Once I read it, something has to stand out about the book. I focus on three things – story line, characters, and 'voice'. The story has to be coherent and grab me. The characters have to make sense and be well-developed. And the 'voice' – it's the most esoteric thing for me, I think. It's that 'It Factor” that separates a good writer from a great one – how the writer approaches and tells the story. 

Q) Why should a reader value your opinion? 

A) I try to be fair. I focus on the work. And most of all, I respect the reader – hell, I AM a reader.  

I don't expect anyone to accept my words as the final end-all-be-all. But I do think if you take a few moments, read a couple of the reviews I've done, and then go read a book or two I've liked, you might find a kindred spirit. I won't blow smoke up your...well, I will tell you what's good, what to look for and what moved me, sometimes to tears. 

Most of all, I will tell you to trust your own gut on these kinds of things. Find someone with similar tastes – me, or someone else, I don't care – and let them save you time and money. Heck, start your own blog and let me know what you like. I'm always on the look-out for someone to guide me to a few good books. 

And lastly, Dawn Roberto, founder of Love Romances Cafe. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/loveromancescafe 

Q) What prompted you to switch from casual reader to reviewer?

A) I actually stumbled onto it by chance really. I liked letting people know if I read a really awesome, inspiring or heartfelt book and recommended several to friends. When I saw some of review quotes on some stories I was looking into trying, I clicked on a link and BAM! I was hooked. There was this whole world of reviewing I never knew about.


Q) What makes you decide to read and review a book?


A) It has to grab my attention. If the book blurb has me interested I will give it a try but can honestly say out of all the books I have read and reviewed; only a fraction is put down by me as unenjoyable for whatever reason. The cover, the author name-though this isn’t a make or break it thing with me as I enjoy finding new authors to explore, the genre of a book all work together to influence my decision in reviewing something.


Q) Why should a reader value your opinion?


A) Because I try to give what worked or didn’t work with me in a book I review. I try to give a honest opinion in my review and hope that just because a certain book may not work for me, doesn’t mean you may not like it.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net

Friday, June 15, 2012

Crime Drama Author Alafair Burke

Alafair Burke’s introduction to how criminal minds can affect the innocent began in Wichita, Kansas, where as a child she learned to check phone lines, lights, and locked doors during the horror of serial killer BTK (Bind Torture Kill). She began reading not just about the murders, but crime drama novels. Her interest in crime never waned. 

After graduating Stanford Law School, Alafair eventually became a Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon, prosecuting domestic violence and serving as liaison to the police department. Her appreciation for the work police do propelled her into riding along with the night-shift officers. It seemed inevitable that her love of reading and crime would one day merge. That juncture occurred in her debut novel “Judgment Calls,” which received critical acclaim from coast to coast. “Judgment Calls” introduced the world to prosecutor Samantha Kincaid. Readers couldn’t get enough. Two more Kincaid novels followed. 

Alafair herself moved to New York where she now teaches at Hofstra Law School. She also married Sean, whom she met through an online dating service. Alafair was ready to spread her literary wings. In “Dead Connection,” NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher tracks a serial killer stalking an online dating service for victims. Uhm… Alafair? Anything you want to tell us? Once again, readers wanted more, and Ellie developed into a successful series. 
This past December, Alafair released the thriller novel “Long Gone,” which the Today Show proclaimed “the one book you can’t put down.” “Long Gone” is a new step for Alafair in that the heroine Alice Humphrey is neither an attorney nor police officer, but a business woman caught in a nightmare of murder and the focus of law enforcement’s investigation. 

Now, “Never Tell,” the latest Ellie Hatcher crime/suspense novel is being released, and once again Alafair’s storytelling mastery shines through in a tale of a young woman who committed suicide, and a mother who refuses to believe it despite Hatcher’s assurances. But even Ellie Hatcher can be wrong…. 

Alafair Burke creates imagery and characters that come to life in readers’ minds. Her stories provide intrigue, her plots turn unexpected corners, and her superb prose keeps the reader turning the page. What’s next from Alafair? We can only impatiently wait and see.

Q) What inspired the character Alice Humphrey? 

A) Believe it or not, it was the economy. Wait, wait, that makes her and the books sound really boring, doesn’t it? Stay with me! I was reading all of these stories about unemployment – not the numbers, but the psychological toll that prolonged unemployment brings. I started thinking about the risks someone might be willing to take, just to have a job. And I’d walk around New York, seeing all these closed store fronts and started wondering what it would be like to show up to work one day and find that everything was gone. From that came Alice Humphrey. After eight months of unemployment, she’s desperate enough to take a job that sounds too good to be true. And it turns out to be a big mistake. Voila! Book plot.  

Q) Your characterization skills are marvelous in that you know how much of a character to share with a reader, yet hold back just enough to make the reader yearn to know more. It’s not as easy as it sounds. How did you hone this ability? 

A) Thanks. Years ago, I heard Barry Levinson talking about the making of RAIN MAN. He explained that he shot the entire film in order, scene by scene, so that Tom Cruise’s character could evolve naturally from beginning to end. I write my books without an outline, from beginning to end. So when I make story choices, I’m still discovering the characters myself. It’s probably an insane way to write a book, but it’s the only way I know how to do it, and I’ve found that it’s a good way to obtain an organic connection between character and plot. It probably also explains why readers experience the feeling of discovering the characters across the arc of the novel. 

Q) In an interview, you discussed how setting (place) plays a major role in the development of your books. Does “place” inspire your work more than characters, or is there a balance that occurs during your creative process? 

A) Character is key for me, but place affects character. Some characters can exist only in their current habitats. Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch would be a different man in Tampa than in Los Angeles. Samantha Kincaid belongs in Portland, and Ellie Hatcher belongs in New York.

Stories can also be unique to a setting. In New York, for example, I can't have characters coincidentally bumping into everyone they know on the street. I can, however, tap into that uniquely New York feeling of being completely alone in a crowd. Consider LONG GONE, the story of a woman who shows up to work one morning to find her gallery completely gone — stripped vacant as if it had never been there. The man who hired her is dead on the bare floor. Suddenly she realizes that everything she thought she knew was a lie. She cannot find the true owner of the business. She cannot prove that the artist she represented ever really existed. That kind of story only works if it's completely believable that Alice lived her day-to-day life around people she had no real connections with. That's a true New York story, and Alice — from a family of privilege and celebrity, but struggling to make her own way — is a uniquely New York woman. 

Q) Your father claims you were reading “Cool Hand Luke” when you were five years old, and wrote your first crime story in the first grade. What so captivated you about crime at such an early age? 

A) I have no idea. It probably has something to do with watching Batman every morning before I went to day care. Stories about good versus evil have always pulled me in. And when we moved to Wichita, Kansas, during the middle of BTK’s killing spree, I learned a little too much, a little too early, about what evil could really mean. The police were very secretive about the investigation, and part of me always felt like I would be able to find him, if only I had access to all of the information. Silly for a nine year old, huh? But I think that’s what drew me to reading mystery novels. The author makes an implied promise to the reader that the information will come out and the pieces will ultimately come together. 

Q) TV news has asked for your professional viewpoints on cases such as Scott Peterson. How difficult is it to publicly address issues knowing your words may sway people’s minds in one direction or another? Also, you are a very gifted speaker who draws a listener’s attention. Have or would you consider a TV show of your own? 

A) I do those punditry gigs out of a sense of public service. The usual talking heads are often extremists on both sides and they’re often out to make a name for themselves. I try not to spin a story. I simply take the legal knowledge I’m lucky to have and try to provide enough of a background for the audience to draw its own conclusions. I have no interest in pursuing that as a career, however. The battle for ratings, in my view, has seriously deteriorated the quality of journalism in this country. 

Q) Any parting comments for established fans and those yet to read one of your novels?

A) I have the most supportive readers on the planet, so thank them at every possible opportunity. If someone hasn’t read me yet, why, I hope they’ll give the books a try!
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Very Unique Saranna DeWylde


When I asked Saranna DeWylde how I would recognize her at a readers’ convention, she responded, “Look for the tattooed amazon.” I quickly learned the only thing oversized about Saranna is her kindness and smile. 

A former corrections officer, airline operations supervisor, and call girl’s assistant (that sounds like an interview all by itself), Saranna’s life road hasn’t been the one most travelled. In writing, she has found her calling and a venue to unleash her passions and innate humor. But sometimes, in order to deal with our past, we need to reveal our past. We’ll get to that in a minute. 

I first became aware of the wonderful quality of her work when I purchased a humorous and fanciful romp titled “The Desperate Housewives of Olympus.” It’s a delightfully intriguing story of mythical women seeking to find love in all the wrong places, with all the wrong men, and still, somehow, finding their happy ever afters in the end. 

Saranna’s attentiveness to mythology resulted in one of her early works published in the collection “The World of Myth Anthology.” Continuing with this line of interest, her next two devilishly sexy and fun filled novels “How to Lose a Demon in 10 Days” and “How to Marry a Warlock in 10 Days” are set for release this August and September by Kensington Books, and are both currently available for pre-sale purchases. 

This November, “Sweet Hell on Fire: A Memoir of the Prison I Worked In and the Prison I Lived In” is scheduled for release, though not under the DeWylde name, but under the name of the real life person who lived it – Sara Lunsford. In Saranna/Sara’s own words: “I was a bad mother, a bad daughter, a bad wife, a bad friend. Boozed out and tired, with no dreams and no future. But I was a good officer.” Sweet Hell is her journey from rock bottom to the fresh air of a life she can breathe in without regret. The story is powerful, moving, and filled with the indomitable hope and vitality I saw in the woman I met.

Q) Where did this wonderfully bawdy sense of humor come from? 

A) I think some of it comes from that gallows humor that’s really kind of a coping mechanism for the kinds of jobs I’ve held. Or I’m really just a frat boy trapped in an Amazon’s body. Maybe a little of both. 

Q) Your very first story was in the horror genre. What took you to romantic comedy in the mythology and paranormal genres? 

A) I’ve always been in love with romance and horror. I could never decide which genre truly had my heart until I worked at the prison. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love horror. (And fangirl the talented authors who write it.) But I’ve dealt with enough real life boogeymen and seen enough blood that I don’t want that to be my contribution to the world. (But as I said, I still have a mighty appreciation for those that do.) I’ll admit sometimes my stories go to dark places, but there’s always hope, always true love, and always redemption with sacrifice. Those things are the candles in the window to light our way home. And having been lost myself, it seems important to me to tell those stories. If I can make you laugh while I do it, all the better. 

Q) You admit to being single-minded and ultra-focused. Which leads me to ask, as a mother, how do you balance your writing with your children? 

A) Balance. That’s the tough one. It’s not something that happens every day, or even every week. I think it’s more long term than that. It’s easier now that they’re older. My oldest is starting high school next year. They’re both very independent themselves, I think because they know that if they need me, no matter what I have on my plate I’m there for them. Both of them are just as focused and driven when it comes to something they want, so I’d like to think that it has been a good thing for them to see that with hard work, you can have your dreams. 

Q) Okay. You are afraid of cows – fact. Yet, you bought your daughter a rocking cow for her first Christmas. Why? 

A) I should have known then, sneaky $&^%! That cow took forever to assemble. Some assembly required really means tour in hell, second ring. But no, the cow phobia didn’t manifest until after the neighbor’s bull broke through the electric fence to chase me half a mile uphill home. I make it a point to drive by him at least once a month eating a hamburger. I’ve even asked the neighbor if I can buy him. He asked what I would do with him and I said eat him, so I can consume his power. I bet you can imagine the look I got. Then he told me that bulls aren’t good eatin’. But I’m still determined. 

Ever since then, I’ve noticed the cows across the street watching me. (The bull was from down the street.) Every time I come outside, they stop what they’re doing and just watch. It could be because my little one thought that if she fed them Hershey kisses, she’d make chocolate milk cows and they’re waiting for their next hit, but I don’t know. 

Q) Any parting comments for those yet to read your work? 

A) This is a tough one, too. Kind of like interviewing for a job when they open with: “Tell me about yourself.” That immediately makes my mind go blank. I’m more erudite than “uhhhh,” I promise. 

If you haven’t read me yet, be warned. I come with warning labels. First and foremost: Explicit Lyrics. The second, I’ve been told that my romcoms should be read with no food or drink or it will end up all over the book or the screen of your reading device, having been shot out of your nose. That may still be up for debate. 

Further, if you do purchase one of my books, thank you. I appreciate every single sale and every reader.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net








Friday, June 1, 2012

Award-Winning Author Bianca D’Arc


I got lost (nothing new for me) at a book readers’ convention in Chicago. Bianca D’Arc and her father not only took the time to help a stranger, but actually lead me to a location a floor beyond the one they were headed to. Naturally, I had to find out who these very kind folks were.

Bianca’s father was a design engineer for the U.S. space program. A science major in her own right, Bianca headed a laboratory and was a corporate executive in Manhattan. She is also a martial arts enthusiast, musician, singer, and songwriter, in addition to being a multi-published, multi-award-winning author. Her preferred genres are romance, suspense, and thriller set within paranormal and/or science fiction worlds. Bianca isn’t afraid to explore the erotic side of relationships as well as the toned down or more traditional versions. In other words, the lady is a virtual library of tales meeting just about everyone’s level of reading satisfaction.

She made her publishing debut with the ‘Dragon Knights,’ a series revolving around knights, dragons, and the very special women who share their lives, love, and beds. The ‘Dead’ series, thriller romance set on a stage of a zombie plague, culminated this past year with “Dead Alert.”
 

Now, her latest novel “Wolf Hills,” the starting point of the ‘Brotherhood in Blood’ series, has been released. Police Detective Sally Decker’s Wyoming vacation takes a not so restful turn when a child is kidnapped from a neighboring werewolf pack. The hunt is on, with Sally trying to accept werewolves and vampires do exist, and control her heart and desires against the lustful interests of the pack’s dangerously erotic Alpha male.

Bianca creates imaginary worlds a reader can feel at home in, as well as implanting believable unworldly characters in our own daily existence. Whether readers prefer stories on a galactic rim, in remote mountain settings, or on the streets of Everytown, USA, Bianca D’Arc has a tale waiting for each of us.
http://www.biancadarc.com/

Q) Writers frequently say they have been writing all their lives. Becoming published is quite another topic. Given your scientific and professional background, what event or factor lit the yearning to become published and a fulltime author?
 

A) It seems I’ve always had the yearning. I tried repeatedly while I was working full time in a very demanding job to get published. I used to get “revise and resubmit” letters, which I took as outright rejections, not understanding the way the publishing world worked at the time. Each one would set me back a few years, thinking I wasn’t good enough. I kept writing, just for my own enjoyment, and every once in a while, I’d send something out, trying to get it published. The real break didn’t come until 2005, when I discovered ebooks. The willingness of new, small press publishers to take a chance on subjects that most traditional publishers thought taboo – science fiction and fantasy romance in particular – made me want to give them a try. I submitted to Samhain Publishing in late 2005 and my first book, somewhat appropriately titled Maiden Flight, came out on Valentine’s Day of 2006. I think writing was a way to express my creativity, which I couldn't really do in my day job.

Q) You enjoy creating a series of books instead of standalone or single novels. What attracts you to that concept?
 

A) As a reader, I always loved series. When you immerse yourself in a world – and it catches your imagination – you always want to stay there just a little bit longer. Being able to create my own worlds is one of the most satisfying parts of this vocation. The world doesn’t have to end if I don’t want it to. I can always revisit my friends from that world in other books. So far, my readers have been willing to put up with my extended series, though I have made some effort to compartmentalize some of the books into sub-series, to make it a little easier to navigate. 

Q) You and your father are very close. How much, if any, input does he provide to your stories? 

A) I’ve always admired my dad, but we didn’t really get close until recently. My mom passed away in late 2009 and until that time, she was the driving force in my family. She had such a big personality and had achieved so much in her life. She was an immigrant from the Netherlands who came here as a young girl after World War II. She’d been around the world by that time, having been a prisoner of war in Indonesia for 4 years of her childhood, along with the rest of her family. She was the biggest influence in my life, until her passing. But Dad has always been my hero. He was a young Navy medic in World War II, then moved to the Army to get his commission. He went to college on the GI Bill, where he met my mother. He became a scientist and worked on all kinds of top secret stuff, including the lunar module, space shuttle, nuclear submarines, fighter jets, and lots of stuff that he still probably can’t talk about. He helped shape my view of the world as a place of wonder, where anything is possible. That’s probably why I went into chemistry, to follow in his footsteps. My laboratory wasn’t nearly as cool as his, but I enjoyed it and still miss it to this day. Dad gave me a respect for the military (as did my uncles, who were mostly military officers and engineers) and a questioning mind. I think that’s why a lot of my heroes are military men and there’s usually some kind of science angle running through my stories, when appropriate. Dad helped me love science and that’s something I will always thank him for.

Q) With so many books containing vampires, werewolves, and other paranormal creatures on the market, what do you believe sets your books apart from the others?
 

A) You’ve actually hit on the reason I hesitated before adding my two cents to the paranormal arena. My first vampire story, One & Only, was written for a contest that asked specifically for vampire romance. If not for that, I doubt I would’ve done it, since even back in 2005, vampires had already been done to death, so to speak. I wrote Lords of the Were, my first werewolf book, as a one-off, not expecting much from it at all. At that time, there weren’t quite as many werewolf romances and I thought it would be interesting, since it was still somewhat new in the paranormal romance world. Now, of course, werewolves are everywhere and the popularity of that book – which I always referred to in my mind as “that crazy werewolf book” – has led me to write more of them. What makes my paranormal world a little different – to get back to your question – is that my vampires drink wine. It is their last link with the sun. The fermented fruit of the vine distills sunlight into a form they can take in and it has healing properties for them. That’s why the first two Brotherhood of Blood stories take place in California’s Napa Valley and one of the vampire heroes owns a vineyard. It’s just a little twist that makes it somewhat unique. Otherwise, I stick pretty close to the currently accepted tropes for the genre. As for my werecreatures – they have a distinct society with clear hierarchical structure that differs from breed to breed. The big cats, for example, trace their social structure to the Renaissance and have kings or queens known by such monikers as the Tig’Ra or Pantera Nyx. I had a lot of fun with that, creating little political systems for each of the shifter types. 

Q) Having been published by a major publishing house, e-publishers, and tested the self-publishing waters, what benefit do you believe you have derived from the experience? 

A) I’ve learned a lot. One of the main things a writer in this brave new world needs to be aware of is that modern readers don’t necessarily care where the books come from – be it traditional “NY” publishers, small press, or self publishing. What matters to them is the same thing that has mattered all along – the book has to be good. So the number one thing writers need to do is keep their quality standard high no matter where the book ultimately ends up. At the moment, the publishing industry is sort of like the Wild West. There is still a lot of money to be made, but the way of making it is ever-changing, ever-evolving. While the big “NY” publishers will still have blockbuster books that sell the world over, I feel like the midlist is shrinking beyond anything we’ve seen before. Those midlist books and authors are increasingly finding homes in small press and self publishing. Writers who used to sneer at my small press aspirations in 2006 are now clamoring for an introduction to my editor or publisher. It’s kind of amazing, and the business continues to grow and change at a phenomenal rate. 
Q) Any parting thoughts for your readers and those yet to pick up one of your novels? 

A) If you haven’t read one of my books yet and like sci fi, fantasy or paranormal romance on the hot side, check out my website. I have descriptions there of all my books and warnings about those titles that might deal with subject matter some people look for, and some people avoid. And if you’ve already read one of my books, thanks!
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net