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, August 31, 2012

NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author Alexandra Ivy/Deborah Raleigh


Regency Historical fans may already be familiar with the very talented author Deborah Raleigh – also known as Alexandra Ivy – and her nearly forty published books. In fact, Alexandra Ivy’s “Immortal Rogues” series was originally released under Deborah’s name. However, we readers being who we are and known for our loyalty to specific genres and the authors in those genres, the decision was made for Alexandra Ivy and her fascination with dark, dangerous paranormal heroes to step into the limelight. And what a step it’s been. 

Melding the traditional dark side of vampires and shape shifters with heart thumping romantic suspense, Alexandra’s novels quickly garnered readers’ attention, propelling Alexandra to the bestseller lists. Still, the author’s interest in heroes frequently darting back and forth between chivalry and less than honorable intent isn’t new. In “The Merry Cupids,” part of the “Valentine Rogues” anthology, readers were introduced to the questionable reputation of Mr. Guy Ravendell. Similar characters made appearances in other anthologies such as “One Night with A Rogue” until Alexandra surrendered to a shadow demanding his story be told. The result was “My Lord Vampire,” a regency romance invaded by the commanding presence of vampire Gideon Ravel. It turned out that Gideon had a lot of friends waiting in the darkness. The “Guardians of Eternity” series was born. 

Book 1, “When Darkness Comes,” established what would become an honor roll of seductively dangerous paranormal men sworn to risk their souls in the protection of women standing their ground between good and evil. “Fear the Darkness,” the ninth offering, holds true to its predecessors’ intrigue, romance, and edgy plots. Cassie is a rare and delicate werewolf that threatens the darkness. Caine is a Were in need of redemption. The attraction is smoldering and rife with danger, both from each other, and an evil chaos threatening the world. 

Grab a copy of “Fear the Darkness,” hold onto your seats, and make sure there’s plenty of ice in the freezer. The summer’s about to get even hotter. I should mention that for those who enjoy a little humor in their paranormal, the anthology “The Real Werewives of Vampire County” came out last November.

Q) You’re married with two sons. How do your boys feel about Mom and her dark, romantic heroes? 

A) They’ve always been very supportive of my writing career despite getting teased by their friends.  It’s not every teenager who goes to a party and has to listen to the love scenes his mother wrote being read out loud J  Thankfully, now that they’re older, they can appreciate the humor of having a mom who writes about sexy vampires.  They even enjoy telling people about my career. 

Q) While most regency fans relish a good rogue, the crossover to paranormal could have been risky for you. Why did you decide to make the leap? 

A) I fell in love with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”   It was such a unique blend of horror and romance and humor.   And of course, the characters were fascinating.  Suddenly a heroine didn’t have to be rescued by her hero.  She could save the world and still be a vulnerable female.   And the heroes (Angel and Spike) were as intensely alluring as any wonderful hero should be, but they were also complex characters with obvious flaws.

I wanted to create my own world where a clan of vampires was entrusted with protecting the humans against the creatures of darkness. 

Q) A Missourian with a degree in Speech Communication, educator, golfer, wife and mother, you also enjoy traveling. How have your European journeys influenced your writing? 

A) When I was writing historicals, nothing could replace actually visiting the locations of my stories.  A photograph or travel book can give details of a place, but a writer needs to see how the sun shimmers off a stained glass window, or smell the smoke from a peat fire.  I write contemporaries now, but most of my characters come from other countries and other times.  It’s been a great benefit to not only have researched the past, but to have walked the same streets as my vampires. 

Q) You once stated that your paranormal stories contain more danger than the regencies. Why hold back in either genre?  

A) My regency readers preferred the unfolding romance to be the center of the story.  That meant the plot had to be woven around the relationship rather than the adventure being the driving force of the book.  And by tradition regencies were “sweeter” than other romance stories.   The atmosphere was light and fun. Paranormals tend to be edgier, bloodier, and sexier. 

Q) You opted to carry the paranormal stories into contemporary instead of leaving them in historical. What was behind that decision and do you have any plans to meld them in the future? 

A) When the idea for the Guardians began to form I could vividly see them in modern day Chicago.   They were powerful and sexy and barely civilized.  I wanted the contrast of their savage natures in a time that’s considered “civilized”.   But one of the perks of writing immortal creatures is that I can set them in past when it fits the story.  I actually took one of the characters from my Immortal Rogue series that is set in Regency England, and put her in my current books.  It was exciting, as well as challenging, to take her from the past and weave her into my Guardian series.  She had tremendous vampire power in the past, but she truly came into her own as a woman in the newest story. 

Q) Any parting thoughts for your fans and new readers? 

A) I want to thank all of my readers!  They’ve been so incredibly supportive, not only reading the books, but sharing word of the stories to their friends.  Their loyalty has given me the encouragement to continue to expand my world.  Without them the Guardians of Eternity wouldn’t exist! 

I also wanted to mention I would be starting a new series in 2013 that will be called the Sentinels.  It’s separate from my Guardians, but it’s still a paranormal with humans who are born with ‘special’ powers and the warriors who protect them.  I hope my readers will enjoy them!!
DA Kentner is an author and journalist www.kevad.net

Friday, August 24, 2012

Author Cathy Lamb


Cathy Lamb is a married mother of three teenagers, including twins, who works late into the night, and believes chocolate is the ultimate remedy for pretty much everything except insomnia. Oh. She also writes stories. Really good stories. 

Holding a Master’s in Education, Cathy taught fourth grade in Oregon, until the twins she was carrying decided they wanted her full attention. Convinced her dream of a writing career would be found in romance novels, she devoted her efforts to amassing a noteworthy, and as yet unpublished, array of said novels. Then, she switched gears to pen a story based on an imaginary image that wouldn’t leave her alone. The image? A fluffy wedding dress thrown into a dead tree.

From Cathy’s questions of why was the dress there, what events had brought the owner to this point, and so forth, “Julia’s Chocolates” became Cathy’s debut novel. Readers flocked to characters alive with Cathy’s quick wit and down to earth charm. 

Since then, Cathy has seen six novels published as well as four anthologies with bestselling authors Lisa Jackson, Debbie Macomber and Fern Michaels.  

“The First Day of the Rest of My Life,” the story of a life coach who can’t field her own future, garnered national acclaim, again, largely in part to Cathy’s ability to inject a common sense humor into women struggling to accept and/or identify where their happiness lies. “The First Day” is a seriously good story and well worth any reader’s time. 

Now, Cathy’s next novel “A Different Kind of Normal” has just been released. A story of a mother and her son who society brands as abnormal, these characters are already warming readers’ hearts and reminding us all of the value of family.

Here’s a link for a sneak peek at chapter one:

Sorry, you’ll have to buy the book for chapter two. Read one of Cathy Lamb’s marvelous books, and I’m sure you’ll be back for more.

Q) I have to ask. What inspired the character Tate in “A Different Kind of Normal?” 

A) Tate was inspired by an article I read many years ago about a kid with a big head.  Tate’s story is not at all like this young man’s story, but I was impressed by his strength, courage and dignity.  Tate was also inspired by my son’s humor and wit, his love of basketball, and how he makes me laugh. 

Q) Now, you know, because we readers are enjoying your stories of family, friendships, and unpredictable tomorrows, is there a chance we’ll see some of your romance novels? 

A) The only romance stories you’ll ever see are in the anthologies already published, “Comfort and Joy” with Fern Michaels; “Almost Home” with Debbie Macomber; “Holiday Magic” with Fern Michaels; “Beach Season” with Lisa Jackson. 

My other romance stories are pure crap and embarrassing. I don’t even have them anymore. They were shredded years ago, lest someone find them one day and hold them against me for ransom. 

I love writing the short romance stories for the anthologies, above. There is room for the characters to have personalities, problems and issues, there is room for quirky minor characters, there is room for interesting careers and dreams, and there is room for happy endings.  

Q) Intentional or not, your trademark is poignant tales laced with humor that melds perfectly into the story. How do you manage to keep the proper balance between humor and tragedy without it appearing contrived? 

A) Ah, that’s a hard one. I bang my head against the keyboard many times as I write each book to make sure that I hit that sweet spot. I try to mirror life: Sometimes life is devastating. It’s hard, it’s trying, it’s exhausting, it’s so very painful. And, sometimes life is a glowing rainbow. It’s laughter, contentment, gratefulness, excitement, peace and joy, all wrapped up together. I blend the two for my books, so it’s realistic. 

My books always end on hope, though. That I will guarantee for every book I write: Hope.   

Q) In “The Last Time I was Me,” you introduce a bevy of women at a B&B and anger management classes who interact with the main character Jeanne, searching for her perfect version of life. These secondary characters are memorable. Will we see them again? 

A) No. Once I finish a book, despite my readers begging, I don’t plan on writing the second chapter, so to speak, of my characters’ lives. Sometimes readers will write to me and ask what happened to my characters, and I’ll tell ‘em so they can sleep at night, but I won’t be writing stories featuring the same groups again.  I feel like I’ve told their stories, the characters are living their own lives, they’re off and running, and I’m moving on to a new family that’s already frolicking around in my head. 

There is only one exception, a minor character, Cherie Poitras, a kick – butt divorce attorney who wears leopard prints and bang up high heels, has shown up in a couple of my stories.  

Q) Any parting thoughts for your readers and those not familiar with your stories yet? 

A) Please read them! And to my readers, thank you for reading them.  I mean that: Thank you.

I have many letters from readers telling me that my books make them laugh and cry. Sometimes they laugh and chortle and cry and sob on subways and airplanes and people stare at them strangely.  

So, I’ll tell ya this: I, too, laugh and cry over my books. If I’m writing them in Starbucks, I might cry there, too. I cried every time I edited Henry’s Sisters, and I laughed every time I edited Julia’s Chocolates when the ladies had their “Breast Power Psychic Night” scenes or their “Your Hormones and You: Taking Cover, Taking Charge Psychic Nights.”  

In “A Different Kind of Normal” I enjoyed writing about the family lore about witches in the ancestral line. I loved writing about the greenhouse and the herbs and spices and how Jaden Bruxelle could smell an upcoming death in them. I loved pretending that I lived in her 150 year old country home, surrounded by the same flowers her ancestors had grown. I loved writing about Tate, the big headed son, who taught everyone so much just by being himself and I loved writing about the soap opera star mother who was blunt and wild, but oh so dedicated to family, and I loved writing about Jaden and her work as a hospice nurse who saw miracles every day.

Basically, I love to write and tell stories. I always have, even when I was a kid.  I listen to my characters talk and sometimes I talk back.  I live in my imagination a lot. It’s an odd place to live.  

Thank you for writing to me at CathyLamb@frontier.com and visiting my website CathyLamb.net. I blog and I skype with book clubs all the time, so if you would like me to visit  your book club, I’m happy to.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist www.kevad.net

 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Debut Author Rosanna Chiofalo


Rosanna Chiofalo captured my full attention without having read a word of her book. What drew me to her was a line in her bio where she credited meeting and falling in love with her future husband to…jury duty. Oh yeah. How could I not want to know more? 

Rosanna’s parents emigrated from Sicily in the 1960s. Raised in Queens, NY, with its close-knit neighborhoods and lawn chair discussions of everything, she quickly developed a desire to write stories designed to shatter media promulgated stereotypes. In fact, this desire grew to passion and she obtained a BA in English specifically to pursue a career in writing. Having sharpened her pencils and honed her craft as a copywriter and copy director for several NYC publishing houses, Rosanna embarked on conceiving her first novel. 

“Bella Fortuna” is the story of a thirty-year-old Italian-American woman designing and sewing wedding dresses alongside her two sisters in their mother’s New York bridal shop. (How’s that for a series’ nucleus? We can only hope.) Valentina DeLuca has witnessed many marriages, but never her own. Then her childhood crush Michael Carello pops the question and Valentina’s dreams of marriage seem to be coming true, including a fantasy wedding in Venice. Naturally, life isn’t that simple or easy. To reach her happy ever after, Valentina will have to draw upon the strengths and ties that bind of family and friendship, as well as discover her own source of courage and raw determination. 

In the skillfully crafted Valentina, the author presents readers with a woman most of us would want for a best friend. Her warmth, vitality, and integrity shine over every bump and obstacle life can throw at her. This is a story sure to pull the reader into the love of family and the sights and senses of romance in Venice. 

Fortunately, Rosanna is hard at work on her next novel.

Oh! The jury duty? Rosanna’s future mother-in-law was on that jury too and decided the beautiful young Italian woman would make her son a fine wife. Thank God for meddling mothers.
“Bella Fortuna” will be released August 28th, but is currently available for preorder.

Q) For the record – the jury duty story is true? And, will we see it in a book, because you know we readers want to now. 

A) Yes, the jury story is absolutely 100% true. I couldn't make that up even if I wanted to! Haven't thought about putting it in a book, but several people have expressed to me that it's the perfect plot to a movie or book so maybe I'll consider it! 

Q) Will we enjoy more stories with the bridal shop the center of activity? It’s a great working premise.

A) My second novel, WHEN YOU'RE IN ROME, is also set in the same town as BELLA FORTUNA--Astoria, New York. While a few of the secondary characters make an appearance in WHEN YOU'RE IN ROME, the leading characters are new. Olivia DeLuca, along with her daughters Connie and Rita, from BELLA FORTUNA do make an appearance in WHEN YOU'RE IN ROME. Connie actually becomes friendly with the young heroine in WHEN YOU'RE IN ROME. Readers will see the shop again, but not to the extent that it was featured in BELLA FORTUNA. 

Q) Because it is an important element to your characters, what do you believe you have infused in them to break down the walls of stereotype? 

A) I believe my characters have a strong moral fiber and are passionate about their relationships, especially where family and friends are concerned. They also have a deep pride and passion for their hard work.  

Q) Bless your heart, you included some wonderful recipes in your book and web site. Where did these delightful dishes come from, as I noticed one is called “Grandmother’s Cake”? 

A) "Grandmother's Cake" is actually the name for this dessert. Unfortunately, it is not a recipe passed down from one of my grandmothers. "Grandmother's Cake" is a popular dessert in Italy. I discovered it in a cookbook featuring Italian desserts, and when I went to Rome, I also had it in a restaurant there. A few of the other recipes, however, that are in the back of BELLA FORTUNA are from family members. "Fried Meatballs" is my mother's recipe. "Cinnamon Vanilla French Toast" is my husband's recipe; he's a master when it comes to breakfast! And the "Lemon Wedges in Olive Oil and Vinegar" is another Sicilian recipe I got from my mother.  

Q) What personal message would you like to send to those about to discover your stories?

A) I hope that readers will connect with the emotions and thoughts of my characters, and I'd like BELLA FORTUNA to make them think more about why the events in our lives happen the way they do. Luck and  fate do have a hand in what transpires in our lives, but we also have the power to take control and alter our destinies.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist www.kevad.net




Friday, August 10, 2012

Debut Young Adult Author Nina Berry


Hawaii born Nina Berry currently resides in Hollywood by way of Chicago, where she threw her first snowball and earned a Master’s degree in Film and TV - which has nothing to do with the snowball. She’s had a screenplay optioned, her television credits include writing for Ghost Stories, and she’s worked on programs like Married…With Children and That 70’s Show. Besides being a world traveler, Nina’s interests include a passion for preserving endangered species – especially tigers.

Nina just saw the release of her debut novel “Otherkin,” the first offering in a young adult (YA) paranormal series involving animal shifters, including (no surprise here) tigers. “Othermoon,” the second in the series, will up the ante for a number of characters introduced in “Otherkin,” so be sure to start reading now!

Wasn’t that all stereotypical ‘feel good’ verbiage? Let’s get into the not so stereotypical aspect of “Otherkin.” It’s rare an author can infuse a painful reality into a paranormal atmosphere. Yet, that’s exactly what Nina Berry has done, and what sets this book apart from many others. The main character, high school student Dez, is sentenced to wearing a back brace to combat a disease attacking her body. We sit on her shoulder through her frustrations, agonies, and outright anger with unaccepting classmates as she tries to fit in, knowing she can’t, no matter what she does, or how hard she tries.

The realism portrayed in Dez didn’t come from research, but the author’s own experiences as a teen confined to a back brace. The emotions pouring from the pages are genuine. The difference between Dez and the author is that Nina couldn’t shift into a beautiful and courageous tiger to escape her limitations and bigoted classmates. Tiger shifter Dez discovers she can, and accepts not just her destiny, but the responsibility to protect the freedom of those like her, while battling her own enemies.
The end result is a story filled with action and adventure, twists and turns, and unexpected plot variations that will keep readers guessing. “Otherkin” is a thrill ride. Sit back and enjoy.
http://thetulgey.blogspot.com/


Q) Oh, yeah. I have to ask this question. The woman on the book cover bears a strong resemblance to you. Coincidence?
 

A) Well, that’s very flattering, thanks! I had nothing to do with picking the model used for the cover, but I did write a book about a protagonist with red hair and green eyes, like me. So it’s not surprising they picked a girl with those traits. A number of people have asked this same question, or even insisted that it’s me, but you’d need to add a few years, some freckles, and a lot more nose for it to be me.

Q) It would have been easy to turn this story into a “preachy” tale of animal rights. Instead, you masterfully injected your beliefs and hopes without standing behind a pulpit, thereby allowing the story to remain the reader’s primary focus. How did you so skillfully accomplish this?
 

A) Being preachy is boring, and boredom is death in a novel. My main goal always is to tell a good story. For me, a good story involves three-dimensional characters dealing with problems I care about. One of the things I care about is treating other people and animals with respect, so once I realized I wanted to tell a story about shape-shifters, that is, people who turn into animals, that theme infiltrated the writing very naturally.

Q) I read somewhere you worked with Playboy (no, not as a model – get a grip, folks). Explain, please.
 

A) I was a young, na├»ve feminist who had just moved to Hollywood, and one of my first temp jobs was assisting the President of Production at Playboy Entertainment – the video portion of the Playboy empire. I was leery at first, but it turned out to be a great job. I really liked my boss and my co-workers. The accounting department was particularly awesome; they had their own margarita machine ready for Friday afternoons. So I stayed, had a lot of fun, and learned many things they don’t teach you in school.  

I have a lot of great stories from those days, but I will only share them if you guarantee me anonymity.

Q) Why did you opt to begin this series in a high school? And, will the next series you’re considering follow the YA foundation you’ve established in “Otherkin”? 

A) The books I love the most are the ones I read as a kid and a teenager, so I decided those are the types of stories I want to tell.  The teenage years are when we really start to figure out who we are, so it’s an exciting time to write about. Also, just from a practical standpoint, I wanted to write about a girl with a back brace, and that only happens when girls are teens, before their bones stop growing. I also like stories about underdogs, and kids are usually outmatched when they face off against adults. It’s very satisfying to write stories where the kids sometimes win. I do plan to write things for adults too, but yes, the next series will also be YA.

Q) You once stated that, for a while, writing was a means for you to “run away.” What did you mean by that, and, how has your relationship with writing changed?
 

A) As any reader knows, reading can be a great escape. I started off as a reader myself, and got lost in the worlds in the books I loved. So when I first started writing, I wrote the stories I wanted to read to escape. There wasn’t much of me in those stories. I didn’t want the reader to “see” me, because that was scary. What if they didn’t like what they saw? Eventually I figured out that there’s no way to please everyone all the time, nor should you try. So it’s still scary, but often the most personal things make the best stories. Readers know when they’re encountering an emotional truth, so I’m trying to give them a bit of that, along with entertaining them.

Q) Any parting thoughts for those yet to pick up “Otherkin”?
 

A) If you like adventure, romance, or tigers, you might like the book.  And thanks for listening (or, er, reading in this case)!
DA Kentner is an author and journalist www.kevad.net

Friday, August 3, 2012

19th ANNUAL CALLIOPE FICTION CONTEST


Readers won’t find me publicly promoting contests very often. However, Calliope Magazine, A Special Interest Group (SIG) of American Mensa, Ltd., is a not-for-profit organization designed to promote reading and writing, something I’m passionate about, and the very reason I write this column. Their annual short fiction contest is open to anyone who has a story to tell. And, I can assure you from my personal experiences with Calliope that the judging is fair and unbiased. Before I had any books published, I entered Calliope’s 17th annual contest. My entry “Love and Crescendium” (science fiction) placed fourth (1st Honorable Mention). Last year, my entry “The Caretaker” (literary fiction) won first prize. No, I won’t be entering this time because of last year’s win. 

This is a competition for novice and experienced writers alike. Judging is based solely on the merits of the entry, regardless of genre, as long as the contest’s rules are followed to the letter. I once had an entry disqualified because I goofed. Yes, I really did. Follow the rules. Note also that if entrants include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE), a mini-critique of your story will be provided, regardless of whether or not your story is awarded a prize. 

So, I encourage writers young and old, new and experienced, to give this contest a shot. Good luck, and I hope to read your winning entry soon!

19th ANNUAL CALLIOPE FICTION CONTEST
 

Theme: “GADGETS & GIZMOS”

Deadline: OCTOBER 15, 2012
 

Gadget/gizmo: A small device with a practical use, but often thought of as a novelty. What’s yours? A can opener, iPad, Swiss Army knife, e-reader, Slice-o-matic? Whatever it is or its role, the item(s) must be mentioned in the story. Make your story come alive with sharp characterization, vivid imagery and artistic use of language. Winners will not be separated into categories, but entries will be compared to others within their respective genres for judging purposes. Neatness and manuscript presentation count. 

Word Count: Up to 3,000 words.

Form:
All types of fiction (including genre) accepted: this includes general audience/mainstream; magical realism; science fiction, fantasy, light horror, mystery, romance, or cross-genres thereof; young adult and juvenile. NO picture books. NO explicit sexual content, excessive profanity, gory violence and/or extreme horror, please.

Entry forms/fees:
No entry form required. Entry fees: Calliope member/subscribers—$5 first entry; second entry free; $3 for each additional entry. (Write “Member” on upper right corner of title sheet.) Non-members: $10 first entry; $5 for each additional story. Maximum: five stories per entrant. Membership special: Send $20 and receive a one-year subscription to Calliope (4 issues) and one free entry. Make checks or money orders (in U.S. Funds only) payable to: Writers' SIG. (We will also accept fees in mint, U.S. stamps in lieu of checks or money orders.) To make payment via PayPal, go to www.paypal.com, click on “send money,” and enter Cynthia@theriver.com when asked “which vendor.”

How to Submit/Format:
Entries accepted from June 15 to October 15, 2012, and must come by regular mail. No other method will be accepted. Use standard manuscript format: 1” margins, double-space for stories more than 500 words. Name, address, phone number, e-mail address, word count, and title of story should be on a separate cover sheet, stapled to the manuscript in upper left corner. Print only title and page numbers on manuscript. State “End” below last sentence of story.
Work must be original—no reprints. Winners must retain sufficient rights for publication in the Winter 2012/13 issue of Calliope, or their entries will be disqualified.
 

Prizes:
Although final determination depends upon the total amount of entry fees received, a minimum $50-1st Place, $25-2nd Place, and $15-3rd Place is the goal.
Gift subscriptions to Calliope will be at the editor’s discretion. All winners and honorable mentions will receive certificates suitable for framing. Other prizes depend on donations received.

Receipt of entry will be acknowledged if an email address or a self-addressed postcard is included; manuscripts will not be returned.
All stories submitted will be considered for future publication.
Include a SASE for the winner’s list, and receive a free mini-critique of your entry.

Notification:
Winners will be notified by mail or email; state preference on cover sheet. Formal announcement will appear in both print and electronic versions of the Winter 2012/13 issue, together with the First through Third Place winning stories. Other winning stories will be published in appropriate subsequent issues. We use one-time rights only.

About The Judging:
Winners will be selected by the Fiction Editor, with comments, opinions and concurrence solicited from other Calliope editors and/or others the Fiction Editor deems appropriate. The decision of the judge will be final; every attempt will be made to render a fair and unbiased decision.

http://www.calliopewriters.org/FictionContestRules.aspx

Mail entries and fees to:
Calliope Fiction Contest
5975 W. Western Way PMB 116Y
Tucson, AZ 85713
DAKentner is an author and journalist www.kevad.net