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Eddie Louise Final-square med-res Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Eddie Louise. Eddie Louise has had a lot of experience writing. As a child, she composed nonsense songs to keep herself company herding cattle across the lonely Wyoming plains. Discovering the theater led her to write melodramatic plays full of artful alliterations, which in turn led to composing the book for a musical on the beaches of Monterey. She ran away from home to live in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she explored her passion for writing novels. Having landed back in California she is writer of the hit Audio Drama Podcast, The Tale of Sage & Savant and the novel TransMIGRATIONS, The Tales of Sage & Savant Book One, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

2018-03-26-TransMIGRATIONS_Cover-DRAFT Eddie Louise’s latest book, TransMIGRATIONS is a novel steampunk fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Telesensation agent Justin Bremer studies time—specifically the effects of journeying through it. His assignment, funded by a mysterious organization, ‘Les Charges de L’Affaires,’ is to observe the timeline of a young Victorian scientist who lived approximately 2000 years in the past.

Equipped with an AI neural-interface, Bremer carefully documents the experiments of Dr. Petronella Sage and her archaeologist friend Erasmus Savant. The Doctor, while investigating the effects of electricity on human flesh, becomes obsessed by the curious and vivid shared hallucinations induced after she and Savant are accidentally electrocuted.

Each fantastical adventure (which they call a ‘transmigration’) takes the intrepid duo into the unimaginable lives of persons and places throughout history. Justin Bremer observes and dutifully records it all.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, TransMIGRATIONS?

It is terribly clichéd to admit this but the idea came from a dream. I am a very visceral dreamer and often my dreams play out with cinematic clarity. I also have serial dreams where a story will continue over many nights. This is a talent that is very helpful in writing stories! Unfortunately, sometimes I get ‘stuck’ where the same dream or snippet of a dream plays over and over, night after night. Sage and Savant came from just such a dream. Every night for about two weeks I dreamed the same fragment: I was a female scientist in the Victorian age (corset, long skirts, lots of hair) and I had been given a VERY limited time in the Galvanistic laboratory to prove my thesis to the male supervisors of my program. I would set up a bank of very complicated electrical equipment and then electrocute myself. That was it—each and every night I electrocuted myself which would shock me awake and my first thought would be, ‘It worked!’ Eventually I decided I had to write about this scientist and figure out why anyone would do such a thing and think of it as a victory.

VarnerPhotography-6550 Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Doctor Petronella Sage. She is clever, complicated, and conceited. She has never met a problem she couldn’t solve through sheer obstinacy. She loves passionately, yet denies herself the expression of that love because it would end her career. She is a mad scientist whose motto is ‘Death is no barrier to science!’and I love her!

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

I am traditionally published with Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing out of Canada. Edge is the Canadian equivalent of Tor. The chief advantage of the traditional route is that you have a whole team helping your book into the world. The cover art Edge secured for me is amazing and all four books will be consistent and visually stunning. The typesetting on the inside of the book helped deal with some really gnarly problems I had created. (Namely conversations that take place via neural implant and ALSO out loud in the same dialog section—my publisher figured out how to indicate out-loud speech separate from thoughts, separate from in-head conversations without breaking the flow of the scene—they are geniuses!) The disadvantages—well of course you are not in control of timelines or price points. In truth, I plan on becoming a Hybrid author with some self published titles alongside my traditional titles.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I love the choice. I would say I’m an architectural gardener. I like to lay out a basic plot line (I call it my Tentpoles) but then free write everything else. For me some remarkable things happen when I do this. For example, I am currently writing Book Two, TransANIMATIONS and I had to deal with a plot hole I had created in the 3rd episode of Season Two of the podcast. EXCEPT it turned out it wasn’t a plot hole—it was foreshadowing for something that we find out about in Season Three. I had no idea of this when I wrote the original story, but my subconscious had it all worked out and let me know about it when the time was right.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I grew up on a 20,000 acre cattle ranch in the middle of Wyoming. I had never seen a body of water larger than a reservoir and a creek. At age seven, I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and I knew I would grow up to be a pirate and sail the seven seas. That book opened an entire world as magical to me as Narnia was when I read that the next year. The ability for this arcane magic we name story and inscribe on the bones of trees to create truth out of thin air, to open portals, to transport us is alchemy of the soul and RL Stevenson was my first tutor in that art.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I am just putting the finishing touches on TranANIMATIONS, Book Two of The Tales of Sage and Savant, and of course I have a monthly episode to keep abreast of. By next week I am hoping to dive into the final edits for Palace Du Mers, a Steampunk novel set on an elegant ship that I plan on self publishing in spring.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

My writing teacher in Scotland said: “Drafting a novel is like a potter throwing a pot. Step one is to mix the clay. Your first draft is just this—the clay from which you will form your pot. The only thing you need in enough clay for the pot you envision. Don’t worry about the pot shape; that will come later when you put it on the wheel. For now, just mix the clay.” This advice freed me to write a messy first draft. Sometimes I write a scene two or three times sequentially trying different approaches. Then when I move the clay of my novel onto the wheel of editing I choose what serves and what doesn’t.

Want to learn more about Eddie Louise and TransMIGRATIONS? Check out her: Website, Sage and Savant WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter, and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy. Available in Kindle, Nook, Kobo and bookstores everywhere or for a Signed Copy go here.

Thanks to author Eddie Louise for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Claire Davon on February 5, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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jayne barnard ice falls Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, J.E. (Jayne) Barnard. J.E. (Jayne) Barnard is a Calgary-based crime writer with 25 years of award-winning short fiction and children’s literature behind her. Author of the popular Maddie Hatter Adventures (Tyche Books), and now The Falls Mysteries (Dundurn Press), she’s won the Dundurn Unhanged Arthur, the Bony Pete, and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award. Her works were shortlisted for the Prix Aurora (twice), the UK Debut Dagger, the Book Publishing in Alberta Award (twice), and three Great Canadian Story prizes. Jayne is a past VP of Crime Writers of Canada, a founder of Calgary Crime Writers, and a member of Sisters In Crime. Her most recent book is When the Flood Falls, a small-town psychological thriller set in the Alberta foothills west of Calgary.

whenthefloodfallsnew compressed 1 J.E. Barnard’s latest book, When the Flood Falls, is a novel mystery/thriller fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Her career in tatters and her marriage receding in the rear-view mirror, ex-RCMP corporal Lacey McCrae trades her uniform for a tool belt and the Lower Mainland for the foothills west of Calgary. Amid the oil barons, hockey stars, and other high rollers who inhabit the wilderness playground is her old university roommate, Dee Phillips. Dee’s glossy life was shattered by a reckless driver; now she’s haunted by a nighttime prowler only she can hear. As snowmelt swells the icy river, crashing whole trees against the only bridge back to civilization, Lacey must make the call: assume Dee’s in danger and get her out of there, or decide the prowler is imaginary and stay, cut off from help if the bridge goes under. Can she find one true clue either way before Mother Nature make the decision for her? Can they both survive until the floodwaters fall?

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, When the Flood Falls?

It started long ago and oh, so far away, when my oldest high school friend left the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and her husband for no reasons that she could articulate. Even years later she had no words for how she was feeling at that time, except to say, “I woke up one day and I couldn’t do it any more. Any of it.” Because I believe that most of what people do has some reasoning behind it, even if they’re not consciously aware, the character of Lacey began as an exploration of possible motivations for my friend to leave her job, then her spouse, then her province, and set off alone across the country with just her vehicle, precious little in savings, and no job prospects waiting. From that point forward, my story is all fiction, so instead of what actually happened—moving her to one of Canada’s biggest cities and giving her a relatively stable life there—I put her in a beautiful, quite wild and natural setting (Bragg Creek, in the Alberta foothills) and added an impending flood to echo the chaotic currents in her heart and mind.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

My favorite character in the book is often assumed to be Jan, the neighbor, because she has the same chronic illness as I do (ME/CFS) and her constrained life is basically my life except in a much cooler house, cantilevered over the beautiful Elbow Valley with a view for 200 miles to the snow-capped peaks of Waterton Lakes National Park, which abuts Glacier National Park at the US border. But really, I like Rob the most; he’s the manager/curator of a brand-new Arts Center and museum, which is kind of my dream job. Although often in over his head, and worried about being outed as gay to the potentially violent ranching types who frequent the local bars, he’s so enthusiastic about his job, his friends, his surroundings. I really like people—fictional or otherwise—who have a zest for life and aren’t afraid to show it.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

deadly diamond jayne bk When the Flood Falls is traditionally published, by Dundurn Press of Toronto. My other series, The Maddie Hatter Adventures, are from an indie press—Tyche Books. The advantage of the first, Dundurn Press, is their distribution and their promotion budget. My books were available across Canada the same day they came out, and showing up on library shelves within a couple of weeks too. Dundurn staff monitor social media and amplify all my initiatives, find me interview opportunities beyond my personal sphere, and make sure there’s stock showing up in advance of any bookstore events. I’m also part of a huge stable of mutually supportive authors writing across many different genres.

Tyche Books, the woman-centric Calgary indie, doesn’t have the distribution or the marketing, so most of my sales with them are e-book and I do most of my marketing myself. Another difference is economies of scale the indies can’t access. Not many people realize the production cost differential between a big house’s print runs of 500 or 1000 books, and small/indie orders of 50 or 100. When shipping must be factored in it’s quite possible to lose money on every Maddie book (indie publisher) sold at the same bookstore event where every Falls Mystery (traditional publisher) makes us all money. That’s really a pity, because Tyche Books found a fabulous cover artist for my 3 books with them, and the utterly charming Robin Robinson covers really deserve to be seen by a wider audience. Indie presses live a precarious existence and many deserving publishers—and authors, and books—fall by the wayside due to simple economics.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I started off devoted to architecture, but it’s not a coincidence that my wind-down Netflixxing is often some travel series titled, for example, Great Gardens of Georgian England (if that series truly existed I’d own it!). I still like to have the underpinnings firmly in place, but my stories need those riots of unpredictable blooms, shaded walkways, and patches of overlooked thistles just waiting to snare the unwary reader. Like all the great gardens of Europe, my stories should end with that moment when the gardens open up to a vast landscape in which all things are at once possible and impossibly remote.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Little Women. Jo the teen scribbling in her garret was my role model from early on. I played Jo at our fifth grade Christmas assembly. At the next assembly I was one of Macbeth’s witches, which may have been the early seed of my love of play-readings and my later detour from psychology into theater school.

What writing project are you currently working on?

The editing of the second in The Falls Mysteries (Dundurn, July 2019). In this one, Lacey’s traded her active policing role for the job of care-taking her injured friend. She’s been looking forward to a peaceful foothills Christmas, but between her friend’s terminally ill mother hijacking the holiday to discuss assisted dying, the hunt for a young intern gone missing in a blizzard, and her own flashbacks to last holiday season with her abusive ex, it’s not exactly a winter wonderland she’s walking in. I hope to be finished this book by New Years Eve, when the terrifying climax occurs, so I can send it off to the editor and then go celebrate the end of 2018.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Your process outside the writing has to support your writing process. You need a time, a place, a space—and these have to be mental at least as much as physical. If you’re stressed and/or obsessed with some online or real-life drama, your brain can’t do the deep dives that inform truly compelling fiction. When I’m immersed in the creation of the story’s world, everything I watch or read, every conversation I have, will either deepen my connection to the story or disrupt the themes that are weaving themselves together in my writing brain. It takes daily discipline to keep running your life around a low-gratification, low-pay task like producing a novel that won’t see the light of day for two years and even then might sink unremarked in the vast and ever-growing sea of published books. You must work to keep up the belief that this is all worth it, even if nobody else ever reads your beloved project but you.

Want to learn more about J.E. (Jayne) Barnard and When the Flood Falls? Check out her: Website, Falls Mystery Facebook page, Maddie Hatter Adventures Facebook page, Twitter1 and Twitter2, and Instagram.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of When the Flood Falls and/or purchase a copy of Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond.

Thanks to author Jayne Barnard for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Rebecca Gomez Farrell on January 29, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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mjgardner5_sm2 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, MJ Gardner. MJ Gardner is a web developer by day, who lays in bed at night and wonders, what if….? Her stories have been published in “Mad Scientist Journal,” “Luna Station Quarterly,” “Plan B” and “Saturday Night Reader.” She published her first novel, Evelyn’s Journal in 2015 and the sequel, Joe Vampire, in 2017.

MJ has an undergrad degree in English and Classics (Greek & Roman studies) and wrote her Master’s thesis on The Vampire in English Literature. She currently lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada with her partner of 19 years, and her cat Zoom. She is also the virtual curator of The Suicide Museum.

MJ Gardner’s latest book, Joe Vampire, is the second book in the Darkness & Light Series. A quick summary for my readers: Joe has really turned his life around. With help and support from his girlfriend Evelyn, he has conquered his addictions, left foster care, finished high school and is ready for college. As much as Joe longs for normality, his life is never going to be that way. After all, his girlfriend is a vampire, and she wants him to become one too. That’s a bit too much commitment for Joe. And other members of the vampire community, some of whom refer to him as a snack, won’t leave him alone. Things begin to unravel for Joe when he tries to help a friend cure himself of his many ailments with a vampire’s blood. When things go badly Joe blames himself and turns back to his old addictions for succor. But can Joe cope with the strongest addiction of all?

mj evelyn cover And since Evelyn’s Journal and its characters lead into Joe Vampire, here’s a quick summary of that book for my readers: It’s cold and dark and Evelyn is in the morgue. In a drawer. She doesn’t know how she got there, and Tammi, the morgue attendant who hustles her out into the night, doesn’t have time to answer questions. Evelyn has been robbed of the gift of immortality her absent lover promised her, and plunged instead, alone, into the night-time world of the vampire, where she must learn to survive alone.

Freed from mortality, Evelyn also feels freed from convention, morality, and law. Her first act as a vampire is to secure the house and fortune of the family who rejected her. Then she sets out to look for love. Evelyn finds that love is a difficult thing when you are a vampire and physical closeness leads to hunger as often as desire. When her vampire lover returns and shows his true nature, Evelyn realizes she is not, and doesn’t want to be, a monster. Note: contains sex, violence, a feisty heroine, all the good stuff.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Joe Vampire (Book 2, Darkness & Light Series)?

I really can’t talk about Joe without talking about Evelyn. Back in the day I was on a listserv called Vampyres, and a lot of people would role play and post fiction to the list. Someone commented that all the vampires were titled, centuries old, and rich. Basically, they were spinoffs from Dracula or Anne Rice’s novels. I wanted to create a vampire who was none of those things. Enter Evelyn, a young woman who is only eighteen when the book opens. Evelyn becomes a vampire, but with no mentor and little guidance, she doesn’t really know how to vampire, and she has to figure it out for herself.

Joe is Evelyn’s boyfriend at the end of Evelyn’s Journal. With Joe, I wanted a character who was not only an unlikely vampire (against trope) but also an unlikely match for Evelyn (opposites attract). Joe is young, he’s very poor, he comes from an abusive home, and he is multiply-addicted to various painkillers. He’s sixteen and doesn’t really care if he lives through the day.

mj joe cover At the end of Evelyn’s Journal, Joe is starting to get it together. His relationship with Evelyn is something to live for. At the beginning of Joe Vampire, Joe (who is not a vampire) is doing well: he’s going to college and he has career plans. The only thing dogging him is pressure from Evelyn to join her in the nightlife. Joe doesn’t know if he is ready to commit—to Evelyn or to blood-drinking immortality. Joe’s college roommate is getting married, and he shames Joe into proposing to Evelyn. And from there, things start to unravel.

Basically, I wanted to write about vampires who were/are not suave, wise, or upper class.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Joe. Hands down. He’s so sincere. He keeps trying to make things better, but he’s fighting against a lot of (virtual) demons, most of which stem from his childhood.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

I published both books myself—cover art, typesetting, everything. The manuscripts had been sitting around for over a decade, and I just wanted to get the stories out there. Along came Amazon and Smashwords and made that possible.

The advantage to self-publishing is that you have total control over all aspects of your work. I am lucky in that I have the skills to do cover art, layout, and build my own website. The downside is that I do not have anyone marketing my books. As a self-published author, you have to be able to market your own work. My experience is that this works best face to face. Meet people, talk at conferences, and network. Unfortunately, I am not built for that.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I used to be pantser, but I have found that a book works much better if you know how it ends so that you know what to put in before the end to make that ending significant. You want to make the reader feel the ending, whether it is happy, sad, etc. To do that you need to make sure the reader knows why the ending is so sad, happy, etc. for your character(s). That said, that is about all the planning I do. A lot of the in-between is pantsed.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I bought a copy from Scholastic Books when I was ten. I needed to look up some of the words as I read it the first time, like “misanthropist”. I have re-read it several times since. I like it because it is full of big emotions and ordinary people. Emily Bronte knew it long before Sartre said it: enfer c’est les autres (Hell is other people). The whole scope of the novel is two houses, two families, two generations, and the empty fields in between, and yet whether these places are heaven or hell is determined by the character of the people and their relationships.

I always wanted to be one of the Brontës. It seemed like heaven to me, growing up in a remote location, in a family with sisters who spent their time writing and reading each other’s stories.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a book called Dry Leaves. It is a very different vampire novel, and I don’t use the word vampire in it. It is set in Detroit (I live across the river in Windsor). It started as a long short story, and I kept trying to trim it because most places that publish short stories want them short–often only 3000 words. I got this story down to 8000, shopped it around, got no takers, and decided to just unpack everything I had condensed. It will be a novella. So far it is 12,000 words.

I also have a (longish) short story coming out in Metaphorosis in the coming months (no date yet), called “The Book of Regrets.” It’s a gay time travel romance. Like Wuthering Heights, it is about ordinary people propelled by big emotions. I also have plans for another book in the Darkness & Light Series, a story about a witch who is desperate to escape dying of cancer, and a novel about a family which has no supernatural elements in it at all.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Write what you want, not what you (think) the public wants. The public is fickle: vampires are out; zombies are in. Tomorrow zombies are out and lycanthropy or space operas or ghost lovers are in. If you write what you want it will always feed your soul.

Want to learn more about MJ Gardner and her vampire novels? Check out her: Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Evelyn’s Journal and/or Joe Vampire .

Thanks to author MJ Gardner for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Laurel Anne Hill on January 22, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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White ravens are rare – perhaps because the color variance makes them more prone to disease and predators. But their white feathers also seem to add credence to the myth that credits Raven with fetching fire from the sun and bringing it back to earth after the gods had taken fire away. In helping earth’s inhabitants, Raven sacrificed his beautiful plumage and lovely voice.

While in Alaska and western Canada, I saw many ravens. The intelligence in the birds’ eyes and their clever behavior suggested far more awareness than humans like to give animals credit for. I even saw one raven prying open a sunroof in order to get to a bag of groceries. And though I didn’t see if he or she was successful, it seem quite likely that the bird managed to get inside the car and pillage the groceries (including a very obvious loaf of bread) before making an escape out the sunroof.

Alas, I have yet to see a white raven, yet I love the myth associated with the creature.

Myths, of all sorts, are one of my passions. I think they add to our understanding of the people of the past, ourselves, and our species. And, dear reader, the word myth does not mean an untruth – rather a system of belief which may or may not be one you believe.

For your reading and viewing pleasure, here’s a little article on white ravens.

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IMG_2217 I’m back after journeying through a small part of Alaska, British Columbia, and the Canadian Rockies. Spectacular is the only word I can use for the mountains towering above the roads and waterways of this beautiful part of North America. Snow-covered, glacier-topped, or just sheer cliffs of rock – the mountains were inspirational.

And journey is the most appropriate word for this trip. The untamed nature of the landscape, the chill of icebergs and glaciers, the smell of the dense forest, and the wild animals who populated this wilderness area made these past 2 and 1/2 weeks a journey of distance and spirit.

I’ve always been a fan of journey stories where the reader follows the main character as he or she ventures down paths, across oceans, or over mountains on a quest for treasure, knowledge, powers…  – or maybe to rescue a captured friend. So much so, that I wrote my own journey story, Enchanted Skean – Book I of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir.

Finding a publisher for this Young Adult novel became another sort of journey with lots of twists and turns including: finding an agent only to have the agency close, not being able to find another agent, submitting the manuscript myself to publishers, being told twice that it was between my YA novel and another – only to come in 2nd, and finally, to finding a small publisher interested in publishing the book in both print and eBook formats.

In celebration of the forthcoming publication of Enchanted Skean, I’ll be including a bit of trivia from the works of JRR Tolkien (a master of journey stories) in my blogs starting today. So here goes:

1- Where must the One Ring be destroyed? Okay, that’s easy for most of my readers. Here’s another one. 2- What was the name of the mountain range The Fellowship tried to cross unsuccessfully, and ended up traveling through the Mines of Moria instead? Still too easy for some of you. For The Lord of the Rings savvy here’s the last trivia question. 3- What was the name of the mountain The Fellowship was climbing when snow and avalanches made them turn round and head for the Moria Gate?

I encourage each of you to begin a journey. It can be traveling to a new place, reading a book that takes you to other worlds, or just putting one foot before the other on your life journey.

Answers to the Tolkien trivia:

1- Mount Doom (also known as Orodruin or Mountain of Fire).

2- The Misty Mountains.

3- “The narrow path now wound under a sheer wall of cliffs* to the left, above which the grim flanks of Caradhras towered up invisible in the gloom… They heard eerie noises in the darkness round them. It may have been only a trick of the wind in the cracks and gullies of the rocky wall, but the sounds were those of shrill cries, and wild howls of laughter. Stones began to fall from the mountain-side, whistling over their heads, or crashing on the path beside them…before long the snow was falling fast, filling all the air…” [The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter III: The Ring Goes South]

* As a nod to Tolkien, I have a range of mountains called The Sheercliffs in Enchanted Skean.

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