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juliana spink mills Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Juliana Spink Mills. Juliana Spink Mills was born in England, but grew up in Brazil. Now, she lives in Connecticut and writes science fiction and fantasy. She is the author of Heart Blade and Night Blade, the first two books in the young adult Blade Hunt Chronicles urban fantasy series. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and online publications. Besides writing, Juliana works as a Portuguese/English translator, and as a teen library assistant. She watches way too many TV shows, and loves to get lost in a good book. Her dream is to move to Narnia when she grows up. Or possibly Middle Earth, if she’s allowed a very small dragon of her own.

Juliana Spink Mills’s latest book, Night Blade, is a YA novel urban fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—In the aftermath of the Heart Blade’s return, Del and Rose have different roads to follow. One leads forward, the other to the distant past. Rose is on a mission to infiltrate and double-cross the ultimate heist, and retrieve a game-changing prize. Meanwhile, as the Court of the Covenant prepares to meet, Del has a quest of her own. She must untangle her lost identity or risk her entire future. With the Blade Hunt prophecy in motion, darkness threatens to rise, and a new sword emerges from the shadows.

And a little “taste” of Night Blade:
  The vampire smiled at Raze. “How do you feel about a little undercover work?”
  “Undercover work? What kind?”
  “The dangerous kind. The sort of work that should suit Raze perfectly, since you’re so determined to leave Rose behind,” he said. “A challenge. You’re infiltrating a heist. I think you’ll make an excellent cat burglar.”

nightblade_front_mills Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Night Blade?

Night Blade is the second in my YA urban fantasy trilogy. The idea for the series came from a short story I was working on. That particular story was never published, but the world stuck in my head and kept growing, and eventually became the first book, Heart Blade.

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

I think my two favorites are Camille, an immortal half-demon, and Ben a teenage witch. Camille is fun to write, because her personality is similar to my own (demonic immortality aside). As for Ben, I just like him. He’s had a lot of bad things happen to him, but he doesn’t give up. And, more importantly, he always tries to do the right thing, even if it’s going to cost him.

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

Both my books were published by a small press. I think the advantages were that I was involved in every step of the process. I was given everything you can expect from a larger press—editor, copy editor, professional cover art—but additionally, because I worked so closely with the owner of the press, I was involved in a lot of the decision-making. It really was a lesson in what it takes to bring out a book! For a first timer who up to that point had only published short stories, it was a real learning experience.

The disadvantages of a small press are probably obvious, and center mostly around market reach.

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

I’m definitely a planner. That said, I’ve become a lot more organic in my process as I’ve gained confidence in myself as a writer. So now, instead of the rigid chapter outlines I used in the past, I tend to do a list of bullet points: key events that need to be incorporated. This gives me wriggle room to go ‘off road’ when I want, and I constantly update this list as the story progresses.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I was definitely a Narnia girl. I was gifted the full Narnia set as a going away present when I moved from England to Brazil at the age of eight. Brazil was new, and exciting, but also confusing and strange, so I absolutely connected with Lucy Pevensie and the rest of C.S. Lewis’ portal-travelling youngsters. I credit those books with a life-long love of fantasy novels.

What writing project are you currently working on?

After a much-needed break to write a sci fi thriller, I’m now working on Star Blade, the last book in my YA trilogy. The planning stage took ages—there is so much to fit in!—but now I’m up and running and delighted to be back in this familiar world of mine. I missed my characters!

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

My favorite bit of advice ever, and one I always pass along, is: “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Nothing happens overnight in publishing. If you love writing, allow yourself the gift of time. And keep writing!

Want to learn more about Juliana Spink Mills and Night Blade? Check out her:  WebsiteFacebook pageTwitterInstagram, and  Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Night Blade.

Thanks to author Juliana Spink Mills for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak) on February 21, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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AL Kaplan Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, A. L. Kaplan. A. L. Kaplan’s love of books started as a child and sparked a creative imagination. Born on a cold winter morning in scenic northern New Jersey, her stories and poems have been included in several anthologies and magazines. Her novel, Star Touched, released October 2017. She is the Maryland Writers’ Association’s Vice President and served on the Howard County Chapter board for several years. A. L. is a member of Broad Universe and holds an MFA in sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art. When not writing or indulging in her fascination with wolves, A. L. is the props manager for a local theatre. This proud mother of two lives in Maryland with her husband and dog.

Startouched AL Kaplan A. L. Kaplan’s latest book, Star Touched, is a fast-paced read for those who love science fiction. A quick summary for my readers: Eighteen-year-old Tatiana is running from her past and her star-touched powers eight years after a meteor devastates earth’s population. Her power to heal may be overshadowed by more destructive abilities. Fleeing the persecution of those like her, Tatiana seeks refuge in a small town she once visited. But this civil haven, in a world where society has broken down, is beginning to crumble. Will Tatiana flee or stay and fight for the new life she has built? Only by harnessing the very forces that haunt her can Tatiana save her friends…and herself.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Star Touched?
Star Touched was born from a series of nightmares: Huge waves of water, giant fireballs, etc. There are several scenes that are straight from those dreams. There are real world inspirations as well. Tatiana’s favorite book, Island of the Blue Dolphin, is also one of mine. The bit about the octopus came from a trip to the aquarium. Some things I didn’t plan on that just sort of happened, were the huge meteor that passed nearby earlier in 2018 or the multitude of natural disasters. Really, I didn’t plan that.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
Bobby Sue started as a minor character, then morphed into a whole lot more. She’s just a sweet southern girl who was a lot of fun to write. I had to do some research to get her accent right and wasn’t sure I had it right until I saw Jason Smith on Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship. Yup. Nailed that one.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
Star Touched was published by a small press. One of the advantages was I got to have a lot of input on the book cover without having to hunt down a cover artist. They handled all the non-creative parts of getting a book out. Getting books on shelves is another story. Most stores will order print copies if requested, but unless I’m going there for a reading or signing, they don’t stock them.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
I tend to be somewhere between a plotter and a pantser. The beginning and end are usually set, but what happens between them evolves as I write. I’m also flexible to what my characters tell me.

What was your favorite book as a child?
I had three favorite books growing up, Julie of the Wolves, My Side of the Mountain, and Island of the Blue Dolphins. All of them have similar themes, kids surviving on their own in the wild. Something about that always touched me. By the way, I also love the musicals Annie and Oliver. Go figure.

What writing project are you currently working on?
I’m working on several projects right now, which is very unusually for me. There is a sequel to Star Touched, a YA fantasy, a Sci-fi fantasy series, an a few short stories. There’s even a story about Fifi – Well, sort of.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
This wasn’t exactly advice as much as inspiration. My college English 101 teacher told the class she wanted everyone to write creatively and wasn’t taking points off for spelling errors. It was the first time I didn’t stress out with words. I got an A on my first assignment. She also made a general request for those of us with “artistic handwriting” to please write every other line.

Want to learn more about A. L. Kaplan and Star Touched? Check out her :
Website & Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Star Touched.

Thanks to author A. L. Kaplan for stopping by. Watch for a post from me on Christmas and an interview with author Dianna Sanchez on December 27. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Jennifer Povey Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Jennifer R. Povey. Born in Nottingham, England, Jennifer R. Povey now lives in Northern Virginia, where she writes everything from heroic fantasy to stories for “Analog.” She is currently working on an urban fantasy series of which the most recent volume, Fallen Day (Lost Guardians Book Four), was released in the summer of 2017. Additionally, she is a regular writer and designer of tabletop RPG supplements for a number of companies. Her interests include horseback riding, Doctor Who and attempting to out-weird her various friends and professional colleagues.

Jennifer Povey Book Jennifer’s latest book, Risen Day, is a great read for those who enjoy urban fantasy. A quick summary for my readers: After saving the city of London from a demon trying to make it his own personal kingdom, Anna McKenzie, Victor Prince and their friends must now save the world…from a similar, but far greater threat. One which has already removed many of Earth’s defenses.

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

This is the fourth (and last) in a series that was essentially an answer to the craze for YA vampire romantic fantasy…remember that? It evolved into something a little different. I hadn’t planned on writing an actual romance.

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

Rahel Chudasama. She’s just so much fun to write! I love her powers, and now I kind of regret that I didn’t introduce her until Book Three.

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

Self published. The advantage is keeping control and not having to worry about a publisher going bankrupt or deciding your series sold so badly that it isn’t worth publishing the rest. Disadvantage is having to pay for everything.

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

Definitely a gardener, although I prefer “discovery writer.” I usually know what the ending is going to be. Usually.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I don’t do favorite questions! 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is the book that got me into science fiction though…and for fantasy, yes, The Hobbit. What? I’m a forty something Brit.

What writing project are you currently working on?

About to start a new science fiction novel, working title, The Veteran –although I know that’s going to change. I also have another book I’ll be publishing in the new year.

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

Not to follow writing advice slavishly. The rules are useful, but you need to learn how to break them.

Want to learn more about Jennifer R. Povey and Risen Day? Check out her :
Website, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Risen Day.

Thanks to author Jennifer R. Povey for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Tanya Lisle on December 13. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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DawnVogel-pic Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Dawn Vogel. Dawn’s academic background is in history, so it’s not surprising that much of her fiction is set in earlier times. By day, she edits reports for historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business, co-edits Mad Scientist Journal, and tries to find time for writing. She is a member of Broad Universe, SFWA, and Codex Writers. Her steampunk series, Brass and Glass, is being published by Razorgirl Press. She lives in Seattle with her husband, author Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats.

Dawn’s latest book, Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map, is a fun read for those who love adventure. A quick summary for my readers:
dawn vogel book On the hunt for a legendary, cursed map that leads to treasure unimaginable, the crew of The Silent Monsoon, led by the pertinacious Captain Svetlana Tereshchenko, soon discover they aren’t the only ones hunting for riches. But there’s more than gold at stake in this pursuit. The Last Emperor’s Hoard is rumored to contain the Gem of the Seas, a device that gives its owner the power to control the oceans.
Wanted by the Air Fleet and dogged by spectres both real and imagined, Svetlana and her crew will have to call in every favor and pull every string—even if it means stirring up more ghosts—to complete the map before the High Council does. This race will require courage, determination, and sacrifice. Will Svetlana have what it takes to win, or will the map’s curse be too high a price?

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map?
My latest book is a sequel to my first published full-length novel, Brass and Glass: The Cask of Cranglimmering. The original book started life as a short story, but grew into a novel. When my small press editors and I were working through the edits on the first book, they asked if there were more books. I hadn’t outlined or planned the other books, but I knew the story wasn’t done yet. So I said yes, I thought I could get a trilogy out of this idea. So in many ways, the second book directly stemmed from my editors loving the first book. The first book also helped to dictate what needed to happen next–the protagonists were in search of a map, and they needed to find all of the pieces. Midway through, they discovered that perhaps the map was more than they’d bargained for, being called the “long-cursed” map and all.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
Of course I adore my protagonist, Captain Svetlana Tereshchenko, but I have a lot of fun writing Indigo, the ship’s mechanic. He’s a teenage boy who grew up in a culture that was far removed from the predominant culture in the books. So he’s often encountering things for the first time in his life that the other characters just accept as part of reality. He also has an abnormal speech pattern, which is both challenging and rewarding to get just right.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
My book is indie published through Razorgirl Press, which is a small press based out of the Seattle area. Because it’s a small press, the editors are people I interact with directly and regularly—we will get together at a coffee shop or other locations to work on edits or discuss plans for the book. Because the cover art and editing are done in house, I feel like I get a lot of input into those things, which I might not have as much if I were traditionally published. The downside, of course, is that the marketing also falls on our shoulders, so it’s not as easy to publicize the book as it would be if I was with a traditional press that has a team for marketing and publicity.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
I started out as a pantser, but I quickly found that path was not a good fit for me. I started planning out all of my books, and I found I was much more productive that way. That isn’t to say that I never wander off down a garden path while writing, and some of those diversions have wound up being fantastic additions to my plans. But I need at least the bare bones of a structure to keep me on track and not wandering off into the woods beyond the garden.

What was your favorite book as a child?
The one I most remember reading (again and again and again) was The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts. One of my teachers in grade school had this book in her classroom library, and I checked it out and read it so many times that at the end of the school year, she gifted it to me. The main thing I remember about the plot as an adult was that the main character had telekinesis, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. I’ve gotten a new copy of the book recently, but I haven’t managed to re-read it since re-acquiring it!

What writing project are you currently working on?
The third book in the Brass and Glass series is in my editors’ hands, so I’ll be working on edits for that in the near future. But in addition to the countless short stories that I’m currently working on, I’m editing the first draft of another novel, this one a post-apocalyptic novel about recovering from past traumas and finding a new place to belong.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
Neil Gaiman once said: “You will learn more from a glorious failure than ever you will from something that you never finished.” I took that advice to heart and try to finish all of the stories that I start!

Want to learn more about Dawn Vogel and Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map? Check out her :  Website & Blog,   Facebook Page,
Twitter,   or Amazon Author page.   Or better yet, purchase a copy of Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map. 

Thanks to author Dawn Vogel for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Kathryn Sullivan on December 6th.   Happy reading! – Vonnie 

 

 

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I had the pleasure of doing an interview with fellow speculative writers and friends, Paul Lagasse and Gary Lester on the last day of Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s Balticon 49 for the audio show: Channel 37 – Serial Science Fiction from the Distant Reaches of UHF.

Alas, the only place to record the conversation was in the foyer of the hotel lobby – so you will hear people walking by and automatic doors whooshing open and close. Nevertheless, I hope you’ll turn up the volume and enjoy:

Channel 37 Audio Invasion Episode 13 featuring Vonnie Winslow Crist.

Thanks, Paul and Gary. Though exhausted after a busy weekend at Balticon, I hope I make sense and give your listeners (and my readers) something to think about.

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I went through these 50 often mispronounced words, and found that I was guilty of a couple of them. (But I will not confess to which ones!) Who cares? – you might ask.

I suspect quite a few people will notice if you don’t pronounce a word correctly. People like a job interviewer, a reviewer, a potential client, an agent, a librarian at a library branch where you’d like to speak, an audience, a classroom full of kids, or a radio, television, or Skype interviewer.

How many of the 50 do you mispronounce?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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I’ve always found the number 13 to be lucky. I know many of the people reading this post will disagree, whether they suffer from Triskadekaphobia (fear of the number 13) or not.

Maybe it’s because my daughter was born on the 13th of the month – though I liked #13 long before then. Perhaps it’s because a baker’s dozen gives the buyer one extra donut to eat. As a writer, maybe it’s because there are 26 letters in the alphabet (2 times 13). Or perhaps it’s simply because the number 13 is unloved by others.

Skean copy Two thousand and thirteen has been a good year so far in my writing life. My fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean, was published by Mockingbird Lane Press, and a collection of speculative stories, Owl Light, is due out from Cold Moon Press within a year. Plus I’ve gotten to interact with my readers at the Bel Air Authors Day (Maryland, USA), Balticon (SF/F con), the Black-Eyed Susan Book Celebration at the Towson Library (Maryland, USA), a Harford Writers Group meeting, and I’m due to speak at several other events including meetings of various branches of the Maryland Writers Association.

And June 13th has turned out to be a good day, too. I have a guest post up on writer Anne E. Johnson’s Jester Harley’s Manuscript Page: http://anneejohnson.blogspot.com/2013/06/vonnie-winslow-crist-on-using-fact-in.html I talk about using fact as the beginning place for writing fiction. You can read about several of the facts that were incorporated in The Enchanted Skean.

I also have a new interview up on Lindsay and Jane’s Views and Reviews: http://lindsayandjaneviewsandreviews.blogspot.com/2013/06/interview-with-vonnie-winslow-crist.html I really appreciated the thoughtful questions posed by Romina, the interviewer, and I hope my answers will prove to be interesting to readers. And thanks to Romina for reviewing The Enchanted Skean. A brief excerpt of her review: “The book evolves around a mystical world that in such a well-written descriptive is easy for the reader to imagine. The characters are fun and defined well in the story…This is a book full of creatures of folklore and…fantastical moments that will appeal to a…reader with a passion for this genre.”

Happy June 13th everyone – and in my next post I’ll tell you about one of my fears and how I was forced to confront it on May 31, 2013.

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