Monday, May 28, 2012

Interview with the fun and amazing author, Cheree Alsop





Author Biography:  Cheree Alsop is the mother of a beautiful, talented daughter and two amazing twin sons who fill every day with light and laughter.  She married her best friend, Michael, who changes lives each day in his Chiropractic clinic.  Cheree is currently working as a free-lance writer and mother.  She enjoys reading, riding her Ninja motorcycle on warm nights, and rocking her twins while planning her next book.  She is also an aspiring drummer and bass player for her husband’s garage band.

Cheree and Michael live in Utah where they rock out, enjoy the outdoors, plan great adventures, and never stop dreaming.

Please check out Cheree’s other books at www.chereealsop.com


Deirdra: When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Cheree:  The first book I ever wrote was a Western hand-written in a notebook that I finished when I was fifteen.  Writing it showed me the exhilarating experience of developing my own worlds and characters.


Deirdra: What books have most influenced your life?
Cheree: My favorite books are The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  It’s a broad range of styles and themes, but what I cherish the most from each of these authors is the way they write a character so believably you feel that by the end of the story you know them and could meet them on the street.  I love watching a character develop and grow through the trials in their stories.  I also love the detail of the world the characters live in, and the ability to see it differently through each of their eyes.  I love to read, and I feel I learn something from each author.  Everyone has a different style and way of capturing their world, and I love to get immersed in those worlds.  It’s something I hope readers can relate to in my stories as well, the ability to escape into a different world we might otherwise not have the chance to experience.


Deirdra:  What is your writing schedule like?
Cheree:  I have twin two-year-old boys and a nine-year-old daughter, and so I write whenever I’m not chasing them around the house, making meals, intervening to prevent disasters, brushing curly blond hair,  running to acting class, participating in tickle tortures, coloring, or participating in adventures.  This leaves a few minutes a day (hopefully) where I have a chance to get my thoughts in order and crank out some chapters.  Luckily, it also gives me plenty of time to plan what I want to write, so it generally goes pretty smoothly. 


Deirdra:  Can you tell us a little about your book, Azure.
Cheree: My newest novel is Azure, book five of the Silver Series.  The Silver Series is about teenage werewolves trying to survive in today’s world.  I’ve always been intrigued with wolves and the legends associated with werewolves.  The thought of the dangers and challenges of being a werewolf along with the trials and joys so close to the surface in teenage life drew the stories to my mind as fast as I could write them.  In book five, Azure is about Vance who saves a human girl from his werewolf pack despite the danger her presence brings.  In wolf packs, wolves choose one mate for life.  The devotion they show to their mate and pack is selfless and self-sacrificing.  I felt that the same things would apply to werewolves; Vance is torn between protecting the werewolves and choosing the ‘safe’ path, or following his heart despite the risk.  Here’s the book blurb:

Azure, the fifth book of the Silver Series, is about an alpha werewolf who rescues a human from the vengeful grasp of his pack. Nora is the only person who is not afraid of Vance’s size or strength, and in return she gains his respect. When Vance is pushed to the edge of survival, his heart is torn between loving Nora and a werewolf who befriends him with the kindness that is greatly lacking in his life.
Azure is a story of strength beyond the endurance of the body. In a world turned upside down by violence, the choice between what the heart wants and the safest solution can be the most important decision of all.


Deirdra:  What do you hope readers will get from your books? 
Cheree:  Escape, adventure, scenes that make their heart race and bring a smile to their faces.  I love to read stories that sweep me away and keep me turning the page despite the fact that I am reading in the wee hours of the morning with a new day not too far away.  I love finishing a book feeling as though I know the characters and I am proud of what they’ve learned and accomplished.  If readers can have the same feelings when they’ve finished one of my books, then I’ve done my best. 


Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Cheree:  Quiet will never describe my home.  It is rambunctious, noisy, and filled with laughter.  If it is quiet, then something’s wrong.  I usually write while my boys are taking their naps, roughhousing, or playing in the backyard.  I think if it was quiet I don’t know what I’d do with myself.




Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Author:  I create playlists that inspire me.  Music is so powerful.  It can reach every emotion with a few simple notes.  When I prepare to write a new book, I know the direction it will take and hopefully where the characters will end up, so I create a playlist that captures the emotions I want to write.  I listen to the playlist over and over to keep me inspired and remind me of my goals when I started writing the book.  All of my playlists for my books are listed on my website.




Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Author:  My husband has been the biggest supporter of my writing.  He reads every draft and helps me fine-tune the rough spots.  Without him, there are several key scenes that wouldn’t exist.  I am so grateful for his support, his patience, and his imagination.  He truly is the best content editor a wife could ask for!


Deirdra:  What are you working on now?
Cheree: The next book I’m working on is Mist, the second book of Shadows.  I plan to release it in late July/early August.  I also have a shifter novel that will be coming out soon, as well as a medieval young adult fantasy that’s currently being edited. 

Deirdra:  What is the best thing about being an author?
Cheree:  The unlimited possibilities.  I love being able to fly, to fight demons and ride dragons, to phase into a wolf or use magic just by closing my eyes and saying ‘what if?’  Every world and life you can imagine exists in that special place where stories come together.  It is the best job in the world because I can be anything I want to be, and do anything I want to do.

Deirdra:  What are your goals as an author for the next three years?
Author:  I am an independent author, and as such my reach is limited to the internet, blogs, and word of mouth.  I have several books that I feel would do well with a publisher and I plan to send them out when the time is right.  Until then, I will continue to self-publish a book hopefully every month or two.  I love to write and I have so many ideas and stories just waiting to be fleshed out.  The books will keep coming! 

Deirdra:  Where is your favorite place to write?
Cheree:  I sit on the floor in my bedroom or in the playroom to write while my kids play.  If they’re outside, I sit on the porch or on one of our poor lawn chairs (squirrels decided the stuffing would be better in their nests than in the chairs).  I just love to write wherever my kids are.  I can keep an eye on them and help out if they need it, and I can make sure that they are having fun while I write. 

Deirdra: Where can readers go to find your books and order them?
Cheree:  Links to purchase my books can be found at my website: www.chereealsop.com

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Cheree:  I really appreciate all of the support and positive feedback I’ve received since going the self-publishing route.  It’s not an easy path, but it’s rewarding and exciting to see where my books are going.  Thank you everyone for your kind words.  Keep reading! 


Thank you so much, Cheree! It’s a real honor to get your insights.
 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Interview with Author Diony George




I Diony, Welcome to A Story Book World. Can you tell us a little about your book, Imperfectly Beautiful

 At 1:30 am, in New York City, Regan Wright is ripped out of a sound sleep with a jolt - her heart thuds in her ears and her face feels flushed. Straining to hear anything out of the ordinary, she fumbles to turn on the bedside lamp. Nothing seems out of place. Suddenly her stomach twists in knots - it's her identical twin, Rebecca. Something is terribly wrong...

Though twins, Rebecca and Regan couldn't be more different. 

Independent and outspoken, Regan chose a high-profile career as a fashion designer in New York City. Despite her hard-earned success, Regan’s become disillusioned by the glamour and the glitz. She’s tired of coming home to a lonely penthouse apartment welcomed only by her cat and has all but given up on ever finding “Mr. Right.”

Steady and reliable, Rebecca chose to be a wife and stay-at-home mom. From the very first moment she met James Conrad—tall and muscular with eyes as blue as a cloudless sky—she was captivated. Married and four children later, Rebecca’s life is not what she expected. Her marriage has lost its shine and her sweet babies have become challenging and often unappreciative children. 

Both Rebecca and Regan must discover, a higher power has the answers to what matters most, but when a serial killer strikes nearby, and his victims look eerily similar to the twins, will it be too late?

Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Lately, my favorite snack is definitely kettle corn. I buy it at WalMart and keep the bag hidden from my kids so I actually get some when I’m writing.

Deirdra: How do you come up with your character’s names? First I decide what kind of character they are going to be, decide their personality and then I google baby names—there are tons!

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

I hope those who read my books connect emotionally in some way. That they leave the experience feeling they have gained something positive and learned a little more about human nature and themselves.

Deirdra: What is the best complement you could receive from a reader?

The best compliments I have received are that my book(s) made a difference in helping them in their own life situations, and/or it gave them hope and brought them closer to God

Deirdra: What are you working on now?

My next book, A Sisterhood of Strength, will be released on August 14 and is already available for pre-order. I’m currently finishing a non-fiction book on prayer, and I’m also working on another fiction novel.

Deirdra: What is the most difficult thing about being an author? I would have to say the most difficult part of being an author is having my writing criticized. I don’t expect everyone to love what I write, but dedicated authors put their heart and soul into what they write and when a stranger comes along and tears it apart—it isn’t a fun time. But, I will say I have learned to take anything constructive out of what they say and try objectively to use it to improve my craft.

Deirdra: What is the best thing about being an author?

I love words. I love pairing them together to create emotion, understanding and clear mental images that connect and draw in the reader.


Deirdra: Where can readers go to find your books and order them?





Friday, May 18, 2012

The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook



The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook by
Christy Dorrity





Deirdra:  What makes you passionate about writing?
Christy: I love creating something that has never been expressed before.  There’s a great feeling when you can teach a reader a new idea or touch them with emotion.


Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Christy:The 2012 Book Blogger’s Cookbook began as a small pet project and grew into something larger. It’s a fun way to connect with other bloggers and author.


Deirdra: When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Christy:I entered many writing contests as a child and filled pages and pages of notebooks with stories. I assure you that you don’t want to know how my story about the Donner/Reed party ended!


Deirdra: What books have most influenced your life?
Christy:Some of my favorites are To Kill a Mockingbird, Man’s Search for Meaning, A Wrinkle in Time, The Book of Mormon, and Anne of Green Gables.


Deirdra:  What is your writing schedule like?
Christy: I write between 1-3 pm while the older kiddos are in school and my preschoolers nap.


Deirdra: What do you do to relax and unwind?
Christy: I read.:)


Deirdra:  Where do your ideas come from?  How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Christy: If I am passionate about something it will show in my writing. Then I know that others will want to read about it too.


Deirdra:  What do you hope readers will get from your books? 
Christy: There are so many great books out there and book bloggers are a valuable resource for readers. The Book Blogger’s Cookbooks help connect readers to book bloggers.



Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Christy: I listen to John Schmidt.

Deirdra:  Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Christy: I Irish dance competitively, read, cook and spend time with my hubby and five kiddos.



Deirdra:  What are you working on now?
Christy: I am always working on next year’s cookbook.  Besides the cookbook, I am working on a non-fiction book about Irish dance, a chick lit, and a YA urban fantasy.

Deirdra:  Are you planning on self-publishing, finding and agent, going with a small press or other? And why?
Christy: Both.  It depends on the book.  The cookbooks are ebooks by nature. 


Deirdra: Where can readers go to find your books and order them?
Christy: The 2012 Book Blogger’s Cookbook is available on Amazon.




Friday, May 11, 2012

Interview with Graham Parke





Deirdra: Why did you become a writer?

I guess like many authors I just found the act of writing books and stories so much easier than that of _not_ writing them. They basically need to come out and it is much less painful when you let them.

I don’t think many people sit down to make a career choice and come up with ‘author’, much like the number of enthusiasts for a vacancy as torture victim are, I suspect, quite low. In both cases, however, it’s very much a matter of not having much choice about the matter. Most children, when they learn to read and write, develop an immediate immunity to needing to put their ideas to paper. They understand inherently that nothing good is likely to come of it and more healthy pursuits are to be found aplenty. They realize that there is no intrinsic value to a witty turn of phrase or a hearty one-liner.

Authors on the other hand never really evolve past this point. This condition has yet to be recognized by the medical community.

Deirdra: What books have most influenced your life?

I think most authors are influenced almost equally by two different kinds of peers. One being the peers whose writing makes them think; ‘That was nice, but I could have done that so much better.’ The other making them think; ‘Damn, I could never have done that so well.’ It is probably a good idea to read from both categories in a balanced measure.

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

I truly believe that if people will just try my novels, they will like them. But I also believe in aliens (although I’m not sure they believe in me.) 

Deirdra: What are you working on now?

Right now I’m dividing my time over several projects. There are more Gomez books in the works, some stand-alone novels, and some screenplays. Just looking at how often I add a new project and how long the average project takes to complete, you can definitely expect to hear from me again sometime in the next millennium. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012




Cami Checketts is an idealist who dreams of helping children around the world but can barely keep track of her own four boys. Cami loves to read, write, run, and eat Cold Stone ice cream (hence the need to run). She loves making new friends. Contact her on Facebook







Cassidy Christensen is running.
Running from the mercenaries who killed her parents.
Running from a scheming redhead intent on making her life miserable. 
Running from painful memories that sabotage her dreams of happiness.
With two very tempting men competing for her attention, she hopes she’ll finally have someone to run to, but can she trust either of them? When secrets from her past threaten her family, Cassidy decides to stop running and fight for her future.
Buy Now only $3.99 Kindle

To celebrate the release of Dead Running we've coordinated a huge fitness giveaway. Prizes include fitness watches from MIO Global, three months online personal training from Fitcore Fitness, Beginner and Advanced yoga packages from Hugger Mugger, earbuds and armbands from iFrogz, running shoes from Altra Zero Drop, six months membership to Smithfield Recreation, one month membership to Crossfit UAC, Three Lebert Stretch Straps, and an autographed copy of Dead Running. Enter on Fitness for Mom or Cami’s Book Blog.


Deirdra: When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Cami: I wrote my first book at 28 after the birth of my second boy. I was suffering from postpartum depression and taking a lot of naps. My mom told me to write a book (I think to give me something positive to do). I started writing that very day and haven’t had time for a nap since.  


Deirdra:  What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Cami: For me they are very much alive so it makes it easier to introduce them in the book when I’m already friends with them in my head. They are so real to me I once went up to a man at the gym and told him he looked exactly like one of my characters. I expected him to tell me his name was Chris! I recently found out it’s a family joke that some crazy author was fantasizing about this poor guy as one of her characters. That’s a bit embarrassing.


Deirdra:  What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Cami: Ice cream! I have to force myself not to eat it when I write because I’m so obsessed with my characters, I’ll gobble down a huge bowl and not savor one bite.


Deirdra:  Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Cami: My degree is in exercise science. I love to lift weights and train other women. It’s so cool to see them lose weight and feel and look better. I also love to be outside with my boys: hiking, biking, swimming, and pretending I can play team sports (I’m hopelessly uncoordinated).


Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Cami: This is tough! I read so many wonderful authors as a teenager and they really molded me into the kind of writer I wanted to be: Rachel Ann Nunes, Richard Paul Evans, Clive Cussler, Jennie Hansen, N.C. Allen, Alexandre Dumas, and many more. The greatest difference to improving my writing and making it possible for me to be where I am is my critique group: Amber Argyle, Daniel Coleman, Janet Jensen, JoLynne Lyon, and Carole Thayne Warburton.  Amazing people who push me to greater heights and inspire me.

Deirdra:  What is the most difficult thing about being an author?
Cami: Priorities. With four little boys and a wonderful husband I have to be very careful not to miss out on time I could be spending with them. It’s easy to become obsessed with my current work-in-progress or get overwhelmed with marketing and promotion. I have to set times for writing and then actually adhere to them!

Deirdra:  What is the best thing about being an author?
Cami: Making new friends – real live people who I get to meet when I do booksignings, speaking engagements, or online, and my make-believe friends who I meet in my head as I write each novel.


Deirdra:  What is the best complement you could receive from a reader?

Cami: I love it when a reader says she read my book in a day or stayed up until two a.m. Nothing is more wonderful than a reader who can’t put your book down. I really appreciate readers taking the time to read my books. It is amazing how kind and complimentary people are.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Interview with GG Vandagriff



 GG Vandagriff


Deirdra:  What is your writing and educational background?
GG: I have published eleven books in a variety of genres with traditional publishing houses over the last twenty years. This body of work includes The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War, the Whitney Award Winner for Best Historical Novel of 2009, a mystery series, two non-fiction books, two suspense novels, and one women’s fiction. In 2011, I went Indie, and have published the critically acclaimed women’s fiction, The Only Way to Paradise, and just last month, my first Regency romance: The Duke’s Undoing which has received five 5-star reviews on Amazon. I have also republished all my old novels, except two, which will be republished as soon as I get the return of rights from my publisher. I love being an Indie author!

I studied writing at Stanford University where I received my B.A. I also have a Master’s Degree from George Washington University.

Deirdra:  What makes you passionate about writing?
GG: I have written my whole life and cannot imagine life without some alternative existence taking place. I started as a young child, trying to escape from an unhappy home. My writing has always been a vital part of my mental health. I am a very passionate person (being bi-polar) with a penchant for drama. My real life is quite ordinary, so I live by proxy through my characters. I really love creating different realities, peopling them with complex characters, and seeing what happens. Kind of like a chemistry experiment. Sometimes I am very surprised by what happens. I love to go deeply into their consciousness, finding surprise after surprise. In the Regency I am writing now, I was thoroughly delighted to realize my heroine was an oil painter who carried a hopeless passion for an Italian man she met when visiting Italy with her father. Most of my stories have a twist at the end as I pull one last rabbit out of the hat.


Deirdra: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
GG: My greatest desire has always been to help people who are suffering through the same trials of abuse and mental illness that I have suffered. I neglected to mention above that I have a twice-monthly column in Meridian magazine. Through that, and through my book Deliverance from Depression, I have been able to reach people all over the world and offer them hope through an understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Almost every book that I have written has the theme of redemption. Even The Duke’s Undoing! (All good Regencies have the redemption of a rogue!) Being able to help people and make them think about their lives in a more constructive way has been very fulfilling.

Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book, The Duke’s Undoing?
GG: The duke of Ruisdell has just returned wounded from the Napoleonic wars. He is weary, cynical, and very bored. Known as the worst rake in England, he finds he has no interest in upholding that distinction, when his friend, the Marquis of Somerset, proposes a bet: "Five thousand guineas says that seducing Miss Elise Edwards will cure your ennui." Because his friend has just lost a packet to him, he agrees that the bet be posted in White's famous Betting Book.
The following day, while walking in Green Park, he spies a mysterious young woman, veiled, and obviously grieving. A disembodied voice, sounding strangely like that of his late adjutant, informs him, "The jig is up. That is the girl you are going to marry!" He scoffs, but is nevertheless intrigued by something about the slight figure. He even sketches her and asks if he can be of assistance to her. She declines his offer kindly.
At the opera that evening, he is captivated by a beauty across the Opera Hall. He hears the same voice, saying the same thing. The marquis informs him that the woman in question is Miss Elise Edwards. When he meets her, he recognizes her voice as that of the woman in the park. Now she is surrounded by a surfeit of ex-fiance's, one of them dangerously unbalanced. Ruisdell discovers an actual bond between them which renders him honor bound to protect her.
Thus begins a train of unstoppable events--dangerous, humorous, devilish, and amorous--that carry his life along at such a pace that the duke soon knows not whether he is on his head or his heels. And then there is that bet . . .
Enjoy this delicious romance that will carry you back to the Regency period in English history, where manners were dictated by strict rules of fashion. It is the Jane Austen era, populated by gentlemen and ladies of leisure. These books are best enjoyed with a box of chocolates, and are guaranteed to enliven any boredom (ennui) that you may be experiencing!

Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
GG: I have tried and tried to outline, but for the most part, my stories evolve through the characters I create. If I outline, the story always ends up being completely different than my outline. I guess I am what is called a “Discovery Writer.” I “write into” my characters, and when their personalities are formed, I go back and cut out the backstory completely, and rewrite, starting with the conflict, weaving the backstory in as I go. This takes a lot of time, but it is never wasted. I am not a fast writer. With one disastrous exception, I never let go of a work until I feel it is fully actualized. The great thing about being an Indie writer is that there are no deadlines!


Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
GG: Whenever this happens, I always know that I must go deeper into my characters. Plot complications will always arise when I do this. If I am having trouble, if the story isn’t pouring out of me, it is always because my characters are too shallow.



Deirdra:  What do you hope readers will get from your books?
GG: A sense that living righteously, doing your best to overcome challenges and opposition, makes for a productive life. No life is ideal. But the way my characters deal with their problems always makes them triumphant in their own small sphere. Also, real love redeems. Always.


Deirdra:  Where is your favorite place to write?
GG: My favorite place to write is a small cafĂ© in Florence on the corner of Via Poliziano called Robiglio’s. I can sit there and listen the ebb and flow of all the passionate Italian conversations around me, look out on the Old City, eat a fantastic pastry or sandwich, and pound away on my laptop. The Renaissance, which began in Florence, is a terrific inspiration to me. I have spent a great deal of time in that city. (It is the setting for The Only Way to Paradise). Florence is empowering to me. It makes me feel that anything is possible. I try to go once a year.


Deirdra: Where can readers go to find your books and order them?
My books are all available on Amazon.com and BN.com. They are available in e-book format for the Kindle or the Nook, and also in paperback. You can browse and read about my writing life on: http://ggvandagriff.com, http://ggvandagriff.com/blog, my Amazon author page, my Goodreads author page, and my Facebook Author Page (GG Vandagriff-Author). You can also sign up to receive my monthly newlestter on my website.