Category Archives: Author Friends

Interview With Pauline Baird Jones

Author Spotlight with Pauline Baird Jones

Thank you so much for spotlighting me today!

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write?
My dad used to tell about a neighbor who got married when he was fourteen. He’d say, “I’ve been married as long as I can recollect.”

While I haven’t been writing quite that long, it often feels like I’ve been writing longer than I can recollect (at least some days).

But you asked about me. Let’s see, the most interesting thing about me (IMHO) is that I was born the same year as Godzilla. He doesn’t find that as cool as I do, but still, only all the other people born that year can say the same thing. But no one else.

“Officially” I tell people that I’ve published eighteen (or possibly nineteen – I’m not great with numbers) novels.

I like to wander among the genres, but they all have:
1. Peril
2. Romance
3. A sense of humor (at least MY sense of humor)

What inspired you to write your first book?
Okay, this is a bit embarrassing. I was watching the FIRST Gulf War, way back in the early 90’s when we were all still impressed by smart bombs and the novelty of watching our first, televised war. It’s hard to explain what it was like back then. That’s all anyone talked about, and we were all armchair generals with our favorite “SCUD stud,” (go on, Google that).

And I went, “What if… and wow, wouldn’t it be interesting if…”

And Pig in a Park (now called The Spy Who Kissed Me), exploded inside my head. I wrote feverishly for two months and at the end, has this monster manuscript that not only made agents and editors both want—and reject it because it was written in the forbidden first person.

I was told it would never get published, but it did, in 1998. It won some fun kudos, despite its “sins,” including a Dorothy Parker Award. And I still get fan mail (and requests for sequel).

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration, like lightning, strikes when and where it will. When it hits, ideas explode inside my head, but they are…shy. They have to be lured into becoming a full-fledged novel. So I don’t make eye contact with them until they start kicking me in the mental shins.

Idea lightning has struck me in my dreams, while watching movies, reading books, from news stories, while trying not to have ideas (such as when I’m writing another book), pretty much anytime, anywhere.

What I find interesting is that I can be watching a show or movie, and I’ll get struck with an idea that has no relation at all to what I’m watching. I think…it’s an emotion that triggers it, maybe. But I don’t really know. It’s pretty messy inside my head.

Where/When do you do the most of your writing?
I do my writing *thinking* everywhere (which can sometimes be embarrassing when I lose touch with the real world), but I do the bulk of putting words on paper at my desk. I have tried writing in coffee shops and such, and I will when needs must, but I prefer the quiet of my office. Yes, I am hermit.

What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment?
I am most proud of my wonderful children. That they have grown up to be such amazing adults, makes me beam with pride. And I’m thrilled to be a grandma! If you stop by my blog, you’ll find out that my #GrandmaProject takes almost as much time as being an author. Lol

As an author, I’m most proud of taking control of my publishing myself. And the fact that I haven’t given up. LOL

What series/book did you write that has the biggest following?
I actually have two series that are neck-and-neck for most sales. Lonesome Lawmen is a romantic suspense series that I wrote after I finished Pig in a Park. And my science fiction romance Project Enterprise series, well, I wrote that against the advice of one of my two agents. Books in both series won me some cool awards, but it does make it hard to figure out which direction to focus. haha

Who has influenced your writing the most?
There are several authors I discovered as I was growing up, but probably the one who influenced me the most was Mary Stewart. From her I learned about creating great characters and how to ramp up the action to a big finish. I still love her books and reread them when I need a comfort read.

Do you have a favorite author?
I could never pick just one! So I will say, in addition to Mary Stewart, an early favorite was Elizabeth Cadell (her estate is finally in process of releasing her books into digital!) and a new favorite (besides the amazing S.E. Smith – that goes without saying, right?) is Veronica Scott. She writes the kind of high octane adventure romance I like to read.

Is there anything that you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Starting. Getting through the middle. Finishing. Finding readers…other than that, writing is easy.

Are the experiences of your characters based on any of your own or people that you know?

In Pig in a Park aka The Spy Who Kissed Me, there is a spit rainbow kiss that comes from someone’s experience, but I promised I’d never tell. lol

Do you have any advice for other authors?
Oh dear, I always have advice, but I never know if it’s good advice. I had such a quirky publishing adventure, more off-road than on, so I always tell authors to dream big, and never let anyone tell you how to navigate this crazy business IF it feels wrong to you. Follow your heart, follow your gut, follow your dreams.

Is there a particular niche or direction you would like to expand your writing portfolio into?
I would like to be amazingly famous. LOL Seriously, because I am independently published, I am free to follow my muse in weird and wonderful directions.

Describe your latest WIP
I did mention that I’m torn in two directions right? So I’m currently working on two books, one a romantic mystery in my Big Uneasy series and the other a science fiction romance that is a reboot of my Project Enterprise series. Both of them are baby ideas, but I will say, I’m loving finding out what is happening in both of them (and getting a twitch in one eye because of them).

Pauline, you recently joined with me and seven other authors to release the Pets in Space anthology. This was such a fun project and I couldn’t not ask you a couple of questions about pets and space travel.

Describe your relationship with your pets? Who is the boss? Is there a pet you wished you had but didn’t?
Basically, my relationship with my pets has always been: they are in charge. I’ve spent most of my life beneath the cat’s paw. But…for my submission, I have received great snuggles and much comfort during hard times.

I will admit I never thought I’d be tempted by anything but a cat/kitten, but I fear to make eye contact with puppies and…when I did the research for the bearded dragon in Pets in Space…I wish I’d had one when we lived in bug-infested New Orleans. LOL

If you were to go into space which pet (past/future) would you take with you?
I would definitely take the bearded dragon with me into space. None of the cats that ever owned me would GO into space with me. And if they did, they would make me pay for it. Oh, the power of the annoyed pet Look.

You can download Pets in Space here: 
Amazon
iBooks
B&N
Kobo
Google Play
ARe

How can readers reach you?
Website: http://www.paulinebjones.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPaulineBairdJones
Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulinebjones
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/247227.Pauline_Baird_Jones
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Pauline-Baird-Jones/e/B000APFS0M/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/pauline-baird-jones

Thanks again for spotlighting me. I had a lot of fun answering the questions.

Perilously yours,
Pauline

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Interview With PJ Ochlan

Author Spotlight with PJ Ochlan

PJ is the narrator for Ha’ven’s Song: Curizan Warrior Book 1

To listen to a sample click here: Ha’ven’s Song: Curizan Warrior Book 1

P.J. Ochlan is an Audie-nominated and multiple Earphones Award- winning narrator of over 200 audiobooks. His acting career spans more than 30 years and has also included Broadway, the NY Shakespeare Festival under Joseph Papp, critically acclaimed feature films and television series regular roles. Along the way he’s worked with countless icons including Jodie Foster, Clint Eastwood, Robin Williams, Al Pacino and Garry Marshall.

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I’ve been an actor for over 30 years and that’s always included a fair amount of voiceover work. But even though I’d been interested in the idea of audiobook narration for a long time, I didn’t get into it until about 5 years ago. A lot of my work has always included character voices and accents, so a gig like narration where you get to play the entire cast seemed like a great fit. I was doing a Shakespeare production in L.A. and a castmate who was a narrator agreed it would be right up my alley, so she introduced me to a leading audiobook producer who came to see the show. I played multiple characters in the play, and at one point I spoke seven different languages in rapid fire – so that made an impression. I later auditioned for the producer, and now, 200+ audiobooks later, I guess you can say the rest is history 🙂 I’m often asked what audiobooks mean to me. I’ve had a lot of “big breaks” in my career that each could have easily become the one that changed everything, but nevertheless had me hitting the pavement afterward hustling for the next one. It wasn’t until audiobook narration that I got to be a working actor pretty much every day that I want to be. That means everything.

I love YA, fantasy/sci-fi, thrillers, and obviously romance 😉 But I’d say even more important than genre for me is perspective. I’m partial to first-person narratives or third-person with clear character POVs (as with Ha’ven’s Song). I use those opportunities to really connect with the characters and bring their personalities and emotional states to the narrative and not just the dialogue. That way, even a third-person narrative doesn’t feel like some separate entity that’s somehow detached from the story. As I’ve grown as a narrator, I’ve found this helps to create a much more immersive listening experience.

As with any acting job, I try to tap into who the characters are as people. While I specialize in character voices and accents, I look at those as technical flourishes that help to enhance a character, but shouldn’t dictate or define him/her. Even when I teach those skills I make clear that rooting characters in reality as actual human beings and not caricatures trumps what tricks we use to make them sound different. Of course this is easier said than done. It’s something I remind myself of constantly and try to improve with every book I narrate.

The professional standard has been what we call “two to one,” meaning it typically takes two hours to complete one “finished hour” of audio. So a 10-hour book takes about 20 hours in the booth to record. But that’s now considered fast as the industry has moved toward narrators self-directing and self-engineering (even for many of the top publishers). That also doesn’t include pre-production book prep or post-production such as proofing, editing and mastering, which can all add up to several more hours per finished hour. As for equipment, I have a professional recording booth in my home office along with software, a high-quality microphone and other hardware odds and ends.

I’m fortunate to have a lot of vocal endurance, which is key for this particular island on planet voiceover. I don’t have any vocal health rituals per se, but I think a life of on-the-job training in multiple acting disciplines has definitely helped. And it’s not just my voice, but my stomach I have to take care of too. I watch what and how much I eat so I don’t end up with constant annoying rumbles in the booth.

Ok, some factoids… I live with my author wife, our three rescue dogs and two cats up in the Santa Monica Mountains in L.A.; I used to be a sommelier and run a winery with vineyards in Napa and New Zealand; I speak five languages including Mandarin; I sit in a box all day getting paid to tell stories.

Be my friend at facebook.com/pjochlan, @pjochlan on the bird thing, and see my snazzy pix including the weekly #WellyWednesday shot of my dog Wellington on Instagram @pjochlan.

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Interview With Cara Bristol

Author Spotlight with Cara Bristol

Cara Bristol writes wonderful cyborg sci-fi romances (amongst other books) and is one of my co-authors in the upcoming Pets in Space 2 anthology. Cara and I sat down for a chat about all things cyborgs and writing:
Q.  Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write?
A.  I’ve written in one form or another all my life, but being an author is my dream job. There isn’t anything in the whole world I would rather do. I had my first erotic romance published in 2009, and since then I’ve written/published twenty-seven books. I’ve been writing erotic science fiction romance for a while, but I got my start with spanking romance. Before I became an author, I worked in public relations and journalism. My husband and I live in Missouri, USA. When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading and traveling. My secret vice is watching reality TV shows. I’m a fan of Survivor and the Real Housewives.
Q.  What inspired you to write your first book?
A.  I’m a life-long romance reader, and I’ve always had an active imagination. I wrote my first erotic romance solely for personal amusement—I was playing, not intending to do anything with it, but when I finished it, I submitted it to a publisher, it was accepted, and the rest is history!
Q.  You’ve been writing about cyborgs. What inspired that?
A.  Eve Langlais’s “More Than Machines” series inspired me. I fell in love with her cyborgs and had to create my own. To me, cyborgs represent the perfect alpha hero: powerful, strong, muscular, smart, yet there is something vulnerable about them, too. My cyborgs belong to a covert paramilitary force called Cyber Operations — Cy-Ops for short. They fight against terrorism in the galaxy. The Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series motto is: “Saving the girl and the galaxy one mission at a time.” Each book in the series is standalone. Four have been published; two more are planned.
Q.  Where/When do you do the most of your writing?
A.  I have my own office with a nice window that overlooks a wooded area. I often see squirrels, rabbits, and deer outside. I’m usually at the computer by 5:30 a.m., and I work until 4 p.m. (with breaks for exercise, showering & lunch). About half my time is devoted to writing, the other half to non-writing publishing tasks. When I’m working on a first draft, writing takes priority over everything else. I set daily word count goals and don’t quit until I reach it.
Q.  What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment?
A.  Hitting the USA Today Bestseller list was really cool, but in all honesty I feel like my biggest accomplishment is that I earn a living through writing. Many aspiring writers and published authors haven’t been able to break out of hobby mode. I feel very fortunate to earn my living doing what I love.
Q.  What series/book did you write that has the biggest following?
A.  Breeder, the first book of the Breeder science fiction romance series, had the greatest number of sales of any book I’ve ever written, but the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series about cyborgs is picking up steam. It may surpass Breeder!

Stranded with the Cyborg: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015NJUGT2

Q.  Describe your latest WIP.
A.  The working title of my WIP is “Married to the Cyborg,” and it is a spin-off from Stranded with the Cyborg, the first Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance. I’m writing it as a thank you gift for my newsletter subscribers. It will not be published anywhere, but will be given to subscribers for free. They’ll get to see what happened to the hero and heroine after their book ended. You don’t have to be familiar with the series to enjoy Married to the Cyborg, but if you have read the series, you’ll probably like seeing what the characters are up to now. Anyone who subscribes to my newsletter will be able to download it for free.

Q.  How can readers reach you?
A.  Readers can reach me at:
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Interview With Severine Wolfe

Author Spotlight with Severine Wolfe

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write?
I have been seriously writing for the past two and a half years. I already have 5 books out there. I write Paranormal Romance and New Adult Urban Fantasy.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My sister, Lisa. We brainstormed a tale driving from Houston to El Paso one night when the speed limit was still 55 MPH on I-10. I’ve got the story half-written down and by God, one day I will dust it off and publish it.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Don’t laugh, but serious scientific papers on the cosmos and astrophysics. I know there will be some scientists out there grinding their teeth over this, but I read a paper on matter dispersal along the Cosmic Microwave Background and I think, what if a tesseract perfectly explains that? And then my brain thinks of a story to tell to illustrate that, and being a lover of romance, I work that angle in. I created heresy by suggesting that so-called “Dark Matter” was, in fact, magic.

Where/When do you do the most of your writing?
I do most of my writing heinously early in the day. I get my husband and sons off to work, and then I write in between answering e-mails and reading my newsfeeds. I work better multi-tasking. However, when I am involved in a scene in my book I ignore the world until it’s hammered out. It explains why the pizza delivery guy in our very small town can sleep drive to my house.

What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment?
I never did much with the field I studied in college. I come from a long line of people who get degrees and never use them. I would have to say that what I am most proud of is raising four children who people don’t hate to be around. My children are all grown now and I am so proud of them for all they have done. I’ve raised human beings other people don’t mind being around. In this day and age, that’s an accomplishment.

What series/book did you write that has the biggest following?
Definitely my Demonworld series. It has the most books.

Who has influenced your writing the most?
Jane Austen. Don’t laugh, even though I am. I love her character building and the illustration of how utterly reserved people were back at the beginning of the 19th Century. It was also the first non-modern English author I could read and understand. Also, Johanna Lindsay. She had a huge influence on my love or romance.

Do you have a favorite author?
Several in fact. Ayn Rand is my first and foremost. But that’s philosophy! I love everything you write along with Eve Langlais, Kat Richardson, and Jennifer Estep (absolutely nuts for her Elemental Assassin books).

Is there anything that you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Keeping the little things that readers notice straight. Before I write any book I create a character bible. When you write a series, that’s easy, you just basically add on to what you started out with. Keeping everyone hair/eye color straight, their quirks, idiosyncrasies, that is difficult. Think about your circle of best friends, and think about how you would describe them to a police sketch artist. It’s not easy.

Are the experiences of your characters based on any of your own or people that you know?
I think we all put things we observe and know about other people into our characters because it is what we know. I admit to being a bit of a Miss Marple (I really want to be Phryne Fisher but could never pull off her wardrobe). As a trained scientist I am a great observer. Much of my time in public is spent observing, then trying to come up with a story of why a person did a particular thing. The closes I can come to it is a video I once saw of a man coming upon two people and making up a story based on their actions at that moment. It was hilarious, but very apt for how my brain works.

Do you have any advice for other authors?
Write every single day. It doesn’t matter if it’s your magnum opus or a grocery list. I keep a blog just for those moments when I either need to vent, or get some words out so I can think clearly. I got that advice from Leonard Piekoff and it’s not steered me wrong yet. Enough of our professional work is slap dash, so why should this be any different, just write something.

Is there a particular niche or direction you would like to expand your writing portfolio into?
My husband would love it if I moved to Sci-Fi or Mech-Warriors, then he might actually read my books. I’m so new at this that it’s hard to think beyond the current story line or arc. I’ve written books and papers on gemstones and politics and philosophy, and now I am writing fiction. I am thinking of writing a book about my dogs, for children. That’s the only time I’ve seriously thought about “branching out”.

Describe your latest WIP
I am writing the 5th book in the Demonworld universe, while working as well on the second book in the Urban Paladin series. There are times, when you are writing and you get stuck as you see the story in its entirety and you have to stop because you’re not entirely sure how to get there. I took a break on Martin’s story and Arminius and Aliera knocked quietly on my mental office door and sat quietly outside until I had to write their story. So I’m working on that now while I figure our how to get Martin to point B.

How can readers reach you?
They can email me at sevwolfe@gmail.com, visit my website at www.sevwolfe.com and like my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SeverineWolfe/. I love to hear from my readers and try to answer all emails as best I can.

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Interview With Rebecca Thomas

Author Spotlight
with Rebecca Thomas

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write? Hello, I’m Rebecca Thomas and I’ve been writing for eight years, but more seriously and on more of a “schedule” during the last three years. I write in three sub-genres of romance. Contemporary, Historical, and Paranormal. I sub-genre hop quite a bit, but all my stories are considered romance.
Where/When do you do the most of your writing? Because I have a day job, I do most of my writing on the weekends. It takes brain power to write well and oftentimes after working at my job, I’m too tired to write when I get home. If I’m under a tight deadline I will get up early and write before work though.

What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment? Typing “The End” on my first manuscript was a huge accomplishment, but then I had many many rounds of revisions, then writing a query letter, then submitting the story to publishing houses. There are many little steps to writing, but finishing the first draft of a complete story is a pretty amazing feeling.

Is there anything that you find particularly challenging in your writing? Keeping the self-doubt out of my head is the most challenging aspect of writing for me. When I have a story idea in my head, it’s so exciting, but when I get down to the actual writing, the story oftentimes doesn’t seem near as good on paper as it was in my mind. It’s easy to let yourself believe that what you are writing is the worst piece of garbage ever, but it’s important to push forward, ignore the self-doubt, and finish the story, because so many times, the story I thought was terrible, isn’t at all.

Are the experiences of your characters based on any of your own or people that you know?  Yes, absolutely. In my Alaskan Hero series many of the experiences of the characters are my own. I live in Alaska, so my perspective is different from someone who has only visited. Hockey skating, gold-panning, flying, painting, welding, dog mushing, riding four-wheelers…I try to incorporate as many unique “setting” details into my stories as I possibly can.

Do you have any advice for other authors? Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong!

How can readers reach you?
http://www.authorrebeccathomas.com
www.facebook.com/beccawriter
twitter.com/Rebecca_Thomas3
rebeccathomas3@live.com

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