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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Enter to Win 60 Romantic Suspense Novels PLUS a New Kindle Fire!

Today, I have something special for you.


I’ve teamed up with 60 fantastic romantic suspense authors to give away a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner!

You can win my novel Capture of the Defiance, plus books from authors like Lindsay McKenna, Mimi Barbour, Maggie Shayne, Sharon Hamilton, and Lorelei James.

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/rom-suspense-may17

Good luck, and enjoy!

 

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