November 8, 2011

Champion of Valor, Book III in Nicole Zoltack's Kingdom of Arnhem series

Please join me in welcoming Nicole Zoltack, author of Champion of Valor, Book III in the Kingdom of Arnhem series. 
Nicole, tell us a bit about your book. You have beautiful covers, by the way. Just lovely.
Thank you! The genre of Champion of Valor is Fantasy Romance.

The Mystical Conch Shell of the Sea has been stolen, and it's up to Selliki, the selkie, to get it back. Selliki sets across the continent of Alethereia to find Arnhem, and Gabrael, the mage she loves. Selliki knows that no union between a selkie and a human have ever had a happy ending, but neither can ignore their feelings. Each night, they experience terrible, real dreams that show how doomed their love is.

The final war between Speica and Arnhem is threatening the entire world. Lucifer has aligned himself with Speica and wants nothing less than to bring about the Apocalypse before its time. In the last battle, cowardice is revealed, promises are broken, and many people die. Trolls fight icthyocentaurs, dwarves armed up against the Drow, angels against demons. Only one kingdom will prevail; that is, if the world doesn't end.

Other books:

Woman of Honor, Book I in the Kingdom of Arnhem series
Knight of Glory, Book II in the Kingdom of Arnhem series
Seeing for the First Time, 1 of 6 in the What You See is What You Get series (paranormal YA)
To See, 2 of 6 in the What You See is What You Get series
Or Not To See, 3 of 6 in the What You See is What You Get series
A Sight for Sore Fangs, 4 of 6 in the What You See is What You Get series

Nicole, how can readers contact you?

November 1, 2011

Wannabe A Writer? Jane Wenham-Jones

Jane Wenham-Jones is a novelist, journalist and presenter and the author of the Wannabe Books - two how-to manuals on getting published and becoming well-known. Below is an extract from Wannabe a Writer? available on Amazon or through all good bookshops. For more on Jane see

Research -- Do You or Don't You?
Frederick Forsyth carries out what he calls "relentless research," spending an entire year at it. Minette Walters is also extremely thorough and painstaking -- consulting forensic scientists and attending post-mortems as well as the usual background reading.
While I'm writing this, Jilly Cooper is working on a new racing book. "I have about a hundred books to read," she told me. "Biographies of jockeys and autobiographies of trainers and biographies of horses…"
I, on the other hand, err on the idle side when it comes to research and tend to proceed on a need-to-know basis rather than mugging up for months in advance.
Lynne Barrett-Lees works in similar way. "It's all too easy to spend precious writing time jotting down facts, facts, facts, and to put off the hard bit," she says. Research for her "happens organically as a by-product of writing, definitely not the other way around." She says: "I don't allow myself to sweat the small stuff until I reach a point where I need to. As long as I've established there's a patient soul or two who'll fill me in on any detail I need, I simply call them, as and when, while I'm writing."
All of which shows that there is no right or wrong answer to how much research you should do as long as, whether it takes six months holed up in the British Library or six minutes on the phone to a friend, you do enough.
Even if you are writing "what you know" you're still bound to have to check something, and check it you must for as we've said already, your novel will only work if it rings true and you won't achieve that if your facts are wonky.
It is also worth remembering that what we know can only ever be just that -- what WE know. By talking to others we can gain different insights or whole new angles on what we thought was familiar territory. Hilary Lloyd, the author of A Necessary Killing (UKA Press), is an ex-farmer who drew on her own experiences of living through the foot and mouth crisis for her novel.
Despite her first-hand knowledge, there were still things she needed to investigate. She says: "My experience of the epidemic was traumatic but a novel demands much more than reminiscences and feelings. I needed facts, and details of procedures employed by government and other official departments. I also needed to confirm that my own trauma wasn't unique so I read through dozens of bewildered, distraught or angry messages on internet forums used by rural people at the time, and downloaded enough articles and comment from newspapers to wallpaper the whole of the house! The reading and absorbing of this material gave me a much wider view and helped flesh the bones of my plot."
I did a similar thing when I was writing my second novel, Perfect Alibis, by talking to lots of different women who'd had affairs -- or as many I could find who would admit to it!
Interestingly, for the same book I asked several friends who'd had appendicitis what it felt like, and was surprised by just how different their accounts were, and how entirely varied their symptoms.
It was a lesson on the importance of getting more than one version of anything one's not been through oneself. Make sure you've got the majority experience down rather than a one-off.
For if you are asking a reader to suspend their disbelief and get totally absorbed in the world you've created, then you owe it to them to make sure that world is as authentic as possible.
I usually do this in one of two simple ways -- go on Google or ask someone who might know.
Google is a wonderful tool. There isn't much you can't find out on the internet these days though a word of warning: do always check more than one source.
I have just spent a sobering half hour trying to find out how many grams of carbohydrate are in a large glass of wine (hoping to shed ten pounds on a crash Atkins-type diet while still getting pissed every night). The answers have been variously 3g, 1.8g, 5g, and almost 7g (with the only consensus the dispiriting news that to lose weight you have to give up the booze).
Asking an expert on the given subject is usually a safe bet -- although again, two is better than one. During the writing of my last book, I checked facts with a GP, a gynecologist, a dog-owner, two wine-writers (who contradicted each other), an ex-policeman, a nurse, and a solicitor.
I also pored over the London A-Z, studied different models of answer-machines, and, since the novel is entitled One Glass Is Never Enough -- suffered several near-terminal hangovers.
And I still missed something. I never want my husband to read anything until after it's published but this time I wished he had. He instantly spotted an irregularity that I had totally overlooked (a bottle of champagne to the first reader to write and tell me what it is. Clue: it will help to be a gardener) and which I've been kicking myself for ever since.
I always think that if you have a scene that is heavily dependent on some specialist knowledge -- let's say a scene in the operating theatre in a hospital -- then it is a good idea to let someone with first-hand experience -- say a surgeon or a nurse - to have a quick read through and check for any dodgy bits.
Even if you have that sort of experience yourself make sure your knowledge is up-to-date. Police procedures, for example, have changed a lot over the years, as have the job-descriptions of teachers. Find someone who is doing the job right now rather than speaking to the old duffer next door who retired in 1976.
If you are lucky enough to get a publishing deal the copy editor will pick up things that need checking, too, but be professional and make sure everything in your manuscript is as accurate as you can make it before you submit it. There's an old adage about keeping going through a first draft, that says: "Don't get it right, get it written." It's excellent advice. As long as once you have got it written, you make sure you've also got it right.

Buy links:
Amazon UK (paperback)
Amazon UK (Kindle)
Amazon US (paperback)
Amazon US (Kindle)
The Book Depository

October 25, 2011

An Interview With Suzie Quint

Suzie, welcome to Romance Lives Forever! Tell us about your latest book, including its genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?
My publisher listed it as Romantic Suspense and as erotica. Maybe it’s me, but I never considered it either of those. The focus is on the couple more than anything else, and while I don’t close the bedroom door, I don’t think it’s any hotter than, say, one of Toni Blake’s main stream romances. It certain doesn’t come close to Emma Holly’s eroticas. In my mind, my stories are romantic comedies. That’s kind of scary to admit, because I feel like I’ve just opened myself up to people saying it’s not funny.
How do you come up with ideas?
One of my favorite writer games is “What if?” For instance, what if a character has a touch of second sight? Then, what if the woman he’s interested in has a mother who calls the psychic network and as a result she’s convinced all psychics are charlatans? And then I explore all the fun conflict they’d have reaching their Happily Ever After. (That story, BTW, is in my queue of stories.)
What is the single most important part of writing for you?
The most important part is that I have fun with what I’m writing. If it’s not fun for me to write, I know it won’t be fun for the reader to read.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Aside from the having fun part mentioned above, I love hearing from readers. Writing is a solitary activity (except, of course, for the people in my head), so when people tell me they enjoyed it and my characters came to life for them, I’m delighted. I could get seriously addicted to that.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?
I usually start with characters in a situation. Except for knowing where the characters will end up (together, of course; this is romance after all), I don’t plot much. Writing is a journey of discovery for me. That’s what keeps it fun and interesting. I’m constantly asking myself, “What next?” keeping in mind that it had better be fun.
List two authors we would find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.
Two? I have to narrow this down to two? Okay. I reread Jennifer Crusie’s early romances about once a year. She’s laugh out loud funny to me, even after the first time. I also love Toni Blake’s books. They’re hot and, if you look closely, she sneaks serious themes into some of her books.
If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
So far, there’s only one: A Knight in Cowboy Boots. In November, Knight of Hearts is being release. I still recommend A Knight in Cowboy Boots first though, because while the stories can stand alone, they are interrelated. I’m also have a short(ish) story called All’s Fair that ties into the McKnight series available in ebook format.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
I’d love to give nice, fluffy answers to this. Things like “hope” and “optimism.” There’s some truth in those answers, but they’re too stock to make me happy. I’ve noticed an underlying theme in my writing. I’m fascinated with how family shapes you into the person you become. It would be lovely if all families were happy, supportive, and functional, but they’re not. God knows mine wasn’t. (Not that they were terrible, but I have my share of tics that I can trace right back to the loving family nest.) What I hope people take away from my work as a whole is to be grateful for the good, supportive people in your life whether they’re blood kin or family you’ve chosen to adopt. If you’re in toxic relationships, you can change that. Surround yourself with people who will be there for you, as Maddie does in A Knight in Cowboy Boots. She learns the lesson that you can’t do it all on your own and that having people who will stand with you is priceless. I want that for all of us.
A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
Fiercely loyal friend.
If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Spain. The Costa del Sol, preferably. I think a country isn’t civilized unless they have siestas.
What song would best describe your life?
For a lot of years, it would have been On the Road Again. For now, since I’m just starting to get published, I guess it could be New Kid in Town.
If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?
I’d be a grammar checker. In fact, people do use me for that in my day job all the time. They’re constantly asking me to proof something they’ve written.
Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?
A music store. Someplace that sold a lot of ballads.
If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Danger. Warped Humor.
What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?
I have no idea. Sometimes the simplest seeming questions pull out the most interesting answers.

More info about Suzie Quint

Leather or lace? Lace
Black or red? Black
Satin sheets or Egyptian cotton? Cotton
Ocean or mountains? Mountains
City life or country life? Can I pick “small city?”
Hunky heroes or average Joe? Average Joe
Party life or quiet dinner for two? Quiet dinner for two
Dogs or cats? Cats. Absolutely cats.
I love pizza with bacon. (The real thing, not the Canadian variety.)
I'm always ready for lobster.
When I'm alone, I write
You'd never be able to tell, but I actually have shy moments .
If I could win the lottery I'd write full time and never retire.
I can never skydive because I’m terrified of heights.


A Knight in Cowboy Boots
All’s Fair (short story)

Books Coming Soon

Knight of Hearts (November)


Buy links