Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This Tuesday and Wednesday At The Tiki Hut - Marie Treanor

The winner of a free download from Marie's backlist is ANNE - please email me at AuthorIsland at yahoo.com with your contact information, so Marie can find out which of her books you'd like to try!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to keep Marie company at the Tiki Hut!

This week's guest is Marie Treanor. Marie was born and bred in Scotland, but for some years moved around the UK working and studying. Now she's back home and happily married with three young children.

Having grown bored with city life, her family lives in a picturesque village by the sea where, instead of working for a living, Marie is lucky enough to be able to enjoy herself writing stories of romance and fantasy.

She draws the inspiration for her books mainly from the people around her and from Scotland's rich history and culture - with, of course, large helpings of fun and imagination!

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**A CHANCE TO WIN** One person from all who leave Marie a comment will win a free download from Marie's backlist (anything except her two new releases).

Welcome Marie!


Putting the gothic in Gothic Dragon

This week, I’ve been celebrating two releases: my quirky but passionate ghost story, Requiem for Rab, and, perhaps even more excitingly, my first print release at Samhain Publishing - Gothic Dragon.

Finally seeing this book in print, and holding it in my awed little hands, got me thinking about why I wrote that particular story at that particular time.

I couldn't remember :)

Well, the old memory's not what it was! I did recall getting up at five every morning during one summer and dementedly writing until the kids woke up, so I knew I was desperate to write it.

Then I re-read the blurb, and Samhain's humorous warning which says:

"As well as explicit and delicious sex, this book contains the secret of ultimate escapism which could be highly dangerous in the wrong hands. The reader experiments at her/his own risk."

And the metaphorical light bulb snapped on in my head. Escapism!

Admittedly most of my reading and writing is to achieve and provide escapism, but Gothic Dragon is all about it. Probably because I wrote it during a difficult phase of my life. Nothing very tragic, just frustrating - the bankruptcy of one of my publishers which effectively froze several of my books in legal limbo.

So books and escapism were on my mind...

Perhaps I should say at this point that Gothic Dragon is about a young, bored woman who falls into the pages of a book and lives among the characters in this Renaissance-like world which was created by a nineteenth century gothic romance writer. And naturally, my heroine falls in love with the sexy villain of the piece. (Well, who wouldn't? Have you seen his picture on the cover?)

Gothic Dragon has lots of the elements that made gothic romances so popular, particularly with women, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: a dangerous medieval setting, foreign location, sorcery, an insane and brooding villain and a Byronic hero (who are, in my story the same man!) And my helpless heroine, flung into this terrifying world with no control over her life.

Of course, my modern-day heroine learns to control as much as she can. She chooses to re-enter the world of the book and she discovers the truth behind its existence. She takes control of her "real" life, in which she has been passively drifting, and makes her own choice as to where and with whom to spend her life. Early gothic heroines didn't usually have such luxuries.

It's a little bit of a paradox that gothic romances were written largely to provide escapism for educated, middle class women trapped in the inferior role society had prescribed for them. They had very little control over their own destinies and were largely restricted to looking after home and children. Through gothic literature, they could identify with the heroine and be swept away to wildly exciting worlds of terror and romance. It must have been liberating and exhilarating. And yet, to be socially acceptable and therefore popular, the heroines of these books had to behave impeccably and keep their social place under the superiority of men. Which is where our readers started out!

So the heroines of these romances didn't cry out for independence or recognition as the intellectual equal of men. In fact, they were often stupid, and any hankerings after romance were shown to be a Bad Thing leading to disaster. Supernatural happenings were explained rationally, and the heroines found happiness by conforming. Like the readers.

But the excitement remained. And gothic novels retained huge popularity for decades, from Walpole's "original" and critically condemned "Castle of Otranto" published in 1764, through Anne Radcliffe's more "acceptable" creations and all the immitations which followed her. These ideas burgeoned in romantic poetry, including some by Keats and Coleridge, and even in architecture where it became fashionable to build neo-gothic piles with fake medieval ruins in the grounds.

Even when its popularity faded, the genre lingered on in other, changing forms, like the still much loved Bronte novels, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, HP Lovecraft... I grew up devouring the gothic novels of Daphne du Maurier, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and others, which come from similar roots. I loved the dark, brooding heroes with their mysterious and/or tragic pasts, and the whole delicious atmosphere of danger.

Gothic Dragon is my humble tribute to all of these great authors, and if you read it, I hope it gives you all the escape you want :)

Just be careful what you do with your books. And be doubly careful what you imagine...

Gothic Dragon by Marie Treanor is now available in print from Samhain Publishing: http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/shop/product.da/p-gothic-dragon .

It is also still available in ebook formats: http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/shop/product.da/gothic-dragon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Tuesday At The Tiki Hut - Sandy Lender

This week's winner is Jerry B - Jerry gets an autographed copy of WHAT CHOICES WE MADE!!! Congrats! Please send me your full name and address to AuthorIsland at Yahoo.com and Sandy will get you out your prize!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Tiki Hut to keep Sandy company!

Today's guest at the Tiki Hut is fantasy romance author Sandy Lender.

Sandy Lender began writing stories as soon as she learned to string words together on the page. As a child she entertained the folks in her great grandmother's apartment building in Southern Illinois with tales of squeaky spiders and mice picking berries, and then won awards with writing projects as she moved through the elementary and high school systems in the St. Louis area. It was apparent that a career in journalism was her calling, and she found herself proofreading, editing, and (finally) writing for trade publications after she graduated from Truman State University in Missouri. Those publications may have honed her skills in editing and writing about cattle husbandry, road construction, community management, and zealous forms of religious oppression, as well as developing her skills in public relations and marketing, but her desire to write fiction stayed with her throughout the career-building day jobs.

From her early memories of junior high, Sandy harbored the story of Amanda Chariss and the struggles of the continent of Onweald. It wasn't until the year 2000 that Sandy sat down at the computer and started typing out the words that would form her first fantasy novel, Choices Meant for Gods. By June of 2003 she had the creation that no literary agent had any interest in. But Sandy is pro-active and doesn't give up easily. She got Publisher Bob Gelinas to show interest in the story in January 2006, and the dream has since become reality.

Sandy now writes in Southwest Florida where her love of sea turtles and all things related to the Gulf waters keeps her imagination growing. Her epic fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods is now available as is her recent release What Choices We Made. She shares a home with a demanding but lovable sun conure, a 19-year-old water turtle who dances to the songs in her extensive Duran Duran collection, and a muse who often misplaces the key to the shackles at the computer desk. You can get information about grammar and writing from her 15-year-journalism and PR career at her main blog Today The Dragon Wins.
Leave Sandy a comment or question today and get your name in the hat for an autographed copy of WHAT CHOICES WE MADE.


Sneaky Writers
By Sandy Lender

Terry Brooks says of writers in his book SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS: “Much of what happens around us goes into a storage bin in our minds for future consideration and possible use in a book down the line. What we observe is as important to us in determining what we write as what we know.”

You’ve got to watch out for writers. We’re sneaky. We use everyday stuff that you might not think is intriguing and turn it into a plot device or bit of dialogue. That’s right—if it happens in front of us, it’s fair game. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the presence of a non-fiction memoir-writer or a sci-fi/fantasy geek like me who makes up worlds that you could never envision a simple grocery store conversation ending up in. Oh, yes. Imagine my poor mom’s surprise to learn that a certain embarrassing moment from the early ’80s ended up in print in my latest release, WHAT CHOICES WE MADE.

Here’s how it happened. I was probably 12 or 13. Innocent. Na├»ve. We were in the check-out lane at the grocery store and I stared mindlessly at the tabloids. The headline on one about discussing a sensitive topic with your teens struck me as odd, so I turned to Mom at the other end of the buggy and asked, loudly, “Mom, what’s virginity?” Of course I mispronounced it. Long “I” on the “jine.” Virjinety.

Some people around us snickered, hiding their faces from my blushing mother. She leaned forward and said, lowly, “I’ll tell you in the car.”


Years later, that recalled scene struck me as funny, and I knew the young, precocious version of Amanda Chariss, the heroine in the CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS trilogy, had to pull some such stunt on her wizard guardian Hrazon. (I figured Hrazon would forgive me for it.) But the scene would have to be a flashback because my lovely Chariss is 20 years old when we meet her in CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS. She knows what virginity is. And that’s not really the right word to embarrass Hrazon with. I needed something else. Something less contrived, perhaps. So I wrote a scene from their travels laced with a little danger due to Chariss’s age and the condition of Onweald’s social system, but it just didn’t fit in the novel. There wasn’t a place to put it. Yet it was so charming that I wasn’t content to delete and forget it. I wanted to share it with the readers who had fallen in love with Chariss. I pulled it into a short story called “Joveran Border Crossing” for WHAT CHOICES WE MADE.

That’s how an embarrassing moment for my mom ended up in print in a fantasy story more than two decades later. Seems so easy, doesn’t it? These situations happen daily for writers. We see something that may seem ordinary or mundane to everybody else, but it’s story fodder for us. When you see one of us whip out a notepad and start scribbling like mad, you know something’s going in the storage bin for a future book.


Here's a trailer for Sandy's latest WHAT CHOICES WE MADE

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

This Tuesday At The Tiki Hut - Jean Hart Stewart

This Tuesday we welcome historical and fantasy romance author Jean Hart Stewart.

Jean Hart Stewart feels she's very much a Californian although she was born in Ohio. California has been home for a good many years. Life changed drastically for her when she was six and her father died incredibly from an errant golf ball. A dishonest insurance agent forced her sheltered mother to seek work, and she became a teacher. Her hours required Jean to be alone in the house in the afternoon, and since she was forbidden to leave till her mother got home, she became an avid reader. The local library supplied most of the books and she developed early her two of main interests, Jane Austen and King Arthur.

Reading is still one of her favorite activities, although she sometimes has to push it aside to make room for her enduring love of writing. Her journalism degree was used infrequently until recently. Marriage and raising two children pleasantly got in the way. After twenty years of being a real estate broker and with the kids raised she finally could devote her time to writing, her first love.

Jean's enchantment with the lore and legends of Druids and, therefore, delving into their history led to fascinating research that inspired her popular Garland of Druids Series for Cerridwen Press and her upcoming series about Mages that kicks off with her June 22nd release DAMIEN'S DESTINY.

Few things in her life have been so satisfying, especially when all her books have a happy ending. Wonderful to make happen. It only gets more interesting when a secondary character demands his very own book. Who would want to deny him? Not Jean!

Welcome to the Tiki Hut Jean and thanks for your article on How to Make a Reader.


How to make a reader?????

I’ve been obsessed lately with wondering why some children turn into avid readers and some never learn to like that is one of my life’s greatest joys. It’s not intelligence, as I was blessed with two bright kids, one how now reads much deeper subjects that I can even tackle. (He’s a mathematician, way over my head!) The other child never even would sit still to listen to me read. She’s just as smart, although not a mathematician. So it’s not a matter of reading to them, which you often hear, as I did with both. Or tried!

I polled some good friends, but found little consensus. One, a child development teacher, found what worked for her four children was limiting TV and reading to them extensively. Been there, done that. She’s raised four bright successful adults who are all readers. Another, mother of five, states it’s exposure to books and following up any clue if they seem to like a certain book or author. Very good points, and with today’s libraries so well stocked fairly easy if a child gets a fix on a certain author. Her daughter fell in love with the Nancy Drew series, which my granddaughter did last year. A third friend has one reader and one non-reader like me, both bright but simply with different inclinations. She’s thinks it’s like so many other traits. A parent gets what he’s dealt.

I’ve mentioned in various biographies and chat talks how my father’s early death forced my mother back to teaching and how I wasn’t allowed out of the house until she came home. I was six years old. With no TV and lots of library books I became a compulsive reader. I’ll fixate on cereal boxes if nothing else is handy. Incidentally, some of their blurbs are pretty funny, although they may not mean to be.

Certainly if you don’t do anything as a parent, let the TV be unlimited, don’t provide them with books, and don’t read to them you cut down the chances. Yet I think some children simply can’t be stopped from becoming readers. They’ll find books on their own no matter what.

Conclusion? Draw your own. I’m baffled!!!


Learn more about Jean and her fabulous books about Druids and Mages at JeanHartStewart.com .

Here's a video taste of her upcoming June 22nd release DAMIEN'S DESTINY.