Monday, October 25, 2010

Author Interview with Ana Claudia Antunes

What has been your biggest influence on becoming a writer?
My biggest influence I should say it was my colleagues at school who would enjoy so much reading my poems made to each one of them in their annual diaries that I decided I should devote my life writing to keep people cheering, laughing, crying or doing that all together, so that I would keep my flowing of inspiration on hand.

And of course all those voices as well that kept talking in my head, all those characters eager to tell their own stories and have a life of their own.

How did you feel when you got your first publishing contract?
I jumped one foot, than I made a pirouette—I’m a former Ballet dancer so no big deal about it…just kidding!—I was actually so thrilled that I couldn’t stop smiling for a month or so.

What makes a book great in your eyes?
The one that can make me shed a tear or two, also laugh about in the funny parts, or make me really believe that it’s happened in the real life, or should have for it is too beautiful to be left out without being lived.

What is the biggest piece of your advice you can give a beginning writer?
Keep moving that pen, always keep writing and keep dreaming. You can make it. You made this far and you can go a long, long way. And bear in mind the beauty of this all is just to create something you feel it’s worth living for.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?
When I am on vacation and I overeat chocolate or too many sweet bread and the next morning I will have to put that bikini and go to the beach, argh, what a feeling!

What influences your writing? And why?
Anything, or everything. I just get inspired with the slightest pieces of idea, and that’s such a blessing…no, who am I kidding, writing is one hundred percent transpiration. You got to work really hard to make a good piece that works.

Name one thing readers don’t know about you.
Only one? I guess it would be…nope, I know guess if they really read my books they would pretty much know too much about me… Now I’m ashamed…ashamed and scared! *Hahaha*

What are you working on now?
I’m starting a screenplay for a movie, that would be about my novel The Pierrot’s Love a thriller, paranormal mystery that will keep my—and hopefully my readers—hair up for a while.

Who is your favorite all-time author?
Marguerite Yourcenar.

Are love scenes easy/difficult to write?
I should ask the same question about real life, aren’t they simply magnificent to describe? So, yes, yes, they are!

Do you write in one genre or several different ones? And why?
I write too many different stories with too-diverse characters to keep myself labeled in one genre only. Too many stories to tell, each of them with subtle tones and specific plots so that all of them would differentiate from one another.

If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
I would be in New Zealand, filming my script and making that movie I so wished for.

How do you deal with the dreaded writer’s block?
Writer’s block? Really? What is that? No, that rarely passes through my mind. I am too busy writing the stories that keep coming in my head to care about any wall at all.

Do you have another career besides writing? What is it?
I am a writer, illustrator, dancer, choreographer, photographer, cinematographer, biographer and any other offer I would just love it!

What’s your biggest reward in being a writer?
Just to be able to tell stories and hear or read people saying that they enjoy them, or that they laughed or cried over the lives that you created—or not—that’s for me such bliss!

To date, which is your favorite story? Which one did you have the most fun writing?
It was a book I wrote in Spanish Riñas de una Niña Teñida for I pretty much made her do things that I think she wouldn’t even think of doing. The best part of being a writer is when your characters hate you for making them do what they do and all of what you make of them.

If you had the opportunity to say one thing to your readers, what would that be?
Hope you really have a blast with my books! And please check out all of them at:

Thank for allowing me to share part of my writing life!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Character spotlight with Zaahir

Tell us about yourself. I am Zaahir, responsible for the punishment meted out at Eagleridge Bluffs. That is my Muslim name given to me by my Indonesian mother. My Christian name is the same as my American father’s, James Jensen Jr. My father was an international financier, a middleman, a broker. If you wanted something, legal or illegal, he could get it for you—for a price. My mother was his housekeeper.

I am 27-years old, and have a British boarding school education and a degree in Comparative Religions from Cambridge, courtesy of my father. Upon his death, his estate was divided among his children, my two half-brothers and sister, whom I’ve never met, and myself. I inherited $40 million.

I now use his money to fund my organization, Terra defendo. Big business and governments call us eco-terrorists, but we are as our name signifies, defenders of the earth. You know the who, which is more than most, if you want to know the why, I have revealed it to Rod Raglin in his latest novel, Eagleridge Bluffs.

What makes you special?
My passion to protect the environment and my commitment to punish those that would destroy wild animals and wild places makes me special. I am smart, decisive and, when necessary, ruthless. I am a born leader—charismatic, charming and devoted to my team of five comrades. Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Tell me about your most current adventure.
Eagleridge Bluffs was our most current campaign. It was a special place, home of endangered plants and animals. The government wanted to blow it up to make way for a highway bypass. Terra defendo was there to help organize the citizens to prevent this from happening, and in the case that their protests failed, to punish the defilers of nature. The author has chronicled this confrontation and those involved, including my involvement with Miriam, an older, local woman whom I initially recruited to serve the cause.

If you could offer your author advice, what would it be?
My advice for Rod Raglin would be to have the courage of his convictions. When Eagleridge Bluffs was threatened what did he do? He wrote a letter. He should have put himself in harm’s way. I would tell him if he is given another opportunity don’t fail the cause, don’t fail himself.

Are you happy with the way people perceive you?
My life is underground. My work is subterfuge. I am not who people think I am and if I’m to stay free, safe and lead my team, that is how it must be.

Is expressing love difficult for you? Why?
Getting involved with other people means they could find out about Terra defendo. That would not only make them a liability, it would also threaten the safety of my team and myself. My team has become my family and yet with every campaign I have to put them at risk. It’s difficult to love someone and at the same time ask them to do something that puts their life and liberty in jeopardy. Better not to care too much.

Is there a message you want to get across in this interview?
When you love something, you must do everything in your being to care for and protect it. If you don’t, and it’s lost or destroyed, you’ll not only live with an empty spot in your heart, your soul will be plagued with the guilt that you could have done more and didn’t.

Share a little bit of the real you with our readers. Any Dark secrets?
I will reveal this only to you and you must not betray my confidence. I’m tired of this life. I’m discouraged by the lack of success and depressed we even have to fight for, what should be, self-evident. It’s stressful living in the shadows, cautious of every situation and suspicious of every stranger. I want a relationship, to love and be loved. I want roots, a home, instead of moving from country to country, posh hotel to seedy safe house. The responsibility of being a leader is filled with anxiety and fear, all of which must be concealed to appear strong and confident.

But then I tried the conventional route in the beginning, not unlike the folks that protested at Eagleridge Bluffs, and where did it get us, the movement, the living things that are now gone forever? How can it be different? To save the Earth, society has to drastically be changed and powerful interests are threatened by this. They will do what it takes to maintain the status quo—undermine legitimate governments, support corrupt ones, lie, cheat, even kill those that opposed them while they continued to rape and pollute the planet. They will never submit, even as they draw their last breath of poisoned air.

What motivates you to continue on these adventures?
Writer, environmentalist, thinker, Terry Tempest Williams said, If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go… Unfortunately, I know it that way—what choice do I have?

How does one become an eco-terrorist?
Quite easily. Find a place that you love like my Miriam loved Eagleridge Bluffs. Here’s how she described them to the author.

At least twice a week she looked forward to taking Ruth’s binoculars and climbing Eagleridge Bluffs where, for a few hours, she would lose herself and become one with the birds, breeze and ever-changing nature.

The summer seduced her with sweet, wild strawberries, languid reptiles basking on sun-baked rocks, outrageous sunsets and a Golden-crowned Kinglet.

The autumn offered her a myriad of brilliant colors, a sky that was ferociously blue, air that was first-day fresh, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch, characteristically climbing down a tree headfirst.
The mists of winter brought somber shades of grey, eye-watering winds, ice filled crevices and the companionship of an ever-present Raven.
Then Spring spoke of rebirth with green life sprouting from the most unlikely places, seductively fragrant breezes that caressed the chapped landscape and a cacophony of migrating birds lead by the loud trill of the Spotted Towhee.

Again and again the Bluffs would refresh her soul and rekindle her spirit.
Then learn that this place, and all the plants and animals that call it home and have for eons, are going to be totally obliterated to make way for a highway bypass. When you argue there are viable alternatives to this destruction, you’re ignored or dismissed. Finally, when all your legitimate avenues have proved futile, you discover what is really motivating the destruction of your sacred place is political payoffs—construction contracts in payment for past political contributions.

The need for revenge, for retribution, to inflict pain on those that are causing you such unnecessary anguish coalesces. An eco-terrorist is born.

Tell us about the campaign before Eagleridge Bluffs?
Here is an excerpt from the prologue to Eagleridge Bluffs. The event took place in West Virginia while the author, at the time an investigative reporter, was embedded with my team.

   The January night air was thick with an icy fog tinged yellow by neon vapor lights. On the far side of the expansive open pit mine a gigantic excavator and several monstrous trucks rested from the their labors in a compound fenced on the three sides that weren’t open to the quarry.
Beyond the guardhouse, a road traversed carved slopes leading down into blackness and finally to the pool of chemical sludge.
   This was the toxic brew, seeping from the settling ponds and leaching into the ground that was suspected of poisoning the drinking water of the residents in the valley below.
   Everything was as still as death.
   In the forest opposite the site, the darkness was so impenetrable Zaahir couldn’t identify his team members.
   “Sound off,” he whispered into the void.
   He waited. “Where’s Terra?”
   Zaahir fought to contain the rising panic.
   “I’ll find her.” It was Caelum.
   “Stay put, there’s no time.”
   “No way, I’m going back.”
   “Someone’s coming,” rasped Luna. “It’s her.”
   “Sorry,” Terra said, “I twisted my ankle.”
   There was a beep from the timer.
   “Thirty seconds,” warned Bam-Bam.
   “Can you make it back to the vehicle?” Zaahir said.
   ”I’ll help her,” Caelum said.
   “Did you locate the third security guard, Tim?”
   “Nope. Maybe he didn’t come into work.”
   “Ten, nine, eight…” Bam-Bam continued the countdown.
   Zaahir swallowed, fighting down nausea. Something wasn’t right.
   A blinding flash ripped the winter night and a ball of orange flame swallowed the giant excavator. The concussion swept over their hiding spot on the opposite side of the huge quarry like a blast of wind, the sound arriving seconds later.
   “Far out!” exclaimed one of the team.
   A huge cloud of smoke mushroomed above the destruction. Zaahir hunched down as the clatter of debris landing in the surrounding pit filled the air. But there was something else, a high, thin keening. Someone was screaming.
   Then Zaahir saw him tumbling from the cab of the excavator. The exploding diesel fuel had soaked his clothes, and flames now hungrily fed on his jacket, pants, and hair.
   “He’s on fire! He’s on fire!” Terra screamed.
   “Shut her up!” ordered Zaahir.
   The fiery figure got up and ran, which only encouraged conflagration. A human torch, he fell over the edge of the open pit mine and rolled, bumped, and finally flew down the steep embankment until he was out of sight.
   “There’s the third security guard,” Bam-Bam said, breaking the shocked silence.
   “He must have been sleeping in the cab, probably drunk or stoned,” Tim said, his voice shaky.
   The other two guards appeared, coming from the security trailer, running toward the destruction. An alarm wailed.
   “Let’s get out of here,” Zaahir said.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Author spotlight with J.L. McCale

What has been your biggest influence on becoming a writer?
I’ve always loved reading. The library was a magical place and I thought it would be wonderful to contribute to that magic.

How did you feel when you got your first publishing contract?
Thrilled but guarded. I received a letter in the mail from a small publisher in Florida. They wanted three books from me. I’d fired my agent the year before and had been slammed by rejections from the big houses. I didn’t trust the offer right away, but it worked out okay. They were in the early stages of e and POD. I wasn’t familiar with the different formats at the time. Electronic books seemed like a strange idea. Now I’m a huge fan.

How do you categorize yourself: pantser or plotter?
I’m a pantser. Even when I attempt to outline, I can’t follow it. The story takes me in a different direction.

What makes a book great in your eyes?
I don’t believe brilliant prose or ingenious plot lines make a great book. For me, I need to completely lose myself in the pages. I want to forget I’m reading. A good story takes you into the adventure.

What is the biggest piece of your advice you can give a beginning writer?
Read. I hear too many authors claim to no longer have time to read. That’s just a crock. To improve your craft you must read.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Yes but I’m not sharing those.

What influences your writing? And why?
Everything around me influences my work. It can be a moment, just a second or two where I’ve witnessed something interesting. It can be a dream. I’ve even found characters through hearing other peoples’ conversations.

What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a piece called Midnight. A woman is in the process of getting revenge when she discovers romance with a man that might send her to jail.

Who is your favorite all-time author?
That’s a hard one. I have so many favorites. I’m currently reading Jim Butcher. I love his Dresden Files.

Do you write in one genre or several different ones? And why?
My writing does vary. There are times when I don’t write fantasy/paranormal and others when that’s all that will creep into my writing. There are times when there is a love story in my work and times when there isn’t.

Do you have another career besides writing? What is it?
I’m a paper pusher by day. I type contracts, file, and do absolutely nothing of interest. Needless to say, I frequently daydream.

What’s your biggest reward in being a writer?
Getting an email from a reader. For someone to take the time to tell me how much they enjoyed a story means a lot.

To date, which is your favorite story? Which one did you have the most fun writing?
Crying Blood is still my favorite. The heroine is so flawed, so different. I absolutely love her. She’s so dark and still finds redemption.

How do you go about developing your characters and setting?
My characters tend to take on lives of their own. I start with a person and they simply react, building themselves from the pages. The settings are harder. I start with an idea and just see what happens.

If you had the opportunity to say one thing to your readers, what would that be?
Thanks for reading my work. It means a lot. You can visit me at

Monday, October 4, 2010

Author spotlight with Frances Pauli

How did you feel when you got your first publishing contract?
Would swoon be an appropriate term? I nearly fainted. I did a happy dance. I told everyone…and then I started to panic.

How do you categorize yourself: pantser or plotter?
I am a classic pantser. I get an idea, fall for a few characters and run for it. Now, however, I’m finishing up a trilogy and I need to learn to plan…fast. I suppose it’s a good thing to stretch and learn new skills, right?

What makes a book great in your eyes?
Characters I care about, plot that surprises me and a lot of tension. As a reader— and I suppose as a writer, too—I like big themes, even in lighter fiction. I’m a sucker for humor, but I like a nice point behind it.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Chocolate. Definitely chocolate.

What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working a final edit on a Romance featuring artists on a planet of anachronists. The setting is medieval, but the tech is futuristic and the characters are a blend of both.

Who is your favorite all-time author?
Andre Norton, hands down. I read romantic Speculative Fiction long before there was really a genre for it. I love all of them, Tanith Lee, McCaffrey, McKillip…but Norton will always be my favorite.

Are love scenes easy/difficult to write?
Harder than I ever expected. I’m learning, but I think my comfort zone if far closer to sweet than I would have guessed.

Do you have another career besides writing? What is it?
Yes, Motherhood. The hours are longer and the work is much more difficult, but the rewards can be pretty great. Balancing the two is tricky. Sometimes, I have to hide in the closet to get any writing done. Both of my children are under 5.

To date, which is your favorite story? Which one did you have the most fun writing?
That’s almost like asking me to pick one of my kids. I’d say my first novel, A Moth in Darkness is the one I’m most invested in emotionally, but that’s more of a dodge than an answer. The most fun to write, hands down, is my free serial, Space Slugs. That one is strictly for fun, can be downright silly at times and almost writes itself.

If you had the opportunity to say one thing to your readers, what would that be?
Thank you. I’d definitely say thank you and I hope you enjoy reading my books. Thanks to you for having me, also.

More on my work can be found at:
And that free serial is at: