The Demon Duke: An Interview with Local Author Margaret Locke


Margaret - DemonDukeCov

Behind every good man is a great secret.

Banished to Yorkshire as a boy for faults his father failed to beat out of him, Damon Blackbourne has no use for English society and had vowed never to return to his family’s estate at Thorne Hill, much less London. However, when his father and brother die in a freak carriage accident, it falls on Damon to take up the mantle of the Malford dukedom, and to introduce his sisters to London Society–his worst nightmare come to life.

He never planned on Lady Grace Mattersley. The beautiful debutante stirs him body and soul with her deep chocolate eyes and hesitant smiles. Until she stumbles across his dark secret.

Bookish Grace much prefers solitude and reading to social just-about-anything. Her family may be pressuring her to take on the London Season to find herself a husband, but she has other ideas. Such as writing a novel of her own. But she has no idea how to deal with the Duke of Malford.

Will she betray him to the world? Or will she be his saving Grace?

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Thank you, Margaret, for you allowing me to interview you today!!! Tell us a little bit about your newest book The Demon Duke.

How did you get the idea for the book? 

My son has Tourette Syndrome. A few years ago, he announced he’d never have a girlfriend, much less get married, because “nobody would want him.” It broke my heart – and still does. So I decided to craft a book in which a duke with Tourette’s (though it wasn’t called that in the Regency period) finds the love and acceptance he’s always wanted.

If your book was made into a movie, what actors would be in it?

 Oh, this one is easy! Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev of Vampire Diaries fame were the physical inspirations behind Damon Blackbourne and Grace Mattersley. J

 Bradley James and Colin Morgan would play James Bradley, Duke of Arthington, and Morgan Collinswood, Marquess of Emerlin, respectively. Hugh Jackman inspired Deveric Mattersley, and Reese Witherspoon makes a perfect Eliza Mattersley.

 I have other family members cast in my mind, and have pinned many of them to Pinterest boards – though of course I hope readers make up their own people in their minds if these names don’t fit for them!

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Should people read the other books in the Magic of Love series or is this a stand-alone book?

The Demon Duke is the first in my Put Up Your Dukes Regency series and is a stand-alone, without any of the magical elements that pop up in my Magic of Love series. However, our bookworm heroine Grace is the sister of Deveric Mattersley, the hero from A Matter of Time. So if you’ve read that book, you’ll have fun seeing familiar names and places in this one, but it’s not necessary to have done so to enjoy the story on its own.

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You are starting to become pretty popular and winning some awards. What is that like for you?

 Surreal! That I have readers who rave about my books still feels totally bizarre. Though I think I have a ways to go before you could truly call me popular. But it’s a dream come true to have people read my work and like it enough to want to read more. I hope I can keep living up to their expectations!

What would be your favorite and least favorite things about living back when The Demon Duke lived?

Favorite? Likely the furnishings. Yeah, I’m a weirdo. The furnishings, that is, if I were rich – more likely I’d be a barmaid or a seamstress or something, and then life would be much less fun. My least favorite thing? Lack of air-conditioning, modern medicine, and showers. Oh, that’s more than one? Well, they’re all important! 😉

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 What else are you working on right now? Will there be more Magic of Love books coming soon? 

 I do have at least one more in the Magic of Love series planned, maybe two, but as to when it will appear, I’m not sure, as I’m thrilled to be part of an upcoming series of books based on legendary figures with fellow Regency authors, and so therefore I need to work on that first so I don’t let the crew down! My contribution will be The Legendary Duke, set to debut in June 2018.

 I also want to write a short story or novella about the origins of the magical manuscript that first appears in A Man of Character.  And then there are several side characters in both my Magic of Love series and my Put Up Your Duke series whom I feel need their own stories told, but whose tales likely won’t contain magical elements or dukes, so, well, new series remain to be born!

 Thank you, Margaret! Can’t wait to read it! Get your copy today by clicking on the link below!

Amazon: http://bit.ly/TheDemonDuke

B&N: https://www.books2read.com/u/4DAddP

iTunes: https://www.books2read.com/u/4DAddP

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-demon-duke

Margaret - MLPic
A lover of romance novels since the age of ten (don’t tell her mom!), Margaret Locke declared as a teen she’d write romances when she was older. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things, not penning love stories. Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader.
Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and three fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window); she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person.
Margaret loves to interact with fellow readers and authors! You may find her here:

Website/Blog: http://margaretlocke.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMargaretLocke
GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/MargaretLocke
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/margaret_locke
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Margaret_Locke

A Scandalous Matter: Interview with Local Author, Margaret Locke


Independent, spirited Amara Mattersley may live under scandal’s shadow, but at least the nineteenth-century Regency society judging her is familiar. That’s all about to change when she finds herself in twenty-first-century Charlottesville, Virginia—and locking horns with one very befuddling, very male, UVA professor. 

Computer science professor Matthew Goodson has no time for love—no time for anything, actually, but his quest for tenure and his obsession with the screen. The last thing he expects is to get side-swiped by this adorably odd British miss. Yet something in her calls to him, pulls at him, in a way unknown—and uncomfortable. 

Can the past and the present blend together into a mutual future? Or will old wounds and new complications sabotage any chance at a twenty-first century happily ever after? 

 

Margaret (teehee), I’m so glad to chat with you today about your next book in your Magic of Love series, A Scandalous Matter. Tell us what it’s about!

Thanks so much for having me, Allison! I’m delighted to be here. J

Here’s a short summary of A Scandalous Matter:

 Scandal-scarred Amara Mattersley has had enough of men and the woes they cause. She wants only independence – and an education on par with that of her brothers. To find both, she time travels to present-day Virginia, determined to stay free from emotional attachments. Until she finds herself entangled with very attractive, but also very befuddling, computer science professor Matthew Goodson. Can past and present blend into a Happily Ever After future?

 

So I’ve read the first book in your series, A Man of Character, and I love love loved it! How does this new book compare and differ from your first? And can someone who’s never read the first two start with this one?

A Man of Character features the same setting as A Scandalous Matter—present-day Charlottesville, Virginia. Both books also have intelligent heroines encountering likewise brilliant computer science professors. Go figure. But A Man of Character’s main peeps are both from this century, as opposed to Amara and Matthew’s story, which has the time travel element, and therefore marked cultural differences and experiences, tossed in.

And yes—any of my books can be read independently from the others, though if one wants to avoid potential small spoilers, I suppose starting from the beginning makes the most sense. But no one has to, so dive in where it most interests you!

 

I heard you’re getting famous and winning some awards! 🙂 How does it feel?

I like the way you exaggerate!

I am extremely privileged to have finaled thrice in the 2016 Virginia Romance Writers HOLT Medallion competition (Best First Book for A Man of Character, and Best Paranormal Romance plus Best Book by a Virginia Author for A Matter of Time).

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I didn’t win, but finaling means I was in the Top 5, and that’s pretty darn amazing. Me? Little old ME? Who’d never written a book before?

It’s super exciting, but also feels quite surreal. Most of this new venture has felt surreal at times, actually. It’s a wild ride, often high, occasionally low, but I love it!

 

As a budding author, I always love to know how you got started with writing and how you got published?

I’d said since I was a teen that I was going to write romances when I grew up, but I went on to follow different dreams. Though the recent discovery of romance plot ideas I’d scribbled down in my 20s shows the interest never fully left.

In the fall of 2011, when my daughter entered kindergarten, I needed to figure out what I wanted/needed to do, since both kids were now in school full-time. I’d been a doctoral student in medieval history at one point, but had spent ten years as an at-home mom. Did I want to enter the work force? Did I have any marketable skills remaining after such a long hiatus? One night over dinner, my husband asked me what I truly wanted most. My immediate answer was, “to write.” His answer? “Go for it.” (See why I married him?)

As for publishing, that was a long and winding road. I originally embarked on the traditional route of seeking an agent and getting published by a company. I queried a zillion people and some small presses. I had nibbles and one big bite from a small press, but by that point, I’d read a lot about self-publishing and met other authors having lots of success with that route (including Katy Regnery, who’s now a USA Today and NYT Bestselling Author, but she took the time then to give me advice!). I decided indie publishing suited my and my family’s needs and temperament best – but it’s definitely not an easy road. Not that any path to publishing is, but being an indie author means I’m in charge of it all—and I’m battling to prove my worth against the still-lingering notion that indie authors aren’t as good as traditionally pubbed authors (as with anything, you’ve got good and bad on both sides of the fence, right?). Lots to learn, lots of mistakes to make, but in my heart I know it was the best choice for me.

Margaret – hanging out with famous author, Eloisa James (left) and with fan, Annie (right)

I am a sucker for romantic comedy movies but have never gotten into reading romances. The reason I loved your first book is I felt like I was reading something that might have starred Meg Ryan (before her weird Joker-looking plastic surgery). What inspired you to start this series?

It’s true that A Man of Character is not fully a traditional romance, mostly because the whole premise–What if a woman discovered the men she was dating were actually fictional characters she’d written long ago?—wasn’t quite typical from the start. Most romance doesn’t feature a heroine who dates more than one guy, or a female friendship that is nearly as dominant as the love story. That’s why I call it a romantic comedy (code word these days for chick lit, as that phrase has fallen out of favor.) Chick lit tends to feature women in their 20s and 30s dealing with life and career and friendships – and yes, often romance, but that isn’t the sole focus of a chick lit book.

I didn’t set OUT to write chick lit, though – it just happened. Once the idea popped into my head, I couldn’t let go of it. The rest, they say, is history.

 

What’s next? Is this the last book of the series?

 You’d think I’d have that all figured out, wouldn’t you? A Scandalous Matter is definitely NOT the last book in my Magic of Love series—I have at least two more planned, perhaps more, since readers (and characters) keep asking for further stories. Hooray!

But my fourth book, The Demon Duke, will launch a new, purely Regency series, Put Up Your Dukes. The Demon Duke features Grace Mattersley (sister to A Matter of Time’s hero Deveric Mattersley) and Damon Blackbourne, Duke of Malford. It will debut in early 2017.

As you might gather from the series’ name, the heroes will be dukes (like A Matter of Time’s James Bradley). Some of the heroines will hail from A Matter of Time’s Mattersley family, and some won’t.

Not only will I have a ducal series, but I’ll also write stories for the other Mattersley siblings in my Matters of Love series. With this many books to write, I better get busy. Or busier, as the case may be.

If you could time travel to any era, where would you go and what crazy things do you think you’d get into?

I have to pick just ONE? Because I want to see ancient Greece and ancient Rome, Charlemagne’s era, Germany in the Ottonian and Salian periods, medieval England, renaissance Italy, Regency England, the American West, America in the 1950s (okay, that’s just for the shot to meet Elvis, mostly)…

And I think I’d rather stay on the sidelines and observe, like Scrooge. Don’t want to risk that whole butterfly effect, you know? Though I’m dying to know who built Stonehenge and why, what WAS it like in Egypt thousands of years ago, what would it sound like to hear kids in Caesar’s time speaking fluent Latin, what was it like to be alive during the middle ages, etc, etc…

 

If your novel was a movie, who’d play the main peeps?

Whew, an easier question! In my mind, A Scandalous Matter’s Amara Mattersley and Matthew Goodson are physically modeled after Jennifer Lawrence and Matthew Goode. (A Matter of Time’s Eliza James and Deveric Mattersley are a plumper Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman to me, not that you asked – and I have Pinterest boards showing those inspirations, as well as those for the characters in A Man of Character (http://www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke).

 

If your life was made into a German telenovela (soap opera), what would it be called?

Can I just call it Eichhörchen (squirrel)? Because that’s such a fun word to say. But probably, Die Frau, die zuviel spricht (The Woman Who Talks Too Much). Which might also be my native American name.

 

Please tell me a humorously cool story about yourself that somehow relates to your book (like fitting in somewhere you don’t belong etc).

Humorously cool story? About ME? Well, I’ve never time travelled (sadly), but I DID just get back from a trip with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop to New York City—and this Iowa girl now living in relatively rural Virginia definitely felt like a fish out of water. So many people, so much noise, so many gigantic buildings. How does anybody live there, with the high prices and mass chaos? Not quite the same as skipping centuries, but I could easily see myself gawking about as much as a Regency transplant might. Luckily, Central Park provided me the same refuge UVA’s Lawn provides for Amara in A Scandalous Matter.

 

Finally, I know you love 80s music. Please change the chorus/lyrics from a popular 80s song and make it about your book! 🙂

I do love 80s music, but man, this is a lot of pressure!

Let’s go with Prince, to honor his late greatness, and because When Doves Cry gets a shout-out in A Scandalous Matter:

When Time Flies… (apologies to Prince)

Click, if you will, the picture
Of you and I engaged in a kiss.
The brim of your bonnet covers me.
Can you, Amara,
Can you picture this?

Dream, if you can, a stone circle–
An ocean of violets in bloom.
Manuscripts bring love stories
That tell the heat,
The heat between me and you…

 

That was amazing! You are the best, Margaret! Thanks for indulging my random, fun interview! 🙂
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A lover of romance novels since the age of ten (shh, don’t tell mom!), Margaret Locke declared as a teen that she’d write romances when she grew up. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things (such as earning that master’s degree in medieval history), not penning steamy
Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader. 

Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window); she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person. 

Margaret loves to interact with fellow readers and authors! You may find her here:

Website/Blog: http://margaretlocke.com

Ariel: My Interview with Sydney Scrogham


sydney Full Cover Final
Back cover copy:  Abuse survivor Ariel Harte doesn’t need anyone. Ever. But her companion animal is infected with a dark, magical force. Only an ancient purification ritual, the mind link, performed with another human can cure this infection.

Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help.

But she’s racing time. She’s infected, too. All the walls will have to come down so Ariel can heal or she will lose herself to the darkness forever. 

Ariel: The First Guardian is a story of true love that wins over time, the power of second chances, and redemption from abuse. This is a prequel to Chase in the Guardians of Agalrae series but can be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

Preorder it now on Amazon 
Hello, Sydney! I’m so excited about your new book, Ariel, that’s coming out tomorrow, June 17th. I’ve got some fun questions for you. Here we go!
What inspired you to write this book?
In all honesty, it was a bad breakup. Writing for me is a spiritual process transforming painful circumstances into something life-giving that I can understand. That’s exactly what I did with Ariel’s story. I won’t confess what parts are based on real-life events, but this story does hit close to home. As I wrote Ariel’s story and she got her happy ending, I did, too.
 
What other books/movies can you compare your book to?
When it comes to the voice of this story, definitely James Patterson’s Maximum Ride books. And then I took some of the romance aspects from my favorite TV show Castle. This was also kind of my way of ironically striking back at Fifty Shades of Grey. There are a lot of ironic connections between the stories for me, but I’ll leave it up to the reader to figure out how. (Don’t worry, Ariel’s story doesn’t contain any graphic sexual scenes.)
 
Is this the first book you have published? If not, what are some of your other books out there?
This is the second book for me. The first was Chase, published in August 2015 with Koehler Books.
 
I hear you have mild to moderate obsession with horsies…when did this all begin?
Probably when I started writing. 🙂 Actually, it was before then. There’s a picture floating around my family of me as a baby sitting on the back of a gray horse. (Yes, someone is holding me up there.) I got my own horse when I was 12, and I’ve had a horse ever since. Snowdy is my second four-legged child. I met him working at my college’s equestrian center. He picked me as his person, and when the college was ready to retire him from his school horse career, he came home with me a few months after.
 
sydney with Snowdy
Explain the feeling you get when you are riding a horse.
It’s simultaneously peaceful and empowering. My mind silences to focus on a single thing-communicating well with my horse. A horse is always speaking to its rider if they have the ears to listen. When I reach that sweet spot where we’re understanding each other, I feel invincible.
 
What’s your favorite type of horse?
It’s never been about the “type” for me. It’s about the heart. That’s what drew me to Snowdy. He was a rather aggressive lesson horse, very unhappy with life, and I remember the days when people would refer to him with expletives I won’t repeat. That made me so angry. I could see something in Snowdy’s eyes from the beginning, even when he was angry. He was intelligent, always thinking, full of potential, but frustrated. All he needed was someone to believe in him. And in that moment, I saw myself in his eyes. That was it. I was sold. Long story short, I learned Snowdy is a Selle Francais (French Thoroughbred) with a fancy sire and siblings that have gone off to be big names in the show jumping ring. But that was never important to me in the beginning. It just so happens that he has incredible natural talent. He’s been with me for three years now, happy as can be, and though he isn’t mean anymore, he did keep his sass. 🙂 It’s amazing how sometimes all animals (and people) need sometimes is a little bit of love.
 
Finally, what song would play in the opening track of your book turned into a movie?
Funny you asked that. I asked Ariel the same thing when she was teaching me her backstory before I started writing. She told me that her opening song would be “Hero” by Nickelback. The rest of her playlist includes “Hero” by Skillet, “I Know” by Seventh Day Slumber, “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence, “Invincible” by Crossfade, and “Erase” by Building 429.
 
For more from Ariel’s initial interview with me, check it out: http://www.sswriter.com/lions-tigers-characters-oh-my-interview-101/ 
Thanks so much, Syndney! Can’t wait to read the book!
sydney author photo
SYDNEY SCROGHAM loves creating happy endings. She started writing when she was 12. Her first book, Chase, was published by Koehler Books in August 2015. When she’s not writing, she’s at the barn with Snowdy or catching up on reruns of the best TV show ever – Castle. She lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with an adorable dachshund named Zoe. To learn more, visit her website at sswriter.com.

Embrace the Fire: Interview with Local Author, Tamara Shoemaker


Wanted by King Sebastian, Kinna, the long-hidden daughter of the assassinated King Liam, flees for her life, determined to seek out her twin brother and free him from Sebastian’s dungeons. Meanwhile, the King holds Kinna’s adopted father as collateral to ensure she keeps her betrothal to a man she does not love.

Once cursed by King Sebastian to turn everything he touched to ash, Ayden suffers from new, searing pain that heats his flesh in a different way. Searching for answers, he digs into the histories of West Ashwynd’s Clans, and his discoveries lead him to the Amulet he’d thought had rid him of his curse. When he finds a rare Mirage Dragon, hope for vengeance upon Sebastian fills him again.

Captured and stripped of his power as Dragon-Master, Cedric resists using his Dragon-speak to advance Sebastian’s political aims. When he escapes the King’s clutches, he resolves to find his twin sister, Kinna. But the enemy has a long reach, and Cedric’s chains are unrelenting.

Ice and agony torment Sebastian, King of West Ashwynd. His fury rages unabated as he prepares for war. When treachery leeches into his ranks, he turns against everyone he trusts. Sebastian believes he cannot be outwitted, but…

Kingdoms rise and fall; wars transform nations—but who can survive the fires of Dragons?

Well, hello, author friend, Tamara Shoemaker, how lovely to interview you again. 🙂 I’m excited to hear all about your newest book, Embrace the Flame. What is the Heart of a Dragon series about and what can readers expect from this second book?

My Heart of a Dragon trilogy dips into the traditional fantasy realm with a medieval-esque setting and fantasy creatures galore (including but not limited to dragons, griffons, sirens, phoenixes, direwolves, ogres, centaurs, and pixies). It follows the footsteps of four main characters, three of whom find themselves oppressed beneath the rule of the fourth, the King of West Ashwynd, a man named Sebastian. Throughout the trilogy, passions collide as Kinna, Ayden, and Cedric fight to bring justice and equality for the mistreated and downtrodden under Sebastian’s rule. Building to an roiling climax, nations clash in epic warfare until the skies light with Dragonfire and justice finds its end. But will those who seek what is right find it without perishing in the attempt?

You’ll have to read the trilogy to find out. 😉

Embrace the Fire readers can expect an uptick in action from the first book, Kindle the Flame. There will be tastes of two countries embroiled in war, more fantasy creatures introduced, a good in-depth look at dragon psychology and reproductive habits, and an increase in romantic tension for two certain members of the cast. Overall, I think it’s one of the best books I’ve written; I can’t wait to hear how readers enjoy it!

 

Will readers need to have read the first book or can they just embrace this new one, hehe?

Haha! How very punny of you. 😉 Granted, Embrace the Fire will make much more sense if you’ve read the first book and are familiar with the world and the characters introduced in Kindle the Flame. That said, each of my books follows an intrinsic plot-line, meaning there is a plot that rises, peaks, and falls in every portion of the trilogy while at the same time maintaining the overarching plot. Readers will be able to follow and enjoy the single-book plot-line, although they may get a little confused about terms like psuche (a person’s soul-connection with a creature) or taibe (magic) or the various kinds of Dragons (Mirage, Ember, Poison-Quill, Nine-Tail), etc. They would still be able to pick up the storyline fairly quickly, though.

 

If your book was made into a movie, who’d play the main characters?

Oooh, I love questions like these! 🙂 And how handy that I made a storyboard for myself complete with the movie characters I picture in these roles. Hence:

Kinna: Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger of Hogwarts)

Ayden: Jensen Ackles (aka Dean Winchester of Supernatural)

Julian: Ben Barnes (aka Prince Caspian of Narnia)

Lincoln: Chase Crawford (aka Billy LeFever of Blood and Oil)

Ashleen: Priyanka Chopra (aka Alex Parrish of Quantico)

Lianna: Amanda Seyfried (aka Karen Smith of Mean Girls)

Nicholas Erlane: Liam Neeson (aka Oskar Schindler of Schindler’s List)

Sebastian Andrachen: Christian Bale (aka Alfred Borden of The Prestige)

Cedric: Zac Effron (aka Jason of That Awkward Moment)

 

When did your crazy obsession with dragons begin?

It’s a fairly recent thing. I’ve always enjoyed reading about them, of course, but in the same way I enjoy reading about the action that a predator brings to a scene (most of the dragons I met before my trilogy were Tolkien-esque). When I started thinking about this trilogy and figuring out my plots and storyline, my Dragons started taking on sympathetic traits. I view the ones in my books much as I would a pet dog. I just want to hug them, scaly though they are. They’re adorable.

 

If you were a dragon, what kind of dragon would you be and why?

Hahaha! Who says I’m not? 😉 I would totally have to be a Mirage Dragon, as they are, by far, seriously superior to their brethren among the Embers, Poison-Quills, and Nine-Tails. All four kinds have some really cool abilities and traits, but the Mirages are just kick-tushie wonderful. Why would I be a Dragon? I think you’re asking the wrong question. Why would I not be a Dragon? I mean, really. How cool would it be to soar through the skies all day with an almost impenetrable defensive coating that no one would dare attack? 🙂

 

I know I’ve asked this question before but I find myself continuously surprised at your ability to churn out writerly (and let’s not lie, personal) awesomeness time after time. How do you find the time to be such a prolific writer?

Tama ReadingI don’t. I mean, I am a prolific writer, but you’re asking me where I find the time, and I have no idea. I have three young kids and a husband who occasionally enjoy eating and/or a clean house, and I have no idea where my writing time comes from. I sit down during any snippets of freedom I get to write, and sometimes the words come and sometimes they don’t, but I always, always keep plugging away at it. I sometimes feel that if I stop, I’ll never start again, and I can’t imagine that happening, so I never stop.

This is good and bad. On one hand, many books of mine find their way through the publishing process, but on the other, my life seems to have hit a permanent fast-forward button, and I can’t seem to find the normal play option anymore. 🙂

 

Also, as a budding novelist myself, I’d love to hear about how you cracked into the market and how you built up your fan base.

Tama at Book Signing

I’d love to say that I hit the jackpot with millions of readers suddenly lining up at the bookstores for the first copies of my new releases, but that’s certainly not true. In reality, it’s a gritty, slow, tiring, frustrating process. It’s talking to one person and finding later that day that they’ve “liked” your Facebook page. It’s contacting an old friend and telling them what you’re doing, and finding a month later that they’ve read your book and left a review. It’s day after day after day of seemingly fruitless tweets and posts and interviews and contacts, and maybe never hearing anything back.

In the end, it’s the peace of knowing that you’re doing what you love most to do, which is creating a work of art that is truly worthwhile to yourself. If others happen to enjoy it, that’s icing on the cake. 🙂

 

Last but not least, please craft a haiku about dragons. 7/5/7 in case you’re rusty…:-)

Roaring smoke and flame,

Betwixt jaws of all the same…

Roasting marshmallows. 😉

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Tamara Shoemaker lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-ending carafe of coffee. She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the first two books of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame and Embrace the Fire, as well as Mark of Four and Shadows of Uprising, the first two books in the Guardian of the Vale trilogy. In her spare time, she freelances as an editor for other works of fiction.

Follow her on social media:

Twitter: @TamaraShoemaker

Website: www.tamarashoemaker.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tshoebooks

 

 

Interview with Tamara Shoemaker: Author of Mark of Four


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  1. Tell me a little about who you are and what you write.

I’m a bookworm masquerading as a wife, mother of three, writer of books, freelance editor. Imagination is my middle name. Or chocolate, one or the other.
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  1. How did you get into writing?

It’s always hard to know how to answer this. I’ve doodled stories from little on up, but didn’t actually finish a novel until 2006. It took me six years to find a publisher, but I loved the creation of novels so much, I haven’t stopped making books since.

  1. If you were on a deserted island, what three books would you bring with you and why?
    1. How to Build a Boat and Other Interesting Things You Can Do with Palm Fronds – for obvious reasons.
    2. 1001 Travel Games – in case of boredom
    3. 400 Ways to Cook Seaweed – for, you know, the meals I’ll need to host.TamaraShoemaker-300dpi-3125x4167(1)
  2. Give us an idea of what Mark of Four is about.

Seventeen-year-old Alayne Worth wields four elements in a world where all other Elementals wield only one, and every force on CommonEarth, both good and bad, wants to use her talents with fire, air, earth, and water. How will she survive the struggle for the power she possesses?

  1. What books are similar to Mark of Four?

A test-reader just got done reading Mark of Four yesterday and gave me his opinion. “It’s Harry Potter meets Avatar,” he said. As a lifelong Harry Potter fan and a loyal follower of Avatar, I’ll take that as high praise.

  1. If your book gets made into a movie, who would play the main characters?
  • Alayne – a slightly younger Adrianne Palicki (Bobby, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
  • (Diving into the cartoon world) Marysa – Rapunzel from Tangled (with shorter, dark hair)
  • Jayme – Flynn Ryder, also from Tangled
  • Kyle (Departing from the cartoon world again) – Luke Mitchell (Lincoln, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
  • Daymon – Theo James (Four, Divergent)
  • Manders – Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man, The Avengers)
  • Malachi – Woody Harrelson (Haymitch, Hunger Games)
  1. What are some of the other books you have written?

I have four mysteries out: my Shadows in the Nursery series, and another mystery, Soul Survivor. This past summer, I released the first book of my Heart of a Dragon trilogy, Kindle the Flame, and its sequel will follow in March of 2016. Mark of Four is the first book of my Guardian of the Vale trilogy.

  1. How do you juggle being a stay-at-home mom and an amazing author?

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Sheer insanity. Lots of coffee. And an understanding and supportive husband.

  1. Name your favorite animal and why…(this was a sneaky, three-point question…) 🙂

Gorillas fascinate me. When I visit the zoo, they are the one animal that I would sit and watch for hours, if I could. Of course, I’ve never cuddled with a gorilla, so if I ever had the chance, it’s possible I would choose the more normal cat or dog answer.

  • Could you give me three words that say what you like about a gorilla?
    • Gorilla: Three words or three phrases? I’m having trouble coming up with anything besides big, hairy, or funny for the words. Phrases could be: a.) He plays peek-a-boo with my kids and saves me a whole lot of energy, b.) he picks his nose just like my son, and c.) he uses his toes like fingers. Wish I could do that. 🙂
  • Okay, so using your phrases about your fav animals (big, hairy, funny, plays peek-a-boo, picks his nose, uses toes like fingers) – tell me how those characteristics relate to you.
    • Hahaha!! Hmm, I’m not very big or hairy, but I do have an occasional funny moment. I play peek-a-boo with my kids, but not as well as said gorilla. In shocking news, I have picked my nose before, but have trouble using my toes like fingers–they just don’t have that piano flexibility that I’ve developed with my hands. 🙂
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  1. Who inspires you?

I am amazed every week by the work of the Flashdogs, writers from around the world who come together online to offer pieces of absolutely stunning work on various flash fiction sites. When I hit writer’s block, I go search for their work, and generally reading over their stories shatters the wall, and the stories begin flowing again.

tamara2bw-crop

Tamara Shoemaker lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-ending carafe of coffee. She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the beginning of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame, as well as the upcoming Guardian of the Vale trilogy.

Follow her on social media:

Twitter: @TamaraShoemaker

Website: www.tamarashoemaker.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tshoebooks

 

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: Interview with Norys


Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: Interview with Norys

 norysgiros

“Giros” by Norys (fabric art)

 

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Norys, and I’m the oldest of three siblings. I’m also a student of medicine and agricultural engineering. I’ve lived here for almost eight years and am still trying to adapt to the culture and the system in general.

2.     What made you decide to do this interview?

I believe it is important so people know who we, the immigrants, are and that we have a voice and story to tell.

 

3.     Where are you from and why did you decide to come to America?

I’m Salvadoran and I didn’t make the decision, my parents did. They thought that here I would have a better future.

4.     What was life like for you where you grew up?

Beautiful! Even though there were limitations, we were free. There was not enough food or money. We had meat only on special occasions. I had a lot of friends and every moment with them was like creating a movie. Those are happy memories. What I want to say is that we lived; we lived. It was happier. It didn’t matter if there was no money or if there was no food, it was the spirit of happiness that kept us alive.

 

5. What is life like for people in your country now? Do you still have family and friends there?

Yes, most of my friends are in El Salvador, my paternal grandparents and my grandmother on my mom’s side and my aunt. It’s still the same, only with the different that it is not the same El Salvador where I grew up; there is more fear, more violence, and more insecurity. It’s still beautiful with its scenery, its culture, and its people, but it’s not the same.

 

6.     What did you have to do to get here (i.e. paperwork, money, etc)?

I crossed the border like most do. It was an unknown and dangerous journey. It took me three weeks to arrive at my destination. You didn’t know if each day that ended would bring another tomorrow. It is like a horror movie. You don’t know what is coming next. It is unknown, horrible. If they asked me to do it again, I wouldn’t do it.

 

7.     What hardships did you face coming to America?

I think that the hardest thing of the journey was everything together, starting from leaving my land. Upon leaving my house, I said, Norys, don’t look back and keep going. So, that was the hardest part, leaving my land, my people. Once I began the journey I was confronted with other difficulties like traveling with strangers. You didn’t really know what type of people were traveling with you, if they were good or if they were bad. There were moments in which I had to console people who wanted to commit suicide and be there and tell them that this was going to pass, that we weren’t going to stay there forever, that it was going to pass. Trying to save my own life and save the lives of others was difficult but it gave me the strength to go on.

(here is a video of the following end of the question, it is in Spanish but you can follow along…the answer starts around 0:15)

One person cut his veins because he didn’t want to leave his grandchildren. And he lost a lot of blood so the guide asked if anyone knew how to put in an IV. And, well, no one is prepared for something like that. In a journey like that it would be really lucky for a doctor or nurse to come, but this time there wasn’t anybody. Seeing the need, and being a student of medicine, I said that I would do it, it was something I had to do. So I said I could do it, I could try. And that person was lying on a dirt floor, and he was white, like paper, and I did the procedure and I don’t know how I did it but I did it, and he lived. He lived and I don’t know what happened with him later but then another woman got like this, like an anxiety, and she got really bad, because the experience, itself, is traumatic. No one is prepared for what comes on the journey. Once on the journey you don’t know how the mind will react. So this person, she said that she didn’t want to live anymore, that she didn’t want to live anymore, but she had two twin daughters that she left behind in El Salvador, and she had told me about them when we met for the first time and had told me that she left behind her family. So I told her, “You have to live. You have to get to this country so you can work and bring your daughters so you can be together, and you can’t think negative. Who will take care of your daughters if you die or if you do something crazy? Who will see after them? So I had my fears, and I had my fears because it was an unknown journey and everyone will tell it differently depending on how they lived it but this is how I lived it. And so I had to put my fears to the side so I could try to be a help to these people and I didn’t mind, I didn’t mind. I lost my fear ad I said, these people need me more, and well, I did that, and I believe that’s what gave me the strength to get through that journey, that uncertain journey, and arrive at the destination. Like the fear of those people helped me to overcome my own fears and therefore be able to help them. You never know when…we all have our fears because it’s a natural thing, right? But seeing that many others were more afraid, then yours becomes insignificant and you can say, “oh, that is nothing, but this is serious. They really need help.” And that’s when you do something, when you give.

 

8.     Once you came to America, what was life like?

My life in the United States. (sigh) It was difficult to adapt, I think it’s like that for everyone. With something new, if you’re afraid, it’s natural. The fear of the unknown. But to me, time passes that you start to adapt and you begin to not be yourself because you have to follow patterns. Like the ones that are already here, they say, “Hey, they do things this way.” Then you follow that same pattern. But after a while you get involved in the system, you change opinions, and you begin adapting your own ways. Another hard thing was learning the language. Going to school when you’re 21 and being around kids that are 14, 15, 16. That was a challenge, but once I arrived here my father told me, “If you going to be in this country, without knowing the language, you’re nothing.” And he was right. I went to school for four years and I graduated with my high school diploma for the second time, and I accomplished it. And now I say, knowing the language has saved my life. It has opened doors for me and I have met a lot of people, I have been to places, that if it weren’t for knowing the language, I don’t know, it never would have happened. Going back to high school and pretending that you’re a certain age when you aren’t is hard. Pretending was hard. For me. But, I had to do it; I had to do it. I’m an introverted person so I got through this time unscathed because I didn’t talk, I only learned and analyzed and observed and I didn’t have the need to say, “Oh, I’m 21 or 22.”

And coming here and being a single mother. To come carrying a baby in your womb and go to school, be a single mother, adapt to the system, a new culture, it was the complete package. It was hard. It was hard but here I am.

 

9.     What helped you get to where you are today?

The worst that can happen to someone is dying. While you’re alive, there are many possibilities, and I believe being 29 years old is a blessing, because in my country, life is no longer worth anything. Then waking up the next day and seeing the light is like, thank you, right? For another day. And to know that everything passes, sadness passes. There will always be a new day. Like I said before, while you’re alive, there are many possibilities. The opportunities are there, it’s only having the desire to look for them. To dream. I am a dreamer and I dream big. I always say, everything happens for a reason. We are here and I am here with a purpose. I am here for a reason. I don’t have everything I want but I have everything I need. You understand? So I think that is what’s most important. Not looking back but rather continuing and continuing and knowing that one day you’re going to be there, where you have always dreamed.

 

10.     How do different generations in your family experience America (i.e. immigrant-born vs. American-born generations)?

The new generations don’t have a sense of culture. When I say that, I feel that they don’t have culture, it is a double culture. Finally, it’s like saying, “Am I American or am I Salvadoran?” What is there in the middle? Then it’s what is there in the middle, it’s what has been lost. The old generations or the older generations, like my parents, my aunts and uncles, cousins, they have that history, they have that folklore still in them, but here they have forgotten to pass it on to these new generations. So it gets lost. They have become Americanized, forgetting about their roots, of that rich folklore that we have as Salvadorans. I’m talking about the rest of my family. Personally, I try to continue cultivating that, that spirit, that culture. I try to cook with those same aromas and pass on that culture to my daughters. And it is difficult when you are married to a person who shares a different culture. Balancing both cultures is hard.

I am trying to continue speaking Spanish, continue cooking those traditional dishes, and continue saving those traditions. In my family I feel it has been lost, because they say, “We are in America, we will live like Americans.” Okay. There’s nothing bad in that but I feel it is important that our children, as Latinos, as the Hispanic-Americans we are, it is important that they know their roots, where they come from. For me it is important, because I want them to have the same feeling, the same love for their roots. It doesn’t matter how nice or ugly El Salvador is. It doesn’t matter how violent it is. That folklore and that human charm will always prevail. It will always be there and just because a group of people are doing bad, doesn’t mean that our children shouldn’t know where their mother and father come from, you know? They have to have that, because it doesn’t matter where they are, if they’re here or in China, they have to know what their roots are.

11. Have you preserved any traditions, foods, languages, or customs from your native country?

Yes. I am writing a book of traditional recipes. I love the kitchen. It is a form of transmitting life and bringing memories. I like cooking and sharing how I do it. Sharing the recipe and say, for example, on holy week, it’s a custom in El Salvador to make fish tortas, and I love them. I remember how my paternal grandmother made them, and I have it etched in my mind and I remember that she would be there in the kitchen and she would said, “Don’t stick your hands in the dough. Don’t touch.” So then I’d only observe but I observed with detail and that how I make them now; it is how I cook. So that’s what I’m doing, preserving, I could say, the recipe as much as the memory, of how I learned to make it and pass it on. Then when I am cooking, I am telling the story, and she was like angry. She didn’t like me to be in the kitchen, but unconsciously I was learning, unconsciously she was teaching. So that is how I learned.

 

12. How does your cultural heritage affect your views on immigration?

It’s complex. Just the word immigration is like, “ouch.” The system is unjust. Just the fact of crossing borders and adapting ourselves to a culture that’s no our own, is a big change. Aside from that, dealing with a immigration system that doesn’t help, but rather destroys, emotionally and culturally, I think there’s a lot to say and even then it’s not enough.

We aren’t here to be pitied, but it would be good to be accepted for who we are and what we can contribute to the development of the country, bring a little of our culture and share. Originally, this country was built by immigrants. So it doesn’t have a specific culture, if you could say that. There is a diversity of cultures. Why can’t we join each other and celebrate life and celebrate diversity? All of us would be happier and everything would be easier. While we create barriers that you’re white and you’re black, red, yellow, there will always be conflict and nobody will ever be happy. What can’t we all love each other just like we are?

13. What else would you like to share with everyone about yourself, your family, or about immigration in general?

About me?…um…I believe my message would be like this: while you’re alive, there are many possibilities, and it doesn’t mater where we find ourselves. If we are in this place, it’s because we have to be here for a purpose, and independent of what we believe, we have to get out, search, and fight for our dreams. And even though the system or society where we live is unjust, it’s not a reason to say, “I can’t.” Society does not have to accept us. There is a strong reason why we are here “now.” It doesn’t matter where we are. Like I said, the system doesn’t work for us, we don’t have to adjust, but we have to critique and we have to fight. We have to make them know that we have a voice and that we have a story to tell.

 

Norys, thank you so much for being willing to share so openly about your story.

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: Interview with Ulysses Jaen


I am grateful to have my first interview with Ulysses Jaen, who is willing to share his story with us all. Enjoy!

ulysses

  1.      Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Nicaragua, lived in California for decades, traveled throughout Central and North America as well as many European nations. Currently I reside in Southwest Florida.

  1.      What made you decide to do this interview?

Stereotypes may make good material for comedians in their routines; however, they are detrimental to those of us misinterpreted in real life as a result.

  1.      Where are you from and why did you decide to come to America?

I was born in a beautiful city named Matagalpa in the mountains of Nicaragua. When the revolution against US backed dictator Somoza erupted, my family played an active role and suffered greatly. The odds of surviving as identified opponents to this cruel tyranny were very slim. My parents decided to do anything they could to survive. We migrated to Southern California.

  1.      What was life like for you where you grew up?

It was a tough but happy life as a child. My father was a mechanic and my mother was a public school teacher and insurance saleslady. Between the two of them, they gave us a home, education and great memories. It was a life surrounded by amazing contrasts of social classes, opportunities and cultures. Those who allied themselves with the government did well but, those who dared to ask why so much injustice happened did not fare well.

  1.      What did you have to do to get here (i.e. paperwork, money, etc.)?

My father lost his business during the revolution. Our parents sold anything they could to pay officials for passports. My oldest brother was disguised and transported out of town in an ambulance as he was considered a guerilla fighter. My other brother suffered a superficial shot to his back and managed to get out to the capital and subsequently out of the country. The three oldest boys out of five made it to L.A. first and our family reunited months later as our parents struggled country to country trying to get though.

For money? What did we not do? I lost count at 52 different jobs as a teenager trying to scrape a living. I did a lot of landscaping work, restaurants, construction, hard and dangerous jobs that nobody lasted long doing.

  1.      What hardships did you face coming to America?

My two older brothers and I were supposed to be picked up and taken to live with family members in L.A. Nobody showed up to pick us up but, we found an angel who took us in and let us stay in his garage the first winter. We did not speak English, we had few clothes to wear, we did not know how to get around but we did not have time to think, we had to find ways to survive.

When our family reunited, another kind soul let us stay in a house he was trying to remodel. It was a two bedroom small house with no windows or comforts but we made the best of it. We welcomed anyone that asked for help and at one time we had twelve people sleeping on the floor, eating rice and beans and helping each other in any way that we could.

  1.      Once you came to America, what was life like?

It was hard but in a different way. People throw away things in this country that other people in the world would do so much to get. Because of my age, I had to keep registering in school so that my parents would not get into trouble so I went to five different high schools and worked on evenings and weekends to help the family.

My father struggled to make a living, he was very talented but employers took advantage of him and he suffered trying to support us. My brothers knew this and did what they could to pitch in and we all promised to do our best to one day achieve the American dream.

  1.      What helped you get to where you are today?

Faith and perseverance were crucial but, I was very fortunate to meet great people along the way. My family is an amazing inspiration and support system and always pushed me up when I have been down. I tried many things and failed as well as succeeded to a certain level. I started a gardening company, a courier service a truck and auto repair shop and a moving and deliveries company. I learned from each experience and I tried to get up and fight again. Education has helped me a lot. I knew that no matter what, investing in me was smart to do. I went to many community colleges part time until I graduated. I continued on to the university and received my Master’s in Public Administration, my Juris Doctorate and a Masters in Information and Library Sciences degree.

Knowing that I have a responsibility to the world around me, I try to teach and mentor every chance I get. I also do pro bono community service and I am an insane activist for social justice. My main focus is to help immigrant communities because I know first-hand how unfair they are treated.

  1.      How do different generations in your family experience America (i.e. immigrant-born vs. American-born generations)?

The difference is amazing. In one generation, our children are completely assimilated into American culture. Sure, they like Latin foods and sing along to songs I listen to frequently. It is the way that other people make them feel that is disturbing. Sometimes, other children expect that they only speak Spanish or Latin kids can’t understand why they don’t speak Spanish. The children live in two worlds of sorts. As for my generation, we are torn because we reminisce about a life we left behind but no longer exists. We crave old tastes, we miss old friends but there is no fulfillment possible. As for our parents, most certainly, they enjoy seeing their grandchildren live a safe and promising future. They also feel as outsiders as time goes by because what they took for granted in traditions, cultural peculiarities and customs are not respected or even attractive to the younger members of the family.

10.  Have you preserved any traditions, foods, languages, or customs from your native country?

Yes, very much so. I play and sing old songs, I cook for them family favorites, I make it a point to let them know the best traits such as love of family, respect for their elders, and more.

I feel it important for them to know that they are special. They have a wealth in their ancestry that they should cherish and not be ashamed of.

11.  How does your cultural heritage affect your views on immigration?

It affects my views on a daily basis. I understand how the gardener and the cook, the laborer and the grocer work hard to take care of their families and benefit me with their contributions. I can feel their pain and sing their praises as I know how hard it is for them. I understand how immigration laws are impossible to work with, much less try to learn and apply properly. I think that many people fail to see all the good that immigrants provide society with. Some people make it a point in their lives to promote anti-immigrant misinformation for multiple reasons, therefore, I make it a point to show that we are good people and we are here for the same reasons as all immigrants from all over the world which is to live a better life.

12. What else would you like to share with everyone about yourself, your family, or about immigration in general?

I want everyone to put themselves in our shoes and ask themselves what they would do if they had to endure the same circumstances. I want them to know that immigrants love this country just as much or more than others who have been here for generations. People who are willing to risk their lives to come here do so because they believe in America as the Promised Land. These people are the bravest, the hardest working, and the best from all over the world. The United States is what it is because of immigrants.

Mr. Jaen, thank you so much for being willing to share so openly about your story.

See pictures of what childhood looked like for Ulysses here.

Ulysses N. Jaen is Ave Maria School of Law Library’s Head of Public Services. 

Mr. Jaen brings over 30 years of experience to the School. He has worked as an entrepreneur, business manager and legal professional, taught in the Master’s in Legal Studies program at West Virginia University, and lectured on a variety of Advanced Legal Research topics while working for WVU. Mr Jaen currently teaches Administrative Ethics, Immigration and Border Security and Advanced Legal Research. 

Mr. Jaen performed legal research and writing, document translation and simultaneous interpretation services for the Law Office of Hamstead, Williams & Shook from 2009 to 2012 and for the Law Offices of Angotti & Straface from 2006 to 2009. He worked at the WVU College of Law Library from 2005 to 2012 and was promoted to Access Services Librarian in 2007. 

Mr. Jaen received his J.D. and a Master’s in Public Administration from West Virginia University. He also served as president of the Student Association of Public Administrators there. He completed his M.I.L.S., with an emphasis in leadership, from Florida State University. He was a Court appointed mediator and has completed training as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children. 

Mr. Jaen is a member of the American Bar Association, the National Hispanic Bar Association, the American Association of Law Libraries (current vice chair/chair elect of the Diversity committee executive board until 2014 and prior chair of the Latino Caucus), and South Eastern Chapter of AALL (SEAALL) and has presented at numerous conferences, and for various organizations and agencies including the Department of Justice, Universities and community events.