Interview: Creeden & Lee

Armored Hearts

What do you get when you cross a paranormal romance author with horror? Armored Hearts. Melissa Turner Lee, author of Difference Between Night and Day, The Earth Painter, & The Man Painter, teamed up with Pauline Creeden, whose short stories have been called creepy, mysterious, and suspenseful, labeled as horror, gothic, steampunk, just to name a few.

Well, I invited them here today to share a little bit about themselves, their writing process, and their new release, Armored Hearts.

Welcome Melissa and Pauline! Please tell us a little about yourselves. What makes you tick? Favorite hobbies, T.V. shows, foods, drinks? Do you have any pets? Kids?

Pauline: Thanks for bringing us on, Jennette. I think that our combination keeps us both in balance. She’s the yin, and I’m the yang. Together, we have a better chance of keeping things moderated. In life we’re quite opposite, too. My house is quieter as far as kids are concerned, since I have only one 12 year old son, but we also have a menagerie – 16 horses, 4 cats, 2 dogs, 2 chickens, 3 goldfish, and a lizard, so I guess the pets are my hobby. And TV wise, I don’t watch much, but I Netflix shows that I like – Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, and the Walking Dead, for example.

Melissa: Yes, we are different. She’s a dog person. I would be a cat person if I wanted to have a pet. But there is no room at my house for one more living thing with 3 boys and a husband and a tiny house. I think more fairy tale and Pauline thinks more creepy horror and somehow it works. I watch a little TV. Doctor Who, Beauty and the Beast, Orphan Black. That’s about it for spare time here.

Who are your favorite authors, books, style, genre?

M: I’m a fan of Paranormal Romance. Stephenie Meyer got me started but I don’t think I write like her. She’s a lot more wordy. I really enjoyed Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.

P: I read a lot of fantasy/suspense/thrillers – I love CS Lewis, and anyone who visits my fan page on Facebook will know my favorite modern author is Neil Gaiman.

How did the two of you get together and decide to write a steampunk fantasy?

P: I’ll let Melissa answer this one as it was her idea.

M: I had a character come to visit me in my head. He was in a wheelchair and was from Edwardian England. Then I got to know the woman in his life. She was American and gadgety. It was steampunk so I knew I needed help and Pauline happens to be a very talented steampunk writer. I asked her and she agreed.

So, who had the idea? Where did Armored Hearts come from? Tell us a bit about this story.

M: My stories always start with characters. They show up uninvited and I ask them who they are and what is going on. I’m nosy when it comes to people taking up residence in my head. There was this Englishman in a wheelchair who had abilities that could not be explained and a girl who made gadgets and an assassin.

Can you share with us a little bit about the writing process and how the two of you worked together?

P: We had a lot of brainstorming sessions, and then Melissa wrote the first draft. Then we brainstormed some more, and then I took it and added a bit. Then we discussed what needed fixing, and Melissa did the third draft. We went back and forth on this project. But Melissa did the most work, as it was her idea. I have a Contemporary Romantic/Suspense novel I’ll be taking the reins on that we’ve done some brainstorming sessions with and will be working on it later this year as well as AH2.

M: We also made a board on Pinterest so we had the same faces, places and such in mind as we wrote.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing Armored Hearts? What was the best part of writing it?

M: Opening up to new ideas is hard but Pauline came up with great stuff. Places we needed to go back and add action or a death that I would never think of doing on my own. I think it made it stronger and not too frilly nor too dark.

P: The challenge of collaboration is that there is compromise. Sometimes I had an idea that Melissa would shoot down, and I’m sure that I shot down one or two of hers as well. But I think the end result was better than either of us would have had happen on our own and with only our own ideas involved. The best part was the research. I started watching Downton Abbey in order to immerse myself in the sort of culture that surrounds Armored Hearts (at Melissa’s suggestion). And the period is beautiful and romantic.

Who is your favorite character and why?

P: Jessamine – she’s so strong, confident, and clever. I wanna be her when I grow up.

M: Tabitha—I wish I were sweet like her and liked math.

What do you hope people walk away with after they finish reading the book?

M: This may not fit the tastes of those who are already into steampunk, but I think it will answer the question, ‘”What is steampunk?” for those who read more mainstream.

P: So much of steampunk is all about the mechanizations and political atmosphere. I know that our goal in this book is to introduce the ultra cool world to the romance and fantasy crowd in a way that is much more palatable than I’ve ever seen it done.  

And just for fun, if you could go back to experience any place in history, where and when would it be, and why?

P: Much of my writing is to my former self. If I could go back in time and smack the 18 year old me and tell her to grow up and get serious, I think I would. Just like horseback riding for me is not “for fun” but I want to get something done in the process, I’d choose to visit myself and see if I could get her more serious about God…and seeing my Daddy again would just be a bonus.

M: Maybe the 90s. It’s when I grew up, fell in love, got married. It was a time of lots of firsts. Life wasn’t so foreign to me then. Maybe that’s why I’m writing a book set in the 90s called Forever Layla. It will be for those more into romance than who read for adventure. Fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife might like it. Nicholas Sparks meets Sci-Fi minus the depressing ending.

Thank you Melissa and Pauline for joining us today!  

Would you like to connect?

Melissa Turner Lee

Like her on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter

Follow her on Pinterest



Pauline Creeden

Like her on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter

Follow her on Pinterest



Have a great week everyone!

What’s Happening

Most of you know by now that in the first week of our internet data cycle, we exceeded it, so we’ve had to go 20 days without. It’s nearly driving me crazy. Only 9 more days to go! On one hand, it has curbed my…um…research, and I’ve made progress on my edits. Almost halfway done! It’s been frustrating trying to keep up with me cyber peeps and news. But I’m trying!


So today, I wasn’t going to do anything big. I was going to share this cute youtube video I had found but it looks like it will have to wait until next week. There’s so many exciting things happening all over the place, I think I’m going to pop. So instead some happening things.

This week we saw the release of Son of Truth by Morgan L. Busse, and yesterday, Anne Elisabeth Stengl had her over for an interview and a giveaway on her blog. So stop by and enter a chance to win both books, Daughter of Light  and Son of Truth. I know I did. 🙂

And on to the next awesome stuff. Do you like to get free books, win prizes? The publisher I signed with has a cool program for reviewers and bloggers. If you’re interested, head on over to their Facebook page and introduce yourself! AltWit press is launching The Wishing Well Curse this month, and they are looking for reviewers, bloggers, etc to get the word out. I will be sharing a little bit about WWC later this month, but I’ll let you have a sneak peak of the cover. Isn’t it beautiful? I can’t wait to introduce y’all to this lovely author!


Speaking of blogging, Kristen Lamb, the social media guru, her blog: WarriorWriters blog is awesome! So many good articles on writing, blogging, Twitter, Facebook. And then there’s WANA tribe for all creative types to hang out, and there’s classes! Check it out! I’m still learning the ropes over there, but there are some awesome people over there. See, the world wide web isn’t as scary as it seems…for the most part. 🙂

Kat Heckebach is giving away an audio version of Finding Angel, a YA fantasy. Have you discovered her yet?

And did you know that the Kindle version of Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl is free! Check it out!

Speaking of free. If you like to read inspirational stories, Christian fiction, etc, check out Spirit-filled Kindle, where they compile list of free or on sale ebooks.

I know I have missed news and events, but I’ve been unable to surf my favorite blogs, comb the world wide web for interesting articles. NINE more days! Anywho, if I’ve missed a freebie, a giveaway, or cool article, share it in the links. Thanks!

Hope you all have a great weekend! 

Vander Galien Part 2

Old Dwelling

Today’s part two of our interview with photographer Jory Vander Galien. If you’ve missed the introduction and all the lovely pictures from yesterday, you can  find the first interview here. So without further ado, let’s dig in! In one of your photos, I see tents camped out at the edge of a mesa, which leads me to wonder, what do you go through to get the perfect picture?

Oh yeah…I love to backpack and really get out there away from everything. 9.9 times out of 10 I am alone too. I love being out in the open high desert alone. It is so quiet that all you hear is the ringing of your own ears and it almost hurts your ears…it is very eerie. This past summer I took my brothers out into the stillness if the high desert and I warned them of this and they experienced it firsthand. It is something that can only be sensed in the high desert I guess. Because even in the stillness of the mountains, you hear the wind pass through the trees but in the wide-open…nothing nada zilch.

The risk of being alone most of the time though is I can get into some pretty precarious situations. I have had a few run-ins with a rattlers, a few near miss steps close to falling to my death, close to being struck by lightning during the monsoon season and have even been broken down and stuck with my car with no one around for 50 miles to help… it can get hairy out there in the desert. But I think the thing that scares my most is losing my keys to my car believe it or not, but being out in the desert just invigorates me. The fact that I feel so small and insignificant to the vastness all around me just gets my blood pumping. Being alone making photographs is my ultimate drug per-se. Hence, I have to camp a lot to get the picture I need. The picture I believe you are referring to has two tents right? This is the trip I took my brothers on.

Adventuresome! You might have to revisit and share some of your adventures with us. I see a lot of landscape photos, is that your favorite? What else do you most enjoy taking photos of?

Ya there is no question that Landscape photography is my favorite. Looking at a great landscape photograph helps me be more imaginative. It takes me places, places that I don’t always have words to portray my mindset. You know what I mean? It’s like… an escape from my present. When I see a great landscape photograph, I imagine being there in that vast stillness. I quite literally get the feeling I am really there in the frame of the photograph. It is a form of escapism and this is what I try to do with my work as well. I believe this is much more successful with a black and white landscape image because there is less color distraction while with a B&W, one can only see tones of grey and if you look real hard, you can start to hear musical tones, and when that happens, that is when your escape begins.

As far as another medium of art photography, I really enjoy architecture. Actually lets just say this, I like taking pictures of things that doesn’t move. Scenes I can control (not that I control a landscape or the weather) but I sit and wait (camp) for hour’s even days for the right photograph. When the right picture is there…I just know it and I get goose bumps all over. I am in control of my camera and compositions but the weather and the potential of light is completely out of my hands, which is again where the waiting game begins. The great thing about photography is, I can control the amount of light that reaches my film or sensor. I control what I want my viewer to look at. Just taking a landscape photograph with everything in plain view can be boring; I like to make a picture with character and a personality all of its own. So this is a different kind of control rather than lets say shooting a wedding where I am directing and always on the move seeking that one money shot rather than waiting out in the field.

So yes, I do photograph other things. I have to make a living hehehe so I do shoot weddings and portraits. It is unfortunate that it is the commercial side of this medium is where most of the money comes from. It is rare that an artist can actually make a 100% living off their art but I have to say… it is not impossible and this is my ultimate goal and I have the belief this could become a true reality for me in the coming years.

Path of Light and Virga

What are your goals as a photographer?

Wow…perfect timing for this question right…wow.

So I am feverishly trying to get some work into some galleries. Once I can get into a gallery or two then I can start making a little bit more on my sales. Sales are sporadic especially in this economy, I can go months without a sale then all of a sudden boom…10 sales this month but it averages out to about one print or two a month so this is where great gallery representation would be such a great help. Please pray for this.

I hope to have a book deal here in the next 5 years too so this is exciting to even think about.

One other thing is, in the next year here or two, I plan to start up my own landscape photography workshop. No I won’t get rich doing them but it is a way to make side money to keep up with the equipment needs and of course it keeps me closer to the landscapes I love so much.

As an artist though, it is my goal to bring my viewer to a place they have never seen. My work is mostly austere and quiet so with that in mind, having a distant austere landscape in your living room invokes a sense of imagine and surreal fantasy I suppose as I explained already, a place to escape to. I get some of the most unusual remarks from my clients who own my work but the most common theme is they have a reason to escape into the picture and see God.

Recently, there’s been some interesting conversations about Pinterest, sharing images found online, copyrights on photographs, and such, at least among the writerly types. This is your livelihood, or at least your dream just as much as writing is mine and the next person is something else. What’s your take on this?

Ya I used to take this really serious but I have come to realize that if someone really wants a picture for whatever reason, they can take a screenshot of the thing. There is no real way to stop this but the thing is though, the files I post online are really small and copyrighted so stealing one of my images is of no real value to someone. I have made plenty of educational screenshots for PowerPoint presentations for my classes. Like I said though, there is no real point to even get all up in arms about it anymore these days. I mean in some ways an artist’s ultimate compliment is to have their work stolen. Now on the other hand…if you are posting 50MB files online…then you’re just asking to get ripped off but even then, every digital image has embedded copyright and metadata file attached, so if someone tried to claim an image as their own or tried making a professional size print without the artist’s consent…there is a consequence. I for one would never what to be on the wrong end of that.

As far as Pinterest goes… isn’t that just for women? LOL. In all seriousness, no I don’t use that. However, now that I just recently acquired an iPhone, I have been having fun with Instagram. I can be followed there at joryvg.

Cedar Mesa

Don’t be too quick write off Pinterest. 🙂 Tell us a little bit about the contest you’re in and how we might support you in your endeavors.

So this is a landscape photography contest showcasing the splendor New Mexico as its centerpiece only as a means to celebrate 2012 as New Mexico’s 100 years of official statehood. The contest is also a celebration of Master Photographer Craig Varjabedian’s  (my former mentor) newest book called Landscape Dreams.

The contest requires you to vote for your favorite images (which btw I hope you find mine to be your favorites). You can only vote once for each picture. In other words, once you vote for a certain image of mine then you can never vote for that image again. I am looking for as many votes as possible. The image with the most votes is the winner. Right now I am in first place and you can find my work easily by finding the “TOP RATED” from the dropdown menu to the right, however there are a few images starting to get closer to mine in votes. Please if you can, vote for my work, I would be forever grateful. The voting ends on Nov 30. In order to vote you will need to register your email or login through Facebook but I think it is easier to just register your email. One thing you can do though is share you voted for my work on your Facebook wall.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview Jory!

If you’d like to see more of his work, check out the contest his photos are in over at Santa Fe Creative Tourism. And don’t forget to vote for your favorites. 🙂  He is also on Facebook at Jory Vander Galien Photography. If you want what you see, he takes orders for prints. 🙂 He has a website in the works at Jory Vander Galien. So stay tuned. 

Photographer Jory Vander Galien

Today, I have the special privilege of introducing my friend, Jory Vander Galien. We met about 12 years ago on a trip to Peru. Fun times, but that’s a story for a different day. Jory’s a photographer and his photos are like poetry. Seriously. They are beautiful, and I just had to share them with you guys. So I thought, why not do an interview. 🙂

Welcome Jory, and thank you so much for taking time to do this interview with us. So, who is Jory Vander Galien? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I want to first say thank you Jennette for affording me this opportunity to answer a few questions to tell you a little more about myself. Trying to break into the mind of an artist is hard and once you do, I have heard it said “why did I even try” hehehe. I/we have a very different way of looking at the world. I am so happy to be where I am today in life. I am truly right where God wants me so it is never too late to embrace your artistic side and run with it.

Yes, wow, can you believe it has been 12 years now and you know there were a few significant events that happened during that trip like the 2000 Election, and we all know how that turned out. I remember trying to read the papers there in Peru but my Spanish was so bad then I just couldn’t get a real grip of what was going on here in the States at that time. It was frustrating but yet liberating if you remember. We were so in tuned to our Mission trip that what we deemed important was just an afterthought to the importance of our mission. It was weird, wasn’t it? Probably the most significant thing though that happened on that trip was me meeting my future wife Vanessa in which we will be  celebrating our 10 year Anniversary this Dec 21st.She is a real gem and I credit her with helping me soul search the me that was just waiting to escape. We have two Mini-Dachshunds named Sammy and Oliver who are the joys of our lives but this does not go without saying…kids are in the plans for the very near future =) I think after 10 years of marriage, this is long over due hehehe. Goodness, where does time go huh!!!

Shiprock in Slanting Light

Who is Jory today in 2012, well he is a result of everything disappointing and great, trial and error, and victory accomplishment up to this very moment. Everyday I believe we are shaped and molded into Gods perfect image. All my dreams growing up of being a photographer today, have by the grace of God, become a reality. I feel I have the perfect life living in the most perfect landscape known to man… New Mexico.  I have been to every state in the lower 48 except Maine and have traveled all over Latin America and there is just no place like New Mexico. The high elevation desert and the crystal clear blue sapphire skies and the light…oh man the light here at this elevation is just remarkable. It is almost a cliché here in NM to talk about how amazing the light is but it just is… and if you don’t know what I mean, you just have to come experience it and then you will be transformed forever. I sometimes refer to New Mexico as Gods place for man to get a glimpse of what heaven will be like or a place God is actually before our very eyes preparing as heaven lol, New Mexico is all that, it really is.

Remaining Day

I can relate about the open spaces. I didn’t realize it until I went to Tennessee and felt a little claustrophobic  not being able to see, hemmed in by the sides of the mountains. What’s the story of your art? When did you know that you know this is what you wanted to do? Share your journey with us.

My journey began when I was a young boy beating on pots and pans and old oatmeal containers as my makeshift drum sets. Then I took piano lessons but there was still always an art itching inside of me I just could not seem to tackle if you know what I mean. (I think at that time I was too young to really understand but looking back, that is exactly the anxiety I had in those days) It was not until I started paging through some thick yellow magazines aka National Geographic that really started to make me dream and wonder away from my present state of reality and consciousness really. This is what great mediums of art can do…they take us places, places away from our realities. Almost like out-of-body experiences. (in a non-religious way) Even if it’s just for a few seconds, the escape happened. I began to be completely immersed in the idea of photography and what it means to me.

Growing up in dairy country, Wisconsin (Yes I am a proud Cheesehead LOL), it is not all that scenic (I say this and I truly believe Wisconsin is the most beautiful Midwestern state…sorry Jennette) or most of all, wide-open, a good chunk of the state is very wooded and now I feel very claustrophobic when I am not in a place I can see. I feel cooped up inside, I need my wide-open spaces. Even here in NM, I love going into the mountains, but after a few hours, I am get antsy and I need to get to a place I can see. I love being able to see for a hundred miles, there is something very freeing about that. So when I saw those photographs of big western landscapes, I was just awestruck. I knew I was called to be in those places but I still could not grasp the fact “all that open space, how could that be”? Old Jory speaking to young Jory…”Oh it can be sonny”!!!

Cloudburst-Monument Valley

I even remember for a junior high school assignment where we had to choose a career. It was an easy choice for me, photography. My decision one day in high school to be a photographer was completely solidified when I discovered Ansel Adams. This was a dream I figured would not ever happen as I was soon approaching the end of what I thought was normal…my days of my adolescence and school. It was time to make a living.

I started to truck cross country and I was beginning to witness firsthand the great vast open plains, those purple mountains so high with snow-capped peaks and finally, finally the sweeping deserts of the southwest with high distant mountains and mesas. All this always fueled my passion to one day be a landscape photographer. This is not to say I did not have a camera by my side all times. I considered myself a serious amateur in those days. I even taught myself how to paint with oils and play guitar but photography was the apple of my heart and the art I just needed to express myself with.

Fast forward to 2007, Vanessa and I moved to New Mexico, and after a short stint with the New Mexico Stare Police (being a western lawman like John Wayne), I entered the University of New Mexico in the spring of 2009 to pursue an art degree. There is really something to be said when you follow your passion and Gods perfect will. By the grace of God, I graduated this past spring 2012 with my BFA in Art Studio-Photography, Cum Laude and High Honors.

Sorry, but I have to disagree, Minnesota’s got Wisconsin beat all the way. And no, I don’t do football, unless there is food involved. Hey–is that cheese? Yum! 🙂 

Well that wraps up the first part of our interview. Tomorrow we will discuss his goals, his photographs, and what he has to do to get them. Jory has a website in the works at Jory Vander Galien. So stay tuned. If you’d like to see more of his work, check out the contest his photos are in over at Santa Fe Creative Tourism. And don’t forget to vote for your favorites. 🙂  He is also on Facebook at Jory Vander Galien Photography. If you want what you see, he takes orders for prints. 🙂

And the winners are…

A big thank you to all of you who have shared the love. We’re a day early, but what the heck. Let’s see who won the giveaway. For those of you who are just stopping by, last week we had fantasy author Rebecca P. Minor as our special guest. Monday we talked about her books and her latest release. Wednesday we had a behind-the-scenes look at the writerly life and her book release party. We closed out the week on Friday with some just for fun questions. Here’s hoping you discovered a new favorite author. 

So without further ado…

The Giveaway.

  1. Grand prize winner: Curse Beaerer, your choice of paperback or ebook
  2. 2nd prize winner: A specially designed t-shirt, your choice of size M, L, or XL
  3. 3rd prize winner: A character sketch of our favorite couple, Danae & Culdin
  4. 4th prize winner: The ebook novellas, Divine Summons & A Greater Strength

And the winners are:

  1. Adam Collings
  2. Heather A. Titus
  3. Bill Reynolds
  4. Barbara French Nichols

Congratulations! Winners, we will be contacting you shortly. Yall, have a great weekend!

Now, go have an adventure, read a book!

Friday Fun With Rebecca P. Minor

Fantasy author Rebecca P. Minor

Welcome to the final installment of our interview with Rebecca P. Minor.  We’ve talked about her books on Monday. Wednesday we discussed the release party and the writerly life. Today we’re going to cut loose and have some fun. But of course our first question is the obvious question every author is asked. Hey, we got to start somewhere right? Besides, we really do want to know. So without further ado:

What are some of your favorite books? Do they claim any influence over your writing?

My introduction to fantasy was through Madeleine L’Engle, especially her A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and I still love her work. I’m also a huge Narnia and Middle Earth fan. One of my newer favorites is Brandon Sanderson, especially his novel The Way of Kings. Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain is a series I also think gets overlooked far too often, with as delightful as it is. Each of those authors have a formative influence on my work—especially Tolkien, with my desire to build a rich world with deep nuance. I don’t even begin to hope I will ever come within football fields of his mastery, but he’s a good example to follow.

If you could be any character from the books you love, who would you be and why? What story world would you want to live in?

Hmmm. Characters are typically subjected to a lot of misery, so I don’t know I could say I want to be any of them. If I have to pick…maybe Galadriel. She saw her fair share of challenges, but then she got to go to Valinor and live among the Valar, so that wouldn’t be too shabby.

You know, when I asked that I hadn’t thought about all the torturous things writers put their characters through. Still, knowing the ending would help. 🙂  

As a human:

What’s your favorite food? What’s your chosen method of staying caffeinated? Coffee or Tea or Coke? Oh, winter’s coming, hot cocoa?

Favorite food? Probably cheese. Or crab. Or crab with cheese. As for caffeine, I was exclusively a Coke drinker until the last couple of years, and it’s still my preference. If I’m especially tired, though, my new favorite is iced latte with caramel.

I love iced lattes, but I’ve become more of tea person. Chai latte. Yum! And now I want something cheesy. Ha! What’s your favorite time of the year and why?

My favorite time of year is definitely fall. I love the deep amber light of the late afternoon, and crisp air, and the smell of burning leaves on the wind. Plus, fall means marching band season, which is one of my lingering weird obsessions from my high school days.

If you could have anybody from history, real or fiction, over for dinner or a game of cribbage or whatever suits your fancy, who would you have?

Well, we wouldn’t play cribbage because I would be so lost I would look like a complete ding-dong. Maybe dominoes. But as for who I would have over for that? I think I would want it to be a group get together of J.R.R. Tolkien, Tony Stark, and Peter (the disciple.) That should make for some interesting conversation. But my husband says no on Tony Stark. 😀

Awesome! Well, there you have it. Thank you Rebecca P. Minor for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview and hang out with us this past week. 

The Giveaway!

Head on over to Rebecca P. Minor’s Facebook page and enter for a chance to win Curse Bearer, your choice of ebook for Kindle or paperback; the novellas Divine Summons & A Greater Strength for Kindle, a specially designed T-Shirt, or a character sketch* of our favorite couple: Danae and Culduin.**

*Sketch will be available to ship in January.

**Due to shipping cost, we cannot at this time ship internationally. International winners will receive Kindle novellas Divine Summons & A Greater Strength in place of the T-shirt or character sketch.

Giveaway ends midnight on November 10th 2012

I’ll announce the winners on Sunday. Whoohoo! Now go have an adventure, read a book!

Behind The Scenes With Rebecca P. Minor

Welcome back yall for our second installment of our interview with Rebecca P. Minor. If you are just joining us and would like to read the earlier post introducing Minor and her books. Click here. Today we are going to talk a little about the writing life and her first book release party. I think having it at the Renaissance Faire was an awesome idea. How did it go?

Author Rebecca P. Minor, Curse Bearer Release Party.

It was indeed at the PA Renaissance Faire on October 14th, and it was incredible. the weather was perfect, we had over 50 guests in attendance, and I got excellent feedback from the people who came. I even sold a bunch of books.

The funny thing: I forgot to put my glasses on to do my reading, and only after about two pages of reading did I realize why I was having such a time slogging through the words. I didn’t want to stop to get the glasses, so I pressed on. Then the wind blew my page, and I lost my place for what seemed like an eternity! It was probably about ten seconds, but somehow, silence makes each second seem like an age. Other than that, things went without a hitch, and I’m so grateful to have been able to do it. It was really a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Oh, no! I would be so blind without my glasses. I’m glad that it we went well. I’m collecting ideas for my own book release party somewhere down the road. I think I’ll be adding this to my collection, if you don’t mind. 🙂 So when you say once-in-a-lifetime event, do you mean you won’t plan on doing another one like this?

Well, since this event was funded entirely through donations that I raised through Kickstarter, I don’t foresee having the budget to pull an event like this off again. I would have to suddenly sell tens of thousands of books to be able to set aside a percentage of profits to afford this level of marketing on my future books. While I don’t count such huge sales beyond something God could do if he so chose, let’s just say I’m trying to keep my expectations realistic. 🙂

So y’all go buy her book and spread the word. Maybe the sequel will even have a bigger release party. We can always dream big, right? But yes, we’re all living a life balanced between reality and dreams. Good place to be. If any of you would like to read up on her release party and see more pictures, check out her blog post here.

The Writerly Life.

So, what’s your story? Did you write as a child or grow into it? How did your involvement in D&D help your worldbuilding in Curse Bearer?

I have been a writer since junior high without really realizing it. (And may no one ever find the awful, rambling, directionless stories I wrote in those years!) During college (film and animation school) I avoided writing my own scripts from scratch because I had convinced myself many others were far better equipped to build a story than I was, so during that time, I wrote primarily adaptations. But as time went on, characters I had developed (yes, most of them for my role-playing gaming world) clamored more loudly for  their own stories. So I took all my old notes from my gaming days, expanded them and deepened them, and began writing novels in the world I had created. While my novel world resembles the campaign setting I had written for role playing back in the day, I like to believe it is a much more robust and better-realized world today.

I think readers would agree, your world and characters have depth, but what comes first for you: characters, plot, or a map?

Danae from Curse Bearer

Characters, definitely. My technique is basically to build a character or set of characters, subject them to a scenario, and see how it all plays out. I am a seat-of-the-pantser in the worst way.

A panster, eh? I used to be a panster, then I became a little OCD. Maybe it was lurking beneath the surface until I discovered the power of outlines and schedules. Ha! We, writers, know that to write, we need to put our butts in the chairs and just do it. Sometimes its easier than other times. Do you have anything that helps you get into the writing mood? Chocolate? Do you write with or without music?

I tend to get into the writing zone by retreating into my big, puffy headphones and listening to movie soundtracks. I have to drown out the majority of what’s going on around me to really be able to write effectively. And if I need a reward or motivation, dark chocolate is always a welcome pick me up. If I can get a box of See’s Candies, then I’m in heaven. (If you don’t know what See’s is, ask anyone from the West Coast.)

Y’all hear that? See’s Candies. We want to read that sequel soon. 🙂 You’re also an artist, how does that help you’re writing? Do you do a lot of sketching of characters, symbols, maps, etc?

I tend to draw when I’m stuck. Visualizing characters or objects helps loosen up the creative joints if they are getting locked. I end up drawing maps when I need to make sure the travel logistics work out in the story, but I will admit, I’m still not great at drawing them to scale. The maps I have drawn make me realize I need to consider more bodies of water in my stories…they present major challenges for characters that I think I ignore more often than I should.

Captain Vinyanel Ecleriast from The Windrider Saga, Cover art for Digital Dragon Magazine, August 2010

That’s awesome. I love maps. For those of you interested in seeing some of her art, she has some on her Facebook page. Any advice for the rest of us drooling after the writer’s life?

It’s actually very un-glamorous for most of us. Christian speculative fiction is a small niche in the writing world, so it’s not as though those of us who are published, even by larger houses, are exactly household names. So I guess my advice would be to write what you love and feel driven to tell, because most of what you get from the pursuit of writing is a sense of personal accomplishment and the opportunity to meet some really cool people who do what you do. And in the end, those will outlast the royalties.

Thanks Rebecca! Well, that wraps up today’s interview part two. Friday we will finish the third installment with some fun questions. Whoohoo! See you then!

The Giveaway!

Head on over to Rebecca P. Minor’s Facebook page and enter for a chance to win Curse Bearer, your choice of ebook for Kindle or paperback; the novellas Divine Summons & A Greater Strength for Kindle, a specially designed T-Shirt, or a character sketch* of our favorite couple: Danae and Culduin.**

*Sketch will be available to ship in January.

**Due to shipping cost, we cannot at this time ship internationally. International winners will receive Kindle novellas Divine Summons & A Greater Strength in place of the T-shirt or character sketch.

Giveaway ends midnight on November 10th 2012

Interview: Rebecca P. Minor

A warm welcome to fantasy author, Rebecca P. Minor. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to spend it with us. A couple of Mondays ago, I mentioned that I had met Curse Bearer, what was then titled Sword of the Patron, in a contest put on by Marcher Lord Press. Could you tell us what transpired those three years between the contest and now? 

After the contest was over, I took the feedback I got from voters and applied it to my manuscript. I set that version in front of a few discerning critiquers, continued to tweak it, and shopped it around at the ACFW Conference in 2010. I did get some nibbles of interest, but the manuscript still wasn’t quite ready, judging by editor’s reactions to it when they had the full book to evaluate.

In the spring of 2011, my husband gave me the most incredible birthday gift: a seat in a full-week workshop with David Farland (Rune Lords, Courtship of Princess Leia as Dave Wolverton) where he gave a detailed critique of the first 150 pages of the manuscript. That was the best investment I think I have ever made in my writing. At the workshop in St. George Utah, Mr. Farland taught for about 4 hours in the morning, then sent us off to apply what he taught to our manuscripts. I sincerely believe that overhaul of the manuscript is what took it from getting a nod or two at ACFW to getting four requests for the full manuscript at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference in the summer of 2011. That’s where Written World Communications picked up the manuscript.

Of course, it’s only fair to note that during all this time, I was also writing and publishing The Windrider Saga, serial fiction set in the same universe as Curse Bearer, but that series takes place 250 years prior.

Curse Bearer

It’s such an amazing journey to look back and see our progress, but not when we are living it, right? I’m sure Danae could attest to that. Danae is the female protagonist, and she is rather strong-willed. Did you base her character on anyone in particular? What do you think is her greatest lesson learned at the end of Curse Bearer?

Danae is influenced a bit by my opinion of who I would be if I said everything that crosses my mind instead of being the incredible self-repressed person that I am. She’s also a character that has undergone tremendous change as the manuscript has gone through revisions. At first, I set out to make her a dutiful, loving, respectful, model daughter, and then I discovered the way I wrote that kind of character made her a horrible protagonist–boring! So I made her impulsive and driven instead, and that gave me a wonderful pile of conflicts to work with. The lesson she learns in the story has to do with her discovering the difference between being willing to do whatever it takes to reach a goal and assuming the outcome of your circumstances are entirely up to you. I know that’s a semi-oblique answer, but I want to keep the exact crux of the story shrouded in a little mystery for those who want to read it.

Of course, we wouldn’t want to ruin the ending for those who haven’t read it yet. Moving on to a question on everyone’s lips: Does Danae get together with elven hottie (as he now has been nicknamed)? Okay, so maybe we can’t go there. Sigh. So, speaking of elves and curses, what’s up with the languages in your world? Latin-based? Did you create them?

Ha ha ha! I do have to laugh about people’s reaction to Culduin. I was so worried people would think he was too nice–but apparently I have struck a pretty good balance between love interest and combat-awesomeness that both male and female readers appreciate.  I have to break it to all of you…the answer to the “get together” question is going to take some time to reveal, so folks will have to wait to see how that turns out. It won’t be without major ups and downs.

As for the languages, let me talk a little about Elvish, since it is the one major language I utilize in the book, whether in what the elves talk about or in the words of the “magic” of the book, which is intoned by using a form of ancient Elvish. I use influence from multiple Latin languages: straight up Latin as well as some French and Italian. I always picture Elvish as a language spoken with very little movement of the lips and jaw. Sometimes I add completely made-up syllables to keep the language from sounding too much like any earth language, and also to give the words the right sound and feel for what they mean.

The Windrider Saga, Book I: Divine Summons

I know some of us are eager to find out what’s coming next. Are you doing another novella for The Windrider Saga? Or are you jumping into the sequel of Curse Bearer

As tempting as it is to jump right on the book that follows Curse Bearer (A Voice Within), my intention is to go back to my Windrider series first. I have a manuscript half-written for the third Windrider book, so I am planning on trying to finish that during the month of November, get it into the editing process, and then tackle A Voice Within. From there, I haven’t decided if I will head into the third Danae book or continue with Vinyanel. Either is entirely plausible.

Speaking of Vinyanel. Readers will have seen him mentioned in Curse Bearer, which leaves us speculating. We have a question from one of your fans. He’d like to know:

The Windrider Saga, Book II: A Greater Strength

Is Vinyanel going to be a viewpoint character in the sequel to Curse Bearer?

As the sequel to Curse Bearer (A Voice Within) stands right now, Vinyanel is not a POV character. The draft is written all the way through, but I plan on going back through it and doing a pretty major re-write for a few reasons. First of all, the writing is very old, so I need to bring it up to my current ability level, and secondly, I want to make sure Culduin’s point of view is more frequent throughout the book. While Vinyanel’s story intertwines with Danae’s, The Risen Age Archive is still very much Danae’s story, so Vinyanel’s involvement is fairly limited. Don’t worry, surly elf fans, he’s got a lot more of his own stuff in the works.

And since we’re on the topic of elves, we have another question from a fan. She’d like to know:

In Windrider, we have Vinyanel, and in Curse Bearer we have Culduin. Do you have a thing for hot elvish men?

This question completely made me smile. What can I say? Swoon-worthy elves are fun to write. Does having fun writing them equal having a “thing” for them? If so, I guess I’m guilty on that count. Though to be honest, I wasn’t really sure how readers would react to either Vinyanel or Culduin. It seems like they strike the right chords with readers in terms of being characters people want to see more of, so that’s very satisfying to hear as an author.

Well, your characters struck a chord with me. Even on my second read through, knowing what was going to happen, I had tears in my eyes when….oh, can’t go there. 🙂

So, what do you want readers to walk away with from your books? The Windrider Saga: Books I & II

My main goal with my writing is to provide audiences who love fantasy another world to explore, new characters to enjoy, and a sense of having spent their time well in reading what I have written. I want my books to be accessible to a broad audience while still having my core values at their heart. My primary intention for my work is for it to be entertainment. I hope it will also be thought provoking and original.

That’s it for today folks. We’ll continue on Wednesday with a peek at her book release party and questions about the writerly life. Friday we’ll have some fun, so stay tuned!

The Giveaway!

Head on over to Rebecca P. Minor’s Facebook page and enter for a chance to win Curse Bearer, your choice of ebook for Kindle or paperback; the novellas Divine Summons & A Greater Strength for Kindle, a specially designed T-Shirt, or a character sketch* of our favorite couple: Danae and Culduin.**

*Sketch will be available to ship in January

**Due to shipping cost, we cannot at this time ship internationally. International winners will receive Kindle novellas Divine Summons & A Greater Strength in place of the T-shirt or character sketch.

Giveaway ends midnight on November 10th 2012