Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Halloween Treat - NO Trick! ...JESSICA SIMS IN MY HOTSEAT!

Special Note: Thanks to all who posted on my "Spooktacular Hop" article!  the winner of a $15 Amazon Gift Card and the e-book of choice is:  14 Kitties!  Many thanks to all who posted and don't fret, we will participate in other "hops" soon!

And now....JESSICA!

Me-ow! In honor of my favorite holiday, Halloween, my treat to all of you is my lovely guest, paranormal romance writer JESSICA SIMS.

Jessica Sims lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her husband. She hates writing a bio, so something cool will undoubtedly go here later when she actually thinks of something interesting to write. She has some cats, but what writer doesn't? She plays video games and confesses to reading comic books. And she likes writing, but that one was pretty obvious.
R: Hello, Jessica, and welcome
J:  Hi there, Rocco! Thanks for having me.
R: Tell us about your new release, DESPERATELY SEEKING SHAPESHIFTER (Just released yesterday!)
J: Well, for those that read BEAUTY DATES THE BEAST, this story is Bathsheba’s younger sister, Sara, and the ‘muscle’ of the Paranormal Alliance, Ramsey Bjorn. If you didn’t read BEAUTY DATES THE BEAST, that’s okay too! This book stands totally alone.
The story is that Sara’s been hunted by the local werewolves, since she’s pack-less and unclaimed. She doesn’t want them, so her goal is to have someone pose as her ‘mate’ to lay a claim first. Ramsey gets volunteered, and Sara gets more than she bargained for. Ramsey’s a bear shifter, so even human, he’s enormous, forbidding, and just a wee bit scary. Sara is tiny, and fragile and scared of the world…or so she thinks. The story’s about her learning how to cope with being a werewolf, finding her own inner strength, and romancing the pants off of Ramsey. Literally.

R: You’ve recently contributed to an anthology, The Undead in my Bed. How much of a challenge was it to write a short story vs a novel, and which do you enjoy more?
 J: I like both equally, really. It all depends on the idea you run with.  Some ideas need a novel to explore, and some can be told with just 30,000 words. It just depends. I don’t try to cram a novel-length story into 30,000 words, though, because then it feels unfinished. And I’ve had some stories that I planned as novels, but when I got down to the ‘meat’ of the story, there was really only a novella there. Ruby and Michael’s story was one that was always a novella in my mind.

R: You also write under other nom de plumes. Tell us a bit about those, and how they came about.
J: I do! I write as Jill Myles for my Succubus books and for self publishing. I write as Jessica Sims for my shifter books, and I write as Jessica Clare for erotic contemporary romance.  I started out as Jill, but when I began a new series for Pocket, they wanted a new name, so Jessica Sims was born. Then when I sold to Berkley, they wanted a new name too! So Jessica Clare was created.
 R: What or who, inspired your love of books and your desire to become an author?
J: When I was younger, I found seventy type-written pages of a story my mother had began to write when she was in her twenties. She never finished it, but I was fascinated at the thought of people writing their own books. It was inspiring!  From that point on, I began writing my own stories. I’m happy to say that now that my mother is retired, she’s taken up writing again and finally finished that book!
 R: You write paranormal HOT! Why did you choose this genre, and have you considered any others?
J: I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal. I love the thought of ‘what could be’ versus what’s actually out there. So paranormal seemed natural to me. When I was a teenager, I read and wrote a lot of fantasy, and when I first started writing full-length novels, I wrote a few fantasy books that were very heavily influenced by paranormal romance elements (shape changers, romance) before PNR was even a genre. My books slowly wiggled in that direction as paranormal really became a ‘thing’.

R: Which of (your character) adventures was the most fun for you to write? Were any of them the least amount of fun?
J: I think every book has to have elements of ‘fun’ in it for the writer, or else it’s just a pain in the ass and feels like homework. So every book that was the most fun to me is the one I’m currently writing. And every book that is the least amount of fun is the one I’m currently editing. I hate editing. Hate hate hate. I do it, but I do it very grudgingly. ;)  But I will say that I love all the characters equally.

R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
J: My Macbook Air! I love that thing SO much. I also need a good pair of headphones and a nice, unobtrusive music soundtrack to write to.
 R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
J: Well, as of this weekend, I’m editing a book for Pocket, outlining a book for Berkley, and drafting two different stories (one novel and one novella) for two different projects. I, uh, like to keep busy.
 R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
J: I started out as a pantser. Hardcore, dyed-in-the-wool pantser. I firmly believed that writing out the story ahead of time killed the magic for me. Then I got a contract, and my editor wanted firm outlines of books ahead of time. She needed to approve them before I could begin writing the book. That was shocking to me, but her advice was always great and she saw plot holes before I did. I also noticed that when I had a firm, scene by scene outline? The book wrote itself that much faster. Now I’m about ten books (turned in) into my New York publishing career and I can’t imagine writing something without a detailed outline first. In fact, I just spent yesterday ‘interviewing’ my characters. I know. I’ve become one of THOSE people.
 R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
J: Um, I go to my day job and make money so we can eat. ;) Oh! And I like cooking but I confess I’m really not that good at it.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
J: I’d say the biggest piece of advice I have is one that I wish someone had told me. Don’t join a critique group until you’re ready to have your story ripped apart. And when I say that, I mean it. If the thought of someone criticizing your characters/plot/setting makes you defensive, you’re not ready yet. A critique group WILL find something to tear apart in your book. That’s their job. So unless that fills you with a giddy sort of joy that someone will point it out so you can fix it? You’re not ready yet. Write another book and wait until you’re ready.  The worst thing you can do is join a critique group when your writer soul is still fragile and not ready for tough feedback. It can kill a beloved project or change your vision, and you don’t want that.

R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
J: I’m a huge dork and love video games. Wait, no one would be surprised about that.
 R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
J: Gosh, I’m really not a crazy, chance-taking sort of person. I’m actually pretty risk-averse.  I got nothing, sorry.
 R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
J: I just want someone to sit down and enjoy the read. That’s all. My goal every time I sit down with a book is to have a few hours of pure enjoyment, and that’s what I want readers to have.

R: Just for Fun, your favorite:
 J:Night or Day? .   Day!
 Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Cat, of course.  (ME-OWWW!!!)
 Beach or Pool?  Pool. Nothing is alive in the pool (hopefully)
 Steak or salad?  Steak.
 Favorite Drink?  Coffee. Mmmm, coffee.
 Favorite Book? Oh my lord, I have to pick just one? Um…These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Wait! Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati. Wait! Dark Needs at Night’s Edge by Kresley Cole…wait! Demon Bound by Meljean Brook! Or Archangel by Sharon Shinn. Or Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey…
 Favorite TV Series?  Survivor. NERD ALERT!
 Favorite Movie?  Jurassic Park. I love horror movies and I love dinosaurs and I love paleontology. It’s like the nerdy trifecta for me in that movie.

R: Where can we find out more about you and your work? 
J: My websites!  www.jillmyles.com or www.jessica-sims.com .   I’m also on Facebook as Jill Myles. I’m also on Goodreads! And on twitter (as @jillmyles). I try to link everything back to my Jill account, so if you follow me there, you’re good.
R: Thank you for a great interview, Jill/Jessica!
J: Thank you, ROCCO!

Folks, Jill/Jessica will give away a digital copy via amazon of either Beauty Dates The Beast, Undead in my Bed, or Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter to one lucky reader.  Y’all know the drill, but for anyone new, here it is:
Leave a post in the comments section, specifying which book you'd like to win along with your email address (those without email addresses will be disqualified, sorry).  The winner will be chosen at random using random.org. for extra entries you can:
Follow this blog
Follow moi on Twitter @RoccoBlogger
Tweet about the contest
Friend the Human (Toni LoTempio) on Facebook
Like me on Facebook
Mention the contest on Facebook, Twitter or your own blog (3 extra entries for this)

Now!!! Get goin!  Contest runs until midnight, November 6 - winner announced Wednesday, November 7!
Coming in November:  Roxanne St. Clair and Stephanie Bond…and Janet Evanovich! Wow!

Monday, October 22, 2012


Hey - ROCCO and I are pleased to be part of the "Spooktacular" Giveaway Hop - Because, as most of you might know, Halloween is ROCCO's favorite Holiday (would you expect any less from a tuxedo cat???)

In honor of Halloween, and in the spirit of the season, I'd like to talk about my favorite paranormal subject...Vampires.

I've had a love affair with vampires ever since I saw the original DRACULA with Bela Lugosi when I was a kid.  There was just something about those ebony eyes, sparkling, commanding, as they peered over the rim of his black satin cape, that took my breath away.  In my later years, I was introduced to the world of Stephen King through SALEM'S LOT, which still today remains my very favorite King book.  King took us through the world of vampires with eerie ease, and while the Rob Lowe telemovie was a bit truer to his tome, I have to confess I'll always be partial to the David Soul two parter (who could ever forget Bonnie Bedelia in that coffin, trying to seduce her ex-lover into getting - gasp - THE BITE!

When I was a teenager I was obsessed with a certain gothic soap opera - yes, that's right.  I was - and still am - a confirmed DARK SHADOWS addict.  I've even gone to the conventions!  I was such a freak I even managed to wangle myself an invite down to the studio where I met my biggest star crush of all time - Jonathan Frid.  I was, of course, tongue tied (what do you expect, I was 15) and I think the thing that amazed me most was the fact his real voice was NOTHING LIKE BARNABAS'S! (Can't wait to see what Johnny Depp does with this role!)  Ben Cross was good in the 1991 nighttime remake, but oddly - it just wasn't the same, although now I watch the old DVD's and think : "they actually got paid for this? Cripes, I can see them looking at the teleprompter!"

But you know what?  I didn't care!

Vampires in paranormal romance today are steamy and sexy, and there really are no hard and fast rules.  Like Angel, some can walk in daylight (just not direct sunlight) some prefer the nightlife, some are just damn bloodthirsty while others fight on the side of humanity.  I have a few vampire heroes in my books - in SOAPSUDS, SEX AND SILVER BULLETS (coming April 2013 via Amazon/PubIt) Logan Slade is a detective.  In NO REST FOR THE WICCA (indie, published through Amazon). Cole St. John is a special forces agent for the PFSU - Paranormal Forces Special Unit.  What do these two men have in common, besides hotness, you ask?

They're a breed of vamp known as INHERITOR.

Now, I'd like to take credit for the breed, but I actually came across the information on the Internet.   to wit:
Inheritor vampires TYPE ONE: These vampires are much like the Genetic vampires, except they are born. Like Sanguinarians, the vampire trait will lay dormant inside them until around the age of 13 - 26, when they awaken. When they body reaches the late stages of puberty, it releases a chemical which awakens the vampire and begins many physical changes in the body. As a result of this, most Inheritors look around 19 - 20 years old their whole life. Most of the time the parents of the vampire will be human and vampire, or both vampires. There must be one vampire parent. Inheritor vampires live to around the age of 350-400 years old.

Inheritor vampire TYPE 2: Sanguinarians are the "mortal version" of the Inheritor vampires. They still require and crave blood, are sensitive to sunlight, and have many of the traits the Inheritor and Classical vampires have.  However, Sanguinarians do not live much longer then the average human being.
Of course, to make it my own, I've taken some liberties - my Inheritor vamps are more human than humans, and age to a VERY HOT mid-30's, but you get the idea.  There are more types of vampires out there than just the typical Dracula/Barnabas sleep in the coffin during the day rise at night to suck a maiden's blood type.  As a matter of fact, that type (referred to now as a "classical") is getting pretty passé.  After all, didn’t' Angel show us just how a vampire can survive among humans, and how hot one can be?

The mystique of "the bite" never changes. Considered the ultimate sexual experience, in old lore people thought after 3 bites the victim turned into a vampire.  Other mythology had the victim rising as a vamp after the vampire drained them of their blood.  Another way to "turn" someone was to bite them, then have them drink their blood.

In summation, there are no hard and fast rules concerning vamps anymore - or any other type of creature for that matter!  Isn't that great for us writers!  We can create whole new worlds of vampiric hotness for you, the reader! (And for us, too!)

And in case you’re interested, here’s a link to find out more about types of vampires:




Giveaway Hop Page Link

the winners of our Vicki Lewis Thompson giveaway are:  Low Country Blogger and June M! Congrats - Vicki will be in touch after the 25th to send you your prize!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Werewolves Beware...VICKI LEWIS THOMPSON in the house!

Today my guest is author VICKI LEWIS THOMPSON!

A bit about Vicki, from her website:

A romance writing career has brought Vicki Lewis Thompson many wonderful things –New York Times bestseller status, an appearance on LIVE with Regis and Kelly, the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award from Romance Writers of America, thousands of readers, many dear friends, and the cutest little yellow convertible in the world. Her career has also given her work she loves.
Although she’s written more than 100 books, she continues to be fascinated by the many ways that a man and woman fall in love. The age-old story remains a challenging puzzle to be solved anew with each book. That makes her a very lucky person, indeed.

And now...Vicki in my hotseat! Meow!

R:  Hello, Vicki. Welcome
VLT:  Thanks, ROCCO.

R: Why did you decide to write within the paranormal genre and how do you think your books stand out?
VLT: I was mesmerized by JK Rowling, and then I was asked to write a chapter in BEWITCHED, BOTHERED, AND BEVAMPYRED, an anthology to benefit the Red Cross.  I had more fun writing that chapter than should be legal, and I wanted      to continue experiencing that rush, especially if I could get away with writing light comedy.

R:Tell us about your Werewolf series. What inspired that? 
VLT:Maybe not “what,” but “who.”  My agent Robert Gottlieb suggested it.  And I’m so glad he did!  I’ve had a great time with my hunky werewolves.

R:You also write a vastly different series, the Nerd series. What was your inspiration for those books? 
VLT: Superman.  I’ve had a crush on Superman forever.  I love how he transforms from nerdy Clark Kent to the Man of Steel, but even Superman has a shy side, which charms me.

R: Which do you prefer to write, paranormal or contemporary and why?
VLT: This is one of those questions like “which is your favorite child?”  I love writing contemporary stories because that’s the world we live in, but paranormal stories portray the world I’d like to live in.  Moving between those sub-genres of romance keeps me from getting in a rut.

R: Which out of all the characters you’ve created is your favorite and why?
VLT: Well, since you didn’t say “heroes,” I’m going to choose George, the ADD dragon in my Hex series.  He was a continuing character in all three Hex books, and I love him.  I gave him an iPod, so if you can picture an ADD dragon with an iPod, you have some idea of why I love George.  I have a stuffed version of George on my bookshelf.

R: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
VLT: Going bonkers.  Before I settled on this writing career I branched off into weird sewing projects like making a two-sided fish pillow – one side awake and the other side asleep.  My writing career has saved the world from being subjected to more such gonzo projects.

R: What other writing genre would you like to try that you haven’t yet? Historical, screenwriting, etc?
VLT: I adore reading historical romance, so the idea of writing it has tempted me.  But I know all the research involved in the really good ones, and I’m not sure I have the patience.  I’ll probably stick with what I’m doing.

R: Every writer has an “agent” story. How did you get your agent, and what is your advice to aspiring novelists querying agents?
VLT:  I wrote and sold without an agent for 18 years.  Since then I’ve had three, each with different skills.  I envy those who’ve been able to stay with the same agent for twenty years.  I discovered that as my career changed, I needed a different skillset, which required changing agents.  And that’s not an easy process.  My advice is to decide what you personally expect from an agent.   My current agent and I don’t chat on the phone.  But if that’s something a writer likes in an agent, she should find out during the interview process how the agent works with clients.  Style is so important.

 R: You’ve been on LIVE with REGIS AND KELLY!  What was that like?
VLT: Terrifying in advance, but lovely when it happened because both Regis and Kelly were wonderful to me.  Now it’s a warm and cozy memory.  But the run-up to it was one of the most angst-ridden times of my life.

R: What book is on your TBR shelf you can’t wait to get to?
VLT:  A friend of mine, Cindy Kirk, bought me a copy of BLUE-EYED DEVIL by Lisa Kleypas.  It came out in 2008, and I somehow missed it.  I always seem to be playing catch-up with my reading!

R: What advice would you give new writers just starting out?
VLT: Enjoy yourselves!  I love writing.  I’m not like Dorothy Parker, who hated writing but loved having written.  I love the writing itself.  I love immersing myself in the world I’ve created and letting my imagination go crazy.  If you love what you’re doing, chances are that will show in the work.  Editors and agents can tell when a writer enjoys her work.  They’ve told me so.  Sure, pay attention to the market when you have a few spare moments, but most of all, love the process.

R: What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?
VLT: That I think big hairy tarantulas are very cool.  I also like snakes, unless it’s a rattler about to bite me.

R: Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?  VLT: Here’s something fun, although it won’t show up until late 2014.  I was asked to be the lead author in an anthology for Harlequin Nocturne.  They’re allowing me to write a light paranormal story, and they also allowed me to invite my three plotting partners to be in the anthology.  So Andrea Laurence, Rhonda Nelson, Kira Sinclair and I are going to write four connected Christmas stories.  Can’t wait!

R: Finish this sentence:  If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be
VLT: no one.  I love my life.  Wouldn’t trade with anybody.

R: Just for Fun, your Favorite:

Book Winnie the Pooh
Movie Love, Actually
TV show Downton Abbey
Actor Colin Firth
Actress Maggie Smith

Night or Day Twilight
Werewolf or Shapeshifter? I thought a Werewolf was a Shapeshifter??? Have I been writing it wrong all this time, LOL?
Mountain or Lake A mountain lake
Hawaii or Alaska Alaska
Book or Nook Book
Cat or Dog? Cat  (R: Meow, good answer!)

Thanks for a great interview, Vicki! Now for our giveaway.....

Vicki will be giving away 2 copies of WEREWOLF IN DENVER to two lucky readers! Entering is easy!

Just leave a comment below with your email address (comments without email addresses will be disqualified, sorry L)  For extra entries you can:

Friend moi or the Human, Toni LoTempio, on Facebook
Follow me on twitter @RoccoBlogger
Follow Gerry on twitter
Friend Gerry on Facebook
Tweet, FB or blog about this interview and contest (gets you 3 extra entries).

The contest is open to US residents only and closes midnight, October 21 – winner announced October 22!

Get crackin’!

the winner of our nina bangs giveaway: tonyslilpixie!  congrats!

Next week: We participate in the "Spook Hop"
October 31: Jessica Sims visits the blog!

Coming in November - Stephanie Bond and Janet Evanovich!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shades of Vampires and Jersey Tomatoes - ROCCO interviews Nina Bangs!

Nina Bangs is a frustrated cowgirl at heart who turned in her boots for a cloak and dagger love of mysteries and never looked back. Raised in the Garden State of New Jersey, (whose tomatoes she so desperately misses!) somewhere between California and Texas she grew addicted to romance novels and cats, admiring the cat's independent attitude (of coruse!)  Once she decided to try her hand at writing her own romances, she made sure a cat crept into each story (Yay!)
Now a permanent resident of the Lone Star State, Nina feels the "Texas" in her blood accounts for her attachment to strong men, fast horses, and wide open spaces.
She has no explanation for her love of cats other than her impeccable good taste.

And now...Nina in my hotseat! Meow!

R: Hello Nina and Welcome
N: thank you, ROCCO.

R: Tell us about your “Castle of Dark Dreams” series.  What was its inspiration?

N: I wanted a unique setting for the series, and for some reason I thought of Disney World. I realized if I did a theme park setting, it would have to be for adults only. Then I would probably have to narrow it down to one attraction. I wanted a sensual name for the attraction, and so was born the Castle of Dark Dreams. I set it in Galveston, Texas because the climate there would allow it to stay open year round. And since I lived near Galveston, I wouldn’t have to do a lot of research. Yes, I’m lazy. 
R: You’ve written several series – do you have a favorite?

N: I have a soft spot in my heart for the Mackenzie vampire series. I set the series in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey (I was raised in New Jersey and had gone horseback riding in the Pine Barrens) at the Woo Woo Inn. The concept of an inn dedicated to those who loved the weird and wacky appealed to me. Some of the characters that I created for that series are still favorites. I loved my harpy heroine and my heroine who shifted into a saber toothed tiger.

R: If any one of your books could be made into a movie, which would you pick? Who would you like to see as the main characters?

N: Wow, that’s tough. Even though most of my books have been light, I think that I’d like to see one of my three dark books on the big screen. ETERNAL PLEASURE, ETERNAL CRAVING, or ETERNAL PREY would all have lots of action as well as romance. Best of all? They’d have rampaging dinosaurs. Yes,  you’re getting a glimpse of my inner child.

R: You lived in good old New Jersey for many years. Anything you miss about the Garden State? What’s your fondest memory?

N: I miss Jersey tomatoes. Seriously. I’ve never tasted tomatoes that delicious anywhere else. I was raised in New Jersey, so all my memories of being young revolve around that state. I loved having four seasons—the leaves in fall, the snow in winter, and particularly the lilacs in spring. I can still close my eyes and remember how they smelled. My parents made a big deal out of holidays, and I look back at my childhood Christmases as magical times.

R: You were a teacher, and you’ve also sung folk songs in Irish pubs. What was that like?
N: I taught elementary school for many years. I loved the teaching but wasn’t crazy about all the paperwork and assorted pressures that went with the job. Some of my most satisfying moments came from teaching children to free their imaginations when they wrote stories.

A friend and I spent several years in Dublin, Ireland. We were young and didn’t have much money, so we supplemented our meager income by singing and playing our guitars in pubs and hotel lounges. We weren’t that great, but we were reasonably attractive and wore short skirts, so… I found it interesting that we were two Americans singing Irish folk songs in Ireland. Our audiences evidently didn’t see the irony. Those two years spent in Ireland were the most memorable of my life.

R: You’ve owned horses.  Were you fond of that animal in fiction?  How would you compare horses to a more domesticated pet like, say, a cat?

N: I was always horse crazy. I read all of Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books. When I was very young I played with plastic horses and made up stories about them. When I got old enough, I would save my money so that I could hire a horse for an hour at the local dude ranch. Finally, I started raising Arabian horses. I still think the Arabian is one of the most beautiful animals on earth. But as I grew older, I gave up my horses. They were very expensive, and I just couldn’t keep up physically. But I still miss them. Now I have a cat, and I love her just as much as I loved my horses. She’s small, compact, and my constant companion. Oh, and cats have worked well in my books. Anyone who has read my stories understands the attitude Ganymede brings to every scene.

R: Is there a writing genre you have not yet attempted that you would like to try your hand at

N: I’ve read a lot of amazing young adult novels lately. They’re edgy with lots of action and enough romance to keep me satisfied. I’d love to try my hand at writing one.

R: Every writer has an “agent” story. How did you get your agent, and what is your advice to aspiring novelists querying agents?

N: I wasn’t able to get an agent until after I’d sold my first book. Before that I was turned down by all of them. But I understand why. Paranormal romance wasn’t as popular as it is now. Anyway, a friend introduced me to her agent. The agent read my published book and agreed to represent me because she liked my voice. That’s when I realized the importance of voice. I’m still with that same agent. I’d advise aspiring novelists to hone their voices and make sure they have the best book they can write before querying an agent. And always remember that having no agent at all is better than having a bad one.

R: What book is on your TBR shelf you can’t wait to get to?

N: I have no books on my TBR pile because I read them as fast as I download them. I’m a voracious reader.  However, I am waiting impatiently for BEAUTIFUL REDEMPTION (the last book in the Beautiful Creatures series) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

R: What advice would you give new writers just starting out?

N: New writers have to answer a few questions honestly. How badly do you want to be a published author? If writing will be a hobby that you go to whenever the spirit strikes you then you probably won’t be successful. How patient and persistent are you? I wrote for more than ten years before I sold my first book. I felt like giving up quite a few times. If your answers indicate you’re ready to commit yourself to your writing, I’d suggest that you join a local writers’ group (Romance Writers of America if you want to write romance), find a good critique group (there are online groups if no one near you wants to critique), and read, read, read. Read lots of successful recently released books in your chosen genre. And finally, check the market to see what editors are looking for right now.

R: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

N: I was in my twenties when a friend and I decided we wanted to live in Ireland. I quit my teaching job. I had about six hundred dollars to my name when I arrived in Dublin. We rented a bedsitter (a room in an old Georgian house with only a fireplace for heat and a ghost to boot) and scrounged for work. Without a work permit (difficult for Americans to get), our jobs opportunities were limited. We worked at fish and chip places as well as singing and playing our guitars in pubs and hotel lounges. We hung in there for two and a half years before returning home. I don’t regret one moment of the time I spent there.

R: What do you most hope readers will take away from your work?

N: I want to entertain with my books. It’s that simple. You won’t find any deep and profound truths in my work. If Ganymede and Sparkle make you laugh, if my heroes and heroines make you sigh, and if you’re intrigued by some of the mythical beings I introduce, then I’m happy.
R: What are you working on now? What can we expect to see in the future?

N: Right now I’m working on my next Castle of Dark Dreams book. WICKED MEMORIES will be out in June of 2013. In this story, someone from Sparkle Stardust’s past comes calling, and he’s looking for revenge. I just finished a novella, “Ties That Bind,” for the anthology PREDATORY that will be out in May of 2013. I’m hoping that this will be the beginning of a new darker series.

R: Finish this sentence:  If I had just one wish, it would be

N:  to have a never-ending supply of great books and the time to do nothing but read them all. And yes, I know that sounds selfish. I should have wished for something like world peace. But since this is just a make-believe wish, I came down on the side of selfish.

R: Just for Fun:

N: My Favorite:

Book—too many to choose just one
TV show—any of the ghost hunter shows
Actor—Ian Somerhalder
Actress—Meryl Streep

Night or Day—day
Mountain or Lake—mountain
Hawaii or Alaska—Alaska (I live down near Galveston, Texas where it’s pretty warm all year round. I’d love to escape to a cooler climate for a while)
Book or Nook—Nook
Cat or Dog? (Or Horse???)—cat (Ah, good answer!)

Folks, interested in learning more about Nina and her books: Here’s where she can be found:


Her books are available in most major bookstores and online at Amazon http://tinyurl.com/98e9kho or Barnes & Noble http://tinyurl.com/8vr6jqg

Now for our giveaway!  Nina will give away a copy of WICKED EDGE and a $20 gift card to Barnes & Noble or Amazon to one lucky winner. You know the drill – leave a comment below with your email address ( no email addy means disqualification!) For extra entries, you can:
Follow moi on Twitter @RoccoBlogger
Follow Nina on Twitter
Friend myself or “the Human, ToniLotempio, on Facebook or friend Nina on FB
FB or tweet about this blog/contest (3 extra entries!)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Contest open to US residents only and will run through midnight Sunday, October 14, winner announced October 15th.

Get crackin!

The winner of our Sheila Bonehamgiveaway is: auditgirl2010!  Congrats!
Coming up – our “Spook Hop”…and Jessica Sims.
And in November…Janet Evanovich returns to the blog!
Next week...a visit from "Werewolf" creator VICKI LEWIS THOMPSON!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sheila Webster Boneham in the Hotseat!

Meow!  my guest today is noted fiction and non-fiction author Sheila Webster Boneham!

Award-winning author Sheila Webster Boneham writes fiction and nonfiction, much of it focused on animals, nature, and travel. Although best know for her writing about dogs and cats for the past fifteen years, Sheila also writes fiction, narrative nonfiction, and  poetry. She is currently working on a series of essays about traveling the U.S. by train, and on a combination memoir and wide-ranging meditation on the human-canine connection. Sheila teaches writing workshops and classes, and is interested in speaking to groups about writing, creativity, and related topics.
So now, let's get to it! SWB in my hotseat, meow!

R: Hello, Sheila and welcome.
S: Thanks for having me, ROCCO!

R: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing

S: I think I was born interested in writing! I wrote my first “novel” when I was about eight. It was about a Cocker Spaniel names Sandy, which seems a bit prophetic. I kept creative journals all through school, long before I knew what they were called, and had a poem published in a city-wide journal when I was in eighth grade, which definitely ignited my lust for publication. My undergraduate degree was in English, but literature, not writing, and my masters was in linguistics, which landed me several jobs teaching English as a second language in universities overseas.When I came back I completed my doctorate in folklore at Indiana University, heavy on cultural anthropology. Great fun, fascinating research, a few academic publications, but no jobs when I got out. Then I stumbled upon a position teaching advanced writing courses at the University of Maryland, and a part-time position as a magazine copy editor. My urge to write creatively rather than academically was rekindled. A very full circle, one could say! I started selling short work to magazines, then went on to nonfiction books, and now I’m back where I started, with a bit more experience – I write fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and recently started working on a play. I still teach writing classes and workshops, and at conferences, but mostly I write.

R: You’ve authored over 17 non-fiction books. What made you make the jump from non-fiction to fiction, and which do you prefer to write?
S: Right, I spent a few years writing about animal rescue, and about cats and (you’ll pardon the expression) dogs. Then I was in a writers’ group with three other women, and they were all writing mysteries. They would show up with juicy murders and quirky characters and I would show up with hairballs. Well, writing about hairballs at least. I really never thought I could come up with a story, although I should have known better after some of the great ones I told my parents. Then one day I was driving home from a dog show and an opening line popped into my head, and a title, and by the time I got home I could see the whole story. So I started to write.

R:     Tell us a bit about your latest release, DROP DEAD ON RECALL
S: That’s the title! Drop Dead on Recall is a play on the name of an obedience exercise, the “drop on recall.” Basically, the handler calls her dog, has the dog lie down on the way, then come the rest of the way. When the story opens, a leading obedience competitor keels over during the drop on recall, and the story unfolds from there. My protagonist, Janet MacPhail, is an animal photographer who is there competing with her Australian Shepherd, Jay. She tries to help and ends up as a person of interest to the police, to a very attractive man with a Labrador Retriever, and ultimately to a killer. And you’ll be happy to know that Janet’s orange tabby, Leo, is an essential character and plays a heroic role in the book. It hasn’t completely gone to the dogs. (Leo, the orange tabby who plays a heroic role in Drop Dead on Recall, is based on two of Sheila's cats, Malcolm, shown here, and Leo)


R:       Why a mystery?
S: Who doesn’t love a mystery? I’ve read mysteries since I was a child. When I first became interested in canine obedience competition, Susan Conant’s wonderful Dog Lover’s Mystery series was just getting rolling, and I loved them not only for the great stories, but for all the information about my new sport. When my title dropped into my mind, I was clearly headed for murder and mayhem.

R:     You breed and show Australian Shepherds and Labs. Tell us how you became interested in this.
S: I’ve never bred Labrador Retrievers, but I have owned at least one Lab since 1988 and my husband and I have fostered many rescued Labs. And of course I wrote a book! (The Simple Guide to Labrador Retrievers won a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Associations of America for Best Single Breed Book). Great dogs. I’ve competed with all my Labs, and they’ve earned titles or trained in obedience, tracking, fieldwork, agility, and therapy work. 

      Then in 1993 I fell head over heels for an Aussie puppy, the first of many Aussies in my life. I pursued several sports with him and studied the breed, and finally wanted to breed. Breeding to me is not just a way to get puppies; it’s a creative pursuit not unlike writing a book. Nature provides the raw material, and a responsible breeder uses the tools of science and aesthetics to facilitate matches that, if all goes well, result in physically and mentally healthy, beautiful, intelligent companions. My dogs, and the puppies we bred, have been very successful competitors in conformation, obedience, agility, tracking, flyball, and herding, nationally and internationally, but they were all household companions first and last. We’re no longer breeding, by the way, but I judge Australian Shepherd conformation shows. Jay, the lead Aussie in Drop Dead on Recall,  is heavily based on my lovely Jay, who recently went to the Rainbow Bridge.

R:      Tell us a bit about the rescue groups you’re involved with
S: Right now I’m not actively involved in any groups, but continue to work on behalf of rescue and animals generally through my books, my website http://www.rescuematters.com, and my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/rescuematters, as well as occasional talks to rescue and other groups. I used to be very active, though. I founded Labrador Retriever Rescue of Indiana, Inc., in 1993, and co-founded and Australian Shepherd rescue group the following year. We fostered both breeds for years, and I also volunteered for several shelters, doing everything from cleaning litter boxes to teaching dogs some basic manners to make them more adoptable. In Drop Dead on Recall, I feature a fictitious Border Collie rescue group because the victims’ dogs are Border Collies.

R:      What is a “must have” for you that aids the creative process?
S: Animal fur. I don’t go anywhere without it! And besides, having it on my clothes is a constant reminder that to remain creative I have to remain in the world. It’s so easy to become isolated in the work, but without the stimulation of other people and the inspiration of being out in nature, I wouldn’t be able to write.

R:      What one thing would your readers be surprised to know about you?
S: By nature I’m quite shy. That should have a few people rolling in the aisles! But I am. I think a lot of creative people are shy. I’ve learned to be bold, to walk up to people and say hello. I’m still not very good at small talk, but it turns out that the people I really click with aren’t either.

R:      Do you have any advice for other writers?
S: Three things. First, write a lot. None of it is wasted. We don’t tend to think of writing as something we need to practice, but we do. So write every day, even if you throw it all away. Second, read. Read a lot. Read in your genre(s) and read things you don’t think interest you. Read classics, best sellers, and books no one ever heard of that you find on the bargain shelf. Read read read. And third, try one new thing at least once every month or two. Learning new things reminds us that what seems obvious to us may not be obvious to our readers. Besides, you’ll have fun and fun feeds creativity.

R.      Where can we find out more about you and your work?
S: I’m on the web at http://www.sheilaboneham.com, and there are links from there to my other online hangouts as well as a calendar. Facebookers can find me at http://www.facebook.com/sheilawrites, and I tweet at http://www.twitter.com/sheilaboneham. Like many authors, I have an amazon author page at http://www.amazon.com/author/sheilaboneham. I’m always happy to hear from readers – my email is sheilaboneham at gmail.com.

R: And now time for....Your favorite:
S: Movie:  American Beauty. Or Weekend at Bernie’s J
Author: Just one?  Bahahaha!
Book: See above! But The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabelle Allende is a serious contender.
Tv show:  I don’t watch much TV, but I guess at the moment I would say Foyle’s War on PBS.
Beach or Mountain?  Beach
Milkshake or Margarita?  Margarita (about once a year!)
Sunrise or Sunset: Sunset
Cat or Dog (Careful, now!)  Yes! Definitely!  (Very diplomatic, meow!)

Now...it's giveaway time! Sheila will be giving away a copy of DROP DEAD ON RECALL to one lucky reader! (to be mailed out after Boucheron :))

Entering is easy!  Just leave a comment along with your email address. Contest is open to US residents only and ends midnight, October 7.   Winners will be chosen using random.org  Entries without an email address will be disqualified.  Winner announced on our Monday post Oct. 8!
If for some reason the unfriendly at times Blogger will not let you post, go to the HUMAN's facebook page (Toni LoTempio) and send a message.  We will enter you.

Next week: Nina Bangs in my hotseat! and we also have in October: Vicki Lewis Thompson and Roxanne St. Clair!

Meow! Don't miss it.