Sunday, September 30, 2012

Meet Karen Hooper - YA Fantasy Author

Karen Hooper
YA Fantasy Author

      Welcome to our chat with Karen! Grab a cool drink and come sit with us. We're in Sedona, AZ on the back deck of the Luna house, overlooking the beautiful red rock formation known as Bell Rock. The scenery is gorgeous out here and for those who love exploring, what a great place to visit!
      Readers, be sure to get into the RaffleCopter contest and leave a comment because Karen is giving away an e-copy of her book!

Reader’s Haven: Karen, it's so relaxing to look out over the landscape here. Wow! Thanks for joining us the week. Tell us a bit about yourself that our readers might not know.

Karen:  I hate coconut. Coconut rum, coconut candy, and especially shredded coconut on the bunny cake my grandmother makes every year for Easter. If I ever get stranded on a deserted island, and coconuts are the only available food, I’m a goner.

Reader’s Haven:  LOL Yes, some just don't like the stuff. Deanna loves coconut though. What made you want to become a writer?

Karen: I have always loved reading, but in middle school I started writing poetry and keeping journals. In high school I took Creative Writing classes and fell in love with writing on a whole new level. For me, it wasn’t one thing that made me want to be a writer; it was just a natural progression because of my love for words and stories.

Reader’s Haven: Please share a bit about your new release, Grasping at Eternity, without giving away any spoilers.

Karen:  The quick summary is it’s soul mates and superpowers. Think XMen meets My Name is Memory. Grasping at Eternity is a magical love story that will (hopefully) make readers look at the stars a little differently, and think about the “what ifs” of life and our universe. 


     Soul mates ripped apart by a tragic mystery. Secrets that torment souls and end lives. Centuries of memories and supernatural abilities erased. Protected by an eternal family and a green-eyed daredevil who have loved her for ages. This is Maryah Woodsen’s life. She just doesn’t know it yet.

Reader’s Haven: Do you write under a pen name?

Karen:  Nope. Karen Hooper is the real me. Take me or leave me, but it’s who I am.

Reader’s Haven: What types of hero or heroine do you like best?

Karen:  The ones who aren’t perfect, but still take my breath away or make me root and cheer for them.

Reader’s Haven:  Readers love to peek into our daily loves to see how we write and what we do. Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Karen:  I write best in the mornings, so I usually get up early, let my dogs out, make coffee, feed my dogs, then curl up in my writing chair and try to crank out some words. Then real life takes over and I have to work, grocery shop, clean the house, do laundry or whatever, all while spending quality time with the REAL people in my life. Sometimes at night I try to get back to my beloved fictional peeps before bed. All day long I try to read and answer emails, tweets, and texts from my writer friends. It helps me feel like I’m still being productive as an author.

Reader’s Haven: Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Karen:  They all have love and magic in them. And they probably always will.

Reader’s Haven: How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

Karen: It varies. The first draft of Grasping at Eternity took me 2 months to write, but 4 years to publish, because I’d edit, revise, query it, shelve it, revise again, try again, and so on. But, I wrote and queried Tangled Tides in that time frame too, so I’m usually juggling a couple different projects at the same time.

 Reader’s Haven:  Do you have to be alone to write?

Karen:  I can write with other writers if they’re writing too. A good friend of mine is one of my critique partners and she lives near me, so we get together once a week for writing parties. But can I write around my non-writer friends and family? No. I shut the door and they know that means Do Not Disturb.

Reader’s Haven: How do you go about naming characters?

Karen:  Oh gosh, that could be a whole blog post in itself. Let’s just say I put a lot of thought and research into the names of my characters. Many characters in Grasping at Eternity are named after important people in my life.

Reader’s Haven: Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

Karen:  Neither. I picture them in my head and they are always an original creation. It’s never anyone from a show, movie, ad, etc., so even if I search for someone who looks like them I usually can’t find anyone I feel resembles them closely.

Reader’s Haven: How do you pick locations for your stories?

Karen: So far it’s locations I love. In GAE it’s Sedona, Arizona because the town is so magical. There was no other setting. It’s the perfect place for that story.

Reader’s Haven: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?

Karen: I’m working on the sequel to Tangled Tides right now. It’s called Dangerous Depths. After I send that off to my publisher, I’ll be revising the sequel to Grasping at Eternity. That one is called Taking Back Forever.

Reader’s Haven: Karen, thank you for hanging out with us all week! Congratulations on getting the sequels going. I'm sure your readers are anxious to read more from you! Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Karen:  Here are my links:

Twitter @KarenHooper

Karen:  Readers, thank you so much for stopping by to learn about my books! I do appreciate it and would love to answer your questions. Please be sure to leave a comment but also enter the RaffleCopter to make your contest entries count - I'm giving away an e-copy of Grasping at Eternity! Good luck everyone! You can also earn additional entries into the contest!

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Meet Stephanie Queen - Romantic Comedy/Suspense

Stephanie Queen
Romantic Suspense Author

     Thank you for stopping in to meet Stephanie! We're gathered here tonight on a cobblestone walkway under an old-fashioned street lamp in Boston's Beacon Hill at night. Stephanie should be along shortly so grab a warm drink and then let's all gather close. This is from a scene in her book, THE THROWBACKS, where Grace and her friend Sophia, aka "the Pixie" wait for a taxi after a soiree.

     Stephanie is also holding a contest at the end so please read through her instructions to participate in both contests. Good Luck!

    Stephanie Queen is a romantic at heart, a writer by nature, and has the soul of a cheerleader. She enjoys creating stories where her rose-colored world-view comes to life and the good guys always win. Spending most of her life in New England, she's attended many of the area colleges, including Harvard, and even earned a couple of degrees along the way. Although she lost count of all the jobs she's had before she settled on being a Novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf.

Reader’s Haven: Here's Stephanie! thank you so much meeting with us this week! Please share a bit about your book THE THROWBACKS without giving away any spoilers.

Stephanie:  THE THROWBACKS is a romantic comedy suspense—and my favorite book of all I’ve written so far—about a long-suffering middle-aged Brit, David Young, exiled from Scotland Yard and sent to Boston where he needs to redeem his career. David meets a fluffy young decorator, Grace Rogers, who falls head-over-heels for him. Grace always dreamed of making a home of her own with a crowd of kids--and now she wants Mr. Scotland Yard in the role of Dad. Of course Grace is like irresistible kryptonite to David!  It was so much fun to write! Here's a blurb and short excerpt:

The Throwbacks
Short Synopsis

    Vivacious young decorator Grace Rogers sets her sights on that picket-fence life she longs for with the unlikely world-weary British exile, the not-so-young David Young. The ex-Scotland Yard detective joins the Boston Police Department to salvage his career. He hires Grace to decorate his Beacon Hill townhouse—and salvage his life.
     But this rogue detective’s plans for a new beginning are threatened when he can’t resist the seemingly unseemly romance with his too-young bombshell decorator. Grace turns out to be a key witness in his high-stakes kidnapping case--and like Kryptonite to his career and his well-being with her romantic notions of family life.

     David puts his life on the line to save her from the kidnappers, but now is Grace willing to put her dreams on the line to save her real-life superhero from himself?

Excerpt from THE THROWBACKS, Chapter 1:

     Grace tip-toed along the brick path, trying not to get her party heels stuck in the cracks. She heard the cab pull away from the curb and looked back. Sophia bounced behind her, wearing sensible party boots.
     “Do you realize you gave that taxi driver twenty dollars for a two dollar fare?” her friend said.
     “Oh—just like in the song.” Grace smiled and climbed the steps leading to Mabel’s back door. Then she stopped. She felt Sophia stop right behind her.
     “What?” Sophia prompted.
     “You know. The Harry Chapin song where…”
     “Quit stalling, Grace. This is not a surprise birthday party. Open the door.”
    “Are we sure about that? Today is my birthday.” Or at least she’d always celebrated her birthday on October fifteenth as a close approximation. No one had ever come up with a more likely date.
    “No kidding?  Not your thirtieth birthday is it?” Sophia stood on the step below her, making her even shorter than she already was. She looked like an updated version of Lucille Ball with an attitude and a bob. That thought made Grace smile.
    “Wait until you turn thirty and see. You’ll have palpitations too.” Grace turned and pushed through the door into the back hall of Mabel’s Beacon Hill townhouse, willing away that intruder sensation she always got. Mabel was as good as family, she almost said out loud. Like the eccentric old aunt she used to dream up for herself back when she used to dream about it.
    As they stepped into the old woman’s kitchen, the powerful aroma of food and familiarity warmed her. Even the clatter of the no-doubt expensive caterers didn’t spoil the homey effect.
    “Mabel went all out for this bash.  Any idea why she would be hosting this Scotland Yard party?” Sophia asked as she followed her through the kitchen
    “I don’t know. It’s a very big deal to her, though. My attendance was a command performance. I only wish I had a date.” She looked down at her friend. “No offense.”
    Grace began to give herself the usual pep talk for going into a party dateless, the one about her soul mate being around the next corner, when her purse rang. Somewhere deep inside her bag her ringing phone hid. Weaving around the catering staff, she crossed the black-and-white tiled kitchen to the swinging doors as she dug inside the bag to find the phone.
    “Buck up,” Sophia said. “After all, thirty is the new twenty, right? It‘s not like you’re a spinster.”
    The ringing grew louder as she pulled the phone from its depths. Mabel’s Scotland Yard party waited on the other side of the door in front of them. Pushing through the door into the room that Mabel called the “grand salon,” she stabbed the call button and spoke into the phone. Using what she hoped was a discreet voice, she said “Hello.”
    “Grace! I’m so glad I got you!” Her friend Theresa Torini’s voice boomed from the other end of the line so that anyone might hear everything.
     “There’s been a murder!”

Reader’s Haven:
  Deanna loves anything to do with London! Do you write under a pen name?

Stephanie: Stephanie Queen is my pen name!  

Reader’s Haven: Readers love to know what we do all day! Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Stephanie:  My cat wakes me (at whatever time she so chooses—it varies) and I then feed her right away or she’ll trip me on my way to get my coffee. Then coffee in hand I sit at my computer and tap, tap, tap away—until I must jump from my chair and pace around and think. This process is repeated throughout the day, intermittently interrupted by excursions to get provisions (chocolate). I know I’m finished when my cat leaps onto my keyboard and types “$^*&*$%!” which loosely translated means “Enough already!”.

Reader’s Haven: Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Stephanie:   The common theme is romance and intrigue. Mostly I write lighthearted (I know—shocking, right?), but I had one deviation – PLAYING THE GAME. It’s less lighthearted—a very angsty story. Some readers have even claimed to cry—it seems to elicit strong emotional reactions according to reviews, but they enjoy it immensely!

Reader’s Haven:
Do you have to be alone to write?

Stephanie: Actually, the more the merrier! Too much silence and stillness makes me look over my shoulder too much!

Reader’s Haven:
How do you go about naming characters?

Stephanie:  Come to think of it, I could use a better process for this besides sitting around thinking, umm, ummm.
Reader’s Haven: Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

Stephanie: I always have a picture of them in my head—usually a movie star or famous person—usually someone old or dead no one else ever heard of because you’re all younger than me. (You have a teenage audience, right?)

Reader’s Haven:
  Uumm...we're pleading the fifth on being younger than you! How do you pick locations for your stories?

Stephanie:  Boston. That’s my town. Any side trips—even the trip to London—are all incidental.

Reader’s Haven: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?

Stephanie:  I’m working on another romantic comedy suspense - THE HOT SHOTS - Book 2 in the Scotland Yard Exchange Program Series. It should be out next month. Then I’ll start on Book 3. I have a plot and characters, but no title yet.  Any ideas?  Seriously—there’s a free book or two in it for you if you come up with the title.

Reader's Haven:  Stehpanie, thank you so much for being with us this week. Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Stephanie:  My website is, I’m on Facebook as Stephanie Queen and my Twitter handle is @StephanieQueen.

     You can buy THE THROWBACKS at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Sony and Smashwords.
      Other novels by Stephanie Queen include two contemporary romance, Playing the Game and Between a Rock and a Mad Woman. Both are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.





GIVEAWAY:  Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter to be included in the contest but also leave the following answers in your comment. 
       I would love to give away a copy of the prequel to my series, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A MAD WOMAN and a $10 Amazon/B&N Gift Card.
       One winner will be picked for the book and one winner will get the gift card. To be eligible for the GIFT CARD, sign-up for Blog RSS Feed and in the comment, give me a title idea for a new romantic comedy suspense along the lines of The Throwbacks and The Hot Shots. (think London, a royal relative and a kidnap plot). I’m not asking for your first born.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Meet Russell Blake - Suspense/Thriller Fiction

 Russell Blake
Suspense/Thriller Fiction

      Welcome to the beach where we're relaxing with Russell Blake...on the beach in Mazatlan, where he's been known to hang his bandana at times. Russ has a background and past that have help him put together his novels. We're ordering up a round of drinks so grab yours and get comfy, Russell's books will take you on a wild ride that you won't want to end! Don't forget to leave a comment and get in on the Rafflecopter contest at the bottom for a copy of JET!

Reader’s Haven:
  Russ, it's gorgeous here and so are the sunsets! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Russell:  I live in Mexico, and have for the last 8 years, where I can honestly say I'm happier than I've ever been in my life - best choice I could have made. It was either here, or Australia, and I figured I'd give Mexico a few months, and then if I didn't like it, I'd move to Sydney or Melbourne. I have a sordid and diverse past I won't bore anyone with, but it's contributed to my thriller novels in unexpected ways. I'll just leave it at that.

Reader’s Haven:
 What made you want to become a writer?

Russell:  I've always been an avid reader, and I first started writing about a decade ago, just for myself. I kept at it, scrapping everything I churned out, but getting consistently better. Around the beginning of 2011, a friend of mine who had read some of my stuff was sending me articles on how the kindle was changing the world, and I wasn't sold on it. But then I got one, and was hooked, and I thought, hey, maybe I should give the whole author thing one year of solid best effort and see what I can make of it? I published my first novel June, 2011, and as of now, have released 15 novels. When I do something, I tend to go all in. I am not big on following rules or sucking up, so I never really considered going the traditional publishing route, although at one point I had an agent who got me within a hair of a major deal, but at the time I was told that my style of writing wasn't what the two companies that were interested had slots for. In retrospect, that's the best thing that ever happened to me, because I sure as hell wouldn't have been good at working for someone else after decades working for myself. So perhaps things happen for good reason. Given my sales success, such as it is, I'm ecstatic at how this has worked out, and can see myself doing it for a long time - as long as readers want to read my scribblings, I'll keep at it. Because in the end, writers write for readers.

Reader’s Haven: The success of your books says enough. We're glad when readers connect with authors they love because they share those author sites with their friends! Please share a bit about your new release JET without giving away any spoilers.

Russell:  Boy oh boy, am I excited about this book…this series of books. I would say that if you only were going to read one of mine, read JET. The short summary is only four words: Kill Bill meets Bourne. It's the story of a female Mossad operative whose code name was Jet, who faked her own death to get out of the game, but whose past has now come back to haunt her, forcing her back into a life she thought she'd buried forever. This is a Lamborghini ride at midnight on black ice of a book, and is the fastest paced novel I've ever written - but at the same time, has almost a literary fiction quality to it that's hard to describe. I wanted to do something that surpassed anything else I've written, but incorporated everything I've learned about writing to date (after two million words, at least), and I think I got this one right. I think anyone that's a fan of Bourne, or SALT, or James Bond, if you can imagine Bourne or Bond with a twenty-eight year old female protagonist, will flip out when they read JET. I have very high hopes for it, and early feedback has been stellar

Reader’s Haven: 
*holding tight to our chairs* Wow! It sounds amazing, Russ! Deanna, write that title down! Do you write under a pen name?

Russell:  I've considered it for stuff not in my usual genre, and will let everyone know if I decide to do so.

Reader’s Haven:
 What types of hero or heroine do you like best?

Russell:  Imperfect and real. I want heroes that bleed. That feel. That are conflicted and feel doubt and don't always do the right thing, or make the right choices, and aren't 100% sure of their course or their beliefs. I want fallible humans that are truly three dimensional, not cardboard cutouts.

Reader’s Haven:  Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Russell:  It's grueling. I'm sort of all or nothing. When I'm writing a novel, I get up at around eight, get some coffee and have some breakfast, and then by eight-thirty I start writing. I keep at it until ten to eleven at night with a short lunch break, maybe an hour at the gym, then back at it until dinner, which is as fast as I can swallow it so I can get back into the story. It's grueling, and a marathon, but in the end it's the only way I can write. I've tried more sensible hours, and it seems disjointed to me on first draft. I think I'm OCD when it comes to writing, and I work best when I'm living and breathing the story. For me, when I'm in a novel, writing is life. The rest of it - the eating, sleeping, living bits, are just the stuff I sort of have to do to survive between writing. I'm fortunate in that I sold my company fairly young and retired, so I don't have any real distractions. When I'm not in a novel, I try to relax, hit the beach, drink some margaritas, play with my pooches, and decompress from the insane pace of my writing.

Reader’s Haven:  I wish we all could write like that...steady and moving forward! Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Russell:  Different with important similarities. They all have an underlying conspiracy element, which for me is what makes them interesting and deeper than just your typical action/adventure thriller. I model Ludlum in that regard. I want there to be layers to the story, and what you see isn't all you get, if that makes any kind of sense.

Reader’s Haven:  How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

Russell:  A novel generally takes me couple hundred hours to write a first draft, then another hundred to do second draft, then maybe fifty to do third, then an edit round with my editor, then a copy edit, then a proofreading final round. All told probably four hundred hours.

Reader’s Haven:
  Whew, that's a tough schedule but with your list of books already out, it's definitely working for you! Congrats! Do you have to be alone to write?

Russell:  Absolutely. No music. No distractions. Just me and the story.

Reader’s Haven:
 How do you go about naming characters?

Russell:  Whatever pops into my head. I should have a really deep and complex answer, but that's the truth.
Reader’s Haven:  Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

Russell:  Character pictures? I just imagine them. That's it.

Reader’s Haven:
 How do you pick locations for your stories?

Russell:  Again, it just sort of pops into my noggin. I have no system.

Reader’s Haven:  What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?

Russell:  I just put JET II - Betrayed to bed, and am working on JET III - Vengeance. I'll probably do a fourth book in the series before year end, and one more Assassin series book. Next year, only four novels. That's it. No more. OK, maybe five, but I swear that's it. Gotta have a life, after all, and once I have 20 novels out, I'd say the problem is not that there aren't enough Russell Blake books to choose from...

Reader’s Haven: LOL Readers, we hope you're all taking notes and thinking of your crime/thriller reader friends who love this stuff so you can share Russ with them. Russ, where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Russell: Here are my site links:

 On Twitter, @Blakebooks 

Reader's Haven:  Russ, thank you so much for being here and letting us inside a writer's life! Readers, thank you for stopping by to learn about Russ's books and we hope you visit his author page to check out all the other books he's written! Don't forget to get in the contest below!

CONTEST:  One signed copy of JET when it’s released - one lucky winner will get this. Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter contest and leave your comment below also.

Release date is Oct 5
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