Thursday, November 27, 2014

Faye: My Spiritual Journey Through the Lenses of Writing & Motherhood

Guest post by Camille Faye

My journey right now is through the landscape of motherhood. As I keep one foot firmly planted on the path of being the matriarch for my family, my other foot is on the path of being a writer. Navigating both paths in the past several years has been very tricky at times, but while working to find that balance between the people I love and the work that I love, I've noticed some spiritual growth lessons along the way.

Being Present
Being present is incredibly hard to do for my busy mind. What writer doesn't have a million things going on in her head at once? But being absolutely present is the only way for me to have creative breakthroughs and peace of mind. I've been practicing presence more often since reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. He suggests simple practices to incorporate into your day to help you live in the now.

Before I quit teaching in order to stay home, my life felt like a mess. Trying to be a teacher, mom, wife, and writer had me going in so many directions that it was impossible to be present. I was always running, running, running, without a break. Quitting my job gave me some room to breathe. Then I could focus on a task and be a better mommy, wife, and writer.

Feeling Joy
Remember when you were a kid and you would absolutely bubble over with joy? My son is so excited to see his cousins over the holidays and I know he'll have a hard time sleeping because of all that fizzy excitement.

When I made the decision to leave my job, it was heart-wrenching because I felt like I was giving up a piece of my identity. Heck, in a world where there are all these super-moms, I felt like I was just plain giving up. Over the last several years, I've made decisions about the way that I choose to feel in my daily life. The two states of being that make me feel the best are joy and peace.

One of my favorite bloggers is Carol Tuttle and one of the things she speaks about is the importance of nurturing your inner child. There was some serious dysfunction in my extended family that I never really dealt with until I had my own children. So I decided that since I was cognizant of those shortfalls in my own childhood, I would raise my children to feel joy, peace, and love. But more than that, I would commit to raising my own inner child to overcome that negative energy that surrounded my childhood. As an adult, I get to experience joy through my children when we dance, laugh, play, cuddle, and sing.

Staying Strong
As a woman who has suffered through tough bouts of depression in my teen years and then postpartum depression when I had my children, I wanted to notice negative patterns in my thinking and eliminate or redirect those so that I could stay in a positive space. I have done yoga since 2000 and love how it helps me relax and reconnect with my body. Many times, I notice that I get sick, feel low, or have intense neck pain when I've ignored some mental stress that's been wearing on me. If I stay in touch with how my body is feeling and manage my negative thoughts, then I don't tend to feel so bad.

Yoga helps you gain flexibility, balance, strength, and peace in mind, body, and spirit. It doesn't have to last an hour or more, either, and you can do it in the comfort of your own home. Some of my favorite yoga channels on YouTube include Ekhart Yoga (with Esther) and The Yoga Solution (with Tara Stiles).

Envisioning Success
I'm a goal maker. Every January the members of my critique group, The Lit Ladies, share our individual writing and life goals for the year. At our summer writing retreat, we touch base on how we're doing for the year and we make vision boards. On last year's vision board (made in July), I wanted my novel, Voodoo Butterfly, to be "award-winning." Then in October of last year, it was a finalist in the Lone Star contest and one of the judges, a publisher out of New York state, offered me a publishing contract.

I believe that magic can happen in your life when you focus on your desires and prepare yourself so that they can occur when the time's right. Writing goals down or making a vision board gives you something to look at and reflect on throughout the year. These tools reminded me of the smaller, incremental steps I needed to take in order to make the big goal, of publishing my book, a reality.


In the midst of raising young children, my parenting path is more traveled than my writer path simply because I have to dedicate more time and energy to the mommy part of me. At least for now. But later, all of the love and spiritual knowledge I've gained as a result of dedicating my life to motherhood, will bubble up into my writing. Until then I give myself a small chunk of time in the day to write. And throughout the day I remind myself to feel peace and joy while navigating my two life paths at once.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Camille & VOODOO BUTTERFLY in her interview with the Blog Ring of Power.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Helen Ginger: Mermaid career link to character in ANGEL SOMETIMES

Welcome to Helen Ginger, who has been writing since she was a child. She went from tragic love stories in high school to angst-filled poetry in college to character-driven books as an adult. She holds a Bachelor's in English and a Master's in Speech Communication. She uses both since the two things she does most is write and talk. She put both these skills to work after college as an instructor at San Antonio College and Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, Texas. Born in Georgia, she grew up in Texas, where she's lived since she was ten. She's got relatives spread all over the States, from Texas to California to Minnesota to North Carolina to Alabama to Florida. A few of them actually admit that she's family.

How much fact is in your fiction? Angel's life is certainly not my life, but we do have things in common. I gave her the job of swimming as a mermaid in a bar/restaurant because I swam as a mermaid for four years while in college, so I knew she could do it. She also does a picnic underwater and performs ballet moves, which is what the mermaids at Aquarena Springs did.

What's the highest compliment someone could make about your writing? Readers asking when the next Angel book is coming out is a compliment. I wish I could give a date, but I haven't started a second Angel book. I'm working on another book with a new character right now. I'll do another Angel story, though. She's in my head and won't go away, so she'll start telling me her story soon.

What movie star would be perfect for (your main character) and why? Well, she'd have to be ready to be eat and drink underwater, as well as do underwater ballet. I think Dakota Fanning could transform into a movie mermaid. I took a class in scriptwriting. It's crossed my mind that her story would make a great movie and I've considered writing the script, but I'm sure someone who writes scripts for a living would do a better job. I'll stick to writing books.

Would you share a bit about your next project? The book I'm working on now is called Deadpoint. Codie Hart, co-owner of Hart of Atlantis Park finds one of the workers at the park dead and floating in the river. She's already dealing with her ex-husband and co-worker, Michael, and the homeless guy who wanders the park at night, scavenging through trash. Unknown to her, The Handler has found Michael and intends to kill him, slow and painfully. First, he intends to make Michael watch as he kills Codie.
ANGEL SOMETIMES: Just before her thirteenth birthday, Angel Sometimes was taken 800 miles from her home in Oklahoma, given $50 and left on South Padre Island, Texas. Years later, Angel hitchhikes to Austin and gets a job swimming as a mermaid in a bar/restaurant in the music district. Before she can go home and confront her parents, she needs three things: her high school diploma, a car and a gun. She has a car. She's finished her final test for her GED. The only thing she needs is the gun and she knows where to get one.

Where to Find Angel Sometimes and Helen:
Straight From Hel

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Steampunk, samurai and a mystical Peruvian dog!

Click to enlarge image.

Meet young adult fantasy writers Brad R. Cook, T.W. Fendley, and Cole Gibsen at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 3, at STL Books at 100 W. Jefferson Ave in Kirkwood, Mo.

“Come learn about steampunk, samurai and a mystical Peruvian dog!” said Cook, debut author of IRON HORSEMEN. He is also a publisher, and serves as president of St. Louis Writers Guild. In a steam-powered Victorian world where pirates prowl the sky and secret societies determine the future like a game of chess, an American, sixteen-year-old Alexander, must save London from the four Iron Horsemen. 

Fendley, a science fiction and fantasy author, will sign her debut young adult release, THE LABYRINTH OF TIME. When 16-year-old Jade Davis discovers only she and the son of a Peruvian museum director can telepathically access messages left on engraved stones by an ancient race, she embarks on a quest to save humanity from fiery destruction.

Gibsen—young adult and new adult author—wrote BREATHLESS and the bestselling KATANA samurai series. In the trilogy, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she’s always been and embracing the warrior inside her: skater girl or supernatural samurai?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Memoir: Parry finds herself while at sea

Check out Jackie's KDP countdown, which starts today (Nov. 21). Of Foreign Build will be (0.99 for 24 hrs, $1.99 for 24 hours and $2.99 for 24 hours, then back up to the regular price) 

Welcome to Jackie Parry. Originally from the UK, Jackie is now an adopted Australian. She grew up with horses in the UK, but in her twenties she ran away to Australia and met and married Noel. They decided to buy a boat and set sail. Together they have sailed around the world one-and-a-half-times and had many ocean and inland waterway adventures. Now, Jackie (and Noel) are commercial skippers and maritime teachers. Currently Jackie is exploring the French canals on a Dutch barge with her Australian husband.

What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? I will be writing fiction next year. So far I have published two non-fiction books. To answer your question though, the characters and the path they are on. Words fascinate me also. From an early age I was enchanted with the fact that black words on white paper could evoke such intense emotions (see the last question). I found this incredible and still do. So, what I am trying to say, it is the blending of characters, stories, scenes, senses and words and a balance of all these, too.

How do you find time to write and do a demanding job? If you really want to write, you find the time. How? I get up early and forget about breakfast - that is my time, in thirty minutes you can write a lot of words! I write during breaks and lunchtime. I have been known to stay late at work, hide away and write.
Would you share a bit about your next project? My next book is called A Standard Journey. It is about an extraordinary journey Noel (my husband) and I took with five horses (Standardbreds) and a tent. Living with five animals and all seven of us relying on each other was an incredible experience. The bond we fostered was stronger than I ever imagined. It is not a book about how to go trekking with horses – indeed we did not do it that well (as you will see)! But we did rescue our five boys, adopted them, and they turned from scared, blinkered beasts into magnificent members of our family. I will be donating a percentage of sales of this books to helping save more horses. You may be able to tell, horses are a great passion of mine.
What are your top three reasons for writing? (1) The voices in my head, I have to get them out. Well, maybe it isn’t so much the voices – it’s the words, the ideas, the scenes. I just can’t stop. I have never suffered with writer’s block. (2) I have too many ideas that I need to release from my head. (3) To empty my head onto paper is very cathartic for me.

What's the highest compliment someone could make about your writing? You made me laugh, you made me cry.’ (Someone did say this to me after reading Of Foreign Build).

OF FOREIGN BUILD: After suffering an emotionally-brutal bereavement and against her counsellor’s advice, Jackie ran away. Suddenly within a new culture, with a new husband, and no friends, she was living in the obscure world of cruising with zero knowledge of boats.

Crashing within the first twenty-four hours, Jackie realised life would never be the same again; a floating home with no fridge or hot water, and with a dinghy instead of a car. Suffering self doubts, she became fearful of her new world.

The first off-shore voyage took Jackie into a ferocious storm, which battered her physically and mentally. Amid the raging seas, Jackie shed the fear she’d been harbouring.

Soon she was blissfully voyaging around the world, but she still carried the mixed emotions of losing one man, while falling head over heels in love with another.

Not only did Jackie deal successfully with the challenges of her new existence, she also battled with the testosterone fuelled nautical world to become both a professional captain and a qualified maritime teacher.

Most importantly, Jackie found herself.

Twitter: @nandjjourneys
Of Foreign Build:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

PUYB virtual blog tour: T.W. Fendley's THE LABYRINTH OF TIME!

Find out more about T.W. Fendley's  young adult fantasy THE LABYRINTH OF TIME on her Pump Up Your Book virtual book tour

... and

ENTER TO WIN one of two $25 Amazon gift cards,

just in time for the holiday season!

Tuesday, November 18
Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping
Wednesday, November 19
Book Featured at Literal Exposure
Thursday, November 20
Interviewed at Review From Here
Friday, November 21
Book featured at The Literary Nook
Tuesday, November 25
Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking
Thursday, November 27
Interviewed at Blogher
Friday, November 28
Guest blogging at It Feels Drafty
Tuesday, December 2
Guest blogging at The Dark Phantom
Thursday, December 4
Interviewed at Examiner
Monday, December 8
Book featured at Bent Over Bookwords
Wednesday, December 10
Interviewed at I’m Shelf-ish
Thursday, December 11
Interviewed at Blirt
Friday, December 12

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

LABYRINTH on Books Go Social!

Read the first page of T.W. Fendley's YA fantasy novel, THE LABYRINTH OF TIME, at BooksGoSocial. LABYRINTH is featured under Fantasy and YA categories this week and on their brand new Flipboard glossy magazine for laptop, tablet & mobile. It’s also on the BooksGoSocial Facebook page.

Sign up for BooksGoSocial’s ebook-offers newsletter for a chance to win a Kindle FireHD6 (monthly winners!).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fine's THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE explores forbidden romance in apartheid society

Welcome to author Mark Fine, who was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. New York, Minneapolis and Los Angeles have been home since 1979. Through global music giant PolyGram, Mark founded Hammer & Lace Records. His label had a unique mandate: to be the industry’s only imprint dedicated to highlighting specific social or health issues by creating benefit albums that promoted life-saving awareness campaigns. For a decade Fine proved adept at uniting non-profit organizations, corporate and media sponsors, and world-class musicians such as Sheryl Crow, Sting, Melissa Etheridge, Bryan Adams and Boyz ll Men in aid of breast cancer research  and wildlife conservation. For his work Fine received several awards from both the music and oncology communities. Now he lives in the South Bay—where he wrote The Zebra Affaire—with his two sons and a neighborhood dog that drops in from time to time.

What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, and the love of words? It's a real love for Historical Fiction that provides the window into the world I'm creating; and having the fictional narrative bound by actual facts and real people--and documented events and circumstances--brings an automatic focus to my writing. Historical fiction has always intrigued me; it’s a wonderful way to be entertained and at the same gain priceless knowledge such valuable insights in other societies and bygone periods. 

I personally found that by reading powerful storytelling within the context of a factual background made the process of learning painless—and I devoured works by, for example, Herman Wouk, Leon Uris, Ken Follett, Colleen McCullough, Alice Walker, Irving Stone, and anything by my current favorite, Alan Furst. And let's not forget South African masters such as Wilbur Smith, Andre Brink and playwright Athol Fugard.

Some of my readers of The Zebra Affaire admitted they played a game as they read my novel; verifying the facts on Google as they progressed through the story, happily my research proved sound. But it is undeniable that the rubric of truth provides a solid foundation in my work-leaving me with the challenge of layering a fictional story, that's both emotional and compelling, over this structured historical foundation. 

What inspired your latest book? Or, Why did you write The Zebra Affaire? Having the benefit of time and space, I wanted to explore the circumstances that led to my emigration—I was then in my early 20’s—from South Africa during the late 70's. What I discovered fascinated me because with distance I now found I had a better perspective of events. 

This brought clarity to the confusion, corruption and callousness I saw growing up in South Africa. But along with the unfair and disparate ways in which people lived, I was also reminded of the country’s beauty; both its natural splendor—for example the thrilling wildlife, and the kindness and courage of individuals—who did take personal risks for the greater good.

The elevation of racial tensions in the United States has troubled me, and I felt a timely spotlight on the South African apartheid years could provide a cautionary tale.

Another motivation to write the book is the plight of Southern Africa today. Despite the seismic changes in South African society since its 1994 liberation, it unfortunately remains an unhappy nation. I believe there are still systemic problems that need to be addressed—specifically the corrosive role of tribalism in this multicultural society. This is an issue that continues to be sadly ignored.

Additionally, I wanted to write a love story. But it needed to be significant—far more than just a couple quibbling over “who left the toilet seat up." And through the eyes of my fictional lovers, I wanted to tell the factual story of South African life in 1976 as the backdrop to my story.  So in my mind the adversity the romantic couple faces in The Zebra Affaire,  being persecuted by their  government for being in love, is about as harsh as it gets; and so the mixed race story of Elsa and Stanwell breaks new ground for me.

What's your favorite way to interact with fans/readers? No doubt it's the Book Clubs, whether in, coffee, snacks, and an immersive three hour conversation. Or, if need be virtually through Skype and Google Hangouts. I've really come to appreciate the level of engagement enjoyed by both myself and the book club members, when they have read my novel, are beyond curious, and pepper me with relevant questions. And at times reveal a part of themselves in the two-way exchange. 

For me a profound moment was discovering how uniquely my words resonated with some readers based on their life experiences. My book is about racism in 1976 apartheid South Africa; but hearing from one reader how my African story surfaced suppressed memories from her childhood in the American South, specifically Georgia, was quite a revelation.
Also, and I'm not sure other author's see it this way, but I'm humbled by meeting one-on-one those that have taken the time to read my book. I've come to realize the price of purchasing my book is not the real cost; it is the time these men and women have taken...several hours out of their lives, to read my words...and that is truly rewarding. 

So unabashedly I'm ready and willing to make myself available for book clubs (be it real or virtual) and welcome any invitation via

What do you think readers will like about your book? First the time period: the late 70's with rich descriptions on the fashion, music, morals and history of the time. 

Second an exploration of surprising human behavior in the face of brutal laws. How was it possible in a nation with such a small minority, that they controlled the large majority so cruelly, for so long? The black population seemed so accepting. It begs the questions, “Why? How was it possible?”

Three, the terrible repercussions ordinary people face when doing routine things; it should challenge the reader to consider what would he or she do if faced with similar circumstances. Especially if your elected government is behaving badly and at your core you know its edicts are morally wrong.

Four, there are fascinating "locations" in the novel, from a mile underground the earth’s surface in the dark depths of a goldmine to the thrill tracking lion, rhino and zebra on a photo-safari in the African wilds. My hope is that readers will immerse themselves in an exotic journey within the book.

Finally, as I lived in SA during this period, I believe readers will detect a certain authenticity in the narrative. This brings a sense of immediacy and first-hand knowledge to anyone reading the book.

What about your career outside writing and how did it influence your work? I was a music executive in both South Africa and the United States for four decades. This gave me the opportunity to be creative, and work with super artistic men and women throughout my work life. And as such, I learned to trust the creative process. By witnessing so many recording artists work their craft, even under the stress of release deadlines, I was innately confident and never felt creativity would desert me— even during those inevitable challenging moments during the writing process.

I also had the opportunity to launch my own record label through the PolyGram group—Hammer & Lace Records; it had a rather inventive mandate to produce benefit albums for a variety of causes, such as breast cancer awareness, the blind, at-risk children, and wildlife conservation. In the course of these projects I had the privilege of collaborating with Sheryl Crow, Sting, Bon Jovi, Boys II Men, Bryan Adams and many others

My only regret: I never once tried to write a song with any of them! I so admire the songwriter’s craft; the ability to reduce a big idea down to a pithy three minute song… Instead, I finally wrote this novel solo—by myself, and needed 85,000 plus words to tell my Zebra Affaire story.

    THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE: It’s SPRING 1976. In apartheid-torn South Africa, a black man from Malawi and a white woman of Afrikaner heritage made an unlikely union that shocks the nation. No government has the right to interfere in the love between two people, but that’s not the case in apartheid South Africa. Elsa and Stanwell’s illicit romance threatens the strictly controlled racist doctrines of the regime, and orders are given to stop them. Harried by the brutal Security Branch eager to destroy them, the desperate couple fights a sometimes lonely battle against the forces of segregation and tribal mistrust.

    All sides across the color-divide are represented in a great canvas embodying the South African experience; from the Anglo-Boer War at the turn of the last century to the bloody 1976 Soweto Riots, and from a mine one-mile deep beneath the City of Gold to the harsh wilds of the African bush. In this compelling and vivid story of an interracial couple’s painful journey in an unaccepting world, the guilt, cruelty, and hypocrisy of their fellow citizens are exposed; as the nation wages a deadly struggle for freedom . . . and eventual redemption in the guise of prisoner 46664, Nelson Mandela. 

    Find his books and more about Mark at: