Friday, 25 May 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...Allison Knight!

My guest today is Allison Knight.  Allison decided at an early age she wanted to be writer, and started with poetry, followed shortly afterwards with prose, short stories and even a college newspaper!  It wasn't until she discovered historical fiction that everything fell into perfect place, and she now has seventeen historical works in publication.  She writes a range of historical periods, so whatever your favourite is, I'm willing to bet Allison has a novel for you.  I'm so pleased she's come over to chat today - welcome, Allison!
What would be your perfect day?
My perfect day (which I have never had in my life) would begin at 7 am. Someone, don't care who, would bring me something to eat and a cup of coffee. I would have someone who would answer all phone calls, fix lunch, clean the house, and ignore me while I sat in my office and wrote without interruption, for the whole day. Oh, boy, am I dreaming!

What’s on your bedside table/nightstand? 
I have a pencil, a pad of paper, a flashlight, and lip stick moisturizer. I chew on my lips while I write. And darned if the best ideas don't come in the middle of the night. I have to have a way to write them down and a flashlight is essential, 'cause I can't write in the dark.

What’s your favourite piece of music?
I'm a classical music buff. No way can I name only one piece of music. My favorites depend on my mood. I love the duet from Pearl Fishers by Bizet, then there's a couple of choruses from Verdi, Mozart has some terrific stuff.  See what I mean!

I love your selection, and agree it's hard to choose just one from that crowd!  Now tell me if you will - what's your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it? 
Love French Dip. Logan's used to have one with onions and swiss cheese, but they don't make it anymore, so the best place to eat the sandwich with onion and cheese is in my kitchen. I can get the rolls at the store, cook my own onions, buy the roast beef and do it up the way I like it.  But it's a shame. Takes a lot of time.  Back to the perfect day bit. Somebody to do it all for me.  <sigh>

Which household chore would you happily give up for ever?
Definitely bathroom chores. Scrubbing out the toilets and the shower are nasty jobs. We have a lot of one mineral in our water and it clogs up faucets, and leaves black gunk on everything. Cleaning it off is .....  Yucky!

I'm with you there!  Allison, what talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?
With my love of classical music, I'll just bet you can guess what it is. Singing of course. I have a limited range, sound like an empty jar, and although I have a sense of timing and can carry a tune, most people would rather I didn't....

It always amazes me how many of my guests wish for the same thing - I wonder if there are far more singers - and very modest ones - that we can guess!  Well, singing abilities aside, what drives you seriously nuts?
Having to wait for a doctor's appointment. And I always have to. There are people sneezing, coughing, looking like any minute they are going to be violently ill (which they probably are or they wouldn't be there). I'm sitting there wondering how many of their germs are going to make me sick, especially if I'm the one, sneezing, coughing or looking like I'm about to be violently ill.  They sure expect you to pay the bill on time....  Why can't they keep their appointment times?
I'm also not found of people driving cars who have absolutely no idea of what the rules of the road are.
Then, of course, the telephone calls from solicitors...  You shouldn't have got me started. I lot of thing drive me seriously nuts.  That's why I want to stay in my little office and just write away...

Think I started something there!  Okay, lets change the subject!  Which animal do you think you’re most like, and why?
I'm definitely a cat person.  We have three, a tuxedo, a part Siamese, and a beautiful old man. He's an orange cat, well more butterscotch. They each have their own personalities, but they do their own thing. They do like attention, and when I don't feel well - which was why I went to the doctor who doesn't keep his appointments on time - they will curl up with me and snuggle. They do get underfoot sometimes, but since they don't speak English, and I can't speak cat, I really can't blame them.

What's your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate - anything chocolate.

Good choice!  What single invention would change your life for the better?
I would like a house cleaning robot, one that would do the bathrooms. Well, heck, if I have one to do the bathrooms, why not the whole house?  I absolutely hate house work. A live-in maid would work well too. But that's not an invention.

Aside from writing achievements, family, etc - what are you most proud of?
I've told this story before, and it does have to do with writing, but it is the one thing, besides my family, of which I am most proud. It's a true story. 
I was teaching high school in a Michigan county school in the US. I had juniors and seniors, grade 11 and 12, when my first books were published. This was a very conservative school district and I didn't tell anyone I was publishing romance, especially with sex scenes in the books. The info leaked out and one day I was walking to class, when one of my junior boys stopped me. He wanted to talk, but not in the hall. He chose a corner of the library. I figured I was about to be told his parents were going to have me fired, or something along those lines.
He started with, "I read your book."
I asked if he liked it. Okay, so I didn't know what else to say. He looked sheepish, then admitted it was the first book he had ever read. He read class assignments, that kind of thing and cliff notes when he had to but had never read a book from cover to cover.
But the story doesn't end there. Two years later I was in a local book store and spotted my student. He had three or four hardback books from great fiction authors in his hands along with a couple of paper backs.
I said "Hi!" and he came back with, "See what you've done to me. I spend all my extra money on books." His grin was a mile wide. If nothing else, I've given one young man a love of literature. After my family, I'm proudest of that.
And so you should be – that’s a wonderful, wonderful story!  Allison, it’s been a pleasure having you as my guest today.  My blog readers can find out lots more about you at your One-Link today, your website, where they’ll also find lots more about your books.
Thanks for coming over – good luck in all that you do!

Friday, 18 May 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...April Grey

My guest today is speculative fiction writer April Grey.  Her fiction regularly appears in journals, magazines and anthologies, and her most recent novel, the urban fantasy Chasing The Trickster is published by Eternal Press. 

April is a fan of comic and sci-fi conventions, and now gets an extra kick out of them by being able to visit with her son!  She describes her imagination as 'twisted,' so if you're a lover of steampunk, horror, science fiction and fantasy, then you'll want to check out her stories right away.  Welcome, April!

If you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be? My comic book collection.

I should have guessed!  April, what’s the naughtiest thing you've ever done?

Had sex al fresco in the sand dunes. Believe me, sand and a sun burnt back don't mix.

Tell us three surprising things about yourself, one of which is a fib - and we'll try to guess the fib!

a) I gave birth to my son at the age of 40.

b) I have a Ph.D. in Theatre Studies.

c) I attended a boarding school in Europe where Mary Queen of Scots once stayed.

Who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?

Feminist-Surrealist writer and artist Leonora Carrington, Leonard Cohen, Leonard Nimoy and the Dalai Lama

What talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?

I'd love to be able to paint in watercolors, oils and acrylics.

I have to say that would be my choice, too.  To be able to paint beautifully from life or from imagination would be fantastic.  Tell me now, April - what drives you seriously nuts?
The corporate take-over of America leading to the destruction of our natural resources.

Which animal do you think you’re most like, and why?
I remember reading the children's story of Ferdinand the Bull. I feel like that bull sometimes, and my zodiac sign is Taurus. I just want to sit peacefully under the cork tree, but then a damned bee has to sting me.

You're given a time travel machine - where would you go, and why?

I'd warn myself to not vaccinate my son. It took ten years to restore his damaged immune system.

There must be many of us who wish we could go back and warn ourselves of so many consequences in life.  April, if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I'd not have celiac disease.

Having a family member with the same disease, I totally understand that.  Aside from writing achievements, family, etc - what are you most proud of?
Being co-founder of the local branch of Attachment Parenting International.

Huge congratulations on that - you must be immensely proud.  And your fib?

It's b - my Ph.D. is ABD (all but dissertation). After I finished my course work, I got pregnant. I chose to stay home the next 12 years to take care of my son whose immune system was severely damaged by vaccinations as an infant.You could say that I hold a doctorate in raising a chronically ill child. While staying home my writing turned from hobby to something a little more.

Thanks so much for being my guest today.  Readers, you can find out more about April, Chasing The Trickster, and find links to all her work - including many free reads - here at her blog .  Good luck with all your future projects!

Friday, 11 May 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...Cyrus Keith!

My guest today is Northern Indiana-born Cyrus Keith.  A USAF veteran trained in electronics repair and battlefield aid, Cyrus currently works as an avionics technician for corporate jets. As if that isn’t impressive enough, he also ‘played bass with the best rock-punk band that never launched a record, invented the best board game that never sold a copy, and with a friend developed a role-playing game that to this day gathers dust in a Rhode Island closet.’  His first novel, Becoming NADIA, recently stormed its way to the top, scooping top place in the Suspense/Thriller section of the 2012 Epic E-Books Awards – an amazing debut!  Book Two The NADIA Project series, Unalive, is also now available, and you can find both books at Muse It Up Publishing.  Welcome, Cyrus!

If you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be? 
Wow, that makes me think of so many things. But I'm going to get deep on you and say I'd go back and get my innocence. I was so young when that was ripped from me. I've seen things that no child should ever have to witness, and some of them still affect me almost fifty years later. At the same time, I've developed a compassion for others who have been through some of those same things. I don't necessarily wish for those ordeals to have never happened, but if I could still have my innocence through them, I could be a better person today. 

What’s the naughtiest thing you've ever done? 
Ah, does the Fifth Amendment work in England? Hey, what's that over there? It looks like an octopus in a mac, eating bubble and squeak while playing "God Save the Queen" on bagpipes! *runs away* 

Well, I'm afraid we don't have the Fifth Amendment here in the UK, so I may have to quiz you further on that later!  Now tell me - what’s the worst job you've ever had? 
Depends on what you call the worst. I was a night-shift nurses' aide at a skilled nursing facility for a year and a half, just long enough to realize I was NOT cut out for the medical profession. Cleaning bedpans, changing beds, and treating bedsores as big as pie tins were all part of the regimen. At the same time, I was around history professors and WWI heroes, and wounded warriors from Vietnam who deserved so much better than I or anyone else could ever give them for their sacrifices. I knew refined dowagers and former Broadway dancing queens. I had thirty grandfathers and thirty grandmothers who shared wisdom and laughs, and pain with us. I swear I cried like a baby every for every one we lost. 

Yes, that kind of work is so hard but in many ways, a privilege too.  And the best job you've ever had....?
Well, it depends on what you call the best. I was a night-shift nurses' aide at this skilled nursing facility… 

Ah, I hear you!  Okay, what’s your favourite piece of music?
I have four, and I can't in good conscience put one above the others:

1.)         By-Tor and the Snow-Dog, by Rush (the live version on All the World's a Stage). The sheer technical ability in this musical fantasy epic blew me away the first time I heard it. I couldn't believe that wall of sound came from just three men. Probably one of the best power-metal pieces ever assembled, and easily one of Neal Peart's best drum parts.

2.)         Dreams I'll Never See, by Molly Hatchett. Under-appreciated masterpiece of guitar work. It touches my soul in a deep and wonderful place every time I hear it. Make sure you get the long version.

3.)         Hold Your Head Up by Argent, from their album All Together Now. The lyrical theme is one of standing tall and holding your head high when everyone else is pointing and criticising. The vocal part is short, but deep, and the organ solo is one of Rod Argent's best.

4.)         There is a worship song called Resting Place that just takes me to that place in my spirit where I can picture myself sharing bread and wine with my God on a little wooden table in a cozy cottage that's just for Him and me to share. 

What your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it? 
The Office Burger is available just a short hop across the Pond and one third across the North American Landmass, in a small town called Athens, Michigan. The Office restaurant and Pub serves up the perfect burger, an Angus beef masterpiece stacked high with Canadian Bacon, bacon, three kinds of cheese, mushrooms, onions, lettuce and tomatoes. Awesome flavour balance, and you won't be hungry again for a week. 

Which household chore would you happily give up for ever?
Which household chore would I happily not give up forever? I can't think of any. You wanna help out with that or somethin'? (Oops, sorry. Bunny just kind of took over for a minute)

What talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?
Heinlein's ability to weave a world into a story so seamlessly that the reader never notices it.

 What drives you seriously nuts?
Congress. Oh, dear lord, do I even need to say more? 

I think we can all relate, no matter where in the world we are!  Now, tell me this - imagine you're given a time travel machine .  Where would you go, and why?
September, 1066. Wow. Talk about days that changed the world. Harold vs. William for all the marbles, with Danes thrown in for good measure. Those were days for Heroes, and so much went down then. All we really have is a wall hanging to record what really happened, between Stamford Bridge and Hastings. I would be blown away by a chance to see what went down, to be close to the events as they happened and record them.
Did I mention that the transitional period from the Roman Empire to the Renaissance fascinates me as a time in history anyway? Like, how did Europe get from the times of the Caesars to Charlemagne? What happened to bring the Church from the times of the Apostles to Menno Simons?
There's just so much knowledge and culture that changed, and with the collapse of Roman leadership, much of what really happened was lost.

As I live right on that very 1066 doorstep, Cyrus, I’d be right there with you – what a time that would have been.  Friends, you can read more about Becoming NADIAright here at today’s One-Link.  Cyrus, it’s been great to see you - thanks for being my guest today, and good luck with all your future projects.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...Kathryn Meyer-Griffith!

Kathryn Meyer-Griffith began writing novels at age 21 and now has had fourteen previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.  She writes in a variety of genres including romantic horror, historical romance, romantic suspense, romantic time travel and murder mystery - wow!  An artist and graphic designer, Kathryn worked in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before quiting to concentrate on writing full-time.  Her horror story Blood Forge  was recently published as an 'Author's Edition' by Damnation books, and two short tales released in one novella, Don't Look Back, Agnes and In This House, by Eternal Press.  Welcome Kathryn!

If you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be?

Spotty, my little black and white stuffed toy dog. I slept with that little worn, torn eared critter until I was almost twelve years old. Couldn’t sleep without it. I remember one night I couldn’t find it anywhere (I was about eleven) and, afraid to admit to anyone I was still sleeping with a stuffed animal, in desperation, I finally told my dad….and he looked everywhere – under the beds, all over my room and everywhere we could think of  – with me until he found it. He never once laughed or made fun of me for needing that toy so much. Remembering that now brings tears to my eyes. It was just one of the many kind, loving things he did to show me he loved me. Loved all of us. My dad’s been gone 13 years. Such a good man. Good father to me and my six siblings. I still miss him so. I don’t recall what happened to Spotty, but I’d do anything to have that little stuffed dog back.

What’s the worst job you've ever had?
I’ve had a few in my lifetime. Many years ago when I was first divorced and trying to support my six-year-old-son son and myself, working at a trucking company for minimum wage doing their billing; where my supervisor tried to sabotage me over and over because she thought I was trying to steal her job. As if! But the worst job was when I was a child (about ten or so). My family was very poor, so my brother and I always went around went around to help them, my younger brother, Jim, and I would go around the neighborhood offering to clean up the yards, sweep snow off driveways and sidewalks in the winter, or I’d offer to babysit or…clean up people’s houses for money. We always desperately seemed to need money. For milk. Bread. You know. This one neighbor woman, the mother of one of my brother’s little friends, hired me to clean her house one day. So I did. I worked like a starving-child-for-food and cleaned up a storm, with her one step behind me all the way nit-picking on everything I did. Wanting more and more. Ha. But at the end of the day when I stuck my tired grubby hand out to her, so happy I was going to be taking cash home to mom, she produced, with a flourish and much fanfare, a tiny gold chained necklace with a tiny pearl on the end. “Here’s your payment for all your hard work! It’s a real cultured pearl. It’s it lovely?”  Here we were, starving, and this clueless rich woman gives me a necklace for my hard day’s work! I was timid back then and so ashamed; couldn’t bring myself to ask for cash, please…so I took the necklace without a word and slunk home. I was never so humiliated. I never forgot the way that incident made me feel. Afterwards, I swore I’d grow up some day, work hard and shine at something, and never be broke and desperate again. And though I’ve had really hard times in my life, none ever made me feel that bad again.   

Those lessons we learned as children stay with us, don't they?  Kathryn, now - tell us three surprising things about yourself, one of which is a fib - and we'll try to guess the fib! 

(1) I was a folk singer with my brother and later we sang in a rock band. I wore crazy patterned bellbottoms, Cleopatra eye liner and a strip of rawhide around my head.

(2) I went to New York and lived there alone on the streets for a month just to see what it’d be like to be homeless.

(3) I drew pictures for a living for many years.

What would be your perfect day?

Once it would have been a whole day left alone to write…but that was when I was a working mom and wife many years ago; now I write full time and have all the time I want alone to write. So now it’d be…spending the day on vacation with my husband (of 33 years) on Mackinac Island or on Bar Harbor wandering along the waterfront…going out to lunch there together and then driving home that night to a big party with all my family of brothers and sisters, son and family, nieces and nephews. A huge chocolate cake with white wedding icing and other tasty snacks. Heaven.  

It sounds like sheer bliss!  On a similar theme, who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?

Ha, ha. My husband, of course, and a few of the big writers I adore…Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Dan Simmons…and musician Tom Petty (I love his music) and Steve Perry (of Journey). Wow! I’d be in seventh heaven!
What talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?

I’d love to be able to play a guitar or the violin expertly. I love to sing, but have never had the gift of being able to play a musical instrument.
Which animal do you think you’re most like, and why?

That’s sooo easy. A smart, sassy, fat cat of course. I think I was one in my last life. Meow.

Me too!  Okay, I'm letting you borrow my time travel machine for the day.  Where would you go, and why?

Back to my childhood, circa 1960….to see my family again all young and just starting out….my six siblings, my mother, beloved father and Grandfather and Grandmother Fehrt still alive, young and laughing and smiling with us kids around the dinner table; then later us kids out playing in the fields after dark and afterwards watching Twilight Zone and Zorro on a summer’s night. Oh, for just a day to watch from the shadows, smiling, at my long-ago family, I’d give about anything.

That would be amazing, wouldn't it?  Back to your writing, Kathryn - what’s the best review you've ever had?

I’ve had many, many 5 Star, great reviews, especially over the last year and a half since all my old novels (12 now and 14 by July 2012, going back 29 years…and all in eBooks as well as print, too) are being rewritten and re-released; and I love it when they say, “I couldn’t put it down” or “She’s a master storyteller.”  Ha! It only took me 40 years and endless heartbreaks along the way. But the review that really touched me was when a reviewer read my romantic apocalyptic vampire novel THE LAST VAMPIRE-Revised Author’s Edition  (originally it was a 1992 Zebra paperback) last year and called it “the best end of the world novel he’d ever read,”  and that he thought, “and no one, I believe, could ever write a better one!”  Yikes. My head was as big as a prize pumpkin for a week. Then to top it off now that same novel is a FINALIST for a 2012 Epic EBooks Award in their horror category. Top winner to be picked in March, but just to be nominated is a great honor, I feel. I’m so happy. At long last, vindication!!!
Aside from writing achievements, family, etc - what are you most proud of?

My long and happy second marriage to my husband, Russell. Thirty-three years and still counting. And that I never gave up my writing through the awful dry years and the years that I couldn’t sell anything, through the working and family problem years and all the other usual setbacks…and now it’s been over forty years and – look! – I’m still here and still writing!

Thanks Jane for having me here on your blog today…it was fun! Warmly, author Kathryn Meyer Griffith.
Kathryn, it's been a pleasure!  Thanks for sharing your answers with us - and your fib, which was No. 2 - you went to New York for a visit but never lived there, and, thank goodness, have never been homeless.  Your One-Link today is this one to your page at Eternal Press Publishing with details of all your publications with them, including the two-for-one Don't Look Back, Agnes and In This House.
Great to see you - good luck with all your future projects!