Friday, 30 March 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...H.M. Prévost

My guest today is YA writer H.M. Prévost. A teacher and photographer as well as writer, Helene worked for many years in the United Arab Emirates, which provided an exotic setting for her debut YA thriller, Desert Fire, published by Muse It Up Publishing. She joins us today all the way from her home in Quebec. Welcome, Helene!

Let's quick off with a question that always gets people talking! What’s the worst job you've ever had?

I worked at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency. That’s right. It was the kind of job where you walked in at 8 am, looked at the clock and said to yourself: “Okay, only 8 more hours until I can go home.” I edited brochures about how to get rid of cockroaches, ants, termites, etc.. If a nasty little creature was infesting your home, I could tell you how to get rid of it! I was so glad when I found another job.

I bet you were! *shudder!* Let's get to something far nicer - tell me about the best job you've ever had.

My current job. I teach college level English. After teaching high school, this is unbelievably better. It’s heaven. Students actually listen when you speak. They don’t talk back. You’re not constantly meting out discipline. The hours are great too. And there’s no break duty! So I no longer have to worry about getting hit by a soccer ball when I’m supervising kids out at lunch time!

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

I went swimming in the Dead Sea (but swimming isn’t really a good word, because your legs rise up out of the water and you just float)

I went on my first skydive last year, which wasn’t an easy feat. I have always been leery of heights, but this was to help me get over my fear. It didn’t work. Heights still bother me. But I’m glad I challenged myself and actually went through with it.

I took pole dancing lessons and got all the way to Level 3. I could hang upside down with only my calves gripping the pole. And I could keep up with all the 19-year-olds in class, even though I was twice their age.

Hmm...I'm wondering just what the fib could be! While I ponder, tell me what’s on your bedside table?

I don’t have a bedside table. I finished painting a mural on my ceiling (a sky, clouds, birds) and right now I’m sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Furniture should be coming in a little while.

What your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it?

I would have a chicken and mushroom quiche (does that count as a sandwich?) at a Starbucks in Abu Dhabi. They play great music and have those huge comfortable chairs to sit in. I bring my laptop with me and get a few hours of writing done.

I'll let you count that, it sounds like heaven. Helene, which household chore would you happily give up for ever?

I would give up ALL household chores. I had a live-in maid for many, many years. I am hopelessly spoiled. My household duties are sorely neglected every single week. (But if I really have to keep a chore or two, it would be laundry. Just toss it in and leave it until it’s done.) Now that’s my kind of household chore.

I have every sympathy - I couldn't choose just one chore to give up either! Okay, chores done, it's on to leisure time. Who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?

A vampire, a werewolf, a dominatrix (please don’t ask me for details about that last one, okay?)

Fair enough! What drives you seriously nuts?

Students who ask me: Did we do anything important when I was absent last week? (Answer: No, we NEVER do anything important when you’re not here.)

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

Straight to medieval or Victorian England. I want to see castles and queens and those outrageous dresses women wore. I would like to see Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth come to life, in other words.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I were a faster writer, able to produce thousands of words per day, instead of around 1,000 (and that’s on a good day).

Hey, 1,000 words a day is 1,000 more than you had yesterday - you're doing great! Helene, thank you for visiting today. I've really enjoyed meeting you and getting to know you. It's time to reveal your fib, which is that you've never gone skydiving - ah, but maybe one day! Friends, if you'd like to know more about Helene, you can follow her One-Link to her website, which I must tell you is really fantastic.

Wishing you all the best with Desert Fire, and all your future stories!

Friday, 23 March 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...Maggie Toussaint

I'm beyond thrilled to welcome Maggie Toussaint to The Lowdown today!

In the list of 'people I'd like to 'write like,'' she's definitely in my top five. Her latest book,
Murder In The Buff, has just been released by Muse It Up Publishing, and you can expect more in the same vein soon with her next release, Death, Island Style.

Writer of both romantic suspense and cosy mysteries with a touch of murder and mayhem, Maggie is warm, witty, funny and so darn talented she ought to be illegal! If you think I'm egging the Maggie-pudding a bit, well, dear reader - read on to find out why I adore this lady so much, and prepare to become a fan. Welcome, Maggie!

Okay, lady, here we go! Let's kick off with you telling us three surprising things about yourself, one of which is a fib - and we'll try to guess the fib!

I walked out to the screened edge of the Eiffel Tower and basked in the night lights of Paris.

I nearly cut my big toe off while I was wading in the surf.

My houseplants live for the day when someone else takes them home

Which household chore would you happily give up for ever?

I hate cleaning the grout in the shower. Ugh. Would someone please invent self-cleaning grout?

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

I sing by hearing something and repeating it. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t. I’d love to have perfect pitch. Then I’d never sing a sour note. Mostly never, anyway.

Which animal do you think you’re most like, and why?

I’m most like a baby roo, a joey. I like to be warm and comfy and close to my family. And it would be ultra cool to be carried around and be close to all the milk you could ever want to drink.

Doesn't that sound like bliss? On the other hand, though, what drives you seriously nuts?

When food gets between caught my teeth, it feels like there’s a 2x4 lodged in there. I have to get it out right away or I can’t think.

Oh, I hear you, that's so annoying. So maybe apart from a lifetime's supply of toothpicks, what single invention would change your life for the better?

I want one of those meal machines on the wall from the Star Trek Next Generation series. I would love to go stand in front of the wall, tell it what I want, and have breakfast/lunch/dinner pop out ready to go.

What's your guilty pleasure?’s in the bedroom. And, um, I’m not sure how to come right out and say this...but...I, uh, like, I LOVE to...take naps. Hah! Had you going, didn’t I? Seriously, nothing I like better than to drowse in a warm puddle of sunshine.

Ah, Maggie, you and me both! I adore napping, so much so I think I must have been a cat in a former life. Now, tell me this - what’s the best review you've ever had?

The last one! Seriously, a fan wrote me today and asked for a sequel to a stand-alone mystery. Asking for more more of my work is music to my ears.

That's wonderful, no wonder you were thrilled! Aside from writing achievements, family, etc - what are you most proud of?

When I was a cancer researcher, my company patented a drug with antitumor properties and named it after me: Maggiemycin. It didn’t make a big splash in the world of cancer treatment as other drugs had better modes of action, but even so, it’s out there, and it’s named for me. If you google maggiemycin, you’ll see. I’m very nearly famous.

That's something to be seriously proud of. Maggie, I could chat with you all day, but sadly it's time for our last question. Tell me - what’s your favourite piece of music?

I love the Louie Armstrong version of What A Wonderful World. And his signature tag at the end “oh, yeah,” hits a marshmallow spot in me that makes me smile from the inside out.

Oh...I hear it now! Beautiful. That will make me smile all day. I'm so glad you've been my guest today, Maggie. I'd love to send our visitors off with that same warm smile to your One-Link, your truly gorgeous website. Oh, but before you go - time to 'fess up on the fib, I think!

My fib was...walking to the edge of the Eiffel Tower. I got off that elevator and hugged the elevator housing like it was my salvation. I have vertigo, and I felt sure I’d fall off even from the safety of the middle of the platform. We went for medicinal crepes as soon as we hit solid ground.

Love it! Great to see you, Maggie. Good luck with all your future projects!

Friday, 16 March 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...Diane Scott Lewis

My guest today is historical author Diane Scott Lewis. A Californian native who now lives in Virginia, Diane has travelled the world with her previous career in the US Navy, and now travels through history with her books set in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The terror the the French Revolution, the intrigue and mystery of Napoleon Bonaparte's inner circle or the passion, suspicion and secrets encountered by some of history's most courageous women - you'll find all this and more in her stories. Her latest novel, Without Refuge, is available now in e-format and will soon be in print. Welcome, Diane!

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

My youth! My soft, smooth skin, and my energy; oh, you said only one. I’m impulsive, and want it all, can’t you tell?

What’s on your bedside table/nightstand?

Probably dust! A hand-crafted tissue holder and a little bear, both from my grandmother who passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 103. She was a great lady.

Who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?

Napoleon, because I wrote about his final exile in my second novel, Elysium. But since he didn’t speak English, and I don’t speak French or Italian, it would be an awkward dinner. I’d have to invite a famous interpreter, too.

I think that would be a fascinating party! Diane, what talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?

A beautiful singing voice. I can’t carry a tune in a wheel barrel. I’d love to be able to belt out a song like the late Whitney Houston, or Adele.

What drives you seriously nuts?

Telemarketers. I’m on the Do Not Call list, but the robo calls keep coming from Credit Services, to tell me my credit card is fine - like it’s any of their business - but if I call a certain number I can get a lower interest rate, which I doubt, as mine is pretty low; if these idiots actually knew what they were talking about, they’d know this. See, seriously nuts.

I'm right with you there. Let's forget modern-day irritations for a while as you step into my virtual time travel machine - where would you go, and why?

I’d travel to Cornwall in the late eighteenth century, where many of my novels are set. But I’d still want modern plumbing, and underwear, so I’d be a cranky visitor.

What’s the best review you've ever had?

My debut novel, The False Light, was reviewed by the Historical Novel Society, and they called it, “Simply brilliant.”

What's your guilty pleasure?

Wine! I love complex red wines. And two glasses, not the one 4 oz. glass recommended for women. You can’t get a buzz with one glass, so what’s the point?

You're a girl after my own heart! For me, it's crisp and clean Italian whites - bliss. Now - if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d love patience, calmness, a serenity which I seldom can achieve...which takes me back to the wine!

What single invention would change your life for the better? (Maybe aside from an on-tap red wine dispenser...!)

Something that dusted! They have these robots that vacuum your floor, I need one that dusts. It would leave me more time to write, and promote in this media crazy world. My husband wouldn’t come home and have to wade through mounds of dust...okay it’s not that bad, but...we women need freedom from these trivialities so we can shine in our chosen interests.

So true. Even in the most progressive and well-organised households, the bulk of the organisation and housework does seem to fall to the woman. I actually do have one of those vacuuming robots and it's an amazing time-saver - but I'm eternally glad we don't have to face what our mothers and grandmothers faced, housework-wise.

Diane, I've SO enjoyed learning abut you and your writing. Friends, I know you want to know more too, so please visit Diane's One-Link to her website for more about her novels.

Thank you, Diane, for being my guest. Good luck with all your future projects!

Friday, 9 March 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...Jo Ramsey

I love meeting fantastic new writers, and my guest today, Jo Ramsey, is a real find. Imagine writing your first story at five years old! Well, that early start means that to date Jo has around 44 full-length manuscripts written in her favourite young adult genre, many of them forming various series. Fantasy and reality collide in a place where - as Jo says - 'anyone can be a hero.' Welcome, Jo!

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

Probably the first story I ever wrote. I was five, and it was about a five-year-old girl who was sent to live with her uncle. I don’t remember much about it, but I wish I could read it and see how I did writing it, and also see if maybe I could rework it into a publishable story.

What’s the worst job you've ever had?

Washing dishes in a university cafeteria. The chemical smell was nauseating, and you wouldn’t believe some of the things those students left on their trays.

Ewww...maybe best not to tell us more, Jo! So what’s the best job you've ever had, then?

Writing. Hands down.

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

1. I used to do psychic channeling sessions at a New Age bookstore.
2. I was born in Canada.
3. I wrote my first novel at age twelve.

What’s on your bedside table/nightstand?

My clock radio, a chunk of rose quartz, a book I’m reading, and a blanket because there’s nowhere else to put it.

I have rose quartz on my nightstand too, in the form of a favorite necklace. Tell me now, which household chore would you happily give up for ever?

Cleaning out the cats’ litter box.

O, yes! As a fellow cat-owner, I'm with you there! Jo, what talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?

I’d love to be able to dance. Before we met, my husband did West Coast Swing dancing and was even an instructor. When we first moved in together, we tried going dancing as a “couples thing”, but I couldn’t get my feet to do what I told them.

Wouldn't that be lovely? I'm so envious of people of my parents' generation who seem to be able to do all kinds of social dances. I'm sad that's all disappearing. Jo, what drives you seriously nuts?

When my daughters don’t do their chores, or do something like washing their dishes but leaving food wrappers lying on the counter.

What’s the best review you've ever had?

The best review of a young adult book that I’ve had came recently on my novel Cutting Cords, book three in my Reality Shift series. The reviewer was a 13-year-old, and part of the review was “Wow. This book was amazing.” Hearing an honest review from a member of my books’ target audience was awesome.

That IS awesome - congratulations! Last but not least - what's your guilty pleasure?

The teen TV drama Degrassi. It’s essentially a soap opera for teenagers, and I’ve been watching it for years.

Can't beat a good soap! Did you guess Jo's fib? It's No.2 - she's a Massachusetts girl, not a Canadian. Jo, it's been great to have you as my guest, and I've really enjoyed having a look at your link today, your lovely website. You certainly are a prolific writer! Long may that continue. Thanks for being here today - good luck with all your future projects.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...Jannine Corti-Petska

Benvenuti, amici!

That's how my guest today welcomes us to her wonderful writing world.

Born to Italian parents in New York, Jannine Corti-Petska inherited her love of reading from her mother. I'm glad to say this developed into a real love of writing, and to date, Jannine has nine novels to her name. Her latest book, Surrender To Honor, is the second in a Medieval Italian series. I'm so delighted to welcome someone I consider a friend - so Jannine, andiamo!

Okay, Jannine, let's get right to the nitty-gritty - 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 go-go dancer at high school dances
2)The airplane I was supposed to be on to fly home from Italy was blown up on the tarmac the day before
3) I married my high school sweetheart

What’s on your bedside table/nightstand?

There are numerous photos from my grandparents to my grandchildren. There’s also a statue of St. Anthony. A coaster for the rare occasions when I work in bed (writing, that is ) and have a drink (non-alcoholic).

What your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it?

I’m not much of a sandwich person. But my absolute favorite is tuna, which is strange since I don’t eat fish. Right behind tuna are salami, meatball, and sausage and peppers And, of course, I’d love to enjoy these sandwiches while sitting in an outside café somewhere in Italy.

I'm right there with you! But with pleasure has to come a little pain, so tell me - which household chore would you happily give up for ever?

Vacuuming. I’m too lazy to move furniture and get into the nooks and crannies. So that’s why that particular household chore is my husband’s!

Who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?

The Italian National soccer team. Of course, I’d be the only female in attendance!

Oooo - would you mind if I hovered on the sidelines, serving drinks? ;-) Okay, here's another question. What talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?

I have always wanted to have a nice singing voice. Instead, I have a flat, off-key voice. In my head I have perfect pitch. Unfortunately, that’s not what comes out of my mouth. At birthday parties, I mouth the words to Happy Birthday. I don’t dare sing them. A dog I had years ago used to howl every time I sang, which I did when no one was home.

Which animal do you think you’re most like, and why?

That would have to be a terrier. When I latch onto something, I tend to never let go. I have three Rat Terriers, and it’s tough living with like-minded personalities.

Yes, I can see that! Knowing you, I think I might be able to take a guess at your thoughts on the next question. You're given a time travel machine - where would you go, and why?

Historically I’d love to go back to the time Leonardo Da Vinci lived. His genius mind intrigues me. Personally, I’d love to be a fly on the wall when I was an infant. I was born into an Italian family in New York, and from what I understand, they shall I say this...loud, demanding, wine drinkers, pasta lovers, singers and dancers, and basically a wild, life-loving bunch. There are a few other things I could say about them, but I don’t think here is the proper place to talk about them. They would definitely raise some eyebrows.

Yes, maybe some things are left unsaid...! Now, one of the things I know I love about Italian culture is the love of good things, especially food, so let me ask you - what's your guilty pleasure?

Although it may not seem like a guilty pleasure, for me it’s homemade chocolate chip cookies. And ice cream and dark chocolate. I’m diabetic, and when I do have a nibble of one of the above, I suffer from guilt. Although I don’t completely deprive myself, it’s difficult to change a mindset. I know they’re not good for me, but oh do they taste good.

Perhaps that's a case of 'everything in moderation!' Our last question - if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d be taller, thinner, not diabetic, and I could eat anything without gaining weight in all the wrong places! So, I suppose, the latter part of all that is the one thing.

Ok - I'll let you have that as one whole thing! Friends, do please grab this chance to follow Jannine's One-Link to her website where she invites you to 'assapora la passione' - feel the passion.

Last but not least, her fib was No. 3. She didn't actually marry her childhood sweetheart - but that's all she's telling us!

Thank you for being my guest today, Jannine. I wish you so much good luck in all that you do!