Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Having a Cuppa with Angel A. Walker

Howdy all, today I am thrilled to be sitting down and chatting with one of my favorite people and authors, Angel A. Walker! Not only is Angel a good friend, but she also has a new book out, a delightful contemporary romantic/comedy called 'Such is Life'. I thought we could all sit down around the kitchen table, grab a fresh pot and a few mugs, and chat with this very talented lady!

V.L. - Hi, Angel, and welcome to my blog! Thanks for taking the time to drop in and have a cuppa. I know how exciting and exhausting it is when you launch your book, there isn`t enough time in the day for everything, is there? So we`re extra thankful for your taking time to visit! For those who aren`t familiar with you or your novel let`s start off with some info about you and the book you`ve just released in print.

Angel - Well, let's go with the boring stuff first. I grew up in Mansfield. I went to Mansfield University graduating in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations. I've always like to write. After watching Scream I decided I wanted to be a writer. I always imagined myself sitting around a table with other writers making up jokes and plots. Now it's what I get to do every day and I couldn't be happier.

Now on to the fun part. My first novel ‘Such is Life’ is a romantic comedy that I like to refer to as my baby. It's the first time besides writing poems in my creative writing class that I've ever let anyone read my work. Such is Life`s main character, Melissa Jones, dreads going home any time she has to. This time though it's even worse because she has her ten year high school reunion and her ex-boyfriend's wedding. Needless to say nothing goes right, except for the first time in her life the men from her past finally decide that want to be a part of her present.

As much as it sounds like a cheesy love story with a happy ending I believe it's a cheesy love story with a surprise ending. I kid! I like to sum everything up just by telling people that if you want a good laugh and reminisce about past loves it a good read. Everyone has a high school sweetheart and everyone has someone that they wished they would have said the words they thought in their head, but never said out loud. And EVERYONE has someone they like to stare at everyday and think, "He is way too good looking for me." It's a book that everyone can relate to and if you can't relate I promise it will tickle your funny bone until it hurts (in a good way).

V.L. - That`s a pretty large leap from PR to creative writing and you do it quite well! Do you think that your background in PR & Communications has been an asset being a self-published author? Does it give you an edge in marketing, something all us self-pubbers have to do daily it seems? What do you like best about marketing your baby? What do you like least?

The book sounds fantastic! I`ve heard snippets in our writers group and have laughed until my belly hurts. I`m reading it now and will have my review later this week. You mentioned that Melissa hates going home anytime she has to. Why is that? Let`s poke and prod in your protagonist`s head a little bit!

Angel - I think having a background in PR helps quite a bit. I try to use what I learned from school to promote and also a big part is sending emails and speaking with people. I had a whole class on making fliers, contacting businesses, and writing up promos/ads. That's the most fun. I love to write up radio ads. I haven't been able to do that yet, but it's my favorite part. My least favorite part is trying to promote online. Between Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads I'm quite sick of the internet. I've decided to focus now on dealing with people in the flesh.

Everyone who reads ‘Such is Life’ always tells me that the main character Melissa Jones is just like me. The only similarities I've noticed are we're both extremely sarcastic, we're both funny, and when it comes to relationships we are completely clueless. Okay, maybe we are a lot alike. The differences are her hesitation when it comes to going home to her mother. They don't quite get along and Mel likes to keep her mouth shut, and her mother is the complete and utter drunken opposite. Considering her mom doesn't consider wine to be an alcoholic beverage she tends to drink first and think later. Writing the mother in my novel was a lot of fun.

V.L. - Having that background can only be a bonus for a self-pubber. For those reading along, we self-published authors don`t have the PR machine of a huge publishing house behind us, so all marketing and promotional work falls on the author. So, would you say the internet is a good marketing device for writers? Why do you prefer dealing with people on a one to one basis when the internet touches millions?

I can see many similarities between your girl Melissa and you! I`ve had folks comment that my protagonist, Libby, is a great deal like me as well. Did you plan on putting so much of yourself into Melissa, or did her voice and yours just merge as the story unfolded?

Angel - The internet touches millions, but everyone is online trying to promote their books. Selling books in person starting in your area you don't have to fight for the attention quite as much. I'd have to say that's where you get the upper hand because if you can get your name out there maybe then the internet should be your second stop.

I had to base a little bit on the character on me and others that I knew because it was easier to remember characteristics. When I first wrote the book I based it off of specific people. Then I realized that the characters weren't working for the story and I had to mix things up. Melissa`s character I had to mix up because it didn't work completely, which is why I say she's not me. It actually drives me nuts that people think it's me because then they try to guess who the guys are and they ask me questions like, "Oh my god was he really like that?" And all I'm thinking is what are they talking about? I did however use my friend’s names and they all understood that I used their names to be flattering. They were all happy I did, but I also think that might be the reason too that people see it as me. The new series I'm writing I didn't use anyone's name I knew. Never again.

V.L. - I totally agree with you, Angel. My Facebook feed is literally filled with author`s selling their books. After awhile I tend to not even see the promo, which is sad, but that`s the way our minds work I suppose. So how has the local reaction been to your book? Are there any shops carrying it? Where can folks find 'Such is Life'?

I think that your personality and wit comes through in Melissa. She`s very sarcastic and sharp, just as you are. Now 'Such is Life' is the first of a trilogy, correct? I`ve noticed that Melissa seems to have a weakness for alcohol, almost using it as a crutch. Her mother also drinks. Will we see you touching upon this behavior, and how it may affect Melissa, in the next book of the series?

So I take it that you`re working on yet another series?! How do you find the time, girl? Please, tell us a little bit about the new work.

Angel - I have two ways that people can buy my book. From My Shelf Books is carrying copies in store and online. Now if people want to buy a signed copy they can order from my website - Angel A.Walker. The local reaction to the book has been overwhelming. People keep asking me for the second book and I have to inform them to put the brakes on I just released the first one. It's been great though. I love that people are enjoying it. I almost forgot people can also buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

In the second book the only one who touches upon it is her assistant Brett Thomas. He has no problem telling her how he feels about it by making snarky comments that make her angry. She tries hard not to be like her mother but it slips in every once in awhile. In the third book the drinking isn't much as a problem as it is in the first two.

Well, after I finished writing ‘Such is Love and Happiness’ and ‘Such is a New Beginning’ I thought about writing a fourth but I felt as if Melissa Jones told her story and it was time to move on. Plus, I'm not a love story type a gal. I prefer to read a good mystery like Agatha Christie or a good crime novel like Karin Slaughter or Lisa Jackson.

I needed that challenge and I started writing my ‘Justified’ series. The first novel I named ‘Justified Obsessions’ and the second is named ‘Justified Earnings’. It's ten times more challenging than ‘Such is Life’. I write from different characters point of views and I have to do tons more research. I didn't have to research for ‘Such is Life’, but I need to know police procedures and psychological behavior now. It's a lot of work and I love every second of it. I'm just about done with ‘Justified Earnings’. I`m going to start my next in the series, ‘Justified Killings’. I love writing crime! I know though that it's taking me a shorter time to write these novels because I can't stop, but it's going to take me time for ‘Justified Killings’. I might do a co-author on that one.

V.L. - It sounds as if you`ve covered all the bases as far as making it easy for readers to find your book!

So we do see Melissa working through this potentially destructive behavior. Good. I like that you didn`t make your protagonist squeaky clean. Even in a Rom/Com series our characters have to work at their flaws.

Wow, that`s a huge leap in genres! From Romantic/Comedy to Crime Drama. Ahh, research. Yes, I`m familiar with that. I have an Edith Hamilton book that is nearly worn out from all the research. Have you always had a yearning to pen crime novels, or was this something that just blossomed one day and you ran with it, given your passion for reading the genre? How long does it take you to write a novel, say from first word to being ready to hand it to the Beta readers?

Angel- I am a big believer in not being the same as everyone else. I follow some of the rules of a rom/com but I hate the whole happy ending bull-crap. It's not realistic and not every relationship blooms out of thin air. I actually can't stand to read a story about two people who meet in the rain and fall in love over a cup of coffee. Please, I've had plenty of cups of coffee in the rain and not once did it lead to someone at the end of the night telling me they love me. I personally would rather watch that as a movie than in a book, though I'm somewhat of a hypocrite, because in crime novels I love the little side of romance in them. I swear I'm going to marry Will Trent.

I've always wanted to write crime. I love the idea of writing from the victim and from the villain. When I was sixteen and watched Scream for the first time I knew I wanted to write a "Who Dunnit" novel. Now I actually get to do it. Don't get me wrong writing ‘Such is Life’ was amazing and I wish it didn't have to end. I love Mel and I love Brett but their love story is done. Plus, I'm a firm believer in a love story lasting two three books not a whole entire series. Crime novels and can go on and on if you do it right. Karin Slaughter's series has twelve books following the same characters (somewhat) and I still can't put them down. If you ever get a chance to read her. Do it!

‘Such is Life’ took me a year. ‘Such is Love and Happiness’ took about six months. ‘Such is a New Beginning’ I did it in about three months doing the NaNoWriMo writing challenge. ‘Justified Obsessions’ I wrote in February and finished in March. Now I'm working on ‘Justified Earnings’ and I'm almost done with it. A little stuck plot wise but almost done. If anyone knows anything about high end escorts it would help me dearly. (And no that's not at joke.) I want to write ‘Justified Killings’ right away, but I have to work on ‘Such is Love and Happiness’ so it's out by the end of the year. Editing is a real pain in the a**, but ‘Justified Killings’ is going to be a challenge and I LOVE a challenge.

V.L. – I know nothing about high-end escorts, but if you ever need Greek god or goat tips, I`m your girl!

Thank you so much for coming over and having a klatch with us, Angel! I wish you much success with your debut novel and all your other projects. *Hugs*

My review of Angel`s ‘Such is Life’ will be up on Thursday. See y`all then!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One Liners-5/22

LuLu - "Ugh, humans and thier STUPID cameras."

As always, y`all are encouraged to play along if you wish. Just put your one-liner for the above image in with your comments!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Word of Mouth - The Serpent`s Shadow

I have a suspicion that y`all are saying to yourselves, ‘Oh boy, she`s going to review a Rick Riordan book. This will be an automatic five stars since she`s such a Riordan groupie.’

Well, y`all are wrong. I`m only giving ‘The Serpent`s Shadow’ four stars. Taken aback, are you? Don`t be. The book is super, a great read, filled with action, Egyptian mythology and a touch of romance, all the things that made me fall for Mr. Riordan in the first place. It is a good read for all ages, just not quite up to the five star novels I`ve been reading. But that`s okay! These books aren`t written to try to compete with such masterpieces as the ‘Song of Fire and Ice’ books, these three books were written for young adults to introduce them to mythology. For that, I bow down and kiss Mr. Riordan`s sandals. (Since we`re in Egypt this time around, sandals is the footwear of choice although the Greeks wore sandals too but I digress…)

Anything that pulls people in to read about the Greek, Egyptian and rumor has it soon to be Norse pantheons is great with me. (Excuse me while I do a happy dance about the Norse gods in Rick Riordan`s skilled hands.) Okay, I`m done dancing now. My mythology geek is appeased.

In this third and final book of ‘The Kane Chronicles’ we once again are told the story of Sadie and Carter Kane, two teens who are magicians and working to bring down Apophis, the Egyptian god of Chaos. Carter still is linked with Horus, the war god while his sister Sadie has Isis, the goddess of magic and mother of Horus keeping in touch with her. There are so many gods mentioned in the book I nearly wept with glee. Babi a baboon god, Hapi god of the Nile, Neith a hunting goddess, Osiris the god of the underworld, Ra the sun god, Set the god of evil….I could go on and on but I`ll control myself and stop there. Each god and goddess is treated to a new make-over, the mark of a Riordan book, and is hip and cool and appealing to new readers be they twelve or seventy-two!

Bes, the dwarf god from the previous book returns much to my delight! As does Anubis, the god of funerals and death that Sadie Kane has a sort-of romance with. She also is quite taken with a young mage named Walt, but Walt is a descendant of Tutankhamen and carries a curse of dying young. Carter is attracted to a lovely young lady named Zia who has a special tie to Ra. Can you feel the god love flowing from me?? So much mythology all neatly packaged to entice and entertain! This is what makes each book penned by Rick Riordan so darn much fun and so darn educational. This is what I try to emulate in my own books - Entertainment with a dash of education. I doubt I meet the level of Mr. Riordan though, but I do try to follow in his large footprints.

The Serpent`s Shadow is a quick read, the pace is tight, the action plentiful and filled with harrowing moments and humor and the characters are so, so well written it is a joy to read them. Every one of us can identify with either Carter or Sadie, and I bet your young readers can too!

The two leads have grown over the trilogy, showing us tons of development, the plot is clear and the sub-plots are neat and fun. Everything wraps up perfectly at the end. I`m glad this series ended with just three books because it didn`t need any more. That is a sign of a writer who knows his craft. Mr. Riordan could have strung this out but he didn`t. Admit it; we have all read series that should have stopped with two or three books, or even less sometimes. This story only needed three books to complete. Sure, he could have raked in more royalties but that would have been a disservice to his fans.

Now he can move onto that Norse series I am breathlessly agog about, and give us another in the on-going Greek/Roman wonderfest of a series that has my favorite son of Poseidon, Percy Jackson! Woo and hoo Percy! Please, don`t let the YA moniker turn you away, grown-ups. If you like action, laughs, tender moments, magic, mythology and irreverence then grab this book. Better yet, pick up the entire series, read them then pass them to your kids. Entertainment and education. Yeah, it don`t get any better than that my friends.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Guess it all depends.....

….on who`s waiting in the car/truck.

Howdy all! Gosh it`s been a frantic couple of weeks around here on the goat farm. My blog always seems to suffer when I get rushed, and I am sorry for that. I do have a fresh pot on though and some thoughts to share, if you want to drop down and jaw for awhile!

Over the past two weeks Mister has had more than half of his vacation time. This means, for my husband, turkey hunting. He did bag a couple of nice gobblers this year the first two days, which means, for me, that he was now done hunting.

A whole week of a man in the house.

Thankfully for both of our sanities we`re building an addition to our goat barn! A nice, big, enclosed milking room! That project has been keeping my brother-in-law and him busy. One day last week we had to run a few errands, nothing too time-consuming just a trip to pick up the shotgun Mister loaned his buddy, grab some square bales for my editor to make a raised garden out of, and a quick stop at the hardware store for more screws my husband assured me.

So, over to Mansfield we go. It was a nice ride although the day was cloudy and spitting rain. We shot the bull and listened to classic rock on the radio. When we pulled into the hardware store in Mansfield he said, and I quote, “I`ll be just a minute.”

“Okay,” I said and waited. I`m not a fan of hardware stores. I have nothing against them because, hey, when you need hardware you need a hardware store, right? But to mosey about looking at tools and rakes and such just doesn`t tickle my fancy. Mister is the same in a comic shop. I can spend hours browsing through boxes of old back-issues of Iron Man or Deadpool. Mister can do about five minutes then has to leave. Same for me and a book store. Oh how I can meander, read back covers, study the covers of novels and…

Sorry, I digressed.

Anydoodles there I was, waiting in the truck with the radio on. Folks were coming and going, mostly men I noticed through the rain-speckled windows. The music was on and I was happy. I waited and watched. He was only running in for a box of screws, right?

Suddenly the radio turned off. It does that after ten minutes automatically. Mister had the keys. It was now raining pretty hard. The windows were growing foggy. I cleared a patch of steam and continued to watch men running into the store. The men that were exiting were not my husband. Soon, I think it was because of all the carbon dioxide I had breathed out while waiting, I nodded off. He was only running in for a box of screws, right?

Finally, the door opened, waking me from my nap. I jerked up in the seat. Mister hurried to climb in and shut the door.

“What?” he asked when our eyes met.

“I thought you were just going in to grab a box of screws.”

“I did,” he replied and showed me his purchase. One box of screws.

“It takes thirty minutes to find a box of screws?” I asked sweetly. (Okay, it was probably not sweetly but my neck was stiff, my glasses were fogged and I had to pee.)

“Well, no, I found the screws right off. Then I found this automatic water gizmo that I was looking at, then they had these tarps on sale and…..”

My mind went blank right about there. This is the same man, who, much like his father, is known to leave the house, get in the car/truck and blow the horn when we girls aren`t there fast enough. This is also the man who, if someone of the wifely persuasion isn`t in and out of the grocery store quick enough, has a very cross look when I get into the car. This is also the man who, well, we won`t even get into how fidgety he gets when I go into the book store or comic shop.

“You know what they say about the goose and the gander,” I sniffed as we backed out and headed to his buddies house.

“Something about down?” he commented sarcastically then whipped into his friend, and fellow turkey hunting enthusiasts, home. “I`m going to just run in and get the shot gun,” Mister called as he slid from the truck, “I`ll be just a minute.”

I don`t even need to say it, do I?

Friday, May 4, 2012

I Chat with Wendy Ely!

Howdy gang!

Thought I might share a link with y`all. Today I had the pleasure of guest blogging over at Wendy Ely`s lovely blog! We had a nice sit down and chatted about my new book, goats, gods and my passion for Milano cookies!

Guest Blog with Wendy Ely

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Old Coffee Mugs

The other day I was reminded of a comment my daughter made a few months ago about one of our old coffee mugs when I was washing the dishes. We had been watching home movies one evening. In one of the many dusty tapes was our little yodeling tribe coloring Easter eggs. I`d say Miss Yodeling was perhaps three at the time, still filled with that wide-eyed innocence about Santa and the Easter Bunny. We had several of our glass coffee mugs on the kitchen table, each filled with fizzing tablets of red, orange, purple and blue. And of course, we had eggs to dip in with that flimsy wire egg-dipper that comes with the fizzy tablets.

As we were sitting around enjoying her precious little self on videotape, my daughter said this.

“Wow, we still have that mug!”

My husband and I looked at her in befuddlement. “Well, sure we do,” I said, “Why wouldn`t we?”

“But it`s so old, why didn`t you toss it and get a new one?”

“If it ain`t broke,” Mister said, “Why would we throw it away?”

That got me to pondering about how we, and by ‘we’ I mean Mister and I, look at things differently than my child does. Is this some sign that my husband and I are getting old and refuse to part with things that we really should part with? Or, is this ‘Throw it Away Simply because it’s Old’ mindset something that is part of the younger generation?

I can see both sides after doing some deep pondering. Yes, Mister and I do tend to hold onto things. We were raised in a different way and time. When we were young, you didn`t simply toss out something because it was a couple years old and, therefore, outdated. Mainly because our parents couldn`t afford to replace things just because technology has moved onward so quickly. I can`t imagine going to my mom, a single mother raising two children before she married my step-dad, and saying that I needed a new phone because mine was a year old. She would have looked at me as if my brain was addled then launched into a speech about money growing on trees.

Today, your cell phone is looked down upon if your phone isn`t the newest and most improved model available. If your laptop is a year old, the software isn`t compatible with anything and you have to get a new one. And the kids of today feel entitled to such things. As if they deserve new gizmos simply because they are here. ‘Just pitch it and buy a new one’ is the theme of things it seems.

And here it comes….the inevitable ‘Back in my day’. Back in my day, if you were really lucky, you had a record player. And you cherished that old record player, AND the severely scratched records like they were Montezuma`s gold! The only time a record was thrown out was when it got broken. Toys were kept way past their prime and were not whipped into the trash, but were passed down to a younger sibling or a cousin, niece or nephew. The same applies to clothes, if it were feasible gender-wise, of course. My younger brother in a dress wouldn`t have worked too well I reckon.

Maybe it`s just me. Maybe I grew up learning to cherish the things that my parents worked so darn hard to give us. And this is in no way a slam against my daughter. She is a very wise and respectful child who knows that money isn`t easy to come by. This pondering post is simply asking if the generation that will follow us can understand that one old coffee mug means more than just being frugal. That coffee mug, even with its chipped handle, means that we saved that much money in order to spend it on something more important than having new mugs - Her. That old mug means that we, as parents, didn`t care if our mugs matched or lacked paint on one side. Keeping that old mug with the worn-off paint on one side means we value what we own.

Old principles? Perhaps. But ones that I hope are seen to be valuable as the teens and twenty-something`s mature.

Coffee, anyone?