Monday, December 16, 2013

Guest Author - Carol A Spradling

My guest author today is Carol Spradling, my critique partner for the last two years. She writes historical and time travel romance. Welcome, Carol!

About the Author:
As a youth, I loved reading Trixie Belden books. She was great—smart, witty, and surrounded by good-looking guys. What’s not to like? While in my teens, I discovered the answers to that question when I heard someone mention a romance novel she had read. Her shallow breathing and flushed face was enough to pique my interest. A trip to the bookstore was in order. I read with wide-eyed amazement. Trixie never spoke of such occurrences! 

Other than the obvious, I found myself trying to appreciate what my friend had enjoyed about this book. Yeah, there was the hot guy and beautiful woman, but the book as a whole frustrated me. Why did it take 380 pages for the couple to admit they loved each other? To me, this is where the story began. Much to my sadness, I found this to be the writing norm. 

That was several years ago, don't ask how many.  ;)  I still love a good romance, as well as the mountains of North Carolina.  This is the High Country, after all.  We have skiers in the winter and Kilt-wearing Scot descendants in the summer.  Now that the Forever Time Travel Romance is nearing a close, I'll have to start a new series with a local influence.  Hmm, has anyone every skied while wearing a kilt?

Why did you decide to write Romance? What is the appeal?

I am a sucker for an attentive man and a happy ending.  I love characters who will go to the ends of the earth to be with one another.  I'm feeling all squishy inside just thinking about it. 

What is the best comment you ever received from a reader?

"Not since Audrey Niffenegger's "The Time Traveler's Wife" (2003) have I read and enjoyed a time travel romance as much!"

Tell us a little about your writing style? Do you plan and plot your stories, or do you just plow through them?

It always depends on the story.  I've had ideas come to me that got me started and then left me hanging with nowhere to go.  I have mapped other books from chapter one to the epilogue.  Of course that doesn't mean the end product still resembled the original notes.

Have you ever had writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

Well, maybe not writer's block, per se, but there have definitely been walls that have been hard to circumvent.  When that happens, I cry on my critique partner's shoulder and hope she has a fresh insight.  Of course, when she reaches for a shovel, I hold my breath to see if it is for digging under the wall or to hit me on the head.  J  Both actions have their benefits.

What's on the horizon for your readers?

 I have a contemporary romance in the works.  I hope to have it ready by this summer.

Can you tell us a little about your current work, The Highwayman's Grace?

The Highwayman's Grace is the third book in my Forever Time Travel Romance Series.  The series is about 4 sisters.  Grace is the youngest and meekest of the four…or at least she was the meekest.  When her older sister forces the family time travel gift on her and then abandons her in the middle of nowhere, all she wants is revenge, until she meets highwayman Ethan Tanner.  Take a look. 

The Highwayman's Grace blurb:
Grace Blackstone never wanted to be a time traveler.  She also didn't want to be abandoned within reach of a notorious highwayman.  A chance meeting with the outlaw leaves her vulnerable to more than her new ability.  Having seen behind the wanted man's mask, Grace is confused to find another man claiming to be her rescuer.  

Highwayman Ethan Tanner has one goal in life, to destroy Bennett Brown.  He has faced gunmen, and braved the elements, but a young woman who seemingly appears out of nowhere terrifies him.

A rainy night brings Ethan and Grace together in more ways than one.  She will have to trust him with her secret, and he will have to trust her with his life, but are they willing to release their pasts in order to have a future together?

"You are agreeable to this?" Ethan asked, wanting to know her honest opinion.  He tried to keep his tone flat, giving her a chance to revise her decision.

She walked toward him, looking as uncertain as he felt.  "I'm not sure I know a better option," she said.

"I hate to admit it," he offered, "but this might be the best way to keep you safe."  He reached his hand to her, hoping she saw his action as an open gesture, without concealed intent.  "As soon as I can find a way out of this," he tried to assure her, "I'll grant you your freedom.  I promise."

"I hate to intrude, but I am in a rush," the pastor interrupted.  The clergyman pointed to the lower section on the paper, and Ethan obediently signed the document.  Strangely enough, his hand didn't shake as he affixed his name above Grace's.

"Fine.  Fine."  The pastor sanded the wet ink, and then opened his Bible.

"Ethan Tanner, do you solemnly promise to take this woman, Grace Blackstone, as your wife, providing for her and protecting her all of your days while in the sight of God?"

The words weighed heavy on Ethan's shoulders.  All of your days.  He had just promised Grace he'd find a way to free her, now the pastor asked him to affirm to the contrary.  Deep red and purple abrasions encircled her throat next to the collar of the dress she wore.  He hadn't seen them before, but Addie assured him, these marks were not isolated incidents.  He'd swear an oath to both God and Grace, and hope that one pledge wasn't contingent on the other.

"I promise," he said. 

The minister turned to Grace.  "Grace Blackstone, do you promise to accept Ethan Tanner as your husband, abiding in his household and obeying his commands?"

Grace nodded slowly as though unsure.  She lifted her eyes to Ethan and her chin rose assertively.  "I promise."

Addie sniffled behind them, and Ethan cringed.  This had been an impromptu ceremony.  What would she have done with a year to prepare?

"You are husband and wife," Pastor Whitten proclaimed.  "May your life be filled with many children.  Now that this is done, I'll be on my way to the Clancy farm to discuss the details for tomorrow."  He touched the signatures with his fingertip, folded the paper, and then placed it inside his Bible.  Tucking everything under his arm, he waved to them in passing.  "Good day," he said, and then disappeared through the opened doorway.

Ethan stared awkwardly after the minister, not completely certain what to do next.  He supposed he should take his wife and sister home.  His wife.  When he started out this morning, he hadn't thought his day would end with a marriage ceremony.  He glanced over at his bride.  She was caught in Addie's tight embrace, being rocked from side to side. 

Lavender oil should soothe her abrasions, but he doubted her internal scars would heal as easily.  Other than give her time to forget what had happened to her, he didn't know how else to help her.  He looked to the bruised skin at the cuffs of her sleeve, feeling as responsible for her pain as if he'd personally clamped the constraints against her delicate skin.  He'd taken two vows tonight, and while he wasn't sure how, he planned to honor them both.  Whether successful or not, one thing was certain, no one would lay a hand to her again while he lived.  But more importantly, Bennett would pay for what he did to this woman…his wife.

See what I mean?  Grace and Ethan are a perfect match.  Wait until you see them in action.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Rain Trueax's New Book Release

Thanks, Peggy for having me on your blog today. Tucson Moon is my new release, a book that nearly wrote itself. I had the characters from my earlier book, Arizona Sunset, now it was thinking about what was going to happen to them. I began with my heroine, Priscilla Wesley’s visit to psychic, relying on some of my own experiences from some years back when I visited several and for some of Priscilla’s reasons.

Just for fun when I got to the part of the psychic, Connie Sicilla, doing a Tarot reading for Priscilla, I used my own deck to see what I would get for this young woman. The reading came out perfectly for the story that was about to unfold. Because my deck and images were not available in 1886, but many seers made their own decks as well as used regular playing cards, I left what images Connie saw out of the reading but used what they meant. Tarot is a fascinating subject but it’s only the beginning of what Priscilla is about to learn as she is tested in many ways during a turbulent time in Southern Arizona.

Tucson Moon

In 1886, Arizona territory was undergoing significant change. None would be more tested than Priscilla Wesley, who has had a life of prestige and wealth. Her parents are off on a vacation to the East while she maintains the businesses, helps many in the community, and is trying to get rid of Martin Matthews, a persistent wanta-be suitor whom she at one time encouraged, much to her regret. Visiting a recommended psychic doesn’t appear to help so much as give her more questions.

Every time she runs into the too handsome U.S Deputy Marshal Cord O’Brian she finds him annoying and they bicker, which is hiding the real attraction they share knowing it’s an impossible match. Priscilla wants nothing to do with a man who makes his living by a gun. Cord has no interest in a spoiled, rich young woman.

A letter arrives for Cord telling him that his nine-year old daughter is on a train west and will soon be in Tucson. Cord is not prepared to be a father, had thought he did the right thing letting Grace live with his wife’s parents after she died in childbirth, but they hated him and had done all they could to turn Grace against him. Now here she is on the train platform but fortunately so is Priscilla who, taking in the situation, once again offers to help someone. Grace can stay in her big home where she has two employees to keep things running smoothly while Cord visits, and father and daughter become acquainted with no pressure.

The Christmas season, proximity, and love work their magic; but will it be enough when the barriers are very real and even more when a cunning enemy awaits? Political consequences of the time, danger, relationships, nature, the meaning of family, and a smidgen of the mystical are aspects of this book bringing forward characters from Arizona Sunset to provide yet more answers regarding another family.

Excerpt as friends and family gather to decorate the tree:

With dinner over, dessert consumed, Priscilla said, “Now it’s time to work for your supper, isn’t it, Grace?”
The little girl nodded with a big smile as they headed into the parlor where the beautiful pine stood proudly in one corner. “We made chains today,” she offered with one of the rare times she ventured anything without being asked.
“We did. And now we can string some popcorn,” Rose suggested as she brought a big bowl into the table now in the center of the room.
Priscilla looked up at the tree and then picked up a golden star. “Marshal, you are the tallest man here-- as such it’s your job to put up the star.”
He looked at the delicate crystal star a little dubiously but could see it had a hole at its base and wire that looked as though if attached to the top of the tree, it’d stay; so he nodded his agreement. Reaching up, he found he was just tall enough to set it in place.
When he stepped back, he turned to Priscilla. “How do you usually do it? As I remember your father, he’s not all that tall a man.”
“When I was little, he lifted me to do it. When I got too big and he got too old for that, a chair sufficed.” She grinned at him.
“You did it beautifully,” Melissa said standing at Cord’s other side. “It’s perfectly straight.”
Priscilla glanced over at her realizing Melissa was mesmerized by the marshal. She wondered if that had been a long going fascination or just from that night. She didn’t recall ever seeing her with a beau. Maybe she was standing beside the reason.
Ellen had come to the other side of Melissa. “I think it’s a little crooked myself.” She smiled smugly but stopped grinning when Cord picked her up by the waist, lifted her easily into the air and said, “Fix it.”
Everyone laughed, but Ellen was a good sport and tilted it slightly to the right assuring herself it was as straight as the top allowed.
As the women set about putting up ornaments, the men gathered at the sideboard with brandy where James poured them each a small glass.
Joe stood by Cord studying his face. “You figured it out yet?” Cord asked made uneasy at the close observation.
“Not really.”
“What’s bothering you? The ruthless lawman look not a good subject for a painting?” Cord asked with a laugh and wishing for a cigar.
“Hanging out with the men I do, you know that’s not it. It’s… Where do you come from, Marshal?”
“A bit of a prying question, Mr. Fox. Out here men aren’t usually asked from where they originate,” the Judge said as he was listening to their conversation. “It can lead to unpleasantness.”
“I have no secrets,” Cord said. “I was born in Kansas. I’ve lived a few other places but not for long enough to count.”
“Seeings as how you didn’t punch me out for that… How old are you?”
“Is there a reason for this inquisition?” Cord asked. “I can guarantee you there are no warrants out for me. Can you say the same?”
Joe chuckled. “None that I know of. Just… you look a lot like somebody, and I was trying to figure out if there could be a relationship.”
Priscilla had come to join them and looked from Joe to the marshal. “Who is it, Joe?” she asked realizing she already knew.
“Sam, of course. I’ve done his face so many times. Drawn him. Now painted him. The bone structure, eyes. Not so much the mouth but the rest, coloring. You two could be brothers.”
“That’s not possible. I don’t have any brothers,” Cord said not liking anything about this conversation.
“Well then just one of those things,” Joe said letting it go.
Reluctantly, Cord began to put a few things together himself. He was thirty-two. It was obvious Sam Ryker was a few years older. They did share coloring now that he thought about it. It wasn’t possible; and then he thought about his own father’s lifestyle, how it had been before and even after he’d married. He had never thought much about from where Sam Ryker had come. The name… He stopped, not wanting to take the thinking farther. It was impossible.
“I’m sorry, Marshal,” Joe said. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. It’s just the way of an artist, I guess. Putting together pieces.”
Cord managed a smile. “I thought that was the way of a marshal.” He sipped on the brandy wishing it was something stiffer.
Priscilla put her hand on his arm. “Actually I do have something stronger if any of you gentlemen would prefer. Father had some whiskey in the cabinet. I am sure he’d not mind.”
He looked uneasily at her wondering if she was a mind reader, not a good thought. He shook his head. “No, I’m fine.”
He watched with pleasure at his daughter stringing popcorn with Ellen’s help. He wished he found it easy to say the words to her that he knew fathers said to their daughters. Actually he knew none of that other than what he’d read in books. The idyllic version of fatherhood hadn’t been part of his life except in fiction. It looked as though it was something he and his daughter shared. Maybe he could change that—if he could figure out how. It seemed unlikely as long as he was a marshal.
“Have you met our Territory’s new United States Marshal yet?” Judge Emerson asked as he moved to stand next to Cord.
“Only by reputation.”
“It’s a long way from a good system with marshals being replaced with every new administration. Perhaps you should consider becoming Tucson’s sheriff with a little more job stability. You know we don’t have one worth talking about right now.”
That involves politics which I hate.”
“Can you ignore politics given the nature of things?”
Cord shrugged. “More than Meade.”
“You like him?”
“I don’t know him but he sounds like a good man. He has the experience. He won’t be as disliked asTidball.”
“Life is all politics, of course. Meade will offend someone and then it’ll start all over if he even makes it to the next administration.” The Judge chuckled. “Shall we discuss this outside with a cigar?”
Cord grinned. “It’s pretty cold out there.”
“Gentlemen,” Priscilla said, “my father smoked in the den. Please feel free to do likewise. Better than freezing.”
Cord realized then she had been listening to the conversation, which surprised him. He had expected her to find shopping more of interest than state and city politics.
“We aren’t all frivolous flowers, Marshal,” she said tartly telling him his expression had again revealed too much as she turned back to helping attach ornaments with Melissa.

Trailer at:
Video discussion of writing Tucson Moon:

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Meet the Voice of Yellowstone Redemption

Yellowstone Redemption is available in audio!

 Meet the talented and versatile Nick Sarando, who had the daunting task of not only voicing Chase and Sarah, but also Aimee and Daniel, along with Elk Runner and learning some difficult-to-pronounce Shoshone words and phrases.  (there's an audio sample at the end of the interview)

Tell us about yourself. What else do you do besides VO?

Like most actors pursuing a career in film and TV, I have to do many other jobs to pay the bills and support a family. I'm a father of a two-and-a-half year old girl and a baby boy who just turned five weeks old! My job capacity seems to span a bit wider than most other actors because my ADHD doesn't let me stick with one job, nor focus on any one thing: Along with acting, modeling, and dancing jobs, I am a singing waiter at a restaurant in West Hollywood, work for a high-end catering company at times, as a lighting technician, handyman, and various other jobs in the entertainment industry.

What made you decide to become a voice actor?

Ever since I was about five years old, I used to record myself on a tape-recorder with my cousin and brother. We would do different skits or songs, and I just fell in love with the art of voice-acting. I did this alone as well, and made tapes of me talking, acting and singing for girlfriends and long distance friends. I continued this until I was into my early twenties and then I turned more to video. A year ago, I watched a seminar on audio-book actors, and learned that technology enabled easy home-studio set up. I jumped at the prospect of being able to record at home, read books and get paid for it! I used to love books as a child, but once the AP and Honors' courses hit in High school there was no picking the books I wanted to read. This just seemed like such a win-win situation all around: audition and work from home, make residual income, be able to create multiple characters and be involved with different types of books.

When you are reading the script, do you become animated?

I can't move my body or hands too much or I would hit my booth, chair, or desk and you want to avoid making sounds such as creaking a chair or knocking something. I stay as still as possible, but my face and head definitely reflect what would be seen on TV or film as if I was acting as the character. My bigger moments probably have my hands as tucked in as necessary, moving with lots of shoulders and head-bobs and shakes.

What is your favorite type of story to which you lend your voice talents?

Young-adult characters come natural and easy to me. I had some big auditions for great novels early in the process. I kept getting the note that I did great, but sounded too young for the narrator they needed. Its easiest for me to read the younger characters so I don't have to "put on" a voice as much. However, I do like when a story has a bunch of cameo-appearances by extreme characters, so I can use my vocal range to express more dynamic acting. Different dialects and higher or lower registers are fun and challenging, too.

What drew you to narrate Yellowstone Redemption?

Peggy contacted me based off samples she had heard of my work. She thought I would be a great fit for her main character's voice, and had me do an audition. Once she confirmed that I had it right, she made me an offer. I accepted for many reasons:
  • Belonging to a Native American tribe myself (Pasqua Yaqui)
  • Growing up around the culture of the Wild West and Native American History in Tucson, AZ
  • The fact that there's time travel involved...I couldn't resist! I read a lot of sci-fi growing up, and I love TV or films that deal with time travel.
  • The setting being in Yellowstone, a place I've always wanted to visit
  • The love-story, intertwined with action helped sell me on it, too. It sounded like a fun book.
  • Peggy described the character of Chase to me as being an irresponsible young man, having to face his demons and grow up in order to win the love of the girl of his dreams. This ran very near and dear to my heart (and personal story).

Do you do anything to prepare for a narrating session?

I work closely with the author, and try to learn about the characters and tone in general. With Yellowstone Redemption, I also studied a little bit about the natives of that area and time. With all of my books, I read them as fresh as I can after scanning the story, so that I am experiencing it like a first-time reader of the book. The story intuitively leads me to what the characters are experiencing. Aside from a word pronunciation or character-specific accent, I let the magic happen as I read.

What sets you apart as a voice actor?

As much that makes me diverse as a person. Everything that feeds into my experiences in life, I try to pull from and incorporate all of it into my acting. ADHD has given me a life full of many experiences and learned crafts. Stories like Yellowstone Redemption allow me to remember my football-playing days, hunting with my native-american uncles, the female love perspective from college and lots of talks with many females. My vocal range has been a huge God-given gift, and I have been able to develop it from an early age singing and imitating actors on TV and film.

What was your favorite part of narrating Yellowstone Redemption?

Hard to pick. I did enjoy the imagery of the landscape and particular households we came to visit. Chase's struggle out in the wilderness, and not wanting to express his feelings for Sarah are particular experiences I have dealt with and enjoyed portraying.

The most challenging?

Female characters always make me nervous because I don't want to pitch them too high so it sounds ridiculous or cartoony. In the back of my mind I am nervous about what people think about me: either being too good at the sensibilities, or not close enough. I just think that most of us men don't want to be seen as too girly, and yet we crave the approval of females. Too harsh a judgment from either sex scared me a bit, but I forged on as I saw fit to best portray the characters, without taking the listener out of the story. I hope I landed with some success some of the time.

What do you hope the listeners will take away from your delivery?

I hope they will imagine the story as well as it was written, and not be taken out of their imaginations with critique of my interpretation or delivery. I hope my pacing was appropriate for the many scenarios we find in this story.

Share an unusual experience that happened during or as a result of narrating.

When I was first starting out and auditioning a lot, doing a few short stories, I was getting great feedback from the authors. Nothing drives me more than positive feedback, and if I hadn't been hearing those things, I would have quit a long time ago because the work itself is very tedious and tiring. The editing can be very time consuming, and there is no end to a way you can say a line, or how many milli-seconds of space there can be between words and sentences. Once I began to trust myself, it all started going much faster. So I thank all the authors and publishers who praised my early work.

Available at Audible , Amazon, and iTunes