Monday, January 23, 2012

Blog Talk Radio Today

Today is Part 1 of the first author roundtable  discussion on Blog Talk Radio!!!
Be sure to listen today as six featured Indie Authors from Jon Reisfeld's Mega Book Tour ( ) in a live talk radio round table about "The Writing Life" -

Chat live by calling (714) 202-9912 

Listen to the show Live at 3PM Pacific @

If you can't listen into the Live program be sure to hear the archived program available later at the same link.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jennifer Rainey, Paranormal Fiction

Please welcome today Jennifer Rainey, paranormal author.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your book.

These Hellish Happenings is, in short, about what it’s like working, living and loving in Hell. The story follows Jack Bentley, a hapless vampire who works at the Registration Office of Hell. It definitely has a sense of humor, along with a dash of romance.

Q. What excites you most about your book’s topic? Why did you choose it?

The book combines paranormal elements—vampires, demons, etc—with more social and political elements that relate to our own world. It was a great joy for me to splice these together, and it was definitely what excited me most about the project. It’s a juxtaposition that I’ve always enjoyed in media myself.

Q. What projects are you currently working on?

I’ve got a zillion things I’m working on at once right now, haha! My main focus right now is a short story collection that I hope to have out this Spring. I’m also working on a novel about paranormal investigators that I hope to have out in the second half of the year. Not only that, I hope to have the sequel to These Hellish Happenings out in 2013. Maybe wishful thinking. We’ll see, haha!

Q. What tips would you offer to anyone writing fiction for the first time?

Just jump in. Allow yourself to write crap. First drafts are allowed to suck! A lot of first-time writers get hung up because they’re too critical of themselves right off the bat (I know this was true of me, too!). As soon as you realize that your writing isn’t going to be perfect right out of the box, you can really start to write.

Q. What books have influenced you the most?

Two immediately come to mind: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. They're both stunning books in their own right and very inspirational to me.

Author Bio:

Jennifer Rainey was raised by wolves who later sold her to gypsies. She then joined the circus at the age of ten. There, she was the flower girl in the famed Bearded Bride of Beverly Hills show until the act was discontinued (it was discovered that the bearded lady was actually a man).  From there, she wandered around the country selling novelty trucker hats with vaguely amusing sayings printed on front. Somehow, she made enough money to go to The Ohio State University for a major in English.

Find out more about Jennifer and her books at:

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dennis Higgins on his time travel novels

Please welcome today Dennis Higgins, author of the time travel and paranormal novels, Parallel Road and Time Pilgrims.

When  did you start writing? What was it you first wrote?
I  always wrote stories as a child and even did some light journaling.  The stories that were to become my first  two novels, Parallel Road (Lost on Route 66) and Katya and Cyrus (Time Pilgrims)  started out from playing online with the woman who was to become my wife.  We would write paragraphs in a never-ending story type format.  They weren’t very good and because we  were newly in love, would sometimes become saturated with an almost Harlequin  Romance type of rhetoric. This is not my style of writing, although the best  time travel stories always have a touch of romance.

What period do you write about and  why?
That’s  the fun part with my stories, especially Katya and Cyrus.  They are time travelers and can visit  any time period.  I have purposely  put a hundred year limit on their ability, which they only have started to learn  to break near the end of the novel.  That they are called time pilgrims is due to the fact that they are still learning to test the waters of time travel.
I  personally love the period between the 1860s and the 1960s.  So many great adventures can take place  in that hundred year era.  It can  start with the American Civil War, the great Chicago Fire, the San Francisco  earthquake, the sinking of the Titanic, all other catastrophic wars,  assassinations and other such calamities such as the Hindenburg and the Edsel (for goodness sakes).

What is your theory or belief on how  historically accurate you need to be?  How does that affect your story? For  alternative history writers: how did you decide to change history? How do you  reconcile it with “real” history?

I  believe accuracies in historical writing are imperative, even when history  changes around my time traveling characters.  I try very hard to connect with what would have occurred because of a  particular change.  One incident  that has been written about by many an author is the JFK assassination.  How would the world have changed if this  was prevented in some way?  I’m  proud of my own take in Katya and Cyrus. Even though my chapter on this is not  long, I had studied it long and hard and even wrote in minute details as to  where the presidential motorcade was heading for lunch on that particular day in  Dallas.

It’s  the same with Parallel Roads.  The  history of Route 66 and the accuracies in both the present day and my choice  period of 1946 are of extreme importance to me.  Search engines like and that  huge googolplex one can help but I needed to actually travel the historic  decommissioned road to really get the feel of the ethos and  landscape.

Tell me  about your main character, real or fictional and why?

For  this answer I will stick with Parallel Roads.  I don’t have just one main character,  but for the purpose of this interview I will narrow it down to two.  My main character from 1946 is Katherine  Callahan.  She is a devout Irish  Catholic, strong willed woman who follows her own mind at every step of the  way.  I guess you could say that she  is strong and a bit stubborn.  She  believes she had lost the first love of her life in the Great War but gets torn  in two when he makes his return, only after she has moved on with her life and  marries American born, John.  Soon  after their baby is born, she jumps in their old 36 Buick and heads west down  Route 66 to visit her sister and clear her head, only she never returns.  

This  brings me to my second main character, Kevin Callahan, grandson of Katherine and  John.  He and his best friend,  Cheryl had become obsessed with what may have happened to his Grandma Kate all  those years ago.  Kevin is a modern  guy who relies heavily on Cheryl and her detective skills but sometimes finds  himself clueless about what makes a woman tick. (Aren’t we all?) But he also has  an almost paranormal connection to his grandmother so he and Cheryl embark upon  the now decommissioned Route 66 to try and retrace her steps.

What is the most surprising thing in the  period you write about? Do you run into common misperceptions?  How do you deal  with them in your fiction?

I  guess the thing that has surprised me is the fact that deep down inside, people  are people; they are all the same no matter what time period they are from.  There are outward differences and these  are what I love to contrast to the modern world with.  Also surprising is that as I get into a  time period through my writing, I feel as if I had really lived it and been  there.  I read once that Jane Austin  could write in such detail about things she could not have possibly known with  complete accuracies.  I believe when we write, we draw from some place within ourselves and I don’t know where that  place is exactly.  I myself had  experienced this while writing Parallel Roads.  One example is when Katherine needs to  stop for gas, she calls it a filling station.  I only later discovered that this is  what folks called them back in the 1940s.  I also wrote in a character from Oklahoma.  I had never heard anyone from this state  speak before.  When I actually  travelled the Mother Road though the Sooner state, I discovered that I had  imagined the accent perfectly.

Who would you most like to meet from one of  your novels? Tell us about them.

I  would like to meet Katherine because she is beautiful and a little always have around  women like her.   But  I would also love to sit and talk with Katya from Time Pilgrims because she is  mysterious.  Blonde, petite, plain,  Katya has no idea from what time period she is from because she suffers from a  condition known as temporal amnesia.  She is the most powerful time pilgrim that has ever been employed by the Callahan family for their time research centers.  They build their centers on the sites of  old watch factories(Waltham, Ma…Elgin, Il).  Unlike Cyrus Callahan who grew up as the  all-business boss's son, Katya sometimes time travels just for the sheer fun of  it and teaches Cyrus to do the same. She’s fun and full of life and time travels  much the same way I do...ah, I mean, would.

What is  your next project?

I  started writing a book about true mythical creatures in Malaysian folk lore  called the Orang Bunian but have shelved it for the time being.  With the publication of the series,  Katya and Cyrus (Time Pilgrims) happening sometime in the coming year, I had  better get started on book two.

Where can readers find your books?

At Amazon in paperback or kindle versions.

Find out more about Dennis at his website:

About the Author:

Author Dennis Higgins is a native of Chicago, Illinois. He possesses a  romance with things of the past which are gone but not forgotten. For his first novel, Parallel Roads (Lost on Route 66) extensive research of Route 66, past  and present, was performed, along with world events from 1946.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Jess Steven Hughes: Researching the Historical Novel

Over the years I have accumulated a personal library of more than five hundred books on Celtic, Classical, Medieval and Mid-Eastern History which I use in the research and writing of my historical novels. This does not include various magazines, journals and other papers that I have collected, not to mention using the internet for the same purpose. I am always acquiring more information in an effort to make my novels as authentic as possible.

Before I wrote my first historical novel, The Sign of the Eagle, and the two novels I am currently writing, I had to learn the fundamentals of writing fiction as opposed to writing history.  This included: plot, characterization, scene, setting, dialogue, descriptive narration, the difference between showing and not telling, etc.  Only after I had attended writing seminars and workshops for several years did my abilities as an author of novels finally emerge.

Always keep in mind, I write first and foremost, fiction.  I don't write history.  I use historical events and backdrops for my stories.  I use historical events and backdrops for my stories.  My historical novel, The Sign of the Eagle, which was recently accepted for publication by Sunbury Press is an example.  The story takes place in Milan and Rome in 71 A.D.  The main character, Macha, is a Celtic woman married to a Roman officer, Titus.  He has been wrongfully accused of treason and conspiring to assassinate the Emperor Vespasian.  Macha must almost single-handedly prove his innocence.  Historians have speculated there were several conspiracies against the life of Emperor Vespasian, but only two appeared to have been recorded as found in The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius or in The Histories by Cassius Dio.  Therefore, my story is a fictionalized account of one possible unrecorded attempt on Vespasian's life.  I wrote it from what I believe to be a different perspective using an unlikely protagonist, a Celtic woman.  Why not?

Before I could fully develop The Sign of the Eagle, e.g. the characters, plot, setting, scene, dialogue, etc., I started by researching the overall history of the Roman Empire and the Celtic world.  Such books included, but were not limited to: History of Rome by Michael Grant, Rome, by M. Rostovtzeff, From the Gracchi to Nero, by H.H. Scullard, Invasion: The Roman Conquest of Britain, by John Peddie, The Agricola, by Tacitus, The Histories, by Tacitus, The Annuls of Imperial Rome by Tacitus, Rome Against Caratacus, by Graham Webster, The Celts by Gerhard Herm, The World of the Celts by Simon James, and more.  I continued with geographical locations.  I narrowed down the story to Milan, Rome, and the Italian countryside.  This included studying Muir's Historical Atlas: Ancient and Classical edited by R.F. Treharne and Harold Fullard, Atlas of the Roman World, by Tim Cornell and John Matthews, The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens and Rome by Peter Connolly and Hazel Dodge, and more.

I had to consider historical events that occurred prior to those in my novel which were important to the story's background.  Among these, I included the great civil war of 69 A.D. known as the Year of the Four Emperors (Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian).  For this, I referred to: The Long Year A.D. 69 by Kenneth Wellesley, The Twelve Caesars by Michael Grant, The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, The Army of Caesars by Michael Grant and more.

In my story, Macha's husband, Titus, fought in this war against the forces of the short-lived Emperor Vitellius at the Battle of Cremona.  Titus was part of one of Vespasian's advanced units.  Other events included the invasion of Britannia in 43 A.D. and the eventual capture of the British chieftain, Caratacus, Macha's father.  He was brought to Rome along with his wife and daughter and ultimately pardoned by Emperor Claudius.  We don't know the daughter's actual name, so I chose a good Celtic name, Macha.  Caratacus was ultimately pardoned and disappeared from history, but there was no reason why I couldn't use his daughter for a story.

For her background, I described her growing up being Romanized, but clinging to many Celtic customs.  Prior to the story, she married Titus, who was born in Rome.  His parents were Gauls, but his father was a Roman senator, one of the first Gauls admitted to the Senate under Emperor Claudius.

Because I used a Celtic protagonist, I had to research Celtic as well as Roman customs, such as daily living, the role of women in the Celtic and Roman worlds, the gulf between the classes, slavery, religion, the military--both Celt and Roman--descriptions of city life, especially, in Rome, and more.  My research included A Day in Old Rome by W.S. Davis, Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Jerome Carcopino, A Roman Villa, by Jacqueline Morely, The Sixteen Satires by Juvenal, The Epigrams of Martial, translated by James Michie, The Satyricon by Petronius, Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity by Sarah B. Pomeroy, Celtic Women: Women in Celtic Society and Literature by Peter B. Ellis, The Gods of the Celts by Miranda Green, Celtic Art by Ruth and Vincent Megaw, The Complete Roman Army, by Adrian Goldsworthy, The Roman Cavalry, by Karen Dixon, The Vigiles of Imperial Rome by P.K. Baillie Reynolds, Fighting Elite: Celtic Warrior 300 B.C.-A.D. 100 by Stephen Allen and Wayne Reynolds.

It was only after I had conducted sufficient research that I finally wrote my story.  However, I wasn't finished.  I had to run the gauntlet of two writers' groups, The Spokane Novelists and The Spokane Writers' Group which month after month reviewed and bled all over my chapters until the manuscript finally met their expectations.  Even then, I wasn't through.  I sent my manuscript to a "Book Doctor," an editor who had spent years with Harper-Collins before going into private business.  Fortunately, she is a very ethical person (there are some real charlatans out there) who was very thorough and answered all my subsequent questions after she had reviewed and returned my novel for more work.

My efforts paid off.  After many rejection slips, The Sign of the Eagle was accepted for publication.

If you're interested in learning more about The Sign of the Eagle and when it is scheduled to be published, please check out my website:

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