Blog Tours, Guest Posts, & Interviews
I recently interviewed Brenda Corey Dunne about her newest book, Dependent. This was a big summer for Brenda and her family as they sold and bought houses, renovated the new one, and moved the whole family–horses and all–across Canada to her husband’s new military posting. Somehow between the move, the new book launch, and discovering where to buy groceries and back to school clothes, Brenda found the time to answer a few of my questions.
In Dependent Ellen makes many sacrifices for her family and husband. Do you think that’s typical of all women or something special about Ellen?
That’s a tricky question to answer! I’m not a fan of the ‘the woman’s place is in the home’ stereotype. Women should be able to do whatever they want. This is the 21st Century for goodness sake! And so many husbands make sacrifices for their wives careers.
But I DO believe women take on the nurturing role more often than men. And I live in a world of military relationships. It takes only quick mental review of all of my friends to realize that almost all of my married female friends and closer acquaintances have sacrificed for their husbands in some way. They’ve given up good paying jobs to follow their spouses. Most of them have had to start at the very beginning at least once in their careers. They’ve moved thousands of miles away from family and friends. They’ve scrubbed and staged houses over and over again for a quick sale. They’ve smiled bravely as their husband shouldered his bag and walked away for another deployment. And they’ve done it willingly.
Dependent exposes some of the unique challenges military families face. How can non-military families reach out and support military families more?
Another tricky question. Military families are often strong and proud. They don’t want charity and they don’t want pity. And they won’t ask for help because that would be considered weakness…so they suffer in silence. I think the best way to support them is to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you are a thousand miles away from home, your house is full of boxes, you have two toddlers and are pregnant with the third, and your hubby has just left for a two month ‘refresher’ course in a different state. What would you like most?
A friendly smile. A cup of coffee. Help getting the trash to the curb on the right day. Knowledge of where the local library is. Hot brownies. Someone to talk to while your kids play at the park. A line on a good daycare in town.
Really, the best way to help a military family is to extend the hand of friendship. I have made so many wonderful friends over my 25 years associated with the military. Some came and went, but most will always have a place in my heart. Those friendships have sometimes been my lifeline—the only thing that helped me cope when things went downhill. That kind of support is the priceless.
Without giving too much away, how do you imagine Ellen’s life now?
I think Ellen is realizing that university is a lot different at 46 than it is at 19! I think she’s dealing with different issues, still trying to figure out how everything works in her new life. Not sure I can give you much more than that!
Thanks, Brenda for stopping by. Click here to see my review of Dependent. Dependent by Brenda Corey Dunn is published by Jolly Fish Press and is available as a trade paperback or eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books.
Connect with Brenda Corey Dunn
When Nels, the Kingdom of Avërand’s most eager aspiring knight, is murdered, his ghost haunts the only person in the kingdom who can see and hear him: the beautiful – but headstrong – Princess Tyra.
Together, the ghost and the princess learn that an ancient magic, called Fabrication, has prevented Nels from crossing over to the other side. Because Nels isn’t really dead – he is just unwoven.
To weave him back to life, Nels and the princess must journey to find the magic Needle of Gailner. They struggle to get along, but when secrets unravel, Nels and Tyra realize they’re the only ones who can save each other, the kingdom, and reality itself.
Someone was pound, pound, pounding on the side door. The vicious tiny attack poodles at my feet each peeked one eye open and went back to sleep. Wow, I thought. This must really be important! I quickly hit save, then back-up, then compile, then save again on my manuscript before dashing madly to the door.
A gas leak? A house on fire? Girl Scouts with cookies to sell? I flung open the door ready for anything except a wall of raging tie-dye waving a summons in my face.
“You’re taking me to court?!” the mountain thundered.
“Oh, hi Johnny. Welcome to the Parker Hale. It’s not nearly as grand as the Blog Mansion, but we like it.”
“Court! Over some dry-cleaning and an ER bill.” Johnny Worthen, author extraordinaire of Beatrysel and Eleanor, the Unseen was huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf in acid-laced Technicolor.
“What?” I grabbed the papers and quickly scanned them. “Oh, good. They did include the costs of the rabies shots. How’s Morey The Eel?”
“When my lawyer Sammy ‘Light Finger’ Calzone gets through with you, you won’t have a coconut to crack!” Johnny snarled.
I smiled. “I really liked Eleanor, the Unseen.”
Like water on the Wicked Witch, Johnny melted. “You did?” he breathed.
“Yep.” I opened the door wider. “Wanna come in and talk about it?”
On the back deck I cracked open a couple of Diet Cokes and poured them over ice.
“What? No bourbon?” Johnny sulked.
I waved my hand over his glass. “Tah-dah! Now it’s bourbon.”
He sniffed it. “It’s still soda. You can’t do that. You’re not magic!”
“Says the guy who just sniffed his drink. We’re authors, Johnny. It’s all about suspending disbelief. In Eleanor you create a creature that’s not what she seems. Parts of her transformation are rooted in modern physics—endothermic, mass conservation, and the like—while other parts are more mystical—tasting, shifting, mimicking, and hints about Native American lore. She’s not quite one thing or another. How did you go about creating her?”
The power of metaphor, the energy of symbol, and a web of imagination. I wanted to embody the idea of potential radical change, put it within the most vulnerable creature I could imagine and make it all believable.
Eleanor, The Unseen, is a paranormal story, which suggests that something ain’t right in it, but I wanted that something to be natural as opposed to supernatural. I based it on legends for historical grounding. Every culture I know has some kind of folktale about a shapeshifter, be it the werewolves of Transylvania, the Skinwalkers of the Navajo, or the Nimirika among the Shoshone. I approached that paranormal element within Eleanor from the idea that all these stories were right but wrong at the same time. These ancient peoples all witnessed the same thing, event, creature, what have you, but they didn’t understand it. Their descriptions are full of fear and superstition and prejudice (a theme in the series) but what they have in common, a brush with something unusual, marvelous and scary, was right on point. There is a predator in their midst. The suggestion becomes then that the paranormal element in the story is old and familiar to mankind, but forgotten and dismissed because it is so rare and unstudied.
I wanted the miracle to be metaphor and symbol, a complication and not the story itself. The story is Eleanor, her tale, her trials as the ultimate outsider hiding in plain sight. She is a soup of contradictions, lost but found, loved but lonely, malleable but fixed, struggling with who she is, what she might be, and afraid of her own powers in the face of tragedy and hope. To compound the metaphor, it’s placed at that time of life when young people become young adults and grow into what they are to be, those awkward socializing high school days. Eleanor is an exaggeration of the growing up, trying to fit in while being different.
Finally, keeping with the theme of change, I needed Eleanor’s to hurt. Change is painful and her wonderful “gift” has costs — terrible, painful, frightening costs. It’s not easy. It is not quick. She becomes helpless. And she is a slave to it. Thus is change. Change is not easy. Also, I think this simple symmetry of cost and benefit help to sell the concept and make it easier for the reader to suspend their disbelief and concentrate on the story.
While Eleanor prefers to hide rather than fight, she will when her back’s against a wall. Do you think most bullied people are that way? Is there a snapping point?
Bullying is a social interaction that extends far beyond the microcosmic high school experience. It’s a hierarchical thing, alpha males and females rising to the top of the herd by beating others down. I see it as a symptom of insecure people trying to gain some control over their lives. It’s hard to pity them, but in the wide shots, you can and I try to.
The idea of fighting back is a tricky one for Eleanor. Her snapping point has less to do with what her bullies are doing to her than it does with her change of perception of her own worth and her future. She admits to herself that she’s becoming reckless, fighting back when she’d always retreated before because at that point in the book, she has something to fight back for. She has hope. Most people would snap after a long history of abuse, a final straw thing, but for Eleanor it’s an awakening inside her, a new idea of self-worth brought on by the simple affection of a single friend. When survival is no longer enough, the timid become bold.
There’s a whole cannon of literary work about young girls transitioning from victim to victor, everything from Stephen King’s Carrie to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple to Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl. How does Eleanor add to the empowerment conversation?
There is a lot of Carrie in Eleanor, I admit that. The similarities struck me as I wrote my book, but there are important and fundamental differences between King’s story and mine: his is horror. Mine is a fable.
I don’t think Eleanor is a victor over her bullies. They are trials that shape her, complications that vex her, metaphor for an intolerant society but they are just some among the many troubles Eleanor faces. Because Eleanor has lived in fear her entire life and was forced to hide, she is fearful and passive. She reacts as a frightened animal might. Her achievements then, not to give too much away, are to take control of her life and become an active player in its events. It’s the difference between being a scavenger and a hunter.
It is a complicated dynamic, the bullies and Eleanor, and not to give too big a tease, but it is explored in depth, passionately and lovingly, over the length of the series.
While many readers will focus on the developing love story between Eleanor and David, the love story that caught my heart was the relationship between Eleanor and her mother, Tabitha. Tell me about how this theme came about.
Yes. Absolutely. The original title for the book was not Eleanor, but Tabitha. The series was to be called Eleanor, but editors and publishers wanted Eleanor so Tabitha, Eleanor Book 1, become Eleanor, The Unseen Book 1. Whatcha’ gunna to do? But so central was Tabitha to the book that she was in fact meant to be the title character.
The relationship between Eleanor and Tabitha is central to the book: two women, vulnerable and alone, broken and lost coming together, saving each other. It is a powerful symbol of love and acceptance, joy without conditions. The best of humanity – a mother’s love. It is healing among death, growth during decay, the future from the past. Tabitha is the teacher and Eleanor the student and what is taught is the best our species has to offer.
I channeled my own grandmother into Tabitha, and other friends and family. I took from them the best I’ve seen in people facing the worst; the nobility and affection, strength during weakness, joy during pain. Tabitha’s very personal to me.
Give me the links so readers can find you.
Kirkus Review of Eleanor, the Unseen
Twitter: Twitter @JohnnyWorthen
Any upcoming events? Just in case I need to serve you new papers.
Upcoming events? Serving papers? Well, uhm, I’ll be at the “Process Server Lynching” on the 19th and the “Frivolous Lawsuit Retribution Society” meeting, gun sale and barbeque on the 5th. Don’t forget the “How to Poison Your Neighbors” workshop on the 8th. I’ll be presenting.
Otherwise check out my events page.
And make sure you come out to the Eleanor, The Unseen Book Launch on the 28th of June at Barnes & Noble in Sugarhouse. 12:00-3:00.
Johnny leaned back in his chair and drained his glass. “Well, you got me all talkative about Eleanor, The Unseen. I love that book. It’s deeply personal. My grandmother is in Tabitha; Eleanor is the daughter I never had. The issues are as deep to me as the marrow in my bones. Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. You still owe me for Morey The Eel’s rabies shots.”
I waved my hand over a cocktail napkin. “Here you go. Paid in full.”
Links to my visit to Johnny Worthen’s Blog Mansion
Rounding out the week of cover reveals is Daddy Doin’ Work by Doyin Richards. Doyin started a parenting blog a couple of years ago and has a large social media following. Known for his down-to-earth, if you’re taking care of your own kids, it’s called parenting, not babysitting, approach to fatherhood, this book is sure to entertain, enlighten, and bring out the inner-dad in all fathers. From the back of the book:
Doyin Richards’s Daddy Doin’ Work: Empowering Mothers to Evolve Fatherhood answers questions about fatherhood that many women want to know, and does so in a no-nonsense and entertaining style that ladies will enjoy. Similar to how Steve Harvey’s best-selling title Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man empowers women to make smart relationship decisions by entering the minds of men, Daddy Doin’ Work empowers new mothers to enter the minds of new dads to change the perception of what should be expected from a modern father.
Readers will be exposed to the manipulative secrets of deadbeat dads, moms will learn practical tips to help hard-working dads understand that being a father encompasses more than paying the bills, and women in
relationships with amazing dads will learn methods to ensure their men stay on-track while inspiring more fathers to be just like them. Most importantly, women will be forced to take a long look in the mirror to
determine if they are part of the solution or part of the problem in shaping the behavior of modern fathers.
Vampires! Here’s the cover of the second book in the Blood Inheritance trilogy, Defiance by Adrienne Monson. From the back of the book:
Leisha and Samantha barely survived the vampires and immortals six months ago. Now, an explosive battle between the vampires and immortals seems imminent.
It’s more important than ever before that the prophecy child is found, but there’s a problem—Leisha has lost her powers. She seems like nothing more than a human. Her newfound humanity is further complicated when Tafari, her old lover, appears with a desire for reconciliation.
Can Leisha lock up the past to save those she loves? Or will fate tear everything from her once again?
And yes, I’ve even heard fans squeal when Adrienne signs a book. Readers of book 1, Dissension, can’t wait to see what happens next. Isn’t the cover stunning?
Web site: http://www.adriennemonson.com/
Continuing our cover reveals this week is Little Dead Riding Hood by the mother-daughter writing duo Amie and Bethanie Borst, the second in their Scarily Ever Laughter series for middle grade readers. From the back of the book:
You know things are going to suck when you’re the new kid. But when you’re the new kid and a vampire… well, it bites!
Unlike most kids, Scarlet Small’s problems go far beyond just trying to fit in. She would settle for a normal life, but being twelve years old for an entire century is a real pain in the neck. Plus, her appetite for security guards, house pets and bloody toms (tomato juice) is out of control. So in order to keep their vampire-secret, her parents, Mort and Drac, resort to moving for the hundredth time, despite Scarlet being dead-set against it. Things couldn’t be worse at her new school, either. Not only does she have a strange skeleton-girl as a classmate, but a smelly werewolf is intent on revealing her secret. When she meets Granny—who fills her with cookies, goodies, and treats, and seems to understand her more than anyone—she’s sure things will be different. But with a fork-stabbing incident, a cherry pie massacre, and a town full of crazy people, Scarlet’s O-positive she’ll never live to see another undead day.
Not even her Vampire Rule Book can save her from the mess she’s in. Why can’t she ever just follow the rules?
From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors: www.fromthemixedupfiles.com
Black Moon, the second book in Teri Harman’s witch fantasy trilogy has just released its cover. From the back of the book:
Simon Howard accidentally killed three people. Four months later, the nightmares won’t stop. Willa Fairfield, his girlfriend, his soul mate, wants nothing more than to help him move on. But guilt isn’t the only thing getting in Simon’s way.
When unexplained earthquakes hit the small town of Twelve Acres, and dozens of people go missing, the Light witches discover their most feared enemy, Archard, is still alive. Employing the twisted, dynamic magic of a legendary witch known as Bartholomew the Dark, Archard plans to exact his revenge and take control of the Powers of the Earth on the night of the black moon, a rare lunar event infamous for Dark magic.
As the Light Covenant fumbles to defend against Archard’s sadistic intentions, Simon’s magic grows inexplicably more powerful, even dangerous. Willa throws all her efforts into solving the mystery of Simon’s transformation, but when the events of the past storm into the present, the couple’s future changes forever.
I read an early version of this manuscript. Black Moon continues the adventures of Simon and Willa as they learn to control their powers and face the black coven. At times thrilling, heart-warming, and suspenseful, readers of Blood Moon will be delighted.
Here’s a first look at Matt Carter & F.J.R. Titchenell’s Splinters, the first book in The Prospero Chronicles. There’s a giftcard giveaway for this upcoming title on Goodreads. From the back cover:
Under ordinary circumstances, Ben and Mina would never have had reason to speak to each other; he’s an easy-going people person with a healthy skepticism about the paranormal, and she’s a dangerously obsessive monster-hunter with a crippling fear of betrayal. But the small town of Prospero, California, has no ordinary circumstances to offer. In order to uncover a plot set by the seemingly innocent but definitely shapeshifting monsters-that-look-like-friends-family-and-neighbors, the two stark opposites must both find ways to put aside their differences and learn to trust each other.
F.J.R. Titchenell and Matt Carter met and fell in love in a musical theatre class at Pasadena City College and have been inseparable ever since. Though they have both dreamed of being writers since a very young age, they both truly hit their stride after they met, bouncing ideas off of one another, forcing each other to strive to be better writers, and mingling Matt’s lifelong love of monsters with Fiona’s equally disturbing inability to forget the tumult of high school. They were married in 2011 in a ceremony that involved kilts, Star Wars music, and a cake topped by figurines of them fighting a zombified wedding party.
F.J.R. Titchenell’s blog: http://fjrtitchenell.weebly.com/
Matt Carter’s blog: http://mattcarterauthor.weebly.com/
F.J.R. Titchenell’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/FjrTitchenell
Matt Carter’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/mattcarterauthor
F.J.R. Titchenell’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/FJR_Titchenell
Matt Carter’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/MCarterAuthor
Splinters Goodreads page: www.goodreads.com/book/show/20860637-splinters
Isn’t gorgeous? This is the cover for Mojave Green, the second book in the Dimensions in Death series by the Brothers Washburn. Here’s the blurb.
Camm and Cal thought they had killed the unearthly creature that preyed upon the people in their isolated mining town deep in the Mojave Desert. Off at college, they feel safe, until they hear news that Trona’s children are still disappearing. Caught in that nightmare since childhood, Camm feels responsible for the town’s children. As her life-long best friend, Cal feels responsible for Camm. With unsuspecting friends in tow, they return to warn the town’s innocent people, but things have changed.
Death comes in a new form. The dimensional balance is altered. Crossovers multiply. The situation spirals out of control, and Cal is pulled into another world where his chances of survival are slim. Without Cal, Camm seeks help where she can, even from the dead. Soon, she is on the run from relentless federal agents, who are hiding secrets and pursuing their own agenda. The mysterious depths of the Searles Mansion may yet contain a key to stopping alien predators, if it is not already too late.
It sounds amazing. Be sure to pick up Pitch Green if you haven’t read it. You won’t want to miss a word.
A. L. Washburn and B. W. Washburn are licensed lawyers and full time writers, residing in Colorado and southern Utah. They grew up in a large family in Trona, California, a small mining community not far from Death Valley, and spent many happy days in their youth roaming the wastelands of the Mojave Desert. After living in Argentina at different times, each came back to finish school and start separate careers. Living thousands of miles apart, they worked in different areas of the law, while raising their own large families.
Each has authored legal materials and professional articles, but after years of wandering in the wastelands of the law, their lifelong love of fiction, especially fantasy, science fiction and horror, brought them back together to write a new young adult horror series, beginning with Pitch Green and Mojave Green. They have found there yet remain many untold wonders to be discovered in the unbounded realms of the imagination, especially as those realms unfold in the perilous wastelands of the Dimensions in Death.
My friend and critique partner Christine Haggerty just published her debut novel with Fox Hollow Publications. Acquisitions, book 1 in the Plague Legacy, introduces Cam, a teenage orphan trying to survive in a world reshaped by a plague virus that renders people immune or mutant. When Cam’s swept up in a raid to provide more slaves for Salvation, he’ll have find ways to survive in a dog eat dog world. Readers of Legend, Lord of the Flies, Maze Runner, and The Hunger Games will find much to love in this new series.
Over a couple of Diet Cokes and email, this is what Christine told me about her newest project.
The Plague Legacy world is a rough one, Christine. Most modern comforts are gone, at least for people like Cam. Are there experiences in your life that you used to help readers understand what Cam’s life is like?
My early childhood was spent on a subsistence farm in northeastern Utah. We grew most of our own food, milked a goat, had an outhouse (I think we had indoor plumbing by the time I was in second grade), snared and skinned rabbits, and gathered and ate plants that many people would consider weeds. I imagine that if the apocalypse was due to a disease rather than a nuclear bomb, we’d be shoved back a few centuries and live like I did as a kid. That’s the life that Cam and the other orphans in the story had before they were collected and sold.
What’s the most important thing Cam needs to keep in mind in order to survive?
In the first book, Cam mostly needs to trust in himself in order to survive. He views himself as a victim, as someone who is restricted by the rules of humanity. However, the rest of his world does not necessarily play by those same rules, and Cam has to choose which to follow and which to break.
Which five books would you lug around in a backpack during an apocalypse?
Illusions by Richard Bach and four ‘how to’ survival guides.
Describe your typical writing day.
I send my kids off to school in the morning and then have about 2 ½ hours to write without interruptions before my kindergartener gets home. That’s ideal. There are always interruptions. I do best when I am in the rhythm of getting up at 5:30 a.m. to have my coffee and write for an hour before their alarms start going off. When I get stressed about a deadline (and I set word count deadlines for myself), my typical writing day can involve a lot of yelling and a lot more coffee…and chocolate chips.
Any teasers for book 2 you can share? Inquiring minds want to know!
I can say that The Plague Legacy: Assets will have arena games and fighting and a much more complex world that is an interesting mix of apocalyptic old and futuristic new. A lot more character backstories play into this book as Cam puts some puzzle pieces together in order to survive. Watch my website for scenes and artwork related to the world of Salvation.
The Plague Legacy: Acquisitions is published by Fox Hollow Publications and is available through Amazon.
Connect with Christine Haggerty
Fox Hollow Publications: www.foxhollowpublications.com