Skeletal Remains Horror Anthology is available for sale.

January 11, 2012
Happy New Year!

Another year has come and gone and a new one took its place. Let’s hope this one is filled with good health, happiness, love and peace for everyone.

And with the New Year comes a new horror anthology “Skeletal Remains” edited by Keith Gouveia and published by Rymfire Books. My dark historical horror tale “In The Name of Science” is featured in it.

Here is the info and cover on the book:

 

The Skeleton—the supporting system for so many organisms. Rip off our skin, strip down the meat, and underneath we’re all the same. So why has the skeleton frightened us for so many generations? 

The answer may lie inside these pages.

From the iconic Grim Reaper to the dancing figurines celebrated in Mexico’s Day of the Dead, human skeletons have personified death. Often portrayed as mindless creatures summoned to do unspeakable things by their master, the skeleton is brutal in its simplicity. Much like the zombie, their strength is in numbers and their immunity to attacks that would only harm their non-existent flesh. Join these brave authors daring enough to put nightmare to paper and unearth these Skeletal Remains.

Jonah Buck • Lorne Dixon • Keith Gouveia • Giovanna Lagana • Lisamarie Lamb • Matt Peters • Suzanne Robb • Armand Rosamilia • Rebecca Snow

Only $2.99 eBook and $7.99 Print

available at: Amazon Kindle * Amazon Print * Lulu eBook * Lulu Print * Barnes & Noble * SmashWords

For more details you can check it out at:

http://armandrosamilia.com/2012/01/04/skeletal-remains-release/

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Contest News!

July 24, 2011

My friend Donna Milward is having a book launch contest on her blog, for the release of her very first paranormal romance novel “Thoeba”.

You can check out details on her story at: http://www.vamptasypublishing.co.uk/#/thoeba-page/4552072216

She’s giving away three e-book copies of ‘Thoeba’. And also a beautiful stainless steel necklace and heart pendant with a garnet in it.

For further details on the contest, see: http://www.earthtothoeba.blogspot.com/

The contest ends Wednesday July 27th.

Cheers and good luck if you decide to enter. 🙂

Gio

Guest Blogger–Louise Bohmer–Questions and Answers

July 14, 2011

I’m delighted to have my very good friend and one hell of an amazing writer and editor, Louise Bohmer, as my guest on my blog. I’ve known Louise for over six years and have had the pleasure of working with her co-editing several anthologies as well as having her for a boss. And I loved every minute of it. She is such a sweet, super smart, funny lady who can brighten you darkest moods.

We are working on a Steam punk romance novella at this time, and to see her come up with such wonderful ideas and characters that are beyond three dimensional, is incredible to watch.

We had a fun question and answer session that I pasted below. She was kind enough to answer all my questions, even the bizarre ones. 🙂

If you’d like to check out her website and her superb novels or other stories she’s worked on, see this link:

http://www.louisebohmer.com

 Happy reading. 🙂

1.       In a nutshell how would you describe Louise Bohmer?

Louise: Hmmm…well, let’s see… If Joey Ramone and Dennis Hopper had conceived a love child with Ruth Gordon, I would be that love child.

2.       What is your comfort food?

Louise: Too much chocolate. It’s the one junk food I have trouble shaking. Whenever I’m stressed, I crave a Caramilk.

3.       If you could be a character you created, who would you be and why?

Louise: Good question. Let’s see…probably Lucifer in an as yet unfinished series I wonder if I will ever write. He’s not the nicest shapeshifter in the book, but I think I’d like to see his world through his eyes for one day, be a villainous rogue for 24 hours. (Plus do all that cool shapeshifting.)

4.       If you could be a character in a story you read who would you be and why?

Louise: Oh, that’s easier for me. Hands down, I’d be Peloquin from Cabal / Nightbreed. I recently ran across a thread at Rue Morgue forum that said it best: With Peloquin, Barker captured ferocity mixed perfectly with sensuality. You can’t look away from Peloquin, can’t stop listening to him, even though he frightens the life out of you.

5.       Anything in life you would like to go back in time and rewrite?

Louise: Probably The Black Act. While I love the book and many of the characters, overall I’m just not happy with it. There are things I would do very differently now. Break it up into a series, get rid of the hierarchical order of the fae, maybe go back and tell Corrigan’s story.

6.       Who is your hero and why?

Louise: Well, I usually go with Clive Barker, so I’ll go with one of my other heroes this time. Lemmy Kilmister is my hero because he really lives life on his own terms, and just doesn’t care what other people think of him. He’s not pretty, and he doesn’t follow trends, but he’s had a solid, successful career in music for over 35 years. To me, that’s admirable, because it isn’t easy to do.

7.       As an editor and writer, do you have any advice for new writers out there?

Louise: Don’t feel the need to pigeonhole yourself into one genre. Try writing in many different genres, and use pen names, if you like, to keep the work separate. Don’t limit yourself. The industry is seeing many big changes right now, and I think that could mean a great deal more genre blending and crossover of genres–even more so than we are seeing now.

Also, don’t be so set on seeing your name in print that you rule out ebook publishers. Like I said, the industry is seeing big changes right now. Last month, I believe it was, Amazon’s ebooks outsold their print. Seeing your name in print might be nice, but ebooks and online magazines are just as valid and fulfilling these days.

8.       What is your all time favourite movie and why?

Louise: That’s got to be Nightbreed. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch this movie, it never gets boring for me. I can recite lines from it like rote. It is the one film I can’t fall asleep to, because I end up sitting up in bed, listening to every line, taking in every character. It was the first movie I saw as a teen where the monsters weren’t the bad guys, they were the good guys, but they were still feral, fierce, and didn’t back down to the villainous humans who came to ruin their world. When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to be a monster in Midian. (Confession: I still do.)

9.       What is your all time favourite novel and why?

Louise:  I have to go with Barker again. Cabal, which is the novel off which Nightbreed is based. As to why, pretty much same as above. I liked that the humans were the bad guys and the monsters were the heroes. I really wanted to run away and join Peloquin and Shuna Sassi.

10.   Any embarrassing quirks you’d care to share with us?

Louise:  Ha! Too many to list. One thing I hate that I do is, when I get overwhelmed by stimuli in a social setting, I tend to start blurting nonsense. I don’t mean to, but my brain gets so overstimulated, I start to short-circuit a bit. For instance, I will just trail off on a point, and kind of laugh nervously, because I forgot my damn point. Or I’ll blurt something dumb and wonder where the heck that came from.

11.   How do you see the world changing in a century from now?

Louise: Wow, that’s a tough one. It’s hard to say. We’re advancing technologically so fast. Michio Kaku says we’ll have the internet implanted into our eyes, and you’ll just blink to surf the web in the future. I could see that. Books, I think, will be mainly digital and much more interactive.

12.   Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Louise: Hopefully still writing lots and hopefully selling lots too. I’ve decided to take my writing in a more marketable direction, write in more genres under pen names, and just have a great time with it, too. Hopefully still editing, but if I am only writing, that would be nice also. My next goal is to learn how to write a decent screenplay. I’d love to direct one day, but first I want to hone the screenwriter hiding in me.

13.   Any embarrassing thing happen to you in the past you’d care to share with us now?

Louise: Ha! Too many to list again. Probably when I flubbed my words at WHC 2007 and asked Ellen Datlow if she edited for Apex, when I meant to say, “You guest judged Apex’s Halloween Contest this year, didn’t you?” She looked at me like I was whacked, and I don’t blame her. (Hopefully she doesn’t remember that.)

14.   Do you have any particular nickname or pet name friends and family call you?

Louise: Too many again. Heh I’ve gotten everything from Wheezie, to Louisfer (my personal favourite), to Boomer, and Bomber.

15. What piece of your writing are you most proud of and why?

Louise: I think I have to write that story yet. But if I was to pick from what I’ve currently written, I guess I’d go with an older short story called The Book of Dreams, or even Dark Nectar of the Gods. Everything just felt right when I wrote those stories. They were tough to get out, but when I finally reached that last draft, it was like everything fell into place perfectly.

Guest Blogger–Donna Milward–Good to be Bad

March 19, 2011

This week, my guest blogger is a very sweet lady and fellow Canadian Donna Milward, whom I met on the Net over a year ago. She is charming, witty, and has a heart of gold. She is also an emerging romance writer who you should keep an eye on because I’m sure you will be seeing a lot of her work in this genre in the years to come.

Her blog is about the antagonist, usually my favourite character. In my opinion, the antagonist either makes or breaks a story.

You can also check out her enchanting and quite unique blog “Earth to Thoeba” at: http://earthtothoeba.blogspot.com/

Plus don’t forget to check out the question and answer section that comes after Donna’s blog.

Happy reading. 🙂

Gio

Good to be Bad

I love villains. I love reading them and watching them. But above all, I love writing them.

Consider this. Our protagonist, or hero if you will, has to be likeable. If you are a writer, you’ve often heard that your protagonist has to be ‘sympathetic’. He or she has to be someone everybody can relate to.

Would you support the family man who beats his wife and kids, but ‘only when he’s drunk.’? When he’s drafted into the army after aliens invade Earth, do you want him to come back alive? Or how about the shy teenaged Satanist? Do you care if he gets the girl?  Do you want him to?

No, the heroes and heroines of this world are designed to be reliable. Generic. Predictable.

The antagonist, however, can do anything. Admit it, you love it when the villain enjoys doing something that appalls you. Like reading the obituaries for light reading before bed. Or dining on lost pets.

Is it our powerful desire to see them get what they deserve? Or our need to feel superior?

But of course no one grows up deciding to be evil, right? They all have their reasons for revenge and world domination. Perhaps a bad childhood? A government conspiracy? The radioactive-mercury-laced doughnut that killed his pa?

The possibilities are as limitless as your reaction to them. You can love them. Hate them. Love to hate them. Hate to love them and secretly cheer for them.

That is why I love villains, and I know some of you agree with me. The rest of you should just agree with me now. It will save so much time when I take over the planet.

Donna Milward

 

1. When did you really know writing romance novels was what you wanted to do?

It wasn’t until a friend asked me to join her at a RWA conference in Washington D.C. two years ago that I got into romance. What an eye opener! The more I learned about that genre, the more I respected it and the more I wanted to be a part of it.



2. I see you love mythology, what Greek or Roman god or goddess is your favourite and why?

It’s always been Athena, goddess of strategic warfare, craft, and wisdom. I appreciate how she is the cunning side of war, not the brutality of it. She knows when to fight, and when to “extend the olive branch” as they say. She invented the concept, just as she created the olive tree as a gift to Athens. She’s a multi-talented deity. Having said that, Demeter, goddess of harvests is my favorite in gardening season 🙂

 
3. You enjoy gardening. Do you have any tips for fellow gardeners?

I cannot stress the importance of weeding. Some find it a chore, I call it therapy. Sit cross-legged (or however you feel most comfortable) in your plot with a trowel and stir gently. Take your time and enjoy it. Remember, these unwanted plants steal water and nutrients from your precious flowers and vegetables. Watch how your plants thrive when they’re not being strangled and are given space to grow.

If your soil is hard enough that it bends your trowel, this means you have clay soil. You either have to replace the dirt or nourish it extensively with manure, compost and lime.

4. Who would be your all time favourite character ever created in fiction?

That one’s hard. I would have to say the companions from the Dragonlance series. Which one I like best depends on my mood. I love Raistlin the dark mage sometimes, but mostly Tasselhoff Burrfoot the kender. He’s adorable!



5. Who would be your all time favourite character ever created in a movie?

Darth Vader!! Best villain ever! When Star Wars came out, there had never been anything like him, and there still isn’t.

6. As a child, what did you dream of becoming when you grew up?

There was a long list. Teacher, ballerina, actress…I know author made it in there somewhere. I remember my first book in grade two was about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It had pictures I’d drawn myself and began, “The storm that sank that boat was bad. You should have seen it!” I’ve improved since then…



7. What is the most memorable childhood memory that brings a smile still to your face today?

I’m privileged to remember the day I officially learned to read.  It was a book about horses, and I remember it was a night scene. The word was ‘flashlight’. I was an excellent phonics student, and I applied them, right down to what ‘ght’ represented. I read it in one go, and the doors of knowledge opened for me. From that day forward I could read anything and did my damndest to read everything. It’s a favorite day in my life.

8. Who do think is more important to a story, the protagonist or antagonist?

I have to say antagonist. I’m not just saying that because I love writing them. I find that most protagonists are very much the same-they’re likeable people that something bad happens to, right? A villain you can love, hate, love to hate, relate to, and feel sorry for. You have no story if you have no conflict. Without the antagonist, there is no conflict.

My Story “One-Way Trip for the Damned” is featured in “Tales of the Talisman”.

March 7, 2011

Greetings 🙂

My Sci-fi/horror short story “One-Way Trip for the Damned” about a man who wakes up on a space cruiser with no memory and a dead crew is featured in Volume 6, Issue 3 of “Tales of the Talisman.”



Here’s a blurb for the issue:

This winter, we present an action-packed issue of Tales of the Talisman. Ernest Hogan takes us aboard the luxury spaceship Mars-A-Go-Go where a private detective gets caught up in the search for a famous actress’s lost body. Meanwhile, Mike Brines takes us to Arizona where another private detective attempts to discover what those elves at The Muffin Man bakery are cooking up! Head back into space with Giovanna Lagana as she introduces us to a man who wakes up on a space cruiser with no memory and a dead crew. Kristin Davis shows us that selkies can learn to love their human forms and humans can learn compassion. These and other fantastic stories and poems await you in this exciting issue of Tales of the Talisman!

http://www.talesofthetalisman.com/bookstore-v6.html

The Amazon link is:

http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Talisman-6-3-Ernest-Hogan/dp/1885093578/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1299531570&sr=8-7

Happy New Year & Winner of the Amazon Gift Certificate

January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2011!

Wishing you all a marvellous year ahead. May it be filled with health, happiness, prosperity and so much more.

This year, my New Year resolutions are many. And to make sure I hold true to them, I wrote them down in bold lettering and posted them on the wall next to my desk so I can read them daily.

One of my resolutions this year is focusing on some interesting writing and editing projects I have been working on. “When the Dead Speak in Riddles” is a novel I will be working on first in the next few months. It’s a complex horror novel that I have been co-writing with author/editor Keith Gouveia. For me, it certainly is a challenge writing this type of story, especially since the plot is mind boggling and I haven’t written a horror novel in so long. But it’s a great experience and I am learning a lot.

On the horizon for short stories coming out this year:

My sci-fi, horror short story “One Way Trip for the Damned” will be featured in “Tales of the Talisman” Volume 6 Issue 3.

And my horror short story “The Calling” will be featured in the anthology “The Snuff Syndicate” coming out later this year by “The Library of Horror Press”.

 

And finally, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the contest over at Coffee Time Romance last month. It was a huge success. The winner of the Amazon gift certificate is Sara Trimble. Congratulations, Sara!

Wishing you all a great week and year ahead.

Cheers,

Gio

You Can Win a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate

December 7, 2010

I’m a Featured Contest Author this month at Coffee Time Romances & More. For a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift certificate, check out their Contest Page at:

http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/ContestPage.html

Rickie the Raccoon Learns About Recycling

On one cloudy summer night,Rickie the Raccoon decides to take a walk in a dark,  mysterious alley in search of food. An unforeseen problem befalls him, one he cannot solve alone.

But maybe with the help of his friend Carmen the Cat, he’ll be able to get by the   obstacle and through the long night.

Join Rickie and Carmen on this exciting excursion and learn about the importance   of recycling and what it means for all of us.

Belated Contest Winners Announcement and Updates

April 13, 2010

This blog was supposed to have been posted a couple of weeks ago, before Easter. But it seems the strings of life have been pulling me in a hundred directions and my highly distractible brain forgot about it until this morning.

It’s funny to see how forgetful I have become these past years. I used to have an amazing memory. Okay, not as good as my dad’s, brother’s or grandmother’s. Theirs was so unbelievably accurate that they could tell you the exact day, date, and time an event, even as insignificant as buying a sofa, happened.

My brother still has that amazing memory and I love to test him on it every once and awhile just to see if it’s still that sharp. I’ll ask him something as trivial as if he remembers when he first brought me to McDonald’s as a kid. And he’ll shoot out the day instantly, like as if his super organized brain knew exactly in which closet or drawer to look for the info. Incredible. Truthfully, he could be totally wrong because of course I don’t remember much about it, but he tells it with such conviction that I believe he’s right.

I wish I could get back my memory of yesteryears. I’ve tried doing daily memory games to improve it. They’ve helped, but if I don’t do them on a regular basis, my inoperable memory goes back to functioning at half mast.  So to compensate, I try to prepare to-do-lists. But frankly they don’t work because so many things happen in my day that deviate me from my bearings that the lists become useless.

So I continue to journey down this sea of everyday living with a half useless sailboat of a memory praying that I won’t forget anything important and hopefully, my family will remind me if I do. Of course, most of the time, they are as forgetful or absent minded as I, except my brother of course. And he lives far away. Too bad I couldn’t have gotten the sharp memory gene my father and brother inherited from my grandmother, I would have surely traveled far by now if I did, I’m sure.

Now onto the reason for the blog before I forget it again….

The winner of last month’s contest of the $20 Amazon gift certificate is Carolyn O.

And the winner of the PDF copy of Lauren N. Sharman’s “No Worries” is Rachel M.

Congrats to both winners and thanks to all who participated. 🙂

Another thing I forgot to post on my blog before is that I was a guest on Leeann Burke’s Blog. The post is titled “This is What Dreams Are Made of” and you can check it out at:

http://www.leeannburke.com/blog/2010/02/19/this-is-what-dreams-are-made-of/

Okay I think that’s it for now. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, maybe more than one thing, but I’ll probably never know it. 🙂

Have a fabulous week ahead, people.

Guest Blogger–Angela Cater–Doing What I Know, And What I Love

March 17, 2010

Today, my guest is the extremely gifted and award-winning author and illustrator Angela Cater.  Her talent in capturing an animal’s soul is what drew me to her work a few years ago when I was looking for an illustrator for my picture book.

The moment I saw her portfolio online, and beheld the delightful and charming pets she featured on her page, I was simply enchanted. Her magic is immeasurable and every time I see one of her cute illustrations, I smile and wish I could cuddle one of those adorable critters.

She is a gem to work with and I am honored she’s my partner in our Rickie the Raccoon series. She has quite a few great picture books she has written as well, which you can find at: http://www.tabbycatpress.com/

You can also check out her website and pet portraits, and see for yourself how much talent she really has

http://www.angelacater.com/

Doing What I Know, And What I Love

By Angela Cater

I’ve long since forgotten who it was that said you should draw and write what you know, but I seemed to take these words to heart.  Not for me, fantastical dragons, fairies or princesses – I looked for working class heroes, and cats.

I was given my first cat when I was just two years old and cats quickly became the main subject in my art, although like all young girls, I had a few years flirtation with horses.

In my late twenties, I had a freak accident which shattered the cartilage in my right knee.  I found myself on crutches for several months, and housebound after surgery.  I took this opportunity to start taking my art more seriously and again turned to my cats for inspiration.  I had relocated to Manchester a few years before and was living in an area that I felt unsafe in.  Creating my “Character Cats” (anthropomorphic cats in a variety of costumes and situations) gave me a source of escapism, and they became popular greeting cards on a number of sites.

In 2004, I was approached through my website by a Canadian writer, Giovanna Lagana, who asked me if I would be interested in working with her on a children’s picture book, “Rickie the Raccoon Learns about Recycling”.  It was a dream come true and the story featured a cat, – but the main character was a raccoon.  This created a problem for me.  I telephoned every zoo for miles around in the hope of finding a raccoon to photograph, and in the end had to resort to Google and to illustrations in other books.

Just days after I had finished the last illustration, I caught the end of a news item about a local animal sanctuary, and blow me – there was a raccoon just 22 miles up the road!  I paid him a visit, one very inclement day but that’s another story.

Having now got a taste for book illustration, I set about writing my own and again turned to my cats for inspiration.  One of my earlier most popular Character Cats was called ‘Sailor Sam’ and I could easily imagine my handsome tabby as having a girl in every port and living the wild life on the high seas.  I drafted in cousins and their children to play the human characters, making it a very personal book for me. “The Adventures of Sailor Sam” has so far proved to be the best selling of my books (personally I’m happy if I just break even), and there are even a few tabby kittens in far flung corners of the world named after him.  Samson died, aged 18, a few years later and for a while, I was too depressed to work and without him, felt unable to publish any more Sailor Sam stories.

I turned next to my workplace, an independent girls’ school, which is next door to a park with a large lake.  I begin most mornings with a walk round the lake and if you do this on a daily basis, you soon get to know individual bird characters.  I was also charmed by the tale of the annual nesting of mallard ducks under our school’s magnolia tree.  This has occurred every year for the past 16 years and when the ducklings hatch, the caretaker provides them with a safe escort across the car-park and to their home on the lake.  This event provided the basis for “A Perfect Nest for Mrs Mallard”.  I loved the challenge of depicting individual birds from the park in a way that regular visitors would be able to recognise them.

Now I am about to start work on a fifth book, inspired by the many stray cats that have turned up half-dead on my doorstep and been nursed back to health.  These cats frequently turn out to be the most special and loving pets, grateful for being given a second chance.  “Brogan’s Good Turns” (unless someone can come up with a better title!) will tell the story of one such cat, keen to repay his young mistresses’ kindness. But a cat and a human’s idea of a good turn may not coincide, and Brogan unwittingly causes chaos and trouble for his family.  I had no shortage of feline models to choose from but had to advertise for a child to play the young girl in the story.  I was concerned that if I made up a child, I would not be able to get it looking like the same child throughout the book.

I’m at my happiest when I am creating, and hope to carry on illustrating both my own stories and those of others, in the hope of both entertaining and educating young minds.  That I am providing a lasting tribute to the cats, birds, and sometimes people, that share my life is an added bonus.

1-When did you know you were born to be an artist?

It was my first Christmas at school, aged 4, when my teacher excitedly took me to see the Head Master with a picture of a reindeer that I had painted.  It may have been blue with three legs, but it was most clearly a reindeer.

2-What is your favourite medium to work with?

I like gouache as you can work light on dark as well as dark on light, making it perfect for painting animal fur.  I also use coloured pencils a lot and am a member of the UK Coloured Pencil Society which aims to promote them as a fine-art medium, rather an a children’s toy.

3-Tell us a bit about the awards you’ve gotten for your work?

Awards have tended to elude me, but I was five times a finalist in the “Paint a Wildlife Subject” competition run by the famous artist, Roy Chaffin.  I was also one of the first ten artists to achieve signature status of the UK Coloured Pencil Society.

4-Were you a daydreamer as a child? If yes, are you still?

Absolutely, I used to see pictures in the clouds, the fire, cracks in the ceiling, and at night the patterns on the 1960s wallpaper and curtains would frighten me to death as monstrous faces emerged.  Many of my paintings have come out of daydreams and trying to escape the reality of living in a city where you constantly hear the sound of police sirens and the police helicopter whirring overhead.

5-I know you told me about the hauntings in your home when you were young, but can you tell us more about them and your reaction to them?

It happened mostly during my teenage years and those of my siblings.  Things would often just fly around the house (mostly vegetables in the kitchen but once, a knife).  We’d get up to the smell of smoked kippers, and my brother’s room would fill with pipe smoke.  We think the ghost was that of an old man, but don’t know who he was.  He could be very mischievous, moving the pieces on my brother’s chess set around, turning bedroom posters upside down.  One of the strangest things was when we were once listening to a tape of the Dubliners singing “The Leaving of Liverpool” and realised an extra voice was singing along!  We weren’t scared, we realised it wasn’t malicious and in fact we just got used to it.  Things stopped happening once my brother got rid of the chess set.

6-Who is your favourite artist and why?

There’s quite a few I like, but no particular favourite.  I like surrealism, and admire Magritte and Dali.  I wish I was a great draughtsman like Durer, and I love the realism and character depiction of Rockwell.

7-If you could go back in time and be an iconic figure in history, who would you be and why?

Probably Johann Strauss, I love his uplifting music and think he probably lived a quite glamorous life.

8-What’s your fondest memory as a child?

I guess the times spent with my grandmother.  My mother couldn’t cope with my handful of a brother, and my sister who was usually very sick (she has Cystic Fibrosis), so I spent most weekends and holidays with my gran.  We’d spend Saturday evenings playing Beetle or Scrabble, watching Starsky and Hutch, and sharing a can of Guinness.

9-If you weren’t an artist, what would you want to be instead?

Well, I don’t make a living as an artist unfortunately.  I still have to hold down a day-job to ‘earn cat food’ as I tell the cats.  I would love to be a full-time illustrator.  I’m only truly happy when I am creating.  Most of my working day, I’m on auto-pilot whilst my head is longing to get home and get back to my true work.

10-Name the most memorable comment you got for your picture books from a reader.

The best thing was a story my brother told me about one of his friends who finally gave in to pressure to buy his son a kitten.  They went to an animal shelter, but instead of picking a kitten, the lad chose a three year old tabby cat and named it ‘Sam’ after my character, ‘Sailor Sam’.  It’s great to know that my beloved Samson still lives on in this way.

11-Can you tell us a bit about the project you’re working on now?

Briefly, it is the story of a cat who tries to repay his young mistress for saving his life by doing lots of good turns, but things don’t turn out the way he intends.  I am experimenting with a new illustration style (simpler than my usual style, a little bit Studio Ghibli inspired, and in ink and coloured pencil.  The most recent feline addition to my household, Pablo, has been recruited as a model.

12-Who is your favourite children’s author? Illustrator?

As a child, I adored Enid Blyton, but now find her stories quite superficial and dull.  I tend to buy books more for the illustrations than for the story.  I like the illustrations of Ann Mortimer and Jan Brett.  I do however like “Alice in Wonderland” and have a number of copies by different illustrators.

Guest Blogger–Lauren N. Sharmen–Getting to Know Lauren

February 10, 2010

My guest this week is author and relationship advice columnist (and my dear friend) Lauren N. Sharman. When Lauren accepted my invite to be my guest, I was jumping for joy. A few years ago when I read her first book Growing Up Little, I said to myself, “Wow, can this lady write.”

She kept me captivated right from page one. I read the entire novel (100 000+ words) in one day without sleeping that night because I wanted to find out what happened to Nikki Braedon, the young, sympathetic heroine. Believe me, the next day was a struggle to stay awake, but I didn’t regret forsaking sleep for one bit. The story was phenomenal. I became a fan of hers instantly from then on.

Then of course, I had to read all her books in the McCassey Brothers series after that. Simply amazing.

For her guest blog, we did a question and answer session, which I posted below. I think you will enjoy it because you get to see a bit of why she is such a charming and gifted lady.

She was kind enough to offer a free PDF copy of No Worries, the first book in the McCassey Brothers series this week. So I’ll be choosing a winner next Friday morning, Feb. the 19th, from all of those who add a comment for Lauren on either of my blogs.

Here is a little something about the prize e-book:

Witnessing her mother’s murder put a label on Gypsy Lance that few people overlooked.  Raised in foster homes, she spent her childhood yearning for love and acceptance.  Nearly penniless, she arrives in Hagerstown, Maryland looking to put down roots and outrun a past she fears is about to catch up with her.

Blue collar bad boy Rebel McCassey knows what it’s like to try and escape your past.  No longer the hellion he once was, he’s never been able to shake his family’s bad reputation.  When he finds Gypsy lost in the woods, her unconditional trust and refusal to judge him by his infamous last name touch Rebel in a place he didn’t know existed…his heart.

When the demons chasing Gypsy are caught lurking in the shadows, Rebel vows to keep her safe; even if it means slipping back into his old ways…

And last but not least, her website:  http://www.laurensharman.com

1-What is the most memorable question one of your readers asked you on your column?

There have been several memorable questions, but the one that sticks in my mind most recently is one I received a couple of weeks ago. An overprotective mother refusing to allow her daughter to tryout for American Idol asked for advice. She was afraid to let her tryout because she didn’t want the girl to be disappointed. I’m really big on teaching your kids to be independent, and am a firm believer that sheltering them too much is extremely detrimental. For anyone interested, they can read the article here: http://www.examiner.com/x-3240-Relationship-Advice-Examiner~y2010m1d15-Overprotective-mom-afraid-to-let-daughter-follow-her-dreams

2-What is your all time favorite movie and why?

There are several movies that I enjoy. “Almost Famous” is one. As a writer who loves music, I can only imagine how much fun it would be to travel on a bus with a band, documenting their every move. The concerts, groupies, parties, and interaction with other rock stars would make an incredible story!!

3-Which authors have influenced you the most in your writing?

Hmm…a lot of the writers who influenced me are actually the historical romance writers of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s; Rosanne Bittner, Rebecca Brandywine, and Laurie McBain are just a few. Although I write contemporary, historicals are my favorite.

4-If you could change one thing in history that would cause a domino effect on modern day life, what would it be?

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He could’ve done this country a lot of good had he lived. I’ve always believed things would’ve been different if he’d been allowed to carry out his reconstruction plan. Can I have two? Because I’d also change the deaths of Janice Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Just imagine what music would be like today if their influence hadn’t been cut short.

5-Who is your hero?

My husband Joey is my hero. He’s the hardest working, most supportive person I have in my life. Joey has never judged me, and has always loved me for who I am…warts and all. He’s the kind of person who thinks outside the box, and in turn, has taught me to do the same…which opened up a whole new world for me. He’s amazing!!

6-What did you wish for as a kid that came true later in life?

I wasn’t into the princessy stuff, and never wished for a prince or a castle or anything like that. Growing up, what I wanted was a muscle car. About five years after we got married, my husband went to West Virginia bought an old, beat up 1969 Chevy Chevelle for $2800. Although it did run, it was rusty, stinky, had torn and dry-rotted upholstery, and was almost the ugliest thing either one of us had ever seen. We took it apart piece by piece, labeled everything, and stored it all in bags in our basement. He spent a total of 700 hours restoring that car for me. He did a complete frame-off restoration…bought original parts off eBay, and drove all over the state picking them up. He also taught himself to weld so he could do all the work, and even painted it himself. I’ve never been a materialistic person, but that black SS Chevelle with the gunmetal metallic racing stripes is my most prized material possession.

7-How has motherhood changed you?

Honestly, the biggest change in me has been the realization that someone else depends on me. My daughter is almost 10 now, and although she doesn’t need me the way she did when she was a baby, she still needs my advice, guidance, and support. She depends on Joey for help with her math homework, though!

8-What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?

This one’s easy. Picture it: A crowded high school cafeteria, and a would-rather-not-be-noticed girl walking along the wall in her brand new white leather boots with wooden heels (give me a break, it was 1988). Just as she approaches a heating unit, she steps heel first on the slippery floor, slips, and her arms go flailing everywhere. In the process of trying to catch her balance, she hits the metal dustpan lying on the unit and sends it crashing to the floor. The noise echoes throughout the large room, and every bit of action and conversation comes to a screeching halt. All eyes turn to the source of the distraction, and the girl turns red from the roots of her hair to the tips of those white boots. I was completely mortified.

9-Anything you’re really bad at that you’d wish you could be great?

As embarrassing as it is to admit—as someone who writes for a living—I’m a horrible speller. Sometimes I come up with words that the spell-checker on my computer doesn’t even recognize! My 8th grade English teacher created, ‘The Lauren Dictionary’ as an end-of-the-year gag gift. She’d been keeping a list of words I spelled wrong all year, and presented it to me on the last day of school. I still have it…24 years later.

10- What is the best novel you ever read and why?

Wow, that’s a tough one…I’ve read so many. I’m going to have to go with “Outlaw Hearts” by Roseanne Bittner. I read it back in college and completely fell in love with the book’s hero. It combined three of my favorite things…romance, history, and a bad boy with a good heart. I still have my copy, and reread it every so often when I’m in search of inspiration for something I’m writing.

11-How do you feel about being a Relationship Advice Examiner and knowing your advice is helping your readers in some way?

I LOVE being a Relationship Advice Examiner!! I am a self-described Tell-It-Like-It-Is person, which I have always made clear to my readers. I don’t sugarcoat my answers or pacify people…they know that when they ask me a question, they’re going to get my honest opinion. People seem to enjoy my articles…and I’ve received several thank-yous from readers who have submitted questions. It’s awesome to know that my advice is helpful. If anyone would like to submit a question to me for relationship advice, you can email me at AskLaurenAdvice@gmail.com