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Historical Fiction Author Jill Limber: ‘Spend as much time as you can promoting’

Jill LimberA multi-published author and former RWA President, Jill Limber’s latest books are Montana Morning, A Heart That Dares and The Right Track. As a child, some of Jill’s tales got her in trouble, but now she gets paid for them. Residing in San Diego with her husband and a trio of dogs and one very ancient cat, Jill’s favorite pastime is to gather friends and family for good food, conversation and plenty of laughter.

You can visit her website at www.JillLimber.com.

About A Heart That Dares

A Heart That DaresAmanda Giles, an unconventional and free-spirited young artist, has to fulfill a deathbed promise to her brother before she can take up her life as a Bohemian in New York. She finds herself swept up in the perilous life of an undercover espionage agent for the Army of the North with handsome young Army Captain. Daniel McGrath. Daniel knows his preoccupation with the woman posing as his wife puts them both in grave danger, but he finds Amanda has no intention of abandoning their mission. As the danger increases, Daniel’s most vital objective is to secure a future for himself and the woman he loves.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Jill. Can you tell us what your latest book,A Heart That Dares, is all about?

Amanda Giles, an unconventional and free-spirited young artist, has to fulfill a deathbed promise to her brother before she can take up her life as a Bohemian in New York. She finds herself swept up in the perilous life of an undercover espionage agent for the Army of the North with handsome young Army Captain. Daniel McGrath. Daniel knows his preoccupation with the woman posing as his wife puts them both in grave danger, but he finds Amanda has no intention of abandoning their mission. As the danger increases, Daniel’s most vital objective is to secure a future for himself and the woman he loves.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

The main character, Amanda Giles, is a woman ahead of her time. Her plans to work as an artist are interrupted when she is swept up in the American Civil War. She feisty and stubborn and independent. The hero, Daniel McGrath, reluctantly follows orders and works with Amanda, even though he is convinced a spy mission into enemy territory is no place for a gently bred woman. He is strong and steady, where she is impulsive and rash, a perfect match of opposites. The main minor character, a brave run-away slave women named Sylvie and her two children need to be rescued, and Amanda jumps right in.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Totally from imagination. I sometimes use personality traits from people I know, but the characters are totally made up.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

 Definitely, I’m a plotter. I need the structure of a plot to develop a story properly and keep it on track.

Q: Your book is set during the Civil War in various locations in the Confederate States.  Can you tell us why you chose these cities?

For the plot of this book, the two characters needed to travel, and their adventures take them all over the South. I did a lot of research into where the armies were moving, and chose the cities that way.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely. I feel as if the setting was actually almost like another character in the book, totally necessary to the plot.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

 Amanda has been wounded by Rebel raiders and Daniel is racing to get her back to camp and to the doctor before she loses too much blood.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Sure. I always love the first kiss scene in any book. 

“What do you mean, I don’t know how to kiss? How dare you?” Amanda sputtered, twisting away from him.

Daniel tightened his grip. “I mean you don’t know how to kiss the way a husband would kiss you. The way a lover would kiss you.”

Amanda glared at him. His eyes flashed back at her. Then in one swift movement he pulled her hard up against his chest, one arm circling her waist. He tilted her head back and slowly lowered his mouth to hers, staring directly into her eyes.

Amanda swallowed and tried to speak, but for the life of her she didn’t know what she would say even if she could find her voice.

Finally Daniel touched his lips, warm and firm, to hers and Amanda closed her eyes, savoring the feeling. She felt the strength leaving her tingling body and she leaned into Daniel for support.

He licked her upper lip with the tip of his tongue, then gently nibbled on the lower one. She gasped at the sensation, and when her lips parted, he ran his tongue inside her mouth.

Amanda found she couldn’t trust her legs and she swayed. When Daniel pulled away from her, she opened her eyes, but had trouble focusing.

His voice husky, Daniel murmured, “Goodnight Amanda.”

“Goodnight, Daniel,” she whispered as the door closed behind him.

He was right, she thought. She never had really kissed anyone else before.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

No, thankfully. I love to write and because I plot first, the story seems to come easily.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

 I’d do more writing. I find writing is the best part of my day.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

This is a tough question. I suppose if I had to choose, I would say any of the Harry Potter books. Who wouldn’t want the royalties from that?

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

Spend as much time as you can promoting. It is not what comes easily to most writers, but it is so important if you want to sell your work.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Jill.  We wish you much success!

 

 

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Interview with ‘Red Hot Sky’ Gordon Gumpertz on writing, new book and global climate

Gordon Gumpertz brings fiction readers another exciting action/adventure experience in his new novel RED HOT SKY. This is the author’s second book, following his highly acclaimed novel TSUNAMI.

In addition to writing novels, Gordon has won gold and silver awards in national and regional short story competitions. He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Palm Springs Writers Guild, a UCLA graduate, and an instrument-rated private pilot. He keeps his website current by blogging on natural disasters and natural phenomena.

Gordon and his wife Jenny live not far from the San Andreas fault, where the Pacific Plate thrusts into the North American Plate, building increasingly high levels of faultline stress which, the seismologists say, may soon produce the Big One.

Visit his website at www.tsunaminaturaldisaster.com.

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About Red Hot Sky

CO2 buildup in earth’s atmosphere reaches a tipping point. Global weather destabilizes, turns chaotic. Ice storms, dust storms, floods, blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes pummel the earth nonstop. A secret computer model reveals that the frantic weather will peak out, and transform world climate into an alien environment devastating to human survival.

Scientists Ben Mason, Claudine Manet, and Bertrand Short are developers of the computer model. Ben and Claudine are lovers as well as lab partners. While they work frantically to head off the approaching catastrophe, a disgraced Russian general hacks into their model and sees earth’s bleak future as his opportunity for ultimate world power.

Ben, who had left the CIA to develop the computer model at the national lab,  is reactivated by the Agency and sent on a perilous mission to block the rogue general’s plot. Claudine, not realizing that Ben is on a secret mission, misunderstands his absence, putting their relationship on thin ice.

Claudine is placed in charge of a massive NASA project that, if completed on time, could stop the approaching doomsday climate change. But her project is stalled by bureaucracy. Ben is on the run in hostile territory. The climate change calamity steadily approaches.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Gordon!  Can you tell us what your latest book, Red Hot Sky, is all about?

Red Hot Sky is a fast-moving novel about what happens when the buildup of CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gasses in earth’s atmosphere reaches a tipping point. In this scenario, global weather destabilizes and turns chaotic. Ice storms, dust storms, floods, blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes pummel the earth nonstop. A secret computer model reveals that the frantic weather will peak out, and transform world climate into an alien environment devastating to human survival.

Scientists Ben Mason and Claudine Manet, developers of the computer model, are lovers as well as lab partners. While they work frantically to head off the approaching catastrophe, a disgraced Russian general hacks into their model and sees earth’s bleak future as his opportunity for ultimate world power.

Ben, who had left the CIA to develop the computer model at the national lab, is reactivated by the Agency and sent on a perilous mission to block the rogue general’s plot. Claudine, not realizing Ben is on a secret mission, misunderstands his absence, putting their relationship on thin ice.

Claudine is placed in charge of a massive NASA project that, if completed on time, could stop the approaching doomsday climate change. But her project is stalled by bureaucracy. Ben, his cover blown, is on the run in hostile territory. The climate change calamity steadily approaches.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

The main characters are research scientists Ben Mason and Claudine Manet. They fall in love when they meet at the national lab and plan to get married. Both are having problems balancing their love life with their careers, and both are willing to sacrifice everything to save the planet for future generations. And they do it with humor, grace, and passion. The main supporting characters are Ben’s lab colleague Shorty, a tall country boy from Oklahoma with a big-heart and a sharp mind, who keeps Ben focused by asking the penetrating questions. And Byrone Culver, a DC police detective who joins Ben in his dangerous mission to expose the general’s plot. The antagonist is General Yuri Kulganin, a Russian general who is fired as commander of the Russian Army for supporting a return to authoritarian military control of the government. He plots to return as ruler of Russia and then the world.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

The characters are imaginary, but some of their looks, traits and behaviors are based on real people.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I always make a general outline of the story before I start. Plot enriching opportunities arise during the writing, and the characters sometimes take the action in a different direction, but the basic storyline still stands.

Q: Your book is set in Washington, DC, Pasadena, Geneva, Moscow, and Tehran.  Can you tell us why you chose those cities in particular?

Red Hot Sky is an international spy thriller. I chose Washington as the symbolic power center of America. And Tehran and Moscow as power centers with ideologies and goals that conflict with ours. The action moves from National Science Laboratories in Falls Church to Caltech in Pasadena, NASA’s Dryden Research Center in Mojave, to Geneva, to Tehran, and finally to Moscow.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Yes. Moving from site to site keeps up the fast pace of the action, adds color, and sets up the climax.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Ben’s car is demolished by a car bomb. He’d gotten out moments before the blast to go to a store. Byrone Culver, the DC police detective, arrives at the scene to interview Ben. He says, “Wait a minute. I remember you. The shot on the Key Bridge….Two in a row is more than coincidence. Someone’s trying to kill you. You sure you don’t know who it is?”

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

This is one of my favorites.  It sets the stage for Kulganin’s drive for ultimate power.

The New Year’s afternoon light was almost gone. General Yuri Kulganin slow-marched through the roomy Moscow apartment he’d lived in for the past seven years, trailed by his valet, Sergeant Dimitri Petrov. “Someday we will move back here to Moscow,” Kulganin said, “so I will have the agent sublet this apartment furnished and we will travel light.

Sgt. Petrov, thin, wiry, in his late thirties, uniform freshly pressed, nodded. “Yes, sir. I will pack your uniforms and all your personal items for the trip. Do you also wish to take your gun collection?”

“No, you will pack that for storage.”

“Will I accompany you, General?”

“Naturally, and I advise you to pack for cold winters and hot summers.” Kulganin picked up a silver-framed portrait of his wife, who had left him the year before and was living in Paris with their eleven-year-old son. He put it face down on the table. “Discard all pictures of her, but keep those of my son. This will be a new start.”

“Do I have your permission to take off my tunic, General?”

“Yes, of course, you have some long hours of hard work ahead.” He turned to face the sergeant. “You and I have been together a long time.”

“Yes, sir. Eighteen years.”

“Then you have a right to know. You will soon find out in any case. I am no longer commander of the Russian army.”

Petrov’s spare frame stiffened. “Sir?”

“It’s quite simple. The defense minister has relieved me of my command. We are being transferred to Iran. I will take over the military mission there. Instead of commanding five million soldiers, I will oversee a handful of clerks.” He picked up his wife’s picture and hurled it across the room, smashing the frame and glass against a brick fireplace. “Stupid fools!”

“I am very sorry, sir.” Tears formed in Petrov’s eyes. He’d been with Kulganin since he was a major.  The eighteen years had been good ones.

Kulganin moved to a window. The sky had blackened, signaling another arctic storm on its way. “There is no need to feel bad, Dimitri. The storm will move through. The sun will shine again. Things will be better.”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Gordon.  We wish you much success!

 

 

 

 

 

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Four Guidelines for Writing Characters with Character: Guest Post by Joseph Garraty

Four Guidelines for Writing Characters with Character

By Joseph Garraty

There are a million writers out there, each with his or her own particular skill. Some authors are plot authors. They can weave dozens of threads seamlessly together into a tight, slick story, propelled by events to a perfectly-executed climax. Most thriller authors fall into this category. Other authors are great at theme and symbolism, weaving hidden layers of meaning into every sentence. Still others excel at description, action, dialogue, or symbolism—everybody’s got their strong points, and readers gravitate to different authors for different reasons.

Me, I’m a character guy. If the characters are believable and interesting, I don’t even care whether they’re sympathetic or not—I want to know about them. I want to know what happens to them, how they react, what choices they make, and why.

The trick for me as a writer, then, has been figuring out how to make my characters believable and interesting, and while there’s always more to learn, I like to think I’ve got a few pieces in place.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Characters have to want something.

There is no escaping this. Reading about a character who wants nothing is like reading about a lump of mashed potatoes. It’s kind of bland, sits there and does nothing, and tends to get pushed around by whomever wants to push it around. A character has to have goals. Those goals can be as simple as “I would very much like to survive until tomorrow,” or as bizarre as “I really need a plasmicophic ferangulator for my time machine so I can go back and prevent my great-grandfather from flirting with Ms. Enderlein back in 1927 and thereby save civilization,” but they absolutely must have them.

Why? Because. . .

2. Characters have to do something.

This is associated with #1, but it doesn’t follow by necessity. Big Pete might want Skeezy Al to stop hitting on his sister, but he could just sit back and watch, waiting for the problem to resolve itself. However, if that’s all he ever does, he’s not going to be very believable or interesting. Eventually he’s gotta do something about it. Maybe he blows up Skeezy Al’s car, hires a few thugs to beat him up, or even goes over and nicely asks him to please knock it off—but his motivation has to translate into action. In other words, things don’t just happen to him—he makes some things happen.

3. Characters have to have personalities.

This does not mean you have to draw up a seven-page dossier on your character’s likes and dislikes, make up a dating site profile for them, or make them extreme caricatures. It just means you should have some idea of what they like, how their moral framework is structured, and what aggravates them. These things will color their actions, maybe even drive them. (And look—we’re back at actions again, not sitting around rummaging through somebody’s internal monologue.) I don’t have a clue what Stacy’s favorite color is, but I know she can’t abide the smell of sauerkraut, which will cause her to flee the sinister German grandmother in Chapter Twelve. That’s overly simplistic, but you get the idea.

4. Characters have to be true to their personalities.

I don’t care if you need Loretta to push Cletus off the building to his death in Chapter Six in order for the plot to work—if you’ve painted Loretta as a real sweetheart, harmless as a teddy bear, for the first five chapters, nobody’s going to buy her sudden change of character. The same is true of the half-sloshed dockworker hanging with his buddies late one night—he’s going to drop a few f-bombs, or a few dozen, regardless of whether you think your mom will disapprove when she reads your book. You and your mom are going to have to get over it, unless you’re content to populate your book with washed-out characters that have been robbed of all verisimilitude.

Your characters must act like themselves, not automatons in service to the plot, nor censored versions of themselves in service to the local bluenoses. That’s not their job.

And that’s about it. There’s a lot of room to play within those guidelines, but if you give your characters goals and personalities and have them act consistently with those goals and personalities, you’re already well on your way.

Good luck!

Joseph Garraty is an author of dark fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He has worked as a construction worker, rocket test engineer, environmental consultant, technical writer, and deadbeat musician. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

His latest book is the horror novel, Voice.

You can visit his website at www.josephgarraty.com.

Connect with Joseph at Twitter at www.twitter.com/JosephGarraty.

 

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