Friday, July 29, 2011

Welcome Heidi Champa

Welcome the lovely and talented Heidi Champa to Dawn's Reading Nook. I haven't read any of her books but after reading the sneak peek excerpt here, I plan to remedy that immediately. :) Now onto the show....

Why don't you start us off by telling us how you discovered/decided you wanted to become a writer?

-I’ve been writing for a long time, just for fun and to express my thoughts. When I was in college, I did my internship at a music magazine and got the taste for writing for deadlines and getting published. I did a bunch of other jobs before finding myself drawn back to writing years later. I sent out a few erotica stories in 2007, and they got accepted! After that, I was hooked. It all sort of snowballed from there. I was drawn to M/M romance, so I decided to give it a shot. And, here I am!

Do you have a favorite TV show you can't miss?

-‘Wilfred’ and ‘Archer’ are at the top of the list right now. And, there is an Australian show called ‘Rake’ that I just started watching. It’s amazing!!

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

-I’d say it is a combination of both. Some stories seem to require more research, and therefore I usually spend more time outlining and drafting. Other stories just seem to flow, and are much more spontaneous.

So what is your latest or upcoming book about? Give us all the details behind this masterpiece.

-All Expenses Paid is about a guy named Davis Harper who’s life isn’t going well at all. He enters a contest to win a trip to Australia, and by some chance, he ends up winning. Instead of fixing things for Davis, he ends up going on the romantic trip alone. Then, he meets tour guide Judd and things start to look up for Davis. It is a love story in a beautiful setting and I’m very proud of it.

What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
-I started writing erotica first before I got into more romance themed books, so writing love scenes is usually one of my favorite parts! Some are more explicit than others, but I enjoy the interplay between characters at their most intimate. I try to give the readers a real glimpse into the chemistry between characters, and it’s always a challenge to keep things new and fresh.
Could you tell us about any work-in-progress, current projects, what we can expect from you in the future?

-I’ve got several things in the works, including several more novellas that should be out within the year. One has a western setting that should be finished very soon. Then after that, there is a transformation story wrapped in a love story that I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. Now I just have to finish them!

A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be?

-I’ve never actually thought about that before. Good questions. I’d have to say the title would be, Heidi Champa: The Gift of Sarcasm. It is my most recognizable feature, most people would say.

Have you ever found that you didn’t like your Hero or your Heroine? If so, what did you do to change that?

-I wouldn’t go so far as to say I didn’t like them, but I may not like everything that they do. People in real life make bad choices and do silly or stupid things, and my characters are no different. As long as my characters ring true to me, I like them enough to keep writing about them. Perfect characters are boring. The bad boys are usually more fun!

Do you have any weird writing habits?

-I’m not sure if they are weird or not, but I like a little background noise when I write. TV or music, it doesn’t matter. Silence just doesn’t work for me. I need a full glass of iced tea in front of me at all times too. And, I sit with my legs crossed, which sometimes results in pins and needles if I’m really in the groove, but it’s how I’m most comfortable.

What do you do to unwind and relax?  

-I like to hike, read and spend time with my husband.
Is there a genre you haven’t done that you would like to explore in the future?
-I’ve never written anything supernatural, and I’d love to give it a try. Not only because it is so popular, but it seems like such fun to create a whole new world for the characters to inhabit. Anything goes, which I like!

What book that you've written so far is your favorite or the most meaningful? Why?
-I’d have to say All Expenses Paid would have to be my favorite. I’m in love with Australia and that’s where I set the book. As I was writing the main characters, one of whom is visiting Australia for the first time, I got to see the country through new eyes. Writing this book was a joy on every level.
What is your favorite candy bar?
-Plain M&M’s
When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
-I need more sleep!!
What is your favorite pizza?

-Classic Margarita Pizza from Darling Pizza in Sydney, Australia. Preferably eaten by the harbor on a warm evening and in good company.

What genres and authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?

-I love Jean Thompson, David Sedaris, Emily Maguire and Shayla Black.

If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?

-I would start with All Expenses Paid and then move on to White Out and once the new ones come out, they can pick them up too!

What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?

-Just to stay tuned. There’s plenty more to come!

Sneak peek into All Expenses Paid
Available at Amber Allure

Davis Harper's life isn't going according to plan. He hates his job and his boss. And, to make matters worse, his long-term relationship with his boyfriend, George, isn't what it used to be. One day, desperate for something to change, he enters a contest to win a three-week trip to Australia, all expenses paid. Despite the impossible odds of winning, Davis feels hopeful for the first time in months.
Actually winning the trip was the last thing Davis ever expected, but when the phone call from Down Under comes with the good news, not everyone is so thrilled. Not willing to pass up a golden opportunity, Davis leaves behind George and his lousy job, intent on getting on with his life and having fun for a change.
And he certainly doesn't plan on falling in love...until he meets Judd...


...When I arrived at the dimly lit pool, it looked like someone had the same idea I did. When he popped out of the water, I noticed who it was. As he pulled his wet body up the ladder, I spotted a familiar bright blue pair of board shorts.

"Hey, Davis, how ya going?"

"Fine. How's the water?"


It was Judd, looking delicious in the hotel's version of a tropical paradise. I threw my towel down on a lounge chair and walked to the water's edge. Without thinking, I jumped in the water, staying under in the silence for a moment before surfacing. Judd had moved to sit on the concrete lip of the pool, his feet dangling in the water.  

"I really shouldn't be doing this, Judd."

"What, swimming? Why not?"

"I just finished eating about fifteen minutes ago."  

He threw his head back in laughter, clearly expecting me to say something else.
"Well, I'll tell you what, if you start to cramp up, I can help. I'm a trained lifesaver."
"That's good to know. So far, I feel fine. I'll let you know if I need help."  

Judd slipped from his perch, swimming quickly under the water until he popped up right in front of me. He shook his head, water droplets hitting me in the face before he spoke.  
"Please do."  

I stopped floating, letting my feet touch the bottom, while keeping my eyes on Judd. The electricity I'd felt before with him was back, crackling in the few inches that separated us. Judd reached out toward me, sweeping a piece of hair off my forehead with the tip of his finger. It made my cock stir in my swim trunks, the touch so simple yet so intense. I felt the warmth of a flush creeping into my cheeks, my whole body heating up. It was overwhelming, and my first instinct was to flee.  

"I think maybe I should go Judd."

"But you just got here. I'm the one who should go. My hands have turned to prunes."  
He held up his hand; the moisture had made his fingertips wrinkly. I felt the water move around me as he inched closer. My breathing got heavy. I couldn't speak, so Judd kept going.  

"You don't really want to leave, do you, Davis?"

"No, but I'm afraid if I don't, I'll do something stupid again, like I did the other night in Sydney. You must've thought I was a real idiot."  

He moved closer still, and now my heart was going fast enough to explode.  

"Davis, I walked away that night because I don't fool around with guys who have boyfriends. But that's the only reason."

"Oh. Good to know."

"So, you see, now I know the truth, you're free to be as stupid as you want."

"Luckily, that kind of thing comes naturally to me."

"So I've noticed."  

He smiled, putting his hands on my hips, the inches between us gone in a second. This time, Judd leaned in, and I didn't move away. When his lips touched mine, I clutched his shoulders, my mind completely scrambled. Judd moved a hand up my back until his fingers were twined in my hair. When his tongue moved into my mouth, I felt my knees go a bit weak. I hadn't kissed anyone but George in years. It felt foreign, but amazing. I thought I'd never experience the rush of a first kiss again. Thank God, I was wrong. This was what I had wanted to do from the first time I'd seen Judd. Now that it was happening, I was a bit panicked. It just felt too damn good...

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Soon our dear friends Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane's erotic BDSM novel will be released! Therefore, for the next several weeks we will be sharing our weekly blog time with them.

To start, they are offering a short story. Please let us know what you think.

Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane

Cold, emanating from the stone floor, penetrated the sole’s of her feet. She stared about the chamber, not knowing how she had gotten there, certain that she should leave. The door wasn’t locked. He wouldn’t do that, not yet anyway. She could run if she chose. She didn’t. Something held her, a force beyond both her control and comprehension. Instead, she waited for the Master, trembling, uncertain, yet stubbornly holding true to the path she had decided to follow.

She walked to the fire, blazing in the hearth, and held out her hands. Her cotton nightdress, with its low bodice and brief hem was not adequate for such a chilly chamber. She knew what he expected, but it was hard to comply. They had met but once, and her terror had been all consuming. Even now, it rose in her throat, threatening to choke her, but she contained it. With a will dug up from unknown depths, she searched the room until she found the blindfold. Placing it over her eyes, she stripped off the skimpy garment and placed it to one side. She dropped to her knees and spread her thighs. The action signaled her submission.

Footsteps sounded in the hall, pausing just outside the door. The slave’s heart skipped a beat. Her chest rose and fell as tattered breaths escaped parted lips. She tilted her head back, which enabled her to see through the tiny gap of the blindfold. She stared at the door, ready to drop her head if he appeared. Her gaze shifted to the four poster bed positioned on the opposite wall, then moved toward the leather whip stretched across a dresser. There were other objects, as well, but she couldn’t name them. An odd combination of terror and sexual arousal assaulted her.

She wanted.

She needed.

She feared.

The door creaked open. He stood there in shadows, always in shadows. In this world of complexity there were only brief glimpses of light. Yet his startling eyes came at her, bewitching her while his power and passion heated the air. She dropped her head quickly, and unwittingly slid backwards in a sudden surge of terror. The heat from the fire crawled up her spine. There was another heat as well. It knotted inside her, tight and hard. Why was she so afraid to let it go? She wanted to be perfect for him, to cater to his whims and wants, to please him. All she could do was kneel there, feeling inadequate.

His sensuous voice slipped around her, telling her he wouldn’t hurt her. He’d use her well, but it would be nothing she didn’t want. His voice chased away the worst of her fear. She was safe with this Master. She felt it. She also felt the beast inside him, a beast that could consume her so easily. Yet, he held it in check... for her sake. His consideration amazed her, enthralled her. At the same time it professed the depth of his honor. Still, the potency of that beast’s sexual appetite came at her in waves, sucking her into an abyss of consummate passion. She wanted the beast to take her. At the same time, she wanted to run.

The door stood open behind him. She could run if she wished. Her body refused to move, and the slave didn’t know if her paralysis came from fear or passion. He must have sensed her conflicting emotions for he closed the door. He didn’t lock it though. The choice was hers whether to stay or go. He had told her that. And, the slave didn’t want to go. She wanted to submit. It was a conscious submission, a willing one. Her thighs spread further. Her nipples became turgid buds. Her nether juices threatened to run onto her thighs. She could say nothing; her voice was but a knot in her throat.

He didn't speak either. This wasn’t the time for words. Instead, he came to her with a purposeful stride. Unlike the slave, the Master didn’t hesitate to take what he wanted. He pulled the slave to him with a roughness that evoked desire rather than fear. This was where she belonged. Her body knew this, even if her mind refused to comprehend. She expected him to claim her instantly. It wasn’t to be. With skilled fingers he touched her forehead and nose, the line of her neck the tender pout of her mouth, the edge of her jaw. It was as if he had struck a match. Fire blazed inside her, consuming her. The unexpected gentleness sending her into an abyss of desire that nearly had her screaming for release. When his finger moved over her mouth, she caught it and pulled it in, sucking it as if it were his shaft, imagining it was his shaft.

His free hand ran a pattern over her breasts and stomach, feathery caresses that left her moaning and breathless. He pulled his finger away and she followed, unwilling to release his tasty flesh. Suddenly, the finger was gone replaced by his mouth. It claimed hers with a force never before experienced. He ravaged her inner regions with deliberate lashes of his tongue, before creating a sucking vacuum that turned her knees to rubber and her heat to fiery desire. His dominance took her to new levels of ecstasy. She returned the kiss as thoroughly as she knew how. First with hesitation, then with growing ardor, trying desperately to match his ravenous appetite, pressing into him, submitting in a way that took her totally out of the real world.

His hands started to roam, massaging her tender flesh as he squeezed her breasts and buns. The pain prodded fires the slave wasn’t even aware she possessed. The Master’s lips fell to her neck, nibbling, biting softly, and then soothing the bites with tender kisses.... Pleasure, infinitesimal pain, entwined, erotically, sensuously. The slave thought she would explode into tiny fragments. In a distant part of her mind, fear still reigned. How far would he go? Would he force her to do that which she didn’t want? Just what did she want? OhGodohgodohgod... the thought came in a continuous stream. What am I doing? I shouldn’t be here.

But his dark passion imprisoned her. She didn’t have the strength to leave. God forgive her, she never wanted to leave. His hands moved to her shoulders and he pushed her downward into a kneeling position. When did he remove his clothes? she thought, realizing he wore nothing. She asked permission to touch his rigid rod. He nodded consent. It was why he had made her kneel. She had a little skill at this, raw skill that was born of instinct never taught. She caressed and stroked, gently at first, then harder as she become more sure of herself. His fingers were in her hair, pushing her face forward. A pink tongue ran around her lips as hunger curled inside. She whispered a plea. He answered by places his maleness against her lips. Fear once again raised its chilly barrier. She told fear to shut up!

She moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue, then allowed her tongue to dart forward, touching his shaft. Another explosion of heat ripped through her. She closed her eyes and explored further, licking the sides of his hard shaft, the moist cleft, and his entire throbbing length. Finally, her mouth closed around his length, she sucked, started to move back and forth, prayed that this gave the Master the pleasure that his very presence gave her. The fingers in her hair tensed. His entire body tensed. Delicate hands ran over his thighs to his buns as she pulled herself close to better engulf him. She continued to stroke and lick, to suck and stimulate. He suddenly pulled away, breaths coming in tattered increments, his control amazingly intact.

She moved away from him, sat on the floor, wondering why he had stopped. He yanked her upward, pulled her against his hard chest and kissed her again before moving toward the dresser. He yanked off the blindfold so she could see the fire in his eyes. He picked up the manacles. Their gazes clashed. His asked a question. Hers displayed terror. Was she ready? She didn’t know, but held out her wrists anyway. He surprised her again, by turning her around and fastening her hands behind her back, then he took her to the bed and placed her over his lap.

His textured palms caressed her buns with such gentle persuasion that her tension oozed away. At the moment she released a sigh, he smacked her tender flesh. She gasped, wondering why she didn't expect this, wondering why it felt so good. Again, his strong hand connected with soft skin. The first time it stung; this time it burned. Then he rubbed the burn away with gentle caresses. After an endless cycle of this taunting pleasure, she felt juices develop between her thighs and felt such heated embarrassment that he could produce passion no matter what he chose to do with her.

Finally, he gathered her up and held her close, cooing softly, stroking her hair, easing her fears. Something broke inside her, and she knew he reached her heart. She loved him. She didn't want to for he could never love her in return. He was a Master, cold-hearted she had heard, someone who'd never love, never care, yet she felt loved at this moment. Felt cared for. She stared to dose despite her warmed buns, but he roused her quickly enough for he wasn't finished with her.

He buried his head between her thighs, lashing her swollen bud with his tongue. The pleasure was too acute and she felt herself coming instantly, shattering on waves of pain and delight. He sucked the juices from her, making the contractions go on and on, then he laid down beside her and pulled her on top of him, forcing the slave to straddle his hips. She felt his hardness between her thighs and before she could even comprehend what he had intended, he was inside her. She gasped at the impact, and it took her a moment to adjust to his size. She had never felt such tension, such fire. She had never felt anything at all like this. The Master showed her how to move, urging her to find a rhythm and to maintain it. He touched her breasts, massaging gently at first, then getting rougher, pinching her nipples, not hard enough to make her whimper, just enough to make her totally aware of his domination. He elicited sensations that the slave had never known, sensations she never wanted to forget.

For long, delicious moments she moved above him. Incredibly, he became harder with each stroke. He kept rubbing spots that made her forget everything except this yearning, this need. She wanted. She wanted. She reached for fulfillment, fearing she wouldn’t obtain it, fearing he wouldn’t last. She experienced that so many times in the past. She needed have worried. The Master wasn’t about to disappoint her.

He lasted longer than she had thought possible, and he didn’t take her just one way. After several minutes of her on top, he flung her to the mattress and entered her again, pumping harder and harder with each stroke. Her world kept fragmenting. She moaned under the assault and didn’t want it to end. Next, he turned her over and entered her from behind. She wasn’t sure of this position. It scared her. It always scared her, but now there was gentleness to his stroke as if he recognized her fear. His hands caressed her buttock. He whispered tender words of encouragement. The heat returned. Fear receded, but not totally. It was still there, always there, just at the edges of her consciousness. But it no longer interfered. She let things go inside her. She let the Master totally dominate her and take her past barriers that had been in place all too long. Finally, she shattered against him, calling his name on a tattered whisper. He came soon after.

Sprawled across the bed, it took several minutes to focus. She didn’t think he’d stay, but he did, taking her into his arms, cradling her against him as she fought against tides of panic and fear, as she tried not to feel guilty, as she clung to her Master’s strength and accepted his protection and caring. In turn, she handed him perhaps not all her trust, but decisively her body, her heart, her love.


We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at with blog in the subject line and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi

STEEL EMBRACE by Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane
August 2011


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Welcome John B. Rosenman today

Welcome author John Rosenman today. This is a "new to me" author and one I plan to explore a bit more. His books sound wonderful.
So without further adieu....welcome John to Dawn's Reading Nook Blog.

When did you seriously sit down, and say to yourself, I’m going to write a novel?

It depends.  Usually it’s rather casual.  An idea comes to me, and I sit down and start writing. 

With A Senseless Act of Beauty, though, I needed inspiration, a sign of some sort.  I had taught at three historically black universities and thought I should write a science-fiction novel with an African setting or flavor.  But nothing concrete occurred to me.  Then one day I was sitting in a room at Norfolk State University and saw some books on a shelf.  At that point, I had one of the few mystical experiences of my life.  I just knew that the book I picked from that shelf would kick-start my novel.  It was a visceral feeling impossible to ignore. 

I reached out, picked a book at random, and lifted it off the shelf.  When I brought it back, I found that I held Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart.  It’s about the colonization of Nigeria by England.  After I read it—voila!, I had the core of my idea and sat down and began writing.  A Senseless Act of Beauty, published by Crossroad Press, turned out to be my longest, most ambitious, and most experimental novel.  It’s also received great reviews on Amazon.

If you were to start again, with the knowledge you have now, what would be the first thing you do?

I would have saved time and begun A Senseless Act of Beauty with a prologue.  Fortunately, I belonged to a writers’ group, and one of the members suggested that.  So I wrote a prologue, which I sold as a stand-alone short story, “In Man’s Image,” to the pro anthology, Treachery and Treason.  In my opinion, the prologue contributes a great deal to the novel in terms of theme and Aaron Okonkwo’s characterization.
For Dark Wizard, published by MuseItUp Publishing, I would have avoided all the chapter titles inspired by the movie The Wizard of Oz, which I’ve always loved.  Sometimes, it’s best        to play down your obsessions and let the story embody them naturally.

Do you have the support of family and friends?

My wife supports me and always has, though she thinks much of what I write is weird.  Though my writers’  group has disbanded, for twenty years it was very helpful.  We critiqued each other’s stories and novels as well as we could and were genuinely happy with each other’s successes.  Many of my sales I owe    largely to them, as well as the fact that the group’s critiques helped to make my fiction better.

Do you have a book coming out? If so what?

I have four books coming out from MuseItUp Publishing.  Two of them are novels.  Dax Rigby, War Correspondent is about adventure on Arcadia, a planet with two intelligent alien species and a deadly secret.  Inspector of the Cross is also SF and involves Turtan, a hero who is nearly 3,000 years old and travels in suspended animation to distant worlds to investigate weapons that might turn the tide against an ancient enemy.  Two long stories, The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes and Steam Heat are about as different from each other as you can get.  One is about a woman with a mysterious disease that makes her a pariah; the other is erotic horror that takes place partly in a steam room.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

Quite a bit.  My first novel, published by McPherson & Co. in 1981/1982 is based on my experiences teaching in a small black Southern college.  Usually, though, my writing reflects my personality and exposure to the Golden Age of Science Fiction, both in movies and fiction.  I love to write about aliens, strange distant worlds, and ordinary people with extraordinary potential to be leaders and heroes.  I’ve seen a lot of bigotry and prejudice, and try to be as accepting and all-inclusive in my fiction as I can.  Thus, the hero in Speaker of the Shakk (Mundania Press) adopts an alien child
despite the dangers involved.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

I often sit down and write when the mood strikes me.  So I go with the flow.  Sometimes, I think I should have a set schedule and sit down at the monitor every morning at the same time.  But I don’t.  OTOH, if I get inspired by something, like a novel, I’ll write and revise it every free moment I have.  It all depends on how much I’m inspired by the story or novel and how much free time I have.

What do you have coming up? Any teasers you want to give us?

I’m writing short stories these days.  I’ve been thinking of returning to my sequel of Beyond Those Distant Stars, which is about a female cyborg who saves the human race against seemingly invincible aliens.  The sequel is Star Warriors, and Stella McMasters, the heroine, is the only character who has ever spoken to me—or more accurately, haunted me.  “When are you going to tell the rest of my story?” she asks.
“Why aren’t you working on it now?”

What is your writing routine once you start a book?

If it’s a book and I’m inspired by it, I will try to sit down early in the morning and write and/or revise for at least a couple of hours.  Then I’ll do the same in the afternoon.  Since I recently retired, I’ll probably become more structured this way.  After all, I don’t have to shave, shower, dress, and go to work.

What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?

While I don’t write romance novels, I do write novels with romances in them.  SF romantic adventures, paranormal romances—that sort of thing.  I don’t find love scenes difficult to write.  Indeed, I’ve never written a novel without at least one love scene in it.  My scenes are almost exclusively boy-girl, but I welcome all approaches.  In one of my blogs, which I recently posted (, I try to include every type of love/sex relationship there is, human as well as alien, real as well as imaginary.

I find love scenes a challenge, and sometimes I like to think outside the box.  In Alien Dreams, for example, the hero becomes an alien and makes love to the alien queen for thousands of years, sometimes swapping bodies with her.  Talk about the Joy of Sex!

What kind of research do you do?

Usually not too much.  For Beyond Those Distant Stars, I read some military space opera, especially by Lois McMaster Bujold.  For A Senseless Act of Beauty, I read novels by Chinua Achebe and researched Nigerian history and customs.  For Dark Wizard, I read up a little on video games.  For my Nauru stories, such as “Bagonoun’s Wonderful Songbird,” published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing, I read Solange Petit Skinner’s The Nauruans

Fill in the blank favorites - Dessert. City. Season. Type of hero. Type of heroine.



Type of hero – Often, he’s an ordinary man with extraordinary potential for productive leadership when placed in the right situation.  Also, while I’m Jewish, I’ve become fascinated with neo-Christian heroes or Christ figures, saviors who actually scoff at religion and such roles.  They include Dax Rigby in Dax Rigby, War Correspondent and Turtan in Inspector of the Cross.

Type of female hero – similar.  Stella in Beyond Those Distant Stars is a seemingly ordinary woman until an extraordinary tragedy happens to her.  Then she becomes an interplanetary heroine with the opportunity to change the course of history.

What are some of your favorite things to do, or your hobbies?

Tennis, Tennis, Tennis.  Reading SF/Fantasy/Horror/Detective-suspense novels. 
And of course, writing the same.  Collecting SF/Fantasy/Horror movies.  I love the
Fifties, and was warped by the wonderful movies of that period.  The War of the Worlds. The Thing.  Them!  I could go on and on.

Who are some of your other favorite authors and/or genres to read?

In no particular order, Octavia E. Butler, Orson Scott Card, Robert McCammon, Greg Iles, Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelazny, etc.  I love SF, Fantasy, Horror, and like them to intermarry and cross-breed.  One thing I really like is mind-stretching concepts, ideas that lift the top of your skull clear off so your brain can expand. 

As for influences, Ray Bradbury was one of the biggest.  The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, etc.  Such poetic, evocative prose.  I also loved Richard Matheson, author of The Shrinking Man. These are two huge childhood influences, but not the only ones.  The Wizard of Oz is a potent force.  My first published novel was called Down From Oz before the publisher convinced me to change the title.

Which of your books has been the easiest to write?  The hardest?  The most fun?

My novels have all been hard to write.  Usually I do things wrong, take the wrong direction, have to backtrack and revise, revise, revise!  Perhaps Alien Dreams and Speaker of the Shakk were the easiest to write—meaning my first vision was essentially correct, and I didn’t have to do massive rewrites.  

The hardest novel to write has been the sequel to Beyond Those Distant Stars.  I tried twice with Star Warriors and may again.  After all, I got nearly halfway in.

The most fun?  Gosh, I love them all.  Chapter twenty of Dax Rigby, War Correspondent is the most moving chapter, at least to me, that I’ve ever written, and I had a lot of fun and spiritual pleasure doing it.  I also like Beyond Those Distant Stars
because it involves an action heroine, A Senseless Act of Beauty because it’s my most ambitious and challenging, and Alien Dreams because it’s my most cosmic.  Inspector of the Cross may have been the most fun of all because I wrote it before the others and returned to it for a complete revision twenty-five years later.

Many of my short stories have been or will be published as books.  Some, like More Stately Mansions, The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes, Green in Our Souls, Music Man, A Mingling of Souls, Childhood’s Day, Here Be Dragons and Bagonoun’s Wonderful Songbird have been relatively easy, even inspiring to write.  Trophies, published recently by L&L Dreamspell, was fun too, because of its subtle and ominous erotic horror.

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?

Sometimes my books come from almost NOTHING.  One novel came from a single word: Dreamfarer.  One time my wife put three bulbs of garlic in my suitcase and I wrote a crazy tale called “Three Pounds of Garlic in a Dead Man’s Hand.”  Once I took my son trick or treating and he disappeared briefly behind a trellis, so I wrote a story about a man whose son disappears on Halloween and enters another universe.

Of the three possibilities listed, though, I’d have to say the story or plot is more important.  Usually, I like to have at least a rudimentary plot to hang my characters on.  The characters are a close second.  For my novels, I have to have interesting people I care about.  Characters, of course, interact with and help form the story, and the story works similarly in bringing out the characters’ traits. 

Sometimes, while the setting is not the prime mover in creating a story, it is a persistent, pervasive presence.  Several of my novels like Alien Dreams and Dax Rigby, War Correspondent take place on distant worlds where the setting is crucial.  I really have to know these places to write about them.  For Dark Wizard, San Luis Obispo, CA was my prime inspiration because I had visited this colorful city several times and always wanted to write a novel that took place there.

If we asked your muse to tell us three things about you, what do you think he might say?

One: The guy likes to write about transfigurations in all their imaginable forms.  For example, Rachel Ross in The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes changes physically and psychically because of a terrible disease.  What will she ultimately turn into?  I try
to take the concept as far as it will go.  Again and again, I like to explore this theme.

Two: The guy sure likes action heroes and aliens, and he likes to bring them together on strange, distant planets.  Perhaps this reflects the author’s repressed desire to get out of town.

Three: The guy likes mind-stretching concepts, sometimes combined with sex and romance.  In Inspector of the Cross, for example, two of Turtan’s heroes are a delectable alien female and a female computer who’s loved him for a thousand years.

What is your favorite season and why?

Summer, because I worked all my life and took the summer off to do what I wanted—play tennis, read, write, travel, etc.  Since I retired two and a half months ago, the whole year may become my favorite season.

Congratulations, your novel was just picked up by a major Hollywood studio. They are letting you cast the characters. Name the book you would choose to be made into a movie and who you think would play those characters.

Oh, wow, thank you!  I think Beyond Those Distant Stars would make a great movie.  (Some of the others would, too.) 

Stella Singlethorne McMasters – the cyborg heroine – Jodie Foster in her mid to late thirties.

Jason – her jump pilot boyfriend and unfaithful lady killer – Jude Law, about thirty.

George Darron – immense, bearded psyche-physician – Michael Clarke Duncan.

After that, I’m not sure.  I just want to get the money and see the flick at the I-MAX.

If you could choose anywhere in the world to set up your desk and write, where would you like it to be? What’s so special to you about this place?
Home.  It’s the best place.  It’s where my wife and I live, a place of love and stability.  Over the long haul, routine and familiarity are important.  I don’t actually have to visit the worlds and realms I write about, only do a little research and visit them in my imagination.  On the other hand, it has helped to visit some places such as Rome, which I describe in “A Spark from God’s Finger.” 
But I always come home to write about them.
BLURB for A Senseless Act of Beauty:

Aaron Okonkwo, a Nigerian bio-botanist, travels to Viridis, an exotic world filled with scientific   wonders left by a godlike race.  There, he is ensnared by the delectable, deadly beauty of Nightsong, an enchanting alien female.  His supreme test comes when the Confederation sends 200 ships to conquer Viridis for its boundless resources, just as the Europeans once did in Africa.  Can Aaron prevent history from repeating itself, or will his efforts be A Senseless Act of Beauty?    
Peering through the shining leaves of a sarberry bush, Aaron Okonkwo watched the naked alien girl  dive into the pond. Lithe green body and breasts full and firm in the sun. He wet his lips, feeling his blood course as her delicate, sinuous form glided through the water faster than any human could  swim. She moved smoothly, with barely a ripple, her webbed hands flowing with graceful precision. Watching the water caress her long, slender limbs, he felt his body respond.

Aaron rubbed a muscular arm and took out his recorder. He tried to focus on dictating some field notes concerning the sixty species of moss he had so far catalogued, but soon found himself  watching the girl again. This, of course, was not right. Their survey team had come to Viridis for a  month to evaluate the planet for possible colonization and commercial exploitation.  Indigenous, sentient life forms were officially off-limits to Confederation (’Fed) personnel because of the danger  of cultural and biological contamination. Since they had landed two weeks ago and first met the gentle, humanoid creatures, he had constantly reminded himself of this fact.  

Still, he desired her.

He knew it was more than just the exquisite molding of her form or her quick, light animal          movements which no human female could match. The clear, liquid trill of her laughter, seemingly so  innocent, had ensnared his senses too. Then there was the strange way she would suddenly freeze and stand motionless. At such times he felt as if she had not only caught his scent but was listening to his heartbeat.

God help him, he knew he was in trouble. He had fought it from the first day, as had two of the other three men in the expedition force. Only Abraham Pritchett, the captain, and the three women crew members seemed immune to the aliens’ charm. But Pritchett was an old, grim, celibate and righteous homosexual and the women strictly hetero.  

Aaron tore his eyes away from the girl’s swift form. Glancing about, it occurred to him again that though there seemed to be no fierce animals, this green, junglelike world, with its rolling savannahs and teeming life was so like the Africa his father had told him about, so like the homeland they had lost forever. Yet at the same time there was a vibrancy to Viridis’s colors, a stark intensity to its  textures, that was unmistakably alien.    

The splash of the girl’s swimming interrupted his thoughts. Grimly he forced himself to turn and   walk away without looking back.

Welcome Chris Quinton/Blog Tour Stop

Welcome the lovley Chris Quinton to Dawn's Reading Nook Blog. The author of the first book in the Fitzwarren Trilogy. I hope you make her feel welcome and now onto business. :)

When did you seriously sit down, and say to yourself, I’m going to write a novel? - I was about 17, and I wrote this god-awful, dreadful, appallingly bad historical novel sent in ancient Rome, involving a vengeful Gaul who was really a Roman senator’s son stolen at birth and raised to hate Rome. It will *never* and I mean, *NEVER*, see the light of day.

If you were to start again, with the knowledge you have now, what would be the first thing you do? - Make sure my family know and understand just how important writing is to me.

Do you have the support of family and friends? – Yes, some more than others.

Do you have a book coming out? If so what? – Game On, Game Over has been accepted by Silver, but I don’t have a release date or a cover yet. My latest book is The Psychic’s Tale, the first part of the Fitzwarren Inheritance Trilogy, released a short while ago.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing? – None of my personality, I hope *g*. I do my damnedest to make my characters individuals in their own right. I might give them some of my likes and dislikes, but that’s about it. Life experiences? Yes, some of those are useful.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow? – Both, really. I try to keep to a schedule, but if the words are flowing, then I’ll stay with it as long as I can.

What do you have coming up? Any teasers you want to give us? - Well, there’s Game On, Game Over… Here’s the blurb: The Game is on – John Jones, aka Aidan Whittaker, a negotiator with MI6, is currently on assignment in Tajikistan, close to the Afghanistan border. Overtly on a University-run archaeological site, he’s covertly brokering a deal with local tribal leaders. His undercover mission is complicated by the arrival of a couple of Americans; journalist Brent Babcock and his photographer Scott Landon. The two men are there to document the ancient Silk Road, but when Babcock gets wind of a hot news story, he starts asking awkward questions.

Scott Landon is a different kind of trouble for John. Fourteen years John’s junior, gay and single-minded, he wants into John’s bed. Not being prepared to jeopardize his operation, John rejects him, despite being drawn to the younger man. But then events around them spiral out of control.
What is your writing routine once you start a book? – I have a rough idea of where I want the plot to go, I have the characters’ names, bios, appearances worked out, I’ve researched the settings and I have a title. Then I start writing. Ideally, I’ll be able to manage between 2000 and 4000 words a day, but the killer word is that *ideally*. 

Fill in the blank favoritesDessert – fresh fruit with yoghurt. CityValletta, Malta. Season – all of them [except when they have raw cold and snow]. Type of hero – complicated, charming and with lots of layers, maybe a bit of a bad ‘un as well *g*. Type of heroine – the same.

What are some of your favorite things to do, or your hobbies? – Other than writing and reading, I used to love reenacting. I belonged to a 15th century-based group until my Bloody Back wouldn’t let me do all the heavy lifting involved in travelling and setting up, or the camping out at the various venues. I love walking in forests and on shores as well. And knitting, quilting, embroidery, and I’d love to learn to sketch.

Who are some of your other favorite authors and/or genres to read? My favorites are C.J. Cherryh, Mary Renault, Michael Connolly, Harlan Coben, Terry Pratchett, Josh Lanyon, Richard Stevenson, Jonathan Kellerman, Rudyard Kipling...and the list goes on *g*. I like virtually all the fiction genres.

Which of your books has been the easiest to write?  The hardest?  The most fun? – They all start out easy until I hit a difficult patch about half way through, and they’re all fun to write.

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting? – It varies from story to story.

If we asked your muse to tell us three things about you, what do you think they might say? – ROFLMAO – Chris procrastinates too much. She has a good sense of humour. She is as tough as old boots but melts over cats, dogs and horses.

What is your favorite season and why? – I like them all, but if I have to choose, then it’s Spring by a whisker. New life, new growth, everything fresh and glowing green – beautiful.

Congratulations, your novel was just picked up by a major Hollywood studio. They are letting you cast the characters. Name the book you would choose to be made into a movie and who you think would play those characters. – ARGH!! Strewth, that’s difficult… Um, Starfall, I think. As for actors… Um, would you believe I don’t watch a lot of films or TV so I don’t have a casting couch in my head, or a portrait gallery… The nearest I could come to Ash would be a young Johnny Depp, and Conn would be a younger Bruce Willis with hair.

If you could choose anywhere in the world to set up your desk and write, where would you like it to be? What’s so special to you about this place? – Another difficult question. It would have to be two places, I think. One for Spring, Summer and Autumn, an old stone house on the edge of Ullswater Lake in the Lake District, secluded but within walking distance of a town. I love inland waters, forests and countryside. For Winter – which for me would be from November through to the end of March, it would be a small house on the island of Malta, in or close to the fishing village of Marsaxloxx. Winters are a lot warmer there, and the history of the island is amazing and inspiring. The pace of life is slow and easy – and that suits me fine *g*.
 Sneak Peek into The Psychic's Tale, Book 1 in the Fitzwarren Trilogy
Available at Silver Publishing
The Psychic’s Tale – Part 1 of the Fitzwarren Inheritance Trilogy

Blurb - Four hundred years ago in rural England, a mob burned two men to death, but not before one of the victims, Jonathan Curtess, hurled a dreadful curse at the mob’s leader, Sir Belvedere Fitzwarren. The curse has followed the family through the centuries, bringing grief and loss to each generation.

Mark  Renfrew is a closeted psychic and openly gay. When his grandmother discovers a family link to a 17th century feud and a still-potent curse, she insists he investigates and do his best to end it. He travels to the village of Steeple Westford, and meets and falls for Jack Faulkner, an archaeologist. He also meets the Fitzwarrens, who are facing yet another tragedy.

Then Mark learns that the man who cursed them had twisted the knife by leaving three cryptic conditions that would lift the curse, and he knows he has to try to break the curse his ancestor had set.

Excerpt –
"Nice to meet you, Mark." Jack didn't seem to be in a hurry to let go of his hand. His smile widened a little, revealing a single dimple in his left cheek, and Mark's heart jumped a beat. Was that interest or wishful thinking on his part? It unnerved him a little that he couldn't be sure. "I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours," Jack said, and Mark took his hand back with a jerk, feeling his colour rising.
"Okay," he said. "So what have you got here?"
"Look at these," Jack said, tapping the aerial photographs. They threatened to slide from the table to the floor, and he lunged to recapture the escapees. He anchored them with his empty beer glass and looked across at Mark. "These were taken during one of the hottest, driest summers in the last twenty years, and look at what they're showing. See these?" Mark automatically took out his glasses and slipped them on. Jack pointed to a series of marks in a brown field. They showed as dark and light outlines of what might be the floor plan of a building. "This could be a second century A.D. corridor villa, and these," he said, tracing curving lines that radiated away from and around the possible villa, "are probably ditches and banks that could signify an earlier British farming settlement. In case you didn't guess, I'm an archaeologist."
His enthusiasm seemed genuine, and Mark found himself suddenly at ease with him. "Well, the t-shirt was a clue," he said. "So you're going to excavate that?"
"Nope. Not me, unfortunately. I'm a freelance."
"Indiana Jones?" Mark suggested slyly. Jack rolled his eyes.
"If I had a pound for every Indie-joke, I'd be a bloody millionaire," he grumbled, his smile widening to a grin. "I take on short-term contracts anywhere I'm wanted. For instance, I've just spent a season on Crete, second-in-command of the excavation of a fourteenth century B.C. Minoan palace, and now I'm on a contract to find suitable training digs for the University of Bristol. Which means my bank account is healthy, I'm driving around the English countryside in classic Indian summer weather, and I'm finding some of the best pub grub and beer available. All in all, life is pretty good."
"Footloose and fancy free," Mark said lightly. That grin was blinding against the man's deep tan and gave his already handsome features a certain gypsy rover charm. The untidy mane of black hair falling around his shoulders added to the image, and Mark silently thanked God he was sitting down when his cock began to show an inordinate amount of interest in Jack Faulkner. Oh, please let him be gay…

Welcome Kelli A. Wilkins today

Please give a warm welcome to Sam Hixton , the hero from Lies, Love & Redemption by Kelli A. Wilkins . T oday we sit down and see ...